Theology Club: The Future is Open

Jerry Shugart

Well-known member
Here we can see that at the time when John the Baptist began His ministry it was said that the kingdom was "at hand":

"In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand (eggizō)"

The meaning of the Greek word eggizō as it is used here is "of time, with reference to things that are imminent, as the kingdom of heaven, Mat 3:2; 4:17; 10:7" (Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words).

Why would it be said that the kingdom was imminent? It is because, according to the normal course of the prophecies regarding the King and the kingdom, the earthly kingdom would be ushered in at the arrival of the King:

"Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth"

However, due to the fact that the nation of Israel rejected their promised Messiah the kingdom, which was previously described as being "imminent," was no longer considered as being imminent. The Lord Jesus said that the kingdom would only now be considered as being imminent when He returned to the earth:

"And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees; When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand. So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand (eggys)"

Here the Greek word translated "nigh at hand" means "of Time; Concerning things imminent and soon to come to pass" (Thayer's Greek English Lexicon).

So we can understand that it was not set in stone that the kingdom was imminent at the time of the John the Baptist because that imminency was based on the idea that the nation of Israel would recognize their Messiah. Here Paul reveals that the rejection of Christ by that nation was a "mystery," or something which was not revealed in the OT:

"For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob"

From this we can understand that the time of the bringing in of the kingdom was based entirely on the behavior of the nation of Israel so the time when the kingdom will be brought in was never set in stone!

The future concerning when the kingdom will be ushered in remained open at the time of Pentecost, as witnessed by the Apostle Peter's words here addressed to the nation of Israel:

"Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, that the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you" (Acts 3:19-20).

If the nation would have repented then the Lord Jesus would be sent back to the earth and then when this will happen then the kingdom will, at that time, be imminent once again.

Therefore, it is a simple thing to understand that the things concerning the time of the setting up of the kingdom on the earth was not set in stone and instead depended on the behavior of the nation of Israel.
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