What Jesus Taught About God’s Kingdom
“He went journeying from city to city and from village to village, preaching . . . the good news of the kingdom of God.”
WE LIKE to talk about things that matter to us, things that are close to our heart. As Jesus himself said, “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Matthew 12:34) Judging by the things Jesus spoke about during his ministry, we can conclude that the Kingdom of God was close to his heart.
What is God’s Kingdom? A kingdom is a government ruled by a king. So the Kingdom of God is a government set up by God. Jesus spoke extensively about God’s Kingdom, making it the theme of his message. There are more than 110 references to that Kingdom in the four Gospels. But Jesus did not teach with words alone. His actions also taught much about God’s Kingdom and what it will do.
Who is the King? The King of God’s Kingdom is not elected to office by human voters. Rather, this Ruler is chosen by God himself. In his teaching, Jesus revealed that he is the one chosen by God to be King.
Jesus knew that Bible prophecies had foretold that the promised Messiah would rule over an everlasting Kingdom. (2 Samuel 7:12-14; Daniel 7:13, 14; Matthew 26:63, 64) Recall that Jesus openly declared himself to be the foretold Messiah. Jesus was thereby acknowledging that he is the King appointed by God. (John 4:25, 26) Fittingly, Jesus several times used the expression “my kingdom.”
Jesus also taught that there would be others who would rule with him in the Kingdom. (Luke 22:28-30) He called these corulers a “little flock,” for their number would be limited. He said of them: “Your Father has approved of giving you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32) The last book of the Bible shows that there will be a total of 144,000 who will have the privilege of ruling with Christ.
Where is the Kingdom located? “My kingdom is no part of this world,” Jesus said to the Roman ruler Pontius Pilate. (John 18:36) God’s Kingdom under Christ will not rule through human agencies. Jesus repeatedly referred to the Kingdom of God as “the kingdom of the heavens.”* (Matthew 4:17; 5:3, 10, 19, 20) God’s Kingdom, therefore, is a heavenly government.
Jesus fully expected to return to heaven following his sojourn on earth. There, he said, he would “prepare a place,” opening the way for his corulers to join him.
What does the Kingdom accomplish? Jesus taught his listeners to pray to God: “Let your kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also upon earth.” (Matthew 6:9, 10) God’s will is being done in heaven. The Kingdom is the means by which God’s purpose for the earth is carried out. To accomplish that, the Kingdom will effect dramatic changes on this earth.
What will the Kingdom do on earth? Jesus taught that God’s Kingdom will eliminate evil by removing those who are bent on practicing it. (Matthew 25:31-34, 46) That will mean the end of all forms of corruption and wickedness. The earth, Jesus taught, will be filled with people who are “mild-tempered,” righteous, merciful, “pure in heart,” and peaceable.
Will such faithful ones have to live on a polluted planet? By no means! Jesus promised that the earth will undergo marvelous changes under God’s Kingdom. A man who was to be executed alongside Jesus said: “Jesus, remember me when you get into your kingdom.” In reply, Jesus said: “Truly I tell you today, You will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:42, 43) Yes, God’s Kingdom will transform this earth into a global paradise
What else will the Kingdom do for humankind? Jesus did more than promise what God’s Kingdom will do. He also showed what it will do. Jesus performed many miraculous healings, thus demonstrating on a small scale what he will do on a far greater scale in the future during his Kingdom rule. The inspired Gospel record says of Jesus: “He went around throughout the whole of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the good news of the kingdom and curing every sort of disease and every sort of infirmity among the people.”
Jesus performed a wide variety of cures. He “opened the eyes of one born blind.” (John 9:1-7, 32, 33) With a gentle touch, Jesus healed a man afflicted with the loathsome disease of leprosy. (Mark 1:40-42) When “a man deaf and with a speech impediment” was brought to him, Jesus demonstrated that he could make “the deaf hear and the speechless speak.”
Not even death itself could stay the hand of God’s appointed King. On three recorded occasions, Jesus restored life to the dead. He resurrected the only son of a widow, a 12-year-old girl, and his dear friend Lazarus.
Describing the marvelous future that awaits subjects of God’s Kingdom, Jesus foretold through the apostle John: “Look! The tent of God is with mankind, and he will reside with them, and they will be his peoples. And God himself will be with them. And 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.” (Revelation 1:1; 21:3, 4) Just imagine
When will God’s Kingdom come? Jesus taught that the start of his kingly rule would coincide with a marked period of time that he called his “presence.” Jesus gave a detailed prophecy to indicate when his presence in kingly power would begin. This time period would be marked by global troubles, including wars, famines, earthquakes, pestilences, and an increasing of lawlessness. (Matthew 24:3, 7-12; Luke 21:10, 11) These and the many other features Jesus foretold have been particularly evident since 1914, the year when World War I broke out. Hence, Jesus is now ruling as King. Soon the time will arrive for the Kingdom to come and cause God’s will to be done on earth.*
What will the coming of God’s Kingdom mean for you personally? That all depends upon how you choose to respond to Jesus’ message.
The expression “kingdom of the heavens” appears some 30 times in the Gospel of Matthew.
For a detailed discussion of how we know that the coming of God’s Kingdom is near, see chapter 9, “Are We Living in ‘the Last Days’?,” of the book What Does the Bible Really Teach? published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.