|KINGDOM OF HEAVEN |
An expression used in the New Testament to signify the reign, dispensation, or administration of Jesus Christ. The ancient prophets, when describing the character of the Messiah, Daniel 2:44 7:13,14 Micah 4:1-7, and even when speaking of his humiliation and sufferings, were wont to intersperse hint of his power, his reign, and his divinity. The Jews, overlooking the spiritual import of this language, expected the Messiah to appear as a temporal king, exercising power over his enemies, restoring the throne of David to all its splendor, subduing the nations, and rewarding his friends and faithful servants in proportion to their fidelity and services. Hence the contests among his disciples, ere they had fully learned Christ, about precedency in his kingdom; and hence probably the sons of Zebedee desired the two chief places in it, or those nearest to their endeared Master and Lord. They afterwards learned that his kingdom was not of this world, John 18:36-37; that its origin, spirit, means, and ends were spiritual and heavenly. It has indeed its outward form, the visible church, Matthew 13:47, and bestows on the world the richest of temporal blessings; but its true dominion is in the souls of men. It embraces all who by the Spirit of Christ are united to him as their divine Head and King, to love, serve, and enjoy him for ever. His work on earth was to establish it, Matthew 3:2. He introduced his disciples into it while on earth, and more fully after his resurrection and ascension, John 20:22 Acts 2:32-36; is "head over all things," in order to make it triumphant and supreme even on earth, Daniel 7:27 Ephesians 1:20-22. It will be perfected in heaven, Matthew 8:11, and will never cease, Luke 1:33, even when the mediatorial reign of the Savior is accomplished, 1 Corinthians 15:28.