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Bible verses about Preaching the Gospel
(From Forerunner Commentary)

All seven messages of Revelation 2 and 3 reveal a clear, end-time connection. There are statements such as, "Behold! I come quickly," or "Hold fast till I come," showing that His return is imminent. The conclusion is inescapable—all seven will be in existence at the end.

Equally important is that they also show a consistency in that Christ exhorts them all in such ways as, "Hold fast till I come, "Hold fast what you have received," "Remember therefore from whence you are fallen," or "Be faithful." Each of these exhortations is directed toward commanding those seven churches to be steadfast to, or to turn back to, something that they had previously received. Most specifically, we find in several places—in the Revelation 2 and 3 messages, and in other places in the writings of Paul, Jude, John, and Peter—that they are to be steadfast and devoted to the doctrines "once delivered" to the saints through the apostles. With these two factors—the imminence and exhortations to hold fast—the conclusion is that all seven of these very different groups described in Revelation 2 and 3 are part of the end-time church.

Considering both what is happening in the world and the state of the church, we are living these messages right now. The general solutions to our present dilemma are given in them. We have to devote ourselves to returning to "the faith once delivered" through the apostle.

Revelation 2 and 3 give us a sense of direction and urgency. Is there a connection between the preaching of the gospel and the feeding of the flock—even beyond the healing that is so badly needed within the church today? Yes, there is, and it is very important in God's eyes. Neglecting the "feeding the flock" is in turn very badly damaging to preaching the gospel to the world.

John W. Ritenbaugh
What Is the Work of God Now? (Part 5)


 

Psalm 74:12

The work of God is much more extensive than merely preaching the gospel to the public. We have gotten into the habit of using that term "work of God" far too narrowly.

This particular verse indicates

1) God is working. He is actively, continuously, and personally involved in our lives.

2) His work is more widespread than first appears to the casual observer.

He will do whatever it takes. He is not an assembly-line worker doing the same things over and over again. He accommodates for the way things are going within the purpose that He is accomplishing.

Salvation is a term that the Bible uses quite broadly. It literally means "deliverance," but it can be used to include anything that God does in His efforts to bring mankind into His Kingdom. The "feeding of the flock" is His work too. As Jesus stated in John 5:17, "My Father has been working until now, and I work."

"Feeding the flock" is a part of His work, just as getting Israel out of Egypt under Moses was a work. The major emphasis, though, was different. Getting Israel into the Promised Land under Joshua was also the "work of God." But, again, the emphasis of the work of God changed. Organizing Israel into a nation under David was part of His work, but again there was a shifting of gears in "the work of God."

Rebuilding the Temple under Ezra was a "work of God" done through men, but the emphasis changed again. The rebuilding of the wall under Nehemiah a little later was also the "work of God." The building of the ark through Noah was the "work of God" at that time. The examples are almost endless, and so the conclusion is that the specific application of the "work of God" can vary from era to era.

John W. Ritenbaugh
What Is the Work of God Now? (Part 4)


 

Jeremiah 23:21-22

It is a great honor to represent God in the preaching of the gospel, whether to the world or to the church. However, there is an important principle here, that is, if one is going to do it, he had better be appointed to do it.

God is organized in what He does. Did He not create a human body that is organized? The human body is a type of His church, and in both, all direction comes from the Head. Does the hand take over and do the job of the eyes? Does the nose take over and do the job of the ear? No. The part only does the job that it is appointed by God to do.

And so it is in the church of God. God expects those whom He has appointed to perform a certain responsibility to do it. We bear that burden. How many times does the Old Testament contain the phrase "the burden of the Lord"? "The burden of the Lord" is the responsibility God gave to the prophets, and it is a burden in a number of ways. If a person is going to be preaching the gospel), he had better be appointed to do it and worthy to represent the One who appointed him—God the Father.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Avoiding Superficiality


 

Matthew 4:17

Is it not clear that Jesus Christ came preaching the Kingdom of God (Matthew 4:17-23; 9:35; 10:7; 24:14; Luke 4:43; 8:1; 9:2, 60; Luke 16:16)? Does this not suggest that this was what He wanted to be preached at all times? It certainly seems that way! It was His only focus! He says He had to go and preach to other cities the Kingdom of God, and He sent His disciples out, saying, "You preach the Kingdom of God too."

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Itching Ears


 

Matthew 10:5-7

In Matthew 15:24, He says of His own commission, "I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."

Christ sent His apostles only to the scattered Israelites, most of whom had migrated into Europe centuries before. Acts 2:39 shows that they were not sent even to every last one of "the lost sheep" of Israel! Peter says, "For the promise [of the gift of the Holy Spirit] is to you and to your children, and to all that are afar off [geographically and in time], as many as the Lord our God will call." Thus, the Father limits the preaching of the gospel to those He calls! The apostle urges them to save themselves from this "perverse generation," that is, those who were not offered God's Spirit (verse 40).

As we saw, Christ said that He was not sent to the Gentiles. So why did He send Paul to the Gentiles? (Romans 11:13). Is that not a contradiction? No, Christ does not contradict Himself. It was prophesied. Paul's commission was in addition to the other apostles' work; it did not negate or replace their going to Israel, for even Paul's commission included preaching to Israel (Acts 9:15).

