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kingdom of God

Or reign of God

The realm over which God rules or will rule, or the sphere of influence within which God’s rule is enacted and God’s will is done. Although a number of OT passages contain related expressions, none refers in so many words to the “kingdom of God.” In the synoptic Gospels, the term constitutes a central feature of Jesus’s preaching. In Matthew, Jesus often speaks of the “kingdom of heaven,” apparently a circumlocution for “kingdom of God” (a way to say the same thing without using the divine name). Many synoptic texts clearly refer to the coming of the kingdom as a dramatic, future event—in some instances, as one that will take place within the lifetime of Jesus’s hearers or their contemporaries (Matt 4:17; Matt 6:10; Matt 10:7; Mark 1:14-15; Mark 9:1; Luke 10:8-12; Luke 11:2; Luke 21:31). Some verses, however, refer more ambiguously to the kingdom’s “coming,” without indicating whether Jesus meant that it had already come or that it would come in the future (Luke 4:43; Luke 9:11). Likewise, a number of passages refer to people “entering” the kingdom, but without making clear whether doing so was understood to be a present or only a future possibility. In the Fourth Gospel, Jesus speaks of the kingdom of God in only one passage (John 3:3; John 3:5). Outside the Gospels, it is mentioned in Acts (Acts 1:3; Acts 6-8:3; Acts 3:17-21; Acts 28:23; Acts 28:30-31) and a few times in Paul’s letters (1Cor 6:9; Gal 5:21; 1Thess 5:1-2; 1Thess 5:23; 2Thess 1:5).