The Kingdom of God and of Heaven

Table of Contents

1. Preface
2. Chart of the Kingdom
3. Explanation of the Chart: Chapter 1
4. The Kingdom Generally: Chapter 2
5. The Aspects of the Kingdom: Chapter 3
6. The Constitution of the Kingdom: Chapter 4
7. The Past Phase of the Kingdom (Introduction): Chapter 5
8. The Present Phase of the Kingdom (Transition): Chapter 6
9. The Future Phase of the Kingdom (Consummation): Chapter 7
10. Notes of a Lecture on the Kingdom of Heaven: Appendix

Preface

The Kingdom of God is the rule of God over His universe. It is the highest authority. Being supreme in power and authority, it is superior to every circumstance.
God delegated authority to Adam to rule, giving him dominion over the earth. Later the authority to rule was given to Israel.
At Sinai, Israel made the golden calf and claimed that they would do all that God had spoken. Due to their idolatry and other failures, power and authority was placed in the hands of Gentile monarchies. Christ the Messiah was presented to the remnant as their King and rejected. After Stephen’s martyrdom, the economy of Israel was completely destroyed by Titus in 70 A.D. While set aside at present, God still holds Israel as responsible before Him. They are coming back into their land where God must judge them for their disobedience. This final judgment is still future and will be poured out on “this generation,” a moral generation which began at Sinai.
In general, the term “the Kingdom of God” was used in the Gospels, because Jesus, a divine Person, was present. The kingdom was that “of God” until Christ went to heaven, then it became “the Kingdom of heaven.” Only Matthew presents it in this latter aspect.
Near the time of Jesus’ rejection and return to heaven, John the Baptist gave the introductory announcement of the coming kingdom: “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” The irregular condition of Israel’s servitude to the Gentiles and their rejection of their Messiah caused God in grace to declare by John the Baptist that the Kingdom of heaven was at hand.
Jesus, the King of the Jews, came from heaven to present Himself to Israel as their Messiah. By this declaration of the coming Kingdom of heaven, a new thing was introduced, and the Jew was to learn that the Kingdom of heaven was part of the counsels of God. As a result of Israel’s rejection of Him as King on earth, for nearly two thousand years a Man, as King, has been sitting beside His Father on the Father’s throne in the heavens - the Lamb who was slain and who is now the Object of the praises of heaven and of some on earth.
Now, the children of the kingdom are in the Kingdom of the Son of His love. It was founded on the resurrection of Christ. Put simply, the kingdom, at the present time, is the heavenly rule of Jesus over the earth.
The Kingdom of heaven is not the Church. They must not be confused, even though the Church is formed during the present phase of the Kingdom of heaven on the earth. Once the Church is caught away to heaven, the kingdom becomes the Kingdom of the Father, which is the full development of that which now exists in an irregular, mixed state as described in Matthew 13.
Excepting Luke 11:2, only in Matthew do we learn of the Kingdom of heaven and of the Kingdom of the Father. These things belong to the great mystery of the present disorder of the kingdom, as seen by the casual observer. The mixed condition is intermediate between the rejection of the Son of man, the Messiah, and His manifestation in the glory of His own kingdom.
C. E. Lunden

Chart of the Kingdom

* John the Baptist and our Lord preached repentance and salvation to the Jews only, in view of the coming kingdom, then said to be near at hand. It was, therefore, the “gospel of the kingdom.” See Matt. 4:23; 9:35; Mark 1:14.
† The preaching of the gospel of the grace of God is to all classes alike; whereby believers are gathered out from the world to come under the spiritual rule of Christ in the Church; while nominal Christians mingle with the true and together form what is known as Christendom; and thus both together constitute the present phase of the kingdom.

Explanation of the Chart: Chapter 1

In the divine order of things there could be but ONE Kingdom of God and of heaven, as obviously set forth throughout the Word of God, seeing there is but one Lord and King over all. “And the Lord shall be King over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and His name one” (Zech. 14:9). Therefore the kingdom, as a whole, may be appropriately represented in the Chart as it appears on the facing page.
As, however, many different facts are presented to us in the Word concerning this one kingdom, it is important and instructive to classify or group these facts under certain divisions of the subject, according to the meaning and application of the numerous passages. By this means we are enabled to arrive at a clearer and fuller apprehension of the whole subject in all its different bearings. Indeed, it seems indispensable to a right understanding of the Kingdom of God thus to arrange and classify all the texts of Scripture relating to it. On a close examination of all these different texts, it will be found that they can be rightly and instructively arranged under three main divisions: namely, the ASPECTS, CONSTITUTION and PHASES of the kingdom, with a few subdivisions under the last two headings.
On the Chart these three divisions are thus displayed. First, around the rim of the circle the four ASPECTS appear as the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of heaven, the Kingdom of the Son and the Father’s Kingdom. Then within the circle is shown the second main division, the CONSTITUTION, with four subdivisions, and the third main division, the PHASES, having three subdivisions, the Past, Present and Future phases, each of which is briefly defined on the Chart itself. All these divisions are fully explained in the body of this book, in order as they appear on the Chart.
Now assuming that the foregoing summarized divisions of the subject are scripturally correct, as I take them to be, then all the passages in Scripture referring to the kingdom must, as a matter of course, come under one or another of the divisions of the summary set forth in the Chart.
To be used in connection with the Chart, a List of all the direct passages of Scripture referring to the kingdom is given at the end of this chapter in the abbreviated form of a concordance, in order to facilitate a ready reference to them, and at the same time to present a full view of every direct reference to the kingdom.
There are, besides these, a very large number of indirect references, both in the Old and New Testaments, but to take up all these would far exceed the limits assigned to this small book.
I have therefore confined my observations to the direct passages containing the words “kingdom,” “the Kingdom of God,” “the Kingdom of heaven,” “the Kingdom of the Son” and “the Father’s Kingdom.”
As most of the errors that are made with regard to this subject are chiefly due to a misapplication of the various references to it, it is manifestly of the first importance that we should be provided with some system of classification, whereby we might be enabled to assign to each of these numerous and diverse passages the right class or division to which it properly belongs or applies, and thus be found “rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15) according to the obvious meaning and distinct application of the Scriptures.
The Chart, as already described, is intended to furnish the basis of such a classification, which is now submitted for the consideration of all earnest Bible students, who cannot fail to be deeply interested in a subject of such importance, while it is hoped that the present plan of explanation may afford help to many to whom the subject is confessedly a difficult one, and with regard to which many conflicting opinions have been entertained by Christian readers of the Bible.
By using the List with the Chart, which serves as a key to the whole, the division or class to which every one of the passages on the List belongs may be readily ascertained, and their right application become known. By this means many difficulties hitherto encountered may be either greatly lessened or entirely removed.
The way of using the Chart with the List may be as follows: In the first place, the List itself shows all the references arranged under the four Aspects, looked at from that point of view. Then, with regard to the other two divisions, the Constitution and the Phases, a code consisting of a letter and a number is placed before every text on the List to designate the divisions and subdivisions on the Chart to which they properly belong or apply. Thus, the letter C stands for and refers to the Constitution, and P to the Phases, while the numbers 1, 2, 3 and 4 refer to the subdivisions of the two main divisions. For example, C.1 indicates that the texts before which it is placed are classed under the first heading of the Constitution (its characteristic principles), C.2 indicates the second heading (the subjects of the kingdom), C.3 indicates the third heading (the way of entering in) and C. 4 indicates the fourth heading (the blessings provided). In like manner, the letters and numbers P.1, P.2 and P.3 represent the first, second and third Phases, respectively, and are intended to show that the texts to which they are affixed belong respectively to one or another of those three Phases. By thus referring to the List and Chart together it may be seen at a glance to which class every passage rightly belongs, whereby we may be helped to arrive at a true application of these scriptures, which is a matter of the utmost importance in our attempts to understand them, for the clear and accurate comprehension of all portions of God’s Word largely depends upon a correct application of them.
With reference to the texts assigned to the Constitution, it must be borne in mind that they are looked upon as a separate class, because, unlike those belonging to the three Phases, which are strictly dispensational, they do not specially apply, as a rule, to any particular period of time or dispensation. Instead, they furnish us with the foundation principles of the righteous rule and government of God for all time, past, present and future - the universal rule of God, which underlies every transaction and representation of all the dispensations - and in that sense are equally applicable to all three Phases of the kingdom.
Thus, clearly, to distinguish between the constitutional principles of God’s rule, which apply universally to all periods of time, and those dispensational references to the kingdom that absolutely require in most cases to be strictly and exclusively applied to their respective dispensations, helps materially to clear the whole subject, and to give us a fuller and better understanding of it in all its various bearings.
With these introductory explanations, we will now proceed to consider the several divisions of the subject more in detail, in the order in which they appear on the Chart, starting with a few general remarks on the kingdom as a whole in the next chapter.
Direct References to the Kingdom
The following tables list the direct references in Scripture to the words “kingdom,” “the Kingdom of God,” “the Kingdom of heaven,” “the Kingdom of the Son” and “the Father’s Kingdom.”
Kingdom in the Old Testament
P.3
Thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and Thou art exalted.
1 Chron. 29:11
P.3
For the kingdom is the Lord’s.
Psa. 22:28
P.3
The sceptre of Thy kingdom is a right sceptre.
Psa. 45:6
P.3
His throne is in the heavens; and His kingdom ruleth over all.
Psa. 103:19
P.3
They shall speak of the glory of Thy kingdom.
Psa. 145:11
P.3
And the glorious majesty of His kingdom.
Psa. 145:12
P.3
Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom.
Psa. 145:13
P.3
His kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment.
Isa. 9:7
P.3
The God of heaven [shall] set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed.
Dan. 2:44
P.3
His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom.
Dan. 4:3
P.3
His kingdom is from generation to generation.
Dan. 4:34
P.3
His kingdom ... shall not be destroyed.
Dan. 6:26
P.3
A kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve Him.
Dan. 7:14
P.3
The saints of the Most High shall take the kingdom.
Dan. 7:18
P.3
The time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.
Dan. 7:22
P.3
The kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom ... shall be given to the people of the saints.
Dan. 7:27
P.3
And the kingdom shall be the Lord’s.
Obadiah 21
P.3
The kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem.
Micah 4:8
Kingdom in the New Testament
P.1
Jesus went ... preaching the gospel of the kingdom.
Matt. 4:23
P.3
Children of the kingdom shall be cast into outer darkness.
Matt. 8:12
P.1
Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of kingdom.
Matt. 9:35
P.3
This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world.
Matt. 24:14
P.3
Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
Matt. 25:34
P.3
Blessed be the kingdom of our father David.
Mark 11:10
P.3
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done.
Luke 11:2
P.3
It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
Luke 12:32
P.3
A nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom.
Luke 19:12
P.3
Wilt Thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?
Acts 1:6
P.2
Who hath called you unto His kingdom and glory.
1 Thess. 2:12
P.3
We receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved.
Heb. 12:28
P.3
Heirs of the kingdom which He hath promised.
James 2:5
P.2
Companion ... in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ.
Rev. 1:9
P.3
The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ.
Rev. 11:15
The Kingdom of God
C.3
Seek ye first the kingdom of God.
Matt. 6:33
P.1
The kingdom of God is come unto you.
Matt. 12:28
C.2
Through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
Matt. 19:24
P.1
The harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.
Matt. 21:31
P.2
The kingdom of God shall be taken from you.
Matt. 21:43
P.1
Jesus came ... preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God.
Mark 1:14
P.1
The kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe.
Mark 1:15
P.2
To know the mystery of the kingdom of God.
Mark 4:11
P.2
And He said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed.
Mark 4:26
P.2
Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God?
Mark 4:30
P.3
Till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power.
Mark 9:1
C.3
Better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye.
Mark 9:47
C.2
Children ... for of such is the kingdom of God.
Mark 10:14
C.2
Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child.
Mark 10:15
C.2
How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God.
Mark 10:23
C.2
How hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God.
Mark 10:24
C.2
Easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
Mark 10:25
C.2
Thou art not far from the kingdom of God.
Mark 12:34
P.3
Until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God.
Mark 14:25
P.1
Joseph of Arimathea ... waited for the kingdom of God.
Mark 15:43
P.1
I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities.
Luke 4:43
C.2
Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God.
Luke 6:20
P.2
Least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.
Luke 7:28
P.1
Preaching and showing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God.
Luke 8:1
P.1
Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God.
Luke 8:10
P.1
He sent them to preach the kingdom of God.
Luke 9:2
P.1
Received them, and spake unto them of the kingdom of God.
Luke 9:11
P.3
Shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God.
Luke 9:27
C.2
No man ... looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.
Luke 9:62
P.1
The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.
Luke 10:9
P.1
Be sure ... the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.
Luke 10:11
P.1
No doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you.
Luke 11:20
C.3
But rather seek ye the kingdom of God.
Luke 12:31
P.2
Unto what is the kingdom of God like?
Luke 13:18
P.2
Whereunto shall I liken the kingdom of God?
Luke 13:20
P.3
Ye shall see ... all the prophets, in the kingdom of God.
Luke 13:28
P.3
From the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God.
Luke 13:29
P.3
Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.
Luke 14:15
P.1
Since that time the kingdom of God is preached.
Luke 16:16
P.3
Was demanded ... when the kingdom of God should come.
Luke 17:20
C.1
The kingdom of God cometh not with observation.
Luke 17:20
P.1
Behold, the kingdom of God is within [or, among] you.
Luke 17:21
C.2
Little children ... for of such is the kingdom of God.
Luke 18:16
C.2
Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child.
Luke 18:17
C.2
How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God.
Luke 18:24
C.2
Easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
Luke 18:25
C.3
Left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God’s sake.
Luke 18:29
P.3
They thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear.
Luke 19:11
P.3
When he was returned, having received the kingdom.
Luke 19:15
P.3
Know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.
Luke 21:31
P.3
Not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God.
Luke 22:16
P.3
I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come.
Luke 22:18
P.3
Joseph of Arimathea ... who also himself waited for the kingdom of God.
Luke 23:51
C.3
Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
John 3:3
C.3
Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
John 3:5
P.1
Things pertaining to the kingdom of God.
Acts 1:3
P.2
Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God.
Acts 8:12
C.3
Must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.
Acts 14:22
P.2
Persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God.
Acts 19:8
P.2
Among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more.
Acts 20:25
P.2
To whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God.
Acts 28:23
P.2
Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things.
Acts 28:31
C.1
The kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
Rom. 14:17
C.1
The kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.
1 Cor. 4:20
C.2
The unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
1 Cor. 6:9
C.2
Nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
1 Cor. 6:10
C.2
Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.
1 Cor. 15:50
C.2
They which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
Gal. 5:21
C.2
Nor covetous man, who is an idolator, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
Eph. 5:5
P.2
My fellow workers unto the kingdom of God.
Col. 4:11
P.3
May be counted worthy of the kingdom of God.
2 Thess. 1:5
P.3
Now is come ... the kingdom of our God.
Rev. 12:10
The Kingdom of Heaven
P.1
Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Matt. 3:2
P.1
Jesus began to preach ... Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Matt. 4:17
C.2
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Matt. 5:3
C.2
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Matt. 5:10
C. 4
Whosoever shall do and teach [commandments] ... shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
Matt. 5:19
C.2
Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Matt. 5:20
C.2
Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Matt. 7:21
P.3
Shall sit down with Abraham ... in the kingdom of heaven.
Matt. 8:11
P.1
Go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Matt. 10:7
P.2
He that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
Matt. 11:11
C.3
The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence.
Matt. 11:12
P.2
To know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven.
Matt. 13:11
P.2
When any one heareth the word of the kingdom.
Matt. 13:19
P.2
The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed.
Matt. 13:24
P.2
The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed.
Matt. 13:31
P.2
The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid.
Matt. 13:33
C.2
The good seed are the children of the kingdom.
Matt. 13:38
P.2
The kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field.
Matt. 13:44
P.2
The kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchantman, seeking goodly pearls.
Matt. 13:45
P.2
The kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea.
Matt. 13:47
P.2
Every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven, is like.
Matt. 13:52
P.2
I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven.
Matt. 16:19
C.2
Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?
Matt. 18:1
C.2
Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Matt. 18:3
P.2
The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a certain king.
Matt. 18:23
P.1
Made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake.
Matt. 19:12
C.2
Little children ... for of such is the kingdom of heaven.
Matt. 19:14
C.2
That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Matt. 19:23
P.2
The kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is a householder.
Matt. 20:1
P.2
The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king.
Matt. 22:2
P.1
For ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men.
Matt. 23:13
P.2
Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins.
Matt. 25:1
P.3
For the kingdom of heaven is as a man traveling into a far country.
Matt. 25:14
The Kingdom of the Son
P.3
The Son of man shall send forth His angels, and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that offend.
Matt. 13:41
P.3
Shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in His kingdom.
Matt. 16:28
P.3
Sit in the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
Matt. 19:28
P.3
One on Thy right hand, and the other on the left, in Thy kingdom.
Matt. 20:21
P.3
And of His kingdom there shall be no end.
Luke 1:33
P.3
Nobleman went ... to receive for himself a kingdom.
Luke 19:12
P.3
When he was returned, having received the kingdom.
Luke 19:15
P.3
And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as My Father hath appointed unto Me.
Luke 22:29
P.3
Ye may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom.
Luke 22:30
P.3
Remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom.
Luke 23:42
C.1
My kingdom is not of this world. ... My kingdom is not from hence.
John 18:36
P.3
When He shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father.
1 Cor. 15:24
C.2
No whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolator, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
Eph. 5:5
P.2
Hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son.
Col. 1:13
P.2
Walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto His kingdom and glory.
1 Thess. 2:12
P.3
Shall judge the quick and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom.
2 Tim. 4:1
P.3
And will preserve me unto His heavenly kingdom.
2 Tim. 4:18
P.3
A sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of Thy kingdom.
Heb. 1:8
P.3
Entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 1:11
P.2
Your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ.
Rev. 1:9
P.3
To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My throne.
Rev. 3:21
P.3
The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and His Christ.
Rev. 11:15
P.3
And they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
Rev. 20:4
The Father’s Kingdom
P.3
Our Father which art in heaven. ... Thy kingdom come. ... Thine is the kingdom.
Matt. 6:9,10, 13; Luke 11:2
P.3
The righteous [shall] shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.
Matt. 13:43
P.3
Until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.
Matt. 26:29
P.3
It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
Luke 12:32
Kingdom in the Old Testament
18 times
Kingdom in the New Testament
15 times
Kingdom of God
72 times
Kingdom of heaven (Matthew only)
33 times
Kingdom of the Son
23 times
The Father’s Kingdom
4 times
Total
165 times
Matthew
5 times
Mark
15 times
Luke
33 times
John
2 times
Acts
7 times
Epistles
10 times
Total
72 times