The main thrust of the gospel is the work among the descendants of Israel, not the Gentiles! The world would have us believe that God stopped working with the "Jews," and the Gentiles became His chosen people. Nothing could be further from the truth! He sent only one apostle to the Gentiles but all the others to the people of Israel!

In Romans 9—11, Paul clearly explains why Christ sent him to preach among Gentiles. Because His own nation, the Jews (as well as the other tribes of Israel), rejected Jesus their Savior, He called a new people as the "Israel of God" (Romans 9:1-8; Galatians 6:16). God is very resourceful!

Paul quotes Moses, who prophesied of the Israelites' failure to keep faith with God. "I will provoke you to jealousy by those who are not a nation, I will anger you by a foolish nation" (Romans 10:19). Paul concludes: "I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles" (Romans 11:11).

That is why Paul was sent to preach to Gentiles. Romans 11:17-26 shows that God broke Israelite branches off the Abrahamic family tree because they did not believe Him. In their place He grafted in believing Gentiles, making them children of Abraham (see Galatians 3:29). In the future, God will graft back in the broken-off Israelites (Romans 11:23)!

The time of Israel's regrafting begins when God adds the "fullness of the Gentiles" to the church. This "fullness of the Gentiles" must be a very small number in comparison to all those called into the church. God tells Ezekiel, "For you are not sent to a people of unfamiliar speech and of hard language, but to the house of Israel, NOT TO MANY PEOPLE of unfamiliar speech and of hard language, whose words you cannot understand. Surely had I sent you to them, they would have listened to you" (Ezekiel 3:5-6). The church has always been a "little flock" and the Gentiles in it even fewer.

Staff
'Go Ye Therefore Into All the World...'


 

Matthew 10:11-15

This section's main subject is how a minister should approach preaching the gospel. But notice, when we distill His words down, Jesus is saying that, for a minister, preaching the gospel is non-negotiable. In the vernacular, He says to His ministry, "If you go into a town, and you find worthy people to stay with, preach the gospel to them. If they accept it, great. Stay there and preach for as long as you need to. If they reject it, great. Pick up your belongings, dust off your pants, and go to the next town. As a minister of God, you are not preaching for the sake of numbers, or to receive praise from the people, or to make money, or whatever. Preach the gospel. Period."

The minister's job is to preach the gospel. If the people accept it - wonderful. If they do not accept it - well, they will get their reward. The ministry does not have to waste its time in places where the gospel will not be accepted. God does not want His ministers to throw pearls before swine, as it were. He wants them to find those who accept the truth, who want to believe the truth, who are willing to support the truth, who want to help in getting the truth out. And if none are to be found in a particular place, they are to move on. Evidently, God has not called anyone there.

But the truth remains the same. The message must be preached, and it must not be changed. Jesus is pretty hard-nosed about this. A minister of God is not driven by numbers, nor by contributions. He should not be driven by anything designed to make him look "good" because he should not be in it for his own glory. He is in the ministry because he desires to preach the gospel and glorify God. That is what his Master has told him to do, and he is a man, a servant, under authority.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Itching Ears


 

Matthew 15:7-9

An intense focus on "preaching of the gospel" has the power to detach us from the creative activity of God. "In vain they do worship Me," Christ says. Worship means "to hold in high regard, to venerate, to honor." Worship has become so restricted in people's minds that it is generally limited to something one does for an hour or two once a week. During that period of time, one might have a strong feeling of reverence. However, worship in the biblical sense is practical and very broad in application, involving all of the activities of every day of one's life.

Jesus castigated these people because they had made the worship of God so narrow. God was being excluded from their everyday lives by the "commandments of men" that they taught.

The worship of God involves everything we do every day. We are to honor Him, glorify Him, venerate Him in all things. Worship has very broad applications, which is why the word "commandments" is part of this context, because the commandments of God involve all of our life every day.

John W. Ritenbaugh
What Is the Work of God Now? (Part 1)


 

Matthew 23:15

Proselytes were common in the days of the apostles. Acts 2:10 records their presence, with the Jews, in Jerusalem on Pentecost. Nicolas, "a proselyte from Antioch," is numbered in Acts 6:5 as an original deacon. Finally, Acts 13:43, mentions "devout proselytes" who followed Paul in Antioch. In context, these clearly refer to Gentile proselytes to Judaism.

Indeed, Paul's problems with the circumcision party had its roots in the widespread Jewish practice of proselytism in those days. The members of this party - almost certainly (misguided) members of God's church - followed Paul from city to city, telling Gentile converts of their need for physical circumcision. They took their cues from Exodus 12:48 and other scriptures. These Jews were men of their age, and therefore took no exception to the practice of proselytism. Also, they apparently accepted the validity of Paul's commission to carry Christ's "name before Gentiles" (Acts 9:15). Their only issue was physical circumcision. As a result of this controversy, the apostles had to redefine circumcision in its proper New Covenant terms.

In the New Testament, God clearly commissioned some to preach the gospel of God's Kingdom actively. Paul received such a commission, as Acts 9:15 clearly relates. Christ also commissioned His other apostles to "go therefore and make disciples of all the nations . . ." (Matthew 28:19). These commissions have their parallel in the commissions received by the Old Testament prophets. Examples include the prophets Isaiah (Isaiah 6), Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1) and Jonah (Jonah 1).

