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Terms that perhaps are not always understood adequately are explained with references in this text.

Kingdom of God/Kingdom of Heaven

Kingdom refers to the rule of a king over a domain. The reference’s “Kingdom of God” and “Kingdom of Heaven” may appear to be synonymous, as Matt. 3:2 and Mark 1:15[1] both reference John the Baptist heralding the Kingdom and the versions differ mainly in this aspect. However, Matthew is the only one to use Kingdom of Heaven, and his perspective differs slightly. He emphasizes entering the Kingdom by righteousness (Matt. 5:20) compared to John’s gospel that emphasizes entering by new birth (John3:3). Matthew points out that in the future Jesus will weed out sinners from the Kingdom of Heaven[2] which seems to counter entry to the Kingdom by new birth as described in John[3]. Since imitating righteousness in human strength can lead to men following the true disciples without the seal of Holy Spirit[4] as part of a present Kingdom of Heaven, this means that new birth has not occurred and resolves the apparent dilemma. Only those gaining salvation by repentance and faith in Jesus are part of the Kingdom that belongs to God. Jesus[5] in the synoptic gospels proclaims initially the Kingdom was at hand, and then, as the passion drew nearer, he then changed the message to indicate that the Kingdom was “upon” them. The Kingdom was the Kingdom of David[6]&[7]. The Kingdom was never political[8] or geographical as Pilate[9] apparently knew, but was a dynamic concept or symbol. It was centered on God, messianic in Jesus, and brought salvation to men by Jesus’ death on the cross. The Kingdom was evidence of God’s sovereignty among his followers. The miracles and exorcisms that Jesus performed and prophecies he fulfilled provided this evidence. The gospel proclaimed by Christ’s followers after his death amplified this evidence.  Jesus spoke about the Kingdom of God[10] that existed in the present but was linked to the future. It was a totally different concept from the ancient Jewish concepts of a Kingdom, yet it met their apocalyptic expectations in an unexpected way. The son of Man(Jesus) reveals the Future Kingdom(Luke 17:20), and forces it upon the present earth by lowering Pharisaic standards that were man made, obtaining repentance of sinners, and enabling man’s salvation by the cross. He did this without contravening Gods scriptural intent from the old Testament. Meekness, mercy, and purity are hallmarks of those in the Kingdom and God blesses those in his Kingdom. The gifts of Holy Spirit[11] flow from the Kingdom. There can be hardship and suffering for many before they enter the Kingdom[12]. The Kingdom is however also a future kingdom. Matt 25:34 indicates it was prepared since the beginning of time. In 1 Cor 15:24, Paul explains the Kingdom is to be handed to God by Jesus after defeating dominion, authority and power. Then in Hebrews the Kingdom is declared unshakable[13]. Peter points out it is eternal[14], and in Revelation the apostle John explains it will come into being after the seventh trumpet sounds[15] and describes the glory of a central throne[16] from which the King of Kings will rule.

 Return of Christ (Parousia)

Parousia[17] refers to the coming of Christ Jesus. The word is generally translated “coming” but in a few cases is also translated “presence”. This perhaps mimics its application as it reflects the future coming of Christ at the time of early Christian writing that perhaps referred to two different aspects simultaneously; Christ’s return after the crucifixion, and the second return of Christ on the last day, of which the day and the hour are unknown, but the event is certain. Matthew[18] is the only gospel to use the term, reflecting on the fullness of sin at the time of Christ’s coming[19]. Jesus predicted his coming again indicating “some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom.” [20] This to “tell us enough regarding the time of Christ’s coming to satisfy our faith, but not our curiosity:”[21] Christ’s reference of the bridegroom indicates we must be in a state of constant readiness, like the attendants of a bride waiting for the bridegroom to arrive at a wedding[22]. Jesus himself did not know the exact time[23] but left it to the Fathers will. Signs of the event are detailed to build within the believer an expectation of the coming and a herald of its season. Whether these signs are to be taken metaphorical, or literally, depends on the reader but they incorporate references to earthquakes, wars, famines, false prophets, darkening of the sun and moon with disturbance of the heavens, and that which the current day church considers its responsibility-the gospel being preached to all nations. In some cases these signs appear to refer to the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, but this interpretation leaves historical truth pending, as events that immediately proceed this parousia do not appear to have occurred at that time. i.e