The Kingdom Generally: Chapter 2

Questions are often asked at Bible readings and in religious periodicals with regard to this important subject, which is so largely dwelt upon in the holy Scriptures, such as, What is the Kingdom of God? What is the difference between the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of heaven, or the Kingdom of the Son and the Kingdom of the Father? To what period of time or to what dispensations do the various passages referring to the subject apply - past, present or future?
Many conflicting answers have been given to these questions, which evidently have not given full satisfaction to the inquirers, for they return to the same simple questions over and over again, showing that the subject of the kingdom is still imperfectly understood.
The main difficulties that appear to confront the student, in his endeavors to understand the precise bearings of the numerous passages relating to the kingdom, are the different names given to it, and the apparent dissimilarity of circumstances and meanings that seem to be connected with the terms, such as “the Kingdom of God” and “the Kingdom of heaven.”
How, say the inquirers, are we to understand and apply such dissimilar references to the kingdom as the following: “The kingdom of God is at hand”; “That ye may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel”; “The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field,” or “a grain of mustard seed,” or “is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal”; “The kingdom of God is within [or among] you”; “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God”; “He that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he [John the Baptist]”; “Shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in His kingdom”; “The kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost”; and many others.
In considering these and similar references, we might at first sight be inclined to think that they refer to more than one kingdom - to different kingdoms, established at different times. But a moment’s reflection will suffice to convince us that this could not possibly be the case. For evidently there can only be one Kingdom of God for all time, and under all circumstances.
When, however, we are led to see that this one kingdom is presented in different ways, and may be regarded from different points of view, or viewed in different aspects, and further, that the numerous references to it in Scripture refer to different periods of time, necessitating its presentation in different phases, then we are in a position to understand the whole subject clearly.
A kingdom manifestly implies a king to rule or reign over it, and of this Kingdom of God the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is declared in Scripture to be the King, for all power is given unto Him in heaven and in earth (Matt. 28:18); “All things are delivered unto Me of My Father” (Matt. 11:27); “But unto the Son He saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of Thy kingdom” (Heb. 1:8); “And the Lord shall be King over all the earth” (Zech. 14:9); “Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory” (Psa. 24:10); “Yet have I set My King upon My holy hill of Zion” (Psa. 2:6); “Yea, all kings shall fall down before Him: all nations shall serve Him” (Psa. 72:11).
This kingdom, regarded in its essential and fullest character, may be defined as the RULE OF GOD, or the sphere in which He rules and reigns supreme, which is equally true of the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of heaven. And this rule of God, that constitutes the basis of His kingdom, is displayed in two ways: in God’s spiritual rule over the hearts and lives of believers, and in the Lord as King literally reigning over the house of Israel and the whole world in the millennium, which will be the glorious consummation of the kingdom.
The foregoing definition applies to the kingdom in all its phases - past, present and future - for its character, resting on God’s immutability, must ever be the same throughout all ages.
On referring to the complete List, it will be seen that the word “kingdom” alone (without the words “God” or “heaven”), taken in its general sense, is equivalent to the phrase “the Kingdom of God” in the New Testament, but with this difference, that the passages (with perhaps a few exceptions) containing the word “kingdom” alone, both in the Old and New Testaments, refer exclusively to the third phase, or the establishment of the kingdom on the earth during the millennium.
It is true that under the other names reference is likewise made to the millennial phase (thus showing identity of meaning throughout), but they are not so exclusively used as those in which the word “kingdom” appears alone to set forth the third phase, or the reign of Christ on the earth.
In examining all the direct references to the kingdom in the Old Testament, it is interesting and instructive to note that, from the earliest period, the inspired prophets were enabled by the Spirit of God to extend their vision down the long vista of time, and across all the intervening ages of history (including the entire Christian dispensation, which was never made known to them or counted in Jewish history), to the time of the end when the Lord Himself should come in person to establish His glorious reign of righteousness on the earth, when all shall be subject to Him, the one holy and righteous King over all the world. It was the burden of most of their loftiest prophecies. It was the grand theme that inspired their rapturous songs and kindled their enthusiasm, while they seemed to be ever filled with holy delight in looking forward to it.
Thus, through these inspired utterances of the seers specially sent to God’s ancient people, the Israelites, this future prospect of the coming Messiah became their one grand and all-absorbing hope. And the bright halo that ever surrounded this glorious hope in their thoughts seems to have completely hindered them from ever seeing that any humiliation or suffering of their Messiah, although plainly predicted, could possibly intervene between their expectations and the full establishment of the kingdom. Their eyes were solely fixed on their Messiah King, coming in all the glory of His divine majesty to rule over the house of His father David, and it is this that still continues, up to the present day, to be the one cheering hope of every devout Israelite.
Now if a Jew were asked the question, “What is the Kingdom of God or of heaven?” his unhesitating reply would be, “The coming of the Messiah to reign over the house of His father David, and to be King over all the earth.” And no doubt this would be substantially a correct answer and in strict accordance with the Old Testament scriptures, from which alone, as a Jew, any knowledge of the subject could be obtained. Moreover, it should be borne in mind that this is, after all, the main answer to the question in its first conception, while it contains the germ-thought or underlying principle that runs more or less through all the passages referring to the kingdom in the New as well as the Old Testament.
But we have to supplement this answer by the further knowledge we derive from the New Testament references to the spiritual rule of God during the present interval, or Christian dispensation, which may be regarded as a mystical and parenthetical stage or phase of the Kingdom of heaven. Hence, we cannot possibly arrive at a correct apprehension of a great many references in the New Testament to the kingdom without taking into account the fact that they refer solely to this intermediate aspect or phase of the kingdom and not to the millennium at all.
For example, the parables in Matthew 13, in which the Kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man who sowed good seed in his field, to a grain of mustard seed, and to leaven which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, must obviously be exclusively applied to the present phase of the kingdom as seen in the state and circumstances of Christendom as a whole, and therefore could not in any sense be applied to the millennium.
We shall look a little more fully into this point when we come to consider the three branches of the subject, its Aspects, its Constitution and its Phases, in that order.

