This article is part of a five-part study series on God’s Kingdoms as revealed to us in the Brit Chadashah (New Testament) using the keyword “kingdom” as our guide.
Below are the keys to the three Kingdoms we will be assessing – with a brief definition of each – as outlined for us in the Scriptures. Thorough and expanding definitions of each Kingdom will be enhanced as we move along in our study.
Two Kingdoms are linked: The Salvation Kingdom will eventually culminate in the Eternal Kingdom. The Millennial Kingdom is for Israel and her Messiah, fulfilling God’s precious promises to His chosen people made throughout the Tanakh (Old Testament).
God’s Kingdoms Series
God’s Kingdoms – Part 4 – Acts Through Revelation
God’s Kingdoms – Part 5 – Summary and Conclusion
Salvation Kingdom – From personal salvation, to being in heaven with Christ, through the Second Coming, the gathering of Israel, and preparation for the Millennial Kingdom.
Millennial Kingdom – The 1,000-year reign of Christ on earth.
Eternal Kingdom – The Everlasting Kingdom – that follows the Millennial Kingdom of Christ and the Great White Throne Judgment – with a New Heaven and a New Earth.
The All-Encompassing Kingdom – Inclusive of the three Kingdoms above, from personal salvation through to the Eternal Kingdom.
“The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:”
Context: Acts 1:1-5. Self-evident.
Analysis: Just as Christ was focused on His mission concerning the Salvation Kingdom – the “kingdom of God/kingdom of heaven” – so, too, was His focus and mission for His disciples in accordance with His Great Commission.
“When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.”
Analysis: The disciples were clearly inquiring about the Millennial Kingdom, and when that kingdom of Israel would come.
“But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.”
Analysis: The “kingdom of God” is, again, the Salvation Kingdom, as those that believed in Philip’s preaching would proclaim “the Name of Jesus Christ” and “they were baptized.”
“And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch, Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.”
Analysis: The preaching of the Apostles resulted in “confirming the souls of the disciples” who believed “and exhorting them to continue in the faith” of Jesus Christ. As with most believers in the church age, they would “through much tribulation… enter into the kingdom of God” through the trials of life that prepare us for heaven.
The Salvation Kingdom they were already a part of by promise, coming from within at salvation, would not be fully realized until death or the rapture.
Like us today, they already had life eternal, positionally, through their conversion to Christ. Yet the Lord was still doing a work in them, just as in us today, as we all, through love and thankfulness, serve Him, enlarging His Salvation Kingdom.
“When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. And all the men were about twelve. And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God.”
Analysis: This preaching of Paul was consistent wherever he went. He preached the “kingdom of God,” the Salvation Kingdom found only in grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
“And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more.”
Context: Acts 20:16-31.
Analysis: These were some of Paul’s departing words to the elders of Ephesus on his way to Jerusalem where other prophets of God and the Holy Spirit Himself assured Paul that bonds awaited him. Paul’s words included:
“For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” – Acts 20:27-28
Paul always preached the gospel of the Salvation Kingdom.
“And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening…. And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.”
Context: Acts 28:16-31.
Analysis: As was his custom, Paul’s message to everyone he encountered was salvation through faith in Yeshua by proving Who the Messiah was through the Hebrew Scriptures and preaching the gospel of the Salvation Kingdom to all who would hear.
“For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.”
Context: Romans 14:1-23.
Analysis: Paul, in this section of Romans, is speaking about the responsibilities that mature believers (stronger in the faith) have regarding babes in Christ (weaker in the faith) who might not have the same faith in the freedom we have in Messiah Yeshua.
The Salvation Kingdom is “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost” Who resides within each of us who put our faith and trust in Christ Jesus.
“For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.”
Context: 1 Corinthians 4:1-21.
Analysis: As with a good portion of 1 Corinthians, Paul was disciplining this overall carnal church. Chapter 4 is no exception. Paul was dealing with pride within this church, and he was warning them of the consequences of their pride and his divinely given power to judge them when it came to church discipline.
