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Some assert the Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of God refer to the same thing while others say they are different. Which is accurate?

For example: Luke 17:21 uses Kingdom of God while Matthew 11:11 uses Kingdom of Heaven.

Inspired by this question: Is synoptic parallelism a valid hermeneutic?

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The "Kingdom of Heaven" is the inauguration of the New Covenant on earth without the activation of the visible theocracy of God on earth. The "Kingdom of God" is the visible theocracy of God on earth, whether in the past (under the Old Covenant) or yet in the future (under the New Covenant). –  Joseph Feb 27 '13 at 4:48
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The Hebrew word שמיים (shamayim), which is translated into English, is what is known in Judaism as a כנוי (kinnui), or a "substitute," "nickname."

The reason why Matthew uses "kingdom of Heaven" more often than "kingdom of God" is because he wrote to a Jewish audience, and the Jews did not pronounce the Tetragrammaton יהוה, and sometimes not even the word אלוהים (elohim). For example, today, Jews do not say אלוהים (elohim), but rather, אלוקים (elokim), and certainly never the Tetragrammaton.

Rather than pronouncing those, they used "substitutes." Some of these substitutes include:

  • מקום (makom), i.e. "Place"
  • גבורה (gevurah), i.e. "Power"
  • שמיים (shamayim), i.e. "Heaven"

So, when Daniel (Dan. 4:26) wrote שַׁלִּטִן שְׁמַיָּא, it doesn't mean that "the heavens rule," but that "Heaven rules," for the Aramaic שְׁמַיָּא, like the Hebrew שמיים, was used by Daniel as a substitute for the Tetragrammaton. So, we see this practice occurring already in the Babylonian captivity, long before Christ.

I wrote a long paper on this subject, but it's gone. :( Deleted off my HD.

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I thought ribbono shel 'olam was more common than shamayim for this purpose in rabbinic discourse of the time? –  Gone Quiet Feb 20 '13 at 18:45
    
Talmud is replete with occurrences of שמיים being used as a name of God, as well as the other words. One example: Brakhot 33b. הכל בידי שמים חוץ מיראת שמים, that is, "Everything is in the hand of 'Heaven' except the fear of 'Heaven.' Both occurrences of 'Heaven' mean 'God.' –  H3br3wHamm3r81 Feb 20 '13 at 18:55
    
Ok, thanks. (That particular one I knew. :-) ) Maybe I'll do a comparative search later. –  Gone Quiet Feb 20 '13 at 19:00
    
I don't know which is more common, but they're both definitely used. What will you be searching for exactly? –  H3br3wHamm3r81 Feb 20 '13 at 19:06
    
I figured I'd start by searching for "ribbono" and "shamayim", then see if I get too many false positives on the latter. –  Gone Quiet Feb 20 '13 at 19:09
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Some say the "Kingdom of Heaven" refers to the a physical/political kingdom on earth while the "Kingdom of God" is the spiritual, coming reign of Christ.

Arguments against the two being the same often come down to hair splitting and misinterpretation of verses. For example, the site listed above relies on a single verse in an attempt to say they are different. In Luke 17:21, Jesus says "the kingdom of God is within you" (KJV). They then argue that since Matthew 11:12 says the Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence and is taken by force that the two cannot be the same (who can take the kingdom from within you?). The site only addresses where the terms are used interchangeably to blow them off by saying "they will be the same in the future."

However, it can be seen that Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of God refer to the same thing. "Kingdom of Heaven" is found 31 times, only in the Gospel of Matthew. "Kingdom of God" is found 62 times in ten books of the New Testament (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, Romans, 1 Corinthians, Galatians, Colossians, and 2 Thessalonians).

When the parallel accounts in the synoptic gospels are compared, whenever Matthew uses Kingdom of Heaven, the other will use Kingdom of God. Given the Jewish nature of Matthew's Gospel (Matthew never explains Jewish customs and traces the genealogy of Christ to Abraham where Luke, written for a gentile audience, continues back to Adam) and the Jewish habit of circumlocution in references to God*, "Kingdom of Heaven" would be preferable for the author and his intended audience.

*See especially the note about ultra-orthodox Jews never pronouncing the names.

