In history, the kingdom of God has been interpreted many ways. Here are a few examples:
- C. H. Dodd held that the kingdom of God was realized fully in the ministry of Jesus. The kingdom of God is an earthly place where there is righteousness, peace, and joy. These are the benefits for those who live yielded lives to the rule of the Spirit. The kingdom as a present reality is based on such passages as Matthew 12.28; Romans 14.17; and Isa. 2.4.
- A second way the kingdom is viewed is that it is a place of future blessing, which occurs at the Second Coming, for the people of God (1 Cor. 15.50; Matt. 8.11; 2 Pet. 1.11; Matt. 25.34). The followers of Jesus enter the kingdom when he returns. The coming kingdom would bring about an end to the old order of humanity and begin a new existence in a heavenly order. Thus, the kingdom is altogether future and supernatural. Its basic proponent was Albert Schweitzer.
- Adolph Von Harnack suggested another theory. For him, the kingdom was reduced to a subjective realm. It is an inner spiritual redemptive blessing (Rom. 14.17). The kingdom is expressed by the new birth (John 3.3) and is an inward power which enters into the human spirit and takes hold of it.
- Another view of the kingdom of God was created by St. Augustine. He believed that the kingdom and the church were the same things. This view is still common as suggested by our current language. We talk about bringing people into the kingdom, which is a synonym for church. He believed that as the church grew, so the kingdom grew. As the church takes the gospel into the world, the kingdom is extended.
- Still other views emphasize: that the kingdom of God should be likened to the governments and nations of the world (Rev. 11.15); that the kingdom is a realm into which one must enter now (Matt. 21.31); the kingdom is a realm into which one must enter tomorrow (Matt. 8.11); the kingdom is at the same time a gift of God given in the future (Luke 12.32), and a gift which must be received in the present (Mark 10.15).
- Finally, a disturbing view of the kingdom, was created by the Latter Rain movement. This belief system can be described by a Kingdom Now mindset or Dominion Theology. This theological belief about the kingdom is dangerous in the mind of the writer and should be avoided.