0932 BASILEIA (162): The reign of a king over his realm (territory) and subjects. In God's First Century Message (FCM, NT) basileia usually means the "reign" of God or Jesus; that is, their relationship with those humans who trust in them. For instance, Mt.7.21: "Not everyone who is saying to me, ‘Master, Master,' will enter into the reign (basileia) of the heavens; but the one who is doing the desires of my Father [who is] in the heavens.'"
Basileia has traditionally been translated "kingdom," which brings to one's mind a geographical territory owned by a monarch who rules over its inhabitants. But basileia occurs in that literal sense only eleven times in the FCM, as in Mt.4.8-9: "... the Devil took him upon a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms (basileia) of the world and their magnificence, and said to him, 'I will give all these things to you, if falling down you will show submission (4352 proskuneo) to me.'"
The primary definition of basileia in Thayer's lexicon is: "royal power, kingship, dominion, rule...". Vine's Expository Dictionary states, "Basileia is primarily an abstract noun, denoting sovereignty, royal power, dominion...". These are all characteristics of a "reign."
By allowing Greek FCM usage and context to determine word meanings in preference to deriving them from Classical or Koine Greek, a more accurate, understandable translation into English may be obtained. Basileia usually refers to the "reign" of God or Jesus, the spiritual relationship between God and humans. But in several passages basileia refers to the "realm" in which this relationship occurs.
THE USAGE OF "KINGDOM" IN GOD"S ANCIENT MESSAGE (AM, OT): The word "kingdom" (Hebrew malkuth, m'luwkah, etc.) occurs about 200 times in the AM, primarily referring to a physical earthly territory described as a "kingdom." For example, 1Chr.11.10: "Now these are the heads of the mighty men whom David had, who gave him strong support in his kingdom (malkuth), together with all Israel, to make him king..."
Several AM passages do not refer to a physical kingdom, but to a coming eternal reign, as in Dan.2.44: "And in the days of those kings shall the God of Heaven set up a reign (malkuth) which shall never be destroyed..." Human "reigns" come and go, so when a king (or other ruler) dies or is deposed, his reign ends, and the reign of another human begins. Only a being whose life does not end can have an indestructible, endless reign. In Lk.1.33 the messenger (angel) Gabriel told Mary that her son Jesus would "reign (basileuo) over the house of Jacob unto the ages (aion ), and of his reign (basileia) there will be no end (telos)." Jesus could not reign endlessly unless he had endless life.
Psa.45.6 similarly refers to the reign of Jesus: "Your throne, O God, is forever and ever. A scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your reign (malkuth)." This passage is quoted in Hebrews 1.8, referring to Jesus: "But concerning the Son [he says], 'Your throne, O God, is unto the age of the age. And the scepter of uprightness [is the] scepter of his reign.'" Psalm 145.13 also refers to Jesus' reign, stating, "Your reign (malkuth) is an everlasting reign (malkuth), and your kingship (malkuth) [is] through all generations." This passage is apparently quoted in 1Pe.1.11.
Psalm 103.19 refers to the reign of Yahweh: "Yahweh has established his throne in the heavens; and his reign (malkuth) rules over all." Also Psalm 146.10: "Yahweh will reign (m'luwkah) forever. These AR passages refer to Yahweh's reign over everything that exists.
GOD'S FCM "REIGN" OVER THOSE WHO TRUST IN HIM: John the Immerser (Mt.3.2) and Jesus (Mt.4.17) both foretold God's coming reign: "Change your+ minds (3340 metanoeo ) for the reign of the heavens has come near." The nearness of God's reign is also foretold in Mt.10.7, Mk.1.15; 9.1, Lk.10.9,11 and 21.31.
The expressions "reign of the heavens" and "reign of God" both occur in Mt.19.23-24, showing that they are equivalent in meaning: "And Jesus said to his learners, 'Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the reign (basileia) of the heavens (3772 ouranos ). 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 reign (basileia) of God.'". "Reign of God" describes God's reign from the viewpoint of his kingship, and "reign of the heavens" from the viewpoint of his relationship from heaven with believers.
In Rom.14.17 Paul wrote: "...the reign (basileia) of God is not eating and drinking, but uprightness and peace and joy in the Pure Spirit." That is, God's reign relates to spiritual, not physical matters.
Mt.6.33: "But seek first his reign (basileia) and his uprightness, and all these things will be added to you+." Those who seek a relationship with God are promised life's necessities.
Lk.17.20-21: "And being questioned by the Pharisees [about] when the reign (basileia) of God comes, he (Jesus) answered, 'The reign (basileia) of God does not come with observation;' nor will they say, 'Look here, or there.' For look! the reign (basileia) of God is within you+.'" Basileia in this passage shows God's reign to be in the hearts and minds of those humans who trust him.
