Kingdom of God

Kingdom of God

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The Kingdom of God or Kingdom of Heaven is a foundational concept in the Abrahamic religions
Abrahamic religions
Abrahamic religions are the monotheistic faiths emphasizing and tracing their common origin to Abraham or recognizing a spiritual tradition identified with him...

: Judaism
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

, Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 and Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

.

The term "Kingdom of God" is found in all four canonical gospels and in the Pauline epistles
Pauline epistles
The Pauline epistles, Epistles of Paul, or Letters of Paul, are the thirteen New Testament books which have the name Paul as the first word, hence claiming authorship by Paul the Apostle. Among these letters are some of the earliest extant Christian documents...

. The Gospel of Matthew
Gospel of Matthew
The Gospel According to Matthew is one of the four canonical gospels, one of the three synoptic gospels, and the first book of the New Testament. It tells of the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth...

 uses the phrase "Kingdom of Heaven" more often, perhaps to avoid offending Jews in the early church or perhaps simply a translation of the rabbinical expression "Malkut Shamayim". The term is also found in various writing styles such as parable
Parable
A parable is a succinct story, in prose or verse, which illustrates one or more instructive principles, or lessons, or a normative principle. It differs from a fable in that fables use animals, plants, inanimate objects, and forces of nature as characters, while parables generally feature human...

, beatitude, prayer
Prayer
Prayer is a form of religious practice that seeks to activate a volitional rapport to a deity through deliberate practice. Prayer may be either individual or communal and take place in public or in private. It may involve the use of words or song. When language is used, prayer may take the form of...

, miracle
Miracle
A miracle often denotes an event attributed to divine intervention. Alternatively, it may be an event attributed to a miracle worker, saint, or religious leader. A miracle is sometimes thought of as a perceptible interruption of the laws of nature. Others suggest that a god may work with the laws...

 story and aphorism
Aphorism
An aphorism is an original thought, spoken or written in a laconic and memorable form.The term was first used in the Aphorisms of Hippocrates...

.

From Hebrew


The related phrase in the Hebrew Bible
Hebrew Bible
The Hebrew Bible is a term used by biblical scholars outside of Judaism to refer to the Tanakh , a canonical collection of Jewish texts, and the common textual antecedent of the several canonical editions of the Christian Old Testament...

, "Kingdom of Jehovah
Jehovah
Jehovah is an anglicized representation of Hebrew , a vocalization of the Tetragrammaton , the proper name of the God of Israel in the Hebrew Bible....

," is usually rendered "Kingdom of the LORD" in English translations of the Bible
English translations of the Bible
The efforts of translating the Bible from its original languages into over 2,000 others have spanned more than two millennia. Partial translations of the Bible into languages of the English people can be traced back to the end of the 7th century, including translations into Old English and Middle...

. Jehovah and LORD are two ways to express the Tetragrammaton
Tetragrammaton
The term Tetragrammaton refers to the name of the God of Israel YHWH used in the Hebrew Bible.-Hebrew Bible:...

.

From Greek


In the synoptic Gospels
Synoptic Gospels
The gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke are known as the Synoptic Gospels because they include many of the same stories, often in the same sequence, and sometimes exactly the same wording. This degree of parallelism in content, narrative arrangement, language, and sentence structures can only be...

, Mark and Luke use the Greek term "Basileia tou Theou", commonly translated in English as "Kingdom of God." Matthew, on the other hand, employs the Greek term "Basileia tōn Ouranōn" , which is translated as "Kingdom of Heaven
Heaven
Heaven, the Heavens or Seven Heavens, is a common religious cosmological or metaphysical term for the physical or transcendent place from which heavenly beings originate, are enthroned or inhabit...

" 31 times and "Kingdom of God" only 6 times, with "the Kingdom" with no qualifier appearing a further ten, and "in my Father's kingdom" once. Some Biblical scholars speculate that the Matthean text adopted the Greek word for "heaven
Heaven
Heaven, the Heavens or Seven Heavens, is a common religious cosmological or metaphysical term for the physical or transcendent place from which heavenly beings originate, are enthroned or inhabit...

" instead of the Greek word for "God" because, unlike Mark and Luke, it was written by a Jew for a Jewish audience. It is a Jewish practice to avoid using God's name
Names of God in Judaism
In Judaism, the name of God is more than a distinguishing title; it represents the Jewish conception of the divine nature, and of the relationship of God to the Jewish people and to the world. To demonstrate the sacredness of the names of God, and as a means of showing respect and reverence for...

 as an act of piety. In Matthew, "heaven" stands for "God."

The word “kingdom” is a translation of the Greek word basileia which in turn is a translation of the words malkuth (Hebrew) and malkutha (Aramaic). According to C. H. Dodd
C. H. Dodd
Charles Harold Dodd was a Welsh New Testament scholar and influential Protestant theologian.He is known for promoting "realized eschatology", the belief that Jesus' references to the kingdom of God meant a present reality rather than a future apocalypse.-Life:Dodd was born in Wrexham,...

, the common translation of malkuth with basileia in Greek and hence kingdom in English is problematic. A translation with “kingship,” "kingly rule," “reign”, “queen”, or “sovereignty” should be preferred. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC)
Catechism of the Catholic Church
The Catechism of the Catholic Church is the official text of the teachings of the Catholic Church. A provisional, "reference text" was issued by Pope John Paul II on October 11, 1992 — "the thirtieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council" — with his apostolic...

 states that the word basileia can be translated as "kingship," "kingdom" or "reign". In contrast, the Hebrew word "malkuth", has a very physical world meaning, implying that the translation "kingdom" may be understood as both realm and a temporal kingdom.

