The Kingdom to Be Preached in Our Time
7. What did Jesus say about a preaching work to be done at “the conclusion of the system of things”?
7 In his prophecy about events to take place at “the conclusion of the system of things,” Jesus said: “And 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 24:3, 14) Or, as stated at Mark 13:10: “Also, in all the nations the good news has to be preached first.”—See also Revelation 14:6, 7.
8. (a) What did the good news include in the apostles’ time? (b) What does the message of the good news include today?
8 In “the last days,” the good news of the Kingdom involves more than it did when Jesus was on earth. Jesus preached that the Kingdom had drawn near, drawing attention to the fact that he was among the people as the Messiah and King. (2 Timothy 3:1; Matthew 4:17; Luke 17:21) The good news preached by the early Christians included the matter of Jesus’ resurrection and ascension to heaven, and it encouraged meek ones to put faith in the coming Kingdom. (Acts 2:22-24, 32; 3:19-21; 17:2, 3; 26:23; 28:23, 31) Now that we have reached “the conclusion of the system of things,” the preaching of the good news of the Kingdom includes the striking message that the Kingdom is established in the heavens.—Revelation 11:15-18; 12:10.
Who Will Preach the Good News?
9. (a) How may some argue that preaching the good news is not obligatory for all Christians today? (b) Whom did Jehovah use in the past to preach his word, and what does this mean for us today?
9 Who, today, should share in the preaching work? Evidently, Christendom feels it is not an obligation for everyone, and it is true that when Jesus said that the good news would be preached, he did not specify who would do the work. Whom else, though, would Jehovah use for such a work but those who have put faith in his Word and begun to apply it in their lives? When Jehovah determined in the days of Noah to warn the wicked world of mankind of a coming destruction, he used a man who “walked with the true God.” (Genesis 6:9, 13, 14; 2 Peter 2:5) When he wanted prophetic messages delivered to Israel, he sent ‘his servants, the prophets.’ (Jeremiah 7:25; Amos 3:7, 8) The dedicated nation of Israel was a nation of his witnesses. (Exodus 19:5, 6; Isaiah 43:10-12) Yes, Jehovah uses his dedicated servants as his witnesses.
10. How can it be seen from the wording of Matthew 28:19, 20 that the command to make disciples applies to all Christians?
10 Some have said that the command to make disciples, given at Matthew 28:19, 20, was given only to the apostles and therefore does not apply to Christians in general. But notice what Jesus said: “Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations . . . teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you.” Jesus’ followers were to teach new disciples to observe all the things Jesus commanded. And one of the things he commanded was to ‘go and make disciples.’ Surely, all new disciples would have to be taught to observe this particular command too.
11. (a) What obligation rested upon the Christian congregation in the first century? (b) What is necessary for one to get saved, and what does this include?
11 The Christian congregation of the first century was called ‘God’s people for special possession that they should declare abroad the excellencies of the one who called them out of darkness into his wonderful light.’ (1 Peter 2:9) Its members zealously bore witness to the Kingdom of God. (Acts 8:4, 12) All the “holy ones,” anointed Christians, in Rome were told that “with the mouth one makes public declaration for salvation” and that “everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will be saved.” (Romans 1:7; 10:9, 10, 13) This public declaration for salvation, made at the time of one’s baptism, also includes the public preaching of the good news of Jehovah’s Kingdom.
12, 13. (a) What does “the public declaration of our hope” mentioned at Hebrews 10:23 include? (b) How does Psalm 96 show the need for a public declaration outside the congregation, and how does Revelation 7:9, 10 support this?
12 The apostle Paul wrote to the Hebrew Christians: “Let us hold fast the public declaration of our hope without wavering, for he is faithful that promised.” (Hebrews 10:23) This public declaration is not limited to meetings of the congregation. (Psalm 40:9, 10) At Psalm 96:2, 3, 10 we clearly see a prophetic command to preach outside the congregation, to the nations, in these words: “From day to day tell the good news of salvation by him. Declare among the nations his glory, among all the peoples his wonderful works. Say among the nations: ‘Jehovah himself has become king.’” Indeed, at Matthew 28:19, 20 and Acts 1:8, Jesus commanded Christians to preach to the nations.