In Mt.12.25-28, Jesus, "...knowing their thoughts, he said to them, ‘Every reign (basileia) divided against itself is laid to waste, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand. 26. And if Satan expels Satan, he is divided against himself. So then, how will his reign (basileia) stand?" 27. And if I by Beelzebub expel the demons , by whom do your sons expel them? 28. "But if I expel demons by God's Spirit, then the reign (basileia) of God has come upon you."
In Jn.18.33 Pilate asked Jesus, "Are you king of the Jews?" In verse 36 Jesus answered, "My reign (basileia) is not of this [human] world. If my reign (basileia) was of this world, my associates would have struggled so that I would not be given over to the Jews; but now my reign (basileia) is not from hence." Pilate was concerned that Jesus might reign over physical territory. Jesus explained that his reign was not over an earthly kingdom. He was not a threat to Caesar and his Empire, nor to Pilate and his governorship. Pilate acknowledged this by saying in verse 38: "I find no crime in him."
In Act.1.6, prior to Jesus' ascent to heaven, his learners asked him, "Master, are you going to restore the reign (basileia) to Israel at this time?" So, even after some three and a half years of close association with Jesus, his learners had not grasped the concept of God's reign being a loving relationship between himself and those humans who trust in him.
Concerning end-time events of 1Co.15.24-27, Paul explained: "...then [comes] the end, when he delivers the reign (basileia) to the God and Father, when he brings down all rule and all authority and power. For it is necessary that he reign (basileuo) until he puts all enemies under his feet. The last enemy brought down is death; for he has put all things under his feet. But when he says that all things have been put under [him], the one having put all things under him is clearly excepted."
GOD'S FCM REALM FOR BELIEVERS: basileia is translated "realm" in these passages because the context suggests a location, a "realm." They could also be translated "reign."
Mt.19.14: "Permit the children to come unto me and do not prevent them, for of such ones is the realm of the heavens."
Jesus said in Mt.8.11-12: "...I tell you+, many will come from east and west and will recline with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the realm (basileia) of the heavens; but the sons of the realm (basileia) will be thrown out into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Lk.13-28,29 puts it this way: "There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you+ see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the realm (basileia) of God, but you+ being thrown outside. And they will come from east and west and from north and south, and will recline in the realm (basileia) of God."
The realm of the heavens here includes all who have trusted in God, from Adam and the fathers through the present age. Those who "come from east and west" evidently refers to those non-Jews who have placed their trust in Jesus. "Sons of the realm" apparently refers to the Jews who have rejected Jesus, as foretold in Mt.21.43: "Because of this I tell you+, ‘The reign of God will betaken from you+ and will be given to a nation producing its fruits.
The realm of "the Anointed One and God" (Eph.5.5) also includes God's deceased believers of all of the ages. It is broader in scope than Jesus' community (1577 ekklesia ), which includes those under the new covenant who come to trust Jesus during the time that they are physically alive.
In the judgment scene of Mt.25.34 Jesus said, "Come you rewarded ones of my Father; inherit the realm (basileia) prepared for you from the foundation of the human world." While physically alive, believers are in the realm of God and Jesus prospectively; that is, they do not actually enter or "inherit" God's realm until the day of judgment.
LITERAL KINGDOMS OR REIGNS OF HUMANS: Mt.24.7, Mk.13.8 and Lk.21.10 each foretell, "...nation (ethnos) will be raised up against nation (ethnos) and kingdom (basileia) against kingdom (basileia)..." Ethnos and basileia each refer to geographical territories from different points of view.
REIGN OF SATAN (ALSO THE BEAST) AND THOSE SERVING HIM, as in Mt.12.26: "And if Satan expels Satan he is divided. How then will his reign stand?"
0933 BASILEION (1): something belonging to a king, royal; a king's palace.
0934 BASILEIOS (1): of the king, kingly, royal.
0936 BASILEUO (22): to reign as king over a literal realm, as in Mt.2.22: "But hearing that Archelaus reigns in Judea instead of his father, Herod, he feared to go there...". To reign in the spiritual realm, 1Co.15.25: "For it is necessary for him to reign until he puts all enemies under his feet.". Figuratively, for something inanimate to reign, Rom 6.12: "...So then let not wrongdoing reign in your mortal bodies."
GOD OR JESUS REIGNING:
A LITERAL HUMAN KING REIGNING:
HUMANS REIGNING IN A FIGURATIVE SENSE:
THE FIGURATIVE REIGN OF SOMETHING INANIMATE: such as sin or death.
0935 BASILEUS (115): a king.
A HUMAN KING:
GOD OR JESUS AS KING:
0937 BASILIKOS (5): of the king, kingly, royal.
0938 BASILISSA (4): a queen.
Back to word index