Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained Bible teacher. She writes many articles that are Bible lessons.
Some people say, "the kingdom of God" and some people say, "the kingdom of heaven." Only one of the gospel writers used "the kingdom of heaven" while the other three used "the kingdom of God." So, which is correct? Were they talking about two different things?
Theologically, the kingdom of God and the kingdom of heaven are both the same. Matthew was the only gospel writer who used the kingdom of God while Mark, Luke, and John only used the kingdom of heaven.
Kingdom of Heaven in the Gospels
Matthew mentioned the kingdom of heaven about 29 times. Since he is the only gospel writer who mentions the kingdom of heaven, you might be wondering why he preferred using that particular phrase.
The answer might be that Matthew was a Jew writing to the Jews about a Jew. Therefore, he avoided using the sacred name of God out of reverence and respect when speaking to his Jewish audience so he would not offend them. He used the kingdom of heaven to represent God without using His divine name. In other words, he substituted the word "heaven" for "God."
By now you should know three things about the kingdom of God and the kingdom of heaven.
- The kingdom of God and the kingdom of heaven mean the same thing.
- Matthew is the only one who used the kingdom of heaven out of respect and reverence to God and not to offend his Jewish audience.
- Mark, Luke, and John used the kingdom of heaven and never used the kingdom of God.
John the Baptist preached only one sermon, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2).
Jesus did other preaching and teachings, but his topic was more about the kingdom than love, faith, belief, forgiveness, sin, and salvation. During His three-year ministry, one-third of His teachings were in parables. He taught 55 parables, and 12 of His kingdom parables are in the Gospel of Matthew. Seven of them are in Matthew 13. Jesus' other kingdom parables are in Matthew 20, 22, and 25. A few of them are in the other three gospels.
What Is the Kingdom of God/Kingdom of Heaven?
Whether you say, "the kingdom of God" or "the kingdom of heaven," you are talking about the same thing. You are referring to the reign, rule, and sovereignty of God as king. Because God is omnipresent, He is everywhere. That means the kingdom of God is everywhere.
This writer believes and teaches some concepts about the kingdom.
- Some people believe the kingdom of God is yet to come based on what we say in the model prayer, also known as the Lord's prayer. We pray, "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven" (Matthew 6:10). That is a petition for the kingdom of God to come here on earth to be like it is in heaven with no evil just as it is in heaven.
- Some people believe that the kingdom of God is already here on earth. In some of Jesus' teachings, He states that He brought the kingdom of God when He came to earth. He made the assertion that He was the full embodiment of the kingdom.
- Some people believe the kingdom is partial, ongoing, and not of this world, but it will be complete when Jesus returns for the saints during His Second Coming.
- Some believers say the kingdom of God is within their hearts, and they are living their lives based on that belief.
- Matthew 6:33 is an appeal for people to "seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto them" so God can be the king of kings in their personal lives.
Should Kingdom of God and Kingdom of Heaven Be Capitalized?
Kingdom of God and kingdom of heaven are not capitalized in the scriptures. Kingdom is not capitalized unless it is in a headline or the beginning of a sentence. God is always capitalized because the word is a proper noun. Heaven is capitalized in a headline and at the beginning of a sentence. Like kingdom, it is not capitalized in the Bible.
Some people do capitalize the phrases this way: Kingdom of God and Kingdom of Heaven. However, in keeping with the way the words are written in the Bible, "kingdom" and "heaven" are not capitalized in this article.