Many professing Christians misread Luke 17:21 and Colossians 1:13 and conclude that the Kingdom of God is here with us now, either in the form of the Church or âin the hearts of men.â They then conclude that it is their âChristian dutyâ to spread it worldwide, through brotherly love, tolerance, and so forth.
As sincere as this belief may be, it does not come from the Bible. It does not come from the mind of God. Instead, it comes from the minds of carnal men (Mark 7:6-8; Rom. 1:22, 25, 8:7), as influenced and misguided by the âgod of this worldâ (II Cor. 4:4; Rev. 12:9), and his servants. âFor such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their worksâ II Cor. 11:13-15).
So, how did people jump to this false conclusion?
First, they donât let the Bible interpret itself. Instead of heeding II Peter 1:20, âKnowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation,â they assign their own preconceived ideas to Scripture. Also, they donât allow the Bible to teach, reprove, correct or instruct them (II Tim. 3:16-17).
Second, they limit their understanding on a subject by reading only one or two verses, taking them out of context. They also ignore many other verses that would give the âbig pictureâ of what the Bible actually teaches. To understand the Bible on any doctrine, you must search all the scriptures on the subject. No single verse, chapter or book is enough to capture the entire meaning and understanding of any subject. Isaiah 28:9-10 states, âWhom will He teach knowledge? AndâŚmake to understand the message?âŚFor precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little.â In a sense, God designed the Bible to be like a jigsaw puzzle: You must always piece together all related verses found throughout the Bible to get the âbig picture.â
Here are seven proofs that Godâs Kingdom is not on Earth now.
One: Is the Kingdom Within You?
In Luke 17:20-21 Christ said, âThe kingdom of God comes not with observation: neither shall they say, Lo here! Or, lo there! For, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.â Many read this verse and conclude, âAha! Godâs Kingdom is within me.â But is that what the verse really says?
To whom was Christ speaking? The first part of verse 20 gives the answer: âAnd when He was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, He answered them and saidâŚâ Christ was talking to the Phariseesânot to His disciples! The Pharisees asked Him, âWhen will your kingdom come?â
Hereâs Christâs answer: âThe kingdom of God is within you.â Could Christ have meant that His Kingdom was within the Phariseesâmen He called âhypocritesâ and âblind guides,â who âomitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy and faith,â who were âfull of extortion and excess,â who were like âwhited sepulchers [whitewashed tombs], which appeared beautiful outward, butâŚwithin [were] full of dead menâs bones, and of all uncleannessâ (Matt. 23:21, 23-27)?
Of course not!
Careful study will show you that the phrase âwithin youâ is a mistranslation. The New King James margin says, âin your midst.â The New English Bible says, âis among you.â The Revised Standard Version says, âin the midst of you.â Christ was telling these carnal men that His Kingdom was in their presence.
How could this be?
Christ was referring to Himself. As the only âtrue citizenâ (see point Five), with the Spirit of God inside Him, He alone represented Godâs KingdomâHis government. While Jesus was a flesh and blood man, He was also the Messiah, born to become a king. He never sinned or went against His Fatherâs will. He was the perfect representative of Godâs government.
Two: Defining a Kingdom
All kingdoms must consist of four parts: territory, a king (or ruler), subjects, and laws.
If Godâs Kingdom is already here, whether as the Church or in the âhearts of men,â then the entire Earth would be under its rule. âAnd the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and His name oneâ (Zech. 14:9).
If Godâs Kingdom is already here, Christ, its King, would be sitting on Davidâs throne (Isa. 9:6-7), ruling from Jerusalem. âThus says the LORD; I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truthâ (Zech. 8:3). Jerusalem means âCity of Peace.â Yet today it is one of the most chaotic, terrorized, war-torn cities on this planet! Obviously, Christ is not ruling from there today.
If Godâs Kingdom is already here, His subjects (all mankind) would live under Christâs loving, yet authoritative rule. âAnd He shall rule them with a rod of ironâ (Rev. 2:27). Even Gentile nations such as Egypt will be required to obey Himâor suffer the consequences (Zech. 14:16-19). This is not the case today.
If Godâs Kingdom is already here, His laws would be known by every man, woman and child throughout the Earth. All people would at least be moving toward obedience. No one would be able to claim ignorance of Godâs commandments, statutes and judgments (Isa. 30:21; Jer. 31:34). This has not yet happened.
Three: Can You See the Kingdom?
In John 3:3, Christ told Nicodemus, a Pharisee, âExcept a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.â Confused, Nicodemus replied, âHow can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his motherâs womb, and be born? Jesus answeredâŚExcept a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of Godâ (vs. 4-5). To see and enter Godâs Kingdom, you must become like spirit. But people are physical. They cannot enter the Kingdom because âflesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of Godâ (I Cor. 15:50)!
Christ further explained in John 3:8 that Spirit is like windâit is invisible. You cannot see it. But human beings are flesh and blood, and can be seen.
Also, those who are âborn againâ shall resemble Christ (I John 3:2). No physical man looks like Him as He is in heaven today: âHis head and His hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and His eyes were as a flame of fire; and His feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and His voice as the sound of many watersâŚand His countenance was as the sun shines in [its] strengthâ (Rev. 1:13-17). Do you know of anyone who looks and sounds like this now?
We should also consider that Godâs servants being âborn againâ wonât happen until Christ returns to sit on the throne of David (I Cor. 15:23). If this had already occurred, the whole world would know it. No one could possibly miss such an event.
Four: World Peace Now?
