Let’s Talk About the Kingdom of Heaven

 

The kingdom of heaven has been misunderstood throughout the history of the church. As I note in my introduction to the topic, this misunderstanding has caused confusion in the minds of many and given birth to a variety of interpretations. (see my introduction)

I am using this web site as an opportunity to advance and hopefully settle the meaning of the phrase. By doing so, it will also clarify many other doctrines of Scripture that hinge on its meaning.

Simply stated, the kingdom of heaven was the kingdom Jesus, the rightful heir to the throne of David, came to offer. It was distinct from, though representative of, the eternal kingdom of God. Since it was on earth, it was temporal. On the other hand, the kingdom of God is timeless and existed before creation and will continue forever.

The phrase, the kingdom of heaven, was used by Jesus to both appeal to the Jews of His day to prepare and then to receive it when it was offered. However, when Jesus entered Jerusalem as "Messiah the Prince" at the very moment in history prophesied by Daniel at the end of the sixty-ninth week of Daniel (Dan 9:23-27), the Jews rejected the kingdom of heaven and crucified their King.

Since the kingdom of heaven was a literal earthly kingdom and the King is no longer present, it is now future. It is the millennial kingdom mentioned in prophecy.  It is when Jesus will return to sit on the throne of His father David.

To spiritualize the kingdom of heaven as that which is within us now, is not helpful to understanding God-breathed Scripture. Nor does it answer the fundamental questions we face at this time in God's redemptive program. Jesus is not offering Himself as King today. He is offering Himself as our Savior and Lord. In essence, with regard to the kingdom of heaven, Jesus is still "Messiah the Prince" Who is to come.

In my post regarding The Royal Law, I state that James is not referring the law of King Jesus as some suggest. It is the overall and abiding Law that governs believers until Jesus is King of Kings on earth. (see)

While this distinction, on the surface, does not seem significant. It is of tremendous significance because it goes to the way in which we interpret and apply Scripture. When Paul states that all Scripture is God-breathed and profitable, what others say about God-breathed Scripture can be enlightening, but does not have the power and authority of Scripture.

For this reason, I am holding to the texts of Scripture for this definition of the kingdom of heaven, rather than relying on what others have taught through the centuries.

I am dividing this study into a number of separate posts. Each new post will be listed with a separate title and will be linked to this subcategory.

I have researched all of the occurrences of the kingdom of heaven in the Bible together with notations to assist in following Matthew’s use of the phrase in the development of his gospel record. (see)

I have also provided a detailed introduction and explanation of my approach to this study. It is the same approach I use for all of the posts on this website. (see)

In addition, I have prepared a timeline in two separate formats, MS Excel and MS Word. This will assist in understanding the events under discussion. The timeline, while taking into account all four gospels, is based on the specific timeline provided by John in his record marked by the phrase, after these things. Beginning with the first three days of Jesus' ministry in chapter 1, John uses this device to mark the passing of time. When adding the other gospel accounts, one gains a clearer understanding of the course of events in Jesus' Ministry. This is essential to understanding Matthew's record. 

When drawing the conclusions from any study, I am cognizant that God the Holy Spirit speaks triangularly. That is, He does not convey one truth to one person and contradict it to another. When my conclusions depart from what others teach, it gives me pause.

This is true of the doctrine of the kingdom of heaven in Matthew's record. I have taught on the subject for decades, never changing from my original understanding even though I did not find anyone else coming to the same conclusion.

It was not until I found an article at bible.org by Dr. John Walvoord that I found anyone who came to a similar conclusion. The difference between Dr. Walvoord's approach to the subject and mine, is that I am seeking to exegete the doctrine of God with regard to the kingdom of heaven from a verse-by-verse study. He provides a broader discussion of what others say. 

I respect what the Holy Spirit leads others to conclude, but use this only as a comparison after I do my own research.  Dr. Walvoord's article provides some valuable insight into this topic and so I have hyperlinked it here (see).