The Great Commission Is It For Us Today Matthew 24:14
“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all (every one) nations; and then shall the end come.”
We know that Jesus is speaking toward the end of His ministry here on earth. Its important to know that the writer of this book (Matthew) was writing it as proof that the long-awaited Jewish Messiah had come and was heralding God’s Kingdom on earth. This book was possibly written between 50-60 A.D. while some say it wasn’t written until sometime after 70 A.D. The book was written primarily for Jewish believers. Matthew goes on to cite Old Testament evidence that supported the claims that believers had been making about Jesus. He typically uses the terms “Son of David” instead of the “Son of God.” We should also note Jesus’ teachings about what it means to be a citizen of the Kingdom.
One of the key elements in understanding this scripture is that Jesus was speaking about prophecy, specifically the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. by the Roman Emperor Titus. Jesus was also speaking in reference to the future time of the Tribulation.
The apostles asked the following question.
“ . . . and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and the end of the age.”
Jesus goes on to tell them of things that were yet to come, in the future such as wars, deception, famines, earthquakes etc. Then Jesus makes a remarkable statement and lets remember that he is talking to Jews.
“Then shall they (Jews) deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you (Apostles): and you shall be hated of all nations (Jewish Nation) for my (Jesus) name’s sake.”
Luke 21:12 (NKJV)
"But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons. You will be brought before kings and rulers for my name's sake."
Mark 13:9 (NKJV)
"But watch out for yourselves, for they will deliver you up to councils, and you will be beaten in the synagogues. You will be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony to them."
Looking at Matthew 24:14 we find that the Gospel of the Kingdom must be preached in all nations. There are two gospels in the New Testament. They are the Gospel of the Kingdom preached by the apostle Peter and the rest of the apostles, which also include John the Baptist and Jesus Christ. Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles and no other, gives the Gospel of Grace to us.
Lets look at the Gospel of the Kingdom.
Gospel of the Kingdom As we move forward from the Old Testament to the time of Christ's earthly ministry, we see that Jesus Christ, John the Baptist, and the twelve apostles preached the Gospel of the Kingdom to Israel. This was not the Gospel of Grace that would later be preached by the Apostle Paul mostly to Gentiles. Paul preached that Jesus Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead, but during Christ's earthly ministry, no one was preaching that message. It had not even happened yet.
Jesus and John the Baptist preached the same Gospel of the Kingdom.
" . . . Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
"John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins."
This shows that before the cross, the Jewish people could receive forgiveness of sins without even knowing that the Messiah would be put to death or would rise from the dead. John the Baptist preached and baptized with water in order to prepare Israel to receive the Messiah.
". . . that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water."
"Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom of God . . .”
This Gospel of the Kingdom that Jesus Christ preached was same message that John the Baptist preached.
"And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues (the Jews' places of worship), and preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people."
It had not yet been revealed that Jesus Christ would die and rise again, much less that He would give Himself as the sacrifice for our sins. So that was not part of the gospel which the twelve, John the Baptist, and Jesus Christ were preaching. Yet, they were still preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom.
Jesus Christ sent the twelve to preach only to the Jew.
"These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel . . .”
The disciples were specifically told to go only to the people of Israel, and they were not preaching anything about the death, burial, and resurrection. Jesus himself expressed this very same thing. Jesus tried to tell the apostles of His coming death and resurrection but they did not understand.
“For he shall be (Jesus) delivered unto the Gentiles . . . and they shall scourge him . . . and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again.” “And they (apostles) understood none of these things . . .”
This may shock some but Jesus at this time was not sent unto the Gentiles or was he here to save them. This would be the undertaking of the apostle Paul as the “chosen vessel” of Jesus. Yet, many Christians may feel that Jesus Christ would not take on human flesh and come to earth except to speak to all of mankind, not just to Israel. However, we must not put what we "feel" above what Jesus Christ actually said.
“ . . . I (Jesus) am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel . . ."
It is evident that if the “Great Commission” were given to the church today it would have to consist of preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom. Today’s Christians or the churches they are aligned with are not doing this. They preach a Gospel of Grace. I am not trying to say that today’s churches should cease what they are doing. “God Forbid.” What they need to understand is that this commission is not theirs to fulfill. Please read on.
Gospel of Grace Paul refers to the gospel he preached as "my gospel" (Romans 16:25), "that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles" (Galatians 2:2), "the gospel of the uncircumcision" (Galatians 2:7), "the gospel of Christ" (Galatians 1:6-7), "the gospel of the grace of God" (Acts 20:24), "the gospel of your salvation" (Ephesians 1:13), "the gospel of peace" (Ephesians 6:15), and "the gospel of God" (1 Thessalonians 2:2).
I have frequently heard people refer to Paul's gospel as the "Gospel of Grace." This is the term we will use in this study. Regardless of what it is called, it is the gospel that God revealed to Paul and it is different from the Gospel of the Kingdom which was preached before by John the Baptist, Jesus Christ, and the twelve.
Once again, Jesus Christ said the following.
"And this Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then the end shall come."
