On The Kingdom of Heaven

On The Kingdom of Heaven

by Bertrand L. Comparet

There is some dispute in ecclesiastical circles, whether the kingdom of God, so often mentioned by Jesus Christ, is to be on earth or only in heaven. This is based chiefly on the use by Matthew (only) of the phrase "the kingdom of Heaven": from which some have argued that the kingdom must be only in heaven, being heaven itself as ruled by Almighty God. But neither Mark, Luke nor John refer to the kingdom "of Heaven," but only to the kingdom "of God"; and even Matthew himself uses as an equivalent phrase "the kingdom of God" 4 times (Matthew 6:33; 12: 28; 21: 31; and 21: 43); and in Matthew, Jesus Christ speaks of "the kingdom of their Father" (13: 43) and "My Father's kingdom" (26: 29), both phrases being obviously equivalent to "the kingdom of God." Clearly, there is no distinction between "the kingdom of Heaven" and "the kingdom of God." Then why were the two phrases used?

Because outwardly pious Jews had first taken the name of God, Yahweh out of the Scriptures, substituting the word "Adonai" (Lord) – this in the 7th century B.C. At least as early as 200 B.C. they had begun to substitute "heaven" for "God." (Even today, many Jewish publications won't use the word "God," writing it "G-d." Funk & Wagnalls New Standard Bible Dictionary says: “ kingdom of God: Usage of terms: A New Testament phrase based upon and expressing in its final form the Old Testament idea of the spiritual rule of God over Men. The phrase ‘ kingdom of Heaven' is used in the New Testament by Matthew only, and is an exact equivalent of the phrase ‘ kingdom of God.’ The substitution of 'heaven' for ‘God’ is based on the popular superstitious feeling in later Judaism which led to the avoidance of the Divine Names in common speech."

So nothing can be based upon the use of the words " kingdom of Heaven"; but what clues can we find in the Bible? First, God's Throne and kingdom are eternal: "Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of Thy kingdom" (Psalm 45: 6). "Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and Thy dominion endureth throughout all generations" (Psalm 145: 13).

But an eternal throne and kingdom on this earth was promised: “And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and i will establish his kingdom. He shall build an house for My Name and i will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever. I will be his Father, and he shall be My son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men: but My mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took away from Saul, whom I put away before thee. And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever” (2 Samuel 12-16). "And of all my sons, for Yahweh hath given me many sons He hath chosen Solomon my son to sit upon the throne of the kingdom of Yahweh over Israel" (Chronicles 28: 5). "Then Solomon sat on the throne of Yahweh as king instead of David his father, and prospered; and all Israel obeyed him." (1 Chronicles 29: 23).

"I have made a covenant with My chosen, I have sworn unto David My servant, Thy seed will I establish for ever, and build up thy throne for all generations. My mercy will I keep for him for evermore, and My covenant shall stand fast with him. His seed also will I make to endure for ever, and his throne as the days of heaven ... My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of My lips. Once have I sworn by My holiness that I will not lie to David. his seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me (Psalm 89: 34, 28-36). "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 will break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever” (Daniel 2: 44).

We know that Solomon never sat on the throne of Yahweh God in heaven; but we are told in the Bible that "Solomon sat on the throne of Yahweh as king" --- and therefore God has an earthly throne, as well as a heavenly one. It is prophesied that Jesus Christ shall sit upon the throne of the kingdom of God --- but quite definitely an earthly kingdom, although an eternal one. “And the 7th 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" (Revelation 11: 15). "For the Lord Most High is terrible; He is a great king over all the earth... For God is the King of all the earth: sing ye praises with understanding. God reigneth over the heathen." (Psalm 47:2-7). This kingdom contains evil people, who must be rejected. (Any of these in heaven?) "And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force" (Matthew 11: 12). "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and garnered of every kind: which when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. So shall it be at the end of this age: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing, of teeth" (Matthew 13: 47-50).

We are even told that the children of satan are in the kingdom of heaven, and must be expelled: This can’t be in heaven! "He that soweth the good seed is the Son of Man; the field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; the enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this age. The Son of Man shall send forth His angels, and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity" (Matthew 13: 37-41). And, this kingdom is one where people are material enough to eat and drink: "I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father's Kingdom" (Matthew 26: 29). “And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as My Father hath appointed unto Me: that ye may eat and drink at My table in My Kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the Twelve Tribes of Israel" (Luke 22: 29-30).

So, in short, the Kingdom of Heaven is the Kingdom of God; it is on earth; it contains both good and wicked people at present, who will both, be in the Kingdom until the Second Coming of Jesus Christ when the angels will cast out the wicked; it will be here forever; and those in it will be not mere spirits but real and solid enough to eat and drink earthly meals. It is "the Kingdom of Heaven," but it is not in heaven.