Definition: The Kingdom of God is the expression of Jehovah’s universal sovereignty toward his creatures, or the means used by him to express that sovereignty. This term is used particularly to designate the manifestation of God’s sovereignty through the royal government headed by his Son, Jesus Christ. “Kingdom” may refer to the rulership of the one anointed as King or to the earthly realm ruled by that heavenly government.
Is God’s Kingdom a real government?
Or is it, instead, a condition in the hearts of men?
Luke 17:21, KJ: “Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you [also TEV, Dy; but “among you,” KJ margin, NE, JB; “in the midst of you,” RS; “in your midst,” NW].” (Notice that, as shown by verse 20, Jesus was speaking to the Pharisees, whom he also denounced as hypocrites, so he could not have meant that the Kingdom was in their hearts. But the Kingdom as represented by Christ was in their midst. Thus The Emphatic Diaglott reads: “God’s royal majesty is among you.”)
Does the Bible actually speak of God’s Kingdom as being a government?
Isa. 9:6, 7, RS: “To us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government [also KJ, AT, Dy; “dominion,” JB, NE; “princely rule,” NW] will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called ‘Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.’ Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end.”
Who are the rulers in the Kingdom?
Rev. 15:3: “Great and wonderful are your works, Jehovah God, the Almighty. Righteous and true are your ways, King of eternity.”
Dan. 7:13, 14: “With the clouds of the heavens someone like a son of man [Jesus Christ; see Mark 14:61, 62] happened to be coming; and to the Ancient of Days [Jehovah God] he gained access, and they brought him up close even before that One. And to him [to Jesus Christ] there were given rulership and dignity and kingdom, that the peoples, national groups and languages should all serve even him.”
Rev. 5:9, 10: “You [Jesus Christ] were slaughtered and with your blood you bought persons for God out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and you made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God, and they are to rule as kings over the earth.” (At Revelation 14:1-3 these “bought from the earth” to be rulers with the Lamb on heavenly Mount Zion are said to number 144,000.)
What effect will this Kingdom have on human governments?
Dan. 2:44: “In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be brought to ruin. And the kingdom itself will not be passed on to any other people. It will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, and it itself will stand to times indefinite.”
Ps. 2:8, 9: “Ask of me, that I may give nations as your inheritance and the ends of the earth as your own possession. You will break them with an iron scepter, as though a potter’s vessel you will dash them to pieces.”
What will God’s Kingdom accomplish?
Sanctify Jehovah’s name and uphold his sovereignty
Matt. 6:9, 10: “You must pray, then, this way: ‘Our Father in the heavens, let your name be sanctified. Let your kingdom come.’” (Here the sanctifying of God’s name is closely associated with the coming of his Kingdom.)
Ezek. 38:23: “I shall certainly magnify myself and sanctify myself and make myself known before the eyes of many nations; and they will have to know that I am Jehovah.” (God’s name will be cleansed of all reproach; it will be treated as holy and deserving of respect, and all who live will be persons who willingly uphold Jehovah’s sovereignty, delighting to do his will. Upon such sanctification of Jehovah’s name the peace and well-being of all the universe depend.)
Put an end to Satan’s tolerated rulership over the world
Rev. 20:2, 3: “He [the heavenly King, Jesus Christ] seized the dragon, the original serpent, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. And he hurled him into the abyss and shut it and sealed it over him, that he might not mislead the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After these things he must be let loose for a little while.” (Thus mankind will be freed from the satanic influence that has made life very difficult for people who want to do what is right. Gone will be the diabolic influence that has caused acts of extreme inhumanity and the demonic influence that has filled the lives of many with fear.)
Unify all creation in worship of the one true God
Rev. 5:13; 15:3, 4: “And every creature that is in heaven and on earth and underneath the earth and on the sea, and all the things in them, I heard saying: ‘To the One sitting on the throne [Jehovah God] and to the Lamb [Jesus Christ] be the blessing and the honor and the glory and the might forever and ever.’” “Great and wonderful are your works, Jehovah God, the Almighty. Righteous and true are your ways, King of eternity. Who will not really fear you, Jehovah, and glorify your name, because you alone are loyal? For all the nations will come and worship before you, because your righteous decrees have been made manifest.”