Compare the following verses (all taken from the NET Bible):

Matthew 11:11 “I tell you the truth, among those born of women, no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he is. 11:12 From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and forceful people lay hold of it.

Luke 7:28 I tell you, among those born of women no one is greater than John. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he is.”


Matthew 13:11 He replied, “You have been given the opportunity to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but they have not.

Mark 4:11 He said to them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those outside, everything is in parables,

Luke 8:10 He said, “You have been given the opportunity to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that although they see they may not see, and although they hear they may not understand.


Matthew 13:24 He presented them with another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a person who sowed good seed in his field.

Mark 4:26; He also said, “The kingdom of God is like someone who spreads seed on the ground.


Matthew 13:31 He gave them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field.

Mark 4:30, 31 He also asked, “To what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable can we use to present it? It is like a mustard seed that when sown in the ground,

Luke 13:18, 19; Thus Jesus asked, “What is the kingdom of God like? To what should I compare it? It is like a mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his garden.


Matthew 13:33 He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of flour until all the dough had risen.”

Luke 13:20, 21; Again he said, “To what should I compare the kingdom of God? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of flour until all the dough had risen.” 


Matthew 18:3 and said, “I tell you the truth, 1  unless you turn around and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven!

Mark 10:15 I tell you the truth, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.”

Luke 18:17; I tell you the truth, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.”

In each instance, Matthew used the phrase “kingdom of heaven” while Mark and/or Luke used “kingdom of God.” The obvious conclusion is that the two phrases refer to the same thing.

Within Matthew, the terms are used interchangeably on occasion. After the rich young ruler has left, Jesus says to the disciples, 19:23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven! 19:24 Again I say, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter into the kingdom of God.” Clearly, even Matthew considers the terms parallel.

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No, it should not be translated as "the kingdom of God is among you." Although I used to think the same thing, but it's untenable. See this article: syrcom.cua.edu/Hugoye/Vol12No2/HV12N2Ramelli.pdf. I do agree that "kingdom of God" = "kingdom of Heaven." No disputing that. –  H3br3wHamm3r81 Feb 20 '13 at 17:46
    
@H3br3wHamm3r81, I removed the reference to "within/among." Interesting article. Just in reference to your final statement, I used to be astonished by how indisputable things were disputed by people disputed but am no longer surprised. –  Frank Luke Feb 20 '13 at 19:02
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I don't know what you just said. lol jk :) –  H3br3wHamm3r81 Feb 20 '13 at 19:04
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In rightly dividing the truth, some seek a literal & political Kingdom on earth, while others seek a spiritual realty; hopefully all believers seek the two – spiritual first. For the physical will pass away -

"Heaven and earth will pass away (Physical), but my words will never pass away." Matt 24:35

An example, Judas sought a physical empire, and when his dreams were dashed after the saviors sentence…his internal tortures lead to finding some rope and a tree.

Matt 3:33 states: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God (Spiritual), and his righteousness; and all these things (Physical) shall be added unto you.”

Luke wrote Acts in order to understand the 'Physical' churches beginnings as he stated of his gospel...

“The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which he was taken up" Acts 1:1-2.

Further, eyewitness (not Luke / Mark) accounts have seen and touched the Christ, conversely 2nd hand accounts have not. respective each accounts minds are most likely centered on different aspects of earthly and heavenly realms. This does not negate the need or desire to understand both from all gospel writers, but should giveaway to the necessity to amply prescribe clairvoyance to spiritual matters. The basis for my finding's is below.

Matthew is a:

  • 1st hand account of Christ’s life
  • Written circa: A.D. 50
  • Jewish
  • Writes having seen the physical (living, dead, & resurrected Christ) & desires to see the "Spiritual-kingdom"

Example 1: “ …your kingdom come, your will be done on earth (acknowledges the physical) as it is in heaven. (looks for the spiritual)” (Matthew 6:10 NIV)

Luke is a:

  • 2nd hand account to Christ’s life
  • Written circa: A.D. 63
  • Non-Jewish
  • Writes in hopes to understand a physical eye witness testimony, & desires to see the “Physical-Kingdom”

Example 2: “…your kingdom come. (desires to see the physical - no mention of the spiritual)” (Luke 11:2 NIV)

From the Judicial side: The US federal rules of evidence requires lay witnesses to have personal knowledge of the matters they testify about. It is an affidavit that is based on personal knowledge, unless the affiant makes clear that a statement relies on “information and belief”.

