Kingdom of God

This entry is part 258 of 395 in the series Inquiring Minds

What is meant by “the kingdom of heaven is within us”? Are there any Bible scriptures that speak about the Kingdom of Heaven being within us?

This phrase, “the kingdom of heaven is within us” is found nowhere in Scripture. However, there are a couple of close phrases to it. They do not mean the same thing that is implied in the verse quoted in the question.

In Luke 17:21, the phrase Jesus uses is, “the kingdom of God is in your midst.” The Pharisees asked Jesus when the kingdom of God was coming. He told them in response:

Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”” (Luke 17:20–21, ESV)

We must first define the kingdom of God before we can fully understand Jesus’ statement. Does the kingdom of God here refer to the end times and the eschatological return of the Son of Man? If you read on in the passage you will find Jesus talking about the end times and when he is coming back.

If we take the kingdom of God to refer to God’s kingdom or his reign over people, we may understand Jesus to be telling the Pharisees at the kingdom of God cannot be visibly seen. What he means by this is that his kingdom starts in the hearts of every human being that chooses to follow and obey him.

If this is the case, the kingdom of God occurs in Christians who spread the gospel that they received to others. The kingdom of God expands one person at a time as we witness to others about Jesus and they become his disciples.

If this does refer to the end times event of Jesus returning as the Son of Man, then the kingdom of God will not be visible until the sky lights up as he returns in the clouds. This is another possible interpretation of this passage.

The only way you can understand this to mean that the kingdom of God is within us is if the “us” refers to believers who follow Christ, are sealed with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13-14), and are serving God.

We must also remember that in the immediate context of these verses, Jesus is the one standing in their midst. We can also understand him to be saying that he, as the one who inaugurates the kingdom of God, is standing before them. He is not only the King of God’s kingdom, but he himself is God’s kingdom in person.

There is another phrase that comes close to this one as well, “the kingdom of God is near you (or has come near you).” When Jesus is casting out demons, he tells the religious leaders that if he is doing it by the finger of God than the kingdom is upon them (Matthew 12:28; Luke 11:20).

When Jesus begins to demonstrate the power of God and his kingdom over the demonic kingdom of this earth, he is showing that the kingdom is breaking out against demonic forces. God is taking back what is rightfully his. And he is using Jesus as his his King to bring in his kingdom.

In Luke 21:31 Jesus is teaching on the end times events that will occur and says that when we see these things begin to happen that he prophesies about, the kingdom of God is coming near us.

So other than the kingdom of God spreading from person-to-person through the message of the gospel as Jesus rains in our hearts, we will see the kingdom upon us and coming near when we see demonic forces broken in our world and when we see the end times events Jesus prophesies when he speaks this phrase.

God’s kingdom has already been inaugurated by Jesus throughout his life and ministry. But he continues to expand through evangelism and the message of the gospel, the commitment of new disciples and converts to the kingdom of God. And it will come in its entirety and fullness in the end times when Jesus returns to this earth.

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