Many will argue that when the Bible speaks of the Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of God, that they are interchangeable titles for the same thing. The Bible is clear that they are entirely different from one another. But the Kingdom of Heaven refers to a physical kingdom while the Kingdom of God refers to a spiritual kingdom. We are going to turn to the Scriptures to show why this is most assuredly the case.
We’ll start with Matthew 4:17 and Mark 1:15.
Matthew 4:17 “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Mark 1:15 “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.”
Those who oppose the belief that there are two separate Kingdoms will argue that both of these verses come from the same sermon and that Jesus was using both terms to refer to the same place.
But Jesus is using both titles because in this context, He is ready to set up BOTH Kingdoms! The operations of both Kingdoms will collide. That’s precisely why you’ll see similarities and differences between the two Kingdoms in the Bible.
Our first big piece of evidence that proves the existence of two Kingdoms is found in the following verse.
Matthew 11:12 “From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.”
You must ask yourself this question: if there is violence in the Kingdom of Heaven, how could it be a spiritual Kingdom? In Heaven, there is only peace. There is never war, chaos, violence, or bloodshed. This means that the Kingdom of Heaven is a physical, earthly Kingdom.
Now let’s take a look at the next verse:
1 Corinthians 15:50 “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.”
This verse makes it clear that the Kingdom of God is a spiritual Kingdom and therefore distinct from the physical Kingdom of Heaven.
Based on the truth found in the biblical evidence, you cannot deny that God has both a physical AND spiritual Kingdom!
Let’s dig further into God’s Word. In John chapter 3, Jesus has a profound conversation with Nicodemus, a Pharisee who had come to visit Him for wisdom.
John 3:3-5 “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.”
Here Jesus clearly states that entering the Kingdom of God is a spiritual rebirth. It is not a physical Kingdom.
Now let’s turn to Acts 1:6: “When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, LORD, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel.”
Why would the disciples ask Jesus about restoring the Kingdom again if there wasn’t a physical kingdom? How can you restore something that didn’t exist?
The disciples are waiting for Jesus to restore the people, land, and temple. They were waiting for God’s promise to be fulfilled, the promise of God’s ruling on Earth in the Kingdom of Israel. This is a physical Kingdom, a tangible place in the physical realm. They are not speaking of Heaven here, but of a Kingdom on Earth.
Those in opposition to the truth of two Kingdoms like to use Revelation 20:6 to argue against it: “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.”
Others tend to argue that you can’t enter this Kingdom until after the tribulation when you have your resurrection, but at the tribulation, there will be a physical Kingdom here on Earth!
Both Jesus and Paul talk about the Kingdom of God (spiritual Kingdom) in the present tense. That’s because the Kingdom of God is a present reality. We have our salvation in Jesus right now. The Kingdom of Heaven is a future Kingdom. It’s the Kingdom we witness in Revelation 20. All of this meshes with Acts 1 and the restoration of Israel as the Kingdom of Heaven.
Romans 11:28 “All Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.”
God comes down on the Earth and physically rules the people. This salvation is future tense, and it is a national cleansing. It is not the current, spiritual salvation we receive in Christ. It is the Kingdom of Heaven being restored on the Earth. There is a difference between personal, spiritual salvation and the salvation of Israel.
Those in opposition say the 1 Corinthians 15 resurrection is the first resurrection. They say you can’t have a rapture or resurrection before the tribulation. That’s not true. First is the resurrection of the tribulation saints. The second is for lost people at the great white throne of judgment. You have to look at it in context with Revelation 20. The Bible is not saying it’s the first resurrection ever. We know from the story of Lazarus and the testimony from Matthew 27 that there were prior resurrections.
These resurrections are in context with Revelation 20. 1 Corinthians 15:23 shows a sequence of three resurrections; the resurrection of Christ, followed by the church, and then the tribulation.
1 Corinthians 15:23 “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.”
The resurrection at the end is not a resurrection for lost people; it’s only for saved people.
We pray that you will thoughtfully consider the evidence before you. God has two distinct Kingdoms, and He makes it clear through His Word.