The Aspects of the Kingdom: Chapter 3

An object may be looked at from different points of view, or presented in different relative positions to other surrounding objects, and thus assume a somewhat different appearance, though the object itself may not be changed in the least, but remain precisely the same throughout.
So in like manner the kingdom, which is ever regarded as one and the same unchangeable RULE OF GOD, in every representation of it, when looked at in relation to various dispensational circumstances, or the character and condition of the persons addressed, is presented in different aspects, under the four names in which it is referred to in the Word: “the Kingdom of God,” “the Kingdom of heaven,” “the Kingdom of the Son” and “the Father’s Kingdom.”
But these various names do not appear to be employed to set forth any essential difference of meaning in either the constitution or the character of the kingdom itself, but rather to mark the various applications as aspects in which it is presented with reference to different external circumstances, or to different classes of persons addressed. Thus, it is presented in a general and comprehensive way to the world at large as the Kingdom of God, to the Jews dispensationally as the Kingdom of heaven, and to the saints of the present era in a special and confidential way as the Kingdom of the Son and the Father’s Kingdom.
Hence the phrases “the Kingdom of God” and “the Kingdom of heaven” - which have substantially the same meaning - are often used interchangeably (and therefore are equivalent) in the Gospels, as the following instances clearly show.
In the first column, under “the Kingdom of heaven,” the passages quoted are from the Gospel of Matthew, and in the second, under “the Kingdom of God,” from Luke and, in a few cases, from Mark also.
The Kingdom of Heaven
The Kingdom of God
“From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 4:17).
“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand” (Mark 1:14, 15).
“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:3).
“Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God” (Luke 6:20).
“And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 8:11).
“When ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God. ... And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God” (Luke 13:28, 29).
“And as ye [the twelve] go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 10:7).
“And He sent them [the twelve] to preach the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:2).
“He that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he [John the Baptist]” (Matt. 11:11).
“But he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he [John the Baptist]” (Luke 7:28).
“And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force” (Matt. 11:12).
“The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it” (Luke 16:16).
“It is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 13:11).
“Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God” (Luke 8:10).
“The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field” (Matt. 13:31).
“Unto what is the kingdom of God like? ... It is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and cast into his garden” (Luke 13:18, 19; Mark 4:30, 31).
“The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened” (Matt. 13:33).
“Whereunto shall I liken the kingdom of God? It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened” (Luke 13:20, 21).
“Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18:3).
“Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein” (Luke 18:17; Mark 10:15).
“Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto Me; for of such is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 19:14).
“Suffer little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God” (Luke 18:16; Mark 10:14).
“A rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 19:23).
“How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!” (Luke 18:24; Mark 10:23, 24).
It will be observed that in the several corresponding pairs of the foregoing parallel passages from Matthew and Luke the very same events and teaching of our Lord are respectively referred to, this conclusively proving that the phrases “the Kingdom of heaven” and “the Kingdom of God” are used interchangeably in certain cases, and therefore mean precisely the same thing in these instances. Consequently, we arrive at the conclusion that there is no difference in the thing described -that is, the kingdom - either as to its nature, constitution or purpose, but only in the different aspects from which it is viewed, or in the mode and circumstances of its presentation.
The Kingdom of God
In this view the kingdom appears to be looked at and represented in its widest and fullest aspect, and presents to us the entire rule of God throughout all ages. The whole Kingdom of God is thus seen as originated and sustained by the infinite love, wisdom and power of God Himself, embracing all the forms and developments of His rule in every stage of the history of believers, from the beginning to the end of the world.
In its full comprehensiveness it includes all the other aspects: the Kingdom of heaven, the Kingdom of the Son and the Father’s Kingdom. It is the generic term of the whole series of expressions employed.
Hence we see how the more comprehensive term, “the Kingdom of God,” can be used interchangeably with the other aspects (as in the instances quoted above), because the greater includes the less, so that in certain cases what is true of the Kingdom of God must also be true of the Kingdom of heaven, although in some other cases this interchange might not be used exactly in the reverse way, though the meaning of both phrases may be intrinsically the same in each case.
It is, moreover, in this aspect that it is most commonly presented to the world at large in a general way in contrast to the kingdoms of men on the earth.
“Thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and Thou art exalted as head above all” (1 Chron. 29:11). “Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and Thy dominion endureth throughout all generations” (Psa. 145:13; Dan. 4:3).
Of all the forms of expression used to set forth this wonderful rule of God, the words “the Kingdom of God” are most frequently employed, especially if the passages containing the word “kingdom” alone - which appears to have exactly the same application - both in the Old and New Testaments are included.
The Kingdom of Heaven
In this aspect the ruling power of the kingdom is looked at as originating in, and coming down from, heaven, and thus heavenly in character, though exercised on the earth.
It is the rule of God from the heavens over the earth, in contradistinction to the rule of earthly sovereigns on the earth. “The Lord hath prepared His throne in the heavens; and His kingdom ruleth over all” (Psa. 103:19). “The heavens do rule” (Dan. 4:26). “The God of heaven [shall] set up a kingdom” (Dan. 2:44).
It has mainly a twofold dispensational application: first, to the spiritual and invisible rule of God in the hearts of believers during the present interval, and, second, to the visible reign of Christ in the millennium. In both these applications the rule is looked at as from the heavens above, and therefore called the Kingdom of heaven. Having thus a distinct dispensational aspect, it is more limited than the wider one of the Kingdom of God, that covers all periods.
Another peculiarity of this aspect is that it is specially represented in this form to the Jewish nation, chiefly in view of its ultimate establishment on the earth, when the Jews as a nation shall be restored under the reign of their Messiah. Hence we do not find the words “the Kingdom of heaven” in any other book of the Bible than in the Gospel of Matthew, which we know is more particularly addressed to the Jews, and bears a Jewish character throughout.
But it is important to observe that while it bears this special Jewish application in one view of it, it does not follow that the Kingdom of heaven in itself is more Jewish in its character than the other aspects of it, as sometimes erroneously assumed. It is only in this particular mode of expression that the kingdom is presented to the Jews, for obvious reasons.
For the Kingdom of heaven aspect, taken as a whole, plainly relates to the three phases of the kingdom, namely, the past phase, the present or Christendom phase (which is the very reverse in every feature of the Jewish order of things), and to the future or millennial phase. When the references to the Kingdom of heaven in Matthew are carefully read, it will be seen that more than half of them refer to the present phase, and the rest to the past and future phases.
Apart from the appropriateness of the phrase “the Kingdom of heaven,” as descriptive of the present invisible rule of God by the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven, we can, I think, also perceive a very good reason for the employment of these words in setting forth the kingdom to the Jews.
They, in accordance with the covenant made with Abraham and his descendants, were taught to look for an earthly kingdom of blessedness under the rule of the promised Messiah, and they were ever looking forward to the day when He as their King should come to sit on the throne of His father David, and reign over them as a nation on the earth. And though their prophets clearly declared the divine origin and character of the Christ or Messiah that should come (Isa. 9:6, 7), they often seemed to drift away from this important truth, and concentrated their thoughts more on the earthly side of Messiah’s reign than on its heavenly character.
Some great prince of the house and lineage of David, and a prophet like unto Moses of human origin, came to be the uppermost thought in the minds of many Israelites, so that they needed to be reminded again and again of what their prophets had told them, that Christ the Son of God was to come down from heaven to be their Saviour and King. Hence we see how often our Lord presented the truth that He came down from heaven, the sent One from God the Father in heaven. “No man hath ascended up to heaven, but He that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven” (John 3:13).
John the Baptist likewise testified to the same truth. “He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: He that cometh from heaven is above all” (John 3:31).
Throughout the Epistles, also, this fact is continually emphasized, that “Jesus is the Christ”; “the second man is the Lord from heaven.”
We can, therefore, understand how necessary and important it was to direct the attention of the Jewish people (who had become so much occupied with the earthly glory of the kingdom) to its true heavenly character, and that the rule of Christ, either in the present Christian dispensation or in the future reign on the earth, should ever be regarded as entirely the rule of God from the heavens above. In view of these considerations we are led to perceive the appropriateness of thus representing the rule of God to the Jews as the Kingdom of heaven, and especially so to them in its future or millennial phase.
The Kingdom of the Son
In this view the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, appears, taking His place as the sovereign ruler of the kingdom committed to Him from the beginning by His Father, and is chiefly seen prospectively in His kingly character reigning over the earth. For, of the passages in which this aspect is given, only three (Eph. 5:5, Col. 1:13 and 1 Thess. 2:12) appear to relate to the present Christian phase of the kingdom, while all the rest directly refer to His future reign.
One very marked and interesting feature of this presentation of the Kingdom of the Son is that nearly all the references to it are addressed directly to believers, or the saints who should be partakers with the Lord Himself in His glorious reign, when He comes to establish His kingdom on the earth.
In this representation we particularly see the amazing love of Christ shining forth so graciously, as He thus is pleased to associate His beloved ones with Himself in all the blessedness of His future reign.
“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). “For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:11). “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My throne” (Rev. 3:21).
The Father’s Kingdom
In this aspect the Lord Jesus presents the kingdom especially to His disciples as the Father’s, for it ever is God the Father’s Kingdom, over which Christ has been appointed by the Father as its King and Administrator, in its future establishment on the earth. And in the few passages in which this aspect is given (there are only four, all plainly relating to the millennium), our blessed Lord’s particular purpose in uttering these gracious and comforting words to His disciples appears to be to point them to the marvelous assurance that they should be partakers with Him in the coming glory of the kingdom, in the same relationship to the Father as Himself, and as helpers in the administration of His and their Father’s Kingdom - a millennial verification of the memorable words in John 20:17, “I ascend unto My Father, and your Father; and to My God, and your God.”
The four references to this aspect are: “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:9, 10; Luke 11:2); “Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (Matt. 13:43); “But I say unto you, 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” (Matt. 26:29); “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).
In connection with the statement referred to above, that the Father in His eternal counsels and purposes had appointed His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to be the sovereign Ruler or King of this kingdom for a certain period of time (Luke 22:29), we have the additional fact stated that when all the purposes of God shall have been fully accomplished - some time after the expiration of the millennium - the earthly reign of the Lord shall come to an end, and the kingdom shall then be delivered up to God the Father. “Then cometh the end, when He shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when He shall have put down all rule, and all authority and power. For He must reign, till He hath put all enemies under His feet. ... And when all things shall be subdued unto Him, then shall the Son also Himself be subject unto Him that put all things under Him, that God may be all in all” (1 Cor. 15:24-28).

The Constitution of the Kingdom: Chapter 4

The Word of God - as might be expected - abounds with references to this important point, so that we find the subject most prominently set forth, directly and indirectly, throughout the whole of the Scriptures.
The rule of God is part of God’s counsels and purposes with regard to this world, and holy men of God were inspired at various times to proclaim its design and purpose, and to propound its righteous and holy principles, which we have abundantly recorded in the sacred Word.
But as it is quite beyond the scope of this little work to enter fully into so large a subject in its entirety, we shall simply confine our quotations and remarks to those passages that directly refer to the constitution of the kingdom.
1. Its Constitutional Principles
“For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Rom. 14:17).
“For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power” (1 Cor. 4:20).
“Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world ... .Now is my kingdom not from hence” (John 18:36).
“The kingdom of God cometh not with observation [or, with outward show]” (Luke 17:20).
“His kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever” (Isa. 9:7).
“A sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of Thy kingdom” (Heb. 1:8).
“His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and His dominion is from generation to generation” (Dan. 4:3).
“In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses, HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD” (Zech. 14:20).
The sermon on the mount presents the fullest and most perfect exposition of the moral and spiritual principles and requirements of the Kingdom of God which has been given to us.
It begins with a direct reference to the kingdom in Matthew 5:3, “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” and eight times more the kingdom is thus directly mentioned in the sermon.
In this sublime discourse of our blessed Lord we have the grand foundation stones of truth, righteousness and holiness presented to us, upon which the everlasting Kingdom of God is reared.
The law given by God to the children of Israel through Moses was, to a certain extent, an embodiment of the same principles, but our Lord in His discourse not only fulfills or endorses the law, but expands and raises it to a yet higher level (higher than the Jews could bear in the days of Moses, because of the hardness of their hearts; Matt. 19:8), and He therefore says, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (Matt. 5:17, 18), and in verse 19, He adds, “But whosoever shall do and teach them [the commandments], the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”
So also in the sermon on the mount we have the everlasting and unchangeable standards of divine truth and holiness, by which everything in the Kingdom of God is ever to be measured and tested throughout every dispensation. But there have been some differences of opinion as to their application.
If it be allowed that the teaching of this sublime sermon is not directly applicable to Christians as their rule of life and conduct, yet it must be obvious that the holy and divine principles it unfolds permeate all Christian teaching more or less; so that these principles ever remain as God’s holy standards of truth and righteousness to all believers for all time.
But the Christian is on wholly new and different ground from that on which the Jew stood. The Jews were placed under law and accepted the responsibility of keeping it as a duty to God, while Christians are introduced into the liberty of “the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:2), whereby the heaven-born principle of love, begotten in their hearts by the Holy Spirit, becomes the motive-spring of all their actions, leading them to delight in keeping the words, the sayings and the commandments of their Lord Jesus Christ, whom they love. “We love Him, because He first loved us.” And this principle of love (vastly stronger than a mere sense of duty) answers to all the demands of practical godliness and keeping of commandments. “Therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (Rom. 13:10). Our Lord bases the whole keeping of His commandments on this principle of love. “If ye love Me, keep My commandments,” and, “He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me” (John 14:15, 21).
2. Those Who Enter the Kingdom and Those Who Do Not
“The saints of the Most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever” (Dan. 7:18).
“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:3; Luke 6:20).
“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:10).
“Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:19).
“The good seed are the children of the kingdom” (Matt. 13:38).
“Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18:3, 4).
“Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:14).
“And He shall set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on His right hand, Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matt. 25:33, 34).
“Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God’s sake, who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting” (Luke 18:29, 30).
“Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which He hath promised to them that love Him?” (James 2:5).
“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? ... Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:9, 10).
“They which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal. 5:21).
“Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 15:50).
“No whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolator, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God” (Eph. 5:5).
“How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! ... How hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!” (Mark 10:23, 24; Luke 18:24).
“For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God” (Luke 18:25; Matt. 19:23, 24).
“Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you” (Matt. 21:31).
“Thou art not far from the kingdom of God” (Mark 12:34).
“No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62).
“But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in” (Matt. 23:13).
3. The Way of Entrance Into the Kingdom
There is but one way of entrance, and that is through faith in Christ, for He is the door by which all must enter.
“Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. ... I am the door: by Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture” (John 10:7, 9).
“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me” (John 14:6).
“For there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
“Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which He hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, His flesh” (Heb. 10:19, 20).
This has ever been, and ever will be, the only way of coming under the rule of God or into His kingdom, for Jews and Gentiles alike, for Christians now as for saints in the millennium, though not so clearly apprehended in former ages as it is in these days. And though the manner of entering in, and the circumstances connected with it, are variously set forth at different times, the door of entrance ever remains the same for all throughout every dispensation.
“Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. ... Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:3, 5).
“Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 3:2; 4:17).
“Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6:33; Luke 12:31).
“It is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire” (Mark 9:47).
“Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God’s sake, who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting” (Luke 18:29,30).
“And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force” (Matt. 11:12).
“Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).
4. The Blessings and Privileges to Be Enjoyed in the Kingdom
All the blessings and privileges now enjoyed under the present or Christian phase of the spiritual rule of God in the hearts of believers, such as forgiveness of sins, peace with God, eternal life, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ, might be enumerated under this heading as the present though invisible blessings to be enjoyed. But to quote all the references to these spiritual blessings would involve a very large citation from all the Gospels and Epistles, such as would be beyond my present purpose. I have therefore in the following quotations only given the passages (with the exception of the first text, which probably relates to the present phase of the kingdom) that directly refer to the blessings to be enjoyed by the saints under the reign of Christ in the millennium, which I have designated the third or future phase of the kingdom.
“Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding, he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he” (Matt. 11:11; Luke 7:28).
“Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (Matt. 13:43).
“But I say unto you, 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” (Matt. 26:29).
“Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God” (Luke 14:15).
“Ye are they which have continued with Me in My temptations. 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 22:28-30).
When the Lord returns after “having received the kingdom,” He will give rewards to His faithful servants, and authority to rule over certain cities (Luke 19:15-19).
The saints shall judge the world and angels (1 Cor. 6:2, 3).
“Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord” (Matt. 25:21).
“Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matt. 25:34).
“Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing” (2 Tim. 4:8).
“If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him” (2 Tim. 2:12).
“He that overcometh, and keepeth My works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations” (Rev. 2:26).
“To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne” (Rev. 3:21).
“And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth” (Rev. 5:10).
“And they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years” (Rev. 20:4).
“And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever” (Rev. 22:5).
In concluding these brief notes on this branch of the subject, I would again remark that the foregoing references to the Constitution of the kingdom, and the principles on which it is founded, evidently bear a distinct application to one or another, and in some cases to all, of the three Phases of the kingdom, while this application in each case may be determined by a consideration of the specific meaning of the passages themselves.