“Immediately after the distress of those days “‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’[24]

This focuses the events on the future. Apocalyptic imagery of the time is rife in the texts which makes common understanding to modern mankind more elusive. Christ will come on the clouds returning as he left this earth[25], there will be trumpet calls, voice of an archangel and the dead shall rise[26]. More easily understood signs are; apostacy and departure from the faith[27] , as well as hoarding wealth at the expense of others[28]. Statements such as “this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.”[29] as noted in Matthew, Mark and Luke, may seem to be incorrect since no apostle walks the earth today, however the word is “generation” and can mean the Jews, or even the Christians rather that that specific age group. If it did refer to that specific generation then the events at the cross, resurrection, transfiguration, and fall of Jerusalem can be said to have accounted for the statement. The Parousia seems to continually refer to a now and then aspect. Events that occurred at that time were foretastes of future events that will still come and supercede them. If the events of the fall of Jerusalem were horrific, how much more the events of the end times? We know it will be unexpected end and it is imminent. Revelation tells of the coming in apocalyptic terms; white horses, flaming eyes, sharp two edged sword and the rod of iron.[30] This is the day of judgment that comes for all men when Christ comes again.


The Church or “Ekklesia” is only mentioned in one gospel, that of Matthew. Here Peter is mentioned as the “Rock” and church discipline is addressed, indicating the church was an assumed fact of the early Christian time period.[31] The term referred to a believing community and there is no reference to it being used for a building[32] as it is sometimes used today. The gospels describe the emerging church community as a kingdom with Christ as the king. Jesus used parables such as that of the mustard seed and dragnet to describe the kingdom. The disciples are the nucleus of this church community. Luke in Acts describes the emergence of the church[33], and its mission which is to be a witness of the gospel to the ends of the earth[34]. Geographically the epistles show this church was situated in many different locations, starting in Jerusalem and spreading with time. The word church is used to describe the community at a specific locality eg. Rom 16:1, 1Cor 1:12, Phil1:2,Rev 1:4 but it is also used to describe the universal community  that includes these locality based churchs, eg. 1 Cor 15:9, 1 cor1:2, 1 Cor 12:28, Act 20:23. In this usage it is often referred to as the Church of God and is not constrained to a geographical locality. It comprises of many nationalities referred to as gentiles, Rom 16:4, 1 Cor 1:10. The basis of the church is the resurrection of Christ and outpouring of Holy Spirit at Pentecost and thereafter. All who believed in Christ, these events, and were baptized, were part of the church community. These communities gathered in groups to sing hymns[35], have public prayer, public worship, and the reading of scriptures. They had no creed or standard approach to their meetings. The communities were self regulating under the direction of the Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit directed the apostles who were the early leaders. The church disciplined its members as there was a standard that needed to be maintained in teaching[36] and believers needed to know why they made the commitment.[37] Community commitment was important and falsehood was not tolerated. The account of Annais and Sapphira’s death in Acts was a vivid extreme example of this. No universal policy on leadership is detailed. Aposles, elders (or bishops), deacons, evangelists and pastors were called to perform tasks such as teaching, caring for old, young and widows, evangelizing, administering the community, providing prophetic utterances all under the direction of Holy Spirit. The post ascension church was led by Holy Spirit. Over time the church migrates from being accepted by the Jewish community to being rejected to having its members cast out of synagogues. The fall of Jerusalem dispersed the church community into the known world where it ministered in many locations as separate components of a single body under control of Holy Spirit having Christ as the head. The church is referred to as the bride of Christ[38]. This is linked to the body metaphor in 1 Co 6:15 and exemplifies the love of Christ for the church with that of the loving groom for his bride, and her submission to his love. Another metaphor is that of the church as a building. This is not a reference to a brick and mortar edifice but to the community, with Christ as the capstone holding it together.  Charismatic gifts are received and employed by the church for service of others in a decent, orderly way. Women in the early church to had equal standing with men in many matters which was counter to the norm of that day. Christian women had higher authority in the church than they had in everyday life. The ordinances of baptism and the last supper are central observances of the early church. Baptism was a public initiation into the body of believers. Symbolically it centered submitting self to Christ’s death by submersion and rising from the water as a new person with a core belief in the risen Christ. The trials of the churches of Asia are revealed in Revelations which also describes the church as the bride of Christ.  The church community founded by the disciples will form part of the New Jerusalem. In this way the community of believers will continue into eternity in the physical presence of God.

Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is one of the three persons of the trinity.[39] The synoptic gospels explain Simon is shown to have had the holy spirit when Jesus is brought to the temple as a child. They explain that John the Baptist indicated that Jesus would baptize with the Spirit and with fire. The Spirit is shown to lead Jesus to temptation in the wilderness and sustain him through it. By the Spirit, Jesus casts out demons. Jesus promises the spirit for believers, explains that the Spirit inspires the scriptures and prayer.[40] Jesus also warns the disciples to wait after his death for the Spirit to provide them with power. The synoptics have less information on the Spirit as Jesus needed Pentecost[41] to occur before people would understand what he was saying. John in his gospel explains that the spirit is God, given in an unlimited manner, and that the Spirit was present at the baptism of Jesus. He explains that the Spirit is required for a person to enter the kingdom of God. He explains how living water can be compared to the Spirit.[42] In John the Spirit as Paraclete[43] is described as a Spirit of Truth from the Father, a counselor that will teach and bring to memory what Jesus did and said. Jesus explains that he will send the Spirit when he leaves and that the spirit will convict people of their sin, will perform a prophetic function, and bring glory to Jesus. The Spirit will live in the believers.[44] Jesus foreshadowing Pentecost breaths on the disciples[45] and tells them the Spirit will come.[46] In Acts the promise is delivered as the spirit comes on the believers in with fire and wind, empowering them to preach the good news. All believers now have access to Holy spirit if they repent, are baptized, receive forgiveness and believe in Jesus. The infilling is shown to occur both on individuals and corporately.  Holy spirit gives power to witness, supports prayer and praise. Sometimes the Spirit is received by laying on of hands and sometimes without this occurring. Prophecy occurs as with Agabus.[47] The Spirit brings knowledge that Gentile and Jew are in Gods plan to Peter who conveys this truth to the others who accept it.  Paul and Barnabas go out on gentile missions guided by the Spirit and the Spirit in a believer is seen as a seal of true belief. Paul explains the Spirit is a source of power and truth. No one can say Jesus is Lord except the Spirit reveal it and once united with the Lord, then the Spirit within the believer makes him one with the rest of the believers. The Spirit is seen to sanctify, illuminated, liberate and guide a believer. Believers are told not to grieve the Spirit but to seek the gifts of the Spirit for building the church and Christian character. The Spirit brings unity to believers baptizing them into one body. Paul promotes being full of the Spirit. The writer of Hebrews adds to this that rejecting Jesus angers the Holy Spirit and that Jesus offered himself through Holy Spirit. Peter in his epistle refers to the Spirit as the Spirit of Christ and Jude presupposes that believers must possess the Spirit. Revelations refers to seven spirits, which is a perfect number. Since John already speaks of only one Spirit this must be understood to be aspects of the Spirit showing completeness and perfection. John claims to have been carried away in the Spirit and writing under the control of Holy Spirit. This shows the  connection of the Spirit to the future kingdom and concludes what was started by the Spirit in Genesis.


[1]               Evans, The great doctrines of the Bible, referring to Kingdom of Heaven.