It is important to recognize, though, that neither the Old Testament commissions to the prophets nor the New Testament commissions to the apostles remove the responsibility on the part of the people to be examples. God has always used this means - the example of His people - as a fundamental method of reaching others. As one excellent New Testament example, notice I Thessalonians 1:7-9, where Paul lauds the converts in Thessalonica, pointing out the breadth of their example to other church congregations and to the world at large:

. . . so that you became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe. For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything. For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God. . . .

So strong was their witness that Paul needed not "to say anything." These people certainly did not hide their light under a basket. Example can speak louder than preaching.

Charles Whitaker
Proselytism Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow (Part One)


 

Matthew 24:14

Matthew 24:14 is not a commission to anybody in particular—not to the first-century apostles nor to anyone else. It is simply a statement of fact by Jesus Christ, prophesying that the gospel will be preached in all the world as a witness and then will the end come.

Matthew 24:14 and Matthew 28:19-20 are not synonymous. In the latter verses, though preaching as a witness is included within the scope of the commission, it actually places more emphasis upon the entire process of conversion, feeding, growing, and overcoming than merely witnessing, as in Matthew 24:14. The key word here is "process."

The word "teach" in Matthew 28:19 is the key to this understanding. Many Bibles have a marginal reference beside it: "make disciples." "Go you therefore into all the world and make disciples."

"Teach" is not wrong as long as we understand that it implies a process. All the teaching required to make a disciple cannot occur merely in making a witness. There are major differences between the two. At best, preaching the gospel to the world begins the process of teaching. Disciples are created through steady feeding, a believing response in those who hear combined with overcoming.

The second factor appears in verse 20: "Observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." The key here is "all things." That cannot be done merely through a witness. As we are learning, observing all things is a lifelong project requiring the structure of a church. This is the reason why the church exists.

What is being emphasized in verses 19-20, though witnessing is included in it, is the feeding of the flock because it is the called, the elect—God's childrenwho are His greatest concern. These are the ones who are being prepared for the Kingdom of God. It takes a great deal of feeding and experiences with God for Christ to be formed in us.

John W. Ritenbaugh
What Is the Work of God Now? (Part 1)


 

Matthew 24:14

This verse is frequently interpreted as a command—or at least used to justify a certain course of action—but the plain fact is that it is a prophecy. It is a statement of a definitive future event, rather than an instruction.

Consider for a moment what this prophecy does not say. There is no mention, either in the verse or in its context, of who will have done this preaching. It does not say whether one individual will preach it or two individuals, one organization, seven organizations, or an angel. This verse just says it will be done.

Matthew 24:14 also does not tell us the time involved in preaching the gospel, except to say that it happens before the end. It does not indicate whether it is preached over the course of several decades, or whether it takes 42 months, or whether there is a singular announcement that all the world hears at the same time through some form of mass media.

This verse also says nothing about how this preaching will be accomplished. There is no mention of television stations, radio programs, websites, Internet streams, or any other technology. The verse simply says that it will be done. Only God knows exactly how it will be fulfilled.

David C. Grabbe
'This Gospel of the Kingdom Shall Be Preached'


 

Matthew 24:14

We are assured in Matthew 24:14 that the gospel of the Kingdom will be preached. God will see it done. He will preach it through whatever means, by whatever agency, and in whatever time He has already ordained. The question for us, then, is whether we will be in alignment with Him and usable by Him so that we can be directed by Him as He completes His work. However, this will be successful only if we let Him lead, rather than assume we already know what He is doing.

Because God is the One who preaches the gospel, and because He sanctifies and prepares His servants to perform His will, He also determines the results of His various works. For 1,900 years, it was not His priority to preach the gospel in a major way. We know this because it was not done. During the last century, a major witness was made because God had ordained it be so. He controls the results and the effects of His preaching. His word does not return to Him void, but it will accomplish what He pleases (Isaiah 55:11). Thus, when we look out today at the various efforts to preach the gospel—and we do not see the same results—it is because something else is God's priority, not that we are not trying hard enough.

Is it possible that the church is not yet "spiritually worthy" to be involved in making a witness to the world? In its present spiritual condition, could the church end up making a witness against God rather than for Him? If a witness is being made against God, does it even matter if the true gospel is spoken?

The bottom line is that we cannot insert ourselves into God's plans. God already knows what will be done, how it will be done, when it will be done, and whom He will use to do it. Our task is to be close enough to God that we recognize His guidance of our lives and to be practiced in submitting to it. When the time comes for Matthew 24:14 to be fulfilled, it will be, according to what God has ordained.

However, whether or not we play a part in the fulfillment of that prophecy, our focus is to be the sanctification that God has already given us. It is through that process of becoming holy and going on to perfection that we become "spiritually worthy" and able to be used by God in whatever capacity He ordains—large or small.

Our goal should not be to fulfill Matthew 24:14. Our goal is to get to the place where we, like Jesus Christ, "always do the will of [our] Father" (John 8:29)—no matter what His will may entail. God is doing far more than just making announcements. He is creating us in His image (Genesis 1:27), and that requires a lifetime of submission and a level of focus and energy far beyond simply preaching to the unconverted world. "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10).

