Kingdom of God

Kingdom of God

The Kingdom of God or Reign of God (Greek: ] spiritual rebirth, [Kingdom entered through spiritual rebirth: "no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit" ] and is not the only kingdom [Other kingdoms: "If Satan is divided against himself, how can his kingdom stand?". According to C. H. Dodd, the common translation of “malkuth” with “basileia” in Greek and hence “kingdom” in English is therefore problematic; a translation with “kingship,” "kingly rule," “reign” or “sovereignty” should be preferred. [Dodd, C.H., "The Parables of the Kingdom," (Fontana 1961), p.29. (public domain)] .

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) states that the word basileia can be translated as "kingship," "kingdom" or "reign" (CCC 2816).

From a purely etymological viewpoint, the word "basileia" is believed to have derived from the Greek word for base or foundation. [ [ Strong’s Greek Dictionary] , webpage, retrieved June 24, 2006] Some writers prefer this root definition because it eliminates the confusion with monarchy.

Scholars during the current third quest for the historical Jesus have translated the phrase "Kingdom of God" as "God's imperial rule", or sometimes "God's domain", to better grasp its sense in today's language.

The Jesus Seminar has chosen to translate "basileia" as ‘empire.’ John B. Cobb points out that this has the disadvantage of implying a hierarchical nature to the realm of God, a concept clearly lacking from Jesus thought, in Cobb’s view. [ [ Cobb, John and David Tracy, Talking About God: Doing Theology in the Context of Modern Pluralism, Seabury Press, 1983] , webpage, retrieved June 24, 2006]

Fr. Richard Chilson, C.S.P., suggests the term "Love's Domain," "Love's Dominion," or "Love's Rule" because the Kingdom of God is where the God who is Love rules. [Chilson, Richard (2001). Yeshua of Nazareth: Spiritual Master. Notre Dame, IN: Sorin Books]

Even with the debate over the translation of the term, modern scholars see the concept of the kingdom of God as the main message of Jesus.

Abrahamic faiths

Certain writers assert that the Kingdom of God is a concept detailed in all the three Abrahamic religions— Judaism, Christianity and Islam.


For Muslims, belief in the Kingdom of God may refer to the belief in Allah's absolute dominion over all things. Thus in Islam every place -all creation- may be considered God's Kingdom if those that live there "hold onto good qualities and good actions". [ [,M1 “As long as we hold onto good qualities and good actions, this world will be the hereafter, and our life here will be a life in heaven, a life of grace”. M. R. Bawa Muhaiyaddeen, Islam & World Peace: Explanations of a Sufi, The Fellowship Press, 2004, p 34] ]

The notion of God's kingdom on Earth, however, constitutes the establishment of and adherence to Allah's laws within human society, in order to maintain a lasting peace and unity within the lives of the devout, at all levels. These include personal, criminal, state and international levels. As such, some Muslim groups hold the view that the Kingdom of God constitutes a caliphate/Imamate -a geographical region unified under the faith of Islam- and even


The Kingdom of God is referred to frequently in the Tanakh (see 1 Chronicles ).


Discussion of the "basileia" dates back for centuries. Eusebius identified basileia with monarchy while Augustine foresaw a merger of the church and basileia. Aquinas, however, ignores the concept and, considering its prominence in Jesus' dialectic, it was relatively little discussed by Christian theologians until Johannes Cocceius (1660) and Hermann Samuel Reimarus in the 18th century, during what has become known as the "first quest" for the historical Jesus. [ [ Kevin Hart, The Experience of the Kingdom of God] , webpage, retrieved June 24, 2006] ["Von dem Zwecke Jesu und seiner Junger." Noch ein Fragment des Wolfenbuttelschen Ungenannten. Herausgegeben von Gotthold Ephraim Lessing. Braunschweig, 1778, 276 pp. (The Aims of Jesus and His Disciples A further Instalment of the anonymous Woltenbiittel Fragments. Published by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing. Brunswick, 1778.)]

The premise of a Kingdom is integral to both Jewish and Christian Scriptures. The Hebrew Bible (the same biblical books as the Protestant Old Testament) contains a set of laws, known as The Law, which governed the nation of Israel as a Theocracy. Prophecies throughout the Old Testament refer to this kingdom as eternal, later revealed to be fulfilled through King David's lineage. The Christian view of Jesus as the Messiah (or Anointed One) is more than organized religion, but rather stems from the original Hebrew theocratic belief in a Kingdom of God.

