True Christians Are Kingdom Preachers
“This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.”—MATTHEW 24:14.
1, 2. (a) Why must the Kingdom message now be declared worldwide? (b) What questions might each witness of Jehovah ask?
ANNOUNCING JEHOVAH’S KINGDOM. For decades, that has been the main objective of this journal. In fact, it is part of its copyrighted title. And it is vital that the Kingdom message now be declared worldwide. Why? Because of what Jesus Christ said after citing other features comprising “the sign” of his invisible “presence” and the end of this system. Jesus said: “This Good News of the kingdom will be proclaimed to the whole world as a witness to all the nations. And then the end will come.”—Matthew 24:3, 14, The Jerusalem Bible.
2 Today, “the end” is near indeed. Hence, each dedicated witness of Jehovah might well ask: How do I feel about the Kingdom-preaching work? Am I participating in it regularly? And is my ministry being carried out with skill and zeal?
The Commission to Preach
3. Jesus’ words recorded at Matthew 5:14-16 indicate what about his followers?
3 No genuine Christian can rightly shun the privileged work of proclaiming the “good news” to others. Jesus told his disciples: “You are the light of the world. A city cannot be hid when situated upon a mountain. People light a lamp and set it, not under the measuring basket, but upon the lampstand, and it shines upon all those in the house. Likewise let your light shine before men, that they may see your fine works and give glory to your Father who is in the heavens.” (Matthew 5:14-16) That indicated that Jesus’ disciples would be Kingdom preachers.
4. What has been said about the foremost Kingdom proclaimer?
4 Concerning the foremost Kingdom preacher, it has been said: “As our Lord preached the kingdom He proceeded . . . to prepare and organize its Ministry . . . He began the prophetic ministry . . . and made both the Twelve and the Seventy partakers of the same. As He preached the coming kingdom and wrought ‘signs,’ He sent them before His face with a like message and like powers. By a wonderful course of minute teaching, . . . He trained them the meanwhile for positions of higher trust afterwards to be given.”—A Church History, by Milo Mahan.
5. As regards Kingdom preaching, what did Jesus do?
5 Jesus provided fine instruction for his apostles and the 70 disciples he sent out. (Luke 6:12-16; 10:1-22) Moreover, our Exemplar himself “went journeying from city to city and from village to village, preaching and declaring the good news of the kingdom of God.” With him were the apostles and certain women “who were ministering to them from their belongings.” (Luke 8:1-3) Yes, Jesus was a zealous proclaimer of the good news and took steps to initiate a Kingdom-preaching organization.
6. Before ascending to heaven, what commission did Jesus give his followers?
6 After a three-and-a-half-year ministry, Jesus finished his earthly course. But before he ascended to heaven, he gave his followers this commission: “Go . . . and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit, teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you. And, look! I am with you all the days until the conclusion of the system of things.” (Matthew 28:19, 20) They would, indeed, be Kingdom preachers.
7. Although Jesus’ disciples originally lacked accurate knowledge about the Kingdom, why would they succeed in being his witnesses?
7 When Jesus was about to leave the earth, his disciples asked: “Lord, are you restoring the kingdom to Israel at this time?” In reply, he told them: “It does not belong to you to get knowledge of the times or seasons which the Father has placed in his own jurisdiction.” Even though the disciples then lacked accurate knowledge about the Kingdom, Jesus could assign them to be its proclaimers, for they would have the needed help to carry out their commission. “But you will receive power when the holy spirit arrives upon you,” Jesus added, “and you will be witnesses of me both in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the most distant part of the earth.” (Acts 1:6-8) Under the guidance of the holy spirit, Jesus’ followers eventually would realize that the Kingdom would be a heavenly government. (John 16:12, 13) And in time the facts about that Kingdom would be proclaimed “to the most distant part of the earth.”
8. How successful was the first-century preaching work?
8 Those witnesses did their work very well. Of course, Jehovah was with them, and they had the support of the glorified Jesus Christ. (Acts 8:1-8; 11:19-21) No wonder that as early as 60 to 61 C.E. the apostle Paul could say that the “good news” had already been ‘preached in all creation under heaven’!—Colossians 1:23.
9. As here noted, what is the chief work of the Christian congregation?
9 Regarding the work of witnessing, it has been written: “The proclamation of the gospel is . . . not one activity among many in which the Church of the N[ew] T[estament] engages, but it is her basic, her essential activity. . . . Note well, Jesus did not say [at Acts 1:8], You shall witness to me, or, You shall bear witness to me, but, You shall be my witnesses. The use of the verb ‘to be’ here has a value which must be taken with full and literal seriousness. The expression [in Greek] does not merely state what the Church would do, but what the Church would be. . . . The Church of Jesus Christ is . . . a witnessing body.” (Pentecost and the Missionary Witness of the Church, by Harry R. Boer, pages 110-14) Yes, witnessing is the chief work of the true Christian congregation.
