this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a witness
to all the nations, and then the end shall come." - Matthew 24:14
As our Lord' s
discourse approaches the mid-point of the seven-year tribulation, verse 14
raises a number of interpretive issues.
What exactly is meant by " the gospel of the kingdom?" Is this proclamation still a future
event? What does " a witness to all
nations" mean? What is meant by
" then the end shall come?"
The Gospel of the
Simply put, some
believe that " gospel of the kingdom" is the gospel
or the message about forgiveness of sins through faith in Christ, as preached
in the New Testament epistles.
Others, like myself, believe that it is more of a technical term that
describes the coming of Christ' s kingdom, which we know as the millennium.
The Greek word
" gospel" is a compound word made up of " good" and " message." " It meant originally the reward given
to the messenger, but came to be used for the good news he brought."  The word by itself simply means " good
news." Good news about what? Well that depends upon what is being
talked about. Here the phrase
would mean good news about the kingdom. Dr. J. Dwight Pentecost explains:
During the time that the
politico-religious system of the beast is in absolute control, the gospel of
the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world (Matt. 24:14). The gospel of the kingdom was preached by
both Jesus and John (Matt. 3:2; 4:17).
This was the announcement of the good news that the kingdom was
near. This message had both a
soteriological and an eschatological emphasis. . . . The gospel of the kingdom as preached in Tribulation will
have two emphases. On the one hand
it will announce the good news that Messiah' s advent is near, at which time He
will introduce the messianic age of blessing. On the other hand it will also offer men salvation by grace
through faith based upon the blood of Christ.
" kingdom" is used 51 times in Matthew.
It is a major theme in Matthew' s Jewish gospel. Dr. Stan Toussaint has done an
exhaustive study of how " kingdom" is used in Matthew and has concluded as follows: " Every time the term kingdom is used theologically in Matthew it refers to the
same thing, the kingdom yet to come on this earth inaugurated and governed by
the Messiah."  Specifically Dr. Toussaint has the
following comments on Matthew 24:14:
What is this " gospel of the
kingdom?" It must be the same good
news as was described in 3:2; 4:17, 23; and 9:35. Entrance into the coming kingdom was based on repentance;
that was and is the gospel of the kingdom. In the context, however, it would also portray the nearness
of the kingdom during the Tribulation period.
There are three
basic views of when this passage will be fulfilled. They are past, present and future. Of course, preterist believe that it was fulfilled by a.d. 70. Historicists believe that this passage relates to the
fulfillment of the Great Commission during our current church age. Futurists believe that it will be
fulfilled during the seven-years of the tribulation.
" Matthew 24:14
clearly shows that the gospel would be preached throughout the Roman Empire
before Jesus returned in judgment upon Jerusalem," 
insists preterist Gary DeMar. He
word translated " world" in 24:14 is the Greek word oikoumene . . .
It is best translated as " inhabited earth," " known world," or the " Roman
Empire" (Acts 11:28; 17:6). . . . This translation helps us understand that
Jesus was saying the gospel would be preached throughout the Roman Empire
before He would return in judgment upon Jerusalem. In fact, this is exactly what happened, and that is what the
Bible says happened.
This passage has
not been fulfilled in the past,
as I shall show later. This is
primarily true because the context of Matthew 24 is futuristic, as I have been
demonstrating throughout the exposition of Matthew 24.
takes Matthew 24:14 as fulfillment of the Great Commission during our present
church age. A. Lukyn Williams
says, " So in the present age we are not to expect more than that Christian
missions shall reach the uttermost parts of the earth, and that all nations
shall have the offer of salvation, before the final appearance of Christ. The success of these efforts at
universal evangelization is a mournful problem."  This verse is often used at missions
conferences as a motivation for becoming a missionary. The Great Commission is sufficient,
because this passage relates to evangelism during the tribulation, not for our
current church age.
I believe that
this passage will be fulfilled in the future, not during the current church
age, but during the tribulation.
Basically, this is true because the context supports a future
fulfillment, since Christ' s discourse has not yet been fulfilled.
The Meaning of World
While it is true
that " world" oikoumenÉ is used
in the New Testament to refer to " the Roman Empire of the first century," its
basic meaning is that of " the inhabited earth."  This compound word contains the prefix
from oikos that means " house,"
thus the " inhabited" or " lived-in" part of the world. The inhabited world could refer to the Roman Empire if
supported by the context (for example Luke 2:1) since Roman arrogance thought
that nothing of significance existed outside of their realm. However, this word was earlier " used of
the Greek cultural world." 
Since the core
meaning of oikoumenÉ is
" inhabited world," then the scope of its meaning has multiple possibilities
depending upon the referent. If
the contextual referent is Roman, then it will mean the Roman Empire as in Luke
2:1. However, if its referent is
global, then it must include the entire world as in Acts 17:31, which says, " He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in
righteousness." Surely this
speaks of the whole globe since not a single individual will escape God' s
judgment. Clearly oikoumenÉ can be used globally, even though it may have a
more restricted use. The deciding
factor is the context. Thus, if
Matthew 24:24 was fulfilled in a.d.
70 then it would have a localized meaning as noted by DeMar. However, if it will be fulfilled in the
future, then it has the meaning of the entire inhabited world at some future
date, which would clearly include much more than the old Roman Empire.