Jesus assumes his audience understands the Kingdom foundation that was laid in the Hebrew Scriptures. When Jesus speaks of the Kingdom of God he speaks of the time of the fulfillment of the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants. A time of a restored earth where the faithful will worship and serve their God forever under the rulership of a righteous leader of the Davidic line. This was the Messianic hope of the prophets of the Hebrew Scriptures and was carried over and echoed in the words of John the Baptist, Jesus, Peter, Paul and others in the Greek Scriptures.

Jesus would attach the theme of the gospel message itself with this Kingdom idea. , ) and "the word of God" (). The phrase "inaugurated eschatology" has achieved near consensus among evangelical interpreters as expressing the essence of the present/future tension inherent in the teaching of Jesus regarding the kingdom of God. "Inaugurated eschatology" posits that Jesus Christ, through his incarnation, death, resurrection, and exaltation, has ushered in the messianic age so that the kingdom of God may be understood to be present in an incipient fashion, while at the same time awaiting consummation in the future age following the second coming

The present aspect of the Kingdom refers to the changed state of heart or mind (metanoia) within Christians (see ), emphasizing the spiritual nature of His Kingdom by saying, "The Kingdom of Heaven is within (or among) you." The reported activity of Jesus in healing diseases, driving out demons, teaching a new ethic for living, and offering a new hope in God to the poor, is understood to be a demonstration of that Kingdom in action.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church accepts the doctrine of the Kingdom of God dividing it into two phases. These are, the Kingdom of Grace which was established immediately after Adam and Eve sinned, and the Kingdom of Glory which will be fully established when Christ returns to earth for the second time.

Further reading

* John Bright, "The Kingdom of God" (ISBN 0687209080)
* George Eldon Ladd, "The Gospel of the Kingdom" (ISBN 9780802812803)
* Arthur Glasser, "Announcing the Kingdom" (ISBN 0801026261)
* H.R. Ridderbos "Coming of the Kingdom" (ISBN 0875524087)
* Bruce Thomas "The Kingdom of God: How it began and How it will end" (ISBN 1419661698)
* Charles Van Engen "The Good News of the Kingdom" (ISBN 1579102786)
* Christopher Wright "The Mission of God" (ISBN 9780830825714)

Roman Catholic interpretations

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) teaches that the coming Reign of God will be a kingdom of love, peace, and justice (CCC 2046). Justice is defined as a virtue whereby one respects the rights of all persons, living in harmony and equity with all (CCC 1807). The Kingdom of God began with Christ's death and Resurrection and must be further extended by Christians until it has been brought into perfection by Christ at the end of time (CCC 782, 2816). The Christian does this by living the way Christ lived, by thinking the way Christ thought (CCC 2046) and by promoting peace and justice (CCC 2820). This can be accomplished by discerning how the Holy Spirit (God) is calling one to act in the concrete circumstances of one's life (CCC 2820). Christians must also pray, asking God for what is necessary to cooperate with the coming of His Kingdom (CCC 2632). Jesus gathered disciples to be the seed and the beginning of God's Reign on earth, and Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to guide them (CCC 541, 764). Jesus continues to call all people to come together around him (CCC 542) and to spread His Kingdom across the entire world (CCC 863). However, the ultimate triumph of Christ's Kingdom will not come about until Christ's return to earth at the end of time (CCC 671). During Christ's second coming, he will judge the living and the dead. Only those who are judged to be righteous and just will reign with Christ forever (CCC 1042, 1060). Christ's second coming will also mark the absolute defeat of all evil powers, including Satan (CCC 550, 671). Until then, the coming of the Kingdom will continue to be attacked by evil powers as Christians wait with hope for the second coming of their Savior (CCC 671, 680). This is why Christians pray to hasten Christ's return by saying to him "Marana tha!" which means "Come, Lord Jesus!" (CCC 671, 2817).

