What does “the kingdom of God is at hand” mean?

SHARE

By BibleAsk Team


The Kingdom of God Is at Hand – General View

“The kingdom of God is at hand” is a profound statement that Jesus Christ made during His earthly ministry, conveying a message of urgency, hope, and divine intervention. This declaration holds significant theological implications and invites believers to grasp the imminent reality of God’s reign. In this discourse, we will embark on a comprehensive journey through the New King James Version (NKJV) of the Bible to unravel the multifaceted meaning of this statement and its implications for believers.

  1. Understanding the Concept of the Kingdom of God: To comprehend the significance of “The kingdom of God is at hand,” it is essential to first grasp the concept of the kingdom of God as presented in Scripture. The kingdom of God encompasses the reign, rule, and sovereignty of God over all creation, both in heaven and on earth. It is characterized by righteousness, peace, and the manifestation of God’s glory. Matthew 6:33 (NKJV): “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” This verse underscores the priority of seeking God’s kingdom and righteousness above all else, emphasizing the centrality of God’s rule in the lives of believers.
  2. The Imminent Arrival of God’s Kingdom: When Jesus proclaimed, “The kingdom of God is at hand,” He was announcing the imminent arrival of God’s kingdom in a tangible and transformative way. This declaration signaled a divine intervention in human history, inaugurating a new era of salvation and restoration. Mark 1:15 (NKJV): “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” In this passage, Jesus declares that the time of fulfillment has come, and the kingdom of God is at hand. He calls upon people to repent and believe in the gospel, signaling a decisive moment of divine intervention and salvation.
  3. The Presence of God’s Rule and Authority: “The kingdom of God is at hand” signifies the immediate presence and manifestation of God’s rule and authority in the person of Jesus Christ. Through His ministry, teachings, and miracles, Jesus demonstrated the power and reality of God’s kingdom, ushering in a new era of salvation and redemption. Luke 17:20-21 (NKJV): “Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, ‘The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, “See here!” or “See there!” For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.'” Jesus explains that the kingdom of God is not limited to external manifestations or observable signs but encompasses the inward reign of God in the hearts and lives of believers. His presence brings about a transformative reality where God’s rule is established in the hearts of His followers.
  4. The Call to Repentance and Faith: Alongside the proclamation, “The kingdom of God is at hand,” Jesus issued a call to repentance and faith, inviting people to turn from sin and embrace the gospel message. This call to repentance is central to entering into the blessings and benefits of God’s kingdom.a. Mark 1:14-15 (NKJV): “Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.'” Jesus’ message of repentance and belief in the gospel is intricately linked to the proclamation of the kingdom of God being at hand. Repentance signifies a change of heart and a turning away from sin, paving the way for individuals to enter into God’s kingdom and experience His salvation.
  5. The Establishment of God’s Reign Through Christ: Jesus Christ, as the incarnate Son of God, embodies the reality of God’s kingdom and serves as its ultimate King and Messiah. Through His life, death, and resurrection, Jesus establishes God’s reign on earth and fulfills the prophecies concerning the coming of the kingdom of God. Revelation 11:15 (NKJV): “Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!'” This prophetic declaration in Revelation anticipates the ultimate fulfillment of God’s kingdom, where all earthly kingdoms will yield to the sovereign rule of Jesus Christ, who will reign forever and ever.

The First Coming of Christ

The gospel of Matthew says, “From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17 also Mark 1:15). The words “the Kingdom of God is at hand” refers particularly to a promised time (Matthew 13:30; 16:3; 21:34; 26:18; Luke 19:44; John 7:6; Romans 5:6; Ephesians 1:10)—in this case to the first coming of the Savior and the establishment of His kingdom.

Jesus’ announcement, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand,” was the same as John’s message (Matthew 3:2). The people understood it as a proclamation that the Messianic kingdom was about to be established. In the popular thinking, as indeed in John’s time, this involved the setting up of an earthly kingdom for the Jews and the following victory over all their enemies.

Throughout Jesus’ ministry this misconception of the worldly kingdom remained and was not eventually corrected in the thinking of Jesus’ disciples until after the resurrection (Luke 24:13–32; Acts 1:6, 7), even though through His parables Christ had frequently instructed that the kingdom He had come to establish was, to begin with, a spiritual kingdom (Matthew 4:17; 5:3; 13:1–52).

In the days of Christ, some, at least, knew that the prophecy of Daniel was coming to an end. Paul wrote, “When the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son” into the world (Galatians 4:4). When Jesus began His ministry, the time was ready for starting His kingdom. Christ’s declaration, “The time is fulfilled,” pointed in a specific way to the prophecy of the 70 weeks in Daniel 9:24–27, near the end of which “Messiah the Prince” was to “confirm the covenant with many” and “be cut off.” For more on the seventy weeks prophecy, check the following link:

The Second Coming of Christ

The phrase “the kingdom of God is at hand” also refers to the second coming of Christ (Mark 13:33; Luke 21:8; Ephesians 1:10; Revelation 1:3). Some, who are filled with doubt, say that since the resurrection many years have passed, yet Christ has not come. So, how can we say the kingdom of God is at hand?

The truth is that the second coming of Christ is near to all regardless of what period of time they live in. For when a person dies, the very immediate event he will face is the Last Judgement. In death, people sleep in their graves with no consciousness of time. To the dead, thousands of years may pass but they are not aware of it. Since a believer can face death at any time, he needs to be always ready (Matthew 24:42). In that sense, the kingdom of God is a hand to all. For more on the state of the Dead, please see The Intermediate State.

The Need to Be Ready at All Times

Jesus admonished His followers, “Be dressed in readiness, and keep your lamps lit. Be like men who are waiting for their master when he returns from the wedding feast, so that they may immediately open the door to him when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those slaves whom the master will find on the alert when he comes” (Luke 12:35-40).

To illustrate the necessity of remaining alert, Jesus gave six parables: the Porter (Mark 13:34–37), the Master of the House (Matthew 24: 43, 44), the Faithful and Unfaithful Servants (Matthew 24: 45–51), the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1–13), the Talents (Matthew 25:14–30), and the Sheep and the Goats (Matthew 25: 31–46). Believers are not to await their Lord’s second coming while doing nothing. They should be seeking to cleanse their souls by obedience to the truth, and work for the salvation of others.

Conclusion

In conclusion, “The kingdom of God is at hand” encapsulates the profound reality of God’s reign and sovereignty as proclaimed by Jesus Christ during His earthly ministry. This declaration also signifies the imminent arrival of God’s kingdom in the person of Jesus Christ, inviting humanity to repentance, faith, and submission to God’s rule. As believers, we are called to embrace the transformative reality of God’s kingdom and to live in obedience to His will, recognizing Jesus Christ as the King who reigns over all creation.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

We'd love your feedback, so leave a comment!

If you feel an answer is not 100% Bible based, then leave a comment, and we'll be sure to review it.
Our aim is to share the Word and be true to it.