When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 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’ (Matthew 25:31-34).
The sermon that many watched in the Continuing Church of God yesterday was titled The Gospel of the Kingdom. Those who would like to can watch the YouTube sermon which is at the ContinuingCOG channel and you can click the following to watch it: The Gospel of the Kingdom.
Do you know that the first and last things that Jesus apparently preached about concerned the gospel of the kingdom of God? Do you recall that the end cannot come until the kingdom of God is preached to the world as a witness? Do you know that the kingdom of God was the emphasis of the apostles and those that followed them?
The actual kingdom of God does not get emphasized by many who profess Christ these days, but there is a group that makes it its top priority.
Is the kingdom of God the person of Jesus? Is the kingdom of God Jesus living His life in us now? Is the kingdom of God some type of future actual kingdom?
What is a kingdom? Just what is the kingdom of God? What does the Bible teach? What did the early Christian church teach?
This post will attempt to provide some answers to these questions.
Before getting into the specific scriptures and historical comments, it is important to understand that a kingdom requires a king, territory, subjects, and laws. Those are the components of a kingdom and also components of the kingdom of God.
Daniel Taught About the Kingdom
The prophet Daniel was told to record this about the kingdom of God:
And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever (Daniel 2:44, NKJV throughout unless noted).
But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever.’ (Daniel 7:18).
From Daniel, we learn that the kingdom of God will destroy human kingdoms and last forever. And that the saints will have their part in receiving it.
Isaiah Taught About the Kingdom
God inspired Isaiah to write the following about the Leader of the kingdom this way:
6 For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this. (Isaiah 9:6-7)
Notice that Isaiah said that Jesus would come and establish a kingdom with a government. While many who profess Christ quote this passage, especially in December each year, they tend to overlook that it is prophesying more than the fact that Jesus would be born. The Bible is clear that the kingdom of God has a government, with laws, over subjects, and Jesus will be over it. Isaiah, Daniel, and others prophesied it.
Roman Catholics Teach The Kingdom is Important, But…
Pope Pius XI in his encyclical Quas Primas taught:
…the Catholic Church…is the kingdom of Christ on earth. (Cited in Kramer P. The Devil’s Final Battle. Good Counsel Publications, 2002, p. 73).
But that is not consistent with the teaching of the Bible. Instead, the Church of Rome now seems to teach so strongly against the millennial kingdom that it is about the only “doctrine of Antichrist” they list in the official Catechism of the Catholic Church:
676 The Antichrist’s deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgment. The Church has rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism, especially the “intrinsically perverse” political form of a secular messianism. (Catechism of the Catholic Church. Imprimatur Potest +Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Doubleday, NY 1995, p. 194).
Thus, those associated with the Church of Rome will have major problems with the proclaiming of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God in the end. And the end-time version of it will take terrible steps against it.
Jesus Taught the Gospel of the Kingdom
In the New Testament, the English word “kingdom” for this particular kingdom is mentioned approximately 149 times in the NKJV and 151 in the Douay Rheims Bible.
When Jesus began His public ministry, He began by preaching about the gospel of the kingdom of God. Here is what Mark reported:
Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:14-15, NKJV throughout unless otherwise indicated).
Here is the first public teaching that Matthew records,
And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom (Matthew 4:23).
Matthew also records:
Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom (Matt 9:35).
Luke, like Isaiah, shows that Jesus will reign over the kingdom forever:
And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end (Luke 1:33).
Luke records that the purpose that Jesus was sent was to preach the kingdom of God. Notice what Jesus taught:
He said to them, “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, because for this purpose I have been sent” (Luke 4:43).
Have you ever heard that preached? Did you ever realize that Jesus’ purpose for being sent was to preach the kingdom of God?
Luke also records that Jesus did go and preach the kingdom of God:
And the apostles, when they had returned, told Him all that they had done. Then He took them and went aside privately into a deserted place belonging to the city called Bethsaida. But when the multitudes knew it, they followed Him; and He received them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God (Luke 9:10-11).
The kingdom of God was not only the emphasis of Jesus’ ministry, He wanted it to be the top priority for those who would follow Him as He taught:
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33).
But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you. Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom (Luke 12:31-32).
Notice that the kingdom will be given to a little flock. Hence the kingdom cannot be a massive church that now exists.
Jesus taught that His followers would pray for the kingdom to come, hence they do not already possess it:
Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done (Matthew 6:9-10).
