What Is the Gospel of the Kingdom of God?

Lesson 6, Part 9

10/12

The Apostles Teach the Same Gospel

To enter into and share in the Kingdom of God is consistently given as the ultimate goal of believers in Christ.

What message did Jesus command His followers to preach?

Then He called His twelve disciples together and…sent them to preach the kingdom of God…” (Luke 9:1-2).

“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).

“And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).

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Did they do as He commanded?

“And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs” (Mark 16:20).

“But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized” (Acts 8:12).

Was the Kingdom of God the goal of the early Christians?

“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear” (Hebrews 12:28).

What reason did Peter give for God calling people into His Church?

“Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:10-11).

Did James, half brother of Jesus, also teach that the Kingdom of God is the goal of a Christian’s life?

“Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?” (James 2:5).

What did Jesus Himself say should be the goal of any Christian?

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness . . .” (Matthew 6:33).

To enter into and share in the Kingdom of God is consistently given as the ultimate goal of believers in Christ. It is the very purpose for their lives. Throughout the four Gospels and the other writings of the apostles, the reality of the Kingdom of God is treated as a foregone conclusion.

Was the Kingdom of God a major theme in Paul’s teaching?

“And [Paul] went into the synagogue and spoke boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading concerning the things of the kingdom of God” (Acts 19:8).

“So when they had appointed him a day, many came to [Paul] at his lodging, to whom he explained and solemnly testified of the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus from both the Law of Moses and the Prophets, from morning till evening” (Acts 28:23).

“Then Paul dwelt two whole years in his own rented house, and received all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no one forbidding him” (Acts 28:30-31).

Paul emphasized the theme of the Kingdom of God, continuing the teaching of Jesus Christ and the other apostles.

For what reasons were Paul and his companions persecuted?

“But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some brethren to the rulers of the city, crying out, ‘These who have turned the world upside down have come here too. Jason has harbored them, and these are all acting contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying there is another king—Jesus. And they troubled the crowd and the rulers of the city when they heard these things’ ” (Acts 17:6-8).

Paul taught that Jesus would return as King to establish the Kingdom of God. Because of this teaching, he was falsely accused of inciting his followers to overthrow the Roman government. Although this was untrue, it put Paul and his associates in serious trouble. F.F. Bruce in his commentary on Acts says: “The apostles proclaimed the kingdom of God, a very different kingdom from any secular empire, and no doubt they gave Jesus the Greek title basileus(‘king’), by which the Roman Emperor was described by his Greek-speaking subjects” (F.F. Bruce, The Book of Acts: The New International Commentary on the New Testament , 1984, pp. 344-345).

Since the gospel spoke of a literal Kingdom with Christ as its king, it inspired charges of treason against Paul. The citizens feared the Roman authorities would step in and deal harshly with them if talk of the Kingdom of God continued openly. This incident shows the powerful impact the message of the Kingdom had in the Roman world.

Paul taught that people should turn from false gods and idols and immediately begin to obey the teachings of the living God. He challenged their pagan superstitions. Paul’s preaching that God plans to send Jesus Christ to set up the Kingdom of God often brought persecution on him and his companions (Acts 16:19-24; Acts 19:25-29).

Why was Paul often accused in court of doing evil?

“And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers. To this promise our twelve tribes, earnestly serving God night and day, hope to attain. For this hope’s sake, King Agrippa, I am accused by the Jews. Why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead?” (Acts 26:6-8).

Paul based his teachings on the promises made to his forefathers. He preached that people everywhere could be blessed forever through the Seed of Abraham as promised. He preached the promise that a Ruler would come from David who would sit on his throne forever. Both promises referred to the role of Christ in God’s plan. Even in that day, many Jews anticipated the appearance of this Ruler because of the same promise and the words of the prophets.

Paul’s teachings included the promise that humankind would be reconciled to God through the forgiveness of sin (Jeremiah 31:34; Colossians 1:18-23). Jesus Christ’s life, death and resurrection provided for that. Paul taught that Christ was a sacrifice for sin as promised in the Scriptures (Isaiah 53:3-6; Romans 3:23-25). Paul believed and taught that God would resurrect the dead (Daniel 12:2-3; Acts 23:6).

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It wasn’t long until a counterfeit Christianity, teaching a corrupted gospel different from that of Christ and His apostles, became a major religious movement.

Paul’s message included all of these promises as well as God’s wonderful teaching that Christians will have a part in His Kingdom, which will replace the disobedient kingdoms of this world. Paul summarizes by saying, “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13-14).

Christ's Parables and the Kingdom

Did Jesus expect everyone to understand His parables about the Kingdom of God?

In His teaching, Jesus often compared the coming Kingdom to common situations in people’s lives. These messages are known as parables.

Most people assume Christ used this method of teaching to make the truth more easily understood. Jesus Himself said the opposite is true. “And the disciples came and said to Him, ‘Why do You speak to them in parables?’ He answered and said to them, ‘Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given . . . Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand’ ” (Matthew 13:10-13).

Jesus did not expect everyone to understand His parables about the Kingdom, either in His days on earth or now. “And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: ‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, and seeing you will see and not perceive; for the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them.’ But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it . . .” (Matthew 13:14-17).

Jesus then explained the parable of the sower. The sown seed was “the word of the kingdom” (Matthew 13:19). Next He gave the three most common reasons most people don’t understand what He called “the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 13:11).

He first gave the example of a person who is so deceived by Satan that he lacks the spiritual depth even to grasp the meaning of the message (Matthew 13:19). Next He gave the example of one who “stumbles” at the word when “tribulation or persecution arises” (Matthew 13:20-21). Then comes the example of one “who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful” (Matthew 13:22).

Last is the positive example of one who hears and understands Christ’s teachings concerning the Kingdom of God (Matthew 13:23), the person who hears and believes the message, then acts on that information to produce abundant spiritual fruit.

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