Scholars during the current third quest for the historical Jesus
Quest for the Historical Jesus
The quest for the historical Jesus is the attempt to use historical rather than religious methods to construct a verifiable biography of Jesus. As originally defined by Albert Schweitzer, the quest began in the 18th century with Hermann Samuel Reimarus, up to William Wrede in the 19th century...

 have translated the phrase as "God's imperial rule", or sometimes "God's domain", to better grasp its sense in today's language.

The Jesus Seminar
Jesus Seminar
The Jesus Seminar is a group of about 150 critical scholars and laymen founded in 1985 by Robert Funk under the auspices of the Westar Institute....

 has chosen to translate basileia as "empire". John B. Cobb
John B. Cobb
John B. Cobb, Jr. is an American United Methodist theologian who played a crucial role in the development of process theology. He integrated Alfred North Whitehead's metaphysics into Christianity, and applied it to issues of social justice.-Biography:John Cobb was born in Kobe, Japan in 1925 to...

 points out that this has the disadvantage of implying a hierarchical nature to the realm of God, a concept clearly lacking from Jesus thought, in Cobb’s view. Fr. Richard Chilson, C.S.P.
Paulist Fathers
The Missionary Society of Saint Paul the Apostle, better known as the Paulist Fathers, is a Roman Catholic religious society for men founded in New York City in 1858 by Servant of God Fr. Isaac Thomas Hecker in collaboration with Fr. George Deshon, Fr. Augustine Hewit, and Fr. Francis A. Baker....

, suggests the term "Love's Domain," "Love's Dominion," or "Love's Rule" because the Kingdom of God is where the God who is Love rules. Even with the debate over the translation of the term, modern scholars see the concept of the kingdom of God as the main message of Jesus, though other scholars see eternal life
Eternal life (Christianity)
In Christianity the term eternal life traditionally refers to continued life after death, rather than immortality. While scholars such as John H. Leith assert that...

 as the central theme of Jesus' preaching in the Gospel of John
Gospel of John
The Gospel According to John , commonly referred to as the Gospel of John or simply John, and often referred to in New Testament scholarship as the Fourth Gospel, is an account of the public ministry of Jesus...

.

Hebrew Bible


The "Kingdom of the LORD" is referred to in the Tanakh
Tanakh
The Tanakh is a name used in Judaism for the canon of the Hebrew Bible. The Tanakh is also known as the Masoretic Text or the Miqra. The name is an acronym formed from the initial Hebrew letters of the Masoretic Text's three traditional subdivisions: The Torah , Nevi'im and Ketuvim —hence...

 (see 1 Chronicles, and for example). It is tied to Jewish understanding that God will restore the nation of Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 to the land, following the Abrahamic covenant.

When speaking to Moses on Mount Sinai, God tells Moses that the Israelites "will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation." The priest as king is mentioned in early Judaic writings. "Then Melchizedek king of Salem [Jerusalem] brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High". In Second Chronicles the LORD said, "My Name will remain in Jerusalem forever." Cyrus king of Persia agreed and is quoted as saying: " 'The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. The prophet Zechariah taught of a king of Jerusalem, stating "Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey.

Second Temple Judaism


The Kingdom of the Lord occurs in the Greek Septuagint where the Hebrew Bible has Solomon reigning over the "Kingdom of YHWH."

Hellenistic Judaism, and Alexandria


The phrase "Kingdom of God" occurs once in the deuterocanonical books of the "Apocrypha", Wisdom of Solomon
Book of Wisdom
The Book of Wisdom, often referred to simply as Wisdom or the Book of the Wisdom of Solomon, is one of the deuterocanonical books of the Bible. It is one of the seven Sapiential or wisdom books of the Septuagint Old Testament, which includes Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon ,...

 (10:10) where Wisdom (personification)
Wisdom (personification)
The personification of wisdom, typically as a righteousness woman, is a motif found in religious and philosophical texts, most notably in the Book of Proverbs in the Hebrew Bible and other Jewish and Christian texts....

 shows a straying man "the kingdom of God." This is similar to Philo
Philo
Philo , known also as Philo of Alexandria , Philo Judaeus, Philo Judaeus of Alexandria, Yedidia, "Philon", and Philo the Jew, was a Hellenistic Jewish Biblical philosopher born in Alexandria....

 who refers to "kingdom of God" in a sapiential, wisdom-sense "formed in the image of its archetype the kingdom of God" (On The Special Laws 4:164)

Palestinian Judaism, and Dead Sea scrolls


In the pseudepigrapha, the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs
Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs
The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs is a constituent of the apocryphal scriptures connected with the Bible. It is a pseudepigraphical work comprising the dying commands of the twelve sons of Jacob. It is part of the Oscan Armenian Orthodox Bible of 1666. Fragments of similar writings were...

 refer to the "kingdom of the Lord" (Testament of Benjamin 9.1)
The "kingdom" in the War Scroll of the Dead Sea scrolls, and other mentions of "kingdom" and "rule" are linked with Messianic expectations, and the establishment of a military-political kingdom on earth.

Aramaic Targums


The Aramaic Targum
Targum
Taekwondo is a Korean martial art and the national sport of South Korea. In Korean, tae means "to strike or break with foot"; kwon means "to strike or break with fist"; and do means "way", "method", or "path"...

s, paraphrase-translations of the Hebrew Bible for use in Palestinian synagogues, contain several expansions and additional references to "the Kingdom of God" not emphasized in the Hebrew Masoretic Text
Masoretic Text
The Masoretic Text is the authoritative Hebrew text of the Jewish Bible and is regarded as Judaism's official version of the Tanakh. While the Masoretic Text defines the books of the Jewish canon, it also defines the precise letter-text of these biblical books, with their vocalization and...