The Past Phase of the Kingdom (Introduction): Chapter 5

The kingdom, as already remarked, is ever one and the same in its constitution and fundamental principles, but we have different displays or representations of it at different periods of its history. Thus, there has been a past representation or exhibition of the kingdom as there is now a present one, and there will yet be a future and different display of it in the millennium. (See the Chart.)
These stages may be appropriately called the three phases of the kingdom, which take their character from the different dispensational conditions and circumstances under which the kingdom appears and is made known. And it is of considerable importance to see clearly the distinctly different characteristics of each of these phases or dispensations, as most of the errors that have been made on this subject are due to mixing and confounding these phases together, as if there were little or no difference between them.
We will therefore now proceed to consider these three phases - past, present and future - in order, and specially note the principal passages that relate to each class respectively, with the view of rightly dividing the Word on this, as on all subjects of Scripture. (See the complete List for all of the passages.)
The past phase (indicated as P.1) was the introductory announcement of the kingdom, set forth in the ministry of John the Baptist and our Lord, who preached repentance and salvation to the Jews, in view of the coming kingdom, then said to be near at hand. This preaching was therefore called the “gospel of the kingdom,” because the setting up of the kingdom was then looked upon as imminent, provided the Jews accepted Christ as their King.
John, as the appointed messenger of God, called upon all to repent and mend their ways, as a preparation for the advent of their King then about to appear in their midst, and who some time after did actually present Himself to the Jews as their Messiah King, in fulfillment of the prophecy in Zechariah 9:9. “Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass” (Matt. 21:5). Therefore, it was John’s appropriate mission to announce, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand,” because the coming presence of the King naturally suggested the inauguration of His kingdom.
A new era commenced with the preaching of John, while his ministry and that of our Lord’s constituted a distinct and different dispensation (though but a very short one) from all that had preceded it, and quite different also from the Christian or Church dispensation which succeeded it after the Day of Pentecost. “The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it” (Luke 16:16; Matt. 11:12, 13).
That this was a distinct dispensation in itself, and unlike any other, may be clearly gathered from the passages that refer to the ministry of John and our Lord, in which we see the peculiar features that distinguish it from any other period. These may be briefly noted as follows:
1. It was marked by the actual presence of the King -though not recognized as yet in power to reign - who as King specially presented Himself to Israel, but was rejected. He said, “The kingdom of God is [among] you,” because the King was there. “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not” (John 1:11, 43).
2. The King being then on the scene, our Lord’s preaching specially directed attention to the establishment of the Messiah’s reign on the earth, which at that time was declared to be near at hand. This was the one leading thought and object of the preaching of that day.
3. This gospel of the kingdom was then limited, and therefore only proclaimed by our Lord and His disciples to the Jews. It was wholly Jewish in its character. “Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt. 10:5, 6).
After the resurrection of Christ, when another great change was to take place and a new dispensation introduced, the disciples were commanded to go “into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” This fact in itself furnishes us with a very distinct line of demarcation between the past and the present phase of the kingdom.
The Lord often spoke to His disciples about His coming kingdom, when they should “eat and drink at My table ... and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” And we cannot wonder that, in view of all this, the disciples were led to enquire, “Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” as they were evidently under the impression that it might come to pass in their day. “We trusted that it had been He which should have redeemed Israel” (Luke 24:21). Moreover, the grand scene on the Mount of Transfiguration was expressly given to them as a glimpse of the coming glory of His millennial reign, while His remarkable prophecies in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21 all directly pointed to the events that should precede and usher in that glorious day of His triumph and reign.
Consequently, the current and all-prevailing thought of that time among devout Jews - who were “waiting for the consolation of Israel” - was the setting up of the Messiah’s kingdom. It was the characteristic feature of that period. And from all this we can see the reason why the gospel preached by our Lord was specially designated the “gospel of the kingdom.” *
(* The glad tidings of God, that brings salvation to all who believe, is in its essential character ever the one same gospel throughout all ages, but like the kingdom, it is presented in the Word under different aspects, to set forth its different characteristics, and to mark the dispensational order of time in which it is proclaimed.
1. The gospel of God (Rom. 1:1; 15:16; etc.): God in His eternal counsels and purposes of love originated it and appointed it to be proclaimed.
2. The gospel of Christ (Rom 1:9,16; 1 Cor. 9:12, 18; etc.): Christ laid the foundation on which it rests, and provided it by His glorious work of redemption.
3. The gospel of salvation and peace (Eph. 1:13; 6:15; etc.): It provides these blessings for all who believe.
4. The gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20:24): The gospel is now preached to all, both Jews and Gentiles alike, which is expressive of the free grace of God that gathers out believers in Christ from all classes, not only to be saved, but also to be associated by faith with Christ in heavenly places.
5. The gospel of the kingdom (Matt. 4:23; 9:35; Mark 1:14): The dispensational and limited gospel was preached by Christ and His disciples to the Jews only, especially in view of the kingdom of Christ on the earth, then proclaimed as near at hand, and it will also be preached again (after the translation of the Church to heaven) by the godly remnant of Jews during the day of tribulation, having in view the immediate prospect of the setting up of Christ’s kingdom on the earth (Matt. 24:14).
6. The everlasting gospel (Rev. 14:6, 7): This is probably the same as the gospel of the kingdom that will be preached to all nations during the day of tribulation, having the approaching judgments that are to precede the setting up of Christ’s kingdom distinctly in view, as may be gathered from the words which will then be preached. “Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come: and worship Him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.”)
Four times only does the phrase “gospel of the kingdom” occur in Scripture, namely, in the three passages already referred to (Matt. 4:23; 9:35; Mark 1:14), which relate to Christ’s personal ministry (“And Jesus went about ... preaching the gospel of the kingdom”), and the fourth time in Matthew 24:14, “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.”
The important point to note here is the significant fact that this phrase is used for the fourth time in the great prophecy of our Lord in Matthew 24, and nowhere else, thus furnishing us with a connecting link between the preaching of Christ and His apostles and the preaching of the godly remnant, which is yet to take place in the day of tribulation. The conclusion that naturally follows from this striking coincidence is that the gospel which will be preached by the Jews at the time of the end (Matthew 24) will be the same, in its main features and character, as that which was preached by the Lord and His apostles nineteen centuries before, seeing that the very same words - “gospel of the kingdom” - are employed to designate both these preachings, while these words are never used in any other connection.
In other words, both should be regarded as distinctly Jewish, while the burden of each appears to be identically the same, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand,” because the establishment of Christ’s kingdom on the earth appeared, and will yet appear, an imminent fact, alike in both these proclamations of this special gospel.
Perhaps the more correct way of putting this view would be to say that while Christ and His disciples first began to teach that His kingdom was near at hand, this line of teaching was to be continued, as if on the morrow, by His Jewish brethren at the end of the age, without taking into account the long interval of time between these two periods. The duration of time appears to be entirely eliminated from our Lord’s representations, while the whole Christian dispensation (which was never the subject of prophecy) was bridged over, and the last days of the age and His day, when on earth, are brought together, as if they were today and tomorrow.
We have numerous instances of this in Scripture, such as, “The time is at hand,” and, “Behold, I come quickly”; “The acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance” (Isa. 61:2; Luke 4:18, 19); and many others. Of this mode of teaching adopted by our Lord, we have a very striking illustration (that bears directly on the point we are now considering) in the tenth chapter of Matthew.
In this chapter we have the Lord directing and sending forth the twelve apostles to preach the gospel of the kingdom to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel,” and to no others, while they were to say, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
After giving minute instructions to them, as to the way in which they were to conduct their mission, we find the Lord extending His discourse in a peculiar manner down to the Jewish remnant of the last days, thus connecting them with the twelve men before Him as preachers of the same gospel of the kingdom, without noting the long interval of time between them, as if they were one and the same company.
This remarkable transition begins about the seventeenth verse and continues to the twenty-third verse. The statements and directions agree substantially with His prophetic teaching in Matthew 24 and Mark 13. This fact may be readily seen by a comparison of these passages when put side by side, as in the following parallel columns:
Matthew 10:17-23
Matthew 24:9-14
“Beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; and ye shall be brought before governors and kings for My sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you. And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for My name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into
“Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for My name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. ... But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” Mark 13:9-13 But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beten: and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them. And the gospel must first be published among all nations. But when they shall lead you, and deliver
another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.”
you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost. Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for My name’s sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.”
Seven points of similarity stand out very plainly in these parallel passages, showing that they relate to the same time and circumstances:
1. Their preaching of the gospel of the kingdom;
2. Brought before kings and rulers;
3. Persecuted for their testimony;
4. Helped by the Holy Spirit to speak right words to their persecutors;
5. Divisions and betrayals in families;
6. Hatred of all for Christ’s sake;
7. Those who endured to the end should be saved.
And as it is generally admitted that the portions just quoted from Matthew 24 and Mark 13 relate to the coming day of tribulation, so also must it be admitted that the passages quoted from Matthew 10 refer to the same period, because the statements in Matthew 10 are identically the same as those in the other two chapters. For they all describe the same persecutions and sufferings of the faithful Jewish saints at the time of the end (allowing that Matthew 10 may have had a preliminary and typical fulfillment in the history of the apostles), therefore it may be reasonably inferred that our Lord, while instructing the twelve apostles (Matthew 10), passed at the end of His discourse from them and that day, over the whole Christian dispensation of nineteen centuries, to connect the Jewish brethren of the last days with the twelve as if they were one company, inasmuch as both companies would be Jewish messengers of the same gospel of the kingdom, and have to pass through the same trials and persecutions, though at different times.
Indeed, this inference seems to be fully and remarkably confirmed when we come to verse 23 of Matthew 10, “But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.”
Now the words, “Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come,” could not possibly apply to the twelve apostles, seeing they have passed away hundreds of years ago, while the Son of man has not yet come. Moreover, no satisfactory explanation of this peculiar passage can be given but that which connects it with Matthew 24:29, 30, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened. ... And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven,” and Mark 13:24-26, “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened. ... And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.”
Thus we find these three scriptures - Matthew 10 and 24, and Mark 13 - exactly agreeing as to the events that are to transpire at the end of the age, during the day of tribulation, and the coming of the Son of man immediately after that day - looked at entirely from a Jewish point of view.
It may be well to observe here that in Luke 21 (which is another account of the same prophetic discourse of our Lord given in Matthew and Mark), in verses 12 to 19, we have very similar and, indeed, almost the same words used as those given in the two parallel columns from Matthew 10 and 24, and Mark 13, which describe in like manner the Jewish persecutions, and how they were to be hated of all for His name’s sake, while they were not to premeditate what they should speak when brought before kings and rulers. But on carefully reading these eight verses in Luke 21, it becomes apparent that they were directly and solely applied to the apostles, whom He was then instructing, and not (as in Matthew and Mark) to the Jewish remnant at the time of the end.
This difference of application is seen in the words (verse 12), “But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you” - that is, before the tribulation described in the two previous verses (10 and 11) should come to pass - and also in the words, “Some of you shall they cause to be put to death.” But this difference is still more strikingly indicated by our Lord’s remark in Luke, “For I will give you a mouth and wisdom,” whereas in Matthew and Mark He says, “For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father [or, the Holy Spirit] which speaketh in you,” thus showing that the Lord Himself would give those who went forth as His messengers while He was on the earth the needed mouth of wisdom, while the messengers of the latter day, after He had ascended into heaven, would be guided as to what they should speak by the Holy Spirit, in accordance with Christ’s teaching in John 16 and 17.
By comparing and contrasting the foregoing passages in Matthew, Mark and Luke, we also see how remarkably our Lord identified the Jewish remnant at the end with the disciples whom He was then instructing. They appeared to be in His thoughts as the continuation of one company, notwithstanding the long interval of time between their respective missions, so that the same directions would be suitable to both companies, seeing they would be preachers of the same gospel of the kingdom, and be persecuted for their testimony in the same manner.
In all this we see the strictly Jewish character of the mission of our Lord and His disciples - the past phase of the kingdom - which had nothing in common with the present order of things.
Summarizing these remarks and scriptural references concerning the past phase of the kingdom, we may now briefly recapitulate the conclusions arrived at as follows:
1. In this past phase we have the announcement of Christ the King then present to the Jewish nation, in prospect of the setting up of His kingdom on the earth. This was its special and distinguishing feature.
2. This proclamation of the Messiah King and His kingdom, in accordance with the prophecies of the Old Testament and the hopes and expectations of the Jews, was appropriately called the “gospel of the kingdom,” and as such was a presentation of the gospel distinct from any other, and preached only to the Jews in that day.
3. The gospel preached by Christ and the apostles, while Christ was on earth, was connected with and appeared to be similar to, if not identically the same, as the gospel of the kingdom that will yet be preached by the Jewish remnant in the day of tribulation, as shown in Matthew 10 and 24, and Mark 13.
4. “The everlasting gospel” referred to in Revelation 14:6, 7 is represented as being preached in the day of tribulation. “Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come.” In one sense these words are equivalent to the message delivered by our Lord and His apostles, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand,” though necessarily more explicit in calling attention to the hour of His judgment, which will then be very near, and on the eve of the Lord’s coming to judge the nations prior to the establishment of His millennial kingdom, as stated in Matthew 24:29, 30 and 25:31, 32. *
(*The everlasting gospel is probably so called because it will be the continued announcement of the glad tidings first made known in the Garden of Eden, which has been everlastingly proclaimed, under different forms, through all the ages. Therefore “everlasting,” and so set forth at the end, in view of the immediate setting up of Christ’s kingdom through judgments.)
5. This gospel of the kingdom which was then preached was entirely different in its character and the objects it had in view from the present preaching of the “gospel of the grace of God.” Then it was, “Repent and be ready for the Messiah’s reign and kingdom on the earth” - the earthly calling; now it is, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ” and His finished work of redemption for full salvation and eternal life, while hoping and waiting for the heavenly calling at the coming of Christ to translate the Church to heaven.
Thus we see dissimilarity in every feature between these two presentations of the gospel, and it is a great mistake to regard them as one and the same, or that one is a continuation of the other. It is this sad error that has been used to deprive thousands of believers of the “blessed hope” of the Lord’s personal return, at any moment, to take His waiting saints to heaven, according to His own words, “Behold, I come quickly,” “Watch therefore; for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come,” and, “Blessed are those servants, whom the Lord when He cometh shall find watching.”
For it is argued, by those who hold that these two different presentations of the gospel are the same, that the Lord could not come at any moment, until the gospel is first “preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations” (Matt. 24:14), erroneously assuming that the gospel of the kingdom in this passage is the same as the gospel of the grace of God now preached (Acts 20:24), which it plainly is not, as the text itself and the context show.
Then on this false assumption they conclude that as a great many nations have not yet heard the gospel of grace that is now being preached, the Lord cannot come (according to their interpretation of Matthew 24:14) until that event has been accomplished, and so, in this way, they postpone the blessed Lord’s coming indefinitely.
It is therefore of the utmost importance to see distinctly the dispensational difference between these two gospels, and to clearly understand the true meaning of these two scriptural phrases.
The present gospel of grace will be preached until the Lord comes to translate the Church (which may take place at any moment). Then the gospel of the kingdom, which was first preached by Christ and His apostles, will again be resumed and preached, chiefly by godly Jews, during the whole day of tribulation, “in all the world for a witness to all nations, and then shall the end come.” The “end” mentioned here will be the end of the age and of the great day of tribulation, when the Lord will come to judge the nations and set up His kingdom. And those who endure to the end of that day shall be saved to enter into the full enjoyment of millennial blessings on the earth. Here again the word “saved” is erroneously supposed by many to mean going to heaven, when it is obvious, from the whole tenor of the chapter, that it is the millennium which is in view, and not heaven at all. The two companies in Revelation 7, the 144,000 and the palm bearers, are examples of this, for they both pass through the day of tribulation, and the sealed Israelites are seen after it safely on Mount Zion with the Lamb (surely not in heaven, but in Palestine, where Mount Zion is), while of the palm bearers it is said, “These are they which come [not came] out of the great tribulation,” the blessings described as their portion being also millennial.
At the same time it is quite true that this preaching of the gospel of the kingdom to all nations must take place before the second stage of the Lord’s coming, His coming WITH His saints, but it is never stated that the present gospel of the grace of God is to be preached to all the world before the rapture (1 Thess. 4:15-18), the Lord’s coming FOR His saints. Therefore, we may and should be ever looking for His coming at any moment, as the Thessalonians were (1 Thess. 1:10).
6. The past phase of the kingdom ceased with the death of Christ and will be revived again, to a certain extent and for a short period, when the present or Christian dispensation comes to an end. For then the Jewish order of things will be partially restored. Thus the past and future phases join in this point, with a long interval between.
7. In noting these dispensational distinctions (the difference between the Lord’s time on the earth and the present) it is important ever to bear in mind that our Lord’s general teaching, as well as His prophetic utterances, extended far beyond the day of His personal ministry down to the present time, and even to the millennium.
We must therefore regard much of His teaching as applicable to all times and to every phase of the kingdom, especially the great moral and spiritual principles that always distinguished His divine teaching.
But for all this the dispensation in which He lived and wrought was unique, and should not be considered as identical with the present, from which it was so entirely different. For everything was changed on the Day of Pentecost, when the Church was formed and a new dispensation commenced.
Many who have not clearly seen this point have often seriously misapplied some of our Lord’s teachings, in which they endeavor to adapt Jewish thoughts and observances to Christian believers and the Church.
We will now proceed to consider the present phase.

