Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will Be Done


Dr. John Hoole – April 23, 2017




In the last several lessons on the Sermon on the Mount, we have been looking specifically at what is often called the “Lord’s Prayer.”  We will continue our examination of this model prayer this week.


In part one of our study on the Lord’s Prayer, we noted that there are 7 key phrases in it.


1 - Our Father in heaven


2 - Hallowed be thy Name


3 - Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done


4 - Give us this day our daily bread


5 - Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us


6 - Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil


7 - For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory. 


In our last lesson time, we concentrated our study on the second phrase, “Hallowed Be Thy Name” (Matthew 6:9).  Today, we will look at the third major phrase – “Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will Be Done.”.


The kingdom of Heaven was the very centerpiece of the teachings of Jesus.  When John the Baptist, then Jesus, came preaching, they both said, “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”


Matthew 3:1-2 NKJV


1.      In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea,

2       and saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!"


Matthew 4:17 NKJV


17     From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."


They said, “The time has come.  The Kingdom of Heaven is near. Repent and believe the good news.”


The thirteenth chapter of Matthew records a number of parables.  Many of them use the phrase, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like…”


                   Vs. 24:         The kingdom of Heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field.


                   Vs. 31:         The kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed.


                   Vs. 33:         The kingdom of Heaven is like leaven.


                   Vs. 44:         The kingdom of Heaven is like treasure hidden in a field.


                   Vs. 45:         The kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls.


                   Vs. 47:         The kingdom of Heaven is like a dragnet.




It is the “Kingdom of Heaven,” or is it the “Kingdom of God?”  When I was a teenager, or maybe in my early twenties, I pondered this question.  I tried to develop a scenario showing these terms were speaking of two different kingdoms.  But I was never satisfied with what I came up with.


As I continued to study God’s Word, it became apparent the two phrases were identical.  In a moment I will give you what I believe is Scriptural evidence for believing they are the same.  It will be beneficial to us to see how these two phrases – “Kingdom of God” and “Kingdom of Heaven” – are used.


The phrase, “Kingdom of God,” is found in the New Testament 68 times in 10 different N.T. books.  The phrase, “Kingdom of Heaven,” occurs 32 times and all of them are in one book – Matthew.  Because of Matthew’s exclusive use of the phrase, some have suggested that its use in Matthew is speaking of the coming Millennial Kingdom when Jesus will reign on earth for 1,000 years.  I need to also mention that in his gospel, Matthew also uses the phrase, “Kingdom of God.”   Later in the chapter where we find the Lord’s Prayer, we find in verse 33: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God,…”  That is the only time the phrase, kingdom of God, is used in the Sermon on the Mount, but it does occur another four times later in the gospel of Matthew.


So, why is Matthew so heavily invested with the phrase, “Kingdom of Heaven.”  I actually asked that question when comparing the first and last of the eight Beatitudes.”


•  Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (5:3).


•  Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (5:10).


         Both of these beatitudes end with the same promise.


Kathy Knox gave one excellent answer to the question.  Matthew is possibly the most Jewish book in the New Testament.  It is even more Jewish that the book of Hebrews, whose title addresses the Jewish people.


Matthew wrote primarily for a Jewish audience, while Mark and Luke wrote for a wider audience.  Because the Jews were zealous to keep the Second Commandment, Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain (Exodus 20:7), they substituted other words, so they wouldn’t have to speak God’s name.


The Jewish people are very hesitant about speaking the sacred name of “GOD.”  They are equally reluctant to write it, even when writing in English.  It would be written “G-D.”  Because of this reluctance to verbally pronounce the word “GOD,” starting with Moses, they began to use the tetragrammaton “YHVH.”  They removed all vowels, and it is from these letters we get, Jehovah or Yahweh.


I said that starting with Moses, they started using the tetragrammaton.  It may have started earlier, but we have no record that it did.  We know from Scripture that the tetragrammaton was NOT used with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  How do we know?


Exodus 6:3 NKJV


3       I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name LORD I was not known to them.


The Hebrew words translated as God Almighty are El Shaddai.  The word “LORD” in this verse is translated from the tetragrammaton.


