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Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, 21 nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.[1]

Source: Luke 17:20-21

When will God’s reign (aka the kingdom) come? That was and is the big question. The Messiah (the Anointed One) would usher it in.

It has already happened, Jesus declared. Jesus is the Son of God and the Messiah. Jesus came to us over 2,000 years ago. He established God’s reign. I am a citizen of God’s country right now. Nothing to look forward to from that point of view.

Of course, many have not applied for citizenship yet. God’s goal for me is to spread the good news (aka Gospel) to everyone I can.  There is much work to be done.

The statement “the kingdom of God is within you” has challenged Bible translators and interpreters for centuries, and many explanations have been given. One thing we can be sure of is that He was not telling the unbelieving Pharisees that they had the kingdom of God in their hearts!

  • The Greek preposition can mean “within,” “among,” or “in the midst of.” Jesus was saying, “Don’t look for the kingdom ‘out there’ unless it is first in your own heart”.
  • At the same time, He may also have been saying, “The fact that I am here in your midst is what is important, for I am the King. How can you enter the kingdom if you reject the King?”
  • The Pharisees were preoccupied with the great events of the future but were ignoring the opportunities of the present.

Having answered the Pharisees, Jesus then turned to His disciples to instruct them about the coming of the kingdom. He warned them not to become so obsessed with His return that they ended up doing nothing else but trying to track Him down. This is a good warning to believers who do nothing but study prophecy. Certainly we should look for His return and long to see Him come, but at the same time, we should be busy doing His work when He comes.

To begin with, His coming will affect the whole world, so it is foolish for anyone to follow false prophets who say “He is here!” or “He is there!” Furthermore, His coming will be as sudden as a flash of lightning. While a study of the prophetic Scriptures will help us understand the general characteristics of the time of His coming, we cannot know the day or the hour. It is futile to investigate signs and try to calculate the day of His coming.[2]

The good news: We faithfully follow Jesus. Jesus is already our King. We do not have to wait. It is ours now.

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Lk 17:20–21). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[2] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, p. 246). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.