Kingdom (of God / heaven)

The German Good News Bible (Die Bibel im heutigen Deutsch) (1st edition: 1968, 2nd edition: 1982, 3rd edition: 1997) says this about the translation of the Greek expressions that in English are often translated as “kingdom of God” or “kingdom of heaven” respectively:

“An example for how a term evolved is the rendering of ‘heavenly kingdom’ or ‘kingdom of God.’ A verbatim translation will be misunderstood by most readers today: as if it talks about a kingdom that is located in heaven, when in reality it refers in the Bible to God being the ruler, to that area in which that rule has been realized and everything that human beings can expect because of that. Dependent on the context, the term is therefore translated differently in this present version: When it focuses on the presence of God’s kingdom it is rendered as ‘God establishes his rule’ (Gott richtet seine Herrschaft auf), when the focus is on the future it is translated as ‘Once God finalizes his creation (or ‘work’) . . . ‘ (Wenn Gott sein Werk vollendet . . .), and when the focus is on that finished creation it is ‘God’s new world’ (Gottes neue Welt).” (p. 299 — for a longer exposition, see Rudolf Kassühlke in The Bible Translator 1974, p. 236ff.)

The respective translation choice in that German translation:

Likewise in the Gurung translation the term was also, depending on context, rendered in four different ways:

  • God’s power at work in the world,
  • the personal response to God, in obedience and receiving blessing,
  • God’s future open ruling of the world,
  • the ultimate blessings of God’s rule in heaven.

(Source: Warren Glover in The Bible Translator 1978, p. 231ff. — here you can also find a comprehensive list of examples where which translation was applied.)

Following is a list of (back-) translations from other languages:

  • Tzeltal: “persons like these will reach God’s government” (as in Mark 10:14 and Luke 18:16: “the Kingdom of God belongs to those”) or “the jurisdiction of God” (in the sense of where God has the authority)
  • Copainalá Zoque: “like God to rule over”
  • San Miguel El Grande Mixtec: “agree to God reigning over”
  • Kekchí: “power (or authority) of God”
  • Laka: “God’s commanding”
  • Javanese: “the rule of God”
  • Huave: “where God rules”
  • Huastec: “God as ruler”
  • San Blas Kuna: “God’s government”
  • Navajo: “what God has charge of”
  • Sayula Popoluca: “to have God rule over”
  • Tzotzil: “to have God as chief”
  • Highland Puebla Nahuatl: “the leadership of God”
  • Wayuu: “where God is chief” (this and examples above in Bratcher / Nida)
  • Fuyug “God’s clan”
  • Mono: “sana lala’aha nang” – “area of chiefly rule”
  • Martu Wangka: “The Father looks after his own relatives” (source for this and the two preceding: Carl Gross)
  • Caribbean Javanese: Kratoné Allah (“God’s seat (of a king)”)
  • Sranan Tongo: Tiri fur Gado (“the Ruling of God”) or Kownukondre fur Gado (“King’s land of God”)
  • Eastern Maroon Creole: A Nyun Tii fu Massa Gadu / Saramaccan: Di Njunjun Tii u Gadu (both: “the New ruling of God”) (source for this and 2 above: Jabini 2015)
  • Umiray Dumaget Agta: “protectorate of God” (source: M. Larson / B. Moore in Notes on Translation February 1970, p. 1-125.)
  • Lalana Chinantec: “how God is the boss of people’s hearts”
  • Chichimeca-Jonaz: “God rules as chief”
  • Chuj: “everything which is in God’s hand” (source for this and two above: Viola Waterhouse in Notes on Translation August 1966, p. 86ff.)
  • Kamo: kuu le Yamba: “kingdom of God” / kuu le Yamba: “kingdom of heaven.” Yamba can mean either “sky/heaven” or “God” and they distinguish between the two meanings by capitalization. The word kuu is an abstract noun meaning “rule/reign.” (source: David Frank)

In Mairasi, a language “where people would rather say something in a new way than in an old way,” there are a number of translations, including “Great Above One’s (=God) rule,” “His power,” “His control,” or “His place of authority/power.” (Source: Enggavoter 2004)

In Q’anjob’al, the translators stumbled on an additional difficulty. Newberry and Kittie Cox (in The Bible Translator 1950, p. 91ff.) explain: “‘The kingdom of God’ may be translated ‘where God supervises’ (or literally ‘guards’). However, in Mark 10:15 and Luke 18:17 it is not possible to speak of ‘receiving the kingdom of God,’ for this would imply that one simply takes over the responsibility for guarding God’s country while He rests. Accordingly, the translation is adapted to meet the cultural and linguistic requirements of the language by the form ‘receive God as king.’

