The Kingdom of God or…The Kingdom of Heaven?B. K. Chadwell, 11.15.2011
There are four Gospels in the New Testament; Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. I believe, most Christians will agree, that these are writings which are purposed by God
to provide witness to the life and purpose of Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God and
theSon of Man. These writings, while differing in a variety of ways, are parallel,
written, accounts of His life, written by four different witnesses.
Two of these witnesses are counted in the original twelve of Jesus' followers, which
He had hand-picked (Matthew and John). The other two witnesses were not of the
twelve but had close association and were contemporary to the twelve and or
others of Jesus' close followers (Mark and Luke).
This is consistent with the Biblical principal that; "in the mouths of two orthree witnesses, a thing shall be established."
Mat 18:16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that inthe mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
2Co 13:1 This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.
Of the four new testament Gospel writers, ONLY the writer of the gospel of Matthew uses the term "Kingdom of Heaven". (KJV)
To cut to the bottom line, without fully developing a thesis, at this point, I will simply say that: "The Kingdom of Heaven" is a term used only by Matthew to describe something that the other Gospel writers mostly called; "The Kingdom of God". Why Matthew used a different term than the other three witnesses to describe the same thing can be discussed and arguments protracted but the simple fact remains that Matthew is the only one of the four witnesses that uses the term; "Kingdom of Heaven".
According to biblical interpretation principals; if the two terms, "Kingdom ofGod" and "Kingdom of Heaven" are not synonymous then we do not have
two or three witnesses to establish the "Kingdom of Heaven" as being
different from "the Kingdom of God". This fact alone might not be totally
persuasive but when reading the entire Bible a, solid, persuasive difference
is not apparent either.
John uses the term "Kingdom of God" only two times in His gospel writingsand never uses the term; "Kingdom of Heaven". The other two gospels
writers (Luke and Mark) use the term "Kingdom of God" liberally, but like
John, never use the term "Kingdom of Heaven". The fact that only
Matthew was a Jew writing specifically to Jews is significant. While John
and probably John Mark were both Jews, John was apparently not writing
specifically to Jews, but rather to the universal reader. Mark (John Mark)
was probably a Jew and apparently was writing specifically to Gentiles.
Luke was a Greek writing to Gentiles as well.
For an old covenant Jew to write the word "God", or its Jewish equivalent,
was a very sacred thing and apparently was done sparingly. For a scribe to
write down the Jewish word for "God" required significant ritual under
Jewish law when it was done. This information can be studied in more detail
as Jewish history. However, for Matthew, who was a Jew writing to Jews, it
is not hard to conclude that He might be more careful as he writes
specifically to Jewish readers by using the term "Heaven ", when
appropriate, to substitute for the word; "God".
The Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven are synonymous terms.
Why is this so important?
Without the solid foundation of the truth to build upon in this, critical, area of Christian understanding, we have and will continue to “short stop” our ability to grow up in the Spirit much beyond the milk of the word. Much of our Christian foundational teaching suggests or implies that these two terms are the somehow different. This has led Christians, down through the years, on a path of subtle error, in that this error will never allow for the truth to fit in.
Therefore, in this case, if we do not understand that the two terms; The Kingdom of God and The Kingdom of Heaven are synonymous, we can never arrive at a clear understanding of; Heaven, the government of God, within us (the Kingdom of God) and the complete truth regarding the good news of the Gospel. Without a, clear, vision of the truth that the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven are the same thing, described with different words, we will never be able to see, then seek or obtain, the fullness of God’s purpose for His Church. Without this revelation (vision) we, like generations of Saints before us, will die a natural death and must wait among that great cloud of witnesses, for another generation to catch the vision.
I believe; to separate and try to differentiate "the Kingdom of Heaven" from "the Kingdom of God" is arguably one of the main reasons why Christians can’t agree on much of the basic "milk" of the word. Without this basic foundation of the truth of the "Kingdom of God" being established, I believe it is impossible to come to the maturity God intendeds for His "church".
Matthew 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent:or the kingdom of heavenis at hand.
Mark 1:15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is athand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.
Luke 17:20-21 And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
Matthew 5:20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shallexceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case
enter into the kingdom of heaven.
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