13 This public preaching is referred to in Paul’s further words to the anointed Hebrew Christians: “Through him let us always offer to God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips which make public declaration to his name.” (Hebrews 13:15) In the book of Revelation, the “great crowd,” gathered out of all nations, is also seen crying out with a loud voice: “Salvation we owe to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:9, 10) Thus, in this time of the conclusion of the system of things, the preaching of the good news is done by Jehovah’s dedicated Witnesses, the remnant of Christ’s spiritual brothers and their sheeplike companions who make up the “great crowd.” But how should they actually do this work?
“Publicly and From House to House”
14. Where did Jesus do his preaching, and what principle can we learn from this?
14 Jesus preached directly to the people. We read, for example, that he preached in the synagogues. Why? Because people assembled there on the Sabbath and listened to a reading and discussion of the Scriptures. (Matthew 4:23; Luke 4:15-21) Jesus also preached to people along the wayside, beside the sea, on a mountain slope, at a well outside a city, and in homes. Wherever there were people, Jesus preached to them.—Matthew 5:1, 2; Mark 1:29-34; 2:1-4, 13; 3:19; 4:1, 2; Luke 5:1-3; 9:57-60; John 4:4-26.
15. (a) What instructions did Jesus give his disciples when he sent them out to preach? (b) How have some Bible commentators explained this?
15 When Jesus sent out his disciples to preach, he also sent them directly to the people. This is seen in his instructions recorded at Matthew 10:1-15, 40-42. In Mt 10 verse 11 he stated: “Into whatever city or village you enter, search out who in it is deserving, and stay there until you leave.” The Jerusalem Bible renders this verse: “Ask for someone trustworthy,” as if the disciples were to ask some prominent or knowledgeable person in the village to find out who had a good reputation and was thus deserving of the message. (See also Weymouth and the King James Version.) And this is the explanation that some Bible commentators give of Mt 10 verse 11.
16. What more objective consideration of Jesus’ words at Matthew 10:11 indicates how the apostles were to search out worthy ones?
16 It should be kept in mind, however, that for the most part, the theologians of Christendom do not go from house to house, and many Bible commentators tend to interpret the Scriptures in the context of their own experience. A more objective consideration of Jesus’ instruction indicates that he was speaking about his disciples’ searching out people individually, either from house to house or publicly, and presenting to them the message of the Kingdom. (Matthew 10:7) Their response would indicate whether they were deserving or not.—Matthew 10:12-15.
17. What proves that Jesus’ disciples were not merely calling on worthy persons based on recommendation or appointment?
17 This is seen in Jesus’ words at Matthew 10:14: “Wherever anyone does not take you in or listen to your words, on going out of that house or that city shake the dust off your feet.” Jesus was speaking about his disciples’ making uninvited calls on people to preach to them. True, they would also accept lodging with one of the households that responded to the message. (Matthew 10:11) But the main thing was the preaching work. At Luke 9:6 it is stated: “Then starting out they went through the territory from village to village, declaring the good news and performing cures everywhere.” (See also Luke 10:8, 9.) Deserving ones who received the disciples into their homes as prophets, perhaps giving them “a cup of cold water” or even accommodations, would not lose their reward. They would hear the Kingdom message.—Matthew 10:40-42.
18, 19. (a) According to Acts 5:42, how did the early Christians do their preaching work? (b) How do Paul’s words at Acts 20:20, 21 show that he was speaking about a ministry to nonbelievers, not an internal shepherding work?
18 After the Christian congregation was founded, we read concerning the apostles: “And 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 5:42; see Reference Bible, footnote.) The expression in the Greek translated “from house to house” is kat’ oiʹkon. Here ka·taʹ is in the distributive sense. Hence, it might be said that the disciples’ preaching was distributed from house to house. They were not making mere prearranged social calls. A similar use of ka·taʹ is found at Luke 8:1 in the expression “from city to city and from village to village.”
