“Kingdom of God”
was one of the central teachings of the Lord Jesus during his earthly ministry;
indeed, this term, and its parallel phrase “the Kingdom
of Heaven,” are used 117 times in
the Synoptic Gospels and more than thirty times in the rest of the New
Testament.Matthew and Luke gave
significant prominence to this concept.Yet, as frequently as we find this theme in the New Testament, it
remains a difficult and mysterious idea to many (including this writer!).
Personal Note: I have found four works quite helpful in
understanding Christ’s usage of “Kingdom
of God.”Consider reading these useful books.
Chantry. God’s Righteous Kingdom. Banner of Truth, 1980.
Guthrie. New Testament Introduction. InterVarsity Press. 1981. (See
pages 409 ff.)
Eldon Ladd. A Theology of the New Testament. Eerdmans, 1974. (See,
in particular, pp. 45-134)
Vos. The Kingdom
of God and the
Church. American Tract Society, 1903.(Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing presently offers this volume)
The Kingdom of God
refers to the spiritual rule of God in the hearts and lives of those in whom
Christ’s redemptive work has subdued the power of evil and established the rule
of faith and loving obedience to God’s commandments. The Kingdom, therefore, is
not so much a domain with physical boundaries and institutions; rather, it is
the rule of Christ in men’s hearts. “It is now generally agreed that it means
not so much a domain, as a reign; not so much an area over which a king reigns,
as the activity of reigning.” (Guthrie, p. 409).
This important term has this significance in understanding
the message of the Gospel of Luke:
Kingdom belongs to God.He alone is
Sovereign and Lord over his Kingdom.This Kingdom has its genesis in the will and work of God, and he
sustains and directs it to his own ends and purposes.
of God must achieve its purpose.It cannot fail or falter.Furthermore, it cannot suffer change or
transformation.The Kingdom will
achieve precisely the end for which the Lord created it.
Kingdom centers on the person and work of Christ.Jesus’ birth and earthly ministry ushered
in, and his return will crown the Kingdom with grace and glory.
Kingdom is connected with the salvation to all those who enter, by grace
through faith in Christ.
Kingdom has both a present reality and future culmination.The Kingdom
of God has come into the world
with the wonderful, finished work of the Savior, and he will bring it to
fulfillment and glory by his promised return.
of the Kingdom (Luke -25)
spiritual nature of the Kingdom (vv. 20-21):The Pharisees obviously harbored certain misconceptions about the
Kingdom.It would not come with the pomp
and splendor of earthly monarchs.Moreover, Jesus indicated that the Kingdom would come at a time when
many would be unable to discern the signs of the times.That is, they will not see it coming; rather,
it will arrive, as stated elsewhere, like a thief in the night.The Lord said, furthermore, that the Kingdom
had, in one sense, come already in the hearts of God’s people (See v. 21).The Jewish religious leaders had largely
missed the coming of the Kingdom because they did not have eyes to see the
evidence of changed lives around them.
danger of false prophets (vv. 22-23): Jesus directed these words to the
disciples.The Lord anticipated a time,
perhaps, when his followers would grow discouraged as they waited for the
culmination of the Kingdom.They might
be tempted to turn to false teachers who call their attention away from the
promises of the Messiah, and the Lord warned them to refuse the message of
these false prophets.Not all who claim
to speak in the name of the Lord should be believed.
suddenness and unexpectedness of the coming of the Kingdom (vv. 24 -25): Like
lightening in a thunderstorm, the Kingdom
of God will come with sudden force
and unmistakable power. Also, the disciples needn’t worry that they will miss
the coming of the Kingdom.The King will
arrive with conspicuous power and glory that all will see and know he has come.
Also, notice that the Lord will have his day of glory (v. 24b). Yes, the King
will experience terrible suffering and rejection (See v. 25); yet, this anguish
will not be the final chapter of the Lord’s story. The King will have his final
day of glory.
Analogies of the Future Coming of the Kingdom (Luke -30)
days of Noah (vv. 26-27): The Lord predicted that the time of his coming would
resemble the days of respectable, busy, indifference that Noah
experienced.Surely Jesus did not mean
to demean the regular, mundane activities of life: marriage, eating and
drinking, working; nevertheless, he condemned the common belief that life
consisted of these things.Family and
professional activities have their appropriate place, but Jesus concerned
himself with the sinful notion that the pursuit of these issues would dull the
heart and mind to the great, eternal things of life.In Noah’s day, the people presumed that life
would continue as it always had.They
gave no thought to judgment, righteousness, and salvation.They were lulled into a spiritual stupor by the
routine affairs of existence and missed the most important matters of
life.The Lord predicted that his
Kingdom would find the world in a similar condition.O, what a sinful and deadly presumption they
days of Lot (vv. 28-32):Like Noah’s day, Lot lived in an environment of
worldly indifference and presumption.They sinful men of Sodom had
no idea that disaster stood at the door.They sinfully assumed that life would continue as it had previously.
Even as the fire fell from heaven, Lot’s wife, drawn by
her sinful affections, turned back in a furtive look to the cities of the
plain.Her stolen glance betrayed a
stony heart.Even in the midst of
unimaginable judgment, she found no place for thanksgiving for the grace of God
in her heart. This foolish woman enjoyed great religious privilege; yet, in the
end, she came to ruin because her heart remained hard and unheeding to the
merciful overtures of the Lord.Hardhearted and disobedient men will meet with a worse end than hers
when the Day of the Lord appears. What solemn words we find here, “Remember
Lot’s wife.”In verse thirty-one, Jesus
called his people to urgent action. They must ready themselves for the coming
of the Kingdom without the slightest hesitation or delay.Many commentators believe this particular
portion of our text relates to the destruction of Jerusalem
(and I have no quarrel with that application); nevertheless, surely this
passage also relates to a vital plea for decisive action on the part of those
who would escape the Day of Judgment.
Warnings (Luke -37): A
great division will occur when the Kingdom
of God comes.
persons will be asleep in bed.One will
be received unto the Lord, and the other will be left to perish in the
women will be about their daily labors.One will be taken to rest and glory with Christ, and the other will be
men will be in the field.The King will
take one to himself, and the other will remain behind without a place in the
“eagles” should probably be translated “vultures.”Jesus anticipated a day of terrible ruin and
decay when vultures would pick at the carrion of what man has done in the
earth.The kingdoms of the world,
replete with carnal splendor, will eventually come to utter ruin and
decay.In that day, only the Kingdom
of God shall stand.
Enter in at the narrow gate; for
wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are
many who go in by it.Because narrow is
the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few that
Now everyone who hears these
sayings of mine, and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his
house on the sand; and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew
and beat upon the house; and it fell.And great was its fall.