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At Hand Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand (Matt. 4:17) Also see Be sure of this, that the Kingdom of God is come nigh unto you. (Luke 10:11). The Greek is gar eggiken e basileia ton ouranon ("for at hand the kingdom of heaven"). Notice the order in Greek, placing "at hand" first for emphasis. (George R. Berry, Interlinear Greek New Testament)

A casual reading of this verse would place the next order of events to be the establishment of the Kingdom of Heaven. The same word "at hand" was used of Disciples nearing an inn to stay for for the night because the village was "at hand." (Luke 24:28, eggisan, Gk.) The meaning implies immanence, so near that it was practical to expect housing that night.

Postponed But we have been instructed by followers of J.N. Darby, founder of the Dispensationalism sect, that the refusal of the Jews to accept Jesus as Messiah (Anointed Ruler) caused the Kingdom to be postponed! They insist that Jesus's intent was to establish a physical, political reign in Jerusalem, but since that didn't pan out, there is going to be a future attempt with Jerusalem as the world headquarters. They teach that the fulfilment of prophecy for Jewry is in regard to physical, not spiritual entities. This future Kingdom's establishment will involve apocalyptic struggles and the rise of Mean Dudes (antichrists, beasts, false prophets, etc.)

This teaching is accomplished by separating the Kingdom of God from the Kingdom of Heaven. Footnote on page 1003, Scofield Reference Bible, 1917:

The Kingdom of God is to be distinguished from the Kingdom of heaven in five respects...

The Bible seems, however, to equate the Kingdom of Heaven with the Kingdom of God: Matthew 11:11 and Luke 7:28 both deal with the least in the kingdom, and the synoptic writers mix the two together! They are presented as the same. But the Dispensationalists insist:

"The Kingdom of heaven...signifies the Messianic earth rule of Jesus Christ...and it will be set up after the destruction by 'the stone cut out without hands' of the Gentile world system." (footnote (1), p. 996). Scofield stated that the "at hand" verbage meant "from the beginning of the ministry of John the Baptist to the virtual rejection of the King." It is only the mysteries of the kingdom that apply to the Church age. But the real "prophetic aspect, the kingdom will be setup after the return of the King in glory." (ftnt. (1), (2), p.996) It is also taught that the Kingdom is to be established by power, not persuasion, and is to follow divine judgment upon the Gentile world-powers...The restoration of Israel and the establishment of the kingdom are connected with the advent of the Lord, yet future. (ftnt. (e), (f); p. 977)

To understand this teaching, look at the definition given to the words, at hand: At hand is never a positive affirmation that the person or thing said to be 'at hand' will immediately appear, but only that no known or predicted event must intervene. (ftnt. p.998)

This differs greatly from the definition given by Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon: Gk. eggizo, eggike, "has come nigh, is at hand" (p. 164). It is used in Mt. 3:2, 4:17, 10:7, Mk. 1:15, Luke 10:11, 24:28, with this meaning. This usage involves anticipation, hope of immediate fulfilment or action. Certainly, no delay seems intended or implied.

But this idea of God really wanting a physical organic kingdom for Christ to set up, but that it was postponed by the rejection of King Jesus, and that a kingdom of God, mainly Gentile, would transpire for a while, and then Jesus would come back and set up the Davidic kingdom finally...is foreign to orthodox Christianity. This is readily admitted:

Until brought to fore through the writings and the preaching and teaching of a distinguished ex-clergyman, Mr. J.N. Darby, in the early part of the last century, it is scarcely to be found in a single book or sermon through the period of sixteen hundred years! If any doubt this statement, let them search, as the writer has in measure done, the remarks of the so-called Fathers, both thee pre- and post-Nicene; the theological treatises of the scholastic divines; the Roman Catholic writers of all shades of thought; the literature of the Reformation; the sermons and expositions of the Puritans; and the general theological works of the day. He will find the "mystery" conspicuous by its absence. (H.A. Ironside, The Mysteries of God, 1946.p. 50-51; a Dispensationalist himself)

Immanent Question But was the kingdom Jesus came to set up suppose to be a spiritual kingdom, or an "organic" kingdom with Jews ruling? Was the Kingdom that Jesus announced (as well as John the Baptist, Matt. 3:2) postponed? Were Jesus's plans thwarted by the stubborn will of Jewish hierarchy? Is there scriptural warrant for believing we should acquiesce to the idea of Jesus being refused Kingship only because men don't want Him to reign over them? What scriptures convey this thought? Or is this a doctrine foreign to the Scriptures?

