Gospel as Peace: Part Two

The Synoptics portray Jesus as a tireless itinerant preacher of the gospel of the kingdom about 30 times. In Matthew 4, Jesus is preaching the kingdom, and in chapter 9 he is still preaching that same kingdom. He was also teaching ethics (i.e. Sermon on the Mount), and the proper behavior of citizens belonging to that kingdom.
I am not minimizing the tremendous impact that the resurrection had as “assurance”[1] or its importance regarding atonement. The gospel of the kingdom was certainly further illuminated in light of Jesus’ resurrection, and subsequently incorporated into this message. The kingdom of God still seemed to remain as the primary message.[2] In Acts, Paul’s mission was “proclaiming the kingdom” and for him was “the whole purpose of God” (Acts 20:24-27).
Even today, when reciting the Lord’s Prayer, we pray “your kingdom come.”[3] The disciples were taught to pray for something to come “on earth as it is in heaven,” which is a way of anticipating the “new heaven and new earth.” It is not a NT concept; its roots are firmly planted in the Hebrew Bible. This is why Jesus was able – often to the consternation of Christians – to use the phrase without defining it.[4] Jesus’ hearers would certainly have been well-acquainted with this theme. The kingship of God is closely related to creation, not merely over humanity, which is a favorite subject of the Psalms.
Jesus, as an apocalyptic prophet, was proclaiming the reign of God coming with power and introducing shalom over the kingdoms of the world. It would be an actual kingdom, where the powers of evil would be overthrown. The disciples were even told that they would be given administrative positions in this theocracy which was to appear onto the scene of human history at some unknown point in the future.[5] This is the rule of God and the renewal, not destruction and replacement, of creation itself.   
The good news of the kingdom of God could be summarized as, “everything wrong with the world being made right; God’s will being done on earth as already is done in heaven.” It is in this sense that I find the fullest expression of shalom. In a way, I do believe that the kingdom has already come in the hearts and minds of those who “love his appearing,”[6] but also realize that as a Christian, I wait for the blessed hope[7] while living at peace with all.[8] We wait for the reconciliation of all things. The shalom of then can still fill us now.

[1] Acts 17:31.
[2] Acts 8:12; 19:8; 28:23, 30, 31.
[3] Matt 6:10; Luke 11:2
[4] E.g. Isa 40:9-11; 52:6-10; 65:17; 66:22; Jer 23:5, 6; Dan 2:44; 7:14, 27; Obad 17-21; Zech 9:10; 14:3, 9, 16; 2 Pe 3:13; Rev 21:1.
[5] Bart D. Ehrman, Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium (New York, NY.: Oxford University Press, 1999), 128.
[6] 2 Tim 4:8; Heb 9:28.
[7] Tit 2:13
[8] Rom 12:18
To see part one, click here.

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