What Was Jesus' Gospel?

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What Was Jesus' Gospel?

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“I must preach the kingdom of God…because for this purpose I have been sent” (Luke 4:43 Luke 4:43And he said to them, I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also: for therefore am I sent.
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)

Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel’ ” (Mark 1:14-15 Mark 1:14-15 14 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into 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 you, and believe the gospel.
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Jesus began His ministry with these words announcing the Kingdom of God. The time He had in mind to be “fulfilled” was probably a reference to the prophecy in Daniel 9:24-25 Daniel 9:24-25 24 Seventy weeks are determined on your people and on your holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. 25 Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem to the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and three score and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.
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, where it is said that the Messiah would come 483 years from the decree to rebuild Jerusalem. The year A.D. 27 was when the 483 years specified in the prophecy would end. The year 27 is significant because that is the year Jesus began His ministry. He began preaching the message of the Kingdom of God in Galilee.

As we saw in the last chapter, the people and even Christ’s own disciples had many misconceptions about the Messiah and His mission. People still misunderstand today, but in a totally different way. Many fail to realize that the future, world-ruling Kingdom prophesied in so many places in the Old Testament was at the heart of Jesus’ message and teaching.

A literal kingdom on earth

Most people don’t understand that the Kingdom of God is a literal kingdom, a government both divine and royal ruling over literal people on the earth. This is not merely a symbolic or a spiritual rule, a sentiment that exists only in human hearts. As we will see, it is far more. And Jesus simply continued the prophecies about this Kingdom that had begun to be revealed in the Old Testament.

A prophecy of this coming Kingdom is graphically depicted in Daniel 2. In this prophecy the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar, was shown an image that represents the major kingdoms or empires that would dominate the Middle East. The image represents first the kingdom of Babylon, and then three successive kingdoms that would rule until the Kingdom of God would be “set up.” This Kingdom of God will put an end to the rule of the previous kingdoms.

Notice the description of this final Kingdom, the Kingdom of God, in Daniel 2:44 Daniel 2:44And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.
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: “And in the days of these [final] kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.”

The image Nebuchadnezzar saw represented the successive kingdoms existing from the time of Daniel to the time when the Kingdom of God is established, when they will be destroyed by the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God “shall never be destroyed” and “shall stand forever.”

Just as these are literal kingdoms, each with a ruler, government, laws, subjects and territory, so too is the Kingdom of God. Its Ruler will be Jesus Christ (Revelation 11:15 Revelation 11:15And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.
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). Its government and laws will be the government and laws of God (Isaiah 2:2-4 Isaiah 2:2-4 2 And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. 3 And many people shall go and say, Come you, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. 4 And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
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). Its subjects and territory will be all nations of the earth (Daniel 7:14 Daniel 7:14And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.
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). The Kingdom of God will rule over the whole earth!

Let’s notice several of the more well-known prophecies that picture the same Kingdom of which Jesus spoke.

The famous prophecy of Isaiah 9:6-7 Isaiah 9:6-7 6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given: and the government shall be on his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, on the throne of David, and on his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from now on even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.
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describes His rule: “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever.” This is the world kingdom Jesus spoke of that has not yet come!

The prophecy of Isaiah 2 (partially quoted in the last chapter) will be fulfilled at the time of Jesus’ return. Notice Isaiah 2:3-4 Isaiah 2:3-4 3 And many people shall go and say, Come you, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. 4 And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
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:

“Many people shall come and say, ‘Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.’ For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”

The Kingdom of God will eradicate war

When Jesus spoke so often of the Kingdom of God, He was simply continuing the message of the Old Testament prophets. Jesus referred often and unmistakably to His return to earth to establish the Kingdom these prophets had foretold. In His most lengthy prophecy, given in response to His disciples’ question, “What will be the sign of Your coming and of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3 Matthew 24:3And as he sat on the mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of your coming, and of the end of the world?
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), He described the end of the age of human-led governments and the arrival of His divine reign on earth.

He specifically answered the disciples’ question in Matthew 24:30 Matthew 24:30And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
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: “Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”

Eight times in this chapter alone He speaks of His coming to earth in a far different way than when He arrived the first time. The first time He proclaimed the good news of the Kingdom of God. The second time He will come as its omnipotent ruling King to establish His Kingdom over the entire earth.

“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world’ ” (Matthew 25:31-34 Matthew 25:31-34 31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit on the throne of his glory: 32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats: 33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then shall the King say to them on his right hand, Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
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What kingdom is He talking about? The Kingdom of God of which He so often taught! This Kingdom was in planning and preparation “from the foundation of the world.” Jesus, “the Son of Man,” will be the King of this Kingdom. This is what Jesus came to announce—this was the heart of His message!

Jesus’ parable of the talents

Because of misunderstandings of the Kingdom, Jesus gave a parable in which He made it clear His reign would involve a literal kingdom ruling in the physical realm as well as in the spiritual realm.

“Now as they heard these things, He spoke another parable, because He was near Jerusalem and because they thought the kingdom of God would appear immediately” (Luke 19:11 Luke 19:11And as they heard these things, he added and spoke a parable, because he was near to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear.
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). The people were looking for the establishment of the Kingdom of God with Jerusalem as the center of government over the nations, with the Jews being the prominent people of the Kingdom, as the prophets had foretold.

So Jesus explained it this way: “A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return” (Luke 19:12 Luke 19:12He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return.
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). Jesus, the nobleman of the parable, taught that while He was away (in heaven) for an unspecified length of time, His servants would continue where they were (on earth) doing their Lord’s business until He returned, when they would be rewarded (Luke 19:13-27 Luke 19:13-27 13 And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said to them, Occupy till I come. 14 But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us. 15 And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called to him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading. 16 Then came the first, saying, Lord, your pound has gained ten pounds. 17 And he said to him, Well, you good servant: because you have been faithful in a very little, have you authority over ten cities. 18 And the second came, saying, Lord, your pound has gained five pounds. 19 And he said likewise to him, Be you also over five cities. 20 And another came, saying, Lord, behold, here is your pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin: 21 For I feared you, because you are an austere man: you take up that you layed not down, and reap that you did not sow. 22 And he said to him, Out of your own mouth will I judge you, you wicked servant. You knew that I was an austere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping that I did not sow: 23 Why then gave not you my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required my own with usury? 24 And he said to them that stood by, Take from him the pound, and give it to him that has ten pounds. 25 (And they said to him, Lord, he has ten pounds.) 26 For I say to you, That to every one which has shall be given; and from him that has not, even that he has shall be taken away from him. 27 But those my enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring here, and slay them before me.
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). And what is their reward in this parable? It is having authority over cities—physical cities filled with men, women, boys and girls (Luke 19:17-19 Luke 19:17-19 17 And he said to him, Well, you good servant: because you have been faithful in a very little, have you authority over ten cities. 18 And the second came, saying, Lord, your pound has gained five pounds. 19 And he said likewise to him, Be you also over five cities.
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).

The parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30 Matthew 25:14-30 14 For the kingdom of heaven is as a man traveling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered to them his goods. 15 And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. 16 Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. 17 And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. 18 But he that had received one went and dig in the earth, and hid his lord’s money. 19 After a long time the lord of those servants comes, and reckons with them. 20 And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, you delivered to me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. 21 His lord said to him, Well done, you good and faithful servant: you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things: enter you into the joy of your lord. 22 He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, you delivered to me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. 23 His lord said to him, Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things: enter you into the joy of your lord. 24 Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew you that you are an hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not strewed: 25 And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the earth: see, there you have that is yours. 26 His lord answered and said to him, You wicked and slothful servant, you knew that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strewed: 27 You ought therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received my own with usury. 28 Take therefore the talent from him, and give it to him which has ten talents. 29 For to every one that has shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that has not shall be taken away even that which he has. 30 And cast you the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
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is similar, giving the same kind of message. The basic scenario is the same: “…The kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them” (Matthew 25:14 Matthew 25:14For the kingdom of heaven is as a man traveling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered to them his goods.
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The reward for those who increased their talents (a denomination of money here symbolic of spiritual means) is being made “ruler over many things” (Matthew 25:21-23 Matthew 25:21-23 21 His lord said to him, Well done, you good and faithful servant: you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things: enter you into the joy of your lord. 22 He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, you delivered to me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. 23 His lord said to him, Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things: enter you into the joy of your lord.
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). The Kingdom of God when it is established by Jesus Christ at His return will be a literal government, ruling on earth and functioning not only in the spiritual affairs of man, but in his temporal affairs too.

This is the Kingdom that Jesus announced would be coming. And He began to invite some to “repent, and believe in the gospel”—the good news of His message—because “the kingdom of God is at hand” (Mark 1:15 Mark 1:15And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent you, and believe the gospel.
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). He was now announcing that Kingdom, and they had the opportunity to prepare to be a part of the Kingdom of God at His return.

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