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Elpis Israel
by