Basileia for the Kingdom of God: Acts & Epistles
For explanations of the many references to the kingdom in the Gospels, see my writing “The Four Gospels: the Kingdom Offered & Postponed.” Here I will refer to the use of the key word in Acts and the Epistles. The relevant Greek word for “kingdom” is basileia, which in those books is used for God’s kingdom in the following verses:
1 Corinthians 4:20
1 Corinthians 6:9
|1 Corinthians 6:10|
1 Corinthians 15:24
1 Corinthians 15:50
1 Thessalonians 2:12
2 Thessalonians 1:5
2 Timothy 4:1
2 Timothy 4:18
2 Peter 1:11
The mistaken belief that “the kingdom of God [or, of heaven]” has already begun strips the term of much of its meaning—and misses the point of many passages. For example, first consider the verses just listed from Acts. Most of them summarize the message that was being preached.
Basileia for God’s Kingdom in Acts
1:3 During the forty days after His resurrection, the Lord spoke of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.
1:6 The apostles asked if the Lord was about to restore the kingdom to Israel.
8:12 In Samaria Philip preached the good news of the kingdom of God.
14:22 Paul and Barnabas told new believers to stay true in hardships on the way to the kingdom of God.
19:8 For three months in the synagogue at Ephesus, Paul argued about the kingdom of God.
20:25 Paul summarized his message at Ephesus as “preaching the kingdom.”
28:23 At Rome to Jewish leaders Paul explained and declared the kingdom of God.
28:31 For two years at Rome Paul preached the kingdom of God.
|1:3||During the forty days after His resurrection, the Lord spoke of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.|
|1:6||The apostles asked if the Lord was about to restore the kingdom to Israel.|
|8:12||In Samaria Philip preached the good news of the kingdom of God.|
|14:22||Paul and Barnabas told new believers to stay true in hardships on the way to the kingdom of God.|
|19:8||For three months in the synagogue at Ephesus, Paul argued about the kingdom of God.|
|20:25||Paul summarized his message at Ephesus as “preaching the kingdom.”|
|28:23||At Rome to Jewish leaders Paul explained and declared the kingdom of God.|
|28:31||For two years at Rome Paul preached the kingdom of God.|
In two of these passages (1:6 and 14:22) the kingdom had to be future. What about the rest? Luke had often spoken of the “kingdom of God” in his Gospel. Even without analyzing earlier passages, one can easily ascertain that every use of that term in the last chapters (Luke 19:11; 21:31; 22:16; 22:18; 23:51) clearly referred to the Lord’s future kingdom. Would it not logically mean the same thing at the beginning of his second book (Acts 1:3).
A Bible student should often study key words, such as basileia. Following is a list of all the verses in the Epistles where that word refers to God’s kingdom. After each reference is a summary of what it says about the kingdom. In the last column is a code telling whether the kingdom’s apparent time in that passage is present (P), future (F), or unclear (U). You will see that only one or two might be present. (For that reason they are cited constantly by those who believe the kingdom has started.)