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Yesterday, we tried to find out when the kingdom would come by just looking at Luke’s two books. Today, we’ll do Matthew.
The word kingdom is used 55 times in Matthew, so he uses it roughly the same amount of times as Luke does (55/54). That’s a lot of ground to cover, but before we get started, here is every kingdom passage in Matthew:
lemma:βασιλεία in Matthew
Matthew 3:2; 4:8, 17, 23; 5:3, 10, 19, 20; 6:10, 33; 7:21; 8:11, 12; 9:35; 10:7; 11:11, 12; 12:25, 26, 28; 13:11, 19, 24, 31, 33, 38, 41, 43, 44, 45, 47, 52; 16:19, 28; 18:1, 3, 4, 23; 19:12, 14, 23, 24; 20:1, 21; 21:31, 43; 22:2; 23:13; 24:7, 14; 25:1, 34; 26:29Exported from Logos Bible Software
You’ll notice that there are a lot of mentions in Matthew 13. That is due to all of the “the kingdom of heaven is like…” passages. One more note. In doing this, I will try to not let the Luke passages and conclusion influence this article. While I will include cross references to Luke when necessary, I want this to be as independent as possible.
The first passage is a statement John the Baptist makes. He said,
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”Matthew 3:2
“At hand” means “is near.” In other words, the kingdom of God was about to arrive. In the Scriptures, the coming of the kingdom meant judgement, so John told them it was time for them to repent. Jesus preached the same message in Matthew 4:17, and this message is called “the gospel of the kingdom.”
Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people.Matthew 4:23
Hang on to this “gospel of the kingdom” term.
In Matthew 5, Jesus tells the people something that would seem unusual to us.
Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.Matthew 5:17–20
The Law wouldn’t pass until every part of it would be accomplished. Then He explains that this means that nobody can add to or take away from the commandments or they will not be able to enter the kingdom of Heaven. After telling His disciples to pray “Your kingdom come” and to “seek first the kingdom of heaven,” He reveals when they would enter the kingdom of Heaven, and, as seen above, He reveals how long they would keep the commandments before all of them would be fulfilled:
Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’Matthew 7:21–23
They would enter the kingdom of Heaven on “that day.” What day is that? In the passage right before this one, He talks about the time when some would enter life while others would go to destruction. He then equates this to being “cut down and thrown into the fire” which is a callback to John in Matthew 3:10. So, they would enter the kingdom at the judgement when some would enter life while others would go to destruction, and this kingdom was at hand which means the judgement was at hand. Oh yeah, this also means that the fulfillment of the Law was at hand as well. What happened to the kingdom coming in its fullness on Pentecost? Well, Jesus must have been confused in His sermon on the mount, but maybe He will clear it up for us later, so let’s move on.
Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled and said to those who were following, “Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel. I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”Matthew 8:10–12
In this passage, Jesus is responding to the faith of a centurion. He tells him that many will come and recline a the table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Wait. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Aren’t they dead? Aren’t they supposed to be in Hades? You know, Abraham’s Bosom? Well, apparently they are in the kingdom too which means they’ve been… resurrected. Huh.
Notice also in this passage that we have more people being thrown into outer darkness. Specifically “the sons of the kingdom” would be cast out. This is a reference to what Jesus said about Israel. They didn’t have faith. Though the kingdom came through them, many unfortunately chose to take up the sword and reject God as their ruler like they did in 1 Samuel 8.
Some of what is said next is a repeat of the passages we looked at yesterday, so we’ll skip down a bit to Matthew 13.
In Matthew 13, Jesus tells a series of parables about the kingdom. The one we are interested in is found in Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43.
Jesus presented another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away. But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also. The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ And he said to them, ‘An enemy has done this!’ The slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?’ But he said, ‘No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them. Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.” ’Matthew 13:24–30
Then He left the crowds and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.” And He said, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man, and the field is the world; and as for the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one; and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are angels. So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then THE RIGHTEOUS WILL SHINE FORTH AS THE SUN in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.Matthew 13:36–43
There is a lot here, so let’s just ask one question: when would the righteous be gathered into the barn or, as Jesus explained, shine forth as the sun in the kingdom? At the end of the age. So, the Law would be fulfilled at the end of the age at a time of judgement, and all of this was at hand. Side note: do you remember what the capital letters mean in my version? Old Testament reference. This one comes from Daniel 12:3. Go read Daniel 12, and then come back.
I do want to do one more from Matthew 13 just because it is cool.
He spoke another parable to them, “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three pecks of flour until it was all leavened.”Matthew 13:33
Who took three measures of flour? Sarah did that for God in Genesis 18. Alright, let’s carry on.
In Matthew 16, Jesus says something that He said in Luke, but I want to mention it here too.
For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and WILL THEN REPAY EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS. Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.Matthew 16:27–28
He mentions judgement, angels, glory, and the arrival of the kingdom before some would die. Why would someone divide these two passages when all of Matthew (and Luke) connect all these things. Another side note: Jesus would judge people according to their deeds at the end of the Millennium (Revelation 20:12, 22:12). So, apparently the end of the “thousands years” was at hand as well…
We just have a few more to go. This next passage reveals that Jesus expected His audience to be able to enter the kingdom.
“But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go work today in the vineyard.’ And he answered, ‘I will not’; but afterward he regretted it and went. The man came to the second and said the same thing; and he answered, ‘I will, sir’; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you that the tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him; but the tax collectors and prostitutes did believe him; and you, seeing this, did not even feel remorse afterward so as to believe him.”Matthew 21:28–32
Now, we have a couple more parables about rejection, judgement, and fire. I’ll quote the whole parable, but feel free to read the highlighted bits.
“Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who PLANTED A VINEYARD AND PUT A WALL AROUND IT AND DUG A WINE PRESS IN IT, AND BUILT A TOWER, and rented it out to vine-growers and went on a journey. When the harvest time approached, he sent his slaves to the vine-growers to receive his produce. The vine-growers took his slaves and beat one, and killed another, and stoned a third. Again he sent another group of slaves larger than the first; and they did the same thing to them. But afterward he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the vine-growers saw the son, they said among themselves, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him and seize his inheritance.’ They took him, and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. Therefore when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vine-growers?” They said to Him, “He will bring those wretches to a wretched end, and will rent out the vineyard to other vine-growers who will pay him the proceeds at the proper seasons.” Jesus said to them, “Did you never read in the Scriptures, ‘THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED, THIS BECAME THE CHIEF CORNER stone; THIS CAME ABOUT FROM THE LORD, AND IT IS MARVELOUS IN OUR EYES’? Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people, producing the fruit of it. And he who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust.”Matthew 21:33–44
Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. And he sent out his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding feast, and they were unwilling to come. Again he sent out other slaves saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited, “Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fattened livestock are all butchered and everything is ready; come to the wedding feast.” ’ But they paid no attention and went their way, one to his own farm, another to his business, and the rest seized his slaves and mistreated them and killed them. But the king was enraged, and he sent his armies and destroyed those murderers and set their city on fire. Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy.’Matthew 22:1–8
The next one is just one verse long, but I’ll quote another two just to make it pop.
This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come. Therefore when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains.Matthew 24:14–16
Wait. The gospel of the kingdom would be preached after the ascension of Jesus? What was the gospel of the kingdom again? “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2). This means that the arrival of the kingdom would be sometime after the gospel was preached to the whole world at a time called “the end.” This is the same “end of the age” that Jesus talked about already and connected to the fall of the temple, the book of Daniel, and the judgement (Matthew 13:36-43, 24:1-3). This passage, by the way, is parallel with Luke 21. I encourage you to look at that part of yesterday’s article again. As for both this passage and Luke 21, Jesus makes it clear that the events He predicts would be fulfilled within that generation.
Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.Matthew 24:34
Finally, we come to Matthew 25. Matthew 25:1-30 contains two parables about the kingdom of heaven, and there are some really nifty parallels to 1 Thessalonians 4 and some passages in Luke in there, but I don’t want to take all the fun away from you, so I’ll let you find those. Of course, you can also go check out my free PDF commentary on Thessalonians for some light assistance. The passage we will focus on is Matthew 25:31-46. I’ll just quote a few passages from here.
But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.’Matthew 25:31–34
These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.Matthew 25:46
They would inherit the kingdom at a time of judgement. This fits with everything that we’ve read today, but it doesn’t fit with the traditional Pentecost view or the idea that Matthew 24 is a divided discourse.
Alright, so that’s it for Matthew. I may have missed something, but that’s why I included a list of the verses. Below are the conclusions from today’s article and yesterday’s. Tomorrow we will do Mark and Paul.
Conclusions So Far
The saints would enter the kingdom soon, but it would be at a time of judgement called “the end of the age” that would be a fulfillment of the Law and the prophets, including Daniel 9 and 12, and Abraham would be resurrected into this kingdom. The judgement in the previous statement would take place within that generation.
According to Luke, their entrance into the kingdom would be when Jesus would come again at the fall of Jerusalem. At this time, judgement would take place and the righteous would be resurrected.
Thanks for another insightful exposition of Matthew’s Gospel. Just a perusal of your article reveals the nature of the the coming Kingdom and the end of the age, which “Mosaic age” terminates in AD 70. Your analysis of both Luke and Matthew are extremely helpful in differentiating between the two ages. Within the new age, we witness the coming of God’s New Creation–the Messianic Age. I eagerly await your next study. Keep up the good work.