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The Four-fold Gospel by J. W. McGarvey

XXVII. General Account of Jesus' Teaching.

^A Matt. IV.17; ^B Mark I.14, 15; ^C Luke IV.14, 15.

^a 17 From that time Jesus began to preach [The time here indicated is that of John the Baptist's imprisonment and Jesus' return to Galilee. This time marked a new period in the public ministry of Jesus. Hitherto he had taught, but he now began to preach. When the voice of his messenger, John, was silenced, the King became his own herald. Paul quoted the Greeks as saying that preaching was |foolishness,| but following the example here set by Christ, he used it as the appointed means for saving souls. While Matthew gives us many of the earlier incidents of Christ's life, he enters upon the account of his ministry at the time when Jesus returned to Galilee. From that time forward he was probably an eye-witness of the events which he records], ^b preaching the gospel of God, 15 And saying, { ^a and to say,} Repent ye; for ^b the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God { ^a of Heaven} ^b is at hand. [Jesus preached the gospel or good news of his own advent and of the setting up of the unending kingdom which should convert the world to righteousness and save the souls of men. We should note that Jesus himself declares that the prophesied time for the setting up of his kingdom was at hand. There were many general prophecies as to this kingdom, but one which especially fixed the time of its coming; viz.: Dan. ix.24-27. This prophecy tells of seventy weeks in which each day is reckoned as a year, so that the seventy weeks equal four hundred and ninety years. They are to be counted from the date of the decree which ordered the rebuilding of Jerusalem. The Messiah, or Prince, was to come at the beginning of the seventieth week, or four hundred and eighty-three years from the date of the decree. Some take the decree referred to as to be that mentioned in Nehemiah ii. Jahn and Hales fix the date of this decree in the year 444 b.c. According to this, Jesus would have begun his ministry in the year a.d.39. Others take the decree to be mentioned in Ezra vii., which was thirteen years earlier, and which would bring the beginning of the ministry of Jesus to the year a.d.26. But there is much uncertainty about all ancient chronology. Suffice it to say that Daniel told in round numbers how long it would be until Messiah should come, and that Jesus said that this time had been fulfilled. It would have been easy to ascertain the correct chronology at the time when Jesus spoke, and we have no record that any presumed to dispute his statement. Jesus announced the coming of a new dispensation. The King had already come, but the kingdom in its organization and administration was as yet only |at hand.| Until the crucifixion of Christ and the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost the kingdom could not be fully organized, for the blood shed upon the cross furnished the means for purification which precedes a proper entrance into the kingdom, and the coming of the Holy Spirit afforded that indwelling strength by which those entering are enabled to abide therein]: repent ye, and believe in the gospel. [That is, prepare for the kingdom by repenting of sin, and by believing the glad news that the kingdom was approaching, for the King had come (John i.49). The preaching of Jesus at this time did not differ materially from that of John the Baptist, for John preached repentance and the approaching kingdom ( Matt. iii.2), and the gospel (Luke iii.18), and belief in the King (John i.29, 36; iii.36). The fact that repentance comes before belief in this passage is by some taken as an indication that repentance precedes faith in the process of conversion, but it should be remembered that the preaching here is addressed to the Jewish people, who already believed in God, and in the Scripture as the revelation of God. They were, therefore, required to bring forth fruit worthy of the old faith and the old revelation as preparatory to their reception of the new faith and the new revelation. Thus repentance and faith appears to be the established order for Hebrews (Heb. vi.1), and their proselytes (Acts xx.21), because of the spiritual standpoint or condition in which the gospel found them. But those who have no faith in God can surely have no repentance toward him, for belief precedes every call upon God, whether for mercy, pardon, or any other blessing -- Rom. x.13, 14], ^c and a fame went out concerning him through all the region round about. [The miracles of Jesus and the manner in which he taught caused the people to glorify his name.] 15 And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all. [If we may trust later tradition (and the New Testament corroborates it), synagogues were very plentiful in that day, there being at least one in each town. In the synagogue the people met on Sabbath and feast days. The temple at Jerusalem was used for ceremonial worship, but the services in the synagogue were of far different order, the study and application of the Scripture being the principal feature.]

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