Obviously, this speaks of Paul’s disciplinary authority in godly, ordained Holy Spirit power for the furtherance of the Salvation Kingdom.
“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”
Analysis: Paul’s warning that no person with the above characteristics in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 will ever inherit the “kingdom of God,” as they prove themselves to be false converts to the Salvation Kingdom by partaking in these detestable acts.
“For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.”
Analysis: We supplied the whole of this text to show that all three kingdoms of God are in view.
First, Paul speaks of the resurrections as “in Christ shall all be made alive.” These resurrections are all within the Salvation Kingdom, “every man in his own order.” This began with “Christ [Himself] the firstfruits” that began the Salvation Kingdom and will include the rapture/resurrection of the church up to “they that are Christ’s at His [Second] coming.” This is the “first resurrection” (Revelation 20:5-6).
Next, Paul seems to jump over the Millennial Kingdom by stating, “Then cometh the end, when [Christ] shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when He shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.” This, of course, will not occur until Satan – along with the demonic powers and thrones of the fallen angels – will finally be thrown into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:10) along with the unsaved (Revelation 20:11-15) following the rebellion after the Millennial Kingdom (Revelation 20:7-9).
[Note: I understand that some might suggest that this will happen at Christ’s Second Coming when He destroys His earthly enemies and Satan is thrown into prison for the duration of the Millennial Kingdom, but the introductory phrase is, “Then cometh the end.” Additionally, Messiah is the One who sets up His own kingdom and throne that the Father will give Him in the Messianic Millennial Kingdom (Matthew 25:31). In our passage, Christ delivers “up the kingdom to God, even the Father,” and this will occur after Christ creates the new heavens and the new earth (Revelation 21:1), when God will come to live and dwell with mankind in the Eternal Kingdom.]
Paul then backs up by interjecting, “For [Christ] must reign.” This, of course, Yeshua will carry out during His Messianic Millennial Kingdom, as He fulfills all the promises God has made to His people Israel in the Tanakh (Old Testament).
Finally, Paul adds “… till He hath put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death,” and, sure enough, this is exactly what we see just before the creation of the new heavens and the new earth in the Eternal Kingdom.
“And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.
“And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
“And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” – Revelation 20:11-15
Thereafter will commence the Eternal Kingdom when Christ creates a new heaven and new earth and the “New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Revelation 21:1-3).
Because all three kingdoms are in view within this passage, we should regard this as a testimonial to the All-Encompassing Kingdom.
“Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.”
Context: 1 Corinthians 15.
Analysis: The Millennial Kingdom will indeed be inherited by “flesh and blood” when those who survive the Tribulation will begin repopulating the earth.
When a believer dies, their spirit/soul complex goes to be with the Lord in the kingdom of God in heaven, in what appears to be a temporary spiritual body. This can happen – a believer going to the kingdom of God in heaven when they die – because they no longer are living in their “flesh and blood” bodies of “corruption.”
1 Corinthians 15:50, though, opens the great passage on the resurrection/rapture of the church: 1 Corinthians 15:51-55. Therefore, the entire thrust of Paul’s teaching is that of our final state in our glorified and everlasting bodies that will be obtained at the resurrection/rapture of the church when we will be fully complete in the kingdom of God in heaven, in our final bodily state promised to all who entered the Salvation Kingdom in faith, in their proper order.
“Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”
Analysis: As in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, we have a list of characteristics of people who are unsaved and will not inherit the Salvation Kingdom.
“But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.”
This unique phrase, “the kingdom of Christ and of God,” is only found in Ephesians 5:5 and is obviously referring to the Salvation Kingdom in heaven, and yet there does seem to be an intimation of the consummating Eternal Kingdom – when God in all His fullness will dwell with mankind on the new earth – which is inherently linked to the Salvation Kingdom.
“Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:”
Analysis: “The kingdom of [the Father’s] dear Son, in Whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins” is the Salvation Kingdom to those who truly trust and believe on Christ, as both the Father and the Son “hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.”
“And Jesus, which is called Justus, who are of the circumcision. These only are my fellowworkers unto the kingdom of God, which have been a comfort unto me.”
Analysis: Paul is thanking those who have been his “fellow workers unto the kingdom of God,” which is the Salvation Kingdom that Paul preached to all who would listen.
“Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe: As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children, That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.
“For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.”
Analysis: The Saints at Thessaloniki were mainly converts to Christ from Paul’s preaching and teaching by word and now letter.
Paul’s prayer was that since they believed on Christ, they “would walk worthy of God, who hath called [them] unto His kingdom and glory” as they “received the Word of God” – all of which is the Salvation Kingdom received by grace through faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
“We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth; So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure: Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer:”
Analysis: “The kingdom of God, for which [we all] suffer” through “persecutions and tribulations” in this life as Christians, with our patience, faith in Christ, and love toward each other, is the Salvation Kingdom.
“I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.”
Analysis: This is a difficult passage to be sure. All three kingdoms are our Lord’s, so which is this?
The key, I believe, lies in the phrase, “Who shall judge the quick [living] and the dead at His appearing.”
When it comes to the Millennial Kingdom, Jesus will not be judging any of the dead – only those who have survived the Tribulation and did not take The Mark of The Beast. And when it comes to the Great White Throne Judgment, God in Christ will be judging only the unsaved dead who have been resurrected, not to mention that Christ will not be “appearing.”
But after the resurrection/rapture of the church, Jesus will be “judging” the bride of Christ, not for salvation but for rewards or loss of rewards.
“We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” – 2 Corinthians 5:8-10
Following Paul’s words in 2 Timothy 4:1, Paul encourages Timothy to, “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.”
Contextually, “His appearing and His kingdom” is related to the gospel and it is only at the Bema Seat (or “judgment” seat) of Christ where Jesus will be rewarding both those who had died and those who were alive for what they had “done in [their] body… whether it be good or bad” after the resurrection/rapture of His bride.
“Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?” – John 11:25-26
For me, the “kingdom” mentioned in this passage would have to be the Salvation Kingdom when He will “judge” His church – both the dead in Christ and those who are alive at His coming in the resurrection/rapture of His bride – when He takes them back to the kingdom of God in heaven.
“And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
Context: 2 Timothy 4:14-18.
Analysis: Paul is recounting how Alexander the coppersmith did him “much evil” and how others had “forsook” him, and then added…
“Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.”
Then Paul stated emphatically that, “… the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
Paul – as all believers have and still do unto this day – was eagerly awaiting the “heavenly kingdom” of the Salvation Kingdom through much adversity and opposition experienced in this present life.
“But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.”
Context: Hebrews 1:1-9.
Analysis: This section in Hebrews is contrasting the Son of God with angels and highlighting the Son’s superiority over all. Messiah Yeshua’s “throne… is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of [His] kingdom.”
These words seem to have all three kingdoms in view – the All-Encompassing Kingdom – the throne of His Salvation Kingdom in heaven, the throne of His Millennial Kingdom on earth, and climaxing in the throne of His Eternal Kingdom on the new earth in the New Jerusalem; all of which belong to our Creator, Lord, and Savior.
“Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire.”
Context: Hebrews 12:22-29.
Analysis: The writer of Hebrews contrasts the Lord speaking to Israel on Mount Sinai at the giving of the law and Mount Zion. But the Mount Zion that the writer is speaking of is not the Mount Zion on earth today.
“But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.” – Hebrews 12:22-24
All of these are in heaven right now, waiting for us to partake after death or the rapture! If it were left at this, then we might be tempted to say that this kingdom is the Salvation Kingdom. But there is more.
“Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.” – Hebrews 12:26-27
When will God “Yet once more… shake the earth [and] also heaven”?
