Kingdom of God v Kingdom of Heaven
The Bible mentions the Kingdom of God and it also mentions the kingdom of heaven. Most “christians” believe that they are one and the same thing. Sometimes the kingdom is called of God sometimes it is called of heaven. These two terms are simply interchangeable There are times that in one gospel “of God” is used while in another gospel in a parallel passage “of Heaven” is used instead, as in the story of the rich young man.
Mark 10- 24 And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!
Matthew 19- 23 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.
In fact in the very next verse in Matthew Jesus uses the Kingdom of God as opposed to the Kingdom of heaven that he had just used in the previous verse
Matthew 19- 24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
There are in fact numerous occurrences of this seemingly interchangeable usage and it is this that people use as evidence for the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of heaven being one and the same.
Gotquestions believes this and they state
“Jesus makes no distinction between the two terms but seems to consider them synonymous.” and also “Mark and Luke used “kingdom of God” where Matthew used “kingdom of heaven” frequently in parallel accounts of the same parable” before listing these and then declaring “ In each instance, Matthew used the phrase “kingdom of heaven” while Mark and/or Luke used “kingdom of God.” Clearly, the two phrases refer to the same thing.” Gotquestions
The Kingdom of heaven is mentioned 33 times in the KJV bible and the Kingdom of God 70 times.
The Gospel of Matthew however is the only book in where the Kingdom of Heaven is used and for this reason people often say that Matthew just prefered to use this term as opposed to the Kingdom of God or even that Matthew was writing to a Jewish audience and so used heaven instead of God as to not offend his Jewish audience as they held the name of God so high and would not pronounce the word. This argument fails simply based on the fact that Matthew does use the Kingdom of God on 5 occasions and the word God a total of no less than 48 times.
But are they actually the same? Or are they in fact 2 different kingdoms?
When we actually study these 2 kingdoms we will see that not only are they not the same thing but there are very important fundamental theological differences between them. Jesus most certainly referenced both and with very good reason for doing so. When Jesus referred to the Kingdom of Heaven he was referring to a physical Kingdom on earth and when he referred to the Kingdom of God he was referring to a spiritual kingdom. There are indeed 2 separate and distinct kingdoms. If we do not understand this truth then confusion will occur when we read the scriptures. If we do not know which kingdom is being spoken of then we will not truly understand what is in fact being spoken.
It is only through Jesus that either kingdom can be attained.
There is one spiritual kingdom and there is one physical kingdom.
This goes all the way back to the very beginning when God who is spirit created the physical..
John 4-24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
Genesis 1-1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
God is spirit his kingdom is spiritual , heaven is physical it is a physical kingdom.
When Adam was created he was made of both the spiritual as he was made in the image of God but he was also made from the physical as he was made of the dust.
Genesis 2-7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
Breath is rū-aḥ ר֨וּחַ which means spirit
Adam had the spirit of God in him.
Genesis 1-26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
Adam was given dominion over the earth. Dominion is the Hebrew word רָדָה radah which means reign or rule.
Man (humanity) was given rule over the physical world.
So there was a spiritual kingdom where God is the King and a physical kingdom which was given for man to be king.
Adam lost the physical kingdom here on earth when he sinned against God and he was banished from the Garden of Eden. He no longer was to live in paradise (the obod of God) yes God “lived” with Adam in the Garden of Eden not physically but spiritually. Adam was banished from the garden and was now to “work”
Genesis 3-23Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken
He also lost his “image of God” He died spiritually that day which meant that he would now also die physically.
The physical kingdom of heaven and the spiritual kingdom were lost.
Some people believe that this kingship that was given to Adam used to belong to Satan. However this is actually incorrect. Satan was never given a throne. He wants a throne and has created his own spiritual “throne” one of deception. A counterfeit throne in opposition to God’s throne.
The verse that is used to show that Satan had a throne but it was removed at some point before it was given to Adam is Isaiah 14-13
Isaiah 14-13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
There are those who include Peter Ruckman who claim that these words were the first spoken in the Bible Satan spoke these words before the earth was even created before God said let there be light.
