What are the various senses in which the phrases “kingdom of God” and “kingdom of heaven” are used in the New Testament?
They signify the different aspects of that one spiritual reign also called the Kingdom of Christ. (1st) For true religion or the reign of Christ in the heart – Luke 12:31, 17:21, Mark 10:15, Rom 14:17. (2nd) For the visible church under the new dispensation: see parables of the Sower of Tares, etc. – Matt 13, 4:17, Mark 1:15. (3rd) The perfected church in glory – Luke 13:29, 2 Pet 1:11.
- The rein of Christ in the Heart of believers: Rom 14:17 – “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.”
- The visible church in the present dispensation (see Matt 13) – The sowing of the seed in the word is the preaching of the gospel. This gospel message is directly named the ‘word of the kingdom’ (vs 19) by Jesus. This word bears fruit (vs 23) in the ‘good soil’. The good soil represents those who hear and believe the word (vs 20) because they have ears to hear (vss 15-16).
- The everlasting kingdom of glory: (Luke 13:24-30). This is Christ’s everlasting kingdom which will be established upon his return and judgement of all men – “Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are: …And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God.”