Question:

In the article entitled "The Church Is the Kingdom", it is proposed that the kingdom and the Church are the same. I agree that the kingdom "of God" is the church, but I assume you would also assert that the Church and the kingdom "of Heaven" are the same thing also. If that is your conclusion, then please explain Matthew 10:5-8. I have never found the kingdom of Heaven gospel being offered to anyone but the Jews in the Bible. Can you show us where this gospel of the kingdom of heaven was given to Gentiles, thus proving that the kingdom of "Heaven" is the church?


Answer:

We have four gospel accounts covering the same period of time: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. When we look between the accounts we find:

"From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand"" (Matthew 4:17).

"Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel"" (Mark 1:14-15).

The same message presented to the same group of people -- the Jews -- by the same person.

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:3).

"Then He lifted up His eyes toward His disciples, and said: "Blessed are you poor, For yours is the kingdom of God"" (Luke 6:20).

"Another parable He put forth to them, saying: "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field"" (Matthew 13:31).

"Then He said, "To what shall we liken the kingdom of God? Or with what parable shall we picture it? It is like a mustard seed which, when it is sown on the ground, is smaller than all the seeds on earth"" (Mark 4:30-31).

The claim that a different message was given to the Jews than the Gentiles is false because the Jews were taught about the Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of God. Clearly from the examples given, they are just two phrases for the same thing.

Matthew uses "kingdom of heaven," while Mark, Luke, and John use "kingdom of God." Why? Most likely because Matthew had a Jewish audience in mind. The Jews expected an earthly kingdom to be set up. Therefore, "kingdom of God" would cause confusion. They would be thinking Jesus was talking about them and an earthly kingdom. Using the equivalent phrase, "kingdom of heaven," keeps which kingdom is being discussed clear. Jesus was talking about a spiritual concept. "Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here"" (John 18:36).

The goal of the gospel is to unite Jew and Greek into one people. "Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh -- who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands -- that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father" (Ephesians 2:11-18). That one body is the church. "And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all" (Ephesians 1:22-23). And as The Church Is the Kingdom shows, another name for the church is the kingdom. There is only one church (Ephesians 4:4-6); thus, Christ does not have multiple kingdoms.

"There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28).

Thanks for responding to my email, Mr. Hamilton.