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Are you saying Luke has no interest in spiritual matters? That's not the case. tupamahu.blogspot.com/2007/09/… For example, Luke has 17 references to the Holy Spirit while Matthew only has 12. Just before the Ascension, Jesus tells the disciples they will be clothed with power from on high (24:49). See also Acts 1:1-28:30 for more of Luke's spiritual interest. Luke wrote a whole book on how the Spirit empowers believers. –  Frank Luke Feb 20 '13 at 20:02
    
Of course Luke is concerned with spiritual items - It’s ludicrous to think otherwise. My implication takes the text and implies the writers, both 1st and 2nd hand accounts, express different positions from their vantage point. As stated above, "the US Judicai/Federal rules of evidence requires lay witnesses to have personal knowledge of the matters they testify about. –  Derek Scott Feb 21 '13 at 19:35
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Can you explain more clearly how your answer relates to the question? What shows that these kingdoms are the same or different? –  Frank Luke Feb 22 '13 at 3:29
    
I believe this is as strong a point as possbile, as this is taken directly from the writer Luke. Luke wrote Acts in order to understand the 'Physical' churches beginnings as he stated of his gospel...“The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which he was taken up" Acts 1. Note changes above too. –  Derek Scott Feb 25 '13 at 19:20
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-1. Luke's explanation for how the Church has grown is centered around the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. See Acts 2, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 19. And you shouldn't hang your findings on Luke 11:2 when Luke's Gospel speaks more of the Holy Spirit and it's actions than Matthew. –  Frank Luke Feb 25 '13 at 21:18
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TWO KINGDOMS SIMILAR

In the Bible, there are two different kingdoms that are mentioned. These two kingdoms are the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of God.

(Matthew 3:1-2 [KJV]) 1 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, 2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (Mark 1:14-15 [KJV]) 14 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.

(Matt 13:11 [KJV]) He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. (Luke 8:10 [KJV]) And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.

(Matt 13:33 [KJV]) Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened. (Luke 13:20-21 [KJV]) And again he said, Whereunto shall I liken the kingdom of God? It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.

Although the statements are similar, it is very important that you understand these two kingdoms are NOT the same!

DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE KINGDOMS

Kingdom of God: (Luke 17:20-21 [KJV]) And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

(Rom 14:17 [KJV]) For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

Paul said the kingdom of God is not physical like meat and drink, but rather this kingdom is concerning spiritual things like righteousness, peace, and joy which you cannot see!

Kingdom of Heaven: (Matt 11:12 [KJV]) And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. The kingdom of heaven is a piece of land that has a man ruling over it as king somewhere on this earth.

THE TWO KINGDOMS DEFINED


The kingdom of heaven is an earthly kingdom with a man as its king that is doing the will of God. Notice what Jesus says about the kingdom of heaven in Matthew 6:10. There Jesus said, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” In the millennium, God will establish the kingdom of heaven. Then Jesus Christ will be the King of the world and God’s will shall be done on earth as it is currently done in heaven.

The kingdom of God is a spiritual kingdom that is present when the righteousness of God is present, thus allowing God to have control. Matthew 6:33, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

ENTRANCE TO THE KINGDOMS

Kingdom of God: (John 3:3 [KJV]) 3Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Kingdom of Heaven: (Matt 25:31-33 [KJV]) 31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: 32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: 33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. These are the survivors of the tribulation no new birth required to enter the kingdom of heaven.

POPULATION OF THE KINGDOMS

Kingdom of God: (John 3:3 [KJV]) 3Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Kingdom of Heaven: (Matt 13:41-43 [KJV]) 41 The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; 42 And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear. Here some people who are in the kingdom of heaven but get cast into the Lake of fire because of iniquity. If both kingdoms are the same everyone is subject to possibly losing their salvation.

THE DURATION OF THE KINGDOMS

Kingdom of God: (Heb 1:8-12 [KJV]) 8 But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. 9Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. 10 And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: 11 They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; 12 And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail. Kingdom of Heaven: (Rev 20:4 [KJV]) 4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

THE PURPOSE OF THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN

(1Cor 15:24-25 [KJV]) 24 Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. 25 For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.

