Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Kingdom of Heaven is Near, has Come, or is Coming Soon?

A Look At Prophecy In The Gospel of Matthew

The Kingdom of Heaven is Near, has Come, or is Coming Soon?

Matthew 4:17 NLT

 From then on Jesus began to preach, 

“Repent of your sins and turn to God,
 for the Kingdom of Heaven is near."

Matthew 4:17 NLT

Pittville Lake  capturing the rain


The English translation of the Bible which I use for this blog is the New Living Translation, it reads the Kingdom of  Heaven is near. However, the footnote adds two alternate translations:

 has come, is coming soon.

So which is it?

The Kingdom of Heaven is near.
The Kingdom of Heaven has come.
The Kingdom of Heaven is coming soon.

That subtlety makes a difference in how we think of the Kingdom of Heaven and how we apply this phrase.

That difference influences how we view our lives as Christians and the relationship of our citizenship in heaven to our citizenship here on earth.


Because of 1 Peter 2:10-12, I have tended to read Matthew 4:17 as "The Kingdom of Heaven has come."

Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.

If we are foreigners then we have a citizenship elsewhere. The reference to our unbelieving neighbors indicates Peter references our life on the earth. People who view this verse as I do consider ourselves to be primarily citizens of Heaven who live in one of the countries of this earth. So, while we may possess citizenship in an earthly country, we are dual-citizens with our primary citizenship being in the Kingdom of Heaven or, as other gospels phrase it, the Kingdom of God.

So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family.Ephesians 2:19 NLT

Now, if these two verses support the view of being aliens in the earthly countries in which we live then 2 Peter 1:11 makes sense. When we leave our earthly home to enter the place of our primary citizenship, we will receive a grand entrance.

Then God will give you a grand entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.


But then there are other scriptures which can lead to confusion and undoubtedly influence the choices of translators.

The crowd was listening to everything Jesus said. And because he was nearing Jerusalem, he told them a story to correct the impression that the Kingdom of God would begin right away.
Luke 19:11 NLT

In the same way, when you see all these things taking place, you can know that the Kingdom of God is near. Luke 21:31 NLT

where they strengthened the believers. They encouraged them to continue in the faith, reminding them that we must suffer many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God.Acts 14:22 NLT

For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power. 1 Corinthians 4:20 NLT

Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality,or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 NLT

You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. For a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. 
Ephesians 5:5 NLT

I solemnly urge you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus, who will someday judge the living and the dead when he comes to set up his Kingdom: 2 Timothy 4:1 NLT

God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. Matthew 5:3 NLT

But if I am casting out demons by the Spirit of God, then the Kingdom of God has arrived among you. Matthew 12:28 NLT

“The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!” Mark 1:15 NLT

I tell you the truth, some standing here right now will not die before they see the Kingdom of God.” Luke 9:27 NLT

One day the Pharisees asked Jesus, “When will the Kingdom of God come?”Jesus replied, “The Kingdom of God can’t be detected by visible signs. You won’t be able to say, ‘Here it is!’ or ‘It’s over there!’ For the Kingdom of God is already among you. Luke 17:20-21 NLT


Does Jesus refer to the Kingdom of Heaven being physically near or chronologically near? Is the Kingdom of Heaven physically present among us or just chronologically near?

When we look at the meaning and usages of the Greek word translated near or at hand, we find no help. The root word can mean  to bring near or to join one thing to another and the Greek tense carries the sense of now and continuing into the future.

One thing is certain. The physical, final form of the Kingdom of Heaven has not yet been set up upon the earth. That will happen when Jesus comes and God judges the living and the dead. Clearly that by itself is reason enough to repent. Who wants to stand before a God unrepentant?

That question is equally valid when asked of those who are Christian as it is for the unbelievers.

However, that Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Heaven, is within us and in that sense has already come is equally true. When the speaker was Jesus, God Himself, if heaven is where God dwells, then it was as near as Jesus' physical body.

If you look at the presence of believers as the presence of ambassadors of Christ, then you can also say the Kingdom is represented among us by our dual citizenship but not physically here.

So, I find the chronological presence as having come in us, near among us, and coming in fullness at a time chronologically soon.

I find no conflict between Matthew 4:17, Luke 17:20-21 or any of the other listed passages.

The Kingdom of Heaven is Near, has Come, and is Coming Soon

Photo Credits:
Pittville Lake capturing the rain by Julie anne Johnson,  some rights reserved

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