Term prominent in proclamation of John the Baptist, Jesus, and apostles; evidently synonymous with kingdom of heaven. Formerly it was taken for granted that kingdom of God is equivalent to Christian ch.; contemporary scholars hold that kingdom usually means dominion or rule, and that only in a derived way, by figure of speech, does it in some passages designate subjects in God's kingdom. When Jesus said that the kingdom of God had come near (Mk 1:15), he announced that God was, through the Messiah, laying the foundation for His gracious rule in human hearts. This rule presupposes that forgiveness of sins has been procured and that people accept it in faith. Where there is such acceptance, God has entered the heart and governs human thoughts and actions. Those who heard the message of John and of Christ were informed that God was preparing something special, that the fullness of the time had come (Gl 4:4), and that the plan of God for man's salvation was now to be carried out. The term did not point to an external kingdom like that of David or Solomon or the Roman Empire, but to something spiritual, the gentle rule of God through the Holy Spirit in the hearts of men. Passages which speak of the rule of God include Mt 12:28; Mk 4:11; Lk 9:27; 11:20. Passages which speak of the sum total of the subjects include Mt 13:41; 16:19. The kingdom is at times spoken of as a future blessing (Mt 7:21; 8:11), at times as a present reality (Lk 16:16; 17:20; Jn 3:35). It should be our heart's desire to be under the gracious rule of God (Mt 13:4446).
Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
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