The kingdom of God is to be distinguished from the kingdom of heaven, in five respects:
- The Kingdom of God is universal, including all moral intelligences willingly subject to the will of God, whether angels, the Church, or saints of past or future dispensations (Luke 13:28,29 ; Hebrews 12:22,23);
While the Kingdom of Heaven is Messianic, mediatorial, and Davidic, and has for its object the establishment of the kingdom of God in the earth (1 Corinthians 15:24,25).
- The Kingdom of God is entered only by the new birth (John 3:3,5-7);
The Kingdom of Heaven, during this age, is the sphere of a profession which may be real or false. (Matthew 13:3, 25:1,11,12)
- Since the Kingdom of Heaven is the earthly sphere of the universal Kingdom of God, the two have almost all things in common. For this reason many parables and other teachings are spoken of the Kingdom of Heaven in Matthew, and of the Kingdom of God in Mark and Luke.
It is the omissions which are significant.
The parables of the wheat and tares, and of the net Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43, 47-52 are not spoken of the kingdom of God. In that kingdom there are neither tares nor bad fish.
But the parable of the leaven (Matthew 13:33) is spoken of the Kingdom of God also, for, alas, even the true doctrines of the kingdom are leavened with the errors of which the Pharisees, Sadducees, and the Herodians were the representatives.
- The Kingdom of God “comes not with outward show” (Luke 17:20) but is mainly that which is inward and spiritual (Romans 14:17);
While the Kingdom of Heaven is organic, and is to be manifested in glory on the earth. (Zechariah 12:8, Luke 1:31-33; 1 Corinthians 15:24, Matthew 17:2)
- The Kingdom of Heaven merges into the Kingdom of God when Christ, having put all enemies under his feet, “shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father” (1 Corinthians 15:24-28).