The Kingdom of God is Within You

 

An eloquent writer in the WordPress community recently posed the challenging question: “If you didn’t know anything about the Kingdom [of God], how would you define it?”

When defining the Kingdom of God, the first verse I think of is part of Luke 17:21: “The Kingdom of God is within you.”

I always drew great hope and comfort from that verse. “The Kingdom of God is within you.” I felt it was a treasure hunt of sorts—it was the Lord telling us that we can look within ourselves and find the holiness of His perfect Kingdom, through the Presence of the Holy Spirit. It made me feel comforted to think of this, because there are times when I feel so inadequate. But then I think to myself, the Kingdom of God is within me, waiting to be discovered! I can do more, through Him Who strengthens me!

Yet who am I, and who’s to say I know what I’m talking about? As I read different perspectives on the subject, I began wondering, what if I’m wrong? When you question something you believe in, and face the thought that it may not be exist in the way you thought it did, it shakes you up inside. It really “rocks” your world, in the earthquake sense of the word.

So I turned to the wisdom of others. I belong to a discussion group in which we discuss the works of 19th/20th century author Grace Livingston Hill; and to this group, I asked the question, “Am I wrong?” Their answers have uplifted, enlightened, and inspired me.

One friend had this commentary, which has helped me find peace and confidence in my own opinion:

 

“As for this one particular verse, the best way is to go to the original Greek or Hebrew
texts to see what they say. Often, words and phrases in the original text could not be easily translated to English because there just wasn’t anything comparable. I believe it is a mistake to assume that English translations are the final word.

The connotation of a particular phrase can change from Greek to English, or even from Grace’s time to our time. So “within you” may mean something different to you and I than it did to the KJV translators in 1611 and something else to those who wrote down what Jesus said. The huge number of translations is proof that not everyone agrees with everyone else’s interpretation of the original text.

Do you want a perfect example of changing connotation? If I told someone of Grace’s day to “reach out and touch someone”, they would physically touch another person. However, someone from my generation [look out, I’m showing my age] would probably pick up the phone and call someone! There are many other words and phrases that have changed meaning dramatically just in our lifetime—Just read a GLH book to find more! We have to be very careful about reading today’s meaning into yesterday’s writing, especially where the Bible is concerned.

Here’s what I’ve found on BibleGateway.com after reading your post :

Young’s Literal Translation of the Bible by Robert Young is an extremely literal translation that attempts to preserve the tense and word usage as found in the original Greek and Hebrew writings. Here is Luke 17:20-21 in this version, courtesy of BibleGateway.com:

And having been questioned by the Pharisees, when the reign of God doth come, he answered them, and said, `The reign of God doth not come with observation; nor shall they say, Lo, here; or lo, there; for lo, the reign of God is within you.’

The Amplified Bible covers both —the brackets are part of the translation and are not mine. “Nor will people say, Look! Here [it is]! or, See, [it is] there! For behold, the kingdom of God is within you [in your hearts] and among you [surrounding you].

American Standard Version: neither shall they say, Lo, here! or, There! for lo, the kingdom of God is within you.

New Life Version: It will not be said, ‘See, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For the holy nation of God is in you.”

Wycliffe New Testament: neither they shall say, Lo! here, or lo[!] there; for lo! the realm of God is within you.

Worldwide English New Testament: People will not be able to say, “Look, here it is!” or “There it is! That is because the kingdom of God is inside you.’

Many versions (like NIV) include both “within” and “among” with one or the other as a footnoted possible translation. On BibleGateway, some are saying within and some are saying among, so it looks like the jury is still out.

Jesus did, after all, say specifically that His Kingdom was not of this world in John 18. In Luke, the pharisees were asking about a literal kingdom on earth, but Jesus seems to be pointing out that it couldn’t be seen here or there, it was somewhere that it couldn’t be seen.

Be encouraged and listen to what God is speaking to you. After all, He’s got the FINAL, final word.”

 

Another friend shared this definition of the Kingdom with me:

 

“The kingdom of heaven is the church living out the purposes of its king Jesus while we wait his return to rule his kingdom on earth.”

 

A third friend summed up both perspectives beautifully with her own:

 

“The Kingdom is within each of us who are true Christians, and the Kingdom will also be an actual happening/place one day in the future for those of us who believe.”

 

I’m grateful for the question, the challenge to my beliefs, and the wisdom of others. I do believe, as I always have, that Christ’s kingdom will come on earth some day. In the meantime, I hold with confidence to the notion that his Kingdom truly does exist inside us, too.

I know it does, because I have seen it, in all its glory, within others.

 

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16 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Well said! I especially like the phrase “…the Holy Nation of God is within you.” Glad my little question spurred you to such depth of study and encouraged your friends to think too. I love the Kingdom of God because it contains so many, like you and your friends who are seeking it “first” along with “righteouness”.

    greg http://www.theviewfromthejunipertree.com

  2. BTW, love the art too!

    greg

  3. Thank you!!

    And thank you for your own faithful thoughts on the Kingdom. I look forward to reading more!

  4. What an informative blog. Thank you for taking the time to do this research on one of my favorite Bible verses.

    My perspective is different, a little, because, though I truly love Jesus…I have little faith in the humans who created a religion around him.

    To me, this verse implies that our connection to our Creator is deeply personal and that no one, no book, no teacher, no HUMAN can tell us who or what God is. We can only experience that through our personal connection, within. I experience my Creator in unlimited ways and I live by my faith. I am deeply grateful for my inner connection, because through that connection I am able to see the miraculous in everything.

