Is the Kingdom of God on earth now or do we still have to wait for it?
We are watching a growing trend of rejecting the idea that Christ is coming back literally, physically (pre-millennial view) to rule over the nations and establish his governmental rule. They have replaced it with the concept of the church is to take over the world and establish the kingdom of God.
There are over 360 references to a Millennium period where the Messiah, Jesus, will be on earth ruling the nations. The book of Revelation speaks of a thousand years as the length of this period. It tells us where and what will take place as this kingdom is established. It is not possible for one to fit the Scriptures into a present kingdom on earth now.
The kingdom of God and kingdom of heaven is mentioned nearly 100 times in the New Testament, the majority in the Gospels [Matthew and Luke], (Acts 1:3,8:12,14:22, 19:8, 20:25, 28:23,31; Rom. 14:17; 1 Cor. 4:20, 1 Cor. 6:9-10,1 Cor. 15:50; Gal. 5:21; Eph. 5:5; Col. 1:13, 4:11; II Thess. 1:5; 2 Pet. 1:11; Rev. 12:10)
Biblically, there is a spiritual Kingdom, which is God’s rule, in the heart of every believer. This is an invisible spiritual kingdom. In this way, we are in the Kingdom. However, there is a literal kingdom, a messianic rule by Jesus that will commence after His Second Coming when He will be physically present to rule from Israel for 1,000 years and the saints will co-reign with Him. This is the “true kingdom” on earth that we are to be patiently waiting for. The gospel of the kingdom is related to his future coming the Lord being the king over all the earth (liken to David being King over Israel). The prophets prophesied of a time when a descendant of David's would take the throne as king. He would be the Lord's anointed, the Messiah (Jer. 33:15-16; Amos 9:11; Micah 5:2).
In the New Testament many made the mistake of Jesus’ first coming being the fulfillment of all the prophecies. Luke 19:11: “they thought the kingdom of God would appear immediately”
Jesus said, Luke 21:31: “when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near”
Luke 17:20-21 “Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, "The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, 'See here!' or 'See there!' For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.”
From numerous passages we can know there is more than one meaning to the kingdom. One is that it is present among them and another that has a future coming. In this passage, Jesus is stating that the Kingdom of God is within you. The Greek word is entos, which means in there midst, among them. It was the Pharisees that asked the question of when the Kingdom would come. Surely Jesus is not saying the Kingdom is within them after he spoke to them that their Father is the Devil. He (Jesus) Himself is the Kingdom, and wherever the King is present, there resides the Kingdom. Jesus then describes the future event of how the Kingdom will come; it does not come with observation. Scripture tells us the kingdom was present in spiritual form on earth, demonstrated by Christ’s ability to cast out demons (Matthew 12:28, 4:23), heal and save. But this is not the ultimate fulfillment of the Kingdom. The gospels focus on the present aspect of the kingdom of God with Jesus on earth, but it is also clear that He was speaking of the kingdom will be realized in the future at the SECOND COMING.
What the kingdom is not- The Kingdom is not the church! If it were this would mean that God is ruling the earth by the Church. There are several distinctions between the church and the Kingdom. The terms “church” and “kingdom” are never used interchangeably in Scripture as are the kingdom of God and the kingdom of heaven. Of the 114 occurrences of the word “church” (Gr. “Ekklesia”), it is never used with the Kingdom. The full arrival of this kingdom is when the king that rules the kingdom arrives, pointing to His second advent and judgment. Which makes it plain, the entity called the church is not the kingdom the Bible is speaking of. It is clear that the apostles preached the Kingdom of God (Acts 8:12; 19:8; 28:23), one cannot substitute the church for the Kingdom in these passages. However, there is a relationship. The church is made up of those who are born anew and submit to Christ’s rulership in their lives which has them become part of His Kingdom immediately and assures them a part in it later when He returns.
Matthew 13 speaks of the parables of the mystery kingdom. Jesus compared the kingdom of heaven to: a man who sowed good seed in his field (Mt.13:24, 28). To a granule of mustard seed (Mt.13:31; Mk.4:31). To leaven (the working of yeast) (Mt. 13:33).To a treasure (Mt. 13:34). To a pearl (Mt. 13:45). To a net (Mt.13:47-50). To a king who called his servants to settle accounts (Mt.18:23-35). To a landowner who hired servants (Mt. 20:1-16). To a king who arranged a marriage celebration for his son (Mt. 22:1-14; Lk. 14:16-24). To ten virgins meeting the Bridegroom (Mt.25:1-13). To a man, traveling to a far country, who gave his servants talents to increase by (Mt.25:14-30; Lk. 19:12-27).
By these illustrations he is making a point of similarity. Mark 4:11 the disciples were given “to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside, all things come in parables, Luke 8:10 and Matt 13:11 it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, Paul speaks of the wisdom of God in a mystery (1 Cor. 2:7). And in Rom. 16:25 the gospel, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began.” Eph. 6:19 “the mystery of the gospel” the gospel is part of the kingdom of God.
