In the Old Testament, what made Israel distinct from all other nations was that it was a theocracy. In other words, it was ruled directly by God (Isaiah 43:15). Later in Israel's history, they wanted to be like the other nations of the world, to be ruled by an earthly king (1 Samuel 8:5‑19). So God granted their request and chose for them a king named Saul (1 Samuel 10:24‑25). Later, because of Saul's disobedience, God raised up David to be king, a man after His own heart (Acts 13:21‑22 and 1 Kings 15:3).
The king was to be the visible representative of the invisible God (Deuteronomy 17:14‑20). When the king followed the Lord, he and his kingdom would prosper. When the king failed to follow the Lord, he and his kingdom would go into captivity and ruin (1 Samuel 15:22‑23).
When God chose a king, He would send a prophet to anoint that one with oil. This typified the Holy Spirit coming upon this one to empower and anoint him to rule. At this time, the Spirit of God would come upon him and change his heart to rule in righteousness, for God was with him (1 Samuel 10:1, 6‑7, and 9). This anointing to rule (or to be king) is where the idea of the Messiah comes from. The word "anointed" in Hebrew is Mashiac (Messiah) and translated christos (Christ) in Greek. The Old Testament prophets prophesied that in the future, the Messiah (or Anointed One) would come, and the God of heaven would set up a kingdom which would never be destroyed (Daniel 2:44, 7:14, and 27). In the Scriptures, if you notice, Jesus never explained to the Jews what He meant when speaking about the kingdom. It was an Old Testament concept that they were already looking for (Isaiah 9:6‑7, 11:1‑6; Daniel 2:44, 7:13‑14, 18, and 27).
It is impossible to understand the message of Jesus without a basic understanding of the kingdom. The kingdom was the message that Jesus spoke and the only one He instructed His disciples to preach (Mark 1:14‑15, Luke 9:1‑2, Acts 28:23‑31, Luke 16:16, and Matthew 24:14). This message was also referred to as "salvation" or the offer of "eternal life" (Hebrews 2:3; Matthew 19:16 cp., 19:23; Acts 28:23‑24, 28, and 30‑31). Within the phrase "the kingdom of God" is the idea of a group of people that would be ruled by God. In order to enter God's kingdom, conditions had to be met. A change of heart was required. This change of heart is what the Bible calls repentance. It was a change of heart toward God; that is, it was a turning away from Satan, sin and its ways, unto God, Christ and His ways. As one turns, God offers (as a gift through Jesus' shed blood) the forgiveness of sins and everlasting life (Romans 6:23). This "good news" is referred to as the "Gospel of grace" or the preaching of the "kingdom of God" (Acts 20:24‑25). The kingdom of God is characterized by grace (Matthew 20:1‑16) and has come quietly and secretly in the ministry of Jesus (Matthew 13:33). It will one day in the future come to a glorious and visible consummation (Matthew 13:36‑43).
- Read Daniel 2:44."And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever. - Daniel 2:44The Old Testament prophets prophesied that in the future, the Messiah (or Anointed One) would come, and the God of heaven would set up a kingdom which:
- would last for 1,000 years.
- would never be destroyed.
- would be temporal.
- Read Matthew 4:17, 23."17From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. 23And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people." - Matthew 4:17, 23What was Jesus' message?Answer
- Read Mark 1:14‑15."14Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel." - Mark 1:14‑15Jesus preached the Gospel of the kingdom of God.Answer
- Read Luke 4:43.And he said unto them, I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also: for therefore am I sent." - Luke 4:43The reason that Jesus was sent from God was to preach the kingdom of God.Answer
- Read John 4:25."The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things." - John 4:25In the Scriptures, Jesus never explained to the Jews what He meant when speaking about the kingdom. It was an Old Testament concept that they:
- knew little about.
- thought would never come.
- were already looking for.
- Read Luke 9:1‑2."1Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. 2And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick." - Luke 9:1‑2What three things did the twelve disciples do?Answer
- Read Luke 10:1‑2, 8‑9."1After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come. 2Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest. 8And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you: 9And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you." - Luke 10:1‑2, 8‑9What message did Jesus tell the seventy to proclaim?Answer
- Read Luke 23:2."And they began to accuse him, saying, We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, saying that he himself is Christ a King." - Luke 23:2According to the Jews' own definition, the word "Christ" means one that is a King.Answer
- Read Acts 17:7."Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus." - Acts 17:7Contrary to Roman law, the Jews said that the Apostle Paul taught that there was another King one Jesus.Answer
- Read Acts 19:8‑10."8And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God. 9But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus. 10And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks." - Acts 19:8‑10Paul spoke boldly in Ephesus disputing and persuading others concerning the kingdom of God.Answer
- Read Acts 28:23‑31."23And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening. 24And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not. 25And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers, 26Saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive: 27For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. 28Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it. 29And when he had said these words, the Jews departed, and had great reasoning among themselves. 30And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, 31Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him." - Acts 28:23‑31In verse 31, what was it that the Apostle Paul was preaching?Answer
- Read Matthew 24:14."And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come." - Matthew 24:14What is the message that is to be preached in all the world?Answer
- Read Acts 20:24‑25."24But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. 25And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more." - Acts 20:24‑25Sometimes the Gospel of the kingdom is referred to as the Gospel of the grace of God.Answer
- Read Luke 16:16."The law and the prophets were until John : since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it." - Luke 16:16It is impossible to understand the message of Jesus without a basic understanding of the kingdom. The kingdom was the message that Jesus spoke and the only one He instructed His disciples to:
- Read Matthew 6:10."Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven." - Matthew 6:10Basically, the kingdom of God is the rule of God. How is this expressed in this verse?Answer
- Read Colossians 1:13‑14."13Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: 14In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins." - Colossians 1:13‑14Read Romans 14:9.Within the phrase "the kingdom of God" is the idea of a group of people that would:"For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living." - Romans 14:9
- ask Jesus into their hearts
- accept God's rule (and reject Satan's) and receive His forgiveness.
- join the church
- Read Matthew 4:17."From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." - Matthew 4:17In order to enter God's kingdom, a change of heart is required. This change of heart is what the Bible calls:
- works of the Law.
- Read Acts 26:18."To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me." - Acts 26:18Have you turned from darkness to light, from the power (authority or rule) of Satan unto God to receive the forgiveness of your sins?Answer
- Read Ezekiel 36:26‑27."26A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 27And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them." - Ezekiel 36:26‑27Read Acts 11:15‑18.Have you been given a new heart and a new spirit that causes you to walk in God's ways?"15And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. 16Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost. 17Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God? 18When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life." - Acts 11:15‑18
- Read Luke 18:13‑14."13And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 14I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted." - Luke 18:13‑14Have you called upon God for the forgiveness of your sins?