David C. Grabbe
'This Gospel of the Kingdom Shall Be Preached'


 

Matthew 28:19

To understand Jesus' command, we need to examine some other things that He said to the same people. We should also determine just whom He commissioned to preach the gospel in all the world. Many today believe that God divinely commissioned everyone who has ever heard or read this command to "witness for Christ" and make converts for his religion.

To whom did Jesus issue this command? Only to the eleven disciples (Matthew 28:16-19; Mark 16:14-15)! "And they went out and preached everywhere. . ." (Mark 16:20). These eleven disciples became Jesus' apostles, just as Jesus Himself was His Father's apostle (Hebrews 3:1-2). An "apostle" is one personally commissioned to deliver a message to someone else. Christ was sent with a message from His Father, and He, in turn, sent these eleven to convey the same message to yet other people! The message is the good news of the Kingdom of God (Mark 1:14-15).

Staff
'Go Ye Therefore Into All the World...'


 

Mark 1:14-15

What is the gospel—the "good news"? "Just believe on the name of Jesus and you will be saved" is a common message of many preachers. Others proclaim that the gospel is that Jesus came to die for our sins. Still others preach a rather insipid and saccharine "Jesus loves you" message. All of those catchy phrases have relevance to Jesus' message—we certainly must believe in Jesus, He did die for our sins, and He surely loves us—but nowhere does Jesus directly state that the gospel is about Him!

Instead, the good news is about a momentous purpose that God is accomplishing. Jesus spoke the words that the Father gave Him to preach, most emphatically confirmed in John 12:49-50:

For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak.

What is Jesus' own testimony about the subject of His preaching? Notice these verses:

» Matthew 4:23: "And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people."

» Matthew 24:14: "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."

» Luke 4:43: "[Jesus] said to them, 'I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, because for this purpose I have been sent.'"

» Luke 16:16: "The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time, the Kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it."

Jesus' announcement of the good news is that the Father will establish His Kingdom and His capital city on earth. He Himself will be here, no longer separated from His children—no longer unseen and ruling indirectly through agents from His present location in heaven but ruling directly on earth. It is to this awesome, mind-boggling future that we, as a part of His Family, are being summoned to prepare for and to participate directly in.

Jesus is certainly mankind's Savior, having died for our sins, but to be properly understood, that event must be seen within the context of preparation for and the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth. A kingdom has four basic elements: a king, a territory it occupies, subjects within that territory, and laws through which the will of the ruler is exercised. Each of these elements is part of the gospel.

Has the founder of any other religion offered a message and program that can even begin to match what Jesus taught? This is truly the most wonderful message mankind could possibly receive, and it came only through Jesus.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Where Is God's True Church Today?


 

Acts 1:6-8

Despite spending three-and-a-half years of intense training with Jesus, the apostles retained the common Jewish concept of the establishment of God's Kingdom. Paraphrased, Jesus said, "God is working it out. You need to focus your attention on another area at this time."

The work of God was about to make a dramatic turn, occasioned by something that had never occurred before in the history of the earth. God would give His Spirit, visibly manifesting His power in many, and simultaneously launching His church and the preaching of the gospel! His Family was about to make its greatest numerical advancement to that time. It was a unique time in history. It has not happened in that manner since.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Preparing the Bride


 

Acts 8:12

It is quite plain what the apostles preached (Acts 8:12; 19:8; 20:25; 28:23, 31). They preached the Kingdom of God with the same zeal as their Master, who had given them the example. To those who have ears to hear, it is clear that the gospel of the Kingdom is the gospel. Otherwise, why did Christ not call it something else?

Every time the word gospel appears—if Jesus qualifies the word at any point—it is always "of the Kingdom of God" or "of the Kingdom of heaven." That is what He preached! He preached the coming of a great Kingdom that would turn this world upside down and establish His Father's rule over all things.

That is what He lives for—and I use the present tense purposely. He still lives for it! He is just anxious to come back and finish His work—this time as King of kings and Lord of lords with the authority to make real changes. This is the same gospel—the same message—that His ministry must teach. We must preach the Kingdom of God.

We know that grace, peace, salvation, and Christ's life and example are certainly part of that preaching, but the primary thrust is the Kingdom of God. Our hope of being resurrected and changed to be part of that Kingdom, and all of the things that come with it, will all come about because the gospel of the Kingdom is the focus. This is how God works through human, physical, fleshly people. He gives them the gospel, and He sends them out. It must be preached, for by it salvation comes (Romans 1:16).

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Itching Ears


 

Acts 17:10

What day did they enter the synagogue? Paul moved from city to city, and it was always his custom to use the Sabbath to preach the gospel, first to the Jews in their synagogues and then to the Gentiles.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 24)


 

Acts 20:27

Paul said this when making his last goodbye to the Ephesian elders on his way to Jerusalem. Eventually, from there, he went to Rome to face the authorities there. He had spent many years in his journeys crisscrossing the area of what is today western Turkey, preaching the gospel to them, as well as to the world. In making this statement, he is saying, in effect, that a disciple is not made merely by preaching the gospel to him as a witness. There is a vast difference between the two. A disciple of Christ is created through preaching, personal study, prayer, meditation, fellowship, and experience in a relationship with the Father, the Son, and the church. Jesus clearly says in Matthew 28:20 that the disciples were to be taught "all things whatsoever I have commanded you."

