The Kingdom of God
Part 1 of 5 of this bible study

 

When you visit churches, evangelical or not, you will often hear people talking about the Kingdom of God. That's nice, isn't it? But do you know what the Kingdom of God is? Do you understand what Jesus was telling us?

Jesus Himself spoke much about the Kingdom of God, so why shouldn't we? Even more, Jesus told the people that He came to this earth especially for that reason.


Luke 4:43

43 But he said, "I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.".

Later Jesus said that this gospel of the Kingdom of God shall be preached till the end.


Matthew 24:13-14

13 but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.
14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

When is that end? In this context the end is when Jesus comes back.


Matthew 10:22-23

22 All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.
23 When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. I tell you the truth, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

In this context, the end is, when Jesus comes back

We have a responsibility to preach that gospel of the Kingdom of God, till the end, till Jesus comes back. It is important that we learn exactly what we have to preach. For this I can recommend a good book. It explains everything we need to know about the Kingdom of God: The Bible.

Additionally, it's important to know what we're talking about. Jesus encouraged us to seek the Kingdom of God first before doing anything else.


Matthew 6:33

33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Before we start this bible study I want to emphasize that it is not just knowledge what we are seeking. Lots of people are reading books or doing bible studies just to find the answers to their questions, especially as a daily guide. That's not my intention. Of course I need answers to my questions. But do you know what is most important to me? I want to know my Lord better. I want to know what He thinks, what His plans are, not just for me, but for the world, and all people.

Studying His Word, His Love letters to us, I'm growing closer to Him. My love for Him grows. My relationship with my Father becomes deeper as I better understand His deep thoughts. I hope you will all grow in your relationship with Him and not just gather knowledge during these bible study sessions.

Jesus often spoke in parables. The disciples asked Him why.


Matthew 13:10-13

10 The disciples came to him and asked, "Why do you speak to the people in parables?"
11 He replied, "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them.
12 Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.
13 This is why I speak to them in parables: "Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand."

So, the disciples were given the knowledge of the secrets of the Kingdom of God. But their questions were no witness to that knowledge. They didn't understand what Jesus was telling at the time. After Jesus' suffering He explained them for forty days things about the Kingdom of God. Even then they did not understand everything. They asked: Lord are you at this time going to restore the kingdom of Israel? (Acts 1:3 and 6. )
I'm happy they didn't understand as Jesus then explained a few parables. This helps us begin to understand this very important subject.

The Jews who didn't understand those parables, didn't understand because their hearth became 'calloused'.


Matthew 13:15

15 For this people's heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.'

Jesus chose to explain only a few of the parables. Nothing happens by accident in the bible. These few parables contain keys to everything we need to understand.

So, when we want to understand the parables, the deeper meaning of God's message to us about the Kingdom of God, we need to turn to Jesus. With an open heart we can understand God's deeper inner feelings and thoughts. Let's start with the first parable.

The parable of the weeds

This is a very good parable with which to start. Why?
Because Jesus Himself explains what it means. So, this is a piece of cake, don't you think so?
Let's see.


Matthew 13:24-30

The parable

24 Jesus told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field.
25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away.
26 When the wheat sprouted and formed ears, then the weeds also appeared.
27 "The owner's servants came to him and said, `Sir, didn't you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?'
28 "`An enemy did this,' he replied. "The servants asked him, `Do you want us to go and pull them up?'
29 "`No,' he answered, `because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them.
30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.'"


Matthew 13:36-43

The explanation

36 Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, "Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field."
37 He answered, "The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man.
38 The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one,
39 and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.
40 "As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age.
41 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil.
42 They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.

This should be clear now. Is it? Let's review these verses.
The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. (Matthew 13:37 )
For most of us it's clear that the 'Son of Man' is Jesus. This can be confirmed through bible verses. You can write them down, otherwise we lose too much time in this kind of detail. Here they are: Matthew 9:6, 12:40, 16:13-15, 20:18, 26:2 and finally for now Luke 22:47-48.
OK we now know that Jesus is the sower. The field is the world and the good seed stands for the sons of the Kingdom.
Easy isn't it? Or.....?

Who are these sons of the Kingdom? When you read deeper you will see that it is the righteous ones. (vs.43)
So, now we know that the righteous ones are the sons of the kingdom. But... who are the righteous ones? Most times I get the answer: This is us. Not because we did it all right, but through the blood of the Lamb. But then this leads another question: Was it possible for the disciples to understand this at that time? They didn't understand a thing about the 'the blood of the Lamb' then. You see, not everything is that easy to understand. We will leave this point for the moment.....

25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away.
(Matthew 13:25, NIV).

The explanation:
38 The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sows them is the devil.
(Matthew 13:38-39, NIV).

That is something! The devil has his own sons and he sows them amidst the sons of the kingdom. I have been told that the weed is very difficult to distinguish from the corn. You have to be a specialist to see the difference. The corn, the good seed, grows. But the weed also grows. Now we see something very interesting. The owner's servants recognize the weed and want to pull it out. but the owner, Jesus, doesn't want that. What did He say? "No, because while you are pulling out the weeds you may uproot the wheat with them." Isn't that remarkable? The servants can recognize the weed, but are not specialized to pull it out without the chance of pulling out the good seed as wel.


Matthew 13:30

30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.'"

When you think this over, all kinds of questions arise.
Why doesn't Jesus tell the angels, as they are the servants, to let the weed grow and maybe it will become corn (wheat)?
After all, the wheat, that is the children of the Kingdom, must go out to tell everyone the gospel? Who else do they tell but the weed? That is what you expect, isn't it?

