The Kingdom of God (aka Kingdom of Heaven) has been a subject of interest to me for at least the last 5 years. I remember starting a Bible study on it with Marianne when we were dating. I quit after the first session because I realized I didn’t know enough to continue.
Two things about the Kingdom of God have piqued my interest over the last three years: (1) the realization that the Kingdom of God was core to the Gospel message that Christ preached, yet I can’t ever remember hearing a gospel message that had the Kingdom at the core of the message; and (2) the realization that the Kingdom of God has a culture and the Bible is its manual for acculturation.
Here’s the data that shows how integral the Kingdom of God was to the gospel preaching of the NT:
- John the Baptist’s message was “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Mat. 3:2).
- Jesus’ message was “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Mat. 4:17); “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3)
- Jesus’ teaching, as recorded in the Gospels, include around 80 references to the Kingdom of God/Heaven.
- Matthew, Mark, and Luke all describe Jesus as preaching a “gospel of the kingdom of God” (Matt. 4:23; 9:35; 24:14; Mark 1:15; Luke 16:16)
- Jesus’ post-resurrection ministry was characterized by “speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3).
- Philip the evangelist preached “the good news about the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ.”
- Paul’s missionary message consistently included the Kingdom of God as theme (Acts 14:22; 19:8; 20:25; 28:23, 31).
- Paul’s epistles reference the Kingdom of God across the span of his ministry (Gal. 5:21; 2 Thess. 1:5; 1 Corinthians 4:20; 6:9, 10; 15:24, 50; Romans 14:17; Col. 1:13; 4:11; Eph. 5:5).
Hard to argue with that kind of ubiquity! It is central to the gospel. Why have we lost sight of this?
Originally posted at Exegetical Thoughts and Biblical Theology.