The Present Phase of the Kingdom (Transition): Chapter 6

The present phase of the kingdom (indicated as P.2) is the transitional and parenthetical proclamation of the kingdom, during the absence of the King, by which certain results are produced through the preaching of the gospel of the grace of God to all classes alike, whereby believers are gathered out from the world, to come under the spiritual rule of Christ in the Church, while nominal Christians mingle with the true and together form what is commonly known as Christendom, and thus both together constitute the present phase of the kingdom.
These religious conditions only partially existed in our Lord’s day, but He anticipatively described them in His numerous discourses as a state of things that was to exist after His ascension on high. And these circumstances, and the incidents connected with them predicted by our Lord, were to occur during a peculiar interval, between the first proclamation of the kingdom by the King Himself and John the Baptist (the past phase) and the consummation or setting up of the kingdom in full power in the millennium (the future phase).
Two very marked points of contrast appear between this phase and the past.
First, in the present we find that the gospel of God’s grace was appointed to be preached to all classes without distinction. The commission was, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature,” while in the past the gospel of the kingdom was only to be preached to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt. 10:6).
Second, in the past phase the believing Jews alone were looked upon as the saints or children of God, who then entered the kingdom, while the Gentiles were considered as outside, strangers and afar off. But now under the present phase, “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28). “For He is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us” (Eph. 2:14).
These two points present us with the most prominent and distinguishing features of these two phases (the Jewish and Christian), in which we see their marked dissimilarity.
The error of regarding these two distinct manifestations of the kingdom as the same religious order of things, and the present phase as merely a continuation of the past, has been the fruitful cause of much confusion in the interpretation of these portions of God’s Word.
The great change from the Jewish to the Christian dispensation was brought about by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost in a way that was never known before, by which an entirely new order of things was commenced.
Moreover, it is well to remember that this could not have taken place until the Lord had ascended to heaven (John 7:39), nor could the disciples go forth to execute their new mission, until the descent of the Holy Spirit upon them. Hence the Lord “commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father.” “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:4, 8).
Mighty consequences were thus to follow the descent of the Holy Spirit, such as had never happened before, when a new order of preaching and a new religious dispensation were to be introduced, which we now see exemplified in the present phase of the kingdom. And as the first result of this new order of things we see (Acts 2) precious souls gathered out from the world (Jews and Gentiles alike) to the Lord Jesus Christ, to constitute the one body, the Church. The doctrine of this was revealed at a later period to the Apostle Paul (Eph. 3:2-10).
Then, for a short time at least, the true Church of God was seen in all its pristine beauty, fashioned by the Holy Spirit. But after a while false professors crept in and attempted to join themselves to the true believers, claiming to be called by the same name, and to be associated with them in all their acts of religious worship and service.
In the process of time it came to pass, incidentally, that mixed assemblages of true and nominal Christians were formed, constituting the state of things now known as Christendom, which our Lord describes in several of His parables as the present condition of the Kingdom of heaven.
In the true kingdom itself, regarded as the divinely constituted sphere of God’s holy rule, no such mixture could for a moment be recognized. “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Rom. 14:17).
It is intrinsically the holy Kingdom of heaven where God reigns supreme (the true Church side of it), and as such was intended to be the expression of God’s wisdom, truth and righteousness to the whole world, which it is, when true to its mission as God’s testimony on the earth (Eph. 3:10).
Consequently while looking at the fundamental principles of the true Kingdom of God, as set forth, for instance, in the Sermon on the Mount - apart from its external representation in the present dispensation - we see nothing but truth, righteousness and holiness as its distinguishing characteristics, and in this light these principles are applicable to it in all its aspects and phases. But incidental to its proclamation in the world, the elements of evil have come in to mingle with the good, for while the Son of man has been diligently sowing the precious wheat, the enemy has also been busy sowing tares.
And though the tares or nominal Christians cannot be considered as forming any part whatever of the real Kingdom of God, yet the circumstances arising out of their professing to be followers of Christ, and claiming to be called Christians, while outwardly assuming the position and responsibilities of servants of Christ, are all taken into account in the representation of the Kingdom of God or of heaven, which we have in the Gospels.
In these accounts it is the whole profession of Christianity that is set forth, and the results (both good and bad) that grow out of this profession.
In the parables of our Lord - especially the seven notable ones in Matthew 13 - we have a clear and circumstantial representation of the Kingdom of heaven as it now exists, showing the effects that would be produced by, and the results that would follow, the proclamation of the kingdom through the preaching of the gospel, partly during the latter part of our Lord’s ministry, but chiefly from the Day of Pentecost down to the end of the present age.
These parables are given, as our Lord explained, that the truth of God concerning the kingdom should be fully made known to the disciples, to whom it was given to understand these mysteries, while to those who wilfully shut their eyes to the truth they should still remain as mysteries and not be understood by them, and thus be a testimony against them for the hardness of their hearts.
All except the first - the Sower - begin with the words, “The kingdom of heaven is like [or likened] unto,” and are therefore similitudes of the kingdom, that is, comparisons of moral and spiritual things with natural things.
In the first, the Son of man is the Sower and the field is the world, and this parable appears to be more general or universal in its application than the other six, while as the opening or introductory discourse it unfolds the originating cause and groundwork that are obviously implied in all the other parables, namely, the proclamation of the Word of God, and the effects produced thereby.
These effects, so clearly described in the four different grounds on which the seed fell, were, in the first instance, partially seen in connection with Christ’s ministry, but are now much more fully exemplified in what we see continually taking place in Christendom, and therefore need no further explanation.
Mainly, these parables apply to the present period, as already stated, but as they were delivered towards the end of our Lord’s ministry, when He had given up the Jews as a nation because of their rejection of Him, and He was consequently entering upon a new line of teaching, we see that the results of the new order of things He was then introducing were already beginning to be manifested in His day, such especially as we see described in the parable of the Sower. Therefore, we have in this fact a slight overlapping, to a certain extent, of the past with the present phase of the kingdom.
One point of resemblance between the parable of the Sower and some of the others is seen in the exhibition of both bad and good results, the unfruitful as well as the fruitful soils, and at the same time an evil agency - the fowls - at work picking up the good seed that fell by the wayside. “Then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart.”
The first four of the seven parables present the kingdom in its outward or external aspect where man is the workman. These were addressed to the multitude by the seaside, while the last three - the Treasure, the Pearl and the Net - present the kingdom in its internal aspect, according to God’s estimate of it and the reality of its character, and where the work is God’s. These were appropriately addressed to His disciples alone in the house.
In the second parable - the Wheat and the Tares - we have a very instructive and comprehensive view of the kingdom in this dispensation, that embraces in its two classes the main features of some of the others that follow, showing the results of the proclamation of the kingdom generally, and the final consequences to these two classes at the end of the age, as explained by the Lord Himself.
In this, as in the Sower, we see that the good seed is sown by the Son of man, involving, no doubt, the continuation of this sowing of the Word of God by the apostles, and others after them. Anyhow, the kingdom is outwardly connected with man’s administration as to the results produced by the truth being sown on the earth, for through the inability of the servants to guard the field evil comes in. “But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat.” The proclamation and outward care of the kingdom being committed to man as to its external form, the present mixed system, represented by the wheat and the tares, will continue to the end, or as long as man has any responsibility in the matter.
Then, again, the impotence of the servants is seen in their inability to distinguish between the good and bad, or to root out the tares from the wheat without disturbing the latter. This was to be reserved for the reapers, or angels, at the harvest time.
It must never be forgotten that the field is the world, and not the Church, as so often erroneously assumed. Owing to this mistaken notion, many have entertained the strange thought that inconsistent or merely nominal Christians, even when their walk is known to be contrary to God’s Word, should not be excluded from the Church, or that true believers should not come out and be separated from them! The Church is not in question here, but the kingdom or Christendom.
We see that the tares are to be gathered together first, and bound in bundles to be burned. Some think, and perhaps rightly, that this gathering of the tares into bundles is going on now, in the natural and providential coming together and grouping of worldly professors which is so plainly visible all around us, so that they are thus being prepared in bundles for the judgment, or the burning, at the end of the age. But before this judgment of the tares or chaff, the wheat will be gathered into the garner at the rapture, though this fact is naturally omitted from the parable, because it only treats of the mixed kingdom and not of the separated Church.
It seems that at the end, when the Lord comes to judge the nations and set up His kingdom, there will be a visible gathering out of the wicked of that day, to be judged as only fit to be burned and then set aside in Hades, with all the tares or chaff of former periods, to await their common doom at the judgment of the great white throne. It does not, however, follow that, because these two facts are so closely connected together in the text, one will take place immediately after the other, for there will be - as we find from other scriptures - a thousand years at least between them. (See a similar passage in Matthew 25:46.) Sentence is pronounced at the first judgment, and the condemned are consigned to the abyss to await the judgment of the great white throne, when they and all the wicked shall be cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:15).
As this typical parable - the Wheat and the Tares -contains the chief characteristic features that are implied in the other four (namely, the mixture of good and bad, and their ultimate separation), the four following parables may be regarded as two distinct subdivisions of it.
Thus the Mustard Seed and the Leaven may be intended to represent two further or later developments of the evil element - the tares - introduced into the kingdom, while the Treasure and the Pearl may, in like manner, be taken as setting forth the higher relationships and heavenly characteristics of the good element, the wheat. Continuing this line of thought, we see the dragnet naturally introduced at the end of the series, to show the final separation of the two elements, which were to be allowed to grow together through the whole of the present dispensation.
In the Mustard Seed we see one result of the evil principle, already introduced, in its expansion into a great tree (the emblem of worldly power and greatness), “so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.”
What a striking picture of Christendom as we find it today! Nominal Christians find a delusive rest in the profession of Christianity, in outward association with true believers, while their hearts are wholly in the world, their worldly ways and dead formalism marring and falsifying the testimony of God on the earth - an unholy alliance between the Church and the world that all true saints ever deplore. The tree is wholly evil, while true Christians are connected with it only by the outward link of similar profession.
In the Leaven we have another development of the evil principle, in which we see it diffusing itself throughout the whole of the kingdom by the secret introduction of false doctrines and all manner of heresies, whereby the whole mass of professing Christendom becomes ultimately permeated and corrupted, as so largely described in most of the Epistles. It is the mischievous “leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.”*
(*Leaven in Scripture is always figure of evil doctrine or evil practice, as the following passages plainly show: “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. ... Then understood they how that He bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees” (Matt. 16:6,12). “Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod” (Mark 8:15). “Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy” (Luke 12:1). “Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. ... Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Cor. 5:6-8).)
Another and different line of truth was presented in the next two parables, the Treasure and the Pearl, in which the deeper and more hidden things of the kingdom were unfolded to the inner circle of His own disciples in the privacy of the house.
The beautiful parables of the Treasure and the Pearl -in which no mixture of evil is seen - appear to represent the heavenly relationship of the true Church of God to Christ its head, together with the preciousness of that spiritual relationship to Him, and the true and holy testimony on the part of the saints that flows from it.
The characteristics of the Philadelphian Church (Revelation 3) seem to correspond, in some measure, with these two parables, displaying Christ’s estimate of and satisfaction in His saints. This delight and satisfaction of the Lord in His saints - His precious possession -specially appears in the promise to the overcomers of that Church. “Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from My God: and I will write upon him My new name” (Rev. 3:12).
Then at the end of this series of parables we have in the “net” (which gathers in the good and the bad) the final separation of these two classes - as already indicated in the explanation of the Wheat and Tares - now fully carried into effect at the end of the age, when the wicked are seen separated and cast away, to be finally judged at the “great white throne.” “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. ... So shall it be at the end of the world [or 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” (Matt. 13:41-50).
This severing of the wicked from among the just will practically take place when the Lord comes to judge the nations at the end of the Day of Tribulation (Matt. 25:31, 32; Rev. 14:14-18); while the final casting of the wicked into the furnace or lake of fire will take place a thousand years later, at the judgment of the “great white throne” (Rev. 20:11-15).
In reviewing the foregoing remarks, the leading features of the present phase of the kingdom as a whole may be briefly summarized as follows:
1. We have the manifestation of certain effects and results that were to follow the proclamation of the Kingdom of heaven, during a peculiar interval between its introductory announcement (by Christ and John) and its consummation in the millennium.
2. The central thought that runs through the whole is the Rule of God over the souls of men, either submitted to by the true or rejected by the nominal hearers of the gospel, and the results that would follow in either case.
3. The King being absent - not visibly present in reigning power - His rule is spiritual in the hearts of all who accept the gospel, and who, by being born of God, enter the kingdom, and thus come under the rule of Christ. During this absence of the King, the Holy Spirit takes His place as the Comforter, Guide and Teacher of His saints, ever directing them to their Head in heaven (John 14:26; 16:13).
4. Two distinct classes of persons appear by profession mingled together in a religious way, specially described in five of the parables of Matthew 13 (the Wheat and the Tares, or the true and the false), who thus continue together to the end of the age, or the “harvest.” This may be considered the distinguishing feature of the present phase of the kingdom.
5. At the time of the harvest these two dissimilar classes are to be finally separated, and the future destiny of each class will then be irrevocably decided by the righteous Judge, the Lord Jesus Christ. This separation is also foretold, in a general way, without any reference to time, in another scripture: “Whose fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His floor, and gather His wheat into the garner; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Matt. 3:12).
The separation and judgment of the two classes at the end of this dispensation, or harvest time, more especially refer to living people on the earth, when the Lord comes to judge the living nations, the “quick.”
The fact becomes clearly apparent when we note the explanation given by our Lord, that “the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels,” and further, that when the Son of man comes, He “shall send forth His angels, and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity” (Matt. 13:39-41).
These wicked and rebellious rejecters of the gospel of the kingdom, which will be preached during the Day of Tribulation, will be destroyed in the awful judgment mentioned in Revelation 19:15, while the righteous who believe and receive the gospel of that day (see the saints mentioned in Revelation 7) shall be preserved through that terrible day, and thus come out of the Great Tribulation at its close to enter into the full enjoyment of millennial blessings on the earth, when they shall “shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (Matt. 13:43).
The account given in Matthew 25 of the separation and judgment of the nations at the end of the age presents us with another aspect of the same events that we have been looking at in the foregoing remarks, in which we find the King saying to the sheep - the good class -“Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world,” and to the goats - the bad class - “Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:34, 41).
The kingdom in the above passages doubtless refers to the millennial kingdom, into which the saints who have passed through the tribulation shall be introduced, to enjoy all the privileges of that blessed reign of Christ.
While the judgment at the end of the age is evidently limited to the people actually living on the earth at the time, it appears to be looked at in the parables and other scriptures as involving and applicable in principle - as to its execution and final results - to the judgment of all the true and nominal believers of the whole dispensation, though the time and mode of execution would be different.
Comparing these peculiar features of the present phase of the kingdom with the circumstances of our Lord’s time and ministry, we see at once that they could not be applied to that day - the past phase of the kingdom - seeing that the circumstances of that time were quite different from those described in the parables and other scriptures, nor can it be said that they represent in any sense the characteristics of the millennium, in which totally different conditions and relationship will be manifested.
We are therefore driven to the conclusion that these illustrative parables and other similar references wholly relate to the present phase of the kingdom - the Christian or Church dispensation. This obvious fact has, however, led many to conclude that the kingdom is the Church, making these two terms synonymous. * But such a sweeping and unqualified conclusion cannot be correct, because the Church and the kingdom represent two very distinct and widely different characteristics and relationships, which fact becomes plainly apparent when we consider the special conditions of each, for they are different in formation, character and administration.
(*“The kingdom must not be confounded with the Church. In the kingdom the wheat and the tares grow together until the harvest; but in the Church a wicked person is to be put out (1 Cor. 5:13). There may appear to be a similarity between the professing Church and the kingdom; but the ideas are not the same. The kingdom is the sphere of Christ’s rule; whereas the Church is the dwelling place of God by the Spirit. Neither will the duration on earth of the Church and the kingdom be the same; the kingdom will be set up in power after the rapture of the Church, and will continue during the millennium. The Christian, besides sharing in the privileges of the Church, has also the privileges and responsibilities attaching to the kingdom. To each individual is entrusted a pound (Luke 19:1224); or, in another aspect, one or more talents (Matt. 25:1428), which he is responsible to use for his Lord and Master, and for which he will have to give an account in a future day. His place in heaven is by grace apart from his works, but his reward in the kingdom will be according to his faithfulness to his Lord.” (Concise Bible Dictionary, page 470.))
The Kingdom of heaven in its full development implies the presence of the King visibly reigning over His subjects; while these subjects are regarded as entering into and inheriting this kingdom and being reigned over by their King, the Lord Jesus Christ, on the earth.
The Church, on the other hand, consists of the whole assembly of true Christian believers, who are born of God, renewed and sealed by the Holy Spirit, and gathered to be associated with the Lord Jesus their Head, thus constituting the members of His body, which is the true Church of God.
Now neither of these definitions - of the kingdom or of the Church - can be said to answer to the descriptions of the present phase of the kingdom in its entirety, which we have been considering, as set forth in the parables of our Lord, and other portions of the New Testament.
For in these delineations we have a mixed condition of things that belongs only to the present dispensation, in which we see true and nominal Christians outwardly united in one common profession of Christianity and the observance of religious ordinances, but which is not the true Church of God either in its constitution or essential features. And this outward profession as a whole, including both classes, true and false, we call CHRISTENDOM.
At the same time, when we say that the kingdom is not the Church, nor the Church the kingdom, we have to bear in mind that individual Christians who, in another aspect, are members of and constitute the Church, are included in the kingdom, and are indeed one essential part of it, although they are not in this outward connection seen in their peculiar church character as the body of Christ.
There are many other references to this present phase of the kingdom, in which we see only the true or holy side of it represented, while in others we have the mixed condition of things shown, as in most of the parables. Of the first class, that well-known passage may be cited which directly relates to blessings and privileges of Christians of the present day: “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son” (Col. 1:13). Evidently this is a present as well as a future privilege, to be thus introduced into the spiritual kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, preparatory to being partakers with Him in the glory of His millennial kingdom.
Of similar import, as belonging to the first class, we have also the following examples: “For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he” (Luke 7:28). “That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto His kingdom and glory” (1 Thess. 2:12). “There came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus” (Acts 28:23, 31). “Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof” (Matt. 21:43).
To the second class, or mixed condition of the kingdom, we have also many references besides those quoted, such as, “And I will give unto thee [Peter] the keys of the kingdom” (Matt. 16:19). “For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is a householder, which went out early in the morning to hire laborers into his vineyard” (Matt. 20:1). “The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son” (Matt. 22:2; 18:23). “Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom” (Matt. 25:1).
It should be noted that there are numerous allusions to this phase of the kingdom, not enumerated in this short treatise, both in the Acts and the Epistles as well as in the Gospels.