19 The same expression in the plural, kat’ oiʹkous, is used by the apostle Paul at Acts 20:20. There he stated: “I did not hold back from . . . teaching you publicly and from house to house.” The expression “from house to house” is rendered “in your homes” in some translations. So some of Christendom’s Bible commentators say that Paul is referring here to shepherding visits in the homes of believers. But Paul’s next words show that he was speaking about a ministry to nonbelievers, for he states: “But I thoroughly bore witness both to Jews and to Greeks about repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus.”—Acts 20:21.
20. (a) To what extent have Jehovah’s Witnesses preached the good news of the Kingdom in our time? (b) How may some view the matter of keeping on with the preaching?
20 This method of reaching the people should therefore be used in our time when the “good news of the kingdom” must be “preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations.” (Matthew 24:14) For more than 65 years, Jehovah’s Witnesses have been zealously preaching the good news of God’s established Kingdom publicly and from house to house—now in 210 lands. What a grand witness is being accomplished! And this despite the fact that most people today hear the message “without response,” some even with annoyance. (Matthew 13:15)
Keep On Preaching the Kingdom
“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) What is the most important work of this century, and to what extent is it being done? (b) What evidence is there of Jehovah’s blessing on this work?
PREACHING the good news of God’s Kingdom is the most important work of this century. It is what the Almighty God wants to have done now, and it is being accomplished in fulfillment of his prophetic Word. Your response to it will affect your eternal destiny.—1 Corinthians 9:16, 23.
2 It is thrilling to see that the number having a share in this preaching work continues to increase, with now more than three million taking part. Greater numbers than ever are entering the full-time ministry. And many more interested people are accepting a Bible study and putting forth an effort to learn to do God’s will.
3. What may some say about the need to continue with the preaching of the good news?
3 At times, however, some may “give up in doing what is fine” and “get tired” as far as the preaching work is concerned. (Galatians 6:9; Hebrews 12:3) They may say that the good news has already been preached extensively in their territory and that people have taken their stand and are now annoyed when we call at their homes. Those doing the preaching work there get very few results or none at all. So, they feel, perhaps the work is basically done, and there is no need to continue. What is wrong with this way of thinking?
4. What should motivate us to keep on preaching even in territory where the response is poor?
4 First, our enduring faithfully in the preaching work should not depend upon whether people listen to us or not. Jeremiah preached for 40 years in Jerusalem even though very few listened and many violently opposed him. Why did he persist? Because he was doing a work that Jehovah had commanded and because his prophetic knowledge of what was going to happen to Jerusalem forced him to keep speaking. (Jeremiah 1:17-19) He said: “In my heart it proved to be like a burning fire shut up in my bones; and I got tired of holding in, and I was unable to endure it.” (Jeremiah 20:7-10) Our situation is similar. It is Jehovah, through Jesus Christ, who commanded that the “good news” should be preached in all the inhabited earth. (Matthew 24:14) When people refuse to listen, this gives us an opportunity to show the depth of our love and devotion to Jehovah by persisting in doing what is right. (1 John 5:3) Besides, when we meditate on what the near future holds for mankind, how can we hold ourselves back from trying to warn our neighbors?—2 Timothy 4:2.
5. (a) For what other reason should we endure in the preaching work? (b) How is the preaching work a basis for judgment?
5 Moreover, Jeremiah’s preaching was really a judgment work. In 607 B.C.E., none of those who suffered death or enslavement when Jerusalem fell could claim that they did not know why this was happening to them. For 40 years previously, Jeremiah had been warning them of exactly such an outcome if they continued being rebellious against Jehovah. (Compare Ezekiel 2:5.) Similarly today, the preaching of the good news as “a witness to all the nations” is a basis for judgment. The apostle Paul makes this clear when he states that Christ Jesus will bring vengeance upon “those who do not know God and those who do not obey the good news about our Lord Jesus.” (2 Thessalonians 1:8, 9) People will be judged by their response to the good news. Hence, the preaching work must continue loud and clear right to the end. (Revelation 14:6, 7) Nothing should hinder this vital message from being brought to the people as frequently as possible. This places a great responsibility on all of Jehovah’s dedicated servants.
