For a true understanding of the new Testament, it is essential that the "Word of Truth" should be "rightly divided" (2Tim. 2:15) as to the various usages of the word "kingdom" in all the different combinations and contexts in which we find it.
Each has its own peculiar and particular sense, which must not be confused with another.
As to the word basileia, it denotes sovereignty, which requires the actual presence of a sovereign, or king. There can be no kingdom apart from a king. We all know of countries which were once "kingdoms" but are now "republics", for the simple but sufficient reason that they have no "king", but are governed by the "public", which is sovereign.
The countries remain the same, have the same peoples, the same cities, the same mountains and rivers, but they are no longer kingdoms.
The common practice of taking the Kingdom as meaning the Church (See Ap. 113), has been the source of incalculable misunderstanding; and not "trying the things that differ" (Phil. 1:10, see note there) has led to great confusion in the interpretation of the whole of the New Testament.
The following definitions may help towards a clearer view of many important passages :--
1. "The Kingdom of Heaven". The word "heaven" is generally in this connection in the plural, "of (or from) the heavens". For the difference between the use of the singular and plural of this word, see the notes on Matt. 6:9, 10. This expression is used only in the Gospel of Matthew, as being specially in harmony with the purpose of that Gospel. See notes on pp. 1304-5, and Ap. 114.
It is the dispensational term; and is used sometimes of the Messiah's
Kingdom on earth, and sometimes of the heavenly sovereignty over
the earth. It is not from or out of (Gr.
ek, Ap. 104. vii)
"this world" (Gr. kosmos Ap. 129. 1). This sovereignty comes
from heaven, because the King is to come from thence (John 18:36).
It was to this end He was born, and this was the first subject of His ministry
(see Ap. 119). That Kingdom (Matt. 4:17, &c.) was rejected, as
was also the further proclamation of it in Acts 3:19-26 (according to the
prophetic parable of Matt. 22:2-7). Thenceforth the earthly
realization of this Kingdom was postponed, and is now in abeyance until
the King shall be sent from heaven (Acts 3:20). The "secrets" of
this Kingdom (Matt. 13:11) pertained to the postponement of its earthly
realization, on account of its being rejected.
These two would have had their realization even then, had Israel repented
at the summons of the Lord, and of "them that heard Him" in Acts 3:19-26.
In that case the later revelation of the "Mystery" (or the great secret)
which with its exanastasis and its "heavenward Call" (Phil. 3:11,
14), was hidden in God, would have remained in the keeping of the
Father's Divine sovereignty.
This sovereignty had been "kept secret" (Rom. 16:25), "hid in God (Eph. 3:9), "hid from ages and from generations" (Col. 1:25); but after the Kingdom (No. 4) proclaimed by the Lord and by "them that heard Him" (Heb. 2:4) had been postponed, it was revealed and "made known" (Eph. 3) for the "obedience of faith" (Rom. 16:26). The subjects of this Divine sovereignty, on their believing this subsequent revelation, are "sealed" (or designated) for their inheritance, which is to be enjoyed with Christ (Eph. 1:13).
This relates to the position of those who come under that sovereignty.
At the end of the thousand years, No. 1, and perhaps others of
them will cease, and be absorbed in the Kingdom of God (No. 2).