What did the Apostles preach?

As a Catholic, it’s important to know what “apostle preaching” means. Their words hold weight and authority and can help us understand our faith better.

The Lord Jesus summoned a group of disciples including Mark and Luke, not just twelve, but at least seventy. He sent them and entrusted them with preaching the kingdom, saying,

“The kingdom of heaven has gotten nigh”

(Matthew 10:7; Luke 10:1; Luke 10:2; Luke 10:3; Luke 10:4; Luke 10:5; Luke 10:6; Luke 10:7; Luke 10:8; Luke 10:9).

The Lord not only repeated and continued the preaching of the kingdom gospel, but He also commanded His followers to do likewise.

According to Luke, a man approached Jesus and said,

“Lord, let me first go and bury my father.”

“Let the dead bury their dead,”

the Lord said (Luke 9:59, Luke 9:60).

apostle preaching

The Lord appeared to say,

“Allow the dead to perform the dead things. To live, you must follow Me and proclaim God’s kingdom. Let the dead bury the dead, but the living must preach the kingdom gospel.”

The kingdom was preached by John the Baptist, the Lord Jesus proclaimed the kingdom, and all of His followers preached the kingdom. Even a little disciple like the one recorded in Luke was taught to proclaim the kingdom. This is fantastic!

The disciples undergo a tremendous transformation in the book of Acts. There would be no more questions, doubts, or bickering among themselves. They confidently preached to hundreds of people in the temple, defying religious authority and risking their lives because they were so committed to the gospel.

What transformed the fishermen become devout preachers? They were certain that Jesus was alive and had been granted the same power as Jesus—the Holy Spirit helped them comprehend and gave them confidence.

The Messiah had returned, and his message had come true: the time had arrived. God’s kingdom arrived! Turn to God and accept the good news!

They preached because Jesus instructed them too!

But what exactly did they preach?

The preaching of Peter

Strange noises sounded from heaven on the day of Pentecost. Strange objects began to materialize around the disciples. Strange words escaped their lips. What was going on, wondered Jews from throughout the empire. Peter rose to explain what was happening: Joel’s prophesy was being fulfilled (Acts 2:1; Acts 2:2; Acts 2:3; Acts 2:4; Acts 2:5; Acts 2:6; Acts 2:7; Acts 2:8; Acts 2:9; Acts 2:10; Acts 2:11; Acts 2:12; Acts 2:13; Acts 2:14; Acts 2:15; Acts 2:16; Acts 2:17; Acts 2:18; Acts 2:19; Acts 2:20).

A prophecy of Jesus was also being fulfilled. He had foretold that the Holy Spirit would descend on his followers, and it was taking place. Peter had been filled with the Holy Spirit, and he preached with authority.

What exactly was the apostle preaching? He spoke about Jesus:

Pay attention to what I have to say. Jesus of Nazareth, a man, testified to you by God with acts of power, marvels, and signs that God accomplished through him among you, as you know—this man, given over to you according to God’s clear plan and foreknowledge, you crucified and murdered by the hands of people who are not of the law. God, on the other hand, resurrected him from the dead.

“Therefore, let the whole house of Israel know with confidence that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you killed,”

Peter proceeded to teach about Jesus. He assured the people that their crimes would be forgiven if they repented.

In Chapter 3, Apostles Peter and John address another assembly, opening their sermon concerning Jesus. They argue that the Scriptures foretold the Messiah’s suffering and death and urged for repentance. They concluded the sermon by discussing Jesus. This trend repeats throughout the book of Acts.

The disciples did not entirely disregard God’s kingdom. It is referenced a few times, but Jesus is the primary subject of their preaching. The essential thing people needed to know about the kingdom was Jesus, namely that he is the Messiah (or Christ in Greek), that he has arrived, and that he has been raised to life.

3, saint paul preaching in thessaloniki, a fresco in the cathedral church of saint gregory palamas
3, Saint Paul preaching in Thessaloniki, a fresco in the Cathedral Church of Saint Gregory Palamas

Acts describe the kingdom.

Although evangelism is a key subject in the book of Acts, the term kingdom does not appear in any of the sermons. Acts only use it eight times. We’ll wait and see what the disciples say about the kingdom.

Although Jews believed in God’s kingdom and had Old Testament predictions concerning it, Apostle Paul disputed over it in the Ephesian synagogue for three months (Acts 19:8). His view of the kingdom must have differed greatly from that of the Ephesian Jews.

It’s no surprise! Paul’s message about the kingdom was accompanied by one about Jesus, grace, and trust. The apostolic messages were mostly focused on Jesus. The most crucial information that people needed to know was about Jesus.

That was also Jesus’ message. He taught the disciples about the kingdom for 40 days following his resurrection (Acts 1:3). What exactly did this entail? Luke describes what he discussed at the time.