Bring mankind back into harmonious relationship with God
Rom. 8:19-21: “The eager expectation of the creation [humankind] is waiting for the revealing of the sons of God [the evidence that those raised to heavenly life with Jesus Christ have gone into action as rulers]. For the creation was subjected to futility, not by its own will but through him that subjected it, on the basis of hope that the creation itself [mankind in general] also will be set free from enslavement to corruption and have the glorious freedom of the children of God.”
Free mankind from all threat of war
Ps. 46:8, 9: “Come, you people, behold the activities of Jehovah, how he has set astonishing events on the earth. He is making wars to cease to the extremity of the earth.”
Isa. 2:4: “They will have to beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning shears. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, neither will they learn war anymore.”
Rid the earth of corrupt rulers and oppression
Ps. 110:5: “Jehovah himself at your right hand will certainly break kings to pieces on the day of his anger.”
Ps. 72:12-14: “He [Jehovah’s Messianic King] will deliver the poor one crying for help, also the afflicted one and whoever has no helper. He will feel sorry for the lowly one and the poor one, and the souls of the poor ones he will save. From oppression and from violence he will redeem their soul, and their blood will be precious in his eyes.”
Provide an abundance of food for all mankind
Ps. 72:16: “There will come to be plenty of grain on the earth; on the top of the mountains there will be an overflow.”
Isa. 25:6: “Jehovah of armies will certainly make for all the peoples, in this mountain [in heavenly Mount Zion, the seat of God’s Kingdom, provision for its earthly subjects will be made], a banquet of well-oiled dishes, a banquet of wine kept on the dregs, of well-oiled dishes filled with marrow, of wine kept on the dregs, filtered.”
Remove sickness and disabilities of all kinds
Luke 7:22; 9:11: “Go your way, report to John what you saw and heard: the blind are receiving sight, the lame are walking, the lepers are being cleansed and the deaf are hearing, the dead are being raised up, the poor are being told the good news.” “He [Jesus Christ] received them kindly and began to speak to them about the kingdom of God, and he healed those needing a cure.” (Thus Jesus demonstrated what he as heavenly King will do for mankind.)
Provide suitable homes for everyone
Isa. 65:21, 22: “They will certainly build houses and have occupancy; and they will certainly plant vineyards and eat their fruitage. They will not build and someone else have occupancy; they will not plant and someone else do the eating.”
Assure satisfying employment for all
Isa. 65:23: “They will not toil for nothing, nor will they bring to birth for disturbance; because they are the offspring made up of the blessed ones of Jehovah, and their descendants with them.”
Guarantee security, freedom from danger to one’s person or property
Mic. 4:4: “They will actually sit, each one under his vine and under his fig tree, and there will be no one making them tremble; for the very mouth of Jehovah of armies has spoken it.”
Ps. 37:10, 11: “Just a little while longer, and the wicked one will be no more; and you will certainly give attention to his place, and he will not be. But the meek ones themselves will possess the earth, and they will indeed find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.”
Cause righteousness and justice to prevail
2 Pet. 3:13: “There are new heavens and a new earth that we are awaiting according to his promise, and in these righteousness is to dwell.”
Isa. 11:3-5: “He [the Messianic King] will not judge by any mere appearance to his eyes, nor reprove simply according to the thing heard by his ears. And with righteousness he must judge the lowly ones, and with uprightness he must give reproof in behalf of the meek ones of the earth. . . . And righteousness must prove to be the belt of his hips, and faithfulness the belt of his loins.”
Safeguard mankind from any injury due to natural forces
Mark 4:37-41: “Now a great violent windstorm broke out, and the waves kept dashing into the boat, so that the boat was close to being swamped. . . . With that he [Jesus] roused himself and rebuked the wind and said to the sea: ‘Hush! Be quiet!’ And the wind abated, and a great calm set in. . . . But they felt an unusual fear, and they would say to one another: ‘Who really is this, because even the wind and the sea obey him?’” (Thus Christ demonstrated the power that he as heavenly King will exercise over such natural elements.)
Resurrect the dead
John 5:28, 29: “Do not marvel at this, because the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice [the voice of Christ the King] and come out.”
Rev. 20:12: “I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and scrolls were opened. But another scroll was opened; it is the scroll of life. And the dead were judged out of those things written in the scrolls according to their deeds [those done following their resurrection; compare Romans 6:7].”
Remove all death due to inheritance of Adamic sin
Isa. 25:8: “He will actually swallow up death forever, and the Sovereign Lord Jehovah will certainly wipe the tears from all faces.”
