May your kingdom come!

May your will be done on earth as it is in heaven! Bible other translations

“May your kingdom come.” The “kingdom” that Christ prayed about had not come in his lifetime and has still not come; it is still future. The kingdom that Christ prayed about, and that the people wanted to come, was the future time when Christ will rule the earth and the earth itself will be restored to a paradise state. Although there are some aspects of Christ’s future kingdom that we enjoy today, such as the presence of the gift of holy spirit in believers, the kingdom itself is still future.

Paul wrote that we are still in the “present, evil age” (Gal. 1:4), not “the kingdom,” and we can tell that just by looking around. Evil is all around us, and believers experience sickness and death, but that will not be the case when the Kingdom comes.

Many verses indicate the Kingdom of God is future.

When the Kingdom of God does come, all the Kingdom promises will be fulfilled. Wicked people will be destroyed and the righteous will live forever on a wonderful restored earth. At that time the deserts will bloom, wild animals will not be dangerous, and there will be plenty of food (Isa. 11:6-9; 30:23-25; 35:1-7; Amos 9:13). Christ called this wonderful time “the New Beginning” (Matt. 19:28) and it will be. The Kingdom of God cannot, and does not, co-exist with the kingdoms of men, but it is coming in the future.

There are a few verses that seem to indicate the Kingdom is here now in some way. These include Matthew 12:28 (Luke 11:20), Matthew 23:13, and Luke 17:21. These few Scriptures have swayed many theologians into believing the Kingdom is here now in some way, but that is not what those verses mean. For example, in Matthew 12:28, Jesus casts out a demon and says, “But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” Does Jesus driving out a demon mean the Kingdom has come? No, it does not. David drove demons out of Saul by his music (1 Sam. 16:23) but that did not mean the kingdom had come. That Jesus, and later his disciples, drove out demons shows what will happen in the Kingdom, that people will be healed of every kind of sickness and disease, was happening in the ministry of Jesus Christ and pointing to him as the Messiah. When the kingdom does come, every person, not just some people, will be healed (cp. Isa. 35:5-6). Jesus told people that his works testified to the fact that he was the Messiah, and that they should believe his works (John 10:25, 37, 38; 14:11). Jesus’ healings pointed to the certainty of the kingdom coming, not that it was actually there, and the people listening to Jesus were not confused by what he said. They knew the Kingdom was future, and the apostles even asked when it was coming after Jesus was raised from the dead (Acts 1:6-7).

Another scripture that confuses some people is Matthew 23:13. Jesus said to some religious leaders, “You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.” What Jesus was saying was that the religious leaders were putting so many rules and regulations on being righteous before God that it seemed impossible to be saved. Jesus called those regulations, “heavy burdens” (Matt. 23:4), and they discouraged people from making the effort to be saved and thus enter the Kingdom when it comes.

The most common unclear Scripture that theologians use to show the Kingdom is here now is Luke 17:21, which in many English versions reads, “the kingdom of God is within you.” This verse is often quoted as if it were the only clear verse on the subject of the Kingdom of God and absolutely self-explanatory. Ironically, it is perhaps the most obscure verse on the subject. First of all, there is no other verse of Scripture that indicates the Kingdom of God is “in” anyone. Many scriptures show that the Kingdom of God is a real kingdom that will be ruled by the Messiah and fill the earth. Furthermore, when Christ said, “the kingdom of God is within you,” he was speaking to the Pharisees, who opposed both him and his Father. It was to them that he said, “You do not know me or my father” (John 8:19). The Kingdom was certainly not within them—they were even in danger of being excluded from it altogether (Matt. 21:23-31, especially verse 31).

To properly understand Luke 21:17, it helps to know the Greek word translated “within” in many English versions is better translated as “among” or perhaps even better, “in your midst.” There is an impressive list of versions that read “among” or “in your midst,” including the NASB, ISB; NEB; JB; RSV; The Emphasized Bible (by J. B. Rotherham); The Bible: James Moffatt Translation; Complete Jewish Bible (by David Stern); God’s New Covenant (by Heinz Cassirer); and the acclaimed translation in contemporary idiom, The Message (by Eugene Peterson). Jesus was the King, and so he told the religious leaders that the Kingdom of God was in their midst, not in its fullness, but in the person of the king himself.

After telling the people that the kingdom was among them (in the person of the king), he told them that when the kingdom did come they would not have to look for it, they would know it was there. Jesus said that when the kingdom comes it will be like lightning that lights up the entire sky—so everyone will see it (Luke 17:24). That makes perfect sense because the prophecies of the Kingdom show it will fill the whole earth. Jesus went on to say that as it was (in the past) in the time of Noah, so it will be (in the future) in the “day the Son of Man is revealed” (Luke 17:26-30). The Flood was universal and some were saved and most were not, and that is the way it will be when Christ comes and sets up his future kingdom.

Lastly, it is a well-entrenched doctrine in the Church that “the Kingdom of God” is a phrase that refers to the rule of God in people’s hearts. But the Scripture says the Kingdom of God will fill the whole earth and destroy the human kingdoms that are on earth. Furthermore, there are dozens of verses that speak of what that future kingdom on earth will look like. There is no scriptural reason to take the clear verses about an actual kingdom ruling over the whole earth and making it into a spiritual kingdom that only exists in the hearts of believers. There is not any reason to say “the rule of God in people’s hearts” is the Kingdom. For one thing, there is no place where Jesus told people plainly that God ruling their lives was the Kingdom. Also, what would it then mean for verse after verse to say the Kingdom was future? And how could the apostles sit with Jesus at a table and eat or rule on twelve thrones over Israel in a person’s heart? Those prophecies are literal and will be fulfilled in the future Kingdom of God on earth. The many prophecies and clear scriptures that tell us what the Kingdom of God is, and that it is future, must be allowed to rule the day and guide us into what the Kingdom is: a wonderful paradise Kingdom that God will set up on earth that will be ruled by His Son.

[For more on the Kingdom of God, see Appendix 3, “Christ’s Future Kingdom on Earth”].

Commentary for: Matthew 6:10