“He expounded the facts about himself in all the scriptures”

on the way to Emmaus (Luke 24:27).

“These are my words that I said to you while I was still among you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled,”

he said later.

What exactly was written?

In a nutshell,

“the Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, starting with Jerusalem.”

st. paul preaching at athens
La Farge, John, 1835-1910; New York; Stokes, Isaac Newton Phelps, 1867-1944

This is the kingdom’s message: a message about the Messiah who suffers, dies, is raised, asks for repentance, and provides pardon.

We witness the disciples teaching about Jesus, his resurrection, repentance, faith, and redemption throughout the book of Acts. The message was well-received by many individuals. Others laughed, and others were enraged. People respond differently to Jesus.

But hold on!

How did a message about God’s kingdom become a message about the messenger?

Did the disciples make a mistake?

Certainly not!

They were moved to comprehend what Jesus was saying. Jesus had talked in parables, inspiring them to take the next step. They were also inspired to create the New Testament books, the first four completely about Jesus.

The Gospels, Acts, Epistles, and Revelation all center on Jesus. He is the focal point of the church’s message.

apostle preaching

Jesus discusses himself.

The Jewish elders despised Jesus for making such audacious claims about himself. They could put up with a discussion about the kingdom, but they were enraged when Jesus spoke about himself.

He spoke as if he were the world’s Judge (Matthew 10:32; Matthew 7:21; Matthew 7:22; Matthew 7:23) as if everyone had to follow him as they did God.

He claimed to have the power to pardon sins. Anyone may pardon crimes committed against oneself, but Jesus claimed to be able to forgive sins committed against God.

He claimed to be able to predict what the Holy Spirit would accomplish. He promised everlasting benefits.

Jesus claimed to know how towns would fare in the judgment (Matthew 12:41; Matthew 12:42; Matthew 11:20; Matthew 11:21; Matthew 11:22; Matthew 11:23; Matthew 11:24) and declared rejecting him was worse than committing Sodom’s crimes.

He claimed to be more knowledgeable about God than anybody else, to be more significant than God’s temple, and to have power over the Sabbath.

People were enraged when Jesus preached about himself. He made certain that his followers recognized him (Matthew 16:13; Matthew 16:14; Matthew 16:15; Matthew 16:17), and he promised them celestial rewards.

He said that self-dedication was more vital than life itself. He said that he would return in God’s splendor. He delegated immense power to his pupils.

This implies that he had considerably more power. He claims to have complete authority and control everywhere.

He claimed to be the judge of all mankind, with the authority to appoint his followers as judges over all of Israel (Matthew 19:28, Matthew 25:31, Matthew 25:32, Matthew 25:33, Matthew 25:34).

He is the one who has the authority to admit or reject people from God’s kingdom.

Jesus declared that his life would be used to ransom everyone else (Matthew 20:28) as if he were more valuable than everyone else.

He said his blood would establish a new covenant between God and mankind.

He repeated a psalm about God as if it were about him.

He claimed to have the ability to send angels all across the planet.

He claimed that his utterances were both infallible and immortal.

apostle preaching

Is this good news—or blasphemy?

These assertions were considered blasphemous by Jewish authorities. They realized how extraordinary Jesus claimed to be.

The authenticity of his message was determined by who he was. He was God if what he stated was true. They were unable to accept it.

Similar teachings may be found in the Gospels of Mark and Luke: Jesus claimed to be someone very significant, the focal point of prophecy, and the key to everyone’s eternal destiny.

We cannot enter God’s kingdom until we accept Jesus as King. One cannot exist without the other. The kingdom’s good news is that Jesus himself has come.

Jesus demonstrated that God accepted people into his kingdom via his deeds and words. He had forgiven them, embraced them, and invited them. It was encouraging news for sinners.

Jesus came not to invite the “nice” people but the sinners. They are the ones who are aware that they need assistance.

People who felt they could earn their way into the kingdom, on the other hand, were offended by the message. Their religious beliefs were opposed to those of Jesus.

Wasn’t religion a method of keeping people in line?

Wasn’t a threat of punishment required in a law-abiding society?

Jesus was disrupting the way the world operated.

They considered Jesus to be a blasphemer. He was handling Moses’ commandment much too carelessly. He must be one of the false prophets condemned by Moses (Deuteronomy 13:1, Deuteronomy 13:2, Deuteronomy 13:3, Deuteronomy 13:4, Deuteronomy 13:5).

They were certainly right in arranging for his killing. Losing one man was preferable to dragging the whole country into a conflict with Rome (John 11:49).

They believed they had a choice: murder a blasphemer or face Roman punishment. The decision was self-evident.

They did not know this was part of God’s plan for the kingdom. The Messiah had to die to atone for their crimes, provide forgiveness, and make the good kingdom news of salvation rather than terrible news of punishment. One guy has to die for the others to be rescued.