Matthew 13 tells us about the mystery form of the Kingdom (Mark 4:11), the Gospel Age - in which the Kingdom of God has invaded Satan’s Kingdom (who is the ruler on earth), rescuing them and bringing them advanced blessings attributed to the millennial reign (Righteousness, peace, forgiveness, and joy, Rom. 14:17). It is the Kingdom without observation, but is discerned spiritually (John 3:3). It is mentioned only twice in John’s gospel by Jesus to Nicodemus John 3:3, 5. In John 3:3 Jesus told Nicodemus, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Jesus further explains in v.6 that one birth is of the flesh (natural) the other is a new birth, (a spiritual birth), which is a necessity. This birth which brings one into the Kingdom (we are to enter the kingdom of God Luke 18:17, 24, 25). It is produced by the seed (the word of God) being scattered on different soil (hearts) and springs to life and grows on the right ground. The seeds that produced the sons of the Kingdom grow together along with the sons of the Evil One until the end of the age - the harvest time. Those of the Kingdom, who have been born into it, will enter into the Kingdom Age with Christ ruling, known as the Millennium; those who do not believe will be rejected. This age has not happened, his literal- physical kingdom has not appeared yet. When we speak of the expansion of God’s kingdom today, it means the spiritual aspect.
In Greek, the word Kingdom is Basileia, which denotes “sovereignty, royal power, and dominion. It further denotes the territory or people over whom a King rules” (From Vine’s Expository Dictionary, p. 344). Thus, “kingdom” is a designation both of power and the form of government as well as, especially in the later writers, the territory and the rule - the Kingship and the Kingdom. Hence, the basic meaning of kingdom involves three things - a ruler, a people who are ruled, and a territory over which they are ruled. (Moody Handbook of Theology p. 352)
We are now servants in His Kingdom, we enter in through Christ by the New Birth, but there is still a literal future Kingdom to come. There is a spiritual aspect to the Kingdom, which is God being the Lord over the believer. This aspect is the invisible spiritual kingdom. Jesus explains in other places that the kingdom will come to earth. Jesus said when He was present on earth, "My kingdom is not of this world," so it has to have a future meaning.
As he also said "for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes" (Luke 22:18) again giving it a future fulfillment.
Isaiah 2:2 speaks of the Lord’s house established on the top of the mountains (in Israel). All nations will flow to it (Zech. 14:16-21). If there is no Israel, there will be no kingdom. In Isaiah 2:3, we find that it is the Lord Himself who is present as king in the Kingdom who will teach the nations. Verse 4 shows the end of war, and peace among the people. This certainly speaks of a future event that has not yet occurred for the world is not at peace but has more turmoil than ever before (just as Jesus said will occur BEFORE He returns).
The Kingdom is God’s rule, which brings into subjection those held captive in the Kingdom of Satan. Christ delivers them from darkness into light by the gospel, yet the literal/physical kingdom is eschatological - it comes at the end of the age. At this time, Christ will come with all of His glory and set up His governmental rule over the earth. There is no literal kingdom without the king being present. Many quote Mark 9:1 to prove the Kingdom has already commenced, but a closer look at the whole passage shows Christ revealing His glory to His closest disciples, showing what it will be like in the future by Moses and Elijah appearing. Peter volunteers to build tabernacles for them, making the mistake of believing that the Kingdom had permanently arrived. Jesus corrects Peter and shows him that it is not the time for the Kingdom to be set up. Peter speaks of the Kingdom in a future tense.2 Pt. 1:16-18:“For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming (parousia) of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty” In other words the Lords kingdom will come in glory and power and it will be evident to all.”
Luke 22:25-27: Jesus explains ones position in the kingdom is through being a servant. When Jesus comes back He will physically be present to rule, He will be here physically. Then we will be servants in the kingdom because the king will be there. We are already authorized as servants, and Jesus said a servant is not greater than his master. We are to be under Jesus’ authority, we are not equal with the king of Kings. Jesus said “All authority has been given to ME in heaven and on earth.” The Father gave all authority to Jesus after His resurrection, not to the church (Matthew 28:18-19). All authority is given to the one who died for our sins, ONLY Jesus has ALL AUTHORITY, only he is worthy to rule. “She bore a male Child (Christ the Son) who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron” (Revelation 12:5). “And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron”(Revelation 19:15). God the Father has given Christ the God/man to be the ruler of the kingdom, not any other man or the church (Psalm 2:8). Daniel 7:27: “His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him.”
Concerning the future, the Lord taught His disciples to pray, “Thy Kingdom come” (Matt. 6:10), where the verb is in the point tense, precluding the notion of a gradual progress and development and implying a sudden catastrophe as declared in 2 Thessalonians 2:8 (Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, p. 345). If the kingdom were here on the earth now then it would no longer be valid to pray this. If the kingdom is in on earth now, I’m very disappointed since it is not what the Bible describes as the kingdom. In one sense the kingdom of God has spiritually infiltrated this world and Satan’s kingdom of darkness, but he still is here. In the completed kingdom He is removed from his influence on earth (Rev.20:2).
Paul spoke of this Kingdom in a future tense (1 Cor. 6:9; 15:50; Gal. 5:21; Eph. 5:5).Daniel 7:21-22: “I was watching; and the same horn (little horn) was making war against the saints, and prevailing against them, until the Ancient of Days came, and a judgment was made in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came for the saints to possess the kingdom.” The saints are at war spiritually and physically during the Tribulation. There is a time in which the Saints will possess and live in the kingdom but it can only be when the king himself has returned, he does not return until the Tribulation is complete. Since this did not happen yet, we are not seeing the kingdom established. It is not until Jesus comes that we possess the kingdom. This does not refer to His first coming, but His second. And this is what will occur- The Lord Jesus Christ “will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom” (2 Timothy 4:1). As we can see from Scripture His kingdom comes accompanied with His physical appearing, they are simultaneous events, and it comes with judgment as well as a blessing (Matthew 25:31-34).
In the meantime, we can preach about the kingdom by sowing the seed and try to persuade people to enter in but it is their choice whether they will either receive it or reject. Remember Jesus said, “No one comes to ME, unless the Father draws him.”