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  • Writer's pictureJ.D. King

What if the Gospel was Already Preached Throughout the "World" in the 1st Century?

Updated: May 26

Jesus understood that the apostolic message would bear fruit immediately. In 30AD, he declared that this "gospel of the Kingdom" would gain a significant hold throughout the Roman Empire before the “end of the age.”

Christ declared, "The good news of heaven’s kingdom will be proclaimed all over the world, providing every nation with a demonstration of the reality of God. And after that the end of this age will arrive" (Matthew 24:14 TPT).*

People often misinterpret this passage. In the original Greek, Jesus did not say the gospel would be preached to every people group prior the end of the world. What he said was that the Kingdom message would be preached across the “inhabited Roman world” before the end of the old covenant age.

In Matthew 24:14, Jesus uses the Greek term oikoumenē. If he wanted to talk about “the whole wide world,” he would have used kosmos. The term oikoumenē is best translated as the “inhabited land—the geographical boundaries of the Roman Empire." **

It surprises some when I point out that Jesus’ prophecy was fulfilled in less than a generation, but it was. The gospel of the Kingdom actually spread throughout the entire oikoumenē. Consider some of the following passages:

—"The gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world [oikoumenē]” (Colossians 1:6 NIV).

—"The Good News has been preached all over the world [oikoumenē]” (Colossians 1:23 NLT).

—"The message has gone throughout the earth, and the words to all the world [oikoumenē]” (Romans 10:18 NLT).

The apostles genuinely proclaimed the Gospel of the Kingdom across the Empire—before the end of the old covenant age—just as Jesus prophesied.

I know this assertion goes against popular religious sensibilities, and many American churchgoers don't want to accept it. Yet, it's the most sensible reading of this passage.

Keep in mind, the “end of the age” is not necessarily the end of history. In fact, this closing of an era Jesus is talking about opens the door to something glorious for us all.


* Another rendering reads: "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole inhabited earth as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come" (Matt. 24:14 NET).

** The note in New American Standard Bible (1995 update) says that oikoumenē in Matthew 24:14 “literally” means “inhabited earth.”

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