The artist Willy Wiedmann envisioned Jesus foretelling the kingdom of God like this:

Click here to see the image in higher resolution. Image taken from the Wiedmann Bible. For more information about the images and ways to adopt them, see here.

See also your kingdom come.

complete verse (Luke 18:17)

Following are a number of back-translations of Luke 18:17:

  • Nyongar: “Remember! The person who does not accept the Kingdom of Heaven like a child, he will not go in.'” (Source: Warda-Kwabba Luke-Ang)
  • Uma: “Truly I say to you: If you do not submit to God like children, you will not become his people in his Kingdom.'” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “Truly I tell you,’ said Isa, ‘if the trusting of a person in God is not like the trusting of children, that person will really not be included in God’s ruling.'” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “It’s true what I say to you, that if there is a person and his trust in God is not like the trust of little children, then he cannot be ruled over by God.'” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “This that I tell you is true that if you don’t receive God’s ruling you like the way children receive, you will absolutely not be included there.'” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “This which I will say to you is true, that whoever won’t make himself like a little child in his submitting to the rule of God, he won’t be able to enter that kingdom of his.'” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Gurung: ” . . . whoever does not submit to God in the way children submit to their parents he will never receive the full blessing of God.” (Source: Warren Glover in The Bible Translator 1978, p. 231ff.)
  • Italian (La Sua Parola è Vita): “Indeed, I tell you that those who do not accept the Kingdom of God as a present with the same humility of a child will never be able to enter it!” (Cotrozzi 2019 explains: “Although some thought of childlike trustfulness may be present, the focus more probably lies on humility as shown by the context with its rebuke of proud Pharisees in 18:9-14.”)

complete verse (Luke 18:24)

Following are a number of back-translations of Luke 18:24:

  • Nyongar: “Jesus saw the man was sad and Jesus said, ‘How hard for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven!” (Source: Warda-Kwabba Luke-Ang)
  • Uma: “Yesus saw that he was sad. That is why he said: ‘It is very hard for people who have many goods to submit to God so that He becomes their King.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “Isa saw that the man was sad and he said, ‘It is really very difficult for the rich ones to want to be ruled over by God.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “And then Jesus looked steadily at him and Jesus said, ‘It’s very difficult for a rich man to submit himself to God so that God might rule over him.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “When Jesus saw that he was sad, he said, ‘It is hard for a rich-person to be included in God’s ruling.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “Jesus observed that that person was grieved. That’s why he said, ‘It is really very hard for the rich to be included in the kingdom of God.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Gurung: ” . . . How difficult it is for a rich man to submit to God.” (Source: Warren Glover in The Bible Translator 1978, p. 231ff.)

complete verse (Luke 4:43)

Following are a number of back-translations of Luke 4:43:

  • Nyongar: “But Jesus said to them, ‘I must go to other towns, to tell people the Good News, telling them of the Kingdom of God, because God sent me to do this thing.'” (Source: Warda-Kwabba Luke-Ang)
  • Uma: “But he said to them: ‘I must also go to other towns, announcing to them the good news that says the time has almost come for God to become King in the world. Because they is the intention of God in sending me here.'” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “But he said to them, ‘I have to go also to other places and proclaim the good news about God’s ruling, for that is the reason why I was sent here to the world by God.'” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “But Jesus said to them, ‘The good news about the rule of God, it is necessary that I tell it to people in other villages, because that’s the reason that God sent me.'” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “But he said, ‘I must go preach in other towns as well the good news concerning God’s ruling (can refer to either place, time or act of ruling), because that’s the reason he sent me.'” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “But Jesus replied to them, ‘It’s necessary that I teach also in other towns this Good News concerning the kingdom of God, for that’s why I was sent here.'” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Gurung: ” . . . ‘I must declare the good news saying, God is about to rule. Obey him, and he will give you blessing.'” (Source: Warren Glover in The Bible Translator 1978, p. 231ff.)

complete verse (Luke 19:11)

Following are a number of back-translations of Luke 19:11:

  • Nyongar: “People heard Jesus, so Jesus spoke again, telling them another story. Now Jesus was coming close to Jerusalem, people said perhaps the Kingdom of God soon might come.” (Source: Warda-Kwabba Luke-Ang)
  • Uma: “Yesus had almost arrived in Yerusalem, that is why many people said that the time had really almost come for God to become King in the world. So, while the people were listening to his words, he also added onto his words with a parable.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “While the people were listening to what Isa was saying, he also told them a parable for they were already close to Awrusalam and they mistakenly-thought that when they arrived there, God would begin his rule over the people.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “And as for those people who heard these words of Jesus, he told them a parable. They were near to the city of Jerusalem, and because of this, the people thought that Jesus would now begin to rule.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “Then Jesus related this parable to those who were listening to him, because they were close to Jerusalem and they thought-mistakenly that the beginning of the ruling of God was near.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “Well, those people there in the house of Zaqueo who heard that talk of Jesus, he caused them to hear an illustration which he added on. He did like that because he was now close to Jerusalem, and people mistakenly-thought that he would at that time set up the kingdom of God and would now rule their land.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Gurung: ” . . . people were thinking, ‘When Jesus reaches the capital city the time of God’s ruling will probably come.’ But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, told this story in order to let them understand well about the time of God’s ruling.” (Source: Warren Glover in The Bible Translator 1978, p. 231ff.)

complete verse (Luke 6:20)

Following are a number of back-translations of Luke 6:20:

  • Nyongar: “Jesus looked at his disciples and said: ‘God will do good to you poor people now; You possess the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Source: Warda-Kwabba Luke-Ang)
  • Uma: “Yesus looked at his followers and he said to them: ‘You are fortunate, poor people, because you become the people of God, and He becomes your King.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “Then Isa looked at his disciples and said, ‘How fortunate you are/good it is for you, the ones who are to be pitied, for you are ruled over by God.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “Jesus looked around at his disciples and he said, ‘Far better off are you poor, because you are the ones God will rule over!” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “Then Jesus turned-to-face his disciples and said, ‘Fortunate are you who are poor, because you will be included in God’s ruling.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “Jesus looked at his disciples and spoke, saying, ‘You can be happy who regard yourselves as having no means/ability of your own at all which can be relied on, but on the contrary (it’s) only God, because you can be included in his kingdom.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Gurung: ” . . . ‘Blessing has come to you poor people, because since you look to Cod, he will give you his full blessing.” (Source: Warren Glover in The Bible Translator 1978, p. 231ff.)

complete verse (Luke 22:16)

Following are a number of back-translations of Luke 22:16:

  • Nyongar: “So I tell you, I will not again eat with you, only when the truth of all these things becomes known in the Kingdom of God.'” (Source: Warda-Kwabba Luke-Ang)
  • Uma: “Because so that you know: I will no longer eat the Paskah food that is like this, until the meaning of this feast is fulfilled when God becomes King in the world.'” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “For I tell you, after this I will not eat this again. I only will eat it again when God rules already over his people and when it is fulfilled what the real meaning of this feast is.'” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “Because it’s true what I say to you, I will not again eat the Passover supper until the time in the future when its true meaning is fulfilled when God rules over mankind.'” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “Because I tell you that I will not again join-in-eating at a fiesta like this until what-it-signifies is fulfilled in the ruling of God in heaven.'” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “For what I will say to you is really true that I won’t eat this again until what is alluded to by it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.'” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Gurung: ” . . . When people eat the feast in heaven, the meaning of this festival will be fulfilled. And until this festival is fulfilled I will not eat its meal.” (Source: Warren Glover in The Bible Translator 1978, p. 231ff.)

complete verse (Luke 7:28)

Following are a number of back-translations of Luke 7:28:

  • Nyongar: “Jesus said, ‘I tell you, John is a greater man than all people, people who have lived before and people who live today. But the person who is smallest in the Kingdom of Heaven, he is greater than John.'” (Source: Warda-Kwabba Luke-Ang)
  • Uma: “Yesus also said: ‘Listen well: from all the people who have been born in this world, there is not one whose life is greater than Yohanes. But from now, the people who become God’s people in his Kingdom are very fortunate/blessed. Even those whose lives are very small, their blessedness/fortune is greater than Yohanes’s.'” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “I tell you,’ said Isa, ‘there is no person born in this world who is greater than this Yahiya. But in the ruling of God even a person whose status is very low is yet greater than Yahiya.'” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “‘Remember that John the Baptist, there is no person of any time who is greater than he. However, when God rules in the future, any person at that time who subjects himself to God, even though his rank is very small, he will be greater than John is now.'” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “Then Jesus went-on to say, ‘This that I tell you is true that no person has been born on this earth who is higher than Juan, but even so, the lowest one in God’s ruling is higher yet than he.'” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “This which I will say to you is really true, that of all who have been born (lit. become people) here in the world, none can exceed in greatness/importance this Juan who was the first to baptize. But now/today, even an insignificant/low-class person, as long as he causes himself to become a subject of the kingdom of God, he can be greater than Juan.'” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Gurung: “John is the greatest of all people. Even though he is, whoever, after seeing my deeds and hearing my words, obeys God according to what I say, even though that person be small, he will receive greater blessing than John.” (Source: Warren Glover in The Bible Translator 1978, p. 231ff.)

