Kingdom - Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words


[ 1,,G932, basileia ]
is primarily an abstract noun, denoting sovereignty, royal power, dominion," e.g., Revelation 17:18, translated "(which) reigneth," lit., "hath a kingdom" (RV marg.); then, by metonymy, a concrete noun, denoting the territory or people over whom a king rules, e.g., Matthew 4:8; Mark 3:24. It is used especially of the "kingdom" of God and of Christ.

"The Kingdom of God is
(a) the sphere of God's rule, Psalms 22:28; Psalms 145:13; Daniel 4:25; Luke 1:52; Romans 13:1-Romans 13:2. Since, however, this earth is the scene of universal rebellion against God, e.g., Luke 4:5-Luke 4:6; 1 John 5:19; Revelation 11:15-Revelation 11:18, the "kingdom" of God is
(b) the sphere in which, at any given time, His rule is acknowledged. God has not relinquished His sovereignty in the face of rebellion, demoniac and human, but has declared His purpose to establish it, Daniel 2:44; Daniel 7:14; 1 Corinthians 15:24-25. Meantime, seeking willing obedience, He gave His law to a nation and appointed kings to administer His "kingdom" over it, 1 Chronicles 28:5. Israel, however, though declaring still a nominal allegiance shared in the common rebellion, Isaiah 1:2-Isaiah 1:4, and, after they had rejected the Son of God, John 1:11 (cp. Matthew 21:33-Matthew 21:43), were "cast away," Romans 11:15, Romans 11:20, Romans 11:25. Henceforth God calls upon men everywhere, without distinction of race or nationality, to submit voluntarily to His rule. Thus the "kingdom" is said to be "in mystery" now, Mark 4:11, that is, it does not come within the range of the natural powers of observation, Luke 17:20, but is spiritually discerned, John 3:3 (cp. 1 Corinthians 2:14). When, hereafter, God asserts His rule universally, then the "kingdom" will be in glory, that is, it will be manifest to all; cp. Matthew 25:31-Matthew 25:34; Philippians 2:9-Philippians 2:11; 2 Timothy 4:1, 2 Timothy 4:18.

"Thus, speaking generally, references to the Kingdom fall into two classes, the first, in which it is viewed as present and involving suffering for those who enter it, 2 Thessalonians 1:5; the second, in which it is viewed as future and is associated with reward, Matthew 25:34, and glory, Matthew 13:43. See also Acts 14:22.

"The fundamental principle of the Kingdom is declared in the words of the Lord spoken in the midst of a company of Pharisees, "the Kingdom of God is in the midst of you," Luke 17:21, marg., that is, where the King is, there is the Kingdom. Thus at the present time and so far as this earth is concerned, where the King is and where His rule is acknowledged, is, first, in the heart of the individual believer, Acts 4:19; Ephesians 3:17; 1 Peter 3:15; and then in the churches of God, 1 Corinthians 12:3, 1 Corinthians 12:5, 1 Corinthians 12:11; 1 Corinthians 14:37; cp. Colossians 1:27, where for "in" read "among."

"Now, the King and His rule being refused, those who enter the Kingdom of God are brought into conflict with all who disown its allegiance, as well as with the desire for ease, and the dislike of suffering and unpopularity, natural to all. On the other hand, subjects of the Kingdom are the objects of the care of God, Matthew 6:33, and of the rejected King, Hebrews 13:5.

"Entrance into the Kingdom of God is by the new birth, Matthew 18:3; John 3:5, for nothing that a man may be by nature, or can attain to by any form of self-culture, avails in the spiritual realm. And as the new nature, received in the new birth, is made evident by obedience, it is further said that only such as do the will of God shall enter into His Kingdom, Matthew 7:21, where, however, the context shows that the reference is to the future, as in 2 Peter 1:10-11. Cp. also 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:21; Ephesians 5:5.

"The expression 'Kingdom of God' occurs four times in Matthew, 'Kingdom of the Heavens' usually taking its place. The latter (cp. Daniel 4:26) does not occur elsewhere in NT, but See 2 Timothy 4:18, "His heavenly Kingdom." ... This Kingdom is identical with the Kingdom of the Father (cp. Matthew 26:29 with Mark 14:25), and with the Kingdom of the Son (cp. Luke 22:30). Thus there is but one Kingdom, variously described: of the Son of Man, Matthew 13:41; of Jesus, Revelation 1:9; of Christ Jesus, 2 Timothy 4:1; "of Christ and God," Ephesians 5:5; "of our Lord, and of His Christ," Revelation 11:15; "of our Lord, and of His Christ," Revelation 11:15; "of our God, and the authority of His Christ," Revelation 12:10; "of the Son of His love," Colossians 1:13.

"Concerning the future, the Lord taught His disciples to pray, "Thy Kingdom come," Matthew 6:10, where the verb is in the point tense, precluding the notion of gradual progress and development, and implying a sudden catastrophe as declared in 2 Thessalonians 2:8.

"Concerning the present, that a man is of the Kingdom of God is not shown in the punctilious observance of ordinances, which are external and material, but in the deeper matters of the heart, which are spiritual and essential, viz., 'righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit,' Romans 14:17." * [* From Notes on Thessalonians by Hogg and Vine, pp. 68-70.]

"With regard to the expressions "the Kingdom of God" and the "Kingdom of the Heavens," while they are often used interchangeably, it does not follow that in every case they mean exactly the same and are quite identical.

"The Apostle Paul often speaks of the Kingdom of God, not dispensationally but morally, e.g., in Romans 14:17; 1 Corinthians 4:20, but never so of the Kingdom of Heaven. 'God' is not the equivalent of 'the heavens.' He is everywhere and above all dispensations, whereas 'the heavens' are distinguished from the earth, until the Kingdom comes in judgment and power and glory (Revelation 11:15, RV) when rule in heaven and on earth will be one.

"While, then, the sphere of the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven are at times identical, yet the one term cannot be used indiscriminately for the other. In the 'Kingdom of Heaven' (32 times in Matt.), heaven is in antithesis to earth, and the phrase is limited to the Kingdom in its earthly aspect for the time being, and is used only dispensationally and in connection with Israel. In the 'Kingdom of God', in its broader aspect, God is in antithesis to 'man' or 'the world,' and the term signifies the entire sphere of God's rule and action in relation to the world. It has a moral and spiritual force and is a general term for the Kingdom at any time. The Kingdom of Heaven is always the Kingdom of God, but the Kingdom of God is not limited to the Kingdom of Heaven, until in their final form, they become identical; e.g., Revelation 11:15, RV; John 3:5; Revelation 12:10." (An Extract).

Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words