The Kingdom of Heaven and of God

Kingdom Series – Part One



What is the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of God? Are they the same, just called by different names? Let’s consider these questions and see what we can learn.


One thing to keep in mind is that topics like these can often lead different people to different conclusions. Sometimes the person or group who put a lot of effort into finding the answer may dogmatically stand by the result they came up with because of the emotional investment they have in the subject. I’m sorry to say, “Been there, done that!” I’m sorry to say that because on occasion, at a later time when understanding is increased, I’ve realized the case I made wasn’t so iron clad after all.


Let’s face it, whatever we may believe, we believe it is the truth or we wouldn’t want to believe it. Factors such as incomplete understanding, lack of knowledge, deception, or something else can lead us down an incorrect path, contributing to the error of our ways.


I have learned to be less dogmatic on things that are not necessarily crucial to faith, and to stand firm on the weightier matters such as the cross, Christ Jesus, the blood, etc. We need to exercise a certain amount of humility when our beliefs are challenged, while showing a certain amount of grace to others when disagreeing with their belief. Certain doctrine in the Christian faith is hard and fast, black and white. Other doctrine may take quite a bit of study just to get to a point of thinking that we may have an understanding of the topic. The items that are not so clear, those upon which our salvation is not directly dependent, are not worth losing fellowship over. Unfortunately, churches have split over some relatively minor issues. Let’s be careful to not be so dogmatic that we injure relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ. We all have our own baggage, and we are all learning along this path of sanctification.


So it is with the kingdom of heaven, kingdom of God topic. Some believe there is most definitely a difference between the two, while others believe the names are synonyms of one another.


I wonder what level of understanding of the kingdom the average believer would have. I suspect it is mostly a surface knowledge, because unless one did a study on it, there isn’t enough time in a Sunday sermon to dig into the depths of the topic. That’s a bit unfortunate, because as we will discover, it is actually a piece of the evangelistic picture. At the minimum, we should strive to have an accurate understanding of what we do know about the kingdom. In the present day, it would not be at all surprising for a new believer to think the kingdom is nothing about today, rather, it is out there somewhere after the final judgment.


I believe every disciple should have a good understanding of the kingdom of God. After all, we are a part of it. Do we know what to do with it? We will learn that we are to use it when witnessing or evangelizing. We are to be infectious carriers of it. There are warnings of the difficulty of entering into it and of being cast out of it.


We will take four episodes of the podcast to discover what we can concerning the kingdom of God.

  • Episode 53 – Kingdom Part One: Of Heaven and of God
  • Episode 54 – Kingdom Part Two: The Kingdom at Hand
  • Episode 55 – Kingdom Part Three: Infectious Carriers
  • Episode 56 – Kingdom Part Four: Kingdom Come

I will also have a list of the kingdom verses on the Virtual Study With .us site for those who want to dig into the study. Let’s dig into this study, Episode 53, The Kingdom of Heaven, The Kingdom of God.


  • Is there a difference between the Kingdom of Heaven (KH) and the Kingdom of God (KG)?
    • This is disputed as some say yes and some say no
    • Matthew is the only New Testament author to use KH
    • Other authors frequently mention KG
    • Matthew uses KH 32 times
    • 10 different books, including Matthew, use KG 68 times
  • The answer is: Yes and/or No
    • This is quite a study involving a denotative difference, connotative difference, theological arguments, exegetical reason and insights, circumlocution, and more
      • That’s a lot of big words for us, the average disciple.
    • The reality seems to me to be that they are synonymous and are meant to distinguish the spiritual kingdom from the earthly kingdoms
    • For me, the idea is to mesh where God is on the throne (heaven), with the living stones (within us, believers), with where I live (earth)
      • Thy Kingdom Come
      • When all come together, the presence and the power of God are made manifest
    • Near the beginning of the ministry of Jesus, the disciples ask Jesus how to pray
    • Jesus gives them what we refer to as “The Lord’s Prayer”



“Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”


Matthew 6:10 ESV



  • I need to keep in mind that the ministry of Jesus was at a time that was still under the old covenant
    • Jesus was there, in part, to change a mindset
    • The people were afraid of the power of God
      • More than fear of the Lord
    • Their fear kept them from their Pentecost at Sinai when they insisted Moses go talk to God
    • There was Korah’s rebellion recorded in Numbers 16
      • 14,700 died of the plague, the wrath of God that was poured out
      • That was in addition to those that died when the earth opened up and swallowed 250 men, together with Korah
    • The old covenant view feared God
      • Less is said about fearing the devil
    • One message of the new covenant is “fear not”
    • The new covenant is the covenant of peace
      • The peace is between God and man
        • As when God communed with Adam in the garden
        • They communicated with one another
        • Note: there is not a verse, that I can find, that directly says that God walked with Adam in the garden
          • However, Genesis 3:8 refers to God walking in the garden.



