In Matthew, Mark, and Luke, the "kingdom of God" is usually God's active rule over his creation, especially in saving his people from their sins and the consequences of those sins. (Matthew often uses "kingdom of heaven" instead of "kingdom of God," but the two terms are synonymous (Matt 13:31a = Mark 4:30 = Luke 13:18), so "kingdom of heaven" does not refer to heaven as a place, but to God's reign as King, reflecting the Jewish avoidance of direct reference to God.) The kingdom of God is not only God's rule over his obedient subjects, but includes his victory over their spiritual enemies through Jesus, beginning in the present age (Matt 12:28; Luke 1:68-75; 11:20). The kingdom of God has been concisely defined as God's "acting in his sovereign power to deliver man from the destructive powers that enthrall him" (Beasley-Murray, 1989). The central thesis of Ladd (1974) is that the prophets' hope of the kingdom of God was inaugurated in the person of Jesus in this present age, before its consummation begins the age to come. God asserted His rule in history by defeating Satan and death through the work of Jesus, even though God will not complete his display of authority until Jesus returns in judgment, when he will start the new world order.
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