Jesus, in Matthew 24:14, declared, And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. These words of Jesus should raise the question in our minds, "What is the "gospel of the kingdom?" It should also cause us to ask, "Are we preaching the gospel of the kingdom?" These are questions that I seek to answer in this article. 

The Kingdom of God is His Authority

From both Acts and the Epistles, it is obvious, that the preaching of the Kingdom of God was a primary theme in the early Church. In his very moving dialogue with the elders of Ephesus, Paul reminded them how he had gone about in their midst, preaching the kingdom of God (Acts 20:25). In describing Paul’s ministry while under house arrest in Rome, Luke says that he, Received all who came to Him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things that concern the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 28:30-31).

The Greek word for “kingdom” is basileia and the Hebrew word is malkuth. Both terms refer to the right and authority of a king to reign, rather than to the territory or people over which he reigns. Jesus told a parable to illustrate this, saying, A nobleman went into a far country to receive a kingdom (basiliea) and then return (Luke 19:11-12). The realm over which he wanted to reign was the place he left. He needed the right and authority to reign over that territory and went into a far country to obtain that right and authority.

Interestingly, an event like this had happened in Israel not many years prior to Jesus’ telling this parable. In 40 b.c., political conditions in Israel were chaotic. The Romans had subdued the country in 63 b.c., but stability was slow in coming. An Edomite by the name of Herod, who later became Herod the Great, travelled to Rome and talked the Romans into declaring him king. He literally went into a far country and received a kingdom, which was the right and authority to reign over the Jews in Judea. 

The kingdom of God is His kingship. It is His sovereign rule and authority, Psalm 103:19 makes this clear: The LORD has established His throne in heaven, and His kingdom rules over all. When Jesus, in Matthew 6:33, exhorts us to seek first the kingdom of God and its righteousness, He does not mean for us to seek a certain territory, people, or structure, but to seek His rule and reign in our lives  

The Kingdom of God and Pentecost

In describing one of Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances before His ascension, Luke says that He spoke to them, of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God (Acts 1:3). This was necessary because they had to understand the significance of His life, death, and resurrection, as well as the events of Pentecost that were soon to follow.

Indeed, first century Jews believed that Joel’s prophecy of an outpouring of God’s Spirit on all flesh (Joel 2:28-29) was to be part of the messianic kingdom that would be ushered in by the coming of Messiah. Peter made this point when explaining to the crowds the meaning of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. Peter explained that what was happening was the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy, but he added the words, in the last days (Acts 2:17). Professor George Ladd says,

“The last days” in the prophets was the time of Messianic redemption when God’s rule will be perfectly realized among men, the Gentiles will be converted, and peace will reign in the earth. In other words, it is the kingdom of God.

Miraculous Gifts of the Spirit are Signs of His Kingdom

In explaining the meaning of events on the Day of Pentecost, Peter ties the outpouring of the Holy Spirit to Jesus’ resurrection and ascension to the Right Hand of God. He points out that Jesus’ resurrection was the fulfillment of the prophecy of David who said, For you will not leave My soul in hell, nor will you allow your Holy One to see corruption (Acts 2:27-28). Peter goes on to say, 

This Jesus God has raised up of which we are all witnesses Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear . . . Therefore let all the house of Israel know that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ (Acts 2:32-36).

According to Peter, the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit in their midst was the sign that the Messiah was on His throne and now reigning. An Old Testament example of this is when Joseph, who was reigning in Egypt, revealed himself to his brothers who had betrayed him many years before. Joseph sent them back to Canaan with wagons loaded with gifts and supplies.

Joseph’s father, Jacob, had grieved for him these many years, thinking he was dead. When his older sons returned from Egypt and told him Joseph was alive, and he is ruler of all Egypt, Jacob did not believe them (Genesis 45:26).  However, when He saw the wagons loaded with gifts and supplies, his spirit was revived, and he realized Joseph was really alive and reigning in Egypt.

For Peter and the early followers of Jesus, the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit in their midst were signs of the Messiah being seated on His throne. They, therefore, used every miracle and answer to prayer, not for self-promotion, but as an opportunity to point the people to Jesus as the promised Messiah. Messiah’s throne, however, was not an earthly, political throne, but one in the heavens at the right hand of God. As David said in Psalm 103:19, The LORD has established His throne in heaven, and His kingdom rules over all.

The Church and the Kingdom of God

A simple way to understand the difference between “Church” and “Kingdom” is to remember that Church is “people.” The Kingdom of God refers to His “authority,” that is, His rule and reign. So, as the earliest Christians proclaimed the Gospel of the Kingdom—that the Messiah had come and was seated on His Heavenly throne—the Church emerged, being made up of those who embraced the Messiah and His reign. The Church is the body through which the Gospel of the Kingdom of God is to be proclaimed in all the world (Matthew 24:14). 

As mentioned at the beginning, Jesus, in Matthew 24:14, said, And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. I am here suggesting that the Gospel of the Kingdom will consist of the following five components.

5 Components of the Gospel of the Kingdom

1.  The Messiah has come, fulfilling the Old Testament prophecies, and is now seated on His throne in the heavens at the right hand of God with all authority in heaven and earth (Matthew 28:19; Ephesians 1:19-22)..]

2.   By virtue of Messiah’s redemptive death on the cross, God is offering amnesty and forgiveness of sins to all who will turn to Him in repentance and faith (Acts 20:21).

3.  The gift of the Holy Spirt is given to all who believe, and His manifestations are the visible signs that the Messiah is reigning on His heavenly throne.

4.  The rulers and people of this world will oppose the message of the Kingdom of God, meaning that those who embrace the Kingdom must expect persecution.

5. The Kingdom of the Messiah, which is now here in incipient form, will be fully consummated when He returns in power and great glory. Present reality/future consummation is the tension within which the early Church lived and preached the kingdom of God.

This article was derived from Dr. Eddie Hyatt’s latest book, Discovering the Real Jesus, scheduled for release August 1 and available from Amazon and his website at http://eddiehyatt.com.

No comments:

Post a Comment