Mysteries of the Kingdom

            in awe of scripture, viewing it through the lens of the kingship of Jesus


    Shockingly, Jesus preached a different gospel than we preach. Mark told us, "Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near! Repent, and believe in the gospel."(1:14-15) In Luke 16:16, Jesus said, "The law and the prophets were until John. From that time the gospel of the kingdom of God is preached..." On the week of His crucifixion, He taught His disciples, "This gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed in the whole world for a testimonty to all the nations, and then the end will come."(Mt24:14)
    In only five books of the Bible, Jesus and His Apostles explicitly proclaimed the gospel to those who had never heard it. Four of the books have titles appropriately beginning with the words, "The Gospel of..." The fifth book which records proclamation of the gospel to outsiders is titled "Acts" or "The Acts of the Apostles." The rest of the New Testament is explicitly addressed to insiders, explaining to them the effects of the gospel including salvation. Perhaps we have confused the effects of the gospel with the actual gospel. When we preach the effects, we preach truth which leads outsiders to the gospel, but we would do better to begin with the gospel itself.
    From His first message in Matthew 4:17 to His final message to Pilate in John 18:36, Jesus proclaimed "Kingdom" to everyone as if the kingdom of God were gospel. A search of scripture for the words, "Gospel of..." yields the following:
     - Gospel of Christ - 11 times
     - Gospel of God - 9 times
     - Gospel of the Kingdom - 5 times
     - Gospel of grace - once
     - Gospel of peace - once
     - Gospel of salvation - once

    The most prevalent immediate description of the gospel in scripture is "of Christ." To the primary audience (first century Jews), "Christ" clearly meant the promised King sent by God. The Gospel of Christ meant to them quite simply, "The good news of the King." The original audience's understanding of "Christ" (literally meaning anointed) came from Psalm 2 which the apostles frequently quoted.*

    In the opening of his letter to the Romans, Paul explained, "the gospel of God which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead"(nasb). To paraphrase him, the Gospel of God is that God's Son was born in the royal human lineage of King David and then declared to be in the royal divine lineage of God. Jesus preached His kingdom as "the gospel of God." Paul preached the kingship of Jesus as "the gospel of God."

    "They believed Philip preaching the good news about the kingdom of God" (Acts 8:12 nasb). The message of the cross is true. The messages of salvation, grace, and peace are true, but these are apparently truths of the gospel rather than being the gospel itself. Twenty eight times scripture declares, "the gospel of..." and twenty five of those twenty eight times, it is the good news that God has anointed Jesus as King. On the lips of Jesus was the arrival of His kingdom. On the lips of His messengers was the fact that God made Jesus King and proved it by raising Him from the dead.
    In the entire book of Acts, hell is never preached. In the entire book of Acts, blood is mentioned only once, and even then it is to the mature church of Ephesus after they had spent years with Paul. When forgiveness is mentioned in Acts, it is only mentioned very briefly as an afterthought to the Gospel. The guilt of humans, the atonement by Jesus, and the justification of humans are taught only in the Epistles written to insiders who have already accepted the kingship of Jesus. Today we preach truth when we tell outsiders about blood, about propitiation, and about life after death. The simpler truth however is the gospel: Jesus is King.

The Apostles preached the resurrection throughout Acts because
the resurrection is the proof of the kingship of Jesus according to Acts 17:31 and Romans 1:4.

     To those to who believe Jesus is the King of Kings, the Apostles then taught in the epistles the effects of the cross, the blood atonement, the propitiation of wrath, and the imputing of righteousness. Such messages appear to have been proclaimed by the Apostles to insiders only however. The atonement and the gift of righteousness were only rarely referenced by Jesus as well, but He explicitly preached the kingdom and called it "the gospel."
      I submit this article as an in-house debate, not dividing myself from those who preach the insider message to outsiders. I readily acknowledge that many gospel passages allude to salvation, but the explicit gospel is the kingdom of Jesus with scant reference to atonement. Our modern American evangelical gospel is instead the lambship of Jesus with scant reference to His kingdom.
      Finally, and crucially, it must be noted that in order to receive credited atonement and righteousness, scripture teaches not that outsiders must understand the crediting of atonement and righteousness, but that they believe Jesus is the King of Kings.

"but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name." John 20:31

"...that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, 9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved" Romans 10:8b-9

"Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God..." 1John 5:1a

"This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations"(Mt24:14 nasb).

"But when they believed Philip preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike." Acts 8:12

"and Jason has welcomed them, and they all act contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus." Acts 17:7

"And he entered the synagogue and continued speaking out boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God." Acts 19:8

"And now, behold, I know that all of you, among whom I went about preaching the kingdom, will no longer see my face." Acts 20:25

"When they had set a day for Paul, they came to him at his lodging in large numbers; and he was explaining to them by solemnly testifying about the kingdom of God and trying to persuade them concerning Jesus, from both the Law of Moses and from the Prophets, from morning until evening." Acts 28:23

"And he stayed two full years in his own rented quarters and was welcoming all who came to him, 31 preaching the kingdom of God and teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness, unhindered." Acts 28:30-31

    If the reader considers the epistles to say little of the Kingdom, please see this article which explains how the word "King" is written on almost every page of the epistles. If the reader believes today and for the first time that Jesus is the King Whom God sent and Whom God proved to be King by His resurrection, please repent and be baptized into His name. To my siblings who disagree with this article, I am grateful if you preach King Jesus and Him crucified.
      I have created a free mini-magazine resource regarding the truths of the atonement which can be found <here>. Readers who were surprised by the above scripture-study of the gospel of the kingdom, will likely be equally surprised by how the magazine presents the atonement, encouraging believers to practice The Reckoning.
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* Acts 4:25, 13:33; Heb 1:5, 5:5; Rev 2:26, 12:5, 19:15

"Salvation is Not the Gospel?" by Matthew Bryan was first published at January 1st 2013. All rights are reserved. Except where otherwise noted, all scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible,