What is the Kingdom of God

SERMON TOPIC: What is the Kingdom of God

Speaker: Gavin Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 18 October 2020


Sermon synopsis: One of Matthew’s major themes is “the kingdom,” which he refers to over 50 times (over 40 times in Luke).

In the time of Christ, many Jews were expecting the imminent Kingdom of God. E.g., Joseph of Arimathea “was waiting for the kingdom of God” (Luke 23:51). Where did this expectation of a coming Kingdom of God come from?

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If you were to ask people what Jesus preached about most, you’d probably hear something about love. In John’s gospel, Jesus mentioned love 28 times (8 times in Matthew).

But one of Matthew’s major themes is “the kingdom,” which he refers to over 50 times (over 40 times in Luke).

The Kingdom is variously described as “kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 13:11), “kingdom of God” (Mark 4:11), “kingdom of Christ and of God” (Ephesians 5:5), and “kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ” (Revelation 11:15). Jesus sometimes spoke of it as “my kingdom” (Luke 22:30). Paul, referring to Christ Jesus, called it “his kingdom” (2 Timothy 4:1). 1

1 https:// ag.org/Beliefs/Position-Papers/Kingdom-of-God


Jesus came preaching good news about the Kingdom of God for those who would repent and believe.

Mark 1:14-15 (ESV) … Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel [evangelion] of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

The Greek word evangelion, which is translated gospel, means good news . Our English word “evangelist” is derived from this word and means “bringer of good news”.


In the time of Christ, many Jews were expecting the imminent Kingdom of God. E.g., Joseph of Arimathea “was waiting for the kingdom of God” (Luke 23:51). Where did this expectation of a coming Kingdom of God come from?

In the OT, there was a strong emphasis on a future fulfilment of God’s universal rule. It was best articulated in Daniel 2. Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, was troubled by a dream.


He summoned his magicians and astrologers to interpret it, demanding that they first tell him what the dream was.

When they protested that no man could do such a thing, the king ordered that they all be executed.

This order of execution also affected Daniel but he, through the power of God, was able to tell the king both the dream and the interpretation.

As you were lying there, O king, your mind turned to things to come, and the revealer of mysteries showed you what is going to happen.

“You looked, O king, and there before you stood a large statue—an enormous, dazzling statue, awesome in appearance. The head of the statue was made of pure gold…”

“… its chest and arms of silver…”

“… its belly and thighs of bronze…”

“its legs of iron…”

“… its feet partly of iron and partly of baked clay.”

“While you were watching, a rock was cut out, but not by human hands. It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were broken to pieces at the same time and became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer”

“The wind swept them away without leaving a trace. But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth.”

This was the dream, and now we will interpret it to the king … The God of heaven has given you dominion and power and might and glory.


“You are that head of gold.”


“After you, another kingdom will rise, inferior to yours.”


“Next, a third kingdom, one of bronze, will rule over the whole earth.”


“Finally, there will be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron - for iron breaks and smashes everything - and as iron breaks things to pieces, so it will crush and break all the others.”

Revived Rome

“… this kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle … the people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay.”

Kingdom of God

“In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people.”

“It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever.

The Jews were expecting the Messiah to come. That is why the priests and Levites from Jerusalem ask John the Baptist if he was the Christ (John 1:20).

Messiah [Hebrew: Mashiach] is Christ [Greek: Christos] and “Anointed One” (English).

The Kingdom of God would be centred in Jerusalem where Messiah the king would reign – with his elders - over all the earth.

Isa 24:23 (NIV) … for the LORD Almighty will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and before its elders --with great glory


The Kingdom was predicted by Daniel, Isaiah and all the prophets.

The Kingdom was offered to Israel.

The Kingdom was rejected by Israel.

The Kingdom was replaced by an interim Kingdom that was “not of this world” – the Church Age.

The Kingdom of God fulfilled on earth - the Millennium.


The Jews were expecting the Messiah to free them from the rule of Rome and set up an everlasting kingdom. They were expecting a political leader, not a spiritual leader. At one time “Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.” (John 6:16, NIV)

John the Baptist announced the coming kingdom.

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


But even John the Baptist expected a political ruler and couldn’t understand why Jesus was leaving him in prison.

Matt 11:2-3 (ESV) Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?”

Jesus announced the kingdom.

Mark 1:15 (ESV) “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

A kingdom is a place where a king reigns, but when Jesus spoke of the Kingdom of God, he did not think in terms of locality, but authority. So, when Jesus proclaims that the Kingdom of God has come near, he doesn’t mean that a place is approaching, but that God’s own royal authority and power have come on the scene

So, we could paraphrase Mark 1:15, which summarizes Jesus’ preaching, as follows:

God’s reign is at hand. God’s power is being unleashed. Turn your life around and put your trust in this good news.


As God’s covenant people, the kingdom is offered to Israel:

Matt 10:5-7 (NASB) Jesus sent these twelve out after instructing them: Do not go in the way of the Gentiles … but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel . And as you go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand

Zechariah prophesied the entry of the coming king Messiah into Jerusalem riding on a donkey’s colt, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” (Zech 9:9)

Matthew (21:4-5) and John (12:14-15) tell us that this prophecy was fulfilled by Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

Mark 11:8 (NIV) Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields.

