The Kingdom of God is Within You

 

An eloquent writer in the WordPress community recently posed the challenging question: “If you didn’t know anything about the Kingdom [of God], how would you define it?”

When defining the Kingdom of God, the first verse I think of is part of Luke 17:21: “The Kingdom of God is within you.”

I always drew great hope and comfort from that verse. “The Kingdom of God is within you.” I felt it was a treasure hunt of sorts—it was the Lord telling us that we can look within ourselves and find the holiness of His perfect Kingdom, through the Presence of the Holy Spirit. It made me feel comforted to think of this, because there are times when I feel so inadequate. But then I think to myself, the Kingdom of God is within me, waiting to be discovered! I can do more, through Him Who strengthens me!

Yet who am I, and who’s to say I know what I’m talking about? As I read different perspectives on the subject, I began wondering, what if I’m wrong? When you question something you believe in, and face the thought that it may not be exist in the way you thought it did, it shakes you up inside. It really “rocks” your world, in the earthquake sense of the word.

So I turned to the wisdom of others. I belong to a discussion group in which we discuss the works of 19th/20th century author Grace Livingston Hill; and to this group, I asked the question, “Am I wrong?” Their answers have uplifted, enlightened, and inspired me.

One friend had this commentary, which has helped me find peace and confidence in my own opinion:

 

“As for this one particular verse, the best way is to go to the original Greek or Hebrew
texts to see what they say. Often, words and phrases in the original text could not be easily translated to English because there just wasn’t anything comparable. I believe it is a mistake to assume that English translations are the final word.

The connotation of a particular phrase can change from Greek to English, or even from Grace’s time to our time. So “within you” may mean something different to you and I than it did to the KJV translators in 1611 and something else to those who wrote down what Jesus said. The huge number of translations is proof that not everyone agrees with everyone else’s interpretation of the original text.

Do you want a perfect example of changing connotation? If I told someone of Grace’s day to “reach out and touch someone”, they would physically touch another person. However, someone from my generation [look out, I'm showing my age] would probably pick up the phone and call someone! There are many other words and phrases that have changed meaning dramatically just in our lifetime—Just read a GLH book to find more! We have to be very careful about reading today’s meaning into yesterday’s writing, especially where the Bible is concerned.

Here’s what I’ve found on BibleGateway.com after reading your post :

Young’s Literal Translation of the Bible by Robert Young is an extremely literal translation that attempts to preserve the tense and word usage as found in the original Greek and Hebrew writings. Here is Luke 17:20-21 in this version, courtesy of BibleGateway.com:

And having been questioned by the Pharisees, when the reign of God doth come, he answered them, and said, `The reign of God doth not come with observation; nor shall they say, Lo, here; or lo, there; for lo, the reign of God is within you.’

The Amplified Bible covers both —the brackets are part of the translation and are not mine. “Nor will people say, Look! Here [it is]! or, See, [it is] there! For behold, the kingdom of God is within you [in your hearts] and among you [surrounding you].

American Standard Version: neither shall they say, Lo, here! or, There! for lo, the kingdom of God is within you.

New Life Version: It will not be said, ‘See, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For the holy nation of God is in you.”

Wycliffe New Testament: neither they shall say, Lo! here, or lo[!] there; for lo! the realm of God is within you.

Worldwide English New Testament: People will not be able to say, “Look, here it is!” or “There it is! That is because the kingdom of God is inside you.’

Many versions (like NIV) include both “within” and “among” with one or the other as a footnoted possible translation. On BibleGateway, some are saying within and some are saying among, so it looks like the jury is still out.

Jesus did, after all, say specifically that His Kingdom was not of this world in John 18. In Luke, the pharisees were asking about a literal kingdom on earth, but Jesus seems to be pointing out that it couldn’t be seen here or there, it was somewhere that it couldn’t be seen.

Be encouraged and listen to what God is speaking to you. After all, He’s got the FINAL, final word.”

 

Another friend shared this definition of the Kingdom with me:

 

“The kingdom of heaven is the church living out the purposes of its king Jesus while we wait his return to rule his kingdom on earth.”

 

A third friend summed up both perspectives beautifully with her own:

 

“The Kingdom is within each of us who are true Christians, and the Kingdom will also be an actual happening/place one day in the future for those of us who believe.”

 

I’m grateful for the question, the challenge to my beliefs, and the wisdom of others. I do believe, as I always have, that Christ’s kingdom will come on earth some day. In the meantime, I hold with confidence to the notion that his Kingdom truly does exist inside us, too.

I know it does, because I have seen it, in all its glory, within others.

 

15 Responses to “The Kingdom of God is Within You”

  1. Well said! I especially like the phrase “…the Holy Nation of God is within you.” Glad my little question spurred you to such depth of study and encouraged your friends to think too. I love the Kingdom of God because it contains so many, like you and your friends who are seeking it “first” along with “righteouness”.

    greg http://www.theviewfromthejunipertree.com

  2. BTW, love the art too!

    greg

  3. Thank you!!

    And thank you for your own faithful thoughts on the Kingdom. I look forward to reading more!

  4. What an informative blog. Thank you for taking the time to do this research on one of my favorite Bible verses.

    My perspective is different, a little, because, though I truly love Jesus…I have little faith in the humans who created a religion around him.

    To me, this verse implies that our connection to our Creator is deeply personal and that no one, no book, no teacher, no HUMAN can tell us who or what God is. We can only experience that through our personal connection, within. I experience my Creator in unlimited ways and I live by my faith. I am deeply grateful for my inner connection, because through that connection I am able to see the miraculous in everything.

    Thank you, again, for a great blog. :)

    Bettina

  5. Bettina, I have to say, the Kingdom of God truly is within you. Thank you for a beautiful comment!

  6. I am amazed more and more how often people are looking into this subject lately. Perhaps the LORD is working something! (Matthew 24:14?).

    Jesus spoke so often about the Kingdom of God yet how often do we hear sermons on it in our churches? I know I had to take time to study just what it was Jesus was talking in the gospels, because I wanted to sound like Him.

    What are you thinking on this subject today? :-)

  7. I’m thinking I’m happy to be part of it! :-) :-)

    I’m also finding it interesting how every person has a different thought or perception about the nature of the Kingdom. Every one of us is unique.

    While I believe our Heavenly Father has His plan and rules all laid out, I also feel that He gives loving attention to the individuality of each of His children, and speaks to each heart and soul in a way they can understand. That could be why everyone has such different insight—and that way, we are able to learn from each other and come closer together.

    Thank you for your comment!

  8. I too and happy that there is diversity in the church, God speaks on that much in Scripture. At the same time however, as you have said, God does have a plan that He wants us to be apart of. I think he has laid it out clear in Scripture.

    I think more than just the Kingdom of God being the hope of the faithful, it is also the theme of the gospel message itself. This is interesting to note as well because Jesus consistently spoke of people “entering the Kingdom” as well as he went around preaching the “gospel of the Kingdom (ex: Luke 4:43)” and telling people to “repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand (Mk 1:14-15, etc)”

  9. I know, for myself at least, I plan to read more deeply on the subject.

    Isn’t that interesting—how God does have rules and plans, yet still speaks on a personal level to each unique member of the church. Isn’t that just like a loving Father, who creates rules for His children, but still honors their individuality and enjoys having camaraderie with them.

  10. Great. If you are interested, I’d be happy to send you a book one of my college professor’s wrote on the subject, our church gives it as a gift to those interested. If you are, email me at vgluckin@gmail.com

    Have a great day!
    -Victor

  11. Thank you for that information! :) :)

  12. If the we, the people of God, the nation of God, are kingdom citizens who don’t wage war like other kingdom’s citizens do, why do we make the new kingdom Jesus is announcing an inner, invisible body?

  13. I have always believed that just because you go to church, does not make you a Christian. Your character defines who you are. I have known some people who attend church, lift their hands up in praise, but once they leave, they are back to their old ways. I believe that you attend church, listen to the word and carry it through to the next Service. So indeed, the Kingdom of God is within you… How you treat people everyday, you character, faith, praying for those who deceive us, totally being Christ-like.

  14. Very true! What a beautiful way to look at that phrase!

  15. I am so happy to see that i am not the only individual who has pondered these words. I have been reading alot, and what i discovered is that in many ways we are like Jesus when we are at our best, at our best that is, when we have a full understanding and knowledge about who we really are. At the root we are all children of the father, hence what we are seeking we already have, however, we must have faith in who we are at the core in order to see the kingdom of heaven. Then it will become apparent that the kingdom of God is also all around us within everyone else.After all we came from the light and therefore we are apart of the light. Think about it all animals on earth have a home why wouldn’t we. We are like turtles, however, they carry their homes on their backs while ours is within us, just waiting for us to discover the key and truly see the light that is within us all.

Your comments are welcome