Kingdom Now? How does the "postponement" ideas mesh with scriptures that seem to imply Jesus as King now ruling over a Kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost? Do they only refer to a temporary, substitutionary kingdom for Gentiles? Or an everlasting Kingdom comprised of Jew and Gentile as 'one new man'? (Ephesians 2:11-22)

The key word here for answering is AT HAND. How is this to be interpreted given its Greek definition? And how does this relate to the KINGDOM? Did the Kingdom of Jesus draw near in the first century?

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    This question belongs on Christianity.se, as it is not so much about the text as about Darbyism and the role of Jews in supposed thwarting God's providence. I also hope it can be edited so as to provide evidence for its contention about such teachings as "In order for the Jews to have the upper-hand, the Darbyists teach that the spiritual Church...a different kind of kingdom...must be gotten out of the way." The question of Jesus' intent to establish a physical kingdom is interesting and important, but as it stand now the question borders on the slanderous. both towards Darbyists and Jews. Jun 28, 2023 at 0:42
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    To substantiate many of the claims made in the question, see a 30-page booklet, "The Schofield Bible" by Albertus Pieters, ISBN 981-00-4066-0, Telos Book Centre, Singapore, also via The Trinitarian Bible Society, their No. 566 issue of the Monthly Record.
    – Anne
    Jun 28, 2023 at 14:14
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    Excellent question. J.N. Darby and Schofield seem to have invented pre-millenial dispensationalism and an invisible rapture. No slander intended. After all, if it can be supported in Holy Scripture then there is nothing to fear in addressing the question.
    – Lesley
    Jun 28, 2023 at 16:45
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    @Dan Fefferman-Read the copious, revolutionary footnotes of the Scofield Reference Bible! (I have the original copy.) It was HIS new theory that was considered unorthodox, because IT demeaned the Gospel as it was understood then. Scofield's interpretation of Scripture (like Darby) was admitted by other Dispensationalists to be "novel" and not found in other previous Protestant commentaries. So again, we must research the meaning of 'at hand' and couch the Kingdom in that result. What does at hand mean in the Greek?
    – ray grant
    Jun 28, 2023 at 20:34
  • This needs some kind of quote to substantiate any claims of what Darby teaches, either from Darby or from a review of Darby. Already, this is somewhat theological, but it could be answered by focusing on textual interpretation. Any other moderator might choose to close or migrate it to SE, which I would support, if it had quotes. Pending other mods taking close/mogration action, I'm closing this until those quotes are included. When you edit it, click Flag and ask for a moderator to review it.
    – Jesse
    Jul 8, 2023 at 8:52

2 Answers 2

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The kingdom of heaven/God is ruled by Jesus as the king of righteousness. Thus, Jesus was entirely correct when He said that:

  • Matt 4:17 - Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand
  • Matt 10:7 - And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’
  • Matt 12:28 - But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. (see also Luke 11:20)
  • Luke 17:21 - Nor will people say, ‘Look, here it is,’ or ‘There it is.’ For you see, the kingdom of God is in your midst.”
  • John 3:5 - Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.
  • Mark 4:11 - He replied, “The mystery of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to those on the outside everything is expressed in parables (see also Luke 8:10)
  • Matt 21:31 - Which of the two did the will of his father?” “The first,” they answered. Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you.
  • see also Acts 8:12 - But when they believed Philip, proclaiming the gospel concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.

Indeed, much of the NT makes no sense unless the kingdom of heaven has already begun as a spiritual kingdom. Now, again, there is an eschatological component to this as well because the kingdom of heaven, while spiritual now, will become a reality at Jesus return (the subject of another question) and thus be fulfilled.

Put in other words, the Jewish rejection of Jesus as Messiah had nothing to do with the coming of the kingdom of heaven - it only changed the focus of its citizens as Jesus said:

Matt 21:43 - Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits.