Rev. 21:4: “He will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.”
Provide a world in which people genuinely love one another
John 13:35: “By this all will know that you are my disciples [hence, in line to be Jesus’ associates in the heavenly Kingdom or earthly subjects of that Kingdom], if you have love among yourselves.”
Bring animals and humans into harmonious relationship with one another
Isa. 11:6-9: “The wolf will actually reside for a while with the male lamb, and with the kid the leopard itself will lie down, and the calf and the maned young lion and the well-fed animal all together; and a mere little boy will be leader over them. And the cow and the bear themselves will feed; together their young ones will lie down. And even the lion will eat straw just like the bull. And the sucking child will certainly play upon the hole of the cobra; and upon the light aperture of a poisonous snake will a weaned child actually put his own hand. They will not do any harm or cause any ruin in all my holy mountain.” (Also Isaiah 65:25)
Hos. 2:18: “For them I shall certainly conclude a covenant in that day in connection with the wild beast of the field and with the flying creature of the heavens and the creeping thing of the ground, . . . and I will make them lie down in security.”
Make the earth a paradise
Luke 23:43: “Truly I tell you today, You will be with me in Paradise.”
Ps. 98:7-9: “Let the sea thunder and that which fills it, the productive land and those dwelling in it. Let the rivers themselves clap their hands; all together let the very mountains cry out joyfully before Jehovah, for he has come to judge the earth. He will judge the productive land with righteousness and the peoples with uprightness.”
When was God’s Kingdom to begin to rule?
Was it in the first century?
Col. 1:1, 2, 13: “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus through God’s will, and Timothy our brother to the holy ones [those who were heirs of the heavenly Kingdom] . . . He [God] delivered us from the authority of the darkness and transferred us [the holy ones, members of the Christian congregation] into the kingdom of the Son of his love.” (So Christ had, indeed, begun to rule over the Christian congregation in the first century, before this was written, but the establishment of the Kingdom to rule over all the earth was yet future.)
1 Cor. 4:8: “You men already have your fill, do you? You are rich already, are you? You have begun ruling as kings without us, have you? And I wish indeed that you had begun ruling as kings, that we also might rule with you as kings.” (It is obvious that the apostle Paul is reproving them for having the wrong viewpoint.)
Rev. 12:10, 12: “Now have come to pass the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ, because the accuser of our brothers has been hurled down, who accuses them day and night before our God! On this account be glad, you heavens and you who reside in them! Woe for the earth and for the sea, because the Devil has come down to you, having great anger, knowing he has a short period of time.” (The establishment of God’s Kingdom is here associated with the hurling of Satan out of heaven. This had not occurred at the time of the rebellion in Eden, as is shown in Job chapters 1, 2. Revelation was recorded in 96 C.E., and Revelation 1:1 shows that it deals with events then future.)
Must the coming to power of God’s Kingdom await the conversion of the world?
Ps. 110:1, 2: “The utterance of Jehovah to my Lord [Jesus Christ] is: ‘Sit at my right hand until I place your enemies as a stool for your feet.’ The rod of your strength Jehovah will send out of Zion, saying: ‘Go subduing in the midst of your enemies.’” (So there would be enemies for him to subdue; not all would submit to his rule.)
Matt. 25:31-46: “When the Son of man [Jesus Christ] arrives in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit down on his glorious throne. And all the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. . . . And these [who showed no love for his anointed brothers] will depart into everlasting cutting-off, but the righteous ones into everlasting life.” (Obviously, not all mankind were to be converted before Christ would take his throne; not all would prove to be righteous ones.)
Does the Bible indicate when the Kingdom would begin its rule?
If Someone Says—
‘It won’t come in my lifetime’
You might reply: ‘But it is going to come in someone’s lifetime, isn’t it? . . . Would anyone be able to know that his generation was the one to see it? Jesus’ own apostles wanted to know that, and the answer he gave them is very significant for us today. (Matt. 24:3-14; Luke 21:29-32)’
Or you could say: ‘That view is a very common one. But Jehovah’s Witnesses firmly believe, on the basis of the Bible, that God’s Kingdom is already ruling in the heavens and that it is up to us to show whether we want to continue to live on earth under God’s righteous government or not. That is why I came to your door today. Notice what is stated here at Matthew 25:31-33.’