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Kingdom of Heaven or Kingdom of God?

HomeChristianity and the BibleKingdom of Heaven or Kingdom of God?

Is the Kingdom of Heaven the same as the Kingdom of God? Are they different? If they’re the same, why do different books of the Bible use different words to describe the same thing? What does each phrase mean?

The Bible is complicated. While it looks like a single book, it’s really a group of 66 unique books. Each book was written for a different reason, sometimes to a different audience than other books. For example: Philemon is a personal letter, written by the apostle Paul to a man named Philemon. Jude, on the other hand, was pretty much written to all Christians everywhere.

In the New Testament, we see two distinct phrases: the kingdom of Heaven and the kingdom of God. These appear primarily in the gospels of Matthew and Luke, with a few in Mark. Below is a chart of each parallel reference, comparing the two phrases. This chart should answer the question as to whether the kingdom of God is the same as the kingdom of Heaven. When two different authors, writing to different audiences, cite the same teachings of Jesus but use different words, they are simply tailoring their writings to their audience, using the words that make the most sense.

Jesus spoke primarily to Jews, and Matthew was written primarily for Jewish readers. Mark and Luke were written primarily for non-Jewish readers, and each presumably chose their words carefully to communicate most clearly what Jesus meant.

That’s not to say that Jesus never used the two phrases interchangeably. He undoubtedly taught the same ideas again and again, in different towns, with different audiences… and we don’t have a written record of everything He taught. These parallels show that Matthew, Mark, and Luke considered the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Heaven to be the same, or to at least communicate the same ideas.

The Kingdom of HeavenThe Kingdom of God
Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near. Matthew 3:2, Matthew 4:17“The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” Mark 1:15
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:3Looking at his disciples, he said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Luke 6:20
Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. Matthew 11:11I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he. Luke 7:28
From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence, and violent people have been raiding it. Matthew 11:12The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing their way into it. Luke 16:16
He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them.” Matthew 13:11He told them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables.” Mark 4:11

He said, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that, ‘though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand.’” Luke 8:10
Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field.” Matthew 13:24He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground.” Mark 4:26
He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field.” Matthew 13:31Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. Mark 4:30-31

Then Jesus asked, “What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. Luke 13:18-19
He told them still another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.” Matthew 13:33What shall I compare the kingdom of God to? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough. Luke 13:20-21
And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it. Mark 10:15

Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it. Luke 18:17
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Mark 10:14

But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” Luke 18:16
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:23Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” Mark 10:23

The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!” Mark 10:24

Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Luke 18:24

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