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Kingdom of God: Heaven or Earth? Early Christian view

Future Kingdom of God on earth from Jerusalem, Israel: What changed and why do people NOW believe the church is the kingdom of God on earth and no other one will be established by Jesus?

The prophets of old testament, Jesus and the apostles and the Christians until the end of second century believed that the kingdom of God will be established on earth when Jesus comes again. Apostle John went on to reveal that this kingdom will last for ‘1,000’ years. But why is this original gospel so unpopular today and every one thinks the earth will be destroyed and all saints will go to heaven? A Christian known as Origen, about 200 years after Christ, was so influential that after waiting for this kingdom and he never saw it, he became convinced that its not going to be a literal kingdom but allegorical. St. Augustine (300 years after Christ) believed in the kingdom too but when Roman Catholic Church got political power through Constantine, he became more convinced that the Catholic church is the kingdom of God on earth. The protestants also took up this idea, till today, most churches do not believe that the saints will rule with Christ on earth. Today, this view is no longer popular despite the fact that it’s the truth but God is still calling out people to follow the true Christianity – the unpopular narrow way. Maybe in my next post, I’ll post the early church fathers view of the kingdom of God. But read Isaiah 2:2-4; 11; Luke 1:30-32, Revelation 5:9,10; Romans 11:25-34; 1Cor 15:24-28.

Please read the bible passages and don’t just scroll up.

The kingdom of God on earth: Early church fathers’ view :

Apostle John

According to tradition recorded in Acts of John, went about teaching that Jesus will destroy the world government and set up his own on earth after MANY MANY years to come. This threatened Domitian the emperor then because John specifically mentioned that Jesus will destroy the remnant of Rome, when he comes. Read :

“And the king (Domitian) said to him: Are you John, who said that my kingdom would speedily be uprooted, and that another king, Jesus, was going to reign instead of me? And John answered and said to him: You also shall reign for many years given you by God, and after you very many others; and when the times of the things upon earth have been fulfilled, out of heaven shall come a King, eternal, true, Judge of living and dead, to whom every nation and tribe shall confess, through whom every earthly power and dominion shall be brought to nothing, and every mouth speaking great things shall be shut. This is the mighty Lord and King of everything that has breath and flesh, the Word and Son of the living One, who is Jesus Christ.

At this Domitian said to him: What is the proof of these things? I am not persuaded by words only; words are a sight of the unseen. What can you show in earth or heaven by the power of him who is destined to reign, as you say. For he will do it, if he is the Son of God. And immediately John asked for a deadly poison. And the king having ordered poison to be given to him, they brought it on the instant. John therefore, having taken it, put it into a large cup, and filled it with water, and mixed it, and cried out with a loud voice, and said: In Your name, Jesus Christ, Son of God, I drink the cup which You will sweeten; and the poison in it do Thou mingle with Your Holy Spirit, and make it become a draught of life and salvation, for the healing of soul and body, for digestion and harmless assimilation, for faith not to be repented of, for an undeniable testimony of death as the cup of thanksgiving. And when he had drunk the cup, those standing beside Domitian expected that he was going to fall to the ground in convulsions. And when John stood, cheerful, and talked with them safe, Domitian was enraged against those who had given the poison, as having spared John. But they swore by the fortune and health of the king, and said that there could not be a stronger poison than this.”

Papias 60 – 130AD Bishop of Hierapolis.

“The same writer (that is to say, Papias of Hierapolis) gives also other accounts which he says came to him through unwritten tradition, certain strange parables and teachings of the Saviour, and some other more mythical things. To these belong his statement that there will be a period of some thousand years after the resurrection of the dead, and that the kingdom of Christ will be set up in material form on this very earth.”

As quoted by Eusebius in The History of the Church, Book 3:39:11-13

IRANEUS 180AD (Saint of Catholic, Anglican and orthodox churches)

Iraneus was one of the most influential church fathers before Nicean creed redefined Christian doctrines. In 180AD (150years after the death of Christ) Iraneus published voluminous works titled AGAINST HERESY. He maintained that the church elders including John preached that the kingdom of God will be literally on earth. He wrote:

Chapter 33 Further proofs of the same proposition, drawn from the promises made by Christ, when He declared that He would drink of the fruit of the vine with his disciples in his Father’s kingdom, while at the same time He promised to reward them an hundred-fold, and to make them partake of banquets. The blessing pronounced by Jacob had pointed out this already, as PAPIAS and the ELDERS have interpreted it.

Chapter 34 He fortifies his opinions with regard to the temporal and EARTHLY KINGDOM of the saints AFTER their RESURRECTION, by the various testimonies of Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and Daniel; also by the Parable of the Servants Watching, to whom the Lord promised that He would minister.

Chapter 35 He contends that these testimonies already alleged cannot be understood allegorically of celestial blessings, but that they shall have their fulfilment after the coming of Antichrist, and the Resurrection, in the terrestrial Jerusalem. To the former prophecies he subjoins others drawn from Isaiah, Jeremiah, and the Apocalypse of John.

Chapter 36 Men shall be actually raised: the world shall not be annihilated; but there shall be various mansions for the saints, according to the rank allotted to each individual. All things shall be subject to God the Father, and so shall he be all in all.

Source: :

JUSTIN MATYR: Celebrated as Saint by Catholic and other orthodox churches.

File:Justin Martyr.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

In around 155AD (55 years after John) he fiercely wrote that anyone who thinks that the kingdom of God will not be established literally on earth from Jerusalem, Israel, was never a Christian in the first place but “but are godless, impious heretics, teach doctrines that are in every way blasphemous, atheistical, and foolish.”