However this isn’t or wasn’t Satan actually speaking. This is Isaiah revealing what Satan had said in his heart with his evil deed.
We know that the heart “speaks” through our works
Psalm 14- To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.
Satan’s “heart” spoke this when he deceived Eve into eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Satan wanted to be equal to God as it states in the next verse
Isaiah 14-14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
Satan wanted to sit in God’s throne.
In Ezekiel we are told that Satan was a cherub not a king and that he was perfect until iniquity was found in him.
Ezekiel 28- 14 Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. –15Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.
Satan was also in the Garden of Eden before iniquity was found in him
Ezekiel 28 13 Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.
So Satan was in the Garden of Eden. But the Garden of Eden wasn’t created until AFTER Adam had been created.
Genesis 2- 7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
Adam was placed in the garden that the Lord God formed after Adam.
Genesis 2- 8 And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.
It’s pretty clear that Satan was in the garden of Eden until he deceived Eve. This is when he said in his heart that he would be like God and this was the iniquity that was found in him.
Satan was never given the any kingdom by God, but he wanted it.
Satan doesn’t have nor has ever had an actual throne but he created his own“spiritual” throne in opposition to Gods. Those that do not spiritually serve God spiritually serve Satan..
Satan tried to deceive Jesus in the same way he did Eve. He promised to give Jesus all the kingdoms of the world which he claimed he had power over even though those kingdoms had already been promised to Jesus by God. Satan wanted Jesus to worship him.
Luke 4-5 And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 6 And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it.
So we have established that Satan doesn’t nor ever did have the spiritual kingdom of God or the physical kingdom of heaven.
So back to the kingdoms in question.
God’s kingdom the spiritual kingdom was lost from inside of mankind. The kingdom of heaven was also lost .
However God chose a man in Abraham in whose descendants he would rule over as their “king”. These people known as the Israelites.
God gave them rules and reigned over them. This was NEITHER the kingdom of God or the kingdom of heaven.
The time came however when Israel had demanded, to be like the pagans around them and to have a physical king rule over them.
1 samuel 8-10 And Samuel told all the words of the LORD unto the people that asked of him a king.
Israel had not been given a physical king to rule over them as this was not part of the plan of God, he did not want to give them an earthly king as he was their spiritual king
1 Samuel 12-12 And when ye saw that Nahash the king of the children of Ammon came against you, ye said unto me, Nay; but a king shall reign over us: when the LORD your God was your king.
But he gave them what they wanted. But God stated that this was a rejection of him as their king
1 samuel 8-7 And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them
So the physical kingdom of Israel was established. With human earthly kings again this is neither the kingdom of God or Heaven but the kingdom of Israel.
It’s very important to understand that the Jewish people were (and most still are) expecting a messiah to come. They expected this Messiah to be their king as this is what was promised. God allowed them to have a king as they wanted but declared that he would bring about a true king from the line of David who would establish the kingdom of heaven on earth.
In literally hundreds of verses of the Bible
Daniel 2-44 And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.
Luke 1-32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:
Jeremiah 13-17 For thus saith the LORD; David shall never want a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel;
Taken from Chabad.com
“”One of the principles of Jewish faith enumerated by Maimonides is that one day there will arise a dynamic Jewish leader, a direct descendant of the Davidic dynasty, who will rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem, and gather Jews from all over the world and bring them back to the Land of Israel.
All the nations of the world will recognize Moshiach to be a world leader, and will accept his dominion. In the messianic era there will be world peace, no more wars nor famine, and, in general, a high standard of living. All mankind will worship one G‑d, and live a more spiritual and moral way of life. The Jewish nation will be preoccupied with learning Torah and fathoming its secrets. The coming of Moshiach will complete G‑d’s purpose in creation: for man to make an abode for G‑d in the lower worlds—that is, to reveal the inherent spirituality in the material world.”
The Jews expected this Messiah to restore the kingdom in Israel a physical kingdom. The physical kingdom of Israel had been removed from Israel some 400 years before Jesus came.
The Jewish people who had accepted Jesus as the Messiah believed that he was going to be their physical king
John 12-12 On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, 13 Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of
Luke 19- 37 And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen;
38 Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.
