How does the NT use the word kingdom? What does it mean to enter the kingdom, seek the kingdom, or even proclaim God's kingdom (Acts 28:31)?
1. The word kingdom appears 157 times in 148 verses in the NT, but it does not have a single consistent meaning or definition from Matthew 3:2 to Revelation 16:10. What we find is that context matters.
2. Most often, kingdom means the 'reign of God' as it does in Matthew 6:33, 'seek first the kingdom of God.' First, above everything else, seek that God reigns in your life. Is He your Lord? When we pray 'your kingdom come,' we are praying for two things simultaneously. We are praying that the reign of God will grow, and we are praying for the return of Christ to establish his reign.
3. There is no difference between the 'kingdom of God' and the 'kingdom of heaven.' Matthew alone uses the term ‘kingdom of heaven’. Both refer to the absolute rule and reign of God in heaven and in individual lives as they submit to his R-E-I-G-N. Read Luke 17:20-21. Christ said, 'my kingdom is not of this world.' And the thief on the cross said, 'remember me when you come into your kingdom.' Revelation 11:15 promises that 'the kingdom of this world will become the kingdom of our Lord and his Christ.' And that ‘he shall reign forever.' In one verse, we see an example of the already and not yet aspect of God's kingdom.
4. Sometimes kingdom refers to the R-E-A-L-M where God is, and where the believer goes when he or she dies (Acts 14:22). Jesus said, 'unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God' (John 3:3,5). This kingdom is eternal (2 Peter 1:11) and heavenly (2 Tim 4:18).
5. Occasionally kingdom refers to earthly kingdoms or the realm over which Satan is ruling as in Matthew 12:16 and Revelation 16.10.
6. One can quickly get confused concerning the kingdom. Paul said the kingdom is not what we eat or drink (Rom 14:17), but Jesus said, 'the kingdom is not coming in ways that can be observed' and 'we will eat bread in the kingdom of God' (Lk 17:20 & 14:15). This shows me the strikingly different ways the NT uses the word. Paul is speaking of something present in a spiritual sense, while Jesus describes it both ways.
7. Finally, what is the gospel of the kingdom of God? Jesus said, 'And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come' (Mt 24:14; Acts 8:12). The gospel of the kingdom is the good news that the king died for your sins so that you don't have to die in your sins (Jn 8:24). The good news of the kingdom is the king who died for your sins is not dead—He rose from the grave, ascended to his throne in heaven, and is returning to establish an eternal kingdom on this 'new' earth and you by faith in him can be part of this eternal kingdom. The question is: ‘Will you be?’