Servants' News

May/June 2002

God’s Kingdom: Spiritual Kingdom Now? Physical Kingdom Later? or Both?

Spiritual Kingdom now verses
Physical Kingdom later verses


There are many verses about the “Kingdom of God”, or the “Kingdom of Heaven” (as Matthew refers to it). Some clearly show a distant event, something that people will enter into later—when some of the fathers have risen from the dead. But there are also scriptures that speak of the Kingdom being presently existing. The “Gospel of the Kingdom” was preached at the time of the Apostles all the way through to our day. Even though many have predicted a literal return of Christ during those times, which turned out to be false, the gospel of the kingdom being available now was also preached, and its message received.

The multiple parts of the Kingdom of God may be best illustrated by the following parable and explanation:

Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.”’” (Matt 13:24–30)

The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one (Matt 13:38).

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and gathered some of every kind, which, when it was full, they drew to shore; and they sat down and gathered the good into vessels, but threw the bad away.This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. “Have you understood all these things?” Jesus asked. “Yes,” they replied. He said to them, “Therefore every teacher of the law who has been instructed about the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old” (Matt 13:47–52).

These verses compare the entire process of sowing seed, removing tares and harvesting to the Kingdom of God. They are all a part of the Kingdom of God. The final harvest, when Christ and His saints rule, is an important part of the Kingdom—it is often referred to as “inheriting the Kingdom”, but it is just one part. Jesus taught that correct understanding of the Kingdom involves both “new” (future) and “old” (present) aspects of it.

The following study was made by searching the Bible for verses about the Kingdom. I did not consult any other reference works to bias me about what the Kingdom of God is. Many verses about the Kingdom of God equally make sense if the kingdom of God is either present or future, so I did not include them. When more than 1 of the 4 Gospels had the same account, I included it once. —NSE

Spiritual Kingdom Now Verses

In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Matt 3:1–2)

From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt 4:17)

Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom [how could the kingdom be “good news” if it were not to be implmented for another 2000 years?], and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Matt 9:35–38).

And as you go, preach, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt 10:7).

Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is [present tense, not future] least in the kingdom of heaven is [present tense] greater than he. And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force (Matt 11:11–12).

But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you (Matt 12:28).

He answered and said to them, “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven [the complete nature of it was not fully known], but to them it has not been given” (Matt 13:11).

When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside (Matthew 13:19).

Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches” (Matt 13:31–32).

And I will give to thee the keys of the reign [kingdom] of the heavens, and whatever thou mayest bind upon the earth shall be[,] having been bound in the heavens, and whatever thou mayest loose upon the earth shall be[,] having been loosed in the heavens (Matt 16:19, YLT).

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children [something they could do in this life through the Holy Spirit], you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 18:1–4).

For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard (Matt 20:1). [The Kingdom is compared to the hiring working, and the payment (judgment) at the end.]

…Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter [present tense in Greek!] the kingdom of God before you (Matt 21:31).

But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in (Matt 23:13).

Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom (Matthew 25:1). [Notice that the Kingdom is likened to the entire story, not just to the groom (Christ) returning.]

For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them (Matt 25:14). [In this lengthy “parable of the talents”, the servants left behind to do the Master’s work are clearly part of the Kingdom.]

And He said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the kingdom of God present with power” (Mark 9:1). [This verse may have been fulfilled in the “transfiguration” that immediately follows in this chapter, or the pouring out of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2), is also possible.]

“To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions (Mark 12:33–34).

After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go… “And heal the sick there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you’” (Luke 10:1, 9). [The works that these 72 men did, without Jesus physically present, were part of the Kingdom.]

The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it (Luke 16:16).

Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.” Then He said to His disciples, “The time is coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. Men will tell you, ‘There he is!’ or ‘Here he is!’ Do not go running off after them. For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other” (Luke 17:20–24). [This passage illustrates both aspects of the kingdom of God. The first cannot be seen by observation, the latter part will be obvious to everyone.]

Jason has harbored them, and these are all acting contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying there is another king—Jesus (Acts 17:7). [Jesus is presently King.]

And he [Paul] went into the synagogue and spoke boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading concerning the things of the kingdom of God. But when some were hardened and did not believe, but spoke evil of the Way before the multitude, he departed from them and withdrew the disciples… (Acts 19:8–9). [The Kingdom of God is the main subject of three-moths teaching and appears to be synonymous with a way of life here.]

For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom 14:17). [We can have these things now.]

But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord wills, and I will know, not the word of those who are puffed up, but the power. For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power. What do you want? Shall I come to you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of gentleness? (1Cor 4:19–21).

He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love (Col 1:13).

Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is (1Jn 3:2).

[In conclusion, it seems that the first century Israelites looked for a physical Kingdom to depose the Romans, but Christ said it would not happen at that time. Rather, He is choosing leaders for His Kingdom now and letting them use some of the benefits of it now, but His Kingdom will be inherited yet in the future — NSE

Physical Kingdom Later Verses

Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven (Matt 5:19–20).

And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven (Matt 8:11).

Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear! Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it (Matt 13:43–46).

Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants (Matt 18:23). [The rest of this parable emphasizes on settling accounts and judment—largely in the future, but judgement is begining now on God’s household 1Pet 4:17.]

The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son, (Matt 22:2). [While the wedding is certainly a future event, the parable does not compare the Kingdom only to the wedding, but to the entire process of arranging it.]

And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come (Matt 24:14).

Then the King will say to those on His right hand, “Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matt 25:34).

And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire (Mark 9:47).

Assuredly, I [Jesus] say to you, I will no longer drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God (Mark 12:25).

Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent council member, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, coming and taking courage, went in to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus (Mark 15:43).

There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves thrust out. They will come from the east and the west, from the north and the south, and sit down in the kingdom of God (Luke 13:28–29).

Now when one of those who sat at the table with Him heard these things, he said to Him, “Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!” (Luke 14:15).

Now as they heard these things, He spoke another parable, because He was near Jerusalem and because they thought the kingdom of God would appear immediately. Therefore He said: “A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return. So he called ten of his servants, delivered to them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Do business till I come.’ But his citizens hated him, and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We will not have this man to reign over us.’ And so it was that when he returned, having received the kingdom, he then commanded these servants, to whom he had given the money, to be called to him, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading” (Luke 19:11–15). [Verse 11 shows no literal kingdom would appear right away, but Christ went on to explain that His servants would be doing His work till He returns. His return is pictured as “receiving the kingdom”, (like the inheritance promised to believers).]

Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near… So you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near (Luke 21:27–28, 31).

For I [Christ] say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God… For I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes (Luke 22:16,18).

He [Joseph] had not consented to their decision and deed. He was from Arimathea, a city of the Jews, who himself was also waiting for the kingdom of God (Luke 23:51).

Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God”… Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:3, 5).

Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.” Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice” (John 18:36–37).

So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:6–8). [Note that the phrase is “kingdom to Israel”, not “Kingdom of God”. Christ said they would not know the times, but seemed to affirm that the coming of the Holy Spirit would be the part of the Kingdom that they would experience.]

Strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God (1Cor 6:9–10).

Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power (1Cor 15:24).

Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption (1Cor 15:50).

Envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God (Gal 5:21).

For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God (Eph 5:5).

And Jesus, which is called Justus, who are of the circumcision. These only are my fellowworkers unto the kingdom of God, which have been a comfort unto me (Col 4:11, KJV). [The Greek preposition eis, translated “unto” here means going toward, not already in.]

Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? (Jms 2:5).

Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down” (Rev 12:10). [A future time.]

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