Q: Could you give me the reference to the statement, "The kingdom of heaven is within you" in the Gospel?
A: The reference for this verse is found in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 17, verse 21. In the context of this verse, the Pharisees (Jewish religious leaders) are asking Jesus when the kingdom of God would come. Jesus responds, “The kingdom of God does not come visibly, nor will people say, “Here it is” or, “There it is,” because the kingdom of God is within you.” (NIV translation). The Greek word used here is “entos.” It does indeed mean “within.” Some have translated it to mean “among.” However, the context does support the meaning of Jesus saying “The Kingdom of God is within you,” in the sense that it is an invisible, interior nature that He is referring to. He is contrasting it to the expectations of the Pharisees of a political-visible coming. Jesus is trying to correct their concept of this being the essential nature of the kingdom of God.
Now this must be compared with what many new age of Hindu teachers say. Jesus was not teaching that God and divinity was within, nor was He teaching the Vendatic notion of “tat tvam asi (that thou art),” where “that” is equivalent to the divine. All He was teaching was that the assent of the mind to invisible truths (faith) and the issues of the soul--this is the arena and location of the spiritual world. He was saying very simply, “The kingdom of God is essentially spiritual and not physical.” Notice in the very next part of his teaching in this very passage he does not deny a physical aspect or deny that He Himself will return to establish a physical kingdom. He says, “Just as it was in the days of Noah…It was the same in the days of Lot…It will be like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed.” He points to two physically real people and to a time when He will physically return in real time. Yet the determining factor of the soul is a spiritual issue, an issue of the heart and the mind.
Probably the most important part of the teaching of Jesus is that the Pharisees conceived of this “kingdom of God” as something they would participate in while at the same time they held inside themselves a disbelief and even hatred toward Jesus. The invisible things of their heart would make it impossible for them to participate in the kingdom of God. Notice the kingdom of God and its coming physically is equated to the return of Jesus. It can’t be separated from the person of Jesus. Jesus was trying to point this out to them--even when it comes physically, they won’t participate as they think, for inside of them are things that would make this impossible.
Jesus’ concluding statement in this section of teaching (verse 37) is “Where there is a dead body, the vultures will gather.” This may seem a little hard to understand. He is essentially saying just as vultures and carrion seem to get together, so God and people who love Him (Jesus) will get together.