The Future Phase of the Kingdom (Consummation): Chapter 7

The future phase (indicated as P.3) is the kingdom prophetically announced and described, as seen prospectively in actual power and glory established on the earth, when Christ, as the King of kings, shall literally reign with His saints over the earth during the millennium.
In the present stage of the kingdom, when viewed in its true and divine character, it is the spiritual rule of Christ in the hearts of His saints that stands out as the most prominent thought, but in the future phase, while the saints of that dispensation will be morally and spiritually under His guidance and rule, they will also be under the literal and visible reign of the Lord on the earth, who shall then be King over all.
But as many maintain that the reign of Christ always means His spiritual reign in the hearts of believers, and nothing else, and that He will never come to this earth to reign personally over it, I will now quote a few passages, out of a large number that might be cited, to show how unscriptural such a thought is.
“The Lord of hosts shall reign in mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before His ancients gloriously” (Isa. 24:23).
“Yet have I set My King upon My holy hill of Zion” (Psa. 2:6).
Clearly “mount Zion,” the “holy hill of Zion” and “Jerusalem” are not the hearts of saints, nor are they the Church, as so often erroneously assumed. Never is the Church called Zion in Scripture, for it always refers either to the literal mount Zion of Jerusalem, or to God’s earthly people, the Israelites.
Once it is used in Hebrews 12:22, but even there it is not applied to the Church, as shown by the fact that in verse 23 - which is a continuation of the sentence - we have the words, “To the general assembly and church of the firstborn,” from which it may be fairly inferred that the words “assembly and church” would not be thus repeated if Zion, used in the first part of the sentence, meant the Church.
“He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David” (Luke 1:32).
Surely “the throne of His father David” could not possibly mean the hearts of His saints, or the Church even in figure. Moreover, it would be equally unmeaning to say that this throne of His father David is the Lord’s throne in heaven.
These words must therefore refer to the literal throne which shall be given to Him when He comes to reign over the twelve tribes of Israel on the earth after they are restored to their own land.
“Of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon His kingdom, to order it” (Isa. 9:7). Again, “Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations. ... And His feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east. ... And the Lord shall be King over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and His name one” (Zech. 14:3, 4, 9).
Nothing could be plainer than the literalness of this, and as if to guard the words “mount of Olives” from being spiritualized, it is added, “which is before Jerusalem on the east,” where this well-known mountain is situated.
It only shows to what an amazing extent the spiritualizing of Scripture has been most unjustifiably carried, when in the face of such plainly literal and explicit words as these, and many others that could be mentioned, there are some who still maintain that the Lord will not come personally to reign over the earth!
The Scriptures throughout abound with references to this glorious reign of the Lord in the millennium, which will be the future phase and consummation of the kingdom, while the most glowing and sublime language is used in setting it forth.
In the covenant which God made with Abraham the promise was specially given to him and his seed that they should possess the land of Canaan “from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates,” and enjoy a blessed time of rest and peace under the righteous sway of the promised Messiah, who was to come in due time as their King to reign over them.
And as it was foreordained in the counsels of God that Christ should be born of the seed of Abraham, it was but fitting that the Israelites should have the special privilege held out to them of being reigned over in the coming kingdom by a son of the seed of Abraham and of David, of whom David was particularly the type in his kingly character. Therefore this promised kingdom has ever been the undying hope of the children of Israel - given to them expressly by Jehovah Himself -that has cheered and animated them in all their wanderings and afflictions, and to which the faithful among them are still earnestly looking forward, especially now in these last days.
The prophets of old, under divine inspiration, seemed to be illumined prospectively by the radiance of that bright and yet future day when the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings (Mal. 4:2).
The great King and His glorious kingdom was ever one of the heart-stirring themes that inspired the sweet singer of Israel and other psalmists, as we see in many of their beautiful and divine songs. Such, for instance, in Psalm 45: “My heart is inditing a good matter: I speak of the things which I have made touching the King: my tongue is the pen of a ready writer. Thou art fairer than the children of men: grace is poured into Thy lips: therefore God has blessed Thee for ever. Gird Thy sword upon Thy thigh, O most Mighty, with Thy glory and Thy majesty. And in Thy majesty ride prosperously, because of truth and meekness and righteousness; and Thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things.” This is the lofty strain that runs through all this grand and expressive psalm of the kingdom.
In the Transfiguration on the Mount - recorded in Matthew 17, Mark 9 and Luke 9 - our Lord was pleased to give to three of His disciples, Peter, James and John, a very remarkable representation of the millennial kingdom, six days after He had told them they should not taste death, till they had seen the Kingdom of God come with power (Mark), or, as given in Matthew, “the Son of man coming in His kingdom.”
And then they behold the Lord in all His kingly glory “transfigured before them: and His face did shine as the sun, and His raiment was white as the light,” while Moses and Elias appeared with Him in the glory talking with Him. And as the disciples wondered and feared, Peter exclaimed, “Master, it is good for us to be here.”
In all this we have a wonderful picture of millennial scenes. The King in all His majesty is there in the midst, while Moses and Elias present with the Lord aptly represent the two classes of saints of the First Resurrection. Moses represents the saints that have died, as he died, and Elias the saints who shall not die, but be changed, as he was, and caught up together with the dead who rise first, as described in 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17. The three disciples, moreover, may be taken to represent the people on the earth in the millennium, who shall be delighted with the visitations and presence of their heavenly visitors, coming down from the new and holy Jerusalem above, when they with the Lord shall be reigning over the earth.
That this scene was intended to represent the King coming in His glory to establish His future kingdom on the earth is conclusively shown by Peter’s reference to it in his second epistle: “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honor and glory, when there came such a voice to Him from the excellent glory, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (2 Peter 1:16, 17).
It will be found that there are more allusions in Scripture to this future phase of the kingdom than to any other branch of the subject, but as it is not our purpose to deal with the whole of these - which alone would fill a small volume - we shall, as before, confine ourselves to those direct passages that contain the words “kingdom” or “the Kingdom of God,” and even of these we shall only be able to select some of the leading and most striking ones.
Of the passages in which the word “kingdom” alone is used, all (with one or two exceptions) relate to the millennial phase of the kingdom (see the List), as the Church or Christendom phrase was never the subject of prophecy, for obvious reasons.
The following may be taken as typical examples of these direct references to the coming kingdom.
“They shall speak of the glory of Thy kingdom, and talk of Thy power; to make known to the sons of men His mighty acts, and the glorious majesty of His kingdom. Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and Thy dominion endureth throughout all generations” (Psa. 145:11-13).
“Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon His kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever” (Isa. 9:7).
“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 shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever” (Dan. 2:44).
“And there was given Him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve Him: His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed. ... Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the Most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom. ... And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him” (Dan. 7:14-27).
In the New Testament also, in those passages containing the word “kingdom” alone, it will be found that, with few exceptions, they refer, like the Old Testament references, to the future phase of the kingdom.
For example, “Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matt. 25:34).
“Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest” (Mark 11:10).
“Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6).
“Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which He hath promised to them that love Him?” (James 2:5).
Similar to these, a large number of passages will be found throughout the New Testament that refer exclusively to the future or millennial phase of the kingdom in connection with the words “the Kingdom of God,” “the Kingdom of heaven,” “the Kingdom of the Son” or “the Father’s Kingdom.”
A few of the most distinctive of these may be quoted as follows:
“There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out. And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God” (Luke 13:28, 29; Matt. 8:11, 12).
“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” (Matt. 13:41).
“And He said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto Him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on Thy right hand, and the other on the left, in Thy kingdom” (Matt. 20:21).
“Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (Matt. 13:43).
“Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God” (Luke 14:15).
“And it came to pass, that when he [the nobleman] was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading” (Luke 19:15).
“But I say unto you, 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” (Matt. 26:29; Mark 14:25; Luke 22:16-18).
“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).
“Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer” (2 Thess. 1:5).
“To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne” (Rev. 3:21).
“And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years” (Rev. 20:4).
In thus briefly tracing out the several aspects, constitutional principles and phases of the Kingdom of God, we are introduced to one of the most sublime subjects that could ever occupy the attention of either men or angels, compared with which all that relates to the kingdoms of this world sink into utter insignificance. Empires and kingdoms of this world, great and many, that stood high in the estimation of men, have through successive ages passed away into complete oblivion, but the glorious Kingdom of God, of which Christ will be its exalted and righteous King, shall abide forever, for His kingdom will not only be superlatively grand and blessed above all others, but will also be an everlasting kingdom. Yet alas! comparatively few appear to have their eyes opened to see and realize the greatness and glory of this coming kingdom of Christ.
For man, being for the most part blinded by the false glitter of earthly greatness and the evanescent pomp and show of worldly things, finds little or no interest in the wonderful revelations that God has been pleased so graciously and condescendingly to give us concerning the transcendent Kingdom of His well-beloved Son that is now drawing near to its consummation. The fleeting things of time and sense, and the ever-changing affairs of these earthly kingdoms, wholly absorb the time and attention of the vast majority of mankind, although they are continually reminded by passing events that all these things, and, indeed, everything that pertains to the pride and glory of man, are but as the flower of the field, that flourishes for a moment and is gone. “As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more” (Psa. 103:15, 16).
It is only when we ascend the Mount of God, in company with the prophets of old, and look down from thence on this little world, as we hear the voice of Jehovah speaking to them, that we can in some measure realize the littleness of all these earthly things. Let us listen for a moment to what the Omnipotent God had to say to Isaiah the prophet, touching the things of this world, and the inhabitants thereof.
“The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field: the grass withereth, the flower fadeth; because the spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever ... .Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?...Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, He taketh up the isles as a very little thing ... .All nations before Him are as nothing; and they are counted to Him less than nothing, and vanity. ... It is He that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in: that bringeth the princes to nothing; He maketh the judges of the earth as vanity” (Isa. 40:6-23).
Though Jehovah has thus spoken, man in the pride of his heart is, in effect, ever repeating the proud boast of Nebuchadnezzar the king, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honor of my majesty?” (Dan. 4:30), as he gazes with admiration upon the fascinating scene, spread out before him by the great tempter, of “all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them.” And instead of saying as the Lord did, “Get thee behind Me, Satan,” he is captivated by the delusive picture, forgets God, and sets at nought His counsel so that he has neither heart nor inclination to hear what the mighty God, the Creator and Upholder of all things, has to say concerning the great and wondrous kingdom He is going to establish on this earth.
But a momentous crisis is approaching when a mighty change - unlike anything that has ever occurred before - shall take place, for assuredly the day is coming (and there are not a few who think it near) when the “stone ... cut out of the mountain without hands” shall smite the great national image and break it in pieces. “Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth” (Dan. 2:35).
This is further explained in verse 44: “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 shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.”
Also, in Daniel 7:14, we have the same facts announced with other particulars: “And there was given Him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve Him: His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.”
This is the great event that shall be called forth at the sound of the Seventh Trumpet (but executed a little later on), when the great voices in heaven shall shout, “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever” (Rev. 11:15).
That will be a tremendous day of awakening to many when the vaunted glory of earth’s little kingdoms, which had so engrossed the time and energies of mankind for ages, will be seen in its true insignificance in comparison with the greatness and splendor of Christ’s coming kingdom, and when some of the leading nations, then found in direct and defiant rebellion against God, will melt away at the presence of the Lord, the King of kings, coming forth in majestic power and with judgment to establish His righteous reign on the earth (Revelation 19).
In view of these stupendous events that are now rapidly drawing near, how inestimably precious and cheering are the prospects of the children of God, when compared with the dread outlook of the poor worldlings (the “dwellers on the earth”) whose hearts and lives are wholly centered on earthly things, and who have nothing beyond to look forward to but “a certain fearful looking for of judgment.”
For the true Christian possesses not only present rest and peace, and the full assurance of eternal life through faith in the finished work of Christ, but has, moreover, that “blessed hope” and the soul-inspiring joy of looking forward with delightful anticipation to the bright and happy day - now near at hand - when they shall be caught up to be with the Lord in glory, and then after a brief interval in heaven to come forth as the armies of heaven with the Lord Himself, to judge the nations, and be partakers with Him in His glorious reign over the earth (Revelation 19). So they can, and do, most heartily join with all the saints of every age in ever repeating that first petition in the beautiful prayer which our Lord taught His disciples, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven.”

