Reference: Kingdom, Kingdom Of God, Kingdom Of Heaven
In Da 2:44 it is predicted that "In the days of these kings the ten divisions of the fourth kingdom, the revived Roman Empire shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever:" cf. also Dan. 7. The 'kingdom of heaven' was announced by John the Baptist and by the Lord as 'at hand' (Mt 3:2; 4:17), but the Lord declared that the 'kingdom of God' had come. Mt 12:28. In many respects the two expressions are identical, but the 'kingdom of heaven' occurs in the gospel by Matthew only, and stands in contrast to the Messiah on earth. It refers to the rule of that which God has set in heaven, and commenced when Christ went to heaven. It may be illustrated by the lights which God set in the heavens to give light and to rule on earth. The 'kingdom of God' is more connected with the moral state established in man.
The Jews having refused their king, the kingdom was not set up in manifestation at that time and it is still held in abeyance. In the meanwhile it is 'the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ.' Re 1:9. Christ is represented as having gone to receive a kingdom, and to return. Lu 19:12. In the meantime the kingdom has been produced, and goes on in its mysterious form: cf. Mt 13:11. There are multitudes who profess obedience to God and to the Lord Jesus, and who look to heaven as the throne from whence come all their blessings, while they are passing through a world of which Satan is the god and prince; but to the saints the kingdom of God is very real. They by faith anticipate the kingdom in power. Righteousness, peace, and joy characteristics of the kingdom, are already theirs in the Holy Ghost. Ro 14:17. In this sense the kingdom of God is often referred to in the Epistles. A person must be born again really to enter into it (Joh 3:3,5), but this idea, is distinct from the form which the kingdom has taken, and the dimensions it has attained in the hands of man.
The parables in the gospels describe the form and objects of the kingdom while the Lord is away. In Matt. 13 the Lord spoke four parables to the multitude; then He dismissed the people and explained the parable of the Wheat and the Tares to His disciples and added three parables bearing on the secret character of the kingdom. It is shown that evil would be found in the kingdom, but that Christ will eventually send His angels to gather out of His kingdom all things that offend; then it will be established in power by the Lord Jesus sitting on His own throne, and reigning supreme as Son of man over the earth, ending by His ultimately giving up the kingdom to the Father, that God may be all in all. 1Co 15:24,28. The moral characteristics suitable to the kingdom are given in the Sermon on the Mount, and its principles and order in Matt. 18.
The kingdom must not be confounded with the church. In the kingdom the wheat and the tares grow together until the harvest; but in the church a wicked person is to be put out. 1Co 5:13. There may appear to be a similarity between the professing church and the kingdom; but the ideas are not the same. The kingdom is the sphere of Christ's rule; whereas the church is the dwelling place of God by the Spirit. Neither will the duration on earth of the church and the kingdom be the same; the kingdom will be set up in power after the rapture of the church, and will continue during the millennium. The Christian, besides sharing in the privileges of the church, has also the privileges and responsibilities attaching to the kingdom. To each individual is entrusted a pound (Lu 19:12-24); or, in another aspect, one or more talents (Mt 25:14-28), which he is responsible to use for his Lord and Master, and for which he will have to give an account in a future day. His place in heaven is by grace apart from his works, but his reward in the kingdom will be according to his faithfulness to his Lord.