And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the


Genesis 3:8 ESV



  • As the story progresses, the man and his wife have a conversation with God, suggesting they were together in the garden.
  • The new covenant has the resurrected Christ walking with man
    • Peace between God and man
  • Was heaven and earth in perfect unity when Adam was created?
  • Am I to seek a way of bringing heaven to earth?
  • One theme in Daniel is the Kingdom of Heaven supplanting the kingdom of earth
    • Indeed, there will be a millennial reign
    • Then the new heaven and new earth, with no evil
  • The disciples were looking for Jesus to establish His Kingdom
  • The Kingdom of God, in heaven, does come from heaven to earth
  • As a son of God, I am part of that Kingdom
  • Hebrews 12 speaks of the Kingdom that cannot be shaken, of a new covenant, and of the heavenly Jerusalem
  • Revelation speaks of the New Jerusalem coming down from heaven
  • The will of God being done on earth as it is in heaven points to the marriage of the two



For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.


Hebrews 13:14 ESV



For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.

Hebrews 11:10 ESV



In the Kingdom we have the word.





Living Word Written Word Spoken Word


  • Most definitely I have Holy Spirit to teach me
    • As do all who believe
    • Straight up new covenant



“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth, for He will not speak on His own authority, but
whatever He hears He will speak, and He will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take what is mine and declare it to you.”


John 16:12-14 ESV



  • Jesus Himself is my example of Kingdom living



“For I have not spoken on My own authority, but the Father who sent Me has Himself given Me a commandment – what to say and what to speak. And I know that His commandment is eternal life.
What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.”


John 12:49-50 ESV



  • The commandment is eternal life
    • This is why it is important for me to heed the words of Jesus
      • For in them is eternal life
      • Obedience in love gains eternal life



“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.”


John 5:24 ESV



  • A new life is available to those who believe God
  • As Jesus mimicked the Father, we are to imitate Jesus



So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of His own accord, but only what He sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. For
the Father loves the Son and shows Him all that He Himself is doing.”


John 5:19-20a



  • I am to have the mind of Christ, gained through communion with Almighty God
  • Like Jesus, my example of godly and kingdom living, I am to spend time with Father
  • Fear Not



And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, He departed and went out to a desolate place, and there He prayed.


Mark 1:35 ESV



  • Jesus regularly went to a solitary place to commune with the Father
  • Can I gain the mind of Christ without doing the same?



The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person
judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.


1 Corinthians 2:14-16 ESV



  • I cannot realize the Kingdom of God where I live without:
    • Intimacy with the Father
    • The mind of Christ
    • Leading and teaching of the Holy Spirit
  • First and foremost is time spent with God
    • Then the Kingdom of God can become active in my life
    • Then I can go and make disciples
  • Jesus Christ and John the Baptist, the prophetic voices of their day, both preached, “The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”



In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said,
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make His paths straight.’”


Matthew 3:1-3 ESV



From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”


Matthew 4:17 ESV



  • This was immediately after John was arrested
  • This was also a fulfillment of what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah
  • Jesus, the light of the world



“The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles – the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in
the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.”


Matthew 4:15-16 ESV



  • Those with ears to hear were about to be led out of the valley of the shadow of death
  • They were living in a day that was between the two mountains
  • Jesus also sent out the twelve with the same message of the kingdom of heaven at hand



These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And proclaim as you
go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay.”


Matthew 10:5-8 ESV



  • Jesus’ ministry audience is defined in verses five and six
    • The lost sheep of the house of Israel



But He did not answer her a word. And His disciples came and begged Him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of


Matthew 15:23-24 ESV



  • Side note: The Lord eventually met her need
    • Could it be that the Holy Spirit put it in her heart to be persistent for this example to be made manifest?
  • Side note: This isn’t the only time the twelve were annoyed and let their flesh rise up
    • Not so unlike me from time to time
      • I am being corrected by the refiner’s fire
    • The message of Jesus to the twelve that they were sent out with:



“And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay.”


Matthew 10:7-8 ESV



  • The Kingdom of Heaven, and the Kingdom of God, being a reality in the here and now is what the people needed to grasp
    • The same message needs to be received today
    • The robbers have had their day.
    • ENOUGH!