I believe that
Revelation 14:6-7 is a parallel passage to Matthew 24:14. Both speak of global evangelization
during the seven-year tribulation, leading up to the second coming of Christ to
planet earth. John MacArthur says,
before the bowl judgments are poured out and the final great holocaust begins,
and just before the increasingly rapid birth pains issue in the kingdom, God
will supernaturally present the gospel to every person on earth. He will send an angel with " an eternal
gospel to preach to those who live on the earth, and to every nation and tribe
and tongue and people," saying, " Fear God, and give Him glory, because the hour
of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and
sea and springs of waters" (Rev. 14:6-7).
both passages are mentioned around the middle of the tribulation. This will likely occur at that time
because it is at the mid-point of the seven years that the beast will require
the number- six hundred, sixty-six- on either the right hand or forehead of every
human being in order to buy or sell (Rev. 13:16-18). Thus, it is important to know that the witness of the gospel
is given to every individual in which they are given the opportunity to trust
Christ before they take the number.
In addition to that, the third angel announces to each individual in the
world that there are consequences to taking the number of the beast. " If anyone
worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or upon
his hand, he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is
mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with
fire and brimstone . . . forever and ever" (Rev. 14:9-11).
It appears that
the tribulation period will be the greatest time of evangelization the world
will ever see. There will be normal
evangelism, like that which we have today. Then there will be the evangelism of the 144,000 Jewish
witnesses (Rev. 7:3-10; 14:1-5), the two witnesses (Rev. 11:3-13), and the
angelic evangelism already mentioned.
David Cooper explains: " The
purpose of preaching the gospel during the Great Tribulation is twofold: first, to give all honest-hearted
truth-seekers an opportunity of accepting the Lord Jesus Christ and salvation
through Him; secondly, to prepare for judgment those who will not receive a
love of the truth in order that God might be just in bringing upon them the
terrific plagues foretold in Revelation." 
Then The End Shall Come
said, " for these things must take place, but that is not yet the end" (Matt.
24:6). Now He says, that after the
successful preaching of the gospel of the kingdom to the entire planet, " then
the end shall come." " In the
background is the OT motif of the nations' end-time conversion to Yahweh (Cf.
Isa. 2:2-4; 45:20-22; 49:6; 55:5; 56:6-8; Mic. 4:1-3). Here that conversion heralds the end."  The end spoken of here is not the end
of the end. It means the end of
the age of the tribulation through the second coming of Christ (Matt.
24:27-31). The final end will
occur one thousand years later as the millennial kingdom of Christ comes to its
24:14 is a future event, then the gospel will be preached across the globe as
described in Revelation 14:6-7.
Both passages are set in contexts that tell us that this global
evangelization will take place just before the middle of the seven-year
tribulation. Craig Kenner says,
" Jesus' claim in 24:14 does not imply that all peoples will be converted, but
that the kingdom will not come in its fullness until all peoples have had the
opportunity to embrace or reject the King who will be their judge (25:31- 32)."  This passage was no more fulfilled
during the nativity of the church than was the Great Commission. The prophecy of Matthew 24:14, like all
of those in that context, awaits a future fulfilment, specifically during the
future tribulation. Maranatha!
Continued . . .)
 Leon Morris, The Gospel According to Matthew (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1992), f. n., 67, p. 88.
 The exact phrase, " gospel of the kingdom," is
only found in Matthew' s Gospel in the entire New Testament (4:23; 9:35; 24:14).
 J. Dwight Pentecost, The Words and Works of
Jesus Christ: A Study of the Life
of Christ (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1981), pp. 400-01.
 Stanley D. Toussaint, " The Kingdom and Matthew' s
Gospel," in Stanley D. Toussaint & Charles H. Dyer, Essays in Honor of
J. Dwight Pentecost
(Chicago: Moody Press, 1986), pp.
 Toussaint, " The Kingdom and Matthew' s Gospel," p.
 Gary DeMar, Last Days Madness: Obsession of the Modern Church (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision, 1999), p. 88.
 Gary DeMar, End Times Fiction: A Biblical Consideration of the Left
Behind Theology (Nashville: Nelson, 2001), pp. 82-83.
 I have dealt more extensively with this matter in
Thomas Ice, " The Global Proclamation of the Gospel," Pre-Trib Perspectives (March 2002), pp. 4- 5.
 A. Lukyn Williams, " St. Matthew" in H. D. M.
Spence and Joseph S. Exell, ed., The Pulpit Commentary, 23 vols, (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1974), vol.
15, p. 434.
William F. Arndt and F. W. Gingrich, A
Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Chicago: University of
Chicago Press, 1957), p. 563.
 Horst Balz & Gerhard Schneider, editors, Exegetical
Dictionary of the New Testament,
3 vols. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans,
1991), vol. 2, p. 503.
 John MacArthur, The New Testament
Commentary: Matthew 24- 28 (Chicago:
Moody Press, 1989), p. 29.
 David L. Cooper, Future Events Revealed: According to Matthew 24 and 25 (Los Angeles: David L. Cooper Publishing, 1935), p. 63.
 W. D. Davies and Dale C. Allison, Jr., A
Critical and Exegetical Commentary on The Gospel According to Saint Matthew, 3 vols. (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1997), vol. 3, p. 344.
 Craig S. Kenner, A Commentary on the Gospel of
Matthew (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999), p. 572.