Jesus even believed that at one point they were going to try to make him king by force.
John 6-15 When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.
Clearly the Jewish people believed that the Messiah was to be their literal physical king in the literal and physical land of Israel. As they still do today. It is this understanding that actually led to the rejection of Jesus.They did not understand the way in which the Messiah was to establish that kingdom. As Jesus hadnt in fact established that kingdom of heaven on earth the Jewish authorities rejected Jesus as the Messiah.
Jesus himself though was sure that this kingdom would indeed come. He even told his disciples to pray for the kingdom to come.
Jesus even told his disciples to pray for the kingdom of heaven to come
Matthew 6-10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
However this is very misunderstood and used incorrectly by the church today. Believing it to be the “Lord’s” prayer.
Jesus was preaching to his Jewish disciples after they asked him how to pray. Thy kingdom come thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven is a Jewish prayer for the physical kingdom of heaven to come. As it could and would have. No believer after the death and resurrection was ever taught to pray this prayer.
A physical kingdom on earth as in heaven meaning it would be like in heaven not that the kingdom would be in heaven.
The disciples asked Jesus if he was going to restore at that time the kingdom to Israel before his ascension to heaven.
Acts 1-6 When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?
There question referred to a physical kingdom.
Jesus replied to them that it was not for them to know when the kingdom, the physical kingdom would be restored.
Acts 1-7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power
BUT, then Jesus continued and told them that they were going to receive power when the holy ghost would come unto them.
Acts 1- 8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
Jesus distinguished between the Physical kingdom that the Jewish people were waiting for that it was not for them to know the time this would come and a power that would come with the holy ghost.
Jesus had already declared that there was a spiritual kingdom when the Pharisees asked when the kingdom of God would come.
Jesus explained that the Kingdom of God was NOT a physical kingdom.
Luke 17-20 And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation:21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
Ulike the physical kingdom, the kingdom of God could not be seen. Jesus says that this kingdom is inside us.
Paul tells us that the kingdom of God is not meat and drink, not physical but righteousness, and peace, and joy, a spiritual kingdom
Romans 14-17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
The kingdom of God is inside when we receive the Holy Ghost, when the spirit of God comes and dwells inside a person.
How do we do that , Jesus tells nicodemus that a man must be born again to see the kingdom of God
John 3-3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
A physical birth and a second spiritual birth to enter the spiritual kingdom
Nicodemus did not understand this and so asked Jesus what he meant
John 3-Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?
To which Jesus gave the answer that what is born of the flesh is flesh but that what is born of the spirit is spirit.
5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
2 distinct and separate things. Physical and spiritual.
For further details about the spirit see my writings on who is the comforter and also water baptism.
Pilate asked Jesus if he was the king of the Jews, referring to a literal physical kingship
John 18 – 33 Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews?
Jesus replied that his kingdom was NOT of this world.
John 18- 36 Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence
Jesus again referred to the spiritual kingdom. But he also stated NOW is my kingdom not from here. The spiritual kingdom was not from the earth now BUT there is an obvious implication that although not now a kingdom would be from hence,a physical kingdom.
Jesus said seek ye first the Kingdom of God
Matthew 6-33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
The spiritual kingdom is what people should be seeking. The spiritual kingdom is far more important than the physical kingdom. It is the spirit that gives life.
John 6-33 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.
Romans 8-9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
So Jesus said to first seek the Kingdom of God then these things would be added,which things? Physical things.
Matthew 6-25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? 26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? 27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? 28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? 31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
Jesus taught that we must first seek the spiritual before we worry about the physical. First must come the spiritual kingdom and then will come the physical kingdom. The spiritual kingdom has already come with the indwelling of the spirit inside.
However Jesus himself did indeed preach to the Jewish people to repent for the Kingdom of Heaven the physical kingdom was at hand
Matthew 4-17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Jesus did preach that the literal and physical kingdom was close. He started to to this after John the Baptist had been put in prison.
Matthew 4- 12 Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee; 13 And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim: 14That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying,
15The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles;
16The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.
