The Gospel of the Kingdom
“Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, ‘The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, nor will they say, “Look, here it is!” or “There!” for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.’”- Luke 17:20–21
The book of Romans is well known as Paul’s most comprehensive presentation of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Yet the Apostle’s teaching on the gospel does not exist in a vacuum; rather, it presupposes and is connected with the other presentations in the Bible regarding the good news of salvation. In order to help us see how the perspectives of the other biblical authors on the gospel fit in with Paul’s exposition of the book of Romans, we are now going to pause our study of this epistle for a two-day look at what the rest of Scripture says about the good news. Dr. R.C. Sproul’s teaching series What Is the Gospel? will guide our consideration of this important topic.
You will note that we have used the phrase good news of salvation synonymously with the word gospel in the previous paragraph, and with good reason. That is because euangelion, the Greek word we translate into English as “gospel,” literally means “good news” or “good message.” In biblical times, euangelion could refer to any piece of favorable news, including reports that a city’s army had been victorious in battle. The authors of Scripture took the term and invested it with new meaning based on divine revelation, so that now we as Christians use the word gospel to speak of the good message of salvation.
In the New Testament, we find the term gospel on the lips of Jesus Himself (Matt. 26:13). Christ uses the word most often in connection with the kingdom of God; thus, the Evangelists can speak of Jesus proclaiming “the gospel of the kingdom” (9:35). From Genesis to Revelation, we see the Lord’s servants longing for the kingdom of God to come. Put most simply, the kingdom of God is that place where His reign is recognized openly and gladly (Isa. 52:7). When we speak of the kingdom of God, we do not mean to imply that there are places over which the Lord does not currently reign, for our Creator sovereignly rules over all (Ps. 9:7–8). However, since the fall of Adam, His realm has been in open rebellion against Him (Gen. 3). Men and women do not willingly or happily embrace, submit to, and rejoice in God’s reign, and because of that they forfeit many blessings.
For people to recognize God’s kingdom, our Lord had to act and overcome humanity’s suppression of the knowledge that He is King and that we are to be His loyal subjects. This He did in the person and work of Jesus Christ, who as the second person of the Trinity and victor over sin and death now reigns as King of kings and Lord of lords (Rev. 19:16).
With the coming of Christ, the kingdom of God is now evident among His people even as we wait for its final consummation at His return. The gospel announces that Jesus has done the work necessary to overcome our natural resistance to God’s kingdom and to make us citizens of this kingdom through faith alone. As we preach the gospel, we are announcing the blessed reign of the Lord, and we must repeat His command that all people everywhere repent and bow to His rule.
Passages for Further Study
1 Corinthians 4:20