6. Though our message may be widely known, why do we need to keep on preaching?
6 True, we may already have preached the good news quite extensively in our area. But there are so many things happening in the world that even though many people have heard our message, they would soon forget it if we ceased preaching. Think of the revolutions, terrorist actions, strikes, scandals, and other events that are extensively publicized. Then there are the many forms of popular entertainment and other distractions. We must continue preaching to keep our message before the people despite all these other claims on their attention.
7. How is the reaction of many today similar to that of the Israelites to Isaiah’s prophesying, but why should this not deter us from preaching?
7 When many try to ignore us, we should remember what kind of people the prophet Isaiah had to preach to. Jehovah told him: “For it is a rebellious people, untruthful sons, sons who have been unwilling to hear the law of Jehovah; who have said to the ones seeing, ‘You must not see,’ and to the ones having visions, ‘You must not envision for us any straightforward things. Speak to us smooth things; envision deceptive things. Turn aside from the way; deviate from the path. Cause the Holy One of Israel to cease just on account of us.’” Nevertheless, Isaiah faithfully told the people: “Jehovah is a God of judgment. Happy are all those keeping in expectation of him.” (Isaiah 30:9-11, 18) We should do the same. As long as we persist, our message will penetrate to some degree. Some will take heed and others will not. But all will have the opportunity to hear.
‘How Will They Hear?’
8. Though people may appear to have taken their stand against the truth, what factors might change their minds?
8 Perhaps we feel that people in a certain territory have taken a definite stand and are determined to reject our message or even to oppose it. But remember, the situation in people’s lives is constantly changing. They may face new problems or situations tomorrow, next week, or next month that will make them receptive to the truth. They may hear of disturbing events in the world or perhaps suffer economic reverses, illness, or death in the family. Such things may cause them to wake up and want to learn the reason for their distress. If we keep on preaching, they will know where to turn.
9. How may our preaching work be compared to that of rescue workers in a disaster area?
9 Our situation might be compared to that of rescue workers in a disaster area, such as after an earthquake. Some might be working in an area where fewer survivors were found, but the fact that their fellow workers were finding more survivors in another area would not cause them to slack off and quit. Rather, all rescue workers tirelessly persevere even when they feel there may be no more survivors in their assigned section. And, then, sometimes they find yet another survivor. The search is called off only when the time that has passed reveals that there is no more hope. Well, our search has not yet been called off, and we are still finding thousands upon thousands who want to be rescued from this old world and survive “the great tribulation.” (Revelation 7:9, 14) Even in areas that have been worked thoroughly and where most people do not respond, there are still some results. And there are additional reasons for continuing to preach.
10. How only will people know where to turn if they want to seek the truth, according to Romans 10:13, 14?
10 People need to be continually reminded that “everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will be saved.” However, as Paul continues in his letter to the Romans, “how will they call on him in whom they have not put faith? How, in turn, will they put faith in him of whom they have not heard? How, in turn, will they hear without someone to preach?” (Romans 10:13, 14) These words should impress on each of us the need to persist in preaching the good news of God’s Kingdom.
11. What responsibility do we have toward young ones who are growing to adulthood?
11 As the time of the end has continued, children have been born and have grown up to adulthood or to an age of responsibility. Often these young people have not paid any attention to the truth. Their parents may have rejected the message and even spoken against it. But now these youths are old enough to think seriously for themselves about world conditions, about the future, and about their purpose in life. They too need to call on Jehovah’s name if they will be saved. But “how . . . will they put faith in him of whom they have not heard?” (Romans 10:14) In many cases these teenagers and young adults are responsive to the truth, so we need to search them out and preach to them.
12. How does our continuing with the preaching work constitute an expression of Jehovah’s mercy?
12 The fact that the way is still open for preaching is an expression of Jehovah’s mercy. The apostle Peter writes: “Jehovah is not slow respecting his promise, as some people consider slowness, but he is patient with you because he does not desire any to be destroyed but desires all to attain to repentance. Furthermore, consider the patience of our Lord as salvation.” (2 Peter 3:9, 15) Jehovah’s desire that all sorts of men be saved is expressed not only by his patiently allowing time before he executes judgment but also by his continually appealing to men to turn to him and get saved. (1 Timothy 2:4) As we continue to preach the good news, we highlight God’s mercy, and in this way we praise him.
