I discovered that the terms “kingdom of heaven” and “kingdom of God” were synonymous. They have the same meaning. I believe that in order to understand the Scriptures fully that IT IS important to understand context.
Not only Scriptural context (we should be careful about placing a meaning on a verse without understanding the story in which it is told), but we must also understand the cultural and historical context. Let’s first look here at a little broad Scriptural context.
Let’s look at just one story that is told in all three Gospels. Indeed this is ONE, but there are at least 7 other instances like this:
Let’s look at Matthew 19:14 (TNIV)
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
Now let’s look at Mark 10:14 (TNIV)
When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He 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.
And finally, let’s look at the Luke 18:16 (TNIV)
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.
It is clear that these two terms are synonymous. But what explanation could there be that Matthew would use the term, “kingdom of heaven” and the other Gospel writers would use “kingdom of God”?
It’s actually rather simple: Matthew wrote his Gospel with the Jewish people as an audience. The other writers were writing primarily to the gentiles (Greeks and Romans and others). To the nation of Israel, the word “heaven”, was often substituted in the place of God’s name out of reverence and respect. Jesus tells us all about the kingdom of heaven/ the kingdom of God and I believe that we OFTEN focus on the chocolate cake on the table instead of the nourishing food that is right here in front of us.
The DESSERT comes ONLY after we have eaten what is good for us! And this is what Jesus teaches! He teaches about the here and now–today! And then comes DESSERT–eternity with the Father!