Sunday, August 23, 2009

Word Study: Kingdom of Heaven

There has always been a vagueness in my mind when I read in the Bible, "Kingdom of heaven" or "Kingdom of God." A few weeks ago I decided to begin doing a New Testament study of these terms. There are 4 forms that this phrase takes:

Kingdom of Heaven
Matthew 3:2; 4:17; 5:3,10,19,20; 7:21; 8:11; 10:7; 11:11,12; 13:11,24,31,33,44,45,47,52; 16:19; 18:1,3,4,23; 19:12,14,23; 20:1; 22:2; 23:13; 25:1,14;

Kingdom of God
Matthew 6:33; 12:28; 19:24; 21:31,43;
Mark 1:14,15; 4:11,26,30; 9:1,47; 10:14,15,23,24,25; 12:34; 14:25; 15:43;
Luke 4:43; 6:20; 7:28; 8:1,10; 9:2,11,27,60,62; 10:9,11; 11:20; 12:31; 13:18,20,28,29; 14:15; 16:16; 17:20,21; 18:16,17,24,25,29; 19:11; 21:31; 22:16,18; 23:51;
John 3:3,5;
Acts 1:3; 8:12; 14:22; 19:8; 20:25; 28:23,31;
Romans 14:17;
1 Corinthians 4:20; 6:9,10; 15:50;
Galatians 5:21;
Colossians 4:11;
2 Thessalonians 1:5;

Kingdom of Christ and of God
Ephesians 5:5;

Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ
2 Peter 1:11;

I want to concentrate in this present study on "The Kingdom of Heaven." I desire to allow Scripture to define Scripture, so my practice is to find the references of the word being looked at, hand copy those references into my journal and then look at them as one group, writing down what each usage tells me about the word. This "kingdom" study was a quite large undertaking and not being done yet, already I have 32 handwritten pages of individual verses, and entire passages of verses where this word appears.

Obviously the computer would be a more efficient way of gathering my material together, but the hand writing of it forces me to slow down and to fully consider each verse and even each letter of each word in each verse. I try not to hurry, not writing carelessly, not just slopping my words on the page, but I try to remember creating engineering drawings by hand on the drawing board, printing by hand all the notes, etc. and the care we had to take to make nice and tidy looking drawings. Sometimes I get careless, but that is my goal, to patiently and thoughtfully copy the verses from my Bible into my composition book. In my mind as I do this, I sometimes visualize myself as an ancient Hebrew scribe, totally dedicated to the faithful reproducing of the Holy Word of God. . .trying to immerse myself completely in Him. . .

Every morning during my recent vacation at Wolf Lake, I spent an hour or two writing down these verses and I have continued since working on this study. The following is the result of work over several weeks of this summer.

The first thing that strikes you from the distribution of the phrase "Kingdom of Heaven" (from now on abbreviated as KOH), is that it only occurs in the book of Matthew. This was quite a revelation to me. Before this little study, I would not at all have guessed that. Here are the component words of the phrase:

Kingdom (basileia):
Strong's number G932 found 162 times
Translated (KJV): AV — kingdom (of God) 71, kingdom (of heaven) 32, kingdom (general or evil) 20, (Thy or Thine) kingdom 6, His kingdom 6,the kingdom 5, (My) kingdom 4, misc 18
Root word etymology: derived from G935 ~ [leader of the people, prince, commander, lord of the land, king]

1) royal power, kingship, dominion, rule

a) not to be confused with an actual kingdom but rather the right or authority to rule over a kingdom

b) of the royal power of Jesus as the triumphant Messiah

c) of the royal power and dignity conferred on Christians in the Messiah's kingdom

2) a kingdom, the territory subject to the rule of a king

3) used in the N.T. to refer to the reign of the Messiah

of Heaven (ouranos):
Strong's number G3772 found 284 times:
Translated (KJV): AVheaven 268, air 10, sky 5, heavenly + 1537
Root word etymology: perhaps derived from the same as G3735 (through the idea of elevation); the sky

1) the vaulted expanse of the sky with all things visible in it

a) the universe, the world

b) the aerial heavens or sky, the region where the clouds and the tempests gather, and where thunder and lightning are produced

c) the sidereal or starry heavens

2) the region above the sidereal heavens, the seat of order of things eternal and consummately perfect where God dwells and other heavenly beings

The above definitions and usage counts are taken from:

The following is a list of what I distilled and paraphrased about the KOH, from verses in the Bible where the phrase is found:

1. John the Baptist foretold of the coming of the KOH and said that men needed to change the direction of their lives due to the coming of the KOH - Matthew 3:2

2. Jesus repeated John the Baptist's words exactly, in telling men to repent due to the coming KOH - Matthew 4:17

3. The poor in spirit have the KOH - Matthew 5:3

4. Those afflicted for their trying to live lives that are holy and just, also have the KOH - Matthew 5:10

5. False teachers will have the lowest status in the KOH - Matthew 5:19

6. Teachers of the truth will have high status in the KOH - Matthew 5:19

7. You cannot be a subject of the KOH without living a life of great justice and holiness - Matthew 5:20

8. Some will believe that they will be subjects of the KOH, but they will be disappointed - Matthew 7:21

9. Fervently calling Jesus "Lord" is not sufficient to enter the KOH - Matthew 7:21

10. It is necessary to obey the desires of God to enter the KOH - Matthew 7:21

11. Many peoples from widely separated lands will be found alongside the Jewish patriarchs in the KOH - Matthew 8:11

12. Merely being born of the lineage of those in the KOH is no protection from being kicked out of the KOH into a place of great anguish and suffering - Matthew 8:12