. An example is Targum Neofiti
Targum Neofiti
Targum Neofiti is the largest of the Western Targumim on the Torah, or Palestinian Targumim. It consists of 450 folios covering all books of the Pentateuch, with only a few damaged verses....

's paraphrase of Exodus 15:18. Where the Hebrew has only "The shall reign for ever and ever", the Aramaic paraphrase has "How the crown of the kingdom (Aramaic "kingdom" malku מַלְכּוּ, corresponds to Hebrew malkut מַלְכוּת) becomes you, O Lord! ... Of the Lord is the kingdom before the world and forever and ever." The turning of Hebrew Bible references to God "reigning" into concrete references to a "kingdom" of God occurs in many Targum passages.

Rabbinical Judaism



Listings of kingdom references in the Mishnah
Mishnah
The Mishnah or Mishna is the first major written redaction of the Jewish oral traditions called the "Oral Torah". It is also the first major work of Rabbinic Judaism. It was redacted c...

 and subsequent rabbinic literature can be found in Dalman, Words of Jesus, pages 96–101, and Hermann Leberecht Strack, Paul Billerbeck Kommentar zum Neuen Testament aus Talmud und Midrasch (1965)

Christianity


Eusebius identified basileia with monarchy while Augustine
Augustine of Hippo
Augustine of Hippo , also known as Augustine, St. Augustine, St. Austin, St. Augoustinos, Blessed Augustine, or St. Augustine the Blessed, was Bishop of Hippo Regius . He was a Latin-speaking philosopher and theologian who lived in the Roman Africa Province...

 foresaw a merger of the church and basileia. Aquinas ignores the concept and it was relatively little discussed by Christian theologians until Johannes Cocceius
Johannes Cocceius
Johannes Cocceius , Dutch theologian, was born at Bremen.-Life:After studying at Hamburg and the University of Franeker, where Sixtinus Amama was one of his teachers, he became in 1630 professor of biblical philology at the Gymnasium illustre in his native town...

 (1660) and Hermann Samuel Reimarus
Hermann Samuel Reimarus
Hermann Samuel Reimarus , was a German philosopher and writer of the Enlightenment who is remembered for his Deism, the doctrine that human reason can arrive at a knowledge of God and ethics from a study of nature and our own internal reality, thus eliminating the need for religions based on...

 in the 18th century, during what has become known as the "first quest" for the historical Jesus.

Critical approaches



C. H. Dodd
C. H. Dodd
Charles Harold Dodd was a Welsh New Testament scholar and influential Protestant theologian.He is known for promoting "realized eschatology", the belief that Jesus' references to the kingdom of God meant a present reality rather than a future apocalypse.-Life:Dodd was born in Wrexham,...

 and John Dominic Crossan
John Dominic Crossan
John Dominic Crossan is an Irish-American religious scholar and former Catholic priest known for co-founding the Jesus Seminar. Crossan is a major figure in the fields of biblical archaeology, anthropology and New Testament textual and higher criticism. He is also a lecturer who has appeared in...

 argued that the “Kingdom” was fully manifest in the present teaching and actions of Jesus. Through his words and deeds the "Kingdom" was brought into the present reality of Palestine. Dodd coined the term "realized eschatology
Realized eschatology
Realized eschatology is a Christian eschatological theory popularized by C. H. Dodd that holds that the eschatological passages in the New Testament do not refer to the future, but instead refer to the ministry of Jesus and his lasting legacy...

" and largely based his argument on , and , claiming that "the kingdom of God has come to you" and “the kingdom of God is within you”. Crossan imagined Jesus as a cynic-like peasant who focused on the sapiential aspects of the "Kingdom" and not on any apocalyptic conceptions.

Albert Schweitzer
Albert Schweitzer
Albert Schweitzer OM was a German theologian, organist, philosopher, physician, and medical missionary. He was born in Kaysersberg in the province of Alsace-Lorraine, at that time part of the German Empire...

, Rudolf Bultmann
Rudolf Bultmann
Rudolf Karl Bultmann was a German theologian of Lutheran background, who was for three decades professor of New Testament studies at the University of Marburg...

, Norman Perrin
Norman Perrin
Norman Perrin was Associate Professor of New Testament, at the Divinity School, University of Chicago. Professor Perrin was internationally known for his work on Redaction Criticism of the New Testament....

 and Johannes Weiss
Johannes Weiss
Johannes Weiss was a German theologian and Biblical exegete.-History:Weiss was born in Kiel, Germany. A perpetual scholar, he studied in the University of Marburg, the University of Berlin, the University of Göttingen, and the University of Breslau...

 argued that Jesus’ "Kingdom" was intended to be a wholly futuristic kingdom. These scholars looked to the apocalyptic traditions of various Jewish groups existing at the time of Jesus as the basis of their study. In this view, Jesus was an apocalyptic preacher who would bring about the end times
End times
The end time, end times, or end of days is a time period described in the eschatological writings in the three Abrahamic religions and in doomsday scenarios in various other non-Abrahamic religions...

 and when he did not see the end of the cosmic order coming Jesus embraced death as a tool in which to provoke God into action.

The most common view of the "Kingdom" in recent scholarship is to embrace the truths of both these parties─present reality and future manifestation, known as Inaugurated eschatology
Inaugurated eschatology
Inaugurated eschatology is the belief in Christian theology that the end times were inaugurated in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, and thus there are both "already" and "not yet" aspects to the Kingdom of God....

. Some scholars who take this view are N.T. Wright and G.R. Beasley-Murray. In their views, the “Kingdom” that Jesus spoke of will be fully realized in the future
World to Come
The World to Come is an eschatological phrase reflecting the belief that the "current world" is flawed or cursed and will be replaced in the future by a better world or a paradise. The concept is similar to the concepts of Heaven and the afterlife, but Heaven is another place generally seen as...

 but it is also in a process of “in-breaking” into the present. This means that Jesus’ deeds and words have an immediate effect on the “Kingdom” even though it was not fully manifested during his life. Even greater attention has been paid to the concept of the “Kingdom of God” by scholars during the current third quest for the historical Jesus (with which N.T. Wright is associated).

Another important recent observation on the meaning of the “Kingdom” was made by Rudolph Otto who took a feminist approach to the study of Jesus. He claimed that “it is not Jesus who brings the kingdom; on the contrary; the kingdom brings him with it…” This approach attempts to take Jesus out of the Jesus movement that followed after his death and resurrection; by doing this the communal aspects of the “Kingdom” become emphasized and not just the focus on Jesus as a man.

Catholic interpretations


The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC)
Catechism of the Catholic Church
The Catechism of the Catholic Church is the official text of the teachings of the Catholic Church. A provisional, "reference text" was issued by Pope John Paul II on October 11, 1992 — "the thirtieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council" — with his apostolic...

 teaches that the coming Reign of God will be a kingdom of love, peace, and justice. Justice is defined as a virtue whereby one respects the rights of all persons, living in harmony and equity with all. The Kingdom of God began with Christ's death and Resurrection and must be further extended by Christians until it has been brought into perfection by Christ at the end of time. The Christian does this by living the way Christ lived, by thinking the way Christ thought, and by promoting peace and justice. This can be accomplished by discerning how the Holy Spirit (God) is calling one to act in the concrete circumstances of one's life. Christians must also pray, asking God for what is necessary to cooperate with the coming of God's Kingdom. Jesus gathered disciples to be the seed and the beginning of God's Reign on earth, and Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to guide them. Jesus continues to call all people to come together around him and to spread the Kingdom of God across the entire world. However, the ultimate triumph of Christ's Kingdom will not come about until Christ's return to earth at the end of time. During Christ's second coming
Second Coming
In Christian doctrine, the Second Coming of Christ, the Second Advent, or the Parousia, is the anticipated return of Jesus Christ from Heaven, where he sits at the Right Hand of God, to Earth. This prophecy is found in the canonical gospels and in most Christian and Islamic eschatologies...

, he will judge the living and the dead
Last Judgment
The Last Judgment, Final Judgment, Day of Judgment, Judgment Day, or The Day of the Lord in Christian theology, is the final and eternal judgment by God of every nation. The concept is found in all the Canonical gospels, particularly the Gospel of Matthew. It will purportedly take place after the...

. Only those who are judged to be righteous and just will reign with Christ forever. Christ's second coming will also mark the absolute defeat of all evil powers, including Satan
Satan
Satan , "the opposer", is the title of various entities, both human and divine, who challenge the faith of humans in the Hebrew Bible...

. Until then, the coming of the Kingdom will continue to be attacked by evil powers as Christians wait with hope for the second coming of their Savior. This is why Christians pray to hasten Christ's return by saying to him "Maranatha
Maranatha
Maranatha is an Aramaic word occurring twice in the New Testament and also in the Didache which is part of the Apostolic Fathers' collection. It is transliterated into Greek letters rather than translated, and is found at the end of Paul's First Epistle to the Corinthians...

!" which means "Come, Lord Jesus!".

According to Fr. William Barry, S.J.
Society of Jesus
The Society of Jesus is a Catholic male religious order that follows the teachings of the Catholic Church. The members are called Jesuits, and are also known colloquially as "God's Army" and as "The Company," these being references to founder Ignatius of Loyola's military background and a...

, we can understand the Kingdom of God as God's intention for the universe. God has revealed that God's intention for our world is that all humans live as brothers and sisters, as sons and daughters of God. Our thoughts and actions can either be in tune with God's intention or not. Only by being in tune with God's intention will we ever know true fulfillment or happiness in this life. Prayer, discernment and knowledge of God's revealed Word are needed to discover how one can be in tune with God's intention.

According to Fr. Daniel J. Harrington, S.J., the Kingdom of God primarily refers to the era when Christ comes again to bring the final establishment of God’s rule over all creation, which will include a final judgment where the righteous are rewarded and the wicked are punished. The concept of the Kingdom of God offers the goal for Christian life: those who follow the example and teachings of Jesus will be vindicated when the Kingdom of God comes and will reign with Christ forever.

In Biblical scholar John P. Meier
John P. Meier
John Paul Meier is a Biblical scholar and Catholic priest. He attended St. Joseph's Seminary and College , Gregorian University [Rome] , and the Biblical Institute [Rome]...

's Mentor, Message, and Miracles (A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus, v. 2, 1994, pp. 235–506), the 'Message' is the kingdom of God. The book examines that the subject as found in:
  • The Old Testament
    Old Testament
    The Old Testament, of which Christians hold different views, is a Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism...

     and Pseudepigrapha and at Qumran
    Qumran
    Qumran is an archaeological site in the West Bank. It is located on a dry plateau about a mile inland from the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea, near the Israeli settlement and kibbutz of Kalia...