    Thank you, again, for a great blog. 🙂

    Bettina

    • Christ’s own words while he lived and walked among the earth… “I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except THROUGH me.” John 14: 6. So, it’s not just about a connection, but about the acceptance of Christ as “the ONLY way” to the creator. “Believe me when I say, I am the in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves”. John 16:11. To me, this means that although it is “personal” because no one can do this for you, Jesus has said VERY clearly that it is only THROUGH HIM that we have etermal life. We can’t get that connection on our own. It’s not possible. If it were, Jesus wouldn’t have had to come here. People had already been “interpruting” God forever. This is exactly the reason the people of that time wanted him crucified. He said and professed to BE God and said that unless people believed on Him, they would not be saved. He wouldn’t have been crucified if he said, “you are all free to your own interprutation and what you are doing and how you believe is fine as long as you find your personal connection.” We can’t have the “connection” on our own. We are in need of Christ. The Kingdom is “within us” only when we receive the Holy Spirit, which is the living spirit of Jesus Christ and God dwelling in us. That is what Jesus meant. He said shared this passage because people wanted to “find” the kingdom (the place). He was trying to explain to them that it is spiritual and not natural, however Jesus does say very clearly, that He is the ONLY way to that kingdom.

    • Jesus said He is God, as in the “Alpha and Omega”, the Beginning and the End. He never said, “I am God-like, and you can also be God-like”. He was contraversial. There is only one true religion. That is the religion of God. Jesus said He is God, the ONE and only. He asked us to put Him first, before everything, and then simply love each other. And he is very serious about what He is trying to get us to understand by his words. Read Mark 8:38. “If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory with the holy angels.” Interesting that He says, “my words”… It’s almost as if He knows people will twist His words to suit themselves. Jesus was either crazy, arrogant, dilusional~ or He’s God and coming again, one last time for His true followers. I have spent a lot of time reading Jesus words… After all, His whole purpose in coming here was to spread a message. This message was I am God, believe on me, I have come to die for you in order to repair our relationship so we can spend eternity together. EVERY SINGLE word is crutial because of WHO He claimed to be.

  5. Bettina, I have to say, the Kingdom of God truly is within you. Thank you for a beautiful comment!

  6. I am amazed more and more how often people are looking into this subject lately. Perhaps the LORD is working something! (Matthew 24:14?).

    Jesus spoke so often about the Kingdom of God yet how often do we hear sermons on it in our churches? I know I had to take time to study just what it was Jesus was talking in the gospels, because I wanted to sound like Him.

    What are you thinking on this subject today?🙂

  7. I’m thinking I’m happy to be part of it!🙂🙂

    I’m also finding it interesting how every person has a different thought or perception about the nature of the Kingdom. Every one of us is unique.

    While I believe our Heavenly Father has His plan and rules all laid out, I also feel that He gives loving attention to the individuality of each of His children, and speaks to each heart and soul in a way they can understand. That could be why everyone has such different insight—and that way, we are able to learn from each other and come closer together.

    Thank you for your comment!

  8. I too and happy that there is diversity in the church, God speaks on that much in Scripture. At the same time however, as you have said, God does have a plan that He wants us to be apart of. I think he has laid it out clear in Scripture.

    I think more than just the Kingdom of God being the hope of the faithful, it is also the theme of the gospel message itself. This is interesting to note as well because Jesus consistently spoke of people “entering the Kingdom” as well as he went around preaching the “gospel of the Kingdom (ex: Luke 4:43)” and telling people to “repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand (Mk 1:14-15, etc)”

  9. I know, for myself at least, I plan to read more deeply on the subject.

    Isn’t that interesting—how God does have rules and plans, yet still speaks on a personal level to each unique member of the church. Isn’t that just like a loving Father, who creates rules for His children, but still honors their individuality and enjoys having camaraderie with them.

  10. Great. If you are interested, I’d be happy to send you a book one of my college professor’s wrote on the subject, our church gives it as a gift to those interested. If you are, email me at vgluckin@gmail.com

    Have a great day!
    -Victor

  11. Thank you for that information! :):)

  12. If the we, the people of God, the nation of God, are kingdom citizens who don’t wage war like other kingdom’s citizens do, why do we make the new kingdom Jesus is announcing an inner, invisible body?

  13. Jesus said the kingdom is “within you” because people wanted to know WHERE the Kingdom of God is located. They thought of it more literally. They were thinking it was a natural place and Jesus was telling them it was a spiritual place. He is NOT saying you are like a God and you can have your own interprution of God and who he is to you… In fact he says just the opposite in John 14:6. People are often confused by this thinking that Jesus walked around as an enlightened Prophet. Jesus said I am God and no one can come to the creator, unless that person believes what I say is true. Jesus never said, “you are God and you just have to find your own Godness inside of you, like I’m doing, and you will be fine.” He was crucified because he was telling people, He was God and that they weren’t saved unless they believed it.

  14. The Kingdom of God is God’s rule through the gospel in the hearts and lives of his people. It is not a realm but a rule. It is God’s saving activity, the work he does to rescue people from sin and hell through the redeeming work of Christ. When Jesus says that the kingdom of God is within you, he refers to the working of God in a person’s heart as he brings that person to know and believe God’s promise to save him from sin and, in that faith, to live in step with God’s will.


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