What is the gospel of the kingdom?

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When we speak of the gospel of the kingdom, or the good news of God's reign, it helps us to think about what early believers, for whom the Bible was the Septuagint — the Greek translation of the Old Testament — would have thought of. In Isaiah 52, God announces that he's going to restore his people, and he says, "How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who bring glad tidings, saying to Zion, 'Your God reigns!'" And it's said to be good new of peace. So it's good news of God's peace, it's good news of God's reign, it's good news that God is saving his people, that God is acting on behalf of his people to bring in righteousness and justice in the world. And there is a consummation that we look forward to with that. But we understand that a bit differently than many of Jesus' contemporaries did, because we also know that the kingdom comes in two stages, because the King who is yet to come and consummate his kingdom has already come; the Messiah has already come. The firstfruits of the resurrection, that we anticipate in the future, the firstfruits have already happened. So, because Jesus has already come, the kingdom is "already, not yet," and we already have a foretaste of God's activity in the world. In fact, the signs and the wonders that Jesus was doing. There's coming a day when there's going to be no more sorrow, there's going to be no more pain, God's going to heal everything, but, already, when Jesus came the first time, he gave us a sample of that, a foretaste as he was healing people and doing his marvelous works. They were a foretaste of something that we'll experience more fully in the kingdom in its fullness.

Answer by Dr. Craig S. Keener

Dr. Craig Keener teaches New Testament studies at Asbury Theological Seminary.