  • Jesus' proclamation
    Kerygma
    Kerygma is the Greek word used in the New Testament for preaching . It is related to the Greek verb κηρύσσω , to cry or proclaim as a herald, and means proclamation, announcement, or preaching.The New Testament teaches that as Jesus launched his public ministry he entered the synagogue and read from...

     of a future kingdom
  • The kingdom proclaimed by Jesus' words and deeds as already present in his ministry
    Ministry of Jesus
    In the Christian gospels, the Ministry of Jesus begins with his Baptism in the countryside of Judea, near the River Jordan and ends in Jerusalem, following the Last Supper with his disciples. The Gospel of Luke states that Jesus was "about 30 years of age" at the start of his ministry...

     (pp. 451-53).


Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict XVI
Benedict XVI is the 265th and current Pope, by virtue of his office of Bishop of Rome, the Sovereign of the Vatican City State and the leader of the Catholic Church as well as the other 22 sui iuris Eastern Catholic Churches in full communion with the Holy See...

 in his book Jesus of Nazareth, says there are "three dimensions" to the Church Fathers'
Church Fathers
The Church Fathers, Early Church Fathers, Christian Fathers, or Fathers of the Church were early and influential theologians, eminent Christian teachers and great bishops. Their scholarly works were used as a precedent for centuries to come...

 interpretation of term Kingdom of God. The first, which comes from Origen
Origen
Origen , or Origen Adamantius, 184/5–253/4, was an early Christian Alexandrian scholar and theologian, and one of the most distinguished writers of the early Church. As early as the fourth century, his orthodoxy was suspect, in part because he believed in the pre-existence of souls...

, is that Jesus is himself the Kingdom in person. The second "sees man's interioriry as the essential location of the Kingdom." This second dimension also comes from Origen
Origen
Origen , or Origen Adamantius, 184/5–253/4, was an early Christian Alexandrian scholar and theologian, and one of the most distinguished writers of the early Church. As early as the fourth century, his orthodoxy was suspect, in part because he believed in the pre-existence of souls...

. "The third dimension of the interpretation of the Kingdom of God we could call the ecclesiastical: the Kingdom of God and the Church are related in different ways and brought into more or less close proximity." That is to say that the Church
Christian Church
The Christian Church is the assembly or association of followers of Jesus Christ. The Greek term ἐκκλησία that in its appearances in the New Testament is usually translated as "church" basically means "assembly"...

 is the Kingdom of God.

Eastern Orthodoxy


Within the theological tradition of the Eastern Orthodox Church the Kingdom of God is the future of all humankind and the created world, in that God will be in direct communion with the cosmos
Cosmos
In the general sense, a cosmos is an orderly or harmonious system. It originates from the Greek term κόσμος , meaning "order" or "ornament" and is antithetical to the concept of chaos. Today, the word is generally used as a synonym of the word Universe . The word cosmos originates from the same root...

. This communion is that all humankind will experience their existence in the presence of God, God as being the Kingdom of God, God as paradise and punishment.

Anabaptists, Early Unitarians, Dissenters


In the Reformation
Reformation
- Movements :* Protestant Reformation, an attempt by Martin Luther to reform the Roman Catholic Church that resulted in a schism, and grew into a wider movement...

 the Radical Reformation
Radical Reformation
The Radical Reformation was a 16th century response to what was believed to be both the corruption in the Roman Catholic Church and the expanding Magisterial Protestant movement led by Martin Luther and many others. Beginning in Germany and Switzerland, the Radical Reformation birthed many radical...

 of Anabaptists and Early Unitarians, and later Dissenters combined Christian mortalism with eschatological views emphasizing the future aspect of the Kingdom of God and the Second Coming
Second Coming
In Christian doctrine, the Second Coming of Christ, the Second Advent, or the Parousia, is the anticipated return of Jesus Christ from Heaven, where he sits at the Right Hand of God, to Earth. This prophecy is found in the canonical gospels and in most Christian and Islamic eschatologies...

. For example the Rev. John Disney
John Disney
John Disney was an English barrister and archaeologist. Born at Flintham Hall, Flintham, Nottinghamshire, he was the eldest son of John Disney, a former Anglican clergyman who became one of the founders of the Episcopal Unitarian Church, and from a long line of English Dissenters going back to...

 in his Reasons for quitting the Church of England (1873) speaks of "the future everlasting kingdom of God".

Pre-millennial approaches



A number of groups take a political/eschatological approach to the Kingdom of God emphasizing a physical reign of Jesus Christ on earth after the parousia
Parousia
Parousia is an ancient Greek word meaning presence, arrival, or official visit.-Classical usage:# Physical presence, arrival – The main use is the physical presence of a person, which where that person is not already present refers to the prospect of the physical arrival of that person, especially...

. These groups often place special emphasis on the role of a restored kingdom of Israel.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints considers the church itself as the Kingdom of God on the earth. However, this is limited to a spiritual or ecclesiastical kingdom until the Millennium
Millennium
A millennium is a period of time equal to one thousand years —from the Latin phrase , thousand, and , year—often but not necessarily related numerically to a particular dating system....

 when Christ will also establish a political Kingdom of God. This will have worldwide political jurisdiction when the Lord has made "a full end of all nations" (Doctrine & Covenants 87:6). However, Latter-day Saints believe that this theocratic "kingdom" will in fact be quasi-republican in organization, and will be freely chosen by the survivors of the millennial judgments rather than being imposed upon an unwilling populace.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church
Seventh-day Adventist Church
The Seventh-day Adventist Church is a Protestant Christian denomination distinguished by its observance of Saturday, the original seventh day of the Judeo-Christian week, as the Sabbath, and by its emphasis on the imminent second coming of Jesus Christ...

 accepts the doctrine of the Kingdom of God dividing it into two phases. These are the Kingdom of Grace which was established immediately after Adam and Eve sinned, and the Kingdom of Glory which will be fully established when Christ returns to earth for the second time.