  • Does it do any good, is it at all productive, to search for something that doesn’t exist?
  • I do not believe that God sends me on wild goose chases for His amusement, or for any other reason



“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be


Matthew 7:7-8 ESV



The Principle




The Practice Prayer Pay Attention Persistence
The Means Verbal Mental Physical
The Requirement The Right Questions In the Right Places On the Right Door




“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”


Matthew 6:33 ESV



  • The Kingdom of God is at hand
    • I am to seek for it first
    • It is present, and to be discovered
  • Also, I am to seek the righteousness of God
    • Replacing my self-righteousness with His righteousness
      • Self-righteousness only gets in the way; a hindrance
    • Put on the breastplate of righteousness with the whole armor of God
      • Ephesians 6 – Daily
    • The Kingdom of God is found through the New Covenant
      • Acts through Revelation teaches the attributes of Kingdom living
      • The righteousness of Christ is imputed to the believer
    • Abraham believed God and trusted that the promises of God to him would be fulfilled



And he believed the Lord, and He counted it to him as righteousness.


Genesis 15:6 ESV



  • Faith and belief in God lead to righteousness



Does He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the Law, or by hearing with faith – just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as


Galatians 3:5-6 ESV



  • Again, the Law does not save, nor does it produce righteousness
  • True righteousness is a work and fruit of faith
  • Hearing with faith = to hear and to do, or obey, the word of God



You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as
righteousness” – and he was called a friend of God.


James 2:22-23 ESV



  • To do the work = step out in faith
  • Obedience in Love; obeying in faith, trusting that it is pleasing to God and will be counted to me as righteousness
  • My faith is completed, revealed, and made full, by doing the works of obedience to the word I’ve heard
  • I can be called a friend of God
    • The Gospel of Peace; be not afraid
    • The Law cannot get me there
  • The first covenant was with Israel
    • Not the Samaritans or Gentiles



“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God,
and they shall be my people.”


Hebrews 8:10 ESV



  • The old covenant fades, giving way to the new covenant
    • The lesser giving way to the greater



In speaking of a new covenant, He makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.


Hebrews 8:13 ESV



  • In verse 10 Israel realizes a new covenant that is better, that is written on their hearts and in their minds
  • Better than the covenant they could not keep



But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant He mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. For if that first covenant
had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second.


Hebrews 8:6-7 ESV



  • If it wasn’t broken, why fix it?
  • The old covenant was broken continuously by sin
    • It was also broken in that it could not save nor make perfect
  • Christ came with a better covenant
  • The writer of Hebrews quotes the prophet Jeremiah



For He finds fault with them when He says: “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the
covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt. For they did not continue in my covenant, and so I showed no concern
for them, declares the Lord.”


Hebrews 8:8-9 ESV



  • Israel and the Jews now have a better covenant if they will receive it
    • They missed their Pentecost at Sinai when they sent Moses to talk to God and refused to enter in
    • Now they have their Pentecost in Jesus, the Door, if they will knock and enter in



“I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.”


John 10:9 ESV



  • The Jews had their Pentecost at Jerusalem



When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were
sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them


Acts 2:1-4 ESV



  • Suddenly: an unexpected event or timing; both in this case
  • A sound like a mighty rushing wind
  • Divided tongues as of fire appeared to them
  • The things of God seen with spiritual eyes, and occasionally manifested in the physical, are hard to adequately and accurately describe
    • To say it was a wind and were tongues of fire would be saying something different than what is written in scripture
  • They were all filled with the Holy Spirit



Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together,


Acts 2:5-6a ESV



  • Was it the sound that was “like a mighty rushing wind”, or was it the disciples speaking, that was evidently audible to others in the city?
  • After Peter’s sermon to those he addresses as the “men of Israel”, those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.”
  • What of Pentecost for the Samaritans and the Gentiles?
  • Philip went to the Samaritans and preached the gospel



But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.


Acts 8:12 ESV



  • The good soil received the seed that was sown
  • They believed and were baptized
  • Word of what took place reached Jerusalem and Peter and John were sent to Samaria



who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, for He had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they
laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.


