"The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, 'Here it is,' or 'There it is,' because the kingdom of God is within you." (Luke 17:20-21)

The NIV translation used for these two verses was the 1984 NIV version. This was used instead of the NIV 2011 translation because of a critical translation change:

The phrase "within you" in the 1984 translation* was changed to "in your midst."

This phrase, "within you" is also consistent with the King James Version, the New King James Version, the American Standard Version, Young's Literal Translation, Hebrew Names Version and Webster's Bible.

What is wrong with "within you"?


Why was this change made from "within you" to "in your midst"? Quite certainly, it is because some sectarian translators do not know what Jesus is referring to when he says, "kingdom of God."

This is quite clear because Jesus is stating clearly here that the "kingdom of God" is not something that can be observed, nor can someone say "here it is" or "there it is." So if it is not something that can be observed, nor can someone say "here it is" or "there it is" then how could it possibly be "in your midst"?

If it is "in your midst" then quite certainly someone can say "here it is" or "there it is." In fact, the phrase "in your midst" IS saying "here it is."

Thus we can confirm that "in your midst" is a mistranslation.

The Greek phrase used here is ἐντὸς ὑμῶν ἐστιν. The word ἐντός (entos) means "you." The word εἰμί (humón) means "yours" or your "own" or "self." And the word ἐστιν is related to εἰμί (eimi), meaning to exist or be. Thus the most appropriate translation of ἐντὸς ὑμῶν ἐστιν would be:
"exists within you."

How can the kingdom of God be within you?


So we must therefore ask, if we assume the translation of "kingdom of God" as in a location, then how could this location exist within us?

And assuming the "kingdom of God" is a location, then how come it cannot be observed as Jesus states?

And assuming the "kingdom of God" is a location, then why can someone not be able to say "here it is" or "there it is?" How could one not say this if it is a location?

Because Jesus is not speaking of a location. In fact, the phrase "kingdom of God" is not even the best translation of the Greek phrase, βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ.

Yes, the word θεοῦ is God's Holy Name. And τοῦ means "of" or "by."

But the word βασιλεία means, according to Thayer's lexicon, "royal power, kingship, dominion, rule - not to be confused with an actual kingdom but rather the right or authority to rule over a kingdom."

Thus Jesus is not referring to a location - as in a place - with the word βασιλεία. Rather, Jesus is referring to one's accepting the authority or rule or royal power or dominion of the Supreme Being.

What does this mean?

Shelter or sanctuary


During Jesus' time, the people of a region would accept the authority of one king or another - but why? Because that king provided protection to the people of the region. The king would assemble and command an army to protect the people against invaders. Therefore the citizens took protection under such a strong king.

This would also be called 'taking shelter' of that king - because the king provided shelter - or protection - to the citizens.

This provides the context of Jesus' phraseology - as he was speaking to those of a particular culture and time. We can see that "taking shelter" also fits within the definition of the word βασιλεία because by "taking shelter" of God, one is accepting the rule, authority, dominion, and royal power of the Supreme Being. One is accepting God's authority and taking shelter in Him. This is taking shelter or sanctuary of God.

Thus we find the correct meaning of Jesus' statement, together with a clearer understanding of why the shelter of God can be found within us.

Now here is the translation from the Gospels of Jesus:
“The sanctuary of God does not appear through observation. Neither can you declare, ‘Here it is!’ or ‘There it is!’ Because the sanctuary of God is within you.” (Luke 17:20-21)
Because one can also interpret the word "sanctuary" to be a physical thing - such as a building or other means of protection against the elements - Jesus has to distinguish this - by stating that the sanctuary of God can be found within us.

Experiencing the God's sanctuary within


The reality is that within this temporary physical body are two personalities. The first is each of us - the spirit-person who falsely identifies with this temporary body.

The second personality in each physical body is the expansion of the Supreme Being - also referred to as the Holy Spirit.

This means that functionally speaking we can reach out to the Supreme Being from within: Meaning that our spirit-person can connect with the Supreme Being via His Holy Spirit.

This fact that one can connect with the Holy Spirit from within is repeated through the Gospels:
His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied (Luke 1:67)
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness (Luke 4:1)
"When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say." (Luke 12:11-12)
These scenarios indicate internal access to the Supreme Being's expansion - the Holy Spirit - from within.

This also indicates that one can take sanctuary or shelter of the Supreme Being from within. Jesus also taught how he could awaken one to the Holy Spirit within:
"But if it is by the Spirit of God that I drive out demons, then the kingdom of God [shelter of God] has come upon you." (Matt. 12:28)
Thus we find the two are connected. Taking shelter of the Supreme Being gives one access to the Holy Spirit within. This is because as one takes shelter of God, the Supreme Being opens the doorway, allowing us to experience His existence.

As one experiences God's existence from within, this opens the ability for us to get to know the Supreme Being. And as one gets to know the Supreme Being from within, one has the opportunity to fall in love with the Supreme Being.

This access to the Supreme Being was precisely what John was teaching his students:
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” (Matt. 3:2)
Then Jesus also taught this:
From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” (Matt. 4:17)
And then Jesus told his students to teach this to others:
"As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’" (Matt. 10:7)
This notion of "has come near" - from the Greek word ἐγγίζω (eggizō) - refers to something that is readily available. Certainly, John, Jesus and Jesus' students were not warning people that the world is coming to an end (because it didn't). Rather, they were speaking of something that is close by - as in within us. They were preaching that we can access the Supreme Being from within.

Jesus is thus teaching that God is nearby. God is readily available to us.

The "kingdom of heaven" from the Greek word οὐρανός (ouranos) also refers to the Supreme Being as it refers to his world or existence. Thus "shelter of God" and "shelter of heaven" are synonymous in this context.

Jesus also suggested other characteristics of one taking shelter of God:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (Matt. 5:3)

What are the "poor in spirit"


Those who are humble. Thus Jesus is saying that humility provides the ability to accept the shelter of God.
"Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (Matt. 5:10)
And so on. Jesus repeatedly indicates that ones ability to take shelter in God comes from within, because this is how we can connect with the Supreme Being, via the Holy Spirit. Having the appropriate inner character - humility, willing to serve God and so on - are characteristics of one who connects with the Supreme Being from within.

We find that according to Jesus' teachings, taking shelter in God is inseparable from serving the Supreme Being:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." (Matt. 7:21)
And serving the Supreme Being is founded upon loving Him with all our hearts:
"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matt. 22:37-38)