What exactly is the kingdom of God anyway?

I fear that I may be opening a can of worms with this question :-)

Ever since the post on the church having the wrong priority (https://housechurch.org/page/view-discussion?id=117), I have been doing a lot of thinking and praying on the kingdom of God. It seems that Mr. Perks has a point in that Matt 6:33 tells us that pursuit the kingdom of God comes first in our Christian life. After all, it's there in both the verse and in the context. Yet I can't say that I have a good handle on the phrase "kingdom of God" so I decide that a little research is necessary. This can't be all *that* difficult, can it?

So I start with my trusty friend Google. "What is the kingdom of God?", I ask, half expecting kingdomofgod.com to appear in the first search result with the perfect answer to my query. Instead I get a random collection of pages with different interpretations of the phrase. I see comments like "scholars can't agree on what it is" and "Jesus never defined the kingdom in so many words". Uh oh, looks like this is fast becoming a dead end path. Well, it's Google anyway, so what did I _really_ expect?

Moving on, I crack open my Young's Literal Translation of the Bible to see what it has to say. I find this translation good because it doesn't change passive to active tense and it just lets God's Word speak for itself. So where to start? How about Matt 6:33 - "Seek ye first the kingom of God". So, I look up the chapter and verse and it says this...

but seek ye first the reign of God and His righteousness, and all these shall be added to you

Wait a minute, reign of God? I thought that it was the Kingdom of God, with a capital K! So I check Mark 1:15. Sure enough, I once again see "reign". Back to the Lord's prayer in Matt 6 and all I see is "reign". This can't be right. Reign is a verb, not a noun like "kingdom", yes?

So then I check to see what Daniel Webster has to say about the word "reign". He reminds me that it's both a noun and a verb. It's a verb as in, "King Henry VIII reigned over England from 1509 until 1547". And a noun as in "The reign of King Henry VIII". Is it possiblle that the "reign of God" is both? The noun form implies both a location and a timeline. The timeline is easy since God is sovereign forever. But what about location? Then I remember what Jesus said about the kingdom of God being "within you" (Luke 17:20-21, ESV)...

  20 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, 21 nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”

Now my journey is even more confused, so I turn to my Interlinear Bible (https://biblehub.com/interlinear/matthew/6-33.htm) for help. It translates the word "basileian" in Matt 6:33 as "kingdom". Yet when I look it up online (https://www.biblestudytools.com/lexicons/greek/nas/basileia.html) then I see this...

NAS Word Usage - Total: 163

  1. royal power, kingship, dominion, rule

      1. not to be confused with an actual kingdom but rather the right or authority to rule over a kingdom

      2. of the royal power of Jesus as the triumphant Messiah

      3. of the royal power and dignity conferred on Christians in the Messiah's kingdom

  2. a kingdom, the territory subject to the rule of a king

  3. used in the N.T. to refer to the reign of the Messiah

To say that this is less than helpful is an understatement. Instead of clarifying the word usage, it confirms the dual nature of the noun and verb that I am seeking to clarify

At this point I feel that I could use the collective wisdom of this group. I'm feeling that the word "reign" is a much better choice for translation because it clearly states God's power over His dominion rather than it being implied in the word "kingdom". I think that it also helps keep us humble when talking about that which God owns. While one might presume from Luke 17:20-21 that we, the body of Christ, are the kingdom, the same could not be said about God's reign. God's reign acts within us, but we are not His reign. And finally, going back to Matt 6:33, to "seek first the reign of God and His righteousness" seems to make the reign and the righteousness one single thought rather than a separate kindom and the righteousness within it


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Comments (5)
    • Hi dear brother Todd.

      Fascinating. I'm also struggling with the Kingdom concept.

      To my surprise, Jesus used an earthly "political" term rather than a heavenly "spiritual" one to describe his domain.

      No doubt He had in mind that everything was spiritual or sacred, in the end. No ultimate sacred and secular divide.

      Remember the passage about even the bells of the horses as being "Holiness unto the Lord."?

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      • Todd, Thanks for starting this topic. First of all, I must mention that Matthew 6:33 changed my life 50 years ago. I have been fascinated with the topic ever since. Just to learn that the Kingdom of God was more than a future 1,000 year reign of Christ started me on a life-long journey that continues to this day. I don't claim to fully understand it all but having a focus on the kingdom of God as a priority has enriched me greatly.

        The Young's Literal Translation encouraged me as well. John 3:3 is very interesting:

        Jesus answered and said to him, 'Verily, verily, I say to thee, If any one may not be born from above, he is not able to see the reign of God;' 

        Back then, when I fully and more completely surrendered my life to Jesus, it was as if my eyes were opened, and I could see God's work in my life and in the world more clearly. I still believe in a future demonstration of the reign of God on earth, but now I know that it began over 2,000 years ago exactly as Jesus said it would.

        While Jesus did not exactly give a dictionary definition of the kingdom of God, He taught in word and deed many things to help us understand it. Even as a young man, I understood enough about it to turn my life around and to experience His righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit!

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        • Great input. Love the discussion.

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          • I have been studying this and trying to walk it out for many years. Will try to post later this week. I self published a book called the Centurion Way with some basics on the gospel of the kingdom of God. Not trying to make $$ here really but lot of food for thought in what I share there. Blessings 

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            • To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God. Acts 1:3

              This passage was one I read through a number of times before finally noticing the kingdom of God part. The fact that Jesus spent His final 40 days on earth with His disciples focused on the kingdom should tell you just how significant this is. If you read through the gospels you will also see that the good news of the kingdom of God was His central theme that He preached and taught.
              But He said to them, “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, for I was sent for this purpose.” Luke 4:43

              Paul continued the theme.

              “And now, behold, I know that all of you, among whom I went about preaching the kingdom, will no longer see my face. Acts 20:25

              There is a lot more concerning the kingdom but wanted to put these few scriptures out there as food for thought. 

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              What exactly is the kingdom of God anyway?
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