complete verse (Luke 9:62)

Following are a number of back-translations of Luke 9:62:

  • Nyongar: “Jesus said to him, ‘A man who starts to dig the ground but then looks back, he is not good enough for the Kingdom of Heaven.'” (Source: Warda-Kwabba Luke-Ang)
  • Uma: “Yesus said saying to him: ‘The person who begins to plow, it is not good if he keeps-looking-back. People who have character like that are not fit/worthy to become workers in God’s Kingdom.'” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “But Isa said to him, ‘If a person plows and always looks back that is not good. Likewise if a person follows me but is hindered by what he leaves behind, he is not worthy to be ruled over by God.'” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “And Jesus answered, ‘If you are plowing and you are always looking back, that’s not good. It’s the same way also with the person who follows me, and he always has something to look back toward — he is not worthy to be ruled over by God.'” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “But Jesus said, ‘The one who has begun to plow who keeps-turning-around, his work will be emphatically useless. It’s the same with the one who goes-with me who keeps-turning-around, because he has no way to serve in God’s ruling.'” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “Jesus answered him, saying, ‘If a person is ploughing, if he keeps looking-back, his work isn’t acceptable/possible. Well it’s like that indeed, that a person is ineffective in the kingdom of God if his mind/inner-being isn’t concentrated on his following/obeying me.'” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Gurung: ” . . . ‘In ploughing, if anyone, after seizing the handle, turns and keeps looking back, that person is of no use when God is doing his work.'” (Source: Warren Glover in The Bible Translator 1978, p. 231ff.)

complete verse (Luke 10:9)

Following are a number of back-translations of Luke 10:9:

  • Nyongar: “heal the sick people of the house and tell people, ‘The Kingdom of God has come close to you’.” (Source: Warda-Kwabba Luke-Ang)
  • Uma: “Heal the sick in the town, and say to the townspeople: ‘The time has come for God to become King in your midst.'” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “Heal the sick people that are there and say to the people, ‘God’s rule is come/reached here to/with you.'” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “Heal the sick in that village, and you tell all the people there that the time of God to rule them is very near.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “heal the sick, and tell the residents there that God’s ruling them is near.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “Heal those who are ill there, and say to the people of the town, ‘The kingdom of God is close to you now.'” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Gurung: “. . . You have had the opportunity to see God’s powerful works.” (Source: Warren Glover in The Bible Translator 1978, p. 231ff.)

complete verse (Luke 11:20)

Following are a number of back-translations of Luke 11:20:

  • Nyongar: “No! I drive out evil spirits because of God’s great power. So you can see that the Kingdom of God is coming to you.” (Source: Warda-Kwabba Luke-Ang)
  • Uma: “But I, I expel demons with the power of God. From that, you know for certain that the time has come for God to become King in your midst.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “But the truth is, my power to drive out demons is really from God. This means that God is already ruling here among you.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “Because this power that I use to drive away demons comes from God, and by means of this, you can tell that this already is the time for God to rule.'” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “Because the truth of it is, God is the one who gave me my power to cause-evil-spirits -to-leave, and that’s how-you -will-know that God’s ruling you has arrived.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “Well, now, if I drive out evil spirits by the strength of the supernatural-power of God, isn’t it so that this means the kingdom of God has arrived here with you?” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Gurung: “But since I drive out demons by the hand of God you should know that God’s power has come among you.” (Source: Warren Glover in The Bible Translator 1978, p. 231ff.)

complete verse (Luke 12:31)

Following are a number of back-translations of Luke 12:31:

  • Nyongar: “So await happily the day when God will be King and he will give you all these things.” (Source: Warda-Kwabba Luke-Ang)
  • Uma: “We must submit to God so that He is our King. If we do that, he will also give us the rest [lit, the other].” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “But that is what you should be thinking about, about God’s ruling and about following his wishes. Then he will give you all this that you need.'” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “What you must do, is to obey that which God has given you to do; He is the one who rules over you and he will give to you all that you need.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “Therefore you should concentrate your thoughts on God’s ruling, and he will also give you these-things.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “Therefore make sure that you are submitting to God, that his will is what you are persevering to do. And then he will give you these which you need.'” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Gurung: “Instead, obey God, and then you will receive eating, drinking, all things, as well.” (Source: Warren Glover in The Bible Translator 1978, p. 231ff.)