Why do we speak about conversion? In this parable this option is excluded. The weed will stay weed and will never become corn. Why doesn't this parable speak about conversion? (Open question)
The corn will be collected and brought into the heavenly barn. vs.43.

When you want to find an answer, it is good to make a Thesis. From that thesis you try to proof what you think is true or false.
In the parable it is not told that we, Christians, are the sons of the Kingdom. We assume this is right. It could be right, but at the same time it may not. Suppose we are the children of the kingdom. In that case we have to find verses in the bible which say this. Where can we find verses about the gathering, the caught up, the rapture of the saints?


1 Thessalonians 4:15-18

15 According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.
16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.
17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord for ever.
18 Therefore encourage each other with these words.

First the dead in Christ will rise! The rest of the Christians who will live at that time will be caught up at that same time and we will all meet our Lord in the sky.

There are a few more verses which are speaking about the same event. We will read those verses now.


1 Corinthians 15:51-54

51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.
53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.
54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory."


Matthew 24:40-41

40 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left.
41 Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.

So, what we see is that the believers will be caught up, out of the world, while the unbelievers will stay behind.

Now, back to the parable. Jesus told the people that the servants will first collect the weeds. Then the weeds will be tied in bundles. The wheat and the corn will be gathered and brought into His heavenly barn. Isn't that strange? This doesn't fit! What is it that doesn't fit, what doesn't seem right? Is it possible that the gathering of the saints, the Christians, is not the same as the harvest?
What is the harvest and when will that be? Jesus explains that the harvest is the end of the age. (vs 39.) When is the end of the age? Is that at the time the believers will be caught up to Jesus? And what will happen after that enormous event?

Revelation speaks about these things. Not everything written in Revelation is easy to understand, but I think you will basically understand chapter 20 and 21. Let's read that.


Revelation 20:1-15

1 And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain.
2 He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years.
3 He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations any more until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time.
4 I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshipped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
5 (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection.
6 Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.
7 When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison
8 and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth --Gog and Magog --to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore.
9 They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God's people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them.
10 And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulphur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them.
12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.
13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done.
14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.
15 If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.


Revelation 21:1-8

1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.
2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.
3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.
4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."
5 He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true."
6 He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life.
7 He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son.
8 But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars--their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulphur. This is the second death."
(rev 21,1-8).

What a story. This is not a minor subject but something very big. The first earth and heaven, where we live now, shall perish. A new earth shall be created. And God will live between His people.
But before all we just read occurs there will be many problems. For instance: the great tribulation. Lots of people who don't want to worship the beast will be killed. As we just read: they will come to life in the first resurrection and will reign together with Christ for a thousand years. Wow!

Since we read about a first resurrection it follows that there must be at least a second resurrection. As we read, this resurrection will be at the end of the thousand years. This part of chapter 20 tells us about judgment day. All those who are resurrected will be judged by what was written in the books - according to what they had done.

How will we, believers, be judged? Will it be according to what we have done? I'm grateful to understand that it will not be like this. There are many verses which explain this point. I choose a few verses of Romans 5:


Romans 5:8-9

8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him!
We are justified by the blood of Jesus and saved from God's wrath through Jesus.
Thanks to the blood we will not be judged at judgment day, but we will participate in the first resurrection. After that first resurrection there comes a period of a thousand years of peace. Jesus will sit on His throne in Jerusalem and together with all the saints He will reign over the world. (Think of this:
A thousand years is for God is as one day. After 6000 years of working, 6 days, the Sabbath comes!) 2 Peter 3:8 .

Lets go back to the parable, but keep your finger at Revelation 20.


Matthew 13:40-42

Jesus explains: 40 "As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age.
41 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil.
42 They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

We read something similar in Revelation 21


Revelation 21:8

8 But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars, their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulphur. This is the second death."

In the parable Jesus explains that first the weed will be gathered to be burned and after that He will bring the good wheat into His barn. This will all happen at the end of the ages, or as we also say: at the end of times.

I want to ask you again the question: Who are the children of the Kingdom? Is it right and easy to say: that are we, the believers?

I think that our Thesis turned out not to be true. We, believers, will not be gathered at the end of the ages, but a thousand years earlier, at the first resurrection.

Who are the children of the Kingdom? We can find an answer to that in the bible, but before we do we must dig a little further. First, let's study a few more parables.

Let's summarize what we have found up to now. We made the Thesis that we, Christians, in the parable of the weed in the field, are the children of the Kingdom. That's what most of us have always been taught, so why not? We found out that the children of the Kingdom are gathered just before the coming of a new heaven and a new earth. Above all this we have seen that the weed is to be pulled out first. This doesn't match with what we know about the raising of the dead believers and the changing of the living believers. When this rapture happens, the 'other' people will be left. I think it is clear now, that the children of the Kingdom, which will be gathered a thousand years later, are not the same as the Christians.

The question: "Who are they?" isn't answered yet. The question which comes up now, "How do we see ourselves" isn't even asked. We will talk about these questions. But first we will dig into some other parables.


Go to part 2 of the biblestudy about the Kingdom of God. Go to the parable of the weeds Back to the top


This is the end of part 1

Acts 1:3 and 6

3 After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. 6 So when they met together, they asked him, "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?"

Matthew 13:37

He answered, "The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man.

2 Peter 3:8

8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.