Is the Kingdom of God within everyone?

I have just finished reading something about Contemplative Prayer. One of the things that contemplatives believe is that the Kingdom of God is within everyone and everything, you only need to tap into the deep recesses of your soul to awaken the dynamic presence of God.

This sounds all well and good on the surface doesn’t it?

One of the scriptures they use is found in Luke 17:20-21 which says…

Luk 17:20  And being asked by the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God cometh, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation:
Luk 17:21  neither shall they say, Lo, here! or, There! for lo, the kingdom of God is within you.

If you just take these versus in isolation, then it appears that they are right! But is that what Jesus really meant when addressing the Pharisees?


". . . anyone can experience this dynamic presence of God, because God is within everything he creates. . . . So ‘The Kingdom of God is within you’ is hardly a heretical statement."[Frederica Mathewes-Green, "What Heresy?" November 1, 2003,] Her reference to the "kingdom-of-God-within" derives from Jesus’ statement in the Gospels where in responding to the Pharisees’ question about how the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, "The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you" (Luke 17:20b-21, KJV). As assumed by contemplative spiritualists, did Jesus mean to infer that all persons possess a "dynamic presence," a kingdom of God within them?

Read the rest of this article to really understand what Jesus meant when He said that the Kingdom of god is within you.

If you would like to do further research in this area of what is commonly called ‘Contemplative Prayer’, ‘Breath Prayers’ and ‘Lectio Divina’…  HERE is a good place to start.

The thing is this, scripture must be understood within the context of which is was written.


8 thoughts on “Is the Kingdom of God within everyone?

  1. But … I don’t understand this angle of criticism you bring up. If the idea is that the kingdom of God is within everyone, what is your problem with the fact that Jesus is addressing pharisees? A Pharisee is basically the same as a self-righteous Christian.

    I disagree with Frederica Mathewes-Green’s attempt to include everyTHING in this kingdom, but I think it is unfair of you to introduce her strange view in order to trash the spiritual interpretation regarding every PERSON. Big difference there.

    Maybe Jesus’ idea is that there might be some (or many) who fail to become subjects to this inner kingdom and yet the ‘throne’ is there within if they would only pay homage by conformity to perfect will.


  2. Maybe Jesus’ idea is that there might be some (or many) who fail to become subjects to this inner kingdom and yet the ‘throne’ is there within if they would only pay homage by conformity to perfect will.

    The article says that one must be born again to see the Kingdom of God…

    John 3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

    the kingdom of God is his rule in the hearts and lives of his people. As indicated by his indictment of them, the Pharisees were obviously not disposed to submit to God’s kingdom or authority.

    Like them, neither are we inclined by nature to submit to God. By failing to keep either the spirit and/or letter of the Ten Commandments, humanity demonstrates its rebellion against God’s kingdom. To submit to God’s moral laws requires that people be given a new disposition to love God and their neighbors. A person needs a new heart, a new spiritual essence (Ezek. 11:19-21 Jn. 3:5. Therefore, the contemplative assumption, that there is a mini-kingdom of God indwelling all persons, raises questions about both the necessity and origin of the new birth, or regeneration as theologians call it.


    Better, in the midst of. Meyer acutely remarks that “you refers to the Pharisees, in whose hearts nothing certainly found a place less than did the ethical kingdom of God.” Moreover, Jesus is not speaking of the inwardness of the kingdom, but of its presence. “The whole language of the kingdom of heaven being within men, rather than men being within the kingdom, is modern” (Trench, after Meyer).


  3. Pingback: I’m taking a stand on this one (Luke 17:21) « next theology

  4. Most modern translations have recognized this grammatical error and translate entos as “among” or “in the midst of.” Some texts, like the New King James and the New International versions, persist in using “within,” though they note in the margin that “among” is an alternative.

    Even without this technical knowledge of Greek, we could have easily understood that “within” is a poor and misleading translation. Christ was answering a question posed by the Pharisees, and He replied directly to them: “He answered them and said, . . . ‘For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.'” But how could the Kingdom of God be within His most bitter enemies? How many times did He reveal them to be hyprocritical and misleading the people? Theologically, it is quite impossible to think that His Kingdom would be in the Pharisees.

    It is only after He had made this remark that He turned to His disciples (verse 22) and explained what He meant. The subject of the entire section (verses 20-37) is stated most explicitly in verse 30: “Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.” All along, He had been explaining His second coming! When He returns, He will set up His Kingdom on earth (Zechariah 14:9).

    If the Kingdom is still future, how could He say that “the kingdom of God is among you”? To answer this, we must return to the four common traits of a kingdom: a king, who rules by law over a number of subjects who live within a certain territory. The primary trait is that a kingdom must be ruled by a king; otherwise, the country has some other form of government. A king of any nation is the chief representative of that nation. And the King of the Kingdom of God is none other than the living Jesus Christ!

    Pilate specifically asked Jesus, “‘Are You a king then?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth'” (John 18:37). So as the King of God’s Kingdom, He could truly tell the Pharisees that the Kingdom of God was among them.

    Richard T. Ritenbaugh
    Is the Kingdom of God Within You?

    Related Topics: Entos | Grammar Peculiarities | Grammatical Error | Jesus Christ’s Return | Kingdom Among You | Kingdom of God | Kingdom:Four Common Traits | Pharisees | Translation Difficulties

    Luke 17:21

    This sadly mistranslated verse has led many sincere people astray. Without even knowing the Greek language, we can see that Jesus could not mean that the Kingdom was some ethereal quality in the hearts of the Pharisees! To the contrary, He castigated them often for their unbelief! Entos, translated “within,” should be translated “in the midst of” or “among.” Jesus, the coming King of the Kingdom of God, was in their midst or among them! The thrust of His teaching in this section is that unbelievers will not recognize the working of God’s Kingdom among them, just as the Pharisees had not recognized their Savior among them.

    Richard T. Ritenbaugh

    Read more:


  5. I don’t see that Ritenbaugh knows what he is talking about. Variant translations of this particular Greek phrase such as “in your midst” and “among you” are not found in any Biblical text whatsoever.

    By contrast, “within you, in your hearts” has the authority of Ps. 38:4, 108:22, 103:1, Isa 16:11, Dan 10:16, Ecclus. 19:23 [26].


Comments are closed.