THE KINGDOM BEING IN THEIR MIDST
In Luke 17:21 the Greek word rendered "within" by the King James Version means both "within" and "in the midst," and it is hard to determine the exact meaning in this verse. I believe that the Lord’s word implies both aspects. Since the Lord Jesus was present with them, the kingdom of God was in their midst. Do not say, "Here is the kingdom" or "There is the kingdom. Behold, the kingdom of God is here in your midst." What is this? This is the Lord Jesus. Where He is, there is the kingdom of God. Let me ask you: Do you not believe that the Lord Jesus was observed at that time by all the Pharisees? Some said, "Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary, and his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us?" (Matt. 13:55-56). They knew all this and still were unable to observe the kingdom. The Lord Jesus was in their midst as the kingdom, but they were unable to observe Him because they were using the wrong organ. They needed to use the proper organ—their spirit. When the Lord Jesus was among them, He was not only a man, but also the embodiment of God. They needed to realize this in their spirit. Because they failed to realize this, He was in their midst, but He was unable to be in them. If they had observed God in their spirit, He would have immediately come inside of them as the kingdom.
Since the kingdom is the Lord Jesus, and He was present with the Pharisees, why did they ask Him, "When shall the kingdom of God come?" It was because they paid too much attention to the mental knowledge of the Bible in letters. They simply did not know how to exercise their inward part, that is, their human spirit. By their outward man and by their natural ability they were unable to observe that the Lord Jesus was the reality of the kingdom. Although the Lord Jesus, the kingdom of God, was present, they could not observe Him. If they had observed Him by the exercise of their spirit, this wonderful One would have come inside of them immediately. He would not have been only in their midst, but also inside of them. Whether the Lord Jesus was only in their midst or also inside of them depended on whether or not they exercised their spirit to observe Him.
THE KINGDOM BEING THE LORD JESUS AS THE SPIRIT
We may say that the kingdom is the Lord Jesus, but it must be the Lord Jesus as the Spirit, not in the flesh. The kingdom is the Lord Jesus as the Spirit. He said to the Pharisees, "But if I by the Spirit of God cast out demons, then the kingdom of God is come upon you" (Matt. 12:28). This verse tells us that the kingdom is simply the reality of the Spirit of God. When the Spirit of God is made real, this realization is the kingdom. The Lord Jesus said that because He cast out demons by the power of the Spirit of God, this indicated that the kingdom of God was there. The kingdom is the spiritual realization of the Lord Jesus. When we realize Him spiritually, we have the kingdom.
The Spirit of God is the reality of the Lord Jesus. The Spirit is His Person, and His Person is His reality. Just as the reality of a man is his person, so the reality of the Lord Jesus is His Person, and His Person is the Spirit. He had the Spirit with Him, and the Spirit was His Person. This Person, the Spirit, was the reality of the Lord Jesus. At that time, His reality was fully exercised by casting out demons. Thus, that was the kingdom of God. Now we can see that the kingdom is not merely a dispensation or sphere. The kingdom is the realization of the reality of the Lord Jesus.
(The Kingdom, Chapter 2, by Witness Lee)