During His ministry, He sent the disciples out to preach the kingdom of God:
Then He called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases. He sent them to preach the kingdom of God (Luke 9:1-2).
Jesus taught that His presence alone was not the kingdom, because it was not there yet:
But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you (Matthew 12:28).
The kingdom is in the future, it is not here now as these verses from Mark show:
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 (Mark 9:47).
Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were astonished at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, “Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:23-25).
Assuredly, I 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 14:25).
Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent council member, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, coming and taking courage (Mark 15:43).
Jesus taught that the kingdom is not now part of this present world:
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” (John 18:36).
Jesus taught that the kingdom will come after He comes again and that He will be its King:
“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 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 (Matthew 25:31-34).
Jesus provided some explanations of what the kingdom of God is like:
And He said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground, and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know how. For the earth yields crops by itself: first the blade, then the head, after that the full grain in the head. But when the grain ripens, immediately he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come” (Mark 4:26-29).
Then He said, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and put in his garden; and it grew and became a large tree, and the birds of the air nested in its branches.” And again He said, “To what shall I liken the kingdom of God? It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened” (Luke 13:18-21).
These parables suggests that, at first, the kingdom of God is quite small, but will become large.
Luke also recorded:
They will come from the east and the west, from the north and the south, and sit down in the kingdom of God (Luke 13:29).
Thus, the kingdom is something that one can sit down in. And that is true of all kingdoms. They have a king, they cover a geographic area, they have rules, and they have subjects.
Also, people will actually eat in the kingdom:
“Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!” (Luke 14:15).
Since people will (in the future) eat in the kingdom, it is not just something set aside in their hearts now (in spite of mistranslations of Luke 17:21 which suggest otherwise).
The disciples knew that the kingdom was not within them, and that it had to appear as the following shows:
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 (Luke 19:11).
Jesus confirmed this, as Luke records:
Then He spoke to them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. When they are already budding, you see and know for yourselves that summer is now near. So you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near (Luke 21:29-31).
Jesus clearly showed that the kingdom of God was something that would happen in the future when He taught:
“With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes” (Luke 22:15-18).
The kingdom did not come as soon as Jesus was crucified either as both Mark and Luke show us:
Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent council member, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, coming and taking courage (Mark 15:43).
He was from Arimathea, a city of the Jews, who himself was also waiting for the kingdom of God (Luke 23:51).
After the resurrection, one will be born again in the kingdom of God as John records:
Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 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).
(More information on this subject can be found in the article Born Again: A Question of Semantics?)
After Jesus was resurrected, He again taught about the kingdom of God:
He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God (Acts 1:3).
Thus, apparently the first and and several of the last sermons that Jesus gave were about the kingdom of God.
I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years (Revelation 20:4).
Why, if the kingdom of God is so important, haven’t most of you heard much about it? Because Jesus did not intend that most people would understand it in this age. He called it a mystery:
And He said to them, “To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside, all things come in parables (Mark 4:11).
Notice that Jesus said that the end will come (soon) AFTER the gospel of the kingdom is preached to all the world as a WITNESS:
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 (Matthew 24:14).
Thus, the true Christian church should be proclaiming that gospel now. This should be its top priority for the Church (a related article of interest may be Should the Church Still Try to Place its Top Priority on Proclaiming the Gospel or Did Herbert Armstrong Change that Priority for the Work?). And this is what the Continuing Church of God strives to do.
Much more information on this subject is covered in the article The Gospel of the Kingdom of God was the Emphasis of Jesus and the Early Church, as well as the YouTube video titled The Gospel of the Kingdom.
Some articles possibly related interest may include:
Should the Church Still Try to Place its Top Priority on Proclaiming the Gospel or Did Herbert W. Armstrong Change that Priority for the Work? Some say the Church should mainly feed the flock now as that is what Herbert W. Armstrong reportedly said. Is that what he said? Is that what the Bible says? What did Paul and Herbert W. Armstrong expect from lower level leaders?
The Gospel of the Kingdom of God was the Emphasis of Jesus and the Early Church Did you know that? Do you even know what the gospel of the kingdom is all about? You could also watch a YouTube video on it by clicking the following: The Gospel of the Kingdom.
Just What Do You Mean the Kingdom of God? A booklet that was written by Herbert Armstrong answers questions about the Kingdom.
Parable of the Mustard Seed Jesus told many parables. Why? What might this one mean?
Continuing Church of God The group striving to be most faithful amongst all real Christian groups to the word of God.