Well, He will do it in judgment during the Great Tribulation, but even after Christ renovates the earth and heavens for the Millennial Kingdom, the heavens and earth that will remain will be shaken one last time as He “signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken.”
Therefore, this must be the last shaking when God will dissolve (2 Peter 3:10) the earth and the heavens (Revelation 20:11) and create new heavens and a new earth for the Eternal Kingdom (Revelation 21:1) – “a kingdom which cannot be moved” – which will then include the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:2) and all those who have been saved by Messiah Yeshua.
These are the “things which cannot be shaken [that they] may remain!”
The Eternal Kingdom is in view.
“Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?”
Analysis: The epistle of James is addressed to the twelve tribes of Israel (James 1:1), and one can certainly come to a quick conclusion that James is speaking of the Millennial Kingdom here. But is he?
I do not think so because James said, “Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which He hath promised to them that love Him.” It is the people of “this world” that James has in mind, not exclusively the twelve tribes of Israel.
Remember, also, that the Millennial Kingdom – though the resurrected Saints of the past 6,000 years will be there – is ultimately to fulfill the promises God made to Israel when their Messiah will rule and reign with a rod of iron from Jerusalem. Though it will be glorious, it will not be the kingdom that all saved people will be eagerly awaiting.
Additionally, the Millennial Kingdom does not have a very good end (Revelation 20:7-9).
Here, the context favors the Salvation Kingdom which will culminate and climax in the Eternal Kingdom; a kingdom that all saved people – Jew and Gentile – will be heirs of and eagerly desiring.
The Eternal Kingdom is the kingdom that God has prepared and “which he hath promised to them that love him!”
“Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”
Analysis: Very similar to James 2:5 above, Peter is focused on the Salvation Kingdom as he admonishes his readers to “give diligence to make your calling and election sure,” with the Eternal Kingdom being the final destination of all who have truly given their lives to Messiah Yeshua and love God with their whole hearts enter “the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
“I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.”
Analysis: Notice how John said that he was their “brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ.”
John, as he knew he was – just as everyone who is born again should know they are – was already in the Salvation Kingdom “and the patience of Jesus Christ” because of “the Word of God, and the testimony of Jesus Christ!”
“And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become [the kingdoms] of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.” [emphasis mine]
Note: The phrase [the kingdoms] is not in the original. The text should actually read: “And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.”
Analysis: “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ” is the kingdom that will soon follow – the Millennial Kingdom.
After the Millennial Kingdom, of course, will come the Eternal Kingdom where Christ will indeed “reign for ever and ever.”
Both coming kingdoms seem to be in view, with the Millennial Kingdom in the near-term and the Eternal Kingdom being the final fulfillment of this heavenly exhortation.
“And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.”
Analysis: The key to this passage is the context; that of Satan and his fallen angels finally being banished from access to heaven.
Many seem to overlook the fact that Satan and the fallen angels have this access to God in heaven. We read about this in the book of Job:
“Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them… Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the Lord.” – Job 1:6, 2:1
But why does Satan have access to the throne of God, and why is evil personified allowed in heaven?
Because the plans of God are not only for mankind, but for the angels as well. Undoubtedly, the holy angels are extremely interested in their brethren who fell with Lucifer when they rebelled just as much as they are interested in how God is saving fallen mankind through the gospel of Messiah’s cross and His indwelling Holy Spirit.
“Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.
“Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.” – 1 Peter 1:9-12
And as our study verse, Revelation 12:10, states, Satan has been accusing the children of God in His presence day and night.
Since Satan is finally banished from his access to heaven – in my eschatological view, in the middle of the Tribulation – the Salvation Kingdom rejoices as heaven begins preparations for The Marriage Supper of The Lamb that will occur not too long after this event!
In order to grow the Salvation Kingdom before it is too late, may we all keep Answering the Call of The Great Commission, and giving an answer to every man and woman who so desperately needs Jesus and asks us, “Why Am I Here and What Is It All About?”
Love, grace, mercy, and shalom in Messiah Yeshua, and Maranatha!
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