KJV Luke 17 : 20 - 21

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: 21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

At one time when Christ is questioned by the Pharisees about the coming of the Kingdom of God he clearly tells them it will not be observed/seen because it is within

But when talking to another Pharisee named Nicodemus Christ actually tells him unless he is born again he shall not see the kingdom of God

KJV John 3 : 3

Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

Again in Mark 9 he promises that some will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.

KJV Mark 9 : 1

And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power.

Seeing that the kingdom cannot be observed/seen how will these see it?

3 Answers 3


The three verses are all saying something related but still distinct.

Luke 17:20, 21

Barnes makes the most helpful remarks here:

for behold, the kingdom of God is within you — It is an internal, spiritual kingdom; erected in the hearts of men, consisting in the subjection of their wills to the will of God, and in the conformity of their minds to his laws. Wherever it exists, it exists in men’s hearts. See Romans 14:17. Or, as our Lord was addressing the Jews, and especially the Pharisees, and cannot be understood as speaking of the power his kingdom had gained over their hearts, whose temper was entirely alienated from the nature and design of it; the clause, perhaps, ought rather to be rendered,

The kingdom of God is among you. Thus Beza, Raphelius, Whitby, Doddridge, and many others understand it: namely, as signifying that the Messiah’s kingdom began now to appear among them, the gospel of the kingdom being now preached, miracles, in confirmation of it, being wrought, and the grace of God, which accompanied it, turning many sinners from the evil of their ways, and transforming them into the divine image. Thus Grotius paraphrases the passage, “Already among you;” that is, “among this very Jewish people, that kingdom begins to exert its power; you not observing it, and an evident sign of this are miracles.

John 3:3

In confirmation of the above, Jesus' statement to Nicodemus in John 3:3 is significant because He says:

Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

Note the Jesus essentially says that those who are not born again cannot see the kingdom of God; by contrast, those who are born again will see the kingdom of God. Based on the above statements in Luke 17:21, 22 it is not difficult to see why: unless a person is born again (converted to the service of Christ), a person will be blissfully ignorant of the spiritual realities that can so dramatically change a person for the better. Only Jesus' servants will experience this change of life.

Mark 9:1

Concerning what Jesus said in Mark 9:1 and Matt 16:28, see "Until they see the kingdom of God" in Luke 9:27 and parallels


Analyzing Matthew 16:28, Is the Kingdom of the Christ established?


Thus, only those involved directly in the kingdom of God understand it and recognize it. Those who are unconverted do not understand and thus the kingdom of God is invisible to them. This will suddenly change at the second coming of Jesus, but a visible manifestation of the kingdom of God was given earlier during the time of Jesus as discussed in the attached references.


In all three texts, the consistent truth Jesus was referring to is that the Kingdom of God cannot be seen with our literal eyes. He worded his statements so as to get them thinking about that.

He did not come out with a blunt, "Nobody can see the Kingdom of God with their physical eyes". He spoke to people in such a way as to challenge their established concepts (where they were wrong). The error with all those people was that they supposed the Kingdom of God would be like the kingdom of Israel, or the kingdom of Greece, or the empire of Rome - with an appointed, visible king, emperor, or ruler. They couldn't get beyond mere human ideas about a kingdom. They thought it would have territory - a dominion with borders - and armies to defend or expand those borders. The Israelites thought the Messiah would come with great power and pomp, to overthrow the Roman empire and re-establish the throne of David, with its base in Jerusalem.

In the first text, Jesus answered those who despised him (for appearing to lack authority to claim to be the Messiah). They were looking in the wrong place because this Kingdom of God is based in the heart of humans who are subjects of the King (himself). Thus, they would never see it till they repented and understood him to be the promised King.

In the second text, Nicodemus believed God was "with" Jesus, who wanted to move Nicodemus on in his understanding. So, he challenged him to consider that he would never see the Kingdom of God unless he was "born again" (or, "born from above"). Nicodemus remained in a literal mode of thinking, and just did not get it. Jesus was not speaking of literal birth any more than he was speaking of an earthly Kingdom. He spoke of spiritual new birth and a spiritual Kingdom. Jesus went on to explain that "as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life." That eternal life is the portion of all who are brought into the Kingdom of God by the invisible working of the Holy Spirit. We have all been 'bitten' by the 'snake' of sin, and only by looking in faith to Christ raised up can our sin be dealt with, so that we might enter into the Kingdom of God.

The third text points to an event that followed Jesus' statement here. Some of the disciples were taken up into a mountain where they saw Jesus glorified, supernaturally, Moses and Elijah appearing beside him. For that brief time, they got a glimpse of the glory of the King of God's Kingdom. Now, those who don't think that is the meaning, might point to an event later on, when they saw the resurrected Jesus. Either way, a privileged few got to see beyond the humanity of Christ, to his celestial glory.

As Jesus is the King of God's Kingdom (which is not earthly - it's heavenly - even though it will have permanent effect on the New Earth created after the Day of Judgment), the only way to 'enter' into that Kingdom is to become a subject of its King. Once the glorified Christ reigns in our hearts, minds, and lives, we "see" what this Kingdom means. When we step out of time and enter eternity, we will be in the heavenly realm where all heaven and its inhabitants are "in" that Kingdom.


If I explain to you that there is the same amount of ascents as there are descents, I can then ask you: “Do you see it?” And you answer, “Easily!”, but of course you do not see all those ascents and descents with your physical eyes, but mind’s eyes.

Thus, given that “seeing” has different dimensions and semantics, we can say that the Kingdom of Heavens is not seen by physical eyes, that can but see through sunlight or electric light mediation, but the invisible Kingdom can be viewed by mind’s and heart’s eyes, even during an impenetrable night, for absence of the sunlight does in no manner block or hamper the presence of the uncreated divine light - the grace of Christ, the presence of which in our hearts accounts to our spiritual vision and apprehension of the Heavenly Kingdom, that is closer to us than our own skin.

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