According to Fr. William Barry, S.J., we can understand the Kingdom of God as God's intention for the universe. God has revealed that His intention for our world is that all humans live as brothers and sisters, as sons and daughters of God (Is 2:2-5, Is 11:6-9, Is 40:4-5, Eph 1:3, 9-10). Our thoughts and actions can either be in tune with God's intention or not. Only by being in tune with God's intention will we ever know true fulfillment or happiness in this life. Prayer, discernment and knowledge of God's revealed Word are needed to discover how one can be in tune with God's intention. [Barry, William (1990). Paying Attention to God. Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press]

According to Fr. Daniel J. Harrington, S.J., the Kingdom of God primarily refers to the era when Christ comes again to bring the final establishment of God’s rule over all creation, which will include a final judgment where the righteous are rewarded and the wicked are punished. The concept of the Kingdom of God offers the goal for Christian life: those who follow the example and teachings of Jesus will be vindicated when the Kingdom of God comes and will reign with Christ forever. [Harrington, Daniel J., "The Now and Future Kingdom," American Catholic (May 2006), online at, accessed August 26 2006. ]

In Biblical scholar John P. Meier's "Mentor, Message, and Miracles" ("", v. 2, 1994, pp. 235-506), the 'Message' "is" the kingdom of God. The book examines that the subject as found in: :*the Old Testament and Pseudepigrapha and at Qumran :* Jesus' proclamation of a future kingdom :* the kingdom proclaimed by Jesus' words and deeds as already present in his ministry (pp. 451-53).

Pope Benedict XVI in his book "Jesus of Nazareth", says there are "three dimensions" to the Church Fathers' interpretation of term Kingdom of God. The first, which comes from Origen, is that Jesus is himself the Kingdom in person"Jesus of Nazareth" by Pope Benedict XVI, chapter 3 pp 49-50 (Bloomsbury 2007). ISBN 978-0-7475-9278-5] . The second "sees man's interioriry as the essential location of the Kingdom". This second dimension also comes from Origen. "The third dimension of the interpretation of the Kingdom of God we could call the ecclesiastical: the Kingdom of God and the Church are related in different ways and brought into more or less close proximity". That is to say that the Church is the Kingdom of God.

Eastern Orthodoxy

Within the theological tradition of the Eastern Orthodox Church the Kingdom of God is the future of all mankind and the created world, in that God will be in direct communion with the cosmos. This communion is that all mankind will experience their existence in the presence of God. God as being the Kingdom of God. God as paradise and punishment.

Pre-millennial approaches

A number of groups take a political/eschatological approach to the Kingdom of God emphasizing a physical reign of Jesus Christ on earth after the parousia. These groups often place special emphasis on the role of a restored kingdom of Israel.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints considers the church itself as the Kingdom of God on the earth. However, this is limited to a spiritual or ecclesiastical kingdom until the Millennium when Christ will also establish a political Kingdom of God. This will have worldwide political jurisdiction when the Lord has made "a full end of all nations" (Doctrine & Covenants 87: 6). However, Latter-day Saints believe that this theocratic "kingdom" will in fact be quasi-republican in organization, and will be freely chosen by the survivors of the millennial judgments rather than being imposed upon an unwilling populace. "See" Council of Fifty; Theodemocracy.

Jehovah's Witnesses extend the idea of the Kingdom of God to more than just a state of mind or heart. The belief is that the Kingdom is a government headed by Jesus Christ as King, ruling in heaven since 1914. Jehovah's Witnesses come to the year 1914 by two lines of reasoning: Bible chronology dealing with the end of the Times of the Gentiles ["What Does the Bible "Really " Teach" pp. 215-218 '1914—A Significant Year in Bible Prophecy'] and observed world conditions ["Do You Recognize the Sign of Jesus' Presence?" [] ] . The miracles and preaching of the Kingdom that Jesus carried out while on earth is a work that gave hope, illustrated the benefits the Kingdom would bring, and urged efforts to gain God's favor. Jehovah's Witnesses try to imitate that preaching work in their door-to-door work by highlighting the Kingdom of God ["The Good News They Want You to Hear" [] ] . In fact, the full name of the Watchtower is "The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah's Kingdom." In short, the Kingdom is the means through which God vindicates His name and sovereignty [‘The Great Crowd to Live in Heaven? Or on Earth?' "Jehovah’s Witnesses—Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom 1984, p. 167.] and accomplishes His will through Christ, and restores conditions on earth to those similar in the Garden of Eden. "Additional information on the Kingdom in relation to the Last Days and Jehovah's Witnesses."

