This verse, something Jesus spoke, relates to the time of His return and captures a key aspect of the gospel.
14 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. Matthew 24:14 (NKJV)
Nations here is the Greek word ethnos and refers to nationalities or ethnicities rather than national boundaries. While the Lord has set nations in place and set their boundaries (Acts 17:24-26) He wants the gospel of the kingdom to go to every nationality. Missiologists refer to unreached people groups rather than nations as they understand the import of the verse.
While it is a noble goal to want to reach all people groups, we need to be clear on what we are reaching them with. Jesus referred to the ‘gospel of the kingdom.’ I am sure most if not all of us have prayed, ‘Your kingdom come, Your will be done’ from what we refer to as The Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6. While I think it is important to pray for His kingdom to come and His will to be done, I think it is more important to grasp what we are praying to happen.
This points to the need for a bit of background around what the kingdom is and when we can expect to see it if we are to preach it. My goal here is to provide us with hope and encouragement. Thus, here is some scriptural perspective on the kingdom from something I wrote back in 2013.
- What is the kingdom?
- A basic understanding comes from looking at the definition of the word. It is a compound word coming from two words, ‘king’ and ‘domain.’ At the most basic level, a kingdom is anywhere that falls under the king’s domain or rule or the exercise of the king’s dominion.
- The kingdom of God is where the King’s dominion is operating.
- We see in scripture that ‘The Kingdom of God’ and the ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ are two ways of referring to the same thing.
17 From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 4:17 (NKJV) emphasis mine
14 Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” Mark 1:14-15 (NKJV) emphasis mine
- How does the kingdom function?
- The kingdom operates through delegated authority. Yahweh is the source of all authority
- This takes us back to Genesis – what happened in Genesis
26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” Genesis 1:26 (NKJV) emphasis mine
- Adam and Eve committed treason and lost their delegated dominion (Genesis 3).
- To come back into the place of delegated dominion we embrace the kingdom of God.
12 giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. 13 He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, 14 in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. 18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. Colossians 1:12-18 (NKJV)
- What is our role in the kingdom?
- Jesus laid out our role in Matthew 28:18-20, The Great Commission, our responsibility to preach, demonstrate and model the kingdom.
18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. Matthew 28:18-20 (NKJV)
15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; 18 they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” Mark 16:15-18 (NKJV)
- Jesus differentiated between seeing and entering the kingdom
3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. John 3:3-5 (NKJV)
This provides background and context for how we are to function as representatives of Jesus the king. In my next post I will look at the application of these ideas to our lives.