The term kingdom of God refers to the coming of the Messiah and the establishment of His rule (Matt. 13:30; 16:3; 21:34; 26:18; Luke 19:44; John 7:6; Rom. 5:6; Eph. 1:10) as well as to the end of the world (Mark 13:33; Luke 21:8; Eph. 1:10; Rev. 1:3).
Jesus’ announcement, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand,” was the same as John’s message (Matt. 3:2). The Israelites understood it as an announcement that the Messianic kingdom was about to be set up. They misunderstood it as the establishment of an earthly kingdom triumphing over all their enemies, particularly the Romans at the time. Throughout Jesus’ ministry this misunderstanding continued, and was not finally corrected in the minds of His disciples until after the resurrection (Luke 24:13-32; Acts 1:6, 7). Jesus had repeatedly tried to correct this thinking through His parables and explain that He had come to establish a spiritual kingdom but His listeners continued to not heed or give in their preconceived ideas (Matthew 4:17; Matthew 5:3; Matthew 13:1–52).
Jesus’ announcement, “The time is fulfilled,” referred to the prophecy of the 70 weeks in Dan. 9:24–27, near the end of which “Messiah the Prince” was to “confirm the covenant with many” and “be cut off.” In the days of Christ, some at least knew that this time period of Daniel was nearly at an end. “When the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son” into the world (Gal. 4:4). When Jesus began His ministry, the time was ready for the establishment of His true kingdom (see Can you explain the 70 weeks in Daniel?)
The disciples of Jesus, after His ascension, also preached about the kingdom of God as being the kingdom of heaven (Acts 28:31; Romans 14:17; 1 Corinthians 15:50; 1 Corinthians 6:9). Thus, we see that during the ministry of Christ and the ministry of the disciples, this term was understood as a spiritual reign over the hearts of those who willingly yield to God’s authority. But those who reject God’s authority and refuse to yield to Him are not part of the kingdom of God.
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In His service,