Arrest, Proclamation, Fulfillment

Shores of Galilee - Photo by Robert Bye on Unsplash
Jesus only began to proclaim the Kingdom of God after the arrest of John the Baptist, which was indicative of the opposition that would characterize his own ministry. At the time, the region of Palestine consisted of three territories - Judea, Samaria, and Galilee. The latter was the largest and covered most of northern Palestine. Galilee had a mixed population of Jews and Gentiles - [
Shores of Galilee - Photo by Robert Bye on Unsplash].

Unlike John, Jesus began his very public ministry in the villages of Galilee; and unlike the prophets of Ancient Israel, his Messiah did NOT begin or center in the city of Jerusalem or the Temple - (Matthew 4:13).

Though unsure of who he was, many men and women responded enthusiastically and flocked to hear Jesus. In contrast, from the very start, the religious leaders sent from Jerusalem were offended by his teachings, methods, and deeds.
  • (Mark 1:14-15) - "And after John was delivered up, Jesus came into Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God and saying, The season is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has drawn near. Repent and have faith in the gospel.”
Jesus was not a Pharisee or Scribe, and he did not belong to the priestly class. He had no connection to the Temple, and no rabbinical training. Nonetheless, he entered synagogues outside Jerusalem to proclaim the kingdom of God, and in doing so, he astounded all who heard him. “For he taught them as having authority, and not as the scribes.”

On his own initiative, he called disciples to leave home and livelihood to follow him. Jesus had authority over demons and diseases, and He had the authority not only to heal lepers, but to touch them without contracting ritual impurity - (Mark 1:16-45).

The gospel of Mark stresses how Jesus announced the “good news” of the Kingdom. The time to repent and believe the gospel had arrived, the “kingdom of God was at hand.” While Mark does not define the “kingdom” at this point, the phrase summarizes the teachings of Jesus.

The ministry of the Messiah began only after the arrest of John by Herod Antipas, one of the sons of Herod the Great. He was half-Samaritan and half Idumean and had no Jewish blood. His wife, Herodias, was previously married to his brother, Philip. She was also the daughter of another half-brother and son of Herod the Great named Aristobulus. This made Herodias both his wife and niece, compounding his violations of the Mosaic Law. According to Luke, John was arrested for criticizing Herod over his unlawful marriage - (Luke 3:19-20).

In Matthew, Jesus departed for Galilee after the arrest of John, but not to escape Herod’s jurisdiction, for Galilee was part of his domain. The text states only that he went to proclaim the gospel:
  • (Matthew 4:12-17) – “And hearing that John had been delivered up, he retired into Galilee; and forsaking Nazareth, he came and fixed his dwelling in Capernaum, which was by the lake within the bounds of Zebulun and Naphtali: that it might be fulfilled, which was spoken through Isaiah the prophet, saying, Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the lake-way across the Jordan, Galilee of the nations, The people that was sitting in darkness, a great light beheld, and on them who were sitting in land and shade of death, Light rose on them. From that time began Jesus to make proclamation, and saying, Repent, for the kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.”
In the gospel of Mark, the Greek verb rendered “handed over” is theologically-loaded - (paradidōmi – Strong’s #3860). Repeatedly, it is used for the “handing over” of the faithful to abuse by religious and governmental authorities.

At least ten times in Mark, Jesus warned that he would be “handed over” to Temple and Gentile authorities for trial and execution. Likewise, John was “handed over” for arrest, but, paradoxically, this was in accordance with the plan of God - (Mark 9:31, 10:33).
By coordinating the start of the mission of Christ with the arrest of John, Mark indicates his public ministry did not begin until the ministry of John had ended. The preparatory work of the Baptist was finished; therefore, the work of the Coming One began.

The historical context of John’s arrest meant that the gospel began in adversity. John withdrew to the wilderness to administer a baptism of repentance. In contrast, Jesus traveled to the populous territory of Galilee to proclaim the “good news” to all who would hear.

Jesus pronounced the “appointed time” fulfilled. This rendering represents the Greek term Kairos, or “season, time, the opportune time, appointed time” (Strong’s - #G2540). The verb rendered “fulfilled” is in the perfect tense to signify completed action. His announcement echoes a passage from the book of Daniel:
  • (Daniel 12:4-9) – “Close up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end… And I heard but could not understand, so I said, O my lord, what shall be the issue of these things? Then said he, Go your way, Daniel; for closed up and sealed are the words, until the time of the end.
A key theme in Daniel is the promise of a future kingdom, the time when the saints would be vindicated and possess the kingdom – (Daniel 2:44-45, Daniel 7:13-14, 7:27).

According to Jesus, the kingdom was now “at hand,” translating the Greek verb engizō, “to approach, draw near” - (Strong’s - #G1448). That is, something at handimminent. The promised kingdom had arrived in the person and ministry of Jesus, which is why his proclamation was “good news.”

The “kingdom of God” means the rule of God, and something beyond just geographical jurisdiction. The Greek word rendered “kingdom” can be translated “dominion,” “realm,” or “reign”; in short, the dominion or reign of God.

How should individuals respond to the proclamation of the Kingdom? First, Jesus called men and women to “repent.” Second, he summoned all to “believe” the good news. Like John the Baptist, he proclaimed the imminence of the “kingdom.” Its approach necessitated repentance and faith.

The approach of the kingdom was “good news” for some, but a sign of impending doom for others. A person’s destiny depended on his or her response to the gospel. To inherit the kingdom required faith and repentance. “Repentance” is a turning away from something. “Belief” is what one turns to – faith in the Gospel.




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