Notes of a Lecture on the Kingdom of Heaven: Appendix

The Kingdom of heaven is mentioned only in Matthew, the first time in chapter 3: “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” In a sense, it is the same thing as the Kingdom of God, but the Kingdom of God is more far-reaching.
In Luke and in Romans 14:17 we have the Kingdom of God presented in its moral character - righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. These things you do not see directly; you see the effects of them. The Kingdom of God is a vast moral kingdom with the Son of man at the head of it, and one aspect of it is the Kingdom of heaven.
An Absent King
In the Kingdom of heaven the King is not present; He is absent. A kingdom with the King absent is strange; in fact from all appearances it looks as though He is not even interested in His kingdom. Although His work is unnoticed by most, the King is at work with a very definite object in view in connection with His kingdom. So, really, although we do not speak of it in that way, we do have a King. In other Scriptures He is called the King of kings and the Lord of lords, and although not manifested as such yet, He will be.
Kingdom of Heaven Announced
In Matthew 11 we find John the Baptist in prison and his ministry finished. Then for the first time the Kingdom of heaven is announced. The law and the prophets were until John. We discover something entirely new introduced on the earth; it was never known before. It is a kingdom, a kingdom with the King absent, but still it is a kingdom.
If one would be in this kingdom there is a matter about violence. “The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force” (Matt. 11:12). You must be in earnest to be in the kingdom. It is not as under the law where one was responsible to keep certain ordinances and commandments, but this kingdom has to do with the exercise of the conscience in response to a revelation, which God has given. Under law you do not learn anything, you just obey, but in this kingdom you have instruction all the way through, because it has to do with something very wonderful.
This kingdom is not of the earth at all. It is on the earth, but not of the earth; it is a kingdom that is of the heavens. The King is not here; He is in the heavens. Although all the aspects of the kingdom in connection with the Kingdom of God are really of heaven and of God, one must not confuse the Kingdom of the Son of man on earth in the millennial day with the Kingdom of heaven. The Kingdom of the Son of man on earth is a kingdom where the Son of man will sit on the throne, and that does not start until the Kingdom of heaven in its present phase is over.
The Kingdom of the Father
Once the Kingdom of heaven in its present phase leaves the earth, it is referred to as the Kingdom of the Father. The day is coming when all the kingdoms in time will be the kingdoms of the Father. After the Lord Jesus subdues all things, He turns them over to the hands of God, even the Father, that God might be all in all, so ending for eternity the kingdoms in time (1 Cor. 15:27, 28). See Matthew 8:11.
Matthew 11
The Kingdom of heaven has a peculiar character. Before we look at the kingdom parables of Matthew 13, we want to notice a few points in chapters 11 and 12.
First, we have the children of “this generation” (Matt. 11:16). What characterizes them? Absolutely no response. What generation is He talking about? Is it a generation of just 20 or 30 years? No, beloved, it is a generation that began at Sinai (the law) and the end of it will be seen at the day of judgment. When the Lord in the Gospels says that certain things will not take place until the end of this generation, it is a moral generation - a generation who say, “All that the Lord hath spoken we will do,” but who in fact do not respond to Jesus.
Children of Wisdom
We have the children of wisdom in the same chapter, “But wisdom is justified of [or, in] her children” (Matt. 11:19). Why is she justified? Because there is a response from the heart of wisdom’s children. It is wisdom’s children who are found in the Kingdom of heaven on earth. They have responded individually. They have taken the kingdom by violence. What kind of violence? Against all the opposition of Satan. In Christians you see moral energy - only a person with a new nature can have it.
Jesus’ Mighty Works
Next, three cities are named, where Jesus’ mighty works were done. All are at the upper end of the Sea of Galilee. Bethsaida was the city of Peter, John and Andrew. Capernaum was the Lord’s own city. Chorazin was one of the cities where He ministered much, but where they did not respond to His ministry. These cities rejected His ministry, though they had most of His mighty works done in them. And so He must pronounce a woe upon them.
The Lord Jesus was there as the One who was serving God, and so He pronounces woe in these three cities, saying, “It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.”
Then, in verse 25 it says, “At that time Jesus answered.” Whom did He answer? The Father. Why? He was always in communion with His Father. He just answers His Father as though it were a continuation of a conversation. So He says, “I thank Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth.” In like manner, He desires those who are in the new Kingdom of heaven to be in constant communion with heaven.
Jesus goes on to thank the Father for having “hid these things from the wise and prudent.” These “wise and prudent” are contrasted to wisdom’s children (Luke 7:35). The former think themselves wise; they are the religious teachers who should have known the Scriptures. Many did know them in their heads, but not in their hearts.
He had revealed His Word to babes. Who are the babes? Those who are going to begin in the new order of the kingdom and who have it revealed to them according to the Father’s will - “Even so, Father; for so it seemed good in Thy sight.”
Peace
The Lord Jesus told His disciples in John 14, “My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you.” This peace is demonstrated in these verses at the end of Matthew 11. In the midst of the complete rejection by Israel, He accepts the Father’s decisions with peace and thanksgiving, a kind of peace He leaves to the children of the Kingdom of heaven. “Peace I leave with you.”
Do you want that kind of peace, or are you going to try to carry a burden alone, only to find out later that what the Father does is best, always the best? The Lord Jesus was willing to accept the Father’s decision. Everything He had done, as it were, is gone; Israel has rejected it. Yet He accepts it all in peace from the Father. Matthew 12:14 shows the formal rejection of Christ by the leaders of Israel. They wanted to kill Him. The Lord accepts it all with thanksgiving. That is the peace He leaves with us, if we want it.
At the end of chapter 11 the Lord invites any who have a soul need. He is not inviting them to take up the sacrifices of the Jews or the ordinances. He is just saying, “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” This invitation is in connection with the Kingdom of heaven. It was not yet formed, not until He left and went on high, but He introduced it and gave the character of it before He went.
Matthew 12
Notice the verses in chapter 12 about the Gentiles. The new order of the kingdom would be among the Gentiles, although not altogether, because the early part of the testimony after Christ went on high was among the Jews, until the Gentiles were brought in. Most believers today are Gentiles. Because that is the order, we find the Gentiles mentioned in verses 18 and 21: “And in His name shall the Gentiles trust.” He is leading up to the subject of the new testimony of the kingdom which is to be introduced in chapter 13.
Gathering to Jesus
In chapter 12:30 the Lord says, “He that is not with Me is against Me; and he that gathereth not with Me scattereth abroad.” This principle is unlike being under the law and all of its ordinances; that is all past. It is an entirely new order of things introduced with the kingdom. Just, “He that is not with Me is against Me.” It is a good word for our consciences. He does not say, “He that gathereth not with this company or that company scattereth abroad,” but, “He that gathereth not with Me.” Notice it is the person of Christ before us. First, He says, “Come unto Me,” and now He speaks of gathering unto Him.
In verse 38 the Pharisees test the Lord Jesus, asking for a sign. Signs do not belong to the new order of the kingdom, but to the old order. So He says, I will tell you a sign, a sign of judgment. It is the only sign I am going to give you. But He adds, using Jonah in the fish as a figure, I will take the judgment for you, if you will only believe. (Matt. 12:3840.) Then He speaks about Nineveh because He is going to introduce the new order.
Repentance and Desire
The Lord gave two illustrations to introduce the new order of the Kingdom of heaven, both concerning Gentiles. The first is Nineveh repenting at the preaching of Jonah. Jonah did not preach of the grace of God; he preached, “Forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.” From the king down to the lowest beast, everyone repented and all were spared. They repented -the first requirement to enter the Kingdom of heaven. He says, “A greater than Jonas is here.”
What is the next requirement? We have the answer in the second illustration. The queen of Sheba, a Gentile, heard a report, coming from 1300 or more miles away. She was not like the children of “this generation” who do not respond to the piping or dancing or mourning. She, the queen, gets down from her throne and braves the desert sand for 1300 miles, just to hear about the true God from the lips of King Solomon.
First, there must be repentance, but there must also be a burning desire for the Word of God, because the kingdom is entered by violence. Do you have this burning desire for the Word of God?
In the old order there wasn’t any exercise with the Jew about his position, because all he had to do was bring a sacrifice to the priest once a year and then he was all right for a year. There was no purged conscience in those days. But in the Kingdom of heaven there must be the continual exercise of consciences. Again, as in the first illustration, He reminds them that one who is greater than Solomon is there.
In verse 46 Jesus’ mother and brethren represent Israel, but something new is introduced. What is it? “For whosoever shall do the will of My Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.” Before, it was an order of natural relationships or even of formality, as in the economy of Israel; now, it is to be, “These which hear the word of God, and do it.” It is a question of conscience - he that hears the Word of God and does it. It is important to notice that it is “the will of My Father,” because that is partly what we have to do with in the Kingdom of heaven and the Kingdom of the Father.
The parables of Matthew 13 show the planting of the seed and the results of that planting, which apply to the Kingdom of heaven. After the Kingdom of heaven was set up, Jesus sat beside His Father on the Father’s throne, unseen on earth. Also, according to the Father’s will, He sent the Holy Spirit to minister to the Church.
Matthew 13
When reading Matthew 13, notice especially the following things:
1. The disorder in the kingdom;
2. God’s purpose and method of blessing as superior to human disorder, the judgment of the disorder, and the method and result of God’s plan of grace;
3. Christ’s prophetic testimony after being rejected by Israel as their Messiah;
4. The order of the divine kingdom during the absence of the Son of man;
5. The assumption by the Son of man of His own throne and the administration of power in His hands;
6. The closing scenes of the disorder;
7. The righteous (the saints) in the Father’s kingdom in the brightness of the Sun (Christ Himself);
8. The purging of the Son of man’s kingdom;
9. The declaration of the intrinsic excellence, value and beauty of the kingdom;
10. The judgment of the professing Church;
11. Christ as the eternal Mediator (position as Great High Priest) when official mediation is over and the kingdom on earth is given up to God (1 Peter 1:11).
The House of Israel
“The same day went Jesus out of the house [Israel], and sat by the sea side [Gentiles]. And great multitudes were gathered together unto Him, so that He went into a ship.” (Read Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23.) The first four parables are given to the multitudes by the seaside and the last three are given to the disciples in the house.
In the first parable a sower sows seed. The results of the sowing are divided into two groups, the next three parables and the last three. The parables in the first group give the effects of the sowing in the hand of Satan, accomplishing his purposes here in this world - that is Christendom. The result is no fruit. The parables in the second group present the effects produced by the Father with the good seed - that is Christianity. The result is fruit for God.
Picture a field with a road around it, possibly where carriages and horses go. You can see along the wayside the places where the sower would cast seed that would go out onto the stony ground. In some spots of the field you can see thorns. The Lord uses this natural setting to bring before us deep truths that have to do with the soul for all eternity.
If the seed is sown by the wayside and is not valued, the enemy will pluck it up. Satan is the one who takes that seed, using his emissaries, the demons, or the birds of the air. He takes that seed away, but remember, in all cases the seed is sown in the heart. He can take it away, but there will be a religious profession remaining. This is Christendom. He won’t allow it to reach the conscience. In the second case the seed falls on stony ground - a stubborn heart. In the third instance, the seed falls among thorns - the cares of this life. We who are Christians must be careful about this danger more than the others. The cares of this life are like a man sinking in quicksand; gradually it will engulf him completely. That is the way this age ends - completely engulfed in the cares of this life.
Good Ground
The seed sown in good ground bears fruit, some bears an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, and some thirtyfold. The fact that it produces varying degrees of fruit should exercise our hearts. How much of it have we really laid hold of?
We have the good ground brought before us to show that the seed was received, how it was received, and the measure of reception. All the seed was good, but reception and fruit-bearing vary with the type of ground where the seed lands. It is possible for a believer to hear the Word and to harden his heart against it. The point is - how is the seed received?