What a gentleman!

God sent man to be the Lamb of Salvation (John 1:29), so those who trust in him are God’s offspring, born of God. We are King’s children because we believe in Jesus Christ.

Jesus is the Savior, the Messiah, the bread of life, the point of entrance into salvation, the light of the world, the shepherd of God’s people, the resurrection and life, the way and the truth (John 6:35; John 8:12; John 10:7; John 11:25; John 14:6).

preaching of st. john the baptist
Preaching of St. John the Baptist
Domenico Ghirlandaio

We have everlasting life if we believe in him and entrust our destiny to him, which is another way of stating we belong to God’s kingdom (John 3:35).

Jesus can provide everlasting life, judge the world, and be worshipped in the same manner God is honored (John 5:21; John 5:22; John 5:23; John 5:24).

Jesus possessed everlasting life and will bring others back to life as well as himself. He was identical to God. He claimed to be everlasting and received adoration.

To enter God’s kingdom, we must believe in Jesus. To comprehend God’s kingdom, we must first comprehend Jesus.

To teach about God’s kingdom, we must first preach about Jesus since there would be no good news without him.

The kingdom is only good news if we have hope of getting in, and Jesus provides us with more than hope—he provides us with confidence and certainty.

We realize the ultimate cost has been paid. We know we are God’s children because of our confidence in him—and when we are in the royal family, we know we are in God’s kingdom.

We will only view the kingdom as wonderful if we are a member of it—and as part of his good news, Jesus discussed how people join in.

That is the most crucial information we need.

God will take care of where, when, and what it will be like. We could want to know such things, but we don’t have to. What we need to know is how we can become involved.

We can be certain that the kingdom will be really good—but we also want to be certain that we are a part of it, and the only way to be certain is via Jesus.

The good news about the kingdom is that Jesus provides a method for us to participate in it.

The moment had come when Jesus came preaching about the kingdom.

The kingdom was close at hand. Jesus desired that people believe it and enter it.

So he explained it to them.

apostle preaching

Getting inside the kingdom

“The tax collectors and prostitutes will enter God’s kingdom before you,”

Jesus informed the priests and elders (Matthew 21:31).

How were they going to get in?

By obeying God and trusting Jesus’ teachings about righteousness and repentance.

Repentance and faith in the gospel are required for entry into the kingdom.

“Receive the kingdom,”

Jesus said (Luke 18:17). He mentioned how difficult it was for wealthy people to enter the kingdom.

“Then who can be saved?”

the disciples inquired. Several expressions are employed here to mean the same: accept the kingdom, enter the kingdom, and be rescued. There are several ways of saying the same phrase.

Jesus did not go into great detail concerning the coming reign. Rather, Jesus spoke about how his kingdom’s residents should live and think in this period.

He explained how our faults are forgiven. He exhorted us to repentance and faith in the gospel. His followers conveyed the same message (Luke 9:6; Mark 6:12).

The kingdom of God arrives, Jesus said. It all starts right now. God will ensure that the kingdom has enormous splendor in the future. There will be fantastic future benefits, but Jesus asks,

“Are we ready to live in the kingdom right now?”

The kingdom is now little (Matthew 13:31; Matthew 13:32; Matthew 13:33). Currently, the kingdom has both good and negative elements.

The kingdom is awaiting expansion (Mark 4:26; Mark 4:27; Mark 4:28; Mark 4:29).

The kingdom will eventually gain strength, but for the time being, it is small. The good news is that we can participate.

Some Pharisees inquired of Jesus when the kingdom would arrive (Luke 17:20). He said that the kingdom was already there in their midst. But they couldn’t see it yet. Everyone will ultimately see the kingdom, but first, the King must suffer and die.

“If I drive out demons by the Spirit of God,”

Jesus informed the Pharisees,

“then the kingdom of God has arrived for you” (Matthew 12:28; Luke 11:20).

He said the kingdom had arrived, and the evidence was in power. God’s kingdom is showing its dominance over Satan’s control, and this evidence is still being shown in the church today.

The kingdom may be seen in the ministry of Jesus just as it can be seen in the ministry of his church. Jesus foretold that his disciples would do even bigger miracles than he did (John 14:12). The kingdom is expanding.

The kingdom of God has arrived, Jesus said. People did not need to wait for a victorious Messiah because God is already governing, and we are now turning our hearts toward him.

The news from the kingdom necessitates a choice.

It’s a rallying cry.

We don’t have to wait; some things need to be done now.

The good news about the kingdom isn’t just that it’s close—we can be a part of it.

If we miss out, our proximity is not good news! Our sins would disqualify us, but Jesus has forgiven us. We may put our faith in Jesus and turn toward God.

jesus preaching bassrelief
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