The Kingdom of God is Among You…or Within You?

If there is anything Jesus speaks of most often in the Gospels, it is the Kingdom of God. The phrase has become so familiar to most people, even to non-Christians, that it has lost some of its original power, especially for us who no longer relate to kings and kingdoms. Yet let us consider today this question: What did Jesus mean when He spoke of the Kingdom of God?

Fulfillment of Prophecy

In today’s Gospel reading, it is the Pharisees who first question Jesus about “when the Kingdom of God is to come.” Jesus replies, “The Kingdom of God is not coming in an observable way…for see, the Kingdom of God is among you.”

The fact that the Pharisees begin the conversation reveals that they were referring to something known in their own tradition. Their words reflect an expectation of fulfillment; they wish to know when the Kingdom of God is to come. Were they alluding to a prophecy in the Hebrew Scriptures? Where do we find any mention of this enigmatic “Kingdom of God” in the Old Testament?

The Fifth and Final Kingdom

In his book The Case for Jesus, Brant Pitre explores the illuminating answer: only in the book of Daniel do we encounter this reference to the Kingdom of God. When Daniel interprets the mysterious dream of King Nebuchadnezzar, he relates a succession of four kingdoms, embodied in the various parts of the statue depicted in his dream: first the Babylonian, then Persian, then Greek, and fourthly the Roman. Yet there would come a fifth kingdom “which would never be destroyed,” that of the God of Heaven. This final kingdom would “break into pieces” all the preceding kingdoms, bringing about a heavenly reign which would “stand forever” (Dn 2:44-45).

Seen in this context, the Pharisees’ question of when the Kingdom of God was to come becomes far more compelling. The first century Jews were aware that they were living in the time of the fourth kingdom mentioned in Daniel’s prophecy, signaling the imminence of the Kingdom of God. It is this implicit question that Jesus answers. The age of the Kingdom of God was no longer “to come” but was here, now, “among” them. What could this mean but that the Kingdom of God was present in Jesus himself, He who stood there in their midst?

Among You or Within You?

Interestingly, some biblical translations offer the rendering, “The Kingdom of God is within you,” which alters the entire meaning of the message. Indeed, many people in our modern age have taken this to mean that God and salvation are to be found within the self, rather than outside; yet such an interpretation violates the natural logic of the passage. He is answering the Pharisees’ question of when the Kingdom of God is to come, and certainly would never imply that the heavenly kingdom prophesied by Daniel was simply in the Pharisees. No; the kingdom of God was right there in the person of Jesus. Yet though the answer was right there before the Pharisees, they could not see it, and Jesus knew this. “Not in an observable way” would it come, he reveals, for to perceive it would require the eyes of faith.

Every time we look upon the crucifix, we contemplate the beginning of this eternal kingdom in Jesus, as He pours out His life on the cross. The sign placed above his head tells us he is “King of the Jews,” and the Cross becomes a kind of throne lifted aloft, declaring the lordship of Jesus. I invite you today to consider this question of kingship: Do we have the eyes to see the Kingdom of God when it is there before us in Christ himself? Do we participate in this heavenly kingdom, the stone which would break into pieces all kingdoms before it? Do we serve the Kingdom which is there among us, or the kingdom of the self?

[Readings: PHMN 7-20; LK 17:20-25]

Radhika Sharda, MD

Radhika Sharda is a practicing physician and a convert to the Catholic faith from a Hindu background. She has written a book of essays on literature, Savour, which may be found on Amazon. She lives in Raleigh, NC, with her three young boys.


  1. Jerry DEMELO Jr on November 11, 2022 at 9:30 pm

    Your reflections are always so profound while remaining easily understandable. Please, do not underestimate their value to those of us who look forward to the 11th of every month. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family. My wife and I will be celebrating our 32nd anniversary in a few days in Egypt floating down the Nile. God Bless.

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