By Divine Providence
10, 11. (a) Basically, how were first-century Kingdom proclaimers organized? (b) What happened when new circumstances developed?
10 First-century Kingdom proclaimers received direction from a governing body. Traveling elders served within the organization, and congregational duties were shouldered by overseers and ministerial servants. (Acts 15:1, 2, 22-36; Philippians 1:1) But what happened when new circumstances developed?
11 Well, consider what took place shortly after Pentecost of 33 C.E. Greek-speaking Jews began murmuring against Hebrew-speaking Jews “because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution.” To solve the problem, the apostles appointed “seven certified men” to care for this food distribution. (Acts 6:1-8) Concerning this we read: “At first, the care that the daily public meals were impartially distributed was all, so far as we are told, for which the ‘seven’ were set apart, but, of course, other duties would be added as they rose, for while the principles of the new faith were unchangeable, the machinery and modes of presentment, by which these might be most effectually established and extended, were left to the wisdom and practical experience of successive generations . . . Adaptation and modification of non-essential details . . . is imperative in any great organisation.”—Hours With the Bible, New Testament Series, volume II, by Cunningham Geikie.
12. (a) What contributed to the progress of early Christianity? (b) Where and how did Jesus’ followers come to be called Christians?
12 Prayerful reliance upon God, along with “the wisdom and practical experience” of the governing body, contributed to the progress of early Christianity. And things certainly were happening by divine providence. For instance, Jesus’ early followers were said to belong to “The Way.” (Acts 9:1, 2) But perhaps as early as 44 C.E. at Antioch, Syria, “the disciples were by divine providence called Christians.” (Acts 11:26) This was a God-given name that they readily accepted.—1 Peter 4:16.*
13. As Jehovah’s Witnesses now use modern publishing methods, what did the early Christians put to use in their Kingdom-preaching work?
13 Among those early Christians, other developments also were within the divine providence. For instance, as Jehovah’s Witnesses now use modern publishing methods, so the early Christians pioneered the use of the codex—a real boon to their zealous Kingdom-preaching work. In this regard, C. C. McCown wrote: “The Christians’ religious books, both the Old Testament and the new writings . . . were not for the leisurely reading of the well-to-do. Hard-working business people wanted as much as they could get into a book. They and the earnest Christian missionaries wished to be able to refer to this or that proof text quickly, without having to unroll many feet of papyrus.”—The Biblical Archaeologist Reader, page 261.
14. Jesus’ apostles were eager to preach under what circumstances?
14 Being “able to refer to this or that proof text quickly” was very important because of the Kingdom-preaching methods employed by the early Christians. At times, of course, they witnessed to people informally, as Jehovah’s Witnesses often do today. Of this it has been said: “One of the peculiar features of the apostolic preaching was its incidental character. There was no waiting of an apostle for a great opportunity. His only state occasion was when, like Paul before Felix, he was led as a prisoner before a ruler in purple to give an account of himself and answer the charge of infraction of the laws. He was not without his opportunities, but they were furnished him in the prison, by the wayside, and in the humble home where he might be sheltered for the night. . . . He felt that his message was largely to human units, though equally ready to present it to the multitude. He was equally at home with any audience. He had not forgotten the example of Christ, . . . [whose] stoa was the dusty highway, or the crowded street, or the pebbly shore of Jewish Galilee . . . [The apostles] had not forgotten that he had given them early in their companionship with him special instructions as to the best methods of preaching his doctrines, had reinforced these first lessons by others, and, just before his ascension, pointed them to the world as their field and every creature as their auditor.”—History of the Christian Church, by John F. Hurst, volume I, page 96.
“From House to House”
15. How were the apostles carrying out the preaching work in the days following Pentecost of 33 C.E.?
15 In the days following Pentecost of 33 C.E., Jesus’ disciples were already using a superb method of preaching the “good news.” After the persecuted apostles had been dishonored because of Jesus Christ’s name, what did they do? Why, “every day in the temple and from house to house they continued without letup teaching and declaring the good news about the Christ, Jesus”! (Acts 5:41, 42) Yes, the apostles witnessed from house to house.
