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Thinking aloud on the kingdom of God


Ernest Onuoha

The term “kingdom of God” or “kingdom of heaven” is used interchangeably in the Bible. Scholars have come to agree it is all semantics. However, the term featured prominently in the teachings of Jesus in the New Testament. In synoptic gospels, it occurred 61 times. We have to remember that Luke and Mark used the expression Kingdom of God, which reflected their Gentile background. Although Matthew, a Jew also used both expressions, but he used the kingdom of heaven as a circumlocution, because the Jews revered the name of God (Yahweh). They were taught not to use the name of God in vain, (Exodus 20:7).

Surprisingly, though Jesus did not define the kingdom of God, yet, He made copious references to it. “The time has come…the kingdom is near. Repent and believe the gospel”, (Matt. 4:17, Mark 1:15, Luke 4:42-43) “for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”, (Matt. 5:3, 5:10), “I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it anew in the kingdom”, (Mark 14:25) and many of Jesus’ parables, (Matt. 13:24, 13:44-47, Mark 4:26, 4:30 and Luke 19:11).

The Kingdom of God has to do with the rule/reign of God, like the Jews were familiar with a king in his domain, where he exercises authority. So also, God as a King has a domain, where He exercises His authority, which is eternal. Therefore, through His Son, He reigns supremely and everything is brought under His subjection. We must note that the kingdom of God is both present and eschatological, which is why Jesus says: “the Kingdom is with you or “within you” and in another dimension, you hear Him speak of “thy kingdom come”, (Matt. 6:10). So, the kingdom of God is both present and eschatological in nature.

We now ask ourselves, what is the kingdom and what is it not? First, St. Paul says the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power, (1 Corinth. 4:20). Therefore, the kingdom of God is about demonstration of God’s power, the power that can heal, deliver, and bring freedom and liberty, the situation notwithstanding. No matter how hopeless, the power can turn things around. Jesus exercises this power, (Luke 4:14, Mark 3:8-11). St. Paul also demonstrated the power of the kingdom to the point that his handkerchief and shadow were able to heal, (Acts, 19:12). Today, the power is available unto us to recover, to restore and to give hope in all situations of life.

Second, the power of the kingdom is not about food: eating and drinking. St. Paul supplied the answer in (Rom. 14:17) what the kingdom is. The love of God is demonstrated. The love that can recover the sinner, and the peace of God, which in the storms of life, He grants to the believer. There is calm, there is righteousness, and there is joy in the spirit. It is expected that people of God should explore all these ingredients, as enunciated by Paul as he wrote to the Romans. We need to place caution here, the kingdom of God is not about what we can get out of it, but about what God can use us to do in the world. We must go after it.

Thirdly, nothing vile or impure shall inherit the kingdom of God. In fact, flesh and blood cannot inherit it and St. Paul makes it clear of the likely things that can debar us from inheriting the kingdom. They include, but are not limited to as listed in (1 Corinth. 6:9-10, Eph.5: 5 and Gal. 5:19-21). It is left for the child of God to shun those things that may negate the life of the kingdom and this is the most appropriate time for it. Remember, God at the close of age will bring judgment and His Son, while sitting in judgment, will be with the righteous, while the wicked shall be punished. We need to make a decision before it is too late. God’s kingdom is real and it is only those that are prepared that will inherit it. The burden of the writer is that all who name the name of the Lord shall depart from iniquity. We need to sing meditatively now:
Eternal, Eternal life 2X
I want to live eternal life God save my soul 2X
Oh my Saviour,
When you want to collect your people,
Remember me oh Lord 2X
When you want to collect your people,
Remember me oh Lord 2X
My God.

Ven. Ernest Onuoha
Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State.

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Ernest Onuoha

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