13. Of every human ever born, no man was greater than John the Baptist, but John the Baptist is not in the KOH - Matthew 11:11

14. Since John the Baptist began announcing the KOH the enthusiastic have pressed forward to it with great enthusiasm and energy. Matthew 11:12

15. To those with an understanding heart, the KOH will be uncovered and even more understanding will be given to them. Matthew 13:11

16. But the KOH will remain invisible, and their understanding will be blocked to those with hardened hearts Matthew 13:12-17

17. The KOH has good and evil in it. This situation will be allowed to exist until the day of harvest, then the good will be brought in to God's place of protection and the evil will be cast out and destroyed. Matthew 13:24-30, Matthew 13:47-50

18. The KOH had a small beginning, but spreads rapidly and is carried into the entire world. Matthew 13:311-32 Matthew 13:33

19. The KOH has huge value and men will give up everything they own to gain it. Matthew 13:44, Matthew 13:45-46

20. Everyone who through study becomes an authority on the KOH will have things of value both ancient and new in their understanding. Matthew 13:52

21. The realization of who Jesus is, is a foundational element to the KOH. There is power in this knowledge and no amount of evil can withstand this power. Matthew 16:16-19

22. Unless you completely repent and reverse your direction and become as innocent as a little child you cannot enter the KOH. Matthew 18:3

23. The greatest in the KOH are those who have cast away every bit of pride and have lowered themselves completely in the eyes of men. Matthew 18:4

24. We need the forgiveness of God to attain the KOH. Matthew 18:23-27

25. We must likewise forgive our fellow man to attain the KOH. Matthew 18:28-35

26. The KOH is membered by those who are innocent like little children. Matthew 19:14

27. Great physical possessions make it very difficult to enter into the KOH. Matthew 19:23

28. Entry into the KOH is not dependent on length of service. Matthew 20:1-16

29. Those for whom the KOH was originally intended rejected it. Matthew 22:8

30. Now the KOH is opened up for anyone who may be found. It is not necessary to have been on the original guest list. Matthew 22:9-10

31. But still even being opened up to everyone, without the proper attire, and being speechless will get you removed in the final reckoning from the KOH. Matthew 22:11-14

32. Intentional preparation and vigilance is necessary to enter the KOH. If you fail to prepare and are not ready you will be left out. Matthew 25:1-13

33. We are left to our own initiatives while our Lord is not physically present. We will be evaluated by how we have done in His absence when He returns. If we do well without His direct supervision, we will be given more responsibilities when He returns. If we fail to use the resources we have been given for His furtherance, we will be put into a dark and miserable place. Matthew 25:14-30

Conclusions and further questions:

1. Why is John the Baptist not in the Kingdom of Heaven?
All the time that I have up to this point been reading my Bible, the Kingdom of Heaven has brought to my mind an image of a kingdom, as being the residence of God, our eternal home, but this cannot be what is referred to by this phrase. Jesus extolled his virtues, but John the Baptist is not in the KOH. The least in the KOH is greater than He, therefore John the Baptist cannot be in the KOH (Item 13).

2. Why does the Kingdom of Heaven have evil in it?
False teachers are of low stature, but are still in the KOH (Item 5). The KOH has bad items in it. It is described as a field with a good crop and weeds interspersed in one parable; and a net with good and bad fish in it, in another parable (Item 17). The weeds will be cast out and burned. The bad fish will be plucked out and thrown away. We await: as the wedding party (Items 29, 30, 31). As servants while our master is gone (Item 33).

The upper Kingdom, the residence of God, where we will live eternally does not have such bad items in it. Therefore the Kingdom of heaven might be better thought of as an upper realm of Man. The KOH is not our final reward, but this higher domain still yet of man is a waiting place that we might aspire to, while tending to the Lord's business here on earth. We are planted in the same field with and are lumped together in the same net. . .we share some general characteristics and features with the tares and the bad fish, but one day the weeds and the bad fish will be revealed for who they are and cast away in the final reckoning.

Can it be that Jesus was saying that this, upper realm of earth, this high domain on earth is the totality of Christianity? Many believe they will attain the final good reward. The kingdom here on earth includes everyone who calls Him, "Lord. . .Lord. . ." (items 8, 9, 10), but we are only in the waiting place right now. When the master returns, at the time of final decision many will be surprised at being cast away as the tares out of the wheat.

My next word study will be the "Kingdom of God" and how it relates to the "Kingdom of Heaven."

1 comment:

Eric said...

As to your first question about John the Baptist, examine these phrases:

In Matt 11:11 - "Of those born of women..."


In John 3:3 - "Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."

Born again can also be translated "born from above".

Thanks for loving Him!