Is Kingdom of God and Kingdom of Heaven Different?

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  • Is Kingdom of God and Kingdom of Heaven Different?

    The Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven are exactly equivalent, with no difference in meaning. Only the writer of Matthew uses the title Kingdom of Heaven, nowhere else in the Bible does the phrase "Kingdom of Heaven" occur. The explanation has long been that Matthew, writing to specifically Jewish readers, inserted "heaven" for "God" so as not to offend the Jewish sensibilities regarding uttering the name of God or the term that describes Him.

    Christ mention of Kingdom of God or Heaven is the fulfillment and completion of the purpose of God through Christ. It is the characterization of the relationship between God and humanity through Christ. Christ was preaching, behold, the Kingdom is at hand, referring to himself, the restorer of man to the Creator. The whole of all soteriology (study of salvation) is squared on that one purpose, restoring the souls of man to God. The phrase Kingdom of God is often interpreted in many ways to fit the theological agenda of those interpreting the meaning. Some teach it as a Christian lifestyle, some as a method of world evangelization, some as the rediscovery of charismatic gifts, others relate it to no present or future situation.

    That this phrase refers to the completion of Christ’s purpose is the view held long by scholars over the millenniums. It is a theological premise that if something is taught that is different from the historically accepted view, it is more than likely to be heresy. Dominists might try to read something else into it, as an eschatological significance to assert that the Churches purpose is for world sovereignty, but they would be in fact creating something that is not taught in Scripture, which is common practice among certain groups.

    It is dangerous ground for us to try and discern what Scripture is teaching without a historical and panoramic understanding of God's meaning. Personal interpretation, or deciding personally what something means leads to literal or "allegorical" interpretation which is the platform which many cults and false teachers arise (Harold Camping immediately comes to mind). We have to be careful and accept the consensus from mature and reputable sources in matters of biblical interpretation.

    Reflecting on "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near (is at hand)." in Matthew 3:2 is a good springboard for consideration. "Repent": Consider your ways, change your minds: you have thought wrong; think again, and think aright. "for the kingdom of heaven is at hand": which does not mean the kingdom of glory to be expected in the afterlife (future) or the kingdom of grace, that is internal grace, which only believers are partakers of in this life (present); but the kingdom of the Messiah, which was "at hand", as Jesus was ready to appear, when he would be made manifest in Israel and enter upon his work and office: it is the Gospel dispensation which was about to take place. It is not something to attain but a sacrifice discovered in a man. Salvation is attained but the Gospel is received. Apart from repentance, the Gospel cannot be received for the dominion of sin inhibits our souls from comprehending.

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