When asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The kingdom of God will not come with observable signs. Nor will people say, ‘Look, here it is,’ or ‘There it is.’ For you see, the kingdom of God is in your midst.”Luke 17:20-21
All throughout his ministry, Yeshua spoke of the nearness of the kingdom. This nearness was to be demonstrated through healings (Luke 10:9) and it was to be a witness against those who would not believe (Luke 10:11). The nearness was to be the motivation for repentance (Matt. 4:17) and for a reevaluation of accepted expectations, as discussed here in Luke 17.
The nearness of the kingdom presents these same challenges even today. Most believers in our day have the same expectation as the Pharisees: that the Messiah of God will come to rule and reign over a physical kingdom, and all nations will be a witness to the power and majesty of God.
However, to hold this view misses the essence of what Yeshua was teaching: the kingdom is not the coming visible manifestation of a political entity, but is a present reality already changing hearts, minds, and bodies.
Commentators have split over the interpretation of the words expressing that the kingdom of God is “in your midst,” or “within/inside you.” Even in English, we can sense the similarity of these meanings, and both present different shades of the reality of the kingdom as Yeshua describes it.
Many modern commentators have sided with the “in your midst” interpretation citing the fact that the kingdom was already being manifested in that day as Yeshua ministered to the people of Israel. Many others have chosen to interpret the meaning as “within you,” pointing to the internal nature of being born from above, and how God desired to rule their hearts.
Both interpretations have merit, and both present the obvious truth that Yeshua was making with the Pharisees: whether internal to each individual or already present in their midst, either way, the coming of the kingdom has nothing to do with the setting up of a visible organization or entity ruling over the entire earth.
The kingdom of God is not to be observed outwardly as a place or destination one can go to or inhabit. However, the kingdom is being manifested every day in the lives of believers through changed hearts, minds, and bodies. It is promised to continue to grow until God is “all in all,” (1 Cor. 15:28).
In that day, there will be no need for a physical representative kingdom, because God will be ruling every heart as he intended from the beginning, and all the world will manifest his glory and majesty.