He wrote:
“But I and others, who are right-minded Christians on all points, are assured that there will be a resurrection of the dead, and a thousand years in Jerusalem, which will then be built, adorned, and enlarged, [as] the prophets Ezekiel and Isaiah and others declare…. “

Trypho: I remarked to you sir, that you are very anxious to be safe in all respects, since you cling to the Scriptures. But tell me, do you really admit that this place, Jerusalem, shall be rebuilt; and do you expect your people to be gathered together, and made joyful with Christ and the patriarchs, and the prophets, both the men of our nation, and other proselytes who joined them before your Christ came? Or have you given way, and admitted this in order to have the appearance of worsting us in the controversies?

Justin: I am not so miserable a fellow, Trypho, as to say one thing and think another. I admitted to you formerly, that I and many others are of this opinion, and [believe] that such will take place, as you assuredly are aware; but, on the other hand, I signified to you that many who belong to the pure and pious faith, and are true Christians, think otherwise. Moreover, I pointed out to you that some who are called Christians, but are godless, impious heretics, teach doctrines that are in every way blasphemous, atheistical, and foolish. But that you may know that I do not say this before you alone, I shall draw up a statement, so far as I can, of all the arguments which have passed between us; in which I shall record myself as admitting the very same things which I admit to you. For I choose to follow not men or men’s doctrines, but God and the doctrines [delivered] by Him. For if you have fallen in with some who are called Christians, but who do not admit this [truth], and venture to blaspheme the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; who say there is no resurrection of the dead, and that their souls, when they die, are taken to heaven; do not imagine that they are Christians, even as one, if he would rightly consider it, would not admit that the Sadducees, or similar sects of Genistæ, Meristæ, Galilæans, Hellenists, Pharisees, Baptists, are Jews (do not hear me impatiently when I tell you what I think), but are [only] called Jews and children of Abraham, worshipping God with the lips, as God Himself declared, but the heart was far from Him. But I and others, who are right-minded Christians on all points, are assured that there will be a resurrection of the dead, and a thousand years in Jerusalem, which will then be built, adorned, and enlarged, [as] the prophets Ezekiel and Isaiah and others declare.

Chapter 81.

Justin: For Isaiah spoke thus concerning this space of a thousand years:

For there shall be the new heaven and the new earth, and the former shall not be remembered, or come into their heart; but they shall find joy and gladness in it, which things I create. For, Behold, I make Jerusalem a rejoicing, and My people a joy; and I shall rejoice over Jerusalem, and be glad over My people. And the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, or the voice of crying. And there shall be no more there a person of immature years, or an old man who shall not fulfil his days. For the young man shall be an hundred years old; but the sinner who dies an hundred years old, he shall be accursed. And they shall build houses, and shall themselves inhabit them; and they shall plant vines, and shall themselves eat the produce of them, and drink the wine. They shall not build, and others inhabit; they shall not plant, and others eat. For according to the days of the tree of life shall be the days of my people; the works of their toil shall abound. Mine elect shall not toil fruitlessly, or beget children to be cursed; for they shall be a seed righteous and blessed by the Lord, and their offspring with them. And it shall come to pass, that before they call I will hear; while they are still speaking, I shall say, What is it? Then shall the wolves and the lambs feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the ox; but the serpent [shall eat] earth as bread. They shall not hurt or maltreat each other on the holy mountain, says the Lord.

TERTULLIAN: The father of Latin Christianity and western theology

In 208AD a time of great corruption in Christianity wrote :

“But we do confess that a kingdom is promised to us upon the earth, although before heaven, only in another state of existence; inasmuch as it will be after the resurrection for a thousand years in the divinely-built city of Jerusalem, “let down from heaven,” which the apostle also calls “our mother from above;” and, while declaring that our πολίτευμα , or citizenship, is in heaven, he predicates of it that it is really a city in heaven. This both Ezekiel had knowledge of and the Apostle John beheld…” chapter 25

This other reference is from some one who is not a church father but father of modern science :

Sir Isaac Newton. An explanation of his view on the kingdom of God:

Newton was convinced that Christ would return around this date and establish a global Kingdom of peace. “Babylon” (the corrupt Trinitarian Church) would also fall and the true Gospel would be preached openly. Before the Second Coming, the Jews would return to Israel according to the predictions made in biblical prophecy. The Temple would be rebuilt as well. Slightly before, or around the time of Christ’s return, the great battle of Armageddon would take place when a series of nations (the “Gog and Magog” confederacy of Ezekiel’s prophecy) invade Israel. Christ and the saints would then intervene to establish a worldwide 1000-year Kingdom of God on earth. Citing the prophet Micah Newton believed this Kingdom would usher in a time of peace and prosperity, a time when people would “beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks” and when “nations shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Micah 4:3).

But What does the Bible say about the Kingdom of God?

Bible is consistent in it’s theme of a coming future Kingdom of God on this earth. Isaiah long prophesied:

Isa 2:2-4 ISV 2 “It will come about in the last days that the mountain that is the LORD’s Temple will be established as the highest of mountains, and will be raised above the hills; all the nations will stream to it. 3 Many groups of people will come, commenting, “Come! Let’s go up to the Temple of the God of Jacob, that they may teach us his ways. Then let’s walk in his paths.” “Instruction will proceed from Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. 4 He will judge between the nations, and will render verdicts for the benefit of many. “They will beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nations will not raise swords against nations, and they will not learn warfare anymore.

What should you do?

You have to simply believe in Jesus and in this coming kingdom of God on earth. You must be baptized upon this confession of faith for you to be saved.

Acts 8:12 New International Version (NIV)

12 But when they believed Philip as he proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.

Do you want to be saved? You have to believe in Jesus and his message of salvation.

Click to complete our free preparing for baptism lessons on the gospel here and we will personally keep in touch with you as you grow in faith.