The Kingdom of God verses the Kingdom of Heaven
By David J. Stewart
Certainly, this is one of the most debated questions amongst Bible scholars. The mighty Bible teacher, Dr. Oliver B. Greene, goes into depth in his book, BIBLE PROPHECY, explaining the difference he believes exists between the Kingdom of God verses the Kingdom of Heaven. I certainly wouldn't argue the point or be dogmatic. This is not a fundamental doctrine of the Christian faith. As long as one believes in a literal place called Heaven, then it is not a doctrinal issue worthy of believers separating over.
Howbeit, the term "Kingdom of God" is found 69 times in the Bible and the term "Kingdom of Heaven" is found 32 times. From reading through the different Scriptures, I think it is clear that the Scriptures are referring to the same thing. I could be wrong, and wouldn't argue the point, but I don't see a difference between the two when reading the various Scriptures.
If a person focuses upon individual Scriptures, then an argument can be made; but if the Bible is taken as a whole, which is the correct manner of interpreting Scriptures, then I think the Bible clearly teaches that the Kingdom of God which is within us is also referring to the Kingdom of Heaven. There are Scriptures that speak of "entering" into both the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven. So I think they are the same in my opinion; but again, I could be wrong.
What is the Kingdom of God?
The Bible mentions "heaven" in the New Testament 277 times, so I don't think the Kingdom of God is the same as the place called Heaven. Again, I wouldn't argue the point, but to me, I think the best understanding I have of the Kingdom of God is found in Ephesians 3:15, "Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named." There is a FAMILY in Heaven. I think the Kingdom of God is the family of God. That is my humble opinion. One must be born-again to enter into the family of God. Jesus said the Kingdom of God is within us, i.e., the saved... we are part of God's family. That's how I look at it.
The Greek word for "kingdom" refers to God's authority. Satan is the god of this sinful world; but God reigns Supreme! To be a part of God's Kingdom, one must obey God's Word. Those who have been born-again have entered into God's Kingdom already. Every believer already has eternal life. A kingdom must have a King. Jesus is our King. To be a part of God's Kingdom means that we are on His side, we have been washed in the blood of the Lamb, we are part of the family in Heaven.
If one reads the various Scriptures in the Bible, it seems that the Kingdom of God has several applications and meanings in a broader sense. For example: Luke 22:18 says, "For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come." This Scripture teaches that the Kingdom of God is a future coming event. Yet, Jesus said in Luke 17:21 that "the kingdom of God is within you." So there seems to be some confusion. I think the answer is clearly that the term, Kingdom of God, has several applications in the Bible; but it all comes down to being part of God's family, i.e., a child of God.
I think it is safe to say in general terms that the Kingdom of God refers to God's rule, power and sovereignty as King. We are His family, heirs with Christ to the Kingdom, and present citizens of Heaven. We are strangers and pilgrims passing through this temporal life.