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The Kingdom of God (KOG) implies a person or group of people --the church-- who do the will of God in complete submission. (The individual is the smallest unit of KOG.) No one can do the will of God without the Holy Ghost. So a person or group of people who have the Holy Ghost in him/them and listen to His voice comprise the KOG. In short you are the kingdom of God.

Thus when Jesus taught us to pray "thy kingdom come," the thought is, "make me thy kingdom." In other words, "may I accept you as my king and do only what you want me to do. * At the same time please note that you are not the kingdom of Heaven * , The kingdom of Heaven awaits you after death because Kingdom of Heaven is what God the father has promised and planned for you. That is why it is important to differentiate both.

In the Old Testament, the Kingdom of God had referred to Israel whereas in the New Testament it is the believer or the church. Please note that a believer or the church is the new Israel.

Matt 21:43 (KJV)
43Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.

Therefore the New Testament Kingdom of God is the believer or the church.

Rom 14:17 (KJV)
17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

Matt 6:33 (KJV)
33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God , and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

On the other hand, the Kingdom of Heaven (KOH) is used by Jesus when he wanted to reveal the plan of salvation of the Father, or His character. For example -

Matt 11:12 (KJV)
12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.

The Father's plan of salvation was for the Jews. When Jesus came, many people (besides Jews) had believed in Him for salvation. "Violent people" therefore are those with great faith.

Matt 22:1 (KJV)
1The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. He sent out his slaves to summon those invited to the banquet, but they didn't want to come. Again, he sent out other slaves, and said, Tell those who are invited: Look, I've prepared my dinner; my oxen and fattened cattle have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet. But they paid no attention and went away, one to his own farm, another to his business. And the others seized his slaves, treated them outrageously and killed them. The king was enraged, so he sent out his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned down their city. Then he told his slaves, The banquet is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Therefore go to where the roads exit the city and invite everyone you find to the banquet. So those slaves went out on the roads and gathered everyone they found, both evil and good. The wedding banquet was filled with guests. But when the king came in to view the guests, he saw a man there who was not dressed for a wedding. So he said to him, Friend, how did you get in here without wedding clothes?' The man was speechless, then the king told the attendants, Tie him up hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are invited, but few are chosen.

The parable discusses the wedding of the son and all whom the father (king) is planning to invite. Please note that it is the father (king) who decides the attendees.

Of course in some parables the kingdom of heaven and Kingdom of God are interchanged by the Gospel writers. Kingdom of God can be interchanged with Kingdom of Heaven because the holy spirit life also is a part of the fathers plan,

Matt 04:17 (KJV)
17From that time on Jesus began to preach, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near."

It means God (the Father's) plan of salvation for his people has come and for he had sent Jesus and the holyspirit. The same way Kingdom of God is near means the Holy Spirit is going to be given to the people of this world and the Holy Spirit is going to dwell in us.

But wherever Jesus wanted to talk about the fathers plan alone we will find that Kingdom of Heaven cannot be interchanged with Kingdom of God . the above instances are examples.

One may take any parable based on KOG (Kingdom of the Holy Ghost) or KOH (God the Father's plan & His nature) and try to interpret them in both ways: either what Jesus reveals concerning the Holy Ghost and/or what He wants to tell us about the Father's nature and plan for us. However the specific ones concerning the Kingdom of Heaven are only to describe the Father's plan of salvation for man.

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While I do not agree with your summary, I did made some edits to improve the diction and provide the format and links to Bible references. Please use this format in the future. Also, please write with as little assumptions as possible, since many people with different opinions view this site. In other words, please make your statements as "tight" as possible with as little assumptions and conjecture as possible. Thanks! –  Joseph Jun 16 at 14:21
    
@Joseph , I have tried to explain further . Let me know your thoughts. –  Anoop Koshy Jun 24 at 12:45
    
I made some edits to improve the diction, but you need to tighten the flow of thought - can you edit again to make the thoughts more smooth? I need to eat the food without chewing. Thanks! –  Joseph Jun 24 at 12:59
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