John W. Ritenbaugh
What Is the Work of God Now? (Part 2)


 

Romans 1:8

This congregation was already so well established that other people in the world (presumably around the Mediterranean Sea) had already heard of the faith of the converted people in Rome. It must have been outstanding for him to make a statement like this, yet nonetheless, he still wanted to go there and preach the gospel to them.

Does this not show us that it is the responsibility of the ministry, the pastors of the church, including the apostles, evangelists, and local elders, to preach the gospel of the Kingdom of God continually to the church? Our faith, the body of truth, remember, is the source of our spiritual strength.

John W. Ritenbaugh
What Is the Work of God Now? (Part 1)


 

Romans 1:11-12

Do not be misled by the word established because it can suggest that they were not already established, which they were. The next verse explains what he means.

The apostle Paul is talking about "feeding the flock," preaching "the whole counsel of God" in infinite detail. The words of God—the gospel—when understood in its broadest sense, include the entirety of the Bible. It is not confined to making a witness so that people might have this held against them in a legal sense by God—as if God were saying, "I gave you My word, but you didn't respond to it."

God's primary concern is to prepare His children to share a relationship in fellowship with Him for all eternity—everybody living exactly the same way. The "gospel" requires an infinite expansion on the bare basics that bring us to conversion so we can see the application of God's way of life in every situation possible in our lives.

John W. Ritenbaugh
What Is the Work of God Now? (Part 1)


 

Romans 1:15

Paul's statement is very significant in terms of what "preaching the gospel" means. Paul, writing to an already established Christian congregation, wanted to go to Rome to preach the gospel to them! Why would he do that? Were they not already converted? Yes, they were! Paul compliments them earlier: "First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world" (Romans 1:8). The congregation in Rome was remarkable, renowned for its faith. Can a congregation be recognized for world-renowned faith only upon conversion?

Though Paul had never been to Rome, these Roman Christians had been converted some time earlier after hearing the gospel through other ministers. They were growing, and Paul wanted to add to their growth by giving them more of the gospel, as he says in verses 11 and 12. "For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established—that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me." Then, he adds his desire to preach the gospel to them.

Paul wanted to preach the gospel—more of it, in greater detail—to a congregation of converted people! He wanted to be an instrument to reveal more of its glories to them so they might continue to grow. Clearly, the preaching of the gospel by the ministry continues in the church after conversion.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Get the Church Ready!


 

Romans 1:15

All of Paul's letters, with the exception of the Pastoral Epistles and Philemon, were written to congregations of already-established, converted people. Rome was no exception. The church was already formed there. They had a congregation—a group of Christians who were already disciples—and Paul wanted to go to them.

Why? For them to be converted? No, to continue the process of conversion. And how was he going to do this? By preaching the gospel to them. He was going to preach the gospel to already-converted people.

John W. Ritenbaugh
What Is the Work of God Now? (Part 1)


 

1 Corinthians 2:2

First, notice that Paul does not say the only thing he would preach was Christ and the crucifixion, as some have assumed; he says the only thing he would know among the Corinthians was Christ, the One crucified. The Amplified Bible renders it this way: "For I resolved to know nothing (to be acquainted with nothing, to make a display of the knowledge of nothing, and to be conscious of nothing) among you except Jesus Christ (the Messiah) and Him crucified."

Looking at the audience (the people of Corinth were Greek) and the verses preceding this one, it is clear that Paul's intent is not to be distracted by extraneous topics that the Corinthians might have been more inclined to listen to. His statement in verse 2 ties back to two different themes before it:

For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe's household, that there are contentions among you. Now I say this, that each of you says, "I am of Paul," or "I am of Apollos," or "I am of Cephas," or "I am of Christ." Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? (I Corinthians 1:11-13)

At the beginning of the letter, we see that Corinth seemed to be more focused on the human leadership than on the Messiah. Paul's statement in I Corinthians 2:2 gives an answer to this. He says, in effect, "I'm not going to be focused on myself, or on any other servant of God; I'm going to be focused on God Himself."

The second theme starts in I Corinthians 1:18 and goes through the end of the chapter. Paul is addressing something else the Corinthians were dealing with: The Greeks are renowned for their love of human wisdom, philosophy, metaphysics, and debate, as well as a religious system of multiple gods and goddesses. To such a mindset, the fact that a God would not only submit Himself to a lower (human) form, but also die for the very people He created, was unthinkable! This is why Paul says in I Corinthians 1:23, "But we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumblingblock and to the Greeks foolishness." The God of Christianity, and the whole Christian system, did not make any sense to the Greek philosophers, intellectuals, and theologians.

Paul contrasts the Greek ideals, which were largely humanist, with the godly ideals. In I Corinthians 1:26-29 Paul shows that God is not interested in what the Greeks (or mankind in general) were interested in; instead, He called the weak, the base, the foolish things of this world to confound the wise, the mighty, the noble - those that the Greek world certainly would have been holding in high esteem. Paul continues this thought in I Corinthians 2:1, where he says he did not come to the Corinthians with "excellency of speech" or "wisdom" - again, things the Greeks regarded highly. Instead, as verse 2 says, he came to "know" Christ among them and Him crucified.