So, Matthew, in keeping with his Jewish audience, mostly used the word “heaven” when speaking of the kingdom.  His gospel demonstrates how Jesus is the rightful heir to the throne of David.  His desire was to show that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah.  His gospel is written from a Jewish viewpoint for a Jewish audience.  Matthew makes more allusions to the Old Testament than any other New Testament book.  The phrase, “that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets,” is used in his gospel repeatedly.


Now, I would like to return to examining why I stated earlier that the Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of God are one and the same.  And, by the way, the apostle Paul once refers to it as “The kingdom of Christ and God.”  If I were to give you just one comparison, showing the different phrases are speaking of the same, it would be compare Matthew 5:3 with Luke 6:20.  As you know, the Matthew passage is the first of eight beatitudes.


Matthew 5:3 NKJV


3       Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.


Luke 6:20 NKJV


1.      "Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.


When Jesus talked with the rich young ruler, Matthew quotes Christ using both phrases interchangeably.


Matthew 19:23-24 NKJV


23     Then Jesus said to His disciples, "Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.

24     And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."


                   Jesus makes no distinction between the two terms but seems to consider them synonymous.


Most of you are probably aware of what the term “Synoptic Gospels” means.  Matthew, Mark and Luke make up the Synoptic Gospels.  They are called Synoptic because their accounts of the life and death of Jesus Christ are very similar to each other.  Although these three gospels do not cover all the same events, they are close enough to provide a running parallel.  So let’s look at the synoptic gospels to compare the use of these two phrases.


Matthew 11:11 NKJV


11     Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.


Compare that with:


Luke 7:28 NKJV


28     For I say to you, among those born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he."


Now let’s compare what Jesus said to his disciples about giving them the mysteries of the kingdom.


Matthew 13:11 NKJV


11     He answered and said to them, "Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.


Mark 4:11 NKJV


11     And He said to them, "To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside, all things come in parables,


Luke 8:10 NKJV


10     And He said, "To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is given in parables,…


Now let’s look at Jesus story about the man sowing seed in his field.


Matthew 13:24 NKJV


24     Another parable He put forth to them, saying: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field;


Mark 4:26 NKJV


26     And He said, "The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground,


There are at least another half dozen examples that would show the same comparison.  But I think you probably are able to understand that the two phrases speak of the same kingdom.  In each comparison, Matthew uses the phrase, “kingdom of heaven,” while Mark and Luke use the phrase, “kingdom of God.”


But the New Testament is not the only place you find information about the kingdom of God.  The Old Testament prophets were enamored by the dream of the kingdom.  They spoke of a world where God’s justice and peace would reign.  Orthodox Jews today look forward to such a time when their Messiah comes to reign.


Isaiah referred to a place where swords would be beaten into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks (Isaiah 2:4; 18:5).  He saw a time when we would no longer learn war (Isaiah 2:4).  He saw equity for the poor, help for the weak and liberty to the captives (Isaiah 61:1).


The prophet Amos spoke of the kingdom as a place where justice would roll down like waters and righteousness like an overflowing stream (Amos 5:24).  Elsewhere we find an image where the earth would be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea (Isaiah 11:9 and Habakkuk 2:4).


Jesus spoke about the Kingdom of God all the time.


He said, in Luke 17:20-21 NKJV


20     Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, "The kingdom of God does not come with observation;

21     nor will they say, 'See here!' or 'See there!' For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.




First, Jesus says, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say “See here” or “See there,”  The context of Jesus’ statement is a question put to Him by His Pharisee detractors who had asked when the kingdom of God would come.


The answer that Jesus gives is that the kingdom of God was not coming in the manner the Pharisees were expecting.  The kingdom would not be inaugurated with spectacle or splendor.  It would not include staking out a geographical claim and the routing of the Romans.  Rather, the kingdom would come silently and unseen, much like leaven works in a batch of dough.


Matthew 13:33 NKJV


33     Another parable He spoke to them: "The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened."


In fact, Jesus said the kingdom had already begun, right under the Pharisees’ noses.  God was ruling in the hearts of some people, and the King Himself was standing among them.  But the Pharisees were oblivious to that fact.