[2]               Matt 13:41, Parable of Weeds

[3]               John3:3-5

[4]               Eph 3:40

[5]               Concise theology : A guide to historic Christian beliefs,

[6]               Easton’s Bible Dictionary, Mark 11:10

[7]               Harper's Bible dictionary, “Kingdom of God”

[8]               NIV John 3:3-5

[9]               NIV John 13:36

[10]             NIVAct 1:3

[11]             NIV Gal 5:19-22

[12]             NIV Act 14:22

[13]             NIV Heb12:28

[14]             NIV 2 Pet 1:11

[15]             NIV Rev 11:15

[16]             NIV Rev 22:1

[17]             Merriam-Webster's collegiate dictionary.

[18]             NIV Mat 24:37

[19]             Zuck, , A biblical theology of the New Testament,

[20]             NIV Mat 16:28, Mark9:1

[21]             Evans, W., & Coder, S. M. The great doctrines of the Bible. – The time of Christ’s second coming

[22]             Drane, J. W. 2000. Introducing the New Testament (Matthew 25:1–13).

[23]             NIV Mat 24:14

[24]             NIV Mat 24:27

[25]             NIV Act 1:11

[26]             NIV 1 Thes 4:13

[27]             Evans,. The great doctrines of the Bible, 1 Tim. 4:1, 2 Tim. 3:1, Luke 18:8

[28]             NIV James 5
[29]             NIV Mark 13:30
[30]             NIV Rev 19:11

[31]             Guthrie, Donald, New Testament Theology

[32]             Swanson, New Naves - Church

[33]             Zuck, A biblical theology of the New Testament-Ecclesiology

[34]             NIV Act1:8.

[35]             1 cor 14:26, Eph 5:14

[36]             NIV Rom 6:17

[37]             NIV 1 Cor 15:3-8

[38]             Morris, New Testament Theology

[39]             Enns, The Moody handbook of theology.

[40]             Packer, Concise theology : A guide to historic Christian beliefs

[41]             Guthrie, Donald, New Testament Theology

[42]             NIV John 7:38&39

[43]             Achtemeier, P. J., Harper's Bible dictionary

[44]             NIV John 14:17

[45]             Kaiser, Hard sayings of the Bible

[46]             NIV John 20:22

[47]             NIV Acts 1:28 and 21:10


Achtemeier, P. J., Harper's Bible dictionary  Harper & Row, P.,  Society of Biblical Literature, 1985. 
Bloemenstein John, New Testament Theology, Audio 1, Trinity College of the Bible and Theological seminary, 2005 
Drane, J. W. Introducing the New Testament (Completely rev. and updated.) Oxford, Lion Publishing, 2000. 
Easton, M, Easton's Bible dictionary, Oak Harbor, WA, Logos Research Systems, Inc. 1996, c1897. 
Enns, P. P., The Moody handbook of theology, Chicago, Ill., Moody Press, 997, c1989. 
Evans, W., & Coder, S. M., The great doctrines of the Bible, Includes index, (Enl. ed. /), Chicago, Moody Press, 1998, c1974. 
Guthrie, Donald, New Testament Theology, Illinois, USA, Inter-Varsity Press, 1990. 
Kaiser, W. C., Hard sayings of the Bible, Downers Grove, Il, InterVarsity,  1997, c1996. 
Merriam-Webster, I.. Merriam-Webster's collegiate dictionary. Includes index. (10th ed.). Springfield, Mass., U.S.A Merriam-Webster, 1996, c1993 
Morris, Leon, New Testament Theology, Grand Rapids, Michigan, Zondervan, 1st Edition, 1990. 
Packer, J. I., Concise theology : A guide to historic Christian beliefs, Wheaton, Ill., Tyndale House, 1995, c1993. 
Swanson, J., & Nave, O.  New Nave's. Oak Harbor, Logos Research Systems, 1994. 
Theisssen, Henry Clarence, Lectures in Systematic theology, Grand Rapids, Michigan, Williams B Eerdmans publishing company, revised ed. April 1987. The Holy Bible : New International Version, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996, c1984.

Zuck, R. B., Bock, D. L., & Dallas Theological Seminary, A biblical theology of the New Testament, Chicago Moody Press, 1996, c1994.