Jehovah's Witnesses



Jehovah's Witnesses
Jehovah's Witnesses
Jehovah's Witnesses is a millenarian restorationist Christian denomination with nontrinitarian beliefs distinct from mainstream Christianity. The religion reports worldwide membership of over 7 million adherents involved in evangelism, convention attendance of over 12 million, and annual...

 believe that God's Kingdom refers to more than merely a state of mind or heart. They teach that the Kingdom of God is an actual Kingdom, or government, set up by Jehovah in Heaven, that will rule over the Earth after removing all current kingdoms or governments at Armageddon
Armageddon
Armageddon is, according to the Bible, the site of a battle during the end times, variously interpreted as either a literal or symbolic location...

. Jehovah's Witnesses teach that Jesus Christ is the King of this Kingdom and as such has had all authority in heaven and on earth delegated to him by his God and Father, Jehovah. They teach that only Jehovah God himself has more authority then Jesus Christ.

The Kingdom of God, to Jehovah's Witnesses, is made up of 144,000 other kings who rule with Jesus, but under his direct control, and who are the only humans that will take part in a very special resurrection known as the "First Resurrection", of which those raised cannot die, as they are raised as spirit creatures and ascend to Heaven to rule as Kings. Jehovah's Witnesses believe that Gods Kingdom began ruling in the year 1914, which they arrive at by using what is termed as Reliable Bible chronology.

Jehovah's Witnesses teach that the sons of Israel, or biological Jews, were initially given the exclusive privilege of being the only people selected to rule as Kings in the Kingdom of God, but that they lost this privilege by breaking Gods covenant and killing the messiah upon his arrival. They teach that gentile
Gentile
The term Gentile refers to non-Israelite peoples or nations in English translations of the Bible....

s, or Non-Jewish people, are now being chosen to fill those same Kingly positions as "Spiritual Israel" via the "New covenant", and not biological Israel via the "Law Covenant".

The Kingdom of God will destroy and replace all existing kingdoms and governments during Armageddon, and rule the earth from heaven for one thousand years. They believe it will create the paradise on earth that Adam and Eve lost in the Garden of Eden. During this thousand year reign all righteous and unrighteous humans will be resurrected from the dead in perfect human bodies. This, Jehovah's Witnesses teach, is the "Second Resurrection", and only occurs during total Kingdom rule. They teach that these ones can die again if their deeds, during the thousand years, are not in line with Gods rule.

Jehovah's Witnesses teach that Satan the Devil will be imprisoned during this one thousand year reign, and unable to influence humans in any way under the Kingdoms rule. All human beings that do not submit fully to the Kingdom of God during this thousand year reign of Christ will die before the thousand years is over. This is the "Second Death", from which there is no resurrection. After the one thousand year reign of the Kingdom of God, only perfect humans, completely free of sin and death, will be left on earth, which is called the "New Earth". Jesus will then hand over the Kingdom to his God and Father, Jehovah God.

At this time Satan will be set free from his prison, and be allowed to tempt a perfect human race one last time. Satan will convince an unnumbered amount of humans to rebel against God once again and attack the humans that remain faithful to Jehovah. At this time Jehovah will destroy all humans who join Satan, as well as Satan himself, without any probationary period as before, and no hope of resurrection. After the last rebellious humans and Satan are destroyed Jehovah and his Kingdom will rule forever over a perfect human race, on a paradise earth completely free from sin, death, and any wicked influences whatsoever. It will not be passed on to anyone as no one will grow old and die in heaven or on earth.

Jehovah's Witnesses teach that the Kingdom of God is the central theme of the entire Bible, Jesus message while on earth, and their own door to door preaching. They teach that their door to door preaching is a major "Sign of the End" before the Kingdom brings to an end this worlds system of governments. In this way, they believe, Gods Will shall be done in Heaven and also on the earth and further make Gods name "Jehovah" Holy, or sanctified.

Other Christian viewpoints


Inaugurated eschatology
Inaugurated eschatology
Inaugurated eschatology is the belief in Christian theology that the end times were inaugurated in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, and thus there are both "already" and "not yet" aspects to the Kingdom of God....

 is a term used to describe the belief that the end times (or latter days) were inaugurated at the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Sometimes called "already and not yet", it argues that the kingdom is already here, but it has yet to be consummated. It is a cornerstone doctrine of Kingdom theology
Kingdom theology
Kingdom theology is a system of Christian thought that elaborates on inaugurated eschatology, which is a way of understanding the various teachings on the kingdom of God found throughout the New Testament. It is often associated with the Vineyard movement...

, popularized in the modern day by George Eldon Ladd
George Eldon Ladd
George Eldon Ladd was a Baptist minister and professor of New Testament exegesis and theology at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California....

. It is espoused by the Vineyard Movement and the Fuller Theological Seminary
Fuller Theological Seminary
Fuller Theological Seminary is an accredited Christian educational institute with its main campus in Pasadena, California and several satellite campuses in the western United States...

.

