Treasures from God’s Word and Digging for Spiritual Gems
The Kingdom of the Heavens has drawn near? (Matthew 1-3)
Matthew 3:1, 2 – (preaching, Kingdom, Kingdom of the heavens, has drawn near)
Interestingly, the reference says: “The Greek word basically means ‘to make proclamation as a public messenger.’ It stresses the manner of the proclamation: usually an open, public declaration rather than a sermon to a group.”
The Greek word means properly ‘a herald, to announce a message publicly and with conviction’.
So we have to ask the question, can going from door to door, or standing by a cart, be counted as preaching by the above definition. Door-to-door is private, standing by a cart is silent, not verbally announcing a message. In the first century, the early Christians went to the marketplaces and the synagogues and other public places.
“Kingdom”, “Kingdom of the Heavens”
The study Bible references claim that most of the 55 occurrences of ‘Kingdom’ in Matthew refer to God’s heavenly rule. Please try a word search on the NWT Reference edition for ‘kingdom’ and read the extracts shown, especially the ones from Matthew. You will find there is no support for the claim that “most of them refer to God’s heavenly rule”. The phrase “kingdom of the heavens” does not state where the kingdom is, merely its origin or the source of the power behind the kingdom.
To illustrate, when Judah was conquered by Nebuchadnezzar it became part of the kingdom of Babylon, or the kingdom of Nebuchadnezzar. Neither description indicates where the location of the kingdom literally was, rather it describes the source of the power ruling. Judah was not in Babylon it was under Babylon.
Similarly, as Jesus said to Pilate in John 18:36, 37 “my kingdom is no part of this world, … my kingdom is not from this source”. The source was from Jehovah God, from heaven, rather than from men, rather than from earth. None of the scripture extracts from the word search indicate clearly that the “’Kingdom of God’ is based in and rules from the spiritual heavens”. The 5 cited scriptures (Matthew 21:43, Mark 1:15, Luke 4:43, Daniel 2:44, 2 Timothy 4:18) do not support this interpretation either.
Matthew 21:43 states “the kingdom of God will be taken from you [Israel] and given to a nation [Jewish and Gentile Christians] producing its fruits.” No reference to heaven here, both natural Israel and spiritual Israel were then on earth.
Mark 1:15 says “The appointed [opportune] time has been fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has drawn near. Be repentant you people and have faith in the good news.” These were Jesus words indicating the kingdom of God with him as king would soon begin ruling, which he did once Jehovah had accepted his ransom sacrifice and “given him all authority in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18)
Luke 4:43 records Jesus words, “Also to other cities I must declare the good news of the kingdom of God, because for this I was sent forth.” Again, no reference to the location.
Daniel 2:44 says, “the God of heaven [source] will set up a kingdom [power] … It will crush and put an end to all these [manmade] kingdoms”. The first part of the verse states “And in the days of those kings”, referring to the previous three verses. Those verses discuss “the fourth kingdom, it will prove to be strong like iron” which is accepted by all Bible scholars as referring to Rome. To Jesus’ disciples in the first century, they would have understood this to mean that God would set up a kingdom [under Jesus Christ] in the days of the fourth kingdom of the prophecy, Rome, which the Bible record shows he did. (For a further discussion on this see: How Can We Prove When Jesus Became King.)
All, but the 2 Timothy reference, clearly refer to earthly events. As for 2 Timothy 4:18, it refers to “his [Jesus] heavenly kingdom”, which many wrongly interpret as ‘in heaven’. However, ‘heavenly’ does not refer to a physical location, but rather to it’s procedence. It shows its contrast with earthly or human rule. For instance, Hebrews 6:4 speaks of the “heavenly free gift”. (NWT) Not a free gift in heaven but a free gift which comes from heaven, from God.
Furthermore, the king of that “Kingdom of the Heavens” is Jesus Christ. He acknowledged this in John 18:37. That was why he came into the world, to become a king, claiming the legal right as per Ezekiel 21:26, 27. It is therefore not referring to “God’s heavenly rule”, but Jesus’ heavenly rule with God’s backing and power behind him.
All this is confirmed by the accurate reference comment on “has drawn near” which says: “Here in the sense that the future Ruler of the heavenly Kingdom was about to appear.”
Jesus, The Way (jy Chapter 2) – Jesus is honoured before his Birth.
Another refreshingly accurate summary.