Christadelphians believe in an end time political kingdom. This viewpoint says that in the last days Christ will return to rescue Israel (the nation), judge all who are responsible to God's judgment, and make an immortal administration for the Kingdom of God re-established on earth. It will be based in Jerusalem, and will provide the faithful of all generations with the land promised to them because they are heirs of the land of the middle East, with Abraham. The Kingdom will grow to rule over all other nations, with Jesus as the King and with his administration (immortal saints) ruling over the nations with him. Those ruled over will firstly be the Jews who are alive then (although mortal) and the survivors of all other nations (also mortal). During that time, lifespans of mortals will be greatly increased, and justice will be carefully maintained. Thus the world will be filled with peace and the knowledge of God.

Other viewpoints

Leading feminist theologians, especially Elizabeth Schussler Fiorenza emphasize the feminine gender of the word "basileia" and the feminist nature of the early teachings of Jesus and the important and counter-cultural role and contributions of women in the Jesus sect. [ [Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza, A Feminist Theological Reconstruction of Christian Origins, Crossroads, New York, 1992]

Jesus use of the phrase "Kingdom of God" is believed by the liberation theologists to have been a deliberate but indirect criticism of the Roman system of domination.

Some scholars (most notably P.D. Ouspensky, in his book A New Model of the Universe, chapter 4) propose that "The Kingdom of Heaven" could actually be an esoteric group, that one should 'seek' within our own society.

Some universalists believe that God will use the Kingdom to bring about the salvation of all mankind. []

See also

*Christian eschatology
*Christ King
*"The Kingdom of God Is Within You"
*Queen of Heaven
*Sermon on the Mount
*Tikkun olam

References and notes

External links

* [ Catholic Encyclopedia: Kingdom of God]
* [ Jewish Encyclopedia: Kingdom of God]
* [ The Present and Future Kingdom of God]
* [ Strong’s Greek Dictionary]
* [ Richard L. Pratt, Jr., What is the Kingdom of God]

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  • Kingdom of God — • In this expression the innermost teaching of the Old Testament is summed up, but it should be noted that the word kingdom means ruling as well; thus it signifies not so much the actual kingdom as the sway of the king Catholic Encyclopedia.… …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Kingdom of God — Kingdom King dom, n. [AS. cyningd[=o]m. See 2d {King}, and { dom}.] 1. The rank, quality, state, or attributes of a king; royal authority; sovereign power; rule; dominion; monarchy. [1913 Webster] Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom. Ps. cxiv.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • kingdom of God — The central theme of Jesus preaching according to the synoptic gospels, and a major subject of scholarly investigation for more than a century. The term does not occur in the OT; it is mentioned in the book of Wisdom (10:10) about 50 BCE and in… …   Dictionary of the Bible

  • kingdom of God — or kingdom of heaven In Christianity, the spiritual realm over which God reigns as king, or the eventual fulfillment of God s will on earth. Although rare in pre Christian Jewish literature, the idea of God as king was fundamental to Judaism, and …   Universalium

  • KINGDOM OF GOD —    a symbol that has an extraordinarily rich and varied history. The term means REIGN of GOD. NEW TESTAMENT scholars are divided as to the exact meaning of the term in the preaching of JESUS. AUGUSTINE identified the Kingdom of God with the elect …   Concise dictionary of Religion

  • Kingdom of God —    The New Testament name for the Church. St. Matthew uses the phrase, kingdom of heaven, while the other Evangelists employ the term, kingdom of God, both being equivalent terms meaning the same thing, viz.: the kingdom of Christ on earth, the… …   American Church Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Kingdom of God —    This term is a translation of the Greek basileia, which may also be translated kingship or reign. The Kingdom of God is at the center of the preaching of Jesus, who taught his disciples to pray for the coming of the Kingdom in the Our Father.… …   Glossary of theological terms

  • Kingdom of God —    (Matt. 6:33; Mark 1:14, 15; Luke 4:43) = kingdom of Christ (Matt. 13:41; 20:21) = kingdom of Christ and of God (Eph. 5:5) = kingdom of David (Mark 11:10) = the kingdom (Matt. 8:12; 13:19) = kingdom of heaven (Matt. 3:2; 4:17; 13:41), all… …   Easton's Bible Dictionary

  • Kingdom of God —    The established rule of God on earth. Christians are enjoined to pray for its coming …   Who’s Who in Christianity

  • Kingdom of God — noun the spiritual domain over which God is sovereign • Hypernyms: ↑spiritual world, ↑spiritual domain, ↑unseen …   Useful english dictionary

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