What is the Kingdom of God? Understanding It's Meaning

Christianity.com Editorial Staff

What is the Kingdom of God? Understanding It's Meaning

The Kingdom of God is mentioned through the Old and New Testament of the Bible. As a Christian, it’s important to understand the meaning behind this phrase that is often confusing for many Christians and non-Christians. If someone asked you what the kingdom of God meant, would you know how to answer them? Let’s take a look at the original Greek and Hebrew meaning of the phrase, the different phrases used throughout the Bible, what it means to seek first the Kingdom of God and how to  live and pray with the Kingdom of God in mind.

 

Origin & Meaning of The Kingdom of God

From the coming of Jesus Christ to begin the kingdom, through the whole story of redemptive history and the Church, we see a clear picture of the Gospel. This "kingdom of God" is mentioned in Scriptures several different ways throughout the Old and New Testaments:Matthew 6:33, Mark 1:14-15, and Luke 4:43 all refer to the “kingdom of Christ

  • Matthew 13:41 and 20:21 refer to the “kingdom of Christ and God”
  • Ephesians 5:5 refers to the “kingdom of David”
  • Mark 11:10 refers to “the kingdom”
  • Matthew 3:2, 4:17, 8:12 , 13:14 and 13:29 refer to the “kingdom of heaven”

Even though the exact wording differs between Christ, God, and heaven, all Scriptures are symbolizing the same concept with different aspects. Here are three things that the Kindgom of God means:

1. The rule of Jesus Christ on earth
2. The blessing and advantages that flow from living under Christ’s rule
3. The subjects of this kingdom, or the Church

Just how important was the understanding and of the Kingdom of God? John the Baptist used it often as he called for “repent, for the kingdom of God is near” (Matthew 3:2). Jesus Christ himself not only said “the kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe” (Matthew 4:17) but he also used it when teaching his disciples how to pray “your kingdom come” (Matthew 6:10) , in the Beatitudes “theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3 and 10), and at the Last Supper “I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it anew in the kingdom of God” (Mark 14:25). 

 

Why Does Matthew use “Kingdom of Heaven” instead of “Kingdom of God”?

Throughout the gospel of Matthew, we see Matthew using the phrase “kingdom of heaven” when referring to the announcement of the rule of Jesus Christ and the good news of His reign. He does this out of sensitivity to the Jews who avoid mentioning the sacred name of God. The doctrine is the same and there is no different view or meaning of the kingdom of God versus heaven, Matthew is simply using an indirect phrase that respects the reader. 

 

What Does it Mean to “Seek First the Kingdom of God”?

kingdom of god, sunset on water

A verse every Christian should commit to memory is Matthew 6:33: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

Jesus taught us to pray, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done. On earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). This is praying for a day when God will bring heaven to earth and will bring His rule on this planet. God still has a plan for planet Earth. He will rule and reign here, and as believers, we will rule and reign with Him. So that is in the future.

When we pray and seek the Kingdom of God, we are also praying for the rule and reign of the kingdom of God in our lives. This is when Jesus is in charge. On one occasion Jesus said, “For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21), where He was speaking of himself. When you are under His lordship, and when He is in control of your life, that is the kingdom of God. It is not rules and regulations, but “righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17). 

 

Praying “The Kingdom Come”

 “This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation,[a] but deliver us from the evil one. "

Matthew 6:9-13

In what is commonly refered to as the “Lord’s Prayer”, we are taught to pray not only for God’s will to take control of our lives but also that the saving Gospel would spread throughout the earth. We have become a part of God’s kingdom when we accept the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and repent. We are then called to be witnesses of Jesus, to tell others about Him and that we would remain surrendered to His will for our lives. 

Praying for God's Kingdom should be our focus as a Christian - for a fruitful life and for Jesus to be made known across the Earth. 

Sources & Excerpts:
Easton’s Bible Dictionary
Witness of Matthew, R.C. Sproul
First Things First by Greg Laurie, Harvest Ministries


Originally published January 30, 2019.

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