Various translation render the Greek of Luke 17:21 various ways.  The phrase translated “within you” in the KJV and the NKJV, is translated as “in your midst” in the NIV, NASB, and NET, and “among you” in the NLT and HCSB (Holman Christian Standard Bible).


The phrase “within you” in the KJV and NKJV comes off as an unfavorable translation, seeing that Jesus was speaking to the Pharisees at the time.  Jesus was surely not saying that the Kingdom of God resided within the Pharisees’ hearts.  Many of the Pharisees, in many respects, opposed what Jesus was teaching.


The better translation would be “in your midst” or “among you.”  Jesus was telling the Pharisees that He brought the kingdom of God to earth.  The presence of Jesus in their midst gave them a taste of the kingdom life.  And Jesus said that the miracles he performed attested to the presence of the kingdom.


Luke 11:20 NKJV


20     But if I cast out demons with the finger of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you.


Twice, early in the book of Matthew, Christ uses these words:  “Repent! For the kingdom of Heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2; 4:17).


In Matthew 16:28, Jesus says:


Assuredly I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom.


So now, what is your definition of the Kingdom of God?  It still is not easy, is it?  It seems that Jesus avoided giving a clear cut definition for us.


This takes us to the next phrase in the Lord’s Prayer – “Thy will be done…”William Barclay writes that this phrase explains and enlarges the phrase, “Thy kingdom come.”  In other words, the kingdom of God occurs wherever the will of God is present.  Or to say it another way, The Kingdom of God is a society upon earth. where God’s will is as perfectly done as it is in Heaven.


The very fact that Jesus tells us to pray Thy will be done on earth indicates that God’s will is not always done on earth.  It is not inevitable.  In fact, lack of faithful prayer inhibits His will being done.  In God’s wise and gracious plan, prayer is essential to the proper working of His will on earth.


For Christ to admonish us to pray in this manner means we have a part to play in the plan of God.  We are not to take a “que sera, sera --- whatever will be, will be” attitude.  Just because something is God’s will does not mean it will happen, no matter what.


It is not God’s will that people die, or why would He have come to destroy death?  It is not God’s will that people go to hell, or why would His only Son have taken the penalty of sin upon Himself so that you and I might escape hell? (2 Peter 3:9).  That sin exists on earth and causes horrible consequences is not evidence of God’s will, but of His patience in allowing more opportunity for men and women to turn to Him for salvation.


Using this prayer as a model for how we should pray, you will notice in the first half of the prayer that our focus is to be on THY name, THY kingdom and THY will.


What does it mean to have God’s will done on earth as in heaven?  David say of the angels who did God’s will.


Psalms 103:20 ESV


20     Bless the Lord, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word!


That is the way God’s will is done in heaven, and that is the way believers ae to pray for God’s will to be done on earth.  It must be unwavering, sincerely, willingly, fervently, readily, swiftly, and constantly.  Our prayer should be that every person and thing on earth be brought into conformity with God’s will.


Having a correct understanding and attitude toward God’s will might involve in us a sense of righteous rebellion.  By that, I mean that to be dedicated to God’s will is to be opposed to Satan and his desires.  To pray, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven, is to rebel against the worldly ideas that sin is normal.  The fact that everybody is doing something does not make it OK with the will of God.  To accept something just because everyone is doing it, is to abandon a Christian view of God and His plan for redemption.


To pray for God’s will to be done on earth is to cry with David:


Psalms 68:1 NKJV


1.      Let God arise, Let His enemies be scattered; Let those also who hate Him flee before Him.


God has a specific will for your life and mine, and He wants the enemy defeated in our lives.  The Bible says, in Romans 12:2, that his will is good and perfect and it fits you.


In Heaven, God’s will is done perfectly.  The problem on Earth is God’s will is not always done.  That is why we are to pray, “Your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.”


C.S. Lewis


“In the end, there are only two kinds of people:  those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done.”  All that are in Hell, choose it.  Without that self-choice there could be no Hell.  No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it.  Those who seek find.  Those who knock it is opened.’