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  • @ Dottard - Because the citizenship has been changed (to spiritual men, either Jew Gentile, slave or free, etc.) away from physical people (only those with Jewish DNA, Luke 3:8), does this imply that any future aspect of the Kingdom also involves spiritual people? Would Jesus' reigning over a physical Kingdom be a step down? Since His Kingdom is eternal, would a physical, temporal Kingdom be a set back? Is the change of focus permanent?
    – ray grant
    Jan 6 at 21:56
  • Actually, Luke 3:8 as taught by Jesus shows that membership of Israel was always by choice thus spiritual. For example, Rahab, Ruth, the Gittites, Tamar, see Rom 9:5-8. see hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/48586/…
    – Dottard
    Jan 6 at 21:59
  • @ Dottard - Excellent posting! # 48586! Thanks for the referral! Peace.
    – ray grant
    Jan 6 at 22:05
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No, the kingdom was not postponed. To say that God delayed His plan of salvation because of the unbelief of the Jews is to say that the Jews won against God. There is good scriptural basis for knowing that Jesus is reigning now at the right hand of the Father, and that His everlasting kingdom was completely and fully established at the fall of that earthly temple in Jerusalem in AD 70.

Was the temple destroyed as Jesus promised it would be in Matt. 24:3? Yes, it was. His second appearance was promised to that same generation that saw His first appearance (Heb. 9:28) but for judgment / deliverance, not for spiritual salvation, but for physical salvation from the persecution of the Jews / Romans of that century. He had already set the plan in motion for salvation from sin (apart from sin) at His death on the cross during His first appearance.

Did Jesus tell His disciples that all of those signs for the destruction of that temple, for that judgment against Jerusalem and the Sanhedrin would happen in their generation (Matt. 24:34)? Yes, He did. To say that any of that prophesy was delayed is to call Jesus a liar, and that is blasphemy.

Did Jesus tell the Samaritan woman at the well that the time was coming and "now is" - present tense in the 1st century AD - that neither in their mountain in Samaria, nor in Jerusalem would the people worship the Father; but that those who worship Him will do so in spirit and in truth? That means that the earthly temple was no longer important for the worship of the Father. Why then do so many people insist that an earthly Jerusalem with an earthly, carnal temple is going to be restored a 3rd time?

Jesus told them that THEIR house was left unto THEM desolate (Matt. 23:38). That means that God had already left that temple in Jerusalem to those disobedient, unbelieving Jews in the 1st century AD.

As every one who has been immersed into Christ (baptized) is now counted for the seed of Abraham (Gal. 3:26-29), then everyone who is in Christ Jesus is now the Israel of God that is saved with an everlasting salvation (Isa. 45:17). Why does anyone believe that the bloodline Jew is of any importance any longer? There is no longer any difference in the blood-line, ethnic Jew nor the people of any other nation on earth. So, why would God show more importance to a land based Israel any more?

Paul told them that the true Jew is now one inwardly, circumcised of the heart (Rom. 2:29). It is the faith line that is now the standard, and in truth was always the standard for God, as Jesus' lineage followed the line of faith from the beginning.

Jesus told them that the kingdom was within them, and is within all believers who are in Christ (Luke 17:21). That means that the kingdom is not of this world, and is not an earth-based, nation-state, boundaried land kingdom. It is spiritual. It's capital city is the spiritual Jerusalem that came down to be with men after that temple in Jerusalem was destroyed (Rev. 21:2).

Since it is a spiritual kingdom, and since all who are in Christ now worship the Father in spirit and in truth, then where is the necessity for an earthly kingdom? Christ cannot be our high priest here on earth, as He was not of the line of Levi. He would have to step down as our high priest if the kingdom was going to be an earthly kingdom!

Jesus fulfilled every promise, and every prophesy He told His disciples, and His kingdom was established at His coming just as He told them it would be before some of them standing before Him in that generation would die (Matt. 10:23). To say otherwise, that we are still waiting for His kingdom to be fully established is to say that some of those who were standing before Christ are still living on earth today.

Discard the illogical, imaginary dispensational teachings of Darby, Scofield, and others. They are not scriptural. Put your full faith in what Jesus said, and rely completely upon Him. His kingdom is here with us now, and within every believer and follower of Christ.

More scriptural proofs are at my blog at ShreddingTheVeil.org. See:

The Signs of the Feasts - Part I: Jesus Told The Pharisees The Time of His Return here

The Signs of the Feasts - Part II: Jesus Told His Disciples When He Would Return here

It's Not The End of the World - Part I here

The Signs of Revelation - Part I: The Time of His Coming here

The Days of His Visitation here

And many others.

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