Acts 8:15-17 ESV



  • The Samaritans had their Pentecost
    • They would now worship in spirit and in truth just as the Jews who had believed and received the good news of the Gospel of Peace
  • The great commission instructs me to make disciples and to baptize them “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,”
    • There was no need for a second baptism
    • The Apostles prayed with the laying on of hands
    • All who believed and took this step of faith were filled with the Holy Spirit
  • In Acts 10 I see the first time that ministry is truly focused on the Gentiles as a group
    • There were individuals dealt with previously
    • The old covenant was for the houses of Israel and Judah
    • Jesus came for, and sent His disciples to, the lost sheep of the house of Israel
    • I just reviewed the Samaritans being welcomed into the Kingdom of God
    • Now the circuit is made complete as Peter, though perplexed, presents the gospel to the Gentiles, specifically to the household of Cornelius
  • Beginning in verse 9 there is a record of Peter’s vision
  • Then in verse 17 some men sent by Cornelius arrive at Peter’s gate
  • Peter went down and inquired as to why they were there



And they said, “Cornelius, a centurion, an upright and God-fearing man, who is well spoken of by the whole Jewish nation, was directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and
to hear what you have to say.” So he invited them in to be his guests.


Acts 10:22-23a ESV



  • Walls were first broken down between the Jews and the Samaritans
  • Now the Gentiles are being welcomed in
  • The Kingdom of God, the Body of Christ, is one
    • Not factions or denominations



I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one
another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call – one Lord,
one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.


Ephesians 4:1-7 ESV



  • So I now witness the Gentiles being invited into the one body, the Kingdom of God
  • The next day Peter and some of the brothers went with the men to Caesarea
  • Cornelius called together his relatives and close friends to listen to Peter
  • Peter was breaking from the Jewish law by associating with these Gentiles (verse 28)



So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears Him and does what is right is acceptable to Him.”


Acts 10:34-35 ESV



“To Him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His name.”


Acts 10:43 ESV



  • I need to study this story as Peter sums up the ministry of Christ and the grace of God
    • There are many nuggets to explore, but they are not for the focus of this study
  • God is not limited by my theology, or anyone else’s, concerning how He will do things
  • Salvation; Baptism; Holy Spirit
    • The Jews: Heard and believed, were baptized, were filled with the Holy Spirit
    • The Samaritans: Heard and believed, were baptized in the name of Jesus, received prayer with the laying on of hands, were filled with the Holy Spirit
    • The Gentiles: Heard and believed, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, they were baptized



While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the Holy
Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles.


Acts 10:44-45 ESV



  • Peter baptized them and remained with them for some days
  • This was immediately followed by a religious spirit rising up among some back in Jerusalem
    • The Law of oppression wanted back in
    • Our adversary does not at all like losing ground, physical or spiritual, and will always make a counterattack to attempt to take back what was lost
  • We must die to self and be born again in Christ Jesus



Or do you not know, brothers – for I am speaking to those who know the law – that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives?


Romans 7:1 ESV



  • We are released from The Law



Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to Him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit
for God.


Romans 7:4 ESV



  • We have been separated from the law and joined to the Gospel of Peace through our joining to Christ in His death and resurrection



For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live
by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.


Galatians 2:19-20 ESV



  • Our salvation and new life all came about by, through, and for, Jesus Christ
    • He is the author and perfecter of our faith



For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.


Romans 3:28 ESV



And to the one who does not work but trusts Him who justifies the ungodly, His faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts
righteousness apart from works: “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”


Romans 4:5-8 ESV



  • Praise be to our God, who indeed has forgiven us and richly blesses us
    • He gave faith to us to believe, and then He blessed us for receiving it



For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.


Romans 6:14 ESV



  • In The Law is death
  • In Grace is life
  • I choose life in Christ Jesus
  • I choose the Gospel of Peace and the Law of Liberty



For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ


John 1:17 ESV


There are some who would contend that the kingdom of heaven is an earthly kingdom. They contend it is a land with a man ruling over it, and that such king would be doing the will of God.


There is the promised land, and Christ Jesus is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. He is, and will be, ruling over the kingdom.


Further, they would contend that the kingdom of God is a spiritual kingdom. The contention is that it is present when the righteousness of God is present, thus allowing God to have control.


Wherever Christ Jesus is, the righteousness of God is present. We, as believers, are covered by the righteousness of Christ. The spiritual kingdom is always with us.


I contend the physical kingdom is only complete when united with the spiritual kingdom. They are one and the same, though having spiritual and physical aspects.


If one follows the teaching that the gospels were written for different audiences, some sense is made of this debate. Matthew was written to a primarily Jewish audience, whereas Mark and Luke were written to primarily Gentile audiences.


The Jews had fear of taking God’s name in vain, and though it was likely written in Aramaic originally, the kingdom of God, in name, using God in whatever form, may have been a point of contention for them. Thus, kingdom of heaven was the preferable phrase.