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Theology > Jesus > Life and Teaching > The Kingdom > Terminology of the Kingdom  


Matthew and Mark record the same event in the life of Christ, and both reference with slightly different terminology a concept spoken by Jesus:

From that time Jesus began to preach, saying “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 4:17);

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

Matthew has “the kingdom of heaven,” while Mark reports “the kingdom of God.” Matthew is unique in the phrase he records, one that is found over thirty times in his writing and found only in his writing. Are there two different kingdoms, or are these two different phrases that both refer to the same entity?

There is no reason for not accepting that the phrases are interchangeable. Both “heaven” and “God” speak of the supernatural dimension of the Kingdom—it is of heaven; it is of God—it is not of man. There are not two different Kingdoms, one of heaven and one of God; rather, the same reality is spoken of from different perspectives, but the reality is one. There is no distinction between the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of God.

Not only is the Kingdom spoken of in terms of “heaven” and “God”, it is also spoken of in terms of “age,” the age that is in contrast to the age that is ahead: “Whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come” (Matt. 12:32; see: Eph. 1:21). Here Jesus sets in opposition the two ages: “this age” versus “the age to come”; surely “the age to come” speaks of the outward manifestation of the Kingdom in eternity. The “age to come” is “the kingdom of heaven” or “the kingdom of God”; the “age to come” is the eschatological materialization of the Kingdom.

The disciples inquired concerning the end of the age (Matt. 24:3, 30-31); they understood that this age will end, and a new age will come (Mk. 10:29-30). According to Jesus “the age to come” is “that age,” the one which will be initiated by the end-time resurrection; He spoke of “those who are counted worthy to attain that age, and the resurrection from the dead” (Lu. 20:34-35).  Jesus associated “that age” with “the resurrection from the dead.”

The end time and the end of the age are phrases that depict the transition from “this age” to “the age to come,” that is, from time to eternity, from reality that is characterized by chronology to reality devoid of chronology—the full manifestation of the Kingdom. This age will end and time will be no more (Rev. 10:6; most modern versions improperly transl. chronos as “delay” rather than “time”).

The age to come will be the age of the Kingdom, the Kingdom of heaven, the Kingdom of God. There are other references to the Kingdom:

The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend (Matt. 13:41; 16:28);

Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father (Matt. 13:43);

I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom (Matt. 26:29);

Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that comes in the name of the Lord (Mk. 11:10; see: Acts 2:29-30);

You may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom (Lu. 22:30; Jo. 18:36);

No fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God (Eph. 5:5);

He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love (Col. 1:13);

The Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom (II Tim. 4:18);

An entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (II Pet. 1:11);

The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever (Rev. 11:15);

Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God and the power of His Christ have come (Rev. 12:10).

The above references do not describe different kingdoms, but all speak of the same Kingdom, the rule and realm of God’s Sovereignty that is being established and will be finally, completely, and eternally established over all things (see: God is Sovereign and All Things). The Kingdom is both present and is coming. In the variety of terminology is instruction concerning various aspects or nuances of the Kingdom; together they provide something of the comprehensive nature of the Kingdom, associated with David, with heaven, with God the Father, and with His Christ.  

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