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Words from the Greek New Testament

Basileia: Kingdom

Basileia: Kingdom

In the Greek New Testament, there are 164 occurrences of the word basileia. This is the word that the English New Testament translates as kingdom. When we think of a Kingdom; our minds probably start to think of castles, legions of armour plated soldiers, and cities surrounded by huge walls and impenetrable moats. But the bible usage is generally of a different sort of kingdom. A kingdom that is not based on either physical geography, or political control.

For example, the patriarch Jacob prophesied over his son Judah: “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until Shiloh comes, And to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.” (Genesis 49:10 NASB). Another strong indication of the completely new type of kingdom coming into being was given by Daniel who prophesied of the day when “. . . the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed . . . and it shall stand forever. “ Dan 2:44

This is quite a bit different from the earthly kingdoms which are rising and falling with alarming speed. The empire of Britain, on which the sun never set, is now only a shadow of its former self; the 1,000 year Reich lasted only a few years; and even the once dominant global superpowers now appear to be struggling. When Jesus spoke about the Kingdom of Heaven, which He did quite a lot, He was also referring to this new type of kingdom. He said that the Kingdom of Heaven is like all sorts of unusual things; for example the Kingdom of Heaven is:

Like treasure in a field, the which when a man has found, he hides and for joy goes and sells all that he has and buys the field

and it's

Like a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls, who when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it

and it's

Like a net that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: which when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. (Mathew 13)

Jesus also said that the Kingdom of God is not something that we can see with the naked eye, because the Kingdom of God is within you. (Luke 17:20-21) And more importantly, even though it is within, no one is going to passively inherit this kingdom. To gain possession of the kingdom demands positive, even aggressive action, as “the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent take it by force” (Mathew 11:12). To get into the kingdom of God, every one must forcibly, press their way in. (Luke 16:16)

So when Jesus talks about the basileia; the Kingdom (of God and of Heaven) he is talking about a kingdom that has no end. A kingdom which is not constrained by geographical boundaries. A kingdom which cannot easily be seen, but which the wise and discerning will direct all their energies and all their human resources to forcibly and aggressively gain possession of!

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