Birds-Evil Spirits
The birds (evil spirits) take the seed that falls by the wayside. The seed that falls on stony ground produces no root, at least no deep root. These wretched hearts of ours would resist the truth, and the cares of this life would choke it.
We are creatures of habit. If we do not form good habits, we will form bad ones; be sure of it.
The Kingdom of heaven suffers violence and the violent take it by force. So, if you want the hundredfold fruit, remember that the violent take it by force. There has to be the energy of faith to lay hold of these precious things.
Tares and Wheat
The seed was sown and the effects of the sowing are seen in the following parables. Satan, for one, seeks to make something of it for himself. Some have heard God’s testimony and have refused it. By refusing it they have become the tools of Satan. So although the seed is good, suddenly up spring the tares. Who did this? An enemy has done it. But the inference is that man has done it, because the enemy is using man. Just as the glorious gospel is being preached by men today, so false teachers shall arise, Scripture says, not sparing the flock.
The principle is that all of this work is in the hands of man, but either under the Spirit of God or Satan. It is solemn to think that some religious organizations, which often proclaim the gospel message, are still being promoted by Satan. Isn’t that solemn? It is hard to believe, isn’t it? But that is what He is telling us in this parable.
Shall we go out and pluck up the tares? You know what that would mean - you would pull the wheat right with it. No, God has a plan. Satan might be doing his own work, but God is in control. The good seed is still there, bearing its fruit. When harvest time comes, God has His reapers who will take care of the good wheat.
At harvest time the reapers are going to gather these tares and put them in bundles to burn them. Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormonism, Christian Science and all other groups who refuse the truth of God, yet still bear the mark of Christianity, are bundles. Tares are being gathered into these bundles today to be burned at harvest time. In the bundles, the organizations of Satan in Christendom, there may be those who, through lack of understanding of the truth, are mixed with the tares. We do not speak of them as tares, but those whom Satan himself has gathered into religious bundles, who deny the person of Christ.
Before the bundles are burned, the wheat is going to be gathered into the barn. The wheat are the children of the Kingdom of heaven.
A Mustard Seed
Next, we have a mustard seed which was sown to grow for the good of man, but in the hands of Satan it becomes a tree, full of branches - religious sects. Why the branches? The tree has to have something to support the birds of the air - the wicked spirits of the heavens with their false doctrines. They are busy at work in the vast religious system called Christendom.
The tree pictures another aspect of what has become of the kingdom in the hands of Satan while the King is absent. Although not seen, the King is working, and He knows all about it. We saw that He is going to gather the wheat into His barn. It may look as though He is not interested, but He is.
The mustard seed is the least of all seeds, very small. It is very humbling for us, but it is intended that the testimony be such. Anything of glamour or of the character of this world does not belong with true Christianity. The seed is small, and if anything attaches to it in the way of greatness or the things of this world, whatever it may be, it is because Satan is at work.
“But when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree.” It was supposed to be an herb, but now it is greater than an herb. It becomes something it wasn’t intended to be, a tree instead of an herb. It becomes something great in the earth and men are attracted to it, because they have rejected the true testimony.
Those who have been exposed to the testimony and reject it carry a profession of that testimony. It is profession without reality. So in order to preserve a conscience before men, they join themselves to something that is religious and great, satisfying the flesh which likes to be great in a religious way. There is nothing in this world as evil as religious evil, and yet for most men it is the greatest thing to be in some way attached to religion. “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” is the Lord’s call, but men backed by Satan have introduced something else, a great tree.
Leaven
What else do we have? In the next downward step of evil in Christendom we have the Kingdom of heaven likened unto leaven. Leaven is always a sign of evil, nothing else. A woman’s place is in the home, hidden inside, as Sarah was within the tent door. The woman in Scripture either pictures something very blessed or something evil, depending on the context. In the parable she is doing something evil inside that no one can see, a picture of a vast religious organization in this world within which we have the three measures of meal, the testimony of Christianity.
Within the sphere where Christ (who is the meal) is preached, she is at work. Roman Catholicism, like a huge octopus, reaches out her tentacles until she encloses the whole - “till the whole [is] leavened.” It gives the end condition of Christendom, the whole thing leavened.
Every woman who has baked bread knows how to stop the working of leaven. She places the bread in the heat of the oven, and that is what is going to happen at the judgment. At present there are tares in the field with the wheat, and the three measures of meal are in a vast religious system, but the true will be removed from the false and the fire of judgment will finish it all. These are the things which Jesus spoke unto the multitudes.
The House of the Kingdom
Jesus went out of the house (verse 1), then he told of those truths which had been kept secret from the foundation of the world, which concern this new order. Then Jesus sent the multitudes away (verse 36), and He goes into the new house, which is the Kingdom of heaven. He went out of the old house of Judaism, which has rejected Him, and goes into the new house. We have the end of the old house in Matthew 23 when the Lord wept over Jerusalem. Matthew 23:37 will be fulfilled when His people repent and He covers them with His wings, or feathers (Psalm 91). His desire will be fulfilled.
Now we have a new house, true instruction. Aren’t you glad that there is a place on earth where God has preserved the truth for you and me? Aren’t you glad of that? In the house Jesus Himself is in the midst, instructing His disciples. Does that mean anything to you?
To Him they say, “Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field.” So he explains it to them. He that sows the good seed is the Son of man. (How simple the truth is when you hear it.) The field is the world. The good seed are the children of the kingdom. The tares are the children of the wicked one. The enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels, who can discern between the tares and the wheat and separate them.
Judgment and Millennium
Now we have the time of the judgment fire. “The Son of man shall send forth His angels.” The time is coming when the powers of the heavens will be shaken, and the power that was in the hands of angels will be transferred into the hands of Christ and the Church. That fact is given in Hebrews 12:26-29 and referred to in Matthew and Mark. The powers of the heavens, which are the angels, will be shaken, and then angels will keep the gates of that beautiful city. No more will they be in administration, for the Church with Christ will take their administrative place.
“The Son of man shall send forth His angels,” and what do they do? “They shall gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity.” That is the day when the Lord Himself sets up His kingdom on the earth, cleansing it, even before He comes. He sends His angels to cleanse the kingdom, then He sets it up in power and glory.
Kingdom of the Father
“Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun” (Matt. 13:43). The sun represents supreme authority. It speaks of the time when we reign with Christ, and the Kingdom of heaven is the Kingdom of the Father. This could not be said of any but those who belong to the Kingdom of heaven during these 2000 years. After the millennium “cometh the end” (1 Cor. 15:24) when the Lord Jesus, who has gathered all things into His hand, delivers up the kingdom to God, even the Father. It will all then be the Kingdom of the Father.
The Treasure
We have three more pictures of the kingdom, first the treasure, then the pearl, and last of all the fish in the vessel. These are the good effects, in the hands of the Father, of the sowing of the seed and it bearing fruit, some a hundredfold, some sixtyfold, and some thirtyfold.
The treasure is composed of many individual pieces. It includes every believer. The Lord Jesus, as He goes through this world, is attracted to something. He takes it and hides it. Your life is hid with Christ in God; nothing can touch it. He values this treasure so much that He paid all He had to get it.
When a king received visitors, he would bring out his treasure, and each jewel would be examined. “This one was secured in battle, this was mined from the earth,” etc. Each had a history. This is true of every believer. He has a history and is part of the treasure. It is not Israel, for Israel was never something found; it was always here. This treasure is the Church.
A stone is very hard, formed in the lower parts of the earth under pressure and heat. “O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colors, and lay thy foundations with sapphires” (Isa. 54:11). The twelve stones of Revelation 21 are all sapphires. How did they get the varied colors? From pressure and heat. They represent the believer. Each one passes through the trials of life when pressure and heat are applied. Every one of his jewels experiences this forming process, some by sudden pressure and others through constant irritation all their lives. A certain color has to be formed in each stone. That is the treasure.
The Pearl
The pearl is formed in a living organism, an oyster. If the little grain of sand had not entered the shell to irritate, if the little seed had not been planted, there never would have been a pearl - no irritation, no pearl. That little oyster could have spent its whole life using the secretion (nacre), which makes the pearl, only to ornament the inside of the shell - a beautiful shell radiating the colors of the rainbow. But the moment the irritation begins in the very material that formed the glorious shell, then the material turns to making the pearl, something of real worth. When the outside is gone, when the shell is broken and the oyster is dead, there is that precious pearl. It is a picture of the Church - one pearl, a picture of graciousness. In Philippians 2, as the example of graciousness, the Lord went down to the lowest place and then was exalted to the highest. His bride will have the same character - graciousness.
The Net
A net is cast into the sea of the nations (Gentiles). All kinds of fish are enclosed in the net, both good and bad. The net is drawn to shore and the servants of the Lord, not angels, separate the good from the bad - the precious from the worthless. The preaching of the gospel has gathered a large profession; some are believers in name only.
The good (the saints) are gathered into vessels; the bad are left on the shore as worthless. The servants, those who labor in the name of Christ, are occupied only with the good. The fulness of the Gentiles has come in.
In Matthew 14 we have dispensational truth which gives us a broad outline of events during the 2000-year period of the Kingdom of heaven on the earth. It is given in three parts: a hundredfold, sixtyfold and thirtyfold.
Hundredfold
As Jesus prepared to feed the five thousand, He commanded the multitude to sit on the grass. He then blessed the provision and gave it to the disciples who gave it to the multitude.
What a picture of the full provision during the first seventy years of the Church’s history. The disciples were given the bread which they gave to the multitude. The full truth of God’s counsels was opened up to the apostles and prophets who ministered to the multitudes, and they were filled. This is the hundredfold.
Sixtyfold
The multitudes are sent away, and the disciples are constrained to enter into a ship to go to the other side of the sea, while Jesus goes up into a mountain to pray, interceding for His own - a picture of Jesus as our High Priest and Advocate. Jesus was there alone while His disciples were tossed about on a contrary sea. This pictures the Dark Ages of the Church’s history with its persecutions.
Thirtyfold
This is a Gentile watch. The Jews have three watches. At the first the testimony was given to the Jews, then the Gentiles were brought in, and now it is primarily Gentile.
Jesus came to the disciples, walking on the sea. Seeing Him walking on the sea, the disciples were troubled, thinking they saw a spirit, and cried out for fear.
Jesus said, first, “Be of good cheer” - the Lord’s coming; second, “It is I” - Jesus, the center of gathering unto His name; and third, “Be not afraid” - a word of encouragement for those of us who are living in this wicked world, just before the Lord comes for us. The thirtyfold is the present period in which we live as we await His coming, the Day star.
Peter answered Jesus, saying, “Lord, if it be Thou, bid me come unto Thee on the water.” Today the waters are perilous, perhaps more so than ever before. Flesh cannot walk on them. It is a picture of faith rising above circumstances, trusting Christ for everything. Few are able for this.
Jesus said, “Come,” and when Peter came out of the ship - free from all man-made religious organization -he walked on the water to go to Jesus. “In order that we may be no longer babes, tossed and carried about by every wind of that teaching [which is] in the sleight of men, in unprincipled cunning with a view to systematized error” (Eph. 4:14 JND).
But when Peter saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid and beginning to sink, he cried, “Lord, save me.” Jesus has said, “Be not afraid,” yet our poor hearts are slow to trust Him. Jesus, catching Peter, said, “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?”
Such are the hundredfold, the sixtyfold, and thirtyfold - three periods of the Church’s history on the earth. They end with Peter walking with Jesus, trembling but above circumstances. What a path for the Church! This is a part of the mystery of the Kingdom of heaven during which the Church is being formed.
C. E. Lunden
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