16. In what kind of preaching activity did Paul give training to the elders in Ephesus?
16 Later, the apostle Paul could remind appointed elders from Ephesus: “I did not hold back from telling you any of the things that were profitable nor from teaching you publicly and from house to house. But I thoroughly bore witness both to Jews and to Greeks about repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus.” (Acts 20:20, 21) Paul did not mean that he was teaching appointed elders in their homes. Rather, he was witnessing to unbelieving Jews and Greeks about repentance toward Jehovah God and faith in Jesus Christ. Without question, Paul also taught those elders how to witness from house to house.
17. What have various scholars said about Paul’s house-to-house ministry in Ephesus?
17 Concerning the apostle’s ministry in Ephesus, it has been said: “Paul’s general practice was to work at his trade from sunrise till 11 a.m. (Acts 20:34-35) at which hour Tyrannus had finished his teaching; then from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. to preach in the hall, hold conferences with helpers and private talks with candidates, plan extensions into the interior; then lastly to make a house-to-house evangelistic canvass that lasted from 4 p.m. till far into the night (Acts 20:20-21, 31).” (A. E. Bailey) Other scholars have stated: “He was not content merely to deliver discourses in the public assembly, and dispense with other instrumentalities, but zealously pursued his great work in private, from house to house, and literally carried home the truth of heaven to the hearths and hearts of the Ephesians.” (A. A. Livermore) “Publicly and from house to house, in the city and throughout the province, he had preached the gospel.” (E. M. Blaiklock) “It is worth noting that this greatest of preachers preached from house to house and did not make his visits merely social calls.”—A. T. Robertson.
18. (a) Why would you say that there is a solid Scriptural basis for the house-to-house ministry of Jehovah’s Witnesses? (b) Like Jesus and his early disciples, where and how do Jehovah’s Witnesses preach the Kingdom message?
18 House-to-house witnessing was done by Jesus’ apostles in 33 C.E. It was part of Paul’s ministry in Ephesus and undoubtedly elsewhere. So there is a solid Scriptural basis for the house-to-house ministry of Jehovah’s Witnesses. And this is true of various other methods they use to spread the Kingdom message. Interestingly, McClintock and Strong’s Cyclopedia states: “Our Lord and his apostles found places for preaching wherever people could be assembled. The mountain-side, the shores of seas and rivers, the public street, private houses, the porch of the Temple, the Jewish synagogue, and various other places were found available for the proclamation of the Gospel.” (Volume VIII, page 483) Like Jesus and his early disciples, Jehovah’s Witnesses preach the Kingdom message in “the public street, private houses, . . . and various other places.” For instance, they engage in magazine street work (with this journal and its companion Awake!) and are especially known for their house-to-house witnessing.
19. How are decisions made regarding the preaching methods now used by Jehovah’s Witnesses?
19 The basic forms of the ministry now used by Jehovah’s Witnesses were well established in the first century, and, besides this, it is proper for the present-day Governing Body of anointed Christians to decide what preaching methods are suitable at this time. Such decisions can partly be based on “the wisdom and practical experience” of these men. Especially, however, do they make decisions as did the first-century Christian governing body. God’s direction and the guidance of his holy spirit are sought in prayer, and Scriptural precedents are followed when determining what preaching methods are most suitable in these “last days.”—2 Timothy 3:1; Acts 15:23, 28.
20. (a) Why can we be sure that there is divine approval of the preaching methods used by Jehovah’s Witnesses? (b) What attitude should all of Jehovah’s servants have toward the Kingdom-preaching work?
20 It is evident that the preaching methods used by Jehovah’s Witnesses are within the divine providence, for God has crowned these efforts with abundant success and blessing. (Proverbs 10:22) Throngs are embracing true worship and joining the remnant of Jesus’ anointed followers as part of the only organization that honors Jehovah’s holy name and fearlessly declares the good news of the established heavenly Kingdom. May all of Jehovah’s servants therefore continue exerting themselves in the disciple-making work as this system nears its end. This we must do faithfully, for true Christians unquestionably are Kingdom preachers.
See page 316 of Aid to Bible Understanding, published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.
What Is Your Understanding?
□ Why should the Kingdom message now be declared earth wide?
□ What is the chief work of all true Christians?
□ Why can it be said that among Jehovah’s servants things do happen by divine providence?
□ The house-to-house preaching work of Jehovah’s Witnesses has what sound basis?
[Picture on page 11]
Jesus told his followers: ‘Go, make disciples.’ Are you zealously doing this chief work of all true Christians?
[Picture on page 13]
Are you regularly witnessing from house to house? Jesus’ early apostles did it. So did the zealous Kingdom proclaimer Paul