John the baptist himself preached the Kingdom of Heaven, before Jesus and also stated that the kingdom was at hand.
Matthew 3- 1 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, 2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
John the Baptist never preached the Kingdom of God only the kingdom of heaven because John was preaching to the Jews that their Messiah who would bring about the physical kingdom was there.
Jesus told the pharisees that they shut up the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 23-13 But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.
They would not accept Jesus as their Messiah and they would not allow others to do so either.
And when Pilate asked the very crowds that had accepted Jesus as their king just days earlier if they would rather that he release Jesus or Barabbas it was the chief priests that stirred up the crowd that they would not release Jesus.
Matthew 15-11 But the chief priests moved the people, that he should rather release Barabbas unto them.
They did not allow the physical kingdom of the Messiah, Jesus, to come by rejecting Jesus.
Something that Stephen proclaimed just before he was stoned to death by the pharisees. He told them that they had betrayed and murdered the Just one.
Acts 7- 52 Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers:
This was actually the last time that the kingdom of heaven the physical kingdom of Jesus was available for the Jewish people to accept at that time. Jesus was seen by Stephen STANDING not sitting at the right hand of God as he is normally portrayed.
Acts 7- 56 And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.
However the pharisees stopped listening and all together stoned Stephen to death
Acts 7- 57 Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord,
Jesus could and would have returned to set up his physical kingdom on earth as well as the spiritual kingdom but because of the rejection the return did not happen
When Jesus told his disciples to go out and preach ONLY the Jews he told them to preach the kingdom of heaven was at hand.
Matthew 10-5 These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: 6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand
But he also told them to preach the kingdom of God was at hand also
Luke 9-1 Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. 2 And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick. 3 And he said unto them, Take nothing for your journey, neither staves, nor scrip, neither bread, neither money; neither have two coats apiece. 4And whatsoever house ye enter into, there abide, and thence depart. 5 And whosoever will not receive you, when ye go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet for a testimony against them. 6 And they departed, and went through the towns, preaching the gospel, and healing every where.
Many people incorrectly assume that because both were used in parallel passages that they are interchangeable. However as we have seen Jesus preached both kingdoms. The reason being that both kingdoms were available to the Jews at that time.
Both kingdoms were available at the time Jesus first came, Jesus is the unification of both the spiritual and the physical kingdoms that Adam had and lost , Jesus is both the son of man (physical) and the son of God (spiritual). However only the kingdom of God the spiritual kingdom actually came to pass at that time due to his rejection. The kingdom of heaven was rejected with the rejection of Jesus as the Messiah, the King.
Paul even stated that the word of God was spoken to the Jews first but because they rejected it the word went out to the gentiles.
Acts 13-46 Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.
It was necessary that the word be spoken to the Jews first as to allow them the opportunity to accept their Messiah and bring about the physical kingdom. But the word went to the gentiles instead due to this rejection of the Messiah.
From then on ONLY the Kingdom of God the spiritual kingdom was preached. The kingdom of heaven had indeed been shut up by the pharisees just like Jesus had said that they would do.
Jesus is not sat on the literal throne of David yet he is sat with the father in his spiritual throne, just as those that overcome will sit also in this throne.
Revelation 3- 21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
Jesus has yet to fulfill the promise made of a physical kingdom where the Messiah would sit upon the literal throne of David.
The physical kingdom will come on this earth, when the kingdoms of this world become the kingdom of Jesus at his return
Revelation 11- 15 And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.
This will be after the time of the Gentiles be fulfilled
Romans 11-25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in.
This will be the 1000 year or millennial reign of Jesus where he will rule over the world from Jerusalem. A physical rule in a physical Jerusalem as a physical king.
Revelation 20- 4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
People from all over shall be in this kingdom and will sit with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob in the physical kingdom of Heaven.
Matthew 8-11 And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.
The spiritual kingdom of God will be unified with the physical kingdom of heaven after the Millennial reign when a new heaven and a new earth will be created.
Where God will once again dwell with man.
Revelation 21- 3And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
The 2 kingdoms one spiritual and one physical.