It is evident from Paul's letters to the Corinthian church, as well as his other writings, that the life and death of Christ were not his only topics. I Corinthians 5 explains the defilement of immorality. Chapter 6 deals with working things out among the brethren rather than taking matters to a civil court. Chapter 7 contains principles of marriage. Chapter 8 covers not defiling the conscience. Chapter 9 speaks of service and self-denial. It is easy to see that Paul wrote on a great deal more than just the life and death of Jesus Christ - they were just the starting point for his instruction. With Christ's sinless life and willing self-sacrifice comes remission of our sins, and justification - being brought into alignment with God and His inexorable law. Once we have been forgiven and have entered into the New Covenant, our responsibility becomes focusing on the Christian walk and conforming our life to the life of Christ. This is where all of Paul's instructions on "Christian living" come into play.

The ultimate reason for this is that the gospel message is not just about our forgiveness of sins through Christ's sacrifice. The gospel is also about the soon-coming Kingdom and government of God. The scriptural evidence that the Kingdom is a foundational part of the gospel is overwhelming:

In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!" (Matthew 3:1-2)

From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matthew 4:17)

And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people. (Matthew 4:23-24)

For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:18-20)

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. (Matthew 6:33)

Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. (Matthew 7:21)

Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. (Matthew 9:35)

The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear! (Matthew 13:41-43)

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)

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)

This is just a small sample from Matthew's account (with an additional verse from Mark to demonstrate what Christ preached) - and it does not even include the parables, the vast majority of which were about the Kingdom!

Paul also wrote a considerable amount about the Kingdom, even to the Corinthian church (I Corinthians 4:20; 6:9-11; 15:20-25; 15:50; Galatians 5:19-21; Ephesians 5:5; II Thessalonians 1:3-5; II Timothy 4:1-2; Hebrews 12:28-29). James also spoke of inheriting the Kingdom in his epistle (James 2:5), as did Peter (II Peter 1:10-11).

In the face of all of this evidence, it is clear that the soon-coming Kingdom of God, which will be ruled by Jesus Christ on earth (Zechariah 14:3-5, 9; Matthew 5:5, Revelation 5:10; 20:4-6), was certainly a significant part of what Jesus Christ preached, as well as what Paul wrote about. The gospel is not about Christ or the Kingdom; it is about both. It is the good news that a relationship is available with our Creator, on the basis of a sinless life sacrificed on our behalf, but that is only the beginning. The Kingdom is what we are striving for - living eternally with God, and as He lives - but it is evident that not all will make it into the Kingdom. Men have rejected, and continue to reject, the law of the King, and in doing so they signify that they do not want to be ruled by God (Romans 8:7). The perfect work that Christ did is really just the starting point. It allows for the relationship with God to start, but it also obligates us to respond to God in submission and obedience. God is not going to have someone in His Kingdom who will not be ruled by Him! It is our responsibility to begin living now as we will be living in the Kingdom.

This is why Christ and John the Baptist specifically link repentance with the Kingdom of God. Repentance is a wholehearted turning from the ways and acts which caused our Lord to have to be crucified. The first part of repentance is determining what sin is: "Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law" (I John 3:4, KJV). It is our transgression of the law which caused Christ to have to die for us. Now that our sins have been forgiven, are we free to live in sin (iniquity, lawlessness) again? "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin [shall we continue to transgress the law] that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?" (Romans 6:1-2). Part of our obligation is to determine from God's Word what is the right way to live, the way that is in alignment with God and not enmity against Him (Romans 8:7). God has codified this right way to live in His law; it is up to us to follow through with it!

To focus only on the crucifixion of Christ, to the exclusion of His teachings and examples, as well as the instructions contained in the rest of the Book, is to fail to understand the depth of what God is doing. To leave Christ hanging on the cross, as it were, is to emphasize our forgiveness above what is then required of us.

David C. Grabbe


 

1 Corinthians 9:16

Paul says, "Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel." But on the other hand, "the care of the churches" was also on him constantly.

Considering what Paul says in I Corinthians 9:16 and II Corinthians 11:27-28, and comparing how much time he must have spent preaching the gospel in relation to how much that he spent on feeding of the flock in his daily care of the churches, it appears that the great preponderance of his time and energy were spent in "feeding the flock," not in preaching the gospel to the world.

A pastor has a unique point of view on this because he knows how demanding the pastoring of a congregation is in terms of time, energy, and effort. In comparing what a normal pastor does with what the apostle Paul had to do with a Mediterranean-wide area to cover on foot or by boat, he had to spend most of his time on his congregations, not on the world.

In the long run, what kind of picture does the overt emphasis on preaching to the world give a person of God and His purpose? Is God so limited in creativity that He can only think of one thing for His children to do? Are lives and relationships always so stable that nothing ever arises that creates a necessity for something different to be done?

Is there only one thing that we have to be trained for, so we just keep doing the same thing over and over again? Is there nothing else in God's mind for us that requires analysis, strategy, concern, and the effort of sacrifice and living by faith to produce growth, create solutions, and to overcome? Is our Father in heaven so one-dimensional that all He thinks about in regard to His children and His purpose is that we preach the gospel to the world? Of course not.