Blessed is the King of Israel! (John 12:13)

The crowd of disciples had shouted “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Matt 21:1-12). Note the words of the Messianic Psalm 118, which speaks of Jesus’ triumphal entry, the boughs, the praise, the procession to the temple and Jesus’ subsequent rejection:

Psalm 118:20-27 This is the gate of the LORD through which the righteous may enter. I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation. The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone... Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD. From the house of the LORD we bless you. The LORD is God, and he has made his light shine upon us. With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession up to the horns of the altar

In Luke’s gospel we read of a parable Jesus told just before he came to Jerusalem as king. Remember that the expected kingdom was going to established in Jerusalem. Luke explains the reason for the parable being told.

Luke 19:11 (NIV) While they were listening to this, he went on to tell them a parable, because he was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once.


In the parable he then tells about the Ten Minas, he predicts his rejection in Jerusalem.

Luke 19:12-14 (NIV) He said: “A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return … But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, ‘We don’t want this man to be our king.’”

Days later the King was rejected by his subjects (John 19:12-16).

Pilate syas, "Shall I crucify your king?"

They reply, "We have no king but Caesar."

John 19:19-22 (ESV) Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek. So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’” Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.”

Luke 13:6-9 records the parable of a vineyard owner (always represents God in Jesus’ parables 1) who was dissatisfied with his barren fig tree (a type of Israel 2). After three years 3 he decides to give it one more chance and then destroy it, if it remains barren.

1 Matt 21:28 (the 2 sons) & 21:33 (the tenants). 2 Interpreting Scripture with Scripture, see Jeremiah 24 where figs represent Israel. 3 Interesting that Jesus’ ministry lasted 3 years?


Some have been puzzled about Jesus’ reason for cursing the fig tree. Matthew 21:18-19 relates how, shortly before his crucifixion, Jesus cursed the tree (a type of Israel) because it was fruitless and it subsequently withered.

The interim kingdom, which was not foreseen by the OT prophets, would go to the Gentiles, because of the Jewish rejection of their Messiah. Matthew recalls how after cursing the fig tree, Jesus subsequently tells 3 consecutive parables which all speak of the kingdom going to the Gentiles.

Firstly (Matt 21:28-31), there is the son (Israel) who initially agreed to obey his Father but did not while the son (the Gentiles) who said he would not obey the Father had a change of heart and did obey.


Secondly (Matt 21:33-41), a vineyard is taken from the original tenants (Israel) after they killed the heir (Jesus) and is given to others (Gentiles) to work it.

After the parable of the tenants, Jesus says, “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.” (v 43)


He identifies himself as the “the stone the builders rejected” which “has become the capstone” (v 42).

We then read that “when the chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus’ parables, they knew he was talking about them.” (v 45)


Thirdly, Jesus then tells a parable about a king (God) preparing a wedding feast for his son (Jesus). The originally intended guests (Israel) refuse the king’s invitation. They mistreat and kill his servants (the prophets) and show indifference to his hospitality. They are judged and their city (Jerusalem) is destroyed. Then the wedding invitation is given to others (the Gentiles) who accept it.


Many of the Jews of the first century were looking for the immediate fulfilment of prophecies that spoke of the restoration of their nation. Even after his resurrection (and just outside of Jerusalem) Jesus’ followers asked him:

Acts 1:6-8 (ESV) “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”


Note that he didn’t say that the kingdom had already come, but gave them a directive that would kickstart the Church Age and the interim kingdom.

It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. [Acts 1:7-8, ESV]

Hours before he is finally rejected by his crucifixion, Jesus formerly introduces a New Covenant to his followers.

Luke 22:20 (NIV) In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”


The bread and wine symbolise an interim kingdom which will find later fulfilment.

Luke 22:15-18 (NIV) And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfilment in the kingdom of God.” After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”


The various teachings on the kingdom of God found throughout the NT, speak of the coming of the kingdom of God as a future event in some places (the Millennium), but in other places as an ongoing event (the Church age).

Jesus has established the kingdom of God on earth, but will not abolish this present evil age until he returns.

The interim ‘Church Age’ is a period when Jesus has a kingdom ‘not of this world’, but Jesus’ use of the word ‘now’ (at present) when speaking to Pilate indicates that this is a temporary situation.

John 18:36 (NKJV) 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.”


Dispensationalists view the kingdom of God as consisting of an earthly theocratic kingdom promised to Israel in the OT. It is the thousand year reign of Christ on earth.

Jesus offered the kingdom to the Jews, but they rejected the offer, and so, instead of establishing the kingdom, Jesus postponed it until the second coming.

In the meantime, he established the ‘mystery form’ of the kingdom during the inter-advent age, in which Christ rules spiritually in the hearts of believers without fulfilling the prophecies of the kingdom on earth.

This interim kingdom is ‘the Church Age’.



The interim kingdom, or ‘Church Age’ was not foreseen by the OT prophets. They sometimes refer to both the 1st and 2nd Coming in the same passage.

Following are 2 references to both the First and Second Coming in an OT passage where the distinction between the 2 comings is not apparent.

This well-known prophecy of the promised child (referring to Jesus’ First Coming) also speaks of Him reigning on David’s throne, which will only be fulfilled at His Second Coming.

Isa 9:6-7 (NIV) For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom …


The following passage which was quoted by Jesus refers predominantly to his ministry of his 1st Coming but the “day of vengeance of our God” refers to his 2nd Coming.

Isa 61:1-2 (NIV) The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favour

and the day of vengeance of our God

When Jesus quotes Isaiah 61 (in Luke 4:16-21) and says that he has fulfilled it, he leaves out the portion that refers to the 2nd Coming (“the day of vengeance”).


Paul explains to the Ephesians how the Church Age and the preaching of the gospel to the Gentiles was a “mystery” that had been hidden in ages past:

Eph 3:8-11 (NIV) … this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. His intent was that now, through the church [ecclesia], the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.


The message that Jesus gave to his disciples to preach at the end of his time on the earth was different to the message he preached in the beginning.

It was not offering a kingdom to Israel but offering salvation to the world through faith in Christ’s death on the cross.

1 John 4:14 (ESV) And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Saviour of the world.


The kingdom of God is the domain over which God is spiritually sovereign. Jesus said his kingdom was not of this world (John 18:36) and that his authority did not come from man but from God

Luke 22:29 (NIV) “And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me.”

A kingdom implies a king. Our king is Jesus. If we are part of his kingdom we should obey the king

Matt 7:46 (NIV) “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?”

Matt 7:21 (NIV) “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”


Entrance into the kingdom of God is by:

the divine call

1 Thess 2:12 (NIV) encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.


Matt 4:17 (NIV) From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”

a new birth

John 3:3 (NIV) In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”


This kingdom of God is an upside-down kingdom where the values are totally different to the world.

In a worldly kingdom, a man’s greatness is determined by how many people serve him; in the kingdom of God, a man’s greatness is determined by how many people he serves.

Matt 20:25-28 (NIV) Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”


The greatest in the kingdom are those who are humble

Matt 5:3 (NIV) “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Matt 18:1-4 (ESV) At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”


Unlike the worldly kingdoms where the rich have a place of privilege, the rich struggle to enter this kingdom.

Matt 19:23-24 (ESV) And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”


So do the religious.

Matt 23:13 (ESV) “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in.”

It is not a kingdom where outward religious ritual is important.

Rom 14:17 (ESV) For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.


And while sinners have no inheritance …

Eph 5:5 (ESV) For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God

… repentant sinners are welcome

Matt 21:31 (NIV) “… Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.”


For now, it’s subjects are hated and persecuted.

Matt 5:10 (NIV) “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

It is not kept in order by military strength.

John 18:36 (NKJV) 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.”

Yet it is a kingdom of true power.

1 Cor 4:20 (ESV) For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power.


Because the kingdom of God is not yet here in its full expression (“as it is in heaven”), the works of this present evil age continue, though not as unlimited as it would have without the presence of the kingdom of God (“you are the salt of the earth”).

Although Christians have eternal life, they still sicken and die.

Although they have been freed from sin, temptation to sin, and sin itself, continue to plague their lives.

Although God dwells within them, their knowledge of God at times seems quite limited.

War, poverty, sickness, godlessness, and death will continue until the end of the age.


We are told to seek the kingdom of God first (Matt 6:33) and to pray for its ultimate arrival “on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt 6:10).

The Kingdom is already among us in that it has invaded Satan’s domain and has assured final victory. The Kingdom comes in a measure whenever a person receives Christ as Saviour, is healed or delivered, or is touched in any way by the divine. Yet the future consummation of the kingdom of God—the time when all evil and rebellion will be eliminated—is the fervent hope of the Christian. 1

1 https:// ag.org/Beliefs/Position-Papers/Kingdom-of-God


When will the kingdom come in its final complete form?

Matt 24:14 (NIV) “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”

The kingdom of God on earth, prophesied by Daniel and the other OT prophets will come during the Millennium (after the Tribulation).

Rev 11:15 (ESV) Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.” (cf. Rev 12:10)


There is a coming future Kingdom of God on earth, where believers will reign with Christ. This is the thousand year reign of Christ called the Millennium.

Rev 20:6 (ESV) Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.

Satan will be bound and inactive for the first time since his rebellion and fall (Rev 20:2).

It will be a time of peace, abundant provision and joy (Ps 72:3–8; Isa 11:6–9; Mic 4:3–4). “All Israel will be saved” (Rom 11:26) and brought into the millennial reign (Ezek 37:21,22; Zeph 3:19,20; Rom 11:26,27.


There is a prophesied celebration feast.

Matt 8:11 (NIV) “I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.”

At the feast we will celebrate the final defeat of suffering, sin and death.

Isaiah 25:6,8 (ESV) On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food … He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth…

With John we say, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus” (Rev 22:20)


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