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Replay: Continued Proclamation about the Kingdom of God in Acts

Posted by on Apr 28, 2012 in discipleship, scripture | 8 comments

Replay: Continued Proclamation about the Kingdom of God in Acts

Two years ago, I wrote the post “Continued Proclamation about the Kingdom of God in Acts.” If I remember correctly, we were studying the Book of Acts together at the time. When I study books, I tend to study the book as a whole as much as possible before studying individual pieces, paragraphs, sentences, words, etc. In this way, the author’s purpose and intent is easier to distinguish. So, was Luke exhorting his readers (of Acts) to see themselves as “missionaries” sent by God to continue proclaiming the kingdom of God? I think so.

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Continued Proclamation about the Kingdom of God in Acts

Have you ever noticed how the Book of Acts starts:

In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. To them he presented himself alive after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. (Acts 1:1-3 ESV)

There are two things I want to point out: 1) Luke’s first book (the Gospel of Luke) dealt with “all the Jesus began to do and teach” which indicates that this book (Acts) deals with what Jesus continued to do and teach. 2) After Jesus’ resurrection, he talked to many people about the kingdom of God.

And the end of Acts, we read this passage:

He [Paul] lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance. (Acts 28:30-31 ESV)

Again, there are two things that I’d like to bring up: 1) Paul taught about Jesus with boldness and without hindrance even though he was under house arrest. 2) Paul, as with Jesus earlier, was proclaiming the kingdom of God.

Thus, at the beginning of Acts and the end of Acts (as well as several other places in the book – Acts 1:6, 8:12, 14:22, 19:8, 20:25, 28:23) we see the importance of speaking about and proclaiming the kingdom of God. Furthermore, we see that this type of proclamation is a continuation of what Jesus was doing and that the proclamation was unhindered even when the one proclaiming was imprisoned.

It seems, then, that Luke intended his second volume to be a treatise on the expansion of the kingdom of God. However, Luke did not intend Acts to be a treatise on the beginning of the kingdom. His Gospel explained that Jesus was the beginning of the kingdom of God. Similarly, Luke did not intend Acts to be a treatise on the end of the expansion of the kingdom. Instead, the kingdom continues to be proclaimed at the end of the book.

From just after Luke finished writing Acts until today, a reader would get the idea that the kingdom of God continues to expand and therefore must continue to be proclaimed. The reader would close the book seeing himself or herself as the one to proclaim the kingdom.

There are obviously other themes in the book of Acts (i.e. dependence on the Spirit, the kingdom community created by the Spirit, the gospel’s defeat of worldly systems), but we should never overlook the emphasis on the proclamation and expansion of the kingdom of God. This, along with many other aspects of the book of Acts, makes the book a missionary book, in the sense that those reading the book recognize that they are “sent” (apostello, missio).

So… you are sent to proclaim the kingdom of God and to see the kingdom of God expand.

(By the way, did you notice that we’ll only see this theme if we read the entire book, not just memorize one verse or passage?)


8 Comments

  1. 4-28-2012

    Alan to me, Acts is a history of what happened after Jesus rose, hanging around 40 days and then they went out after the day of Pentecost. For only Holy spirit could do the job at hand. Anyway, Acts is a conitinuation of the Gospel of Luke. One could just put Acts on with the end of Luke, and it would be a continuation just as acts starts out. The Book of Acts to me is not doctrinal. It is what took place after Jesus rose from the dead. Jesus explained all the things to them that happened, BUT they still were to wait for the Spirit that God would send after Jesus left, and when the Spirit came they would be empowered. I think this is what still needs to be, is be led by the Spirit of God, because any other work will not withstand the fire
    I also think you are right at the same time. we are to spread the gospel. The question I have to me is, me waiting on the Spirit of God’s lead, and thus the kingdom will increase for it is the job of the holy Spirit as Jesus said in John 16:8-15
    Howard

  2. 4-28-2012

    Great replay post. I get perplexed when I see other topics becoming the main focus of what is preached/taught. I’ve sat through nearly 2000 sermons in my life. I can only recall one sermon who’s main focus was that of the kingdom of God. Yet when I read Matthew, Mark, and Luke it seems the proclamation of the kingdom of God was the main topic for Jesus and His disciples. I haven’t studied Acts recently in depth, but I’m not surprised that this topic gets some decent airtime here as well.

    I’ve got no issue with focusing on other issues, like how the church assembles :). The book of John for example doesn’t use the term kingdom as frequently. But I’m perplexed how so many seem to completely overlook this central message of Jesus.

  3. 4-28-2012

    Howard,

    As history, the book of Acts offers examples of how Jesus’ followers lived. These types of examples are also types of teaching (i.e. doctrine).

    Jon,

    Why do you think John (and perhaps some of the other authors, I haven’t checked in detail) didn’t use the term “kingdom” frequently?

    -Alan

  4. 4-28-2012

    Alan, I guess there are different ways of talking about the kingdom of God. I think in our current culture it may make more sense to talk about the reign or rule of God, His authority, or realm of influence. John did focus on Jesus as Lord, King, Messiah, and son of God. I also see a parallel with John’s light vs darkness theme, and the the choice of kingdoms we have to choose between.

    So I know we don’t have to fixate on how often the term kingdom comes out of our mouths. We see many different ways of presenting the good news in Scripture.

    But in my experience, I can’t help think the topic of the kingdom of God has been overlooked. After being in the church for so long, you’d think I’d be well versed in the topic Jesus and His disciples preached from town to town. But I’m just beginning to study it now.

  5. 4-28-2012

    Yes Alan i can see it viewed that way.
    Howard

  6. 4-30-2012

    Jon,

    I agree. I’m concerned with the gospel is boiled down to a “me and God” type of presentation instead of relating it to God’s kingdom (whether the term “kingdom” is used or not). Thanks for the discussion on this topic. I’ve enjoyed your posts related to God’s kingdom.

    Oh, and welcome to twitter!

    -Alan

  7. 4-30-2012

    Thanks. Yes I clued in that a few (million) people like twitter and I should check it out. For myself, I like using a blog reader to follow other peoples blogs. But I doubt most people use blog readers. It only takes an extra 2 seconds to tweet, so why not.

  8. 5-1-2012

    Jon,

    I publish my blog posts on Twitter, and occasionally respond to mentions or DM’s, but I prefer Facebook otherwise.

    -Alan

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