John W. Ritenbaugh
What Is the Work of God Now? (Part 1)


 

1 Corinthians 9:16

Notice the attitude with which Paul presents his message here: He says that he had a need to preach the gospel, that "necessity is laid upon me." He is saying, "I've got to preach this. And if I don't, I'd better hide under a rock somewhere." His approach to preaching the gospel was that lightning could strike at any time if he stopped preaching it. Remember how Jesus started this apostle's ministry—by blinding him out in the middle of the road to Damascus! What Jesus did made quite an impression on him. Paul probably thought about that often—and about what would happen if he stopped doing the charge that had been laid upon him.

So, a true minister feels a compulsion to preach the gospel. On the flipside, he feels a certain doom if he does not. He feels as though, if he tried anything else, he would be a fish out of water. In him would be an emptiness that was not being filled because the ministry of Jesus Christ is a calling. To a true minister of God, it is not just a job done for a paycheck, but a vocation that he feels compelled to do because the truth must be preached. The information cannot remain in his mind. Uncommunicated knowledge and understanding of God's way is absolutely useless to anybody else; it cannot help anybody take even one step along the road to the Kingdom of God. This is why God gives ministers mouths to speak.

Paul calls it "the foolishness of preaching" (I Corinthians 1:21, KJV), but God accomplishes a great deal through it. The serious, devoted servant of Jesus Christ must do it. He just must! It is almost like a man who has just walked out of the desert and has not had anything to eat or drink. He feels compelled, obviously, to find something to satisfy his need—particularly to drink. A true minister of God feels this way if he has not preached the truth in a long while. A "pressure" builds up after a time, and if it is not released, it explodes. The truth must be passed on because a compulsion from God Himself drives a true minister to speak the truth.

This may be dramatizing it a bit, but there is a feeling in a true minister's gut to let other people know the truth that he has been given to preach. In a true minister of God, the truth will out, to borrow a line from Shakespeare.

On the other hand, what does the minister get out of it? What does Paul say that he got from it? In verse 18, he says that, when he preached the truth, other people were helped. He was able to preach the gospel in love, without charge. He did not need anything for it personally because he was driven from the inside—not the outside. Thus, it made him feel good—it relieved that God-sent pressure and gave him the satisfaction that he had done his job.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Itching Ears


 

2 Corinthians 5:18-19

Part of the responsibility of the church of God in preaching the gospel around the world is to inform mankind how they can be reconciled to God. In many cases, people do not even know they are separated from God. However, all have been separated from Him, and all need to be reconciled to God through the redemption offered in Christ's payment for sin. To do this, we must also proclaim what sin is, as many are equally ignorant of what constitutes sin. Doing this enables them to judge their need for reconciliation through Jesus Christ.

Preaching the gospel is not just about the Kingdom of God but includes many attendant features that flesh out understanding necessary for establishing communion with God.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Offerings of Leviticus (Part Six): The Sin Offering


 

Galatians 1:8-9

Does it matter what gospel Christians believe? Indeed, it does! Paul pronounces a double curse on anyone who preaches a gospel different from the one preached by the apostles! The gospel is serious business! The apostles were taught directly by Christ, who gave them a commission to "preach the gospel" (Mark 16:15).

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The True Gospel


 

Galatians 6:9-10

In its broader context, Galatians 6:1-10 has spiritual matters more directly in mind than physical needs. This does not deny that there are times to help out physically, but the chapter begins with, "If one sees a brother in a fault. . . ." This the real foundation of the charge in verses 9 and 10. It is concerned primarily with spiritual matters, where the church's problems really lie. The church's problems are spiritual in nature.

In terms of the ministry, from the top of the administration on down, its emphasis must be on "feeding the flock." If there is a spiritual problem within the church, and we are charged first with taking care of the church, then it means that the administration of the church has to shift gears and take care of that spiritual problem first. It has first priority, not the preaching of the gospel to the world.

John W. Ritenbaugh
What Is the Work of God Now? (Part 4)


 

1 Timothy 1:12-16

Paul uses himself to exemplify the great magnitude of Christ's patience toward us. "Longsuffering" strongly implies forbearance under great duress. As Paul describes it, he had not just sinned in blaspheming and inflicting injury on the saints, but he had done his deeds with a proud, haughty, arrogant, and insolent spirit. He acted in a wicked, malicious, violent way—a spirit of tyranny that greatly aggravated the wrong he did. Other translations render insolent as "insulter," "insolent foe," "oppressor," "wanton aggressor," "doer of outrage," and "wanton outrage."

Paul's aim is to magnify Christ's patience and forgiveness as an example to himself and his audience. The apostle followed Christ's example by in turn exercising patience toward the church. Considering his own circumstance, he undoubtedly felt strongly about this because Christ's forbearance with him opened salvation to him. In response, he passes it on to Timothy and so to us.

In II Timothy 4:2-3, Paul exhorts the evangelist to use this virtue that means so much to our salvation:

Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fruit of the Spirit: Patience


 

2 Timothy 4:1-2

The New King James Version puts an exclamation point after "preach the word." That is an emphatic command. That is what a true minister is to do—that is his job. Preach the Word!

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Itching Ears


 

2 Timothy 4:2

Preaching is not bound to what time of the year it is. If somebody needs the instruction, it should be given! Normally, we would not speak about the evils of Christmas during July, but if it is necessary, we should preach it. If we need to talk about the Feast of Tabernacles during the spring holy days, we should do it! We have to be ready at all times, armed, as it were, to speak about anything that pertains to God's Word and His way of life at any time. A preacher should always give instruction when it is needed, not just when it is routinely given by others.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Itching Ears


 

2 Timothy 4:7-8

The apostle had endured strong temptation and terrible persecutions. He had been faithful and had dedicated his life to doing good works, specifically preaching the gospel among the Gentiles. He was certain that he had indeed overcome and would be given his crown of victory and honor when Christ returned.

The crown of life consists of eternal, imperishable living! It represents victory over our earlier, perishable life of sin. In the Millennium and for all eternity, we will wear our crown of life as an emblem of victory, righteousness, and honor as befits those who have been obedient and faithful to Christ.

Martin G. Collins
The Crown of Life


 

Hebrews 7:1-17

A vital principle to remember concerning the Old and New Covenants is that what did not originate with the Old Covenant did not die with it. The gist of the argument in Hebrews 7 is that, since the Levitical priesthood has no authority under the New Covenant, the ritual laws pertaining to the priesthood are no longer valid. The priesthood has been conferred on Christ, now our High Priest "according to the order of Melchizedek" (Hebrews 6:20). This "change of the law"—the ceremonial law of sacrifices, ritual washings, and other rites pertaining to the Tabernacle/Temple and priesthood—applies only to the administration of tithing (verse 12). Since the tithing law predates the Levitical priesthood, and is thus still in force, tithes are now to be given to Jesus Christ, our High Priest, for use by the church. The church is commissioned to preach the gospel free of charge. The tithe pays for this important responsibility.

The principle of supporting the ministers of God's work is still in force in the New Testament church (Matthew 10:8-10; 24:14; 28:19-20; Mark 16:15; I Corinthians 9:13-14).

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Tithing


 

1 Peter 5:2-3

The Greek word translated as "shepherd" embraces all the things a shepherd would do for a flock of sheep such as protecting, penning, guiding, and feeding. All these categories fall within the notion of promoting growth. These two verses succinctly define a pastor's job as promoting growth in the flock by feeding, protecting, guiding, and leading the minds of those within it. This function is accomplished in a wide variety of ways, including preaching, counseling, publishing material, being a godly example, and correcting appropriately and in measure.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Eating: How Good It Is! (Part Three)


 

Revelation 10:1

There is no break between Revelation 10 and 11. Whoever made these chapter breaks missed the very obvious flow from one to the next. The chapter break would have been better inserted at Revelation 11:15, when the seventh trumpet sounds. It would have made for a long chapter 10, but it would have kept similar material together. Perhaps Satan had a hand in this, because the original Bible did not have chapter breaks. Maybe the Devil was able to influence some scribe somewhere to do this and confuse the interpretation of these prophecies. I do not know. However, we need to see these chapters as a whole.

This section is what we could call "an inset chapter" or "an inset passage." It is a digression from the main flow of the chronology - the main flow of events. It takes time out to explain an important subject so we can get caught up and understand what is happening more fully. There are several of these in Revelation: Chapter 12 discusses Israel and the persecutions that come upon it - and later the church, the Israel of God (Galatians 6:16) - by Satan. Another well-known one is chapter 17, about the harlot that rides the Beast, and chapter 18 is the description of Babylon. These insets give us important prophetic information that we need to know.

It is important that we understand this point. The seven thunders and the eating of the little book in chapter 10, as well as the measuring of the Temple and the Two Witnesses in chapter 11, are all part of one major subject. What is this major subject? If we know what the seven thunders are, what eating the little book is, what measuring the Temple is, and what the preaching of the Two Witnesses is, then it becomes quite clear. What do they all have in common? The message and the preaching of that message.

Revelation chapters 10 and 11, then, are an inset passage on the preaching and work of the church - especially its leadership, those messengers God has called to proclaim His Word.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The Two Witnesses (Part 1)


 

Revelation 11:1

There is no chapter break here. The thought should be continued directly from Revelation 10:11 - "You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings." Then He says, "Rise and measure the temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there."

We see a dual commission: First, to go to kings, nations, and tongues, a broad and general commission. The second one is more specific - focused on the Temple, the altar, and the worshippers. This two-pronged approach is seen throughout the Scriptures. There is 1) a message to the world, then 2) a message to the church.

The second part, measuring the temple, the altar, and the worshippers, can be equated to what we call, in these times, "feeding the flock." The first, going to the world, we call "preaching the gospel." These two areas of preaching are never sundered from one another. In fact, one cannot be done one without the other because they always overlap in some bit. They should be done in tandem.

Sometimes, however, one needs to be done more fully than the other or must be emphasized more, as God directs. God likes them to be done simultaneously, if possible. There is a great deal of work that needs to be done. The church must make a witness. Then, the ones whom God calls to do and support the work must be fed to grow and overcome to be part of His Kingdom. They must be helped to overcome and to go on to perfection. So these two things have to be done. If a person starts preaching the gospel to the world, pretty soon he will have people following his message, and they will need to be taught further and brought along.

One can preach the gospel all he wants, but nothing will be done with the fruit of the gospel unless he is also feeding the flock. They must be done in tandem. They do not necessarily have to be done 50 percent each, but they will be done because God's purpose requires them both.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The Two Witnesses (Part 2)


 

 




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