The phrase Kingdom of Heaven, or, more accurately, The Kingdom of the Heavens, appears only in Matthew, and it appears 32 times. That number of mentions gives it quite a bit of importance. There are, unfortunately, a variety of ways this phrase has been defined. The definition depends a great deal on how the entire book is interpreted. As I’ve already mentioned, I’m coming from a Dispensational viewpoint. It’s all right with me if you disagree. Just be reminded that I will not argue or debate with you, and if your comment is unpleasant, too long (this is my blog 🙂 ) or otherwise inappropriate, I will not approve it. Above all, I want the Lord to be honored here. Becoming involved in debate, argument, finger-pointing or name-calling does not honor Him. You are welcome to disagree–courteously.
The Kingdom of Heaven is not the Church; the Church is not the Kingdom of Heaven. Through Chapter 12, when Jesus spoke of the Kingdom of Heaven He was referring to it in its Old Testament sense, as promised to Israel; to be established in the land with Jerusalem as center, and from there to spread over all nations and the entire earth. This has not yet happened; therefore the Church cannot be the Kingdom. The pious Jew expected, and still expects, the coming of Messiah, Who will occupy the throne of David. He will bring judgment and justice to the enemies of Israel and restore Israelites to their homeland. There will be universal peace; the land will flourish; the righteousness and knowledge of the Lord will cover the earth as the oceans cover the deep. The blessings as streams of living waters will flow from Jerusalem. A temple of worship will be restored. This will all be on the earth as we know it.
The Church, however, is a completely different entity. The hope, place, calling, destiny, and reigning of the Church is not earthly, but heavenly.
When Jesus was born, the King had indeed arrived. He preached the Kingdom of Heaven having drawn nigh; that is, the promised earthly kingdom for Israel. That was also the message of Jesus’ forerunner, John the Baptist.
It is confusing to teach that the meaning of this message is that when a sinner repents, the Kingdom will come to him. The correct translation of “The Kingdom of God is within you” is “The Kingdom is among you”; that is, in the Person of the King.
I’m not a Greek scholar. Not even close. I have to rely on those who are, and I have several texts to guide me. One is my Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance; others are English-Greek lexicons and Greek-to-English lexicons. Everything I have, including the internet sources I’ve looked at, agree that “the Kingdom is among you” is the more accurate translation. There are many links for you to check on; some agree with my view, others do not. Here is one that I found helpful:
If Israel had accepted her King, the earthly kingdom would have been established. Because she did not, that Kingdom is still future, after the Church has been removed at the Rapture.
Consider this: If the Kingdom were within all believers, Jew or Gentile, right now–wouldn’t this world be a better place? Wouldn’t we indeed be moving toward true peace on earth? I believe that it is only because the Church is still on the earth that we are not in complete and total chaos, because the presence of the Holy Spirit is still among us. Once the Church is removed, there will be a true horror show during the seven years of the Tribulation. Thank God, that period of time will culminate in the Jews acknowledging Jesus as Messiah, ushering in the Kingdom of Heaven–on earth.