Isaiah 9:6-7 says of God the Father, âThe government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end.â
Watch the TV news, read national news magazines and newspapers. Is this world enjoying peace? Do you believe the Father would allow murders, rapes, child molestation, riots, and wars under His divine rulership administered by Christ?
No! Obviously, God is not yet ruling His Kingdom on Earth today.
Many Bible commentaries cite Colossians 1:13ââWho [the Father] has delivered us from the power of darkness, and has translated us into the kingdom of His dear Sonââto âproveâ that Godâs Kingdom is here now among men. Here are some examples:
- âNor is the kingdom to be interpreted in a territorial sense. That is to say, it is not an area that may be designated on a map; it is the sovereign rule of the Lord Christ over human heartsâ (The Expositorâs Bible Commentary).
- âHe [God] has thoroughly changed our state, brought us out of the dark region of vice and impiety, and placed us in the kingdom under the government of his dear Sonâ (Clarkeâs Commentary).
- âThe idea that Paul understands the kingdom in the eschatological sense, and that the aorist âtransferredâ is proleptic, is untenable. For this kingdom goes back to Adam and is now present wherever the gospel power rulesâ (Commentary on the New Testament).
- â[God has] brought us into the gospel-state, and made us members of the church of Christ, which is a state of light and purityâ (Matthew Henryâs Commentary on the Whole Bible).
- ââŚthe age to come has come. What was future has begun to be present. The two ages, so to speak, overlap. While the world apart from Christ is still under the sway of the powers of darkness, for those who are âin Christâ the new age is already here. The night is past and the dawn has comeâ (The Abingdon Bible Commentary).
As you can see, rather than simply letting the Bible interpret itself, these writers relied on their own interpretation. As a result, they have kept themselves from understanding the plain and true meaning behind Colossians 1:13.
Just what is the âpower of darknessâ that God delivers His people from? Acts 26:17-18 sheds some light: ââŚdelivering you from the people and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send you, to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto GodâŚâ Satan and his demons rule this Earth today. This is why Paul wrote that Christians do not âwrestleâŚagainst flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this worldâ (Eph. 6:12). Itâs also why Christ said, âMy kingdom [government] is not of this world: if [it] wereâŚthen would My servants fightâŚbut now is My kingdom not from hereâ (John 18:36). When God delivers His people from the âpowers of darkness,â He calls them out of this world (II Cor. 6:17), out of its Satan-inspired (Eph. 2:2-3) system and ways of lifeâits government. And He âhas translated [margin: transferred] us into the kingdom [government] of His dear Son.â God delivers His servants from the government, laws and ways of Satan to His government at conversion.
Christians are citizens of Godâs Kingdom, though it isnât here. For example: You are an American traveling abroad. Though you are not in the United States, you are still an American citizen. Your citizenship is in America. In the same way, a Christianâs citizenship is in heaven, though he does not live there. âFor our conversation [greek: citizenship] is in heaven; from where also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christâ (Phil. 3:20).
Now consider Romans 4:17 as it speaks of Abraham: âGod, who quickens [gives life to] the dead, and calls those things which be not [do not exist] as though they wereâŚâ When God said to Abraham, âA father of many nations have I made youâ (Gen. 17:5), Isaac was not even born until a year later (compare 17:1-5 with 21:5). His offspring did not grow into a single nation until hundreds of years later in Egypt! God knew that their descendants would become prosperous nations centuries later. Since nothing can stop God from fulfilling His plans, to Him they are as good as done. Though His people are not yet born into His Kingdom, He knows that they will be. Nothing can stop this from occurring. In His mind, it is as good as done.
Six: Why Pray Thy Kingdom Come?
If the Kingdom is here now, either as the Church or âin the hearts of men,â why would Christ command His servants to continually pray, âthy kingdom comeâ (Matt. 6:9-10; Luke 11:2)? If at least the beginnings of the Kingdom were here, or if the Church is the Kingdom, wouldnât Christ have commanded His followers to pray âthy kingdom grow and spread?â
Seven: Why Seek the Kingdom?
If Godâs Kingdom is here now, why would Christ tell His followers, âBut seek you first the kingdom of Godâ (Matt. 6:33)? If church members are already in the Kingdom, why seek it? Again, would not Christ have told them to âfirst spread the kingdom?â
The Great Domino Effect
The Bible says Satan is the âgod of this world.â He rules it. He deceives it (II Cor. 4:4; Rev. 12:9). And his mission is to deceive you. He knows that if he can indoctrinate you with just one false teachingâheresyâit will soon lead you to believe other heresies.
The devil knows that if he can convince you that Godâs Kingdom is here now, then, youâll reason, you must be âborn again.â And if you are âborn again,â you must be âsaved.â If you are âsaved,â you cannot sin. If you cannot sin and break Godâs law (I John 3:4), you do not need to keep the law. This is wrong understanding.
If you do not keep Godâs lawâwhich defines His way of life (Rom. 13:10)âthen you will no longer be a Christian. Christ said: âAbide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can you, except you abide in Me. I am the Vine, you are the branches: he that abides in Me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: for without Me you can do nothing. If a man abides not in Me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burnedâŚAs the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you: continue you in My love. If you keep My commandments, you shall abide in My love; even as I have kept My Fatherâs commandments, and abide in His loveâŚYou are My friends, if you do whatsoever I command youâ (John 15:4-6, 9, 10, 14).
Godâs Word says that sin is like leaveningâit spreads. âKnow you not that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?â (I Cor. 4:6). And since heresy is sin, just one false teaching is enough to poison your entire biblical understanding.
This is exactly what Satan, your enemy, seeks!
Carefully examine the Bible for everything it says on every subject. Let the Bible interpret itself. Only then will you grow in true biblical understanding.