13, 14. (a) How can our preaching work be compared with the work of a watchman, as mentioned in Ezekiel’s prophecy? (b) Why could Paul say that he was “clean from the blood of all men,” and how only can Jehovah’s Witnesses say this today?
13 The responsibility of Jehovah’s dedicated Witnesses to warn people of God’s coming judgment can be compared to that of Ezekiel in his time. He was designated a watchman to the house of Israel. His assignment was to warn the Israelites that execution was coming upon them if they did not turn away from their bad ways. If he as a watchman failed to sound the warning, execution would still come upon the wicked people, but their blood would be upon the head of the negligent watchman. In this Jehovah shows his attitude toward executing judgment: “I take delight, not in the death of the wicked one, but in that someone wicked turns back from his way and actually keeps living. Turn back, turn back from your bad ways, for why is it that you should die, O house of Israel?”—Ezekiel 33:1-11.
14 The apostle Paul acknowledged his responsibility as a watchman, stating to the elders from Ephesus: “Hence I call you to witness this very day that I am clean from the blood of all men.” Why could he say that? He continues: “For I have not held back from telling you all the counsel of God.” (Acts 20:26, 27) So it is with the watchman class today, the remnant of anointed followers of Jesus Christ. All of these, together with more than three million of their companions who have the hope of surviving the end of this system of things and receiving everlasting life on earth, must never slack off from preaching the good news of God’s Kingdom and warning of the coming execution of his judgment. In this way they avoid bloodguilt.
15. According to Ezekiel chapter 9, who was marked, and who did the marking?
15 The preaching work today is prophetically described in Ezekiel chapter 9. Here, Jehovah’s punishment was determined for the city of Jerusalem. Prior to the execution of that judgment, a man clothed with linen and with a secretary’s inkhorn at his hips is told to go through the city and put a mark on the foreheads of all those who are sighing over the detestable things being done there. When this marking work is completed, all in the city except those marked for survival would be executed. At the successful completion of his marking work, the man reported: “I have done just as you have commanded me.” (Ezekiel 9:11) He faithfully carried out his assignment to the finish.
16. (a) Whom does the man clothed with linen picture today? (b) How does the issue of the vindication of Jehovah’s sovereignty impel us to continue to preach?
16 The man clothed with linen pictures the anointed remnant of Christ’s followers, and they are joined by the “great crowd” of “other sheep.” The big issue today, as in Ezekiel’s time, is the vindication of Jehovah’s sovereignty. Concerning the end of this present wicked system of things at the war of the great day of God the Almighty, Jehovah says: “And the nations will have to know that I am Jehovah.” (Revelation 7:9; John 10:16; Ezekiel 39:7) For the nations to know this, it is imperative that Jehovah’s servants on earth continue preaching his name and purpose as a witness to all nations.
17, 18. (a) How does our continuing to preach help us to keep on the watch? (b) What report do all of us want to make to Jehovah when he brings the preaching work to its conclusion, and how only can we do this?
17 By keeping on preaching the good news of the Kingdom, we maintain our own vigilance. We keep aware of the importance of Jehovah’s name and purpose. If we slack off, our Kingdom hope could weaken, and we could be carried away by the “anxieties and riches and pleasures of this life . . . and bring nothing to perfection.” (Luke 8:14) By zealously persevering in declaring “the good news,” we faithfully follow the commands of our Master, Jesus Christ: “Keep looking, keep awake, for you do not know when the appointed time is. But what I say to you I say to all, Keep on the watch.”—Mark 13:10, 33, 37.
18 Let all of us, then, persist in seeking out ‘those who are sighing’ as long as Jehovah allows the time for it. May all of us, whether of the anointed remnant or of the “other sheep,” be faithful in carrying out our assignment to preach the good news of the Kingdom in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations. (Matthew 24:14) When Jehovah himself brings this work to its end by beginning “the great tribulation,” may each of us be able to say to Jehovah, ‘We have done just as you have commanded.’