Leo Tolstoy
Leo Tolstoy
Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy was a Russian writer who primarily wrote novels and short stories. Later in life, he also wrote plays and essays. His two most famous works, the novels War and Peace and Anna Karenina, are acknowledged as two of the greatest novels of all time and a pinnacle of realist...

 was a fervent Christian anarchist
Christian anarchism
Christian anarchism is a movement in political theology that combines anarchism and Christianity. It is the belief that there is only one source of authority to which Christians are ultimately answerable, the authority of God as embodied in the teachings of Jesus...

 and pacifist
Christian pacifism
Christian pacifism is the theological and ethical position that any form of violence is incompatible with the Christian faith. Christian pacifists state that Jesus himself was a pacifist who taught and practiced pacifism, and that his followers must do likewise.There have been various notable...

. His ideas on nonviolent resistance
Nonviolent resistance
Nonviolent resistance is the practice of achieving goals through symbolic protests, civil disobedience, economic or political noncooperation, and other methods, without using violence. It is largely synonymous with civil resistance...

, expressed in such works as The Kingdom of God Is Within You
The Kingdom of God Is Within You
The Kingdom of God Is Within You is the non-fiction magnum opus of Leo Tolstoy and was first published in Germany in 1894, after being banned in his home country of Russia...

, were to have a profound impact on such pivotal twentieth-century figures as Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was an American clergyman, activist, and prominent leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. He is best known for being an iconic figure in the advancement of civil rights in the United States and around the world, using nonviolent methods following the...



Leading feminist theologians
Feminist theology
Feminist theology is a movement found in several religions, including Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, and New Thought, to reconsider the traditions, practices, scriptures, and theologies of those religions from a feminist perspective...

, especially Elizabeth Schussler Fiorenza emphasize the feminine gender of the word basileia and the feminist nature of the early teachings of Jesus and the important and counter-cultural role and contributions of women in the Jesus sect.

Jesus' use of the phrase "Kingdom of God" is believed by the liberation theologians
Liberation theology
Liberation theology is a Christian movement in political theology which interprets the teachings of Jesus Christ in terms of a liberation from unjust economic, political, or social conditions...

 to have been a deliberate but indirect criticism of the Roman system of domination.

Islam



The phrase "Kingdom of God" does not occur in the Quran. The modern Arabic word for kingdom is mamlaka (المملكة), but in the Quran mul'kan (مُّلْكًا), which occurs in 4:54 (Yusuf Ali) "Or do they envy mankind for what Allah hath given them of his bounty? but We had already given the people of Abraham the Book and Wisdom, and conferred upon them a great kingdom." and 6:75 (Pickthall) "Thus did We show Abraham the kingdom of the heavens and the earth that he mighty be of those possessing certainty:"

For Bawa Muhaiyaddeen
Bawa Muhaiyaddeen
Muhammad Raheem Bawa Muhaiyaddeen was a saintly Tamil-speaking teacher and Sufi mystic from the island of Sri Lanka who first came to the United States on October 11, 1971 and established the Bawa Muhaiyaddeen Fellowship in Philadelphia...

, belief in the "Kingdom of God" may refer to the belief in God's
Allah
Allah is a word for God used in the context of Islam. In Arabic, the word means simply "God". It is used primarily by Muslims and Bahá'ís, and often, albeit not exclusively, used by Arabic-speaking Eastern Catholic Christians, Maltese Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox Christians, Mizrahi Jews and...

 absolute dominion over all things. Thus, in Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 every place, all creation, may be considered God's Kingdom if those that live there "hold onto good qualities and good actions".

The notion of God's kingdom on Earth, however, constitutes the establishment of and adherence to Allah
Allah
Allah is a word for God used in the context of Islam. In Arabic, the word means simply "God". It is used primarily by Muslims and Bahá'ís, and often, albeit not exclusively, used by Arabic-speaking Eastern Catholic Christians, Maltese Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox Christians, Mizrahi Jews and...

's laws within human society, in order to maintain a lasting peace and unity within the lives of the devout, at all levels. These include personal, criminal, state and international levels. As such, some Muslim groups hold the view that the Kingdom of God constitutes a caliphate
Caliphate
The term caliphate, "dominion of a caliph " , refers to the first system of government established in Islam and represented the political unity of the Muslim Ummah...

/Imamate
Imamate
The word Imamate is an Arabic word with an English language suffix meaning leadership. Its use in theology is confined to Islam.-Theological usage:...

, a geographical region unified under the faith of Islam, and has been suggested by Islamic scholars to be in fact referring to a caliphate which will be spread across three continents. According to mainstream Islamic beliefs, the Second Coming of Jesus and the arrival of the Mahdi
Mahdi
In Islamic eschatology, the Mahdi is the prophesied redeemer of Islam who will stay on Earth for seven, nine or nineteen years- before the Day of Judgment and, alongside Jesus, will rid the world of wrongdoing, injustice and tyranny.In Shia Islam, the belief in the Mahdi is a "central religious...

 will usher in this ideal caliphate/Imamate, which will put an end to the "tyranny of the Antichrist
Antichrist
The term or title antichrist, in Christian theology, refers to a leader who fulfills Biblical prophecies concerning an adversary of Christ, while resembling him in a deceptive manner...

", and this reign will ensure tranquility and peace for the world.

A third perspective among Muslims is that the Kingdom of God is a spiritual concept entirely, rather than a material one. After the Day of Judgment, when Allah judges all humankind based on their deeds, one either goes to hell
Hell
In many religious traditions, a hell is a place of suffering and punishment in the afterlife. Religions with a linear divine history often depict hells as endless. Religions with a cyclic history often depict a hell as an intermediary period between incarnations...

 or to heaven
Heaven
Heaven, the Heavens or Seven Heavens, is a common religious cosmological or metaphysical term for the physical or transcendent place from which heavenly beings originate, are enthroned or inhabit...

; the latter being the Eternal Kingdom.

Bahá'í Faith


The term "Kingdom of God" appears in the writings of the Bahá'í Faith
Bahá'í Faith
The Bahá'í Faith is a monotheistic religion founded by Bahá'u'lláh in 19th-century Persia, emphasizing the spiritual unity of all humankind. There are an estimated five to six million Bahá'ís around the world in more than 200 countries and territories....

, including the religious works of Bahá'u'lláh
Bahá'u'lláh
Bahá'u'lláh , born ' , was the founder of the Bahá'í Faith. He claimed to be the prophetic fulfilment of Bábism, a 19th-century outgrowth of Shí‘ism, but in a broader sense claimed to be a messenger from God referring to the fulfilment of the eschatological expectations of Islam, Christianity, and...

, the founder of the religion, and his son `Abdu'l-Bahá
`Abdu'l-Bahá
‘Abdu’l-Bahá , born ‘Abbás Effendí, was the eldest son of Bahá'u'lláh, the founder of the Bahá'í Faith. In 1892, `Abdu'l-Bahá was appointed in his father's will to be his successor and head of the Bahá'í Faith. `Abdu'l-Bahá was born in Tehran to an aristocratic family of the realm...

. In the Bahá'í teachings
Bahá'í teachings
The Bahá'í teachings represent a considerable number of theological, social, and spiritual ideas that were established in the Bahá'í Faith by Bahá'u'lláh, the founder of the religion, and clarified by successive leaders including `Abdu'l-Bahá, Bahá'u'lláh's son, and Shoghi Effendi, `Abdu'l-Bahá's...

, the kingdom of God is seen both as a state of individual being, and the state of the world. Bahá'u'lláh claimed that the scriptures of the world's religions foretell a coming messianic figure that will bring a golden age of humanity, the kingdom of God on earth. He claimed to be that figure, and that his teachings would bring about the kingdom of God; he also noted that the prophecies relating to the end times and the arrival of the kingdom of God were symbolic and referred to spiritual upheaval and renewal. The Bahá'í teachings also state as people perform good deeds they become closer to God spiritually, so that the can attain eternal life and enter the kingdom of God while alive.

Postmodern views


P. D. Ouspensky
P. D. Ouspensky
Peter D. Ouspensky , , a Russian esotericist known for his expositions of the early work of the Greek-Armenian teacher of esoteric doctrine George Gurdjieff, whom he met in Moscow in 1915.He was associated with the ideas and practices originating with...

, in his book A New Model of the Universe, (chapter 4) proposed that "The Kingdom of Heaven" could actually be an esoteric group, that one should 'seek' within our own society.

Some universalists believe that God will use the Kingdom to bring about the salvation of all humankind.

Richard Maurice Bucke, in his book Cosmic consciousness
Cosmic consciousness
Cosmic consciousness is the idea that the universe exists as an interconnected network of consciousness, with each conscious being linked to every other...

, ventures that "The Kingdom of God" corresponds to satori
Satori
is a Japanese Buddhist term for enlightenment that literally means "understanding". In the Zen Buddhist tradition, satori refers to a flash of sudden awareness, or individual enlightenment, and is considered a "first step" or embarkation toward nirvana....

.

See also

  • Apocalypse
    Apocalypse
    An Apocalypse is a disclosure of something hidden from the majority of mankind in an era dominated by falsehood and misconception, i.e. the veil to be lifted. The Apocalypse of John is the Book of Revelation, the last book of the New Testament...

  • Christian eschatology
    Christian eschatology
    Christian eschatology is a major branch of study within Christian theology. Eschatology, from two Greek words meaning last and study , is the study of the end of things, whether the end of an individual life, the end of the age, or the end of the world...

  • Christ the King
    Christ the King
    Christ the King is a title of Jesus based on several passages of Scripture. It is used by most Christians. The Roman Catholic Church, together with many Protestant denominations, including the Anglican Churches, Presbyterians, Lutherans and Methodists, celebrate the Feast of Christ the King on the...

  • Eschatology
    Eschatology
    Eschatology is a part of theology, philosophy, and futurology concerned with what are believed to be the final events in history, or the ultimate destiny of humanity, commonly referred to as the end of the world or the World to Come...

  • Heaven
    Heaven
    Heaven, the Heavens or Seven Heavens, is a common religious cosmological or metaphysical term for the physical or transcendent place from which heavenly beings originate, are enthroned or inhabit...

  • The Kingdom of God Is Within You
    The Kingdom of God Is Within You
    The Kingdom of God Is Within You is the non-fiction magnum opus of Leo Tolstoy and was first published in Germany in 1894, after being banned in his home country of Russia...

  • Queen of Heaven
    Queen of Heaven
    Queen of Heaven is a title given to the Blessed Virgin Mary by Christians, mainly of the Roman Catholic Church, and also, to some extent, in the Anglican, Lutheran, and Eastern Orthodox churches, to whom the title is a consequence of the Council of Ephesus in the fifth century, where the Virgin...

  • Sermon on the Mount
    Sermon on the Mount
    The Sermon on the Mount is a collection of sayings and teachings of Jesus, which emphasizes his moral teaching found in the Gospel of Matthew...

  • Tikkun olam
    Tikkun olam
    Tikkun olam is a Hebrew phrase that means "repairing the world." In Judaism, the concept of tikkun olam originated in the early rabbinic period...


External links