“NOW AFTER THAT JOHN WAS PUT IN PRISON, JESUS CAME INTO GALILEE, PREACHING THE GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD. AND SAYING, THE TIME IS FULFILLED, AND THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS AT HAND; REPENT YE, AND BELIEVE THE GOSPEL.” MARK 1:14 AND 13.
“REPENT YE; FOR THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS AT HAND.” Matthew 3:2.
“FROM THAT TIME JESUS BEGAN TO PREACH, AND TO SAY, REPENT; FOR THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS AT HAND.” MATTHEW 4:17.
“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. AND AS YE GO, PREACH, SAYING, THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS AT HAND. HEAL THE SICK, CLEANSE THE LEPERS, RAISE THE DEAD, CAST OUT DEVILS; FREELY YE HAVE RECEIVED, FREELY GIVE.” Matthew 10:5 to 8.
“But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another; for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.” Matthew 10:23.
Jesus Christ said, in Mark 1:15, “THE TIME IS FULFILLED”; “THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS AT HAND.”
Then note what Christ did: He healed the sick. Mark 1:34.
Some months later “the Lord appointed other. seventy also.” Luke 10:1. Note His instructions to the Seventy. “Heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.” Luke 10:9.
One of the first duties in preaching the gospel of the kingdom was to heal the sick. Note again Matthew 10:7 and 8:
“And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils; freely ye have received, freely give.”
John the Baptist preached, The kingdom of heaven is at hand,
Jesus Christ preached, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.
The Twelve preached, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.
One of the prophecies that was fulfilled when the King announced His kingdom, was Isaiah 35:4 to 6: “Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not; behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence ; He will come and save you. Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing; for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert.”
John the Baptist sent his messengers to the Lord Jesus, with the question, “Art Thou He that should come? or look we for another?” Luke 7:20.
Note the Lord’s answer: “Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached.” Luke 7:22.
Thus we see that the Lord performed miracles, in fulfillment of prophecy, to prove that the kingdom of heaven was at hand, in fulfillment of prophecy.
We have learned that the kingdom of heaven, of Matthew 4:17, and the kingdom of God, of Mark 1:14 and 15, were identical.
The kingdom of God is not always identical with the kingdom of heaven which was at hand, according to Christ’s statement in Matthew. The term “kingdom of heaven” is found more than 30 times in Matthew. The exact expression is not found in any other Book in the Bible. But of course it is mentioned in Daniel 2:44 and 45, and in many other Scriptures. And it is sometimes called “the kingdom of God” or “the kingdom.”
It is interesting to note the Scriptural setting of the beatitudes, the Sermon on the mount, and the “Our Father” prayer. These are recorded in Matthew, chapters five to eight. Note before and after: Matthew 4:17; “the kingdom of heaven is at hand” for Israel, (Matthew 15:24), with a program of healing and other signs. Matthew 10:5 to 8: the kingdom of heaven is at hand for Israel, (Matthew 10:6) with a program of healing and other signs.
Thus we see that the Sermon and the prayer have decidedly a “kingdom of heaven” setting.
The Book of Matthew was perhaps written before Cornelius received the message from Peter.
For some reason the Holy Spirit restrained John from writing his Gospel until many years after Matthew wrote, perhaps until twenty years after the Apostle Paul had died.
In John’s Gospel there is no statement, “the kingdom of heaven at hand.” There is no Sermon on the Mount, no “Our Father” prayer. No kingdom parables. But we do find these interesting statements in John’s Gospel:
“And I knew Him not; but that He should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water.” John 1:31.
“Though Jesus Himself baptized not, but His disciples.” John 4:2.
“And many resorted unto Him, and said, John did no miracle; but all things that John spake of this Man were true.” John 10:41.
John the Baptist baptized, but performed no miracles. Jesus Christ performed miracles, but did not baptize. John baptized and Jesus Christ performed miracles for the same reason. John 10:41 and Acts 2:22.
Compare and contrast
“FROM THAT TIME Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 4:17.
“FROM THAT TIME forth began Jesus to shew unto His disciples, how that He must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.” Matthew 16:21.
“Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.” Matthew 21:43.
Note how Matthew is divided by the two statements, “from that time”. In Matthew 4:17 the King announced His kingdom at hand. In Matthew 16:21, the King announced His rejection and death at hand Note how He stated it in Matthew 26:45—“Behold the hour is at hand’, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.”
Then note the Messiah’s solemn words to His “kingdom” nation, in Matthew 21:43, “the kingdom of God shall be taken from you.” Note how this is stated in Matthew 8:12—“But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Now compare Matthew 8:12 with Colossians 1:13 and 14.
“But the children of the kingdom shall be out into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
“Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son; In Whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins.”
Members of Christ’s Body are children of a different kingdom, and shall never be cast into outer darkness.
Let us compare Luke 16:16 and Luke 13:24 with I Corinthians 12:13—Romans 4:5 and Romans 14:17.
“The law and the prophets were until John; since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.”
“Strive to enter in at the strait gate; for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.”
“For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one Body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.”
“But to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. “
“For the kingdom of God is not. meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.”
What a difference between the proclamation of Matthew 10:5 to 8, “the kingdom at hand” for Israel, (go not into the way of the Gentiles), and Titus 2:11, “the grace of God” at hand for all men, including the Gentiles. Healing, miracles and signs accompanied the proclamation of the kingdom of heaven; but these signs had ceased when Paul wrote to Titus. The two programs were quite different.
No member of the Body of Christ has Divine authority to carry on the kingdom program of Matthew 10:5 to 8 in this day of grace.
The Lord Jesus on earth did not say “the Body of Christ is at hand.” Neither did He preach the gospel message of Romans 10:12 and Ephesians 3:6 and Ephesians 2:13.
“There is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him.”
“That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the Joint-Body, and partakers of His promise in Christ by the gospel.”
“But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.”
We should study the Book of Matthew in the light of Romans and Ephesians. But as we study the Book of Matthew, let us not forget that the truth of Romans and Ephesians was not made known by Christ and His apostles until some years after His death and resurrection; and that “the kingdom at hand” when Jesus Christ was on earth, differs in many respects from the “kingdom of God” mentioned: in Colossians 4:11. “And Jesus, which is called Justus, who are of the circumcision. These only are my fellowworkers unto the kingdom of God, which have been a comfort unto me.”
The “kingdom” of Matthew was a prophesied kingdom. The “kingdom” of Ephesians and Colossians was an unprophesied kingdom, the Body of Christ.
Compare the kingdom gospel and healing program of Matthew 10:5 to 8 with I Timothy 1:11 and I Timothy 5:23.
“According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.” “Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities.” I Timothy 1:11 and I Timothy 5:23.
The Messianic kingdom of Jesus Christ which He announced “at hand”, when on earth, will surely be “at hand” again.
But during this present economy God is accomplishing a different purpose while the “kingdom of heaven” is in abeyance.
All Premillenarians, who are “grace” preachers, teach the postponement of the kingdom and that this present Church period is a parenthetical period. But they are not all agreed as to when this present “dispensation of the mystery” began. Ephesians 3:9.
For more articles by Pastor J. C. O'Hair, visit the J. C. O'Hair Online Library.