Jesus Christ is saying that the Gospel of the Kingdom will be preached around the world prior to His second coming. He is not saying that the Gospel of Grace will be preached around the world prior to being “caught up” into the air meeting Christ. There is a huge difference. Of course we should spread the Gospel of Grace as much as we can, but that is not what Jesus Christ was prophesying in Matthew 24. He is referring to the Gospel of the Kingdom being preached during the tribulation.
This may offend or shock some people. The Gospel of the Kingdom will be preached by the two witnesses of Revelation 11:3-12. The 144,000 representing the 12 tribes of Revelation 7:1-8 and 14:1-5 will be sent throughout the world as a witness unto all nations. This happens after we Christians have been caught up in the rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). Yet many will say, "We have got to spread the gospel so Jesus can come back". Man does not control when our Lord Jesus Christ returns. It is true that we are supposed to spread the gospel, but there is absolutely nothing but a trumpet blast standing between our Lord Jesus Christ and us.
So, should we be preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom? We better not be. Paul tells us the following.
"If any man preach any other gospel unto you that ye have not received, let him be accursed."
Does that mean that Peter was accursed because he preached the gospel of the kingdom? Of course not. Peter preached to (the Jews) a different audience in a different dispensation of God's Word. But now, we are to preach the gospel that Paul preached, not the Gospel of the Kingdom or any other gospel.
But some Christians may ask, "Well, what about the great commission of Matthew 28:19-20?" First of all, the Bible never calls it the "great commission". Secondly, it was given to the eleven for the preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom to the circumcision (Israel). It is already known that the Jews' ministry would eventually go to the Gentiles. But it will be very different from the ministry of the church today. It will be after the Messiah has returned to earth with the people of Israel having become believers. It will be headquartered in Jerusalem, with Christ’s throne sitting upon Mt. Zion (seat of David) with Israel functioning as a nation of priests to the Gentile world. So Matthew 28:19-20 is not referring to Paul's gospel which had not yet been revealed. This is still the Gospel of the Kingdom.
Paul does however provide evangelistic instructions for believers in this present dispensation of the grace of God. What some refer to as our great commission is found in the following.
II Corinthians 5:14-21
". . . if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."
The gospel of grace for this "ministry of reconciliation" is Jesus Christ and that He is the Son of God who came in the flesh and was crucified. He willingly gave His life as the perfect sacrifice to pay for all of our sins. He was buried, and rose from the dead on the third day. We are cleansed from sin by his blood and have everlasting life, if we simply believe this gospel, the Gospel of the Grace of God, which the apostle Paul preached.
Note: Parts of this study were derived from the following source. - “Wielding the Sword of the Spirit” by Matthew McGee
Belief – Falling Away As Christians there is one scripture that if misunderstood can scare you to death of losing your salvation. Unfortunately many use these few verses to do just that.
"For it is impossible to those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame."
To begin with, we must understand to whom the book of Hebrews is written to and then who wrote it. Lets address these two questions.
Most scholars believe that it was written by the apostle Paul. If we look closely at the writings and the language of this book I also believe that the apostle Paul wrote it. Yet whoever wrote it the message is very clear. The book of Hebrews was a warning to early Jewish believers (Hebrews) who because of persecution and hardship were beginning to revert back to their Old Testament way of life yet they were believers in Jesus Christ, his life, death and resurrection. As part of the apostle Paul’s reaching out to Gentiles, in many instances he also gave this message (grace unto salvation) to them (Jews) during the earlier part of his ministry.
“ . . . for he (Paul) is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel (Jews).”
Paul was writing to illustrate what God has done through Jesus Christ. There are strong emotional appeals made to persuade the Jewish believers to stay with the new covenant, rather than reverting back to the old covenant. Paul makes frequent contrasts between the Old Testament ritual law, and New Testament faith. Paul validates strong arguments for the superiority of Jesus Christ.
It was written some time between 60-70 A.D. At this time the temple was still in full force with all of its underpinnings. We should remember that the Temple was not destroyed until 70 A.D. by the Emperor Titus and the Jews then disbursed into all the nations.
There is no doubt that these believers were sitting on the fence. One foot in the doctrine of grace and the other in the law (Judaism and Temple Worship). If they were to return to Judaism it would be their spiritual falling away.
“ . . . dear friends, we are confident of better things in your case-things that accompany salvation.” (NIV)
Here we see that there are better things that accompany salvation in Jesus Christ.
“But the ministry that Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he (Jesus) is mediator is superior to the old one, and it is founded on better promises. (NIV)
This scripture of the falling away is not for us today in the age of grace. As we follow Christ he has promised us that no matter what the problem is, no matter how anxious (distress) we fell etc. that we will never be separated from the love of God. To support this point the apostle Paul writes the following.
''Who shall separate us from the love of God? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy (our) sake we are killed all the daylong; weare accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we (Gentile believers, for by faith you are saved) are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I (Paul) am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Jesus Christ, our Savior.''
Could we ever ask for anything better than that? Lets stop worrying about such things. Today’s trials only distract us from the love of God, which is in Jesus Christ.