Kingdom of God
1 Cor. 15:25
Eph. 1:3; 2:6
1 Peter 2:9
- Matthew 3:2
- "And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
- Matthew 4:17
- "From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
- Matthew 11:12
- "And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force."
- Luke 16:16
- "The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it."
- These passages are cited by the Church of Christ in proof of their doctrine that the Kingdom of God was established on the day of Pentecost. Stress is placed on the words "is at hand" to emphasize that the kingdom would not have to wait nearly two thousand years for its establishment at Christ's return.
- The language of these passages must be carefully noted: It is not - "the law and the prophets were until John and since that time the kingdom of God has been established and every man presseth into it", but rather the kingdom of God is preached and every man presses towards1 it.
- If the kingdom of God were established on Pentecost, how could every man press into it from the days of John the Baptist? (Lk. 16:16). This passage clearly proves too much for the Church of Christ interpretation, for if it is insisted that the kingdom had to be established for every man to press into it, then the passage only serves to show that the kingdom is not the "church" which is said to have been set up at Pentecost. This "church" would have been established in the days of John the Baptist before the death of Christ.
- Similarly, Jesus stated the "from the days of John the Baptist until now" the kingdom of God suffered violence. (Matt. 11:12). But if the kingdom were not established until Pentecost, how could it suffer violence in the days of John the Baptist? How could violent men take the "church" by force?
- In the preceding verse Jesus stated that "among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater that he." (Matt. 11:11). This is in itself proof that the kingdom is not the "church". Consider the following:
- Since Jesus says there is none born of women greater than John the Baptist, the greatest in the "church" is not as great as John the Baptist.2
- But he that is least in the kingdom of heaven3 is greater that John the Baptist.4
- Therefore, the "church" cannot be synonymous with the kingdom.
- How did the kingdom come "nigh" or was "near at hand?" The Greek word "basileia" translated "kingdom" means "the royal dominion, including the power and form of government, with the territory and the kingdom."5 When men were confronted with the Royal Majesty of the kingdom in his teaching6 and power,7 it is said to be the kingdom coming nigh.
- The disciples were also confused as to the time of the setting up of the kingdom. It was for this reason that Jesus instructed them that the nobleman must go into "a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return." (Lk. 19:11, 12). Jesus' instruction is incompatible with the Church of Christ teaching that the kingdom was shortly to be set up at Pentecost.
- The Greek preposition "eis" translated "into" also means "toward". "Eis, into, unto, to, implying motion to the interior . . ." E. W. Bullinger, A Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek Testament, (London: Samuel Bagster and Sons Ltd., 1957). "Eis" is translated "toward" 32 times. See, for example: Matt. 28:1; Lk. 13:22; Jn. 6:17; Acts 27:40; 28:14. Return
- The only way that the logic of this argument can be evaded is for one to argue that by being in the "church" one is greater than John the Baptist. Now this would be a very bold assertion indeed. The work of John the Baptist was a partial fulfillment of the Elijah prophecy (Matt. 11:14 cf. Mal. 4:5,6). John the Baptist was a prophet of God and remained faithful until his death. Is it tenable that anyone joining the Church of Christ is greater than John the Baptist? If the kingdom is the "church", then such would be the case. It is a simple matter of observation that many who have joined the Church of Christ have subsequently fallen away. The Church of Christ argument requires that Demas (2 Tim. 4:10), Alexander (2 Tim. 4:14) and Diotrephes (3 Jn. 9) are all greater than John the Baptist by virtue of being in the "church". Return
- The "kingdom of heaven" is synonymous with the "kingdom of God." Compare the following passages: Matt. 11:11 and Lk. 7:28; Matt. 8:11 and Lk. 13:29. Return
- The possessor of the kingdom (being immortal; 1 Cor. 15:50-54) is greater than John the Baptist who was mortal. Return
- E. W. Bullinger, A Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek Testament, (London: Samuel Bagster and Sons Ltd., 1957) Return
- E.g. Matt. 3:2. Return
- E.g. Matt. 12:28. The close association of "king" and "kingdom" is indicated in the following parallels in the Synoptic Gospels:
- "Behold thy King cometh . . . Hosanna to the Son of David" (Matt. 21:5,9 cf. Zech. 9:9)
- "Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord . . . Blessed be the kingdom of our father David" (Mark 11:9,10).
- "Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord" (Luke 19:38). Return