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Kingdom of God

Kingdom of God. A symbol or concept in ancient Judaism (though more usually ‘kingdom of heaven’) especially prominent in the preaching of Jesus. In rabbinic literature the idea of keeping the Torah was likened to taking upon oneself the ‘yoke of the kingdom’. In Jesus' preaching the kingdom of God (or equivalent ‘kingdom of heaven’) was a central theme (Mark 1. 15; John 3. 5) but its meaning is elusive. Usually it is said to belong to the future (e.g. Matthew 6. 10; Mark 14. 25); sometimes it appears to be already present (Luke 11. 20); most often it is spoken of in parables (‘The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed … ’, Mark 4. 26 ff.).

The identification of the kingdom of God with the Church was made by Augustine, who opposed it to ‘the kingdom of the Devil’. Following him, medieval writers tended to equate it with the visible hierarchical church. Modern liberal theologians tend to speak of the kingdom of God generally as that state of human affairs in accord with God's will.

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