NT Survey: The Kingdom
I. They Kingdom Come
It is my contention that there are no verses which support a present "mystery form" of the kingdom. There are clearly none which demand it, a few which allow it, and a few which indicate that the kingdom is yet future. (The parables at the end of Jesus' ministry regarding the kingdom are discussed separately, as are the references to the kingdom in the epistles.)
A. Jesus's Teachings on the Kingdom
There are four major sections of our Lord's teachings about the kingdom: 1) at the beginning of His ministry (including the sermon on the mount); 2) the parables in light of His rejection (Mat 13); 3) the parables as the end of His ministry; 4) His post-resurrection teachings (Acts 1).
The message of John, Jesus, and the apostles was that the kingdom was near. It had not arrived. The institution of the kingdom promised in the OT was dependent upon the receptivity (and repentance) of Israel. To understand John's (et al.) view of the kingdom one only needs to look at the context of John's quotes from Isaiah 40 and following, in which the characteristics of the Millenial kingdom are specified.
B. Clearing up the Mist Surrounding the Mystery Form of the Kingdom
B1. Where they get the mystery about the mystery is a mystery
The parables about the kingdom in Mat 13 indicate hitherto unrevealed information about the kingdom. A mystery is that which was previously undisclosed in the OT. Thus Mat 13 gives us previously unrevealed truth (mystery) about the kingdom promised in the OT. [It does not give previously unrevealed truth (mystery) about the mystery form of the kingdom.] There is no indication that there is a mystery form of the kingdom, but just previously unrevealed information about the kingdom which was expected by faithful believers. [cx. Ryrie.]
B2. Truths about the Kingdom not Revealed in the OT (legit mysteries)
Mt 13:11 He replied, "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them.
There would be different responses to the message of the kingdom Mt 13:19 When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path.
Those who responded properly would coexist with evil until the future judgments. Mt 13:24 Jesus told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 41 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. 42 They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.
The kingdom would be preeminent 31 He told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field.
The kingdom would be omnipresent 33 He told them still another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough."
The kingdom would include Israel and the Church (see previous notes) 44 "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. 45 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls.
The kingdom involve a separation of the wicked and righteous 47 "Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish...
C. The Muddle about the Kingdom in the Midsts
C1. The Beginning Teaching
C1a. The Kingdom is Near
Mt 3:2 and saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near."
Mt 4:17 From that time on Jesus began to preach, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near."
Mt 4:23 Jesus went...teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing...
Mt 9:35 Jesus went...teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing...
Mt 10:7 As you go, preach this message: 'The kingdom of heaven is near.'
C1b. Those who get the kingdom (see the Sermon on the Mount)
C2. The Middle and Muddled Teaching
Luke 17:20 is one of the most misinterpreted verses regarding the kingdom, purportedly indicating that the kingdom of God/heaven is not that promised in the OT (with a descendent of David reigning over the nation of Israel on the earth) but rather the kingdom is within one's heart. A look at the surrounding context shows how impossible such a view is. First it should be noted that the kingdom is still viewed as future, adding weight to the view that the kingdom being at hand does not mean it has arrived. The audience is the Pharisees, those rejecting the kingship of Jesus. To say that the kingdom is anywhere Jesus is king or ruling, and then state that is in people's heart on the basis of this verse is a gross distortion of Scripture. (Incidently there is no other verse on which the false doctrine of the kingdom being in one's heart is purportedly based.) The Pharisees were obviously rejecting the rulership of Jesus, and could not have the kingdom in their heart (if the kingdom was going to be in anyone's heart).
The word for "within" (NIV margin = among) provides additional refutation of the non-literal view of the kingdom. Up until this point in the Gospels, and continuing beyond, a literal view of the kingdom has been demanded. One cannot on the basis of this verse state that the kingdom is now figurative. That is not the point of this passage, not is it in harmony with subsequent teachings about the kingdom."Within" is used only one other time in the NT * to refer to wine within a cup. Obviously the wine is not within the molecules of the structure of a cup (within the metal itself) but rather in the midsts of the container formed by the walls of the cup. In the same way, Christ was not stating that the kingdom was within the bodies of the Pharisees, but rather that it was in the midsts of them, standing in front of them.
This view of the passage makes use of a figure of speech where the cause is put for the effect (metonomy of cause). Jesus is the one who causes the kingdom to come. If the Pharisees were looking for the kingdom, they would have recognized the King when He arrived. But in fact, the Pharisees had no desire for a kingdom from the heavens because they were too busy building their own little kingdoms on earth.
C3.The End Teaching
Lk 21:31 Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near.
Lk 22:16 For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God."
Lk 22:18 For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes."
Lk 23:42 Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."
Note in Luke's gospel here and above, how the kingdom is view as yet future after chapter 17.
At the other end of our Lord's kingdom teaching is the data in Acts 1. For forty days after the resurrection Jesus had instructed the disciples about the kingdom. This is significant for two reasons: first, it demonstrates the importance of understanding the kingdom (since that is what Jesus spent His last time on earth teaching about) and second, after receiving such instruction, the disciples were still expecting the promised Davidic kingdom to be restored to Israel. Their interest and eagerness to see the kingdom restored is understandable in light of Jesus' promises that they would be ruling with Him over the twelve tribes of Israel. Jesus' response doesn't say the kingdom is here, nor that it will not occur, but indicated instead the responsibility they had until He returned to set up the kingdom.
D. Paul's Expectation
2 Tim 4:18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
2 Tim 4:1 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge:
v1 parallels Christ's appearing and kingdom. Both are viewed as future and are designed to provide motivation to Timothy to preach the word to a hostile or unreceptive audience. Knowing that Christ would appear to judge and reward faithful believers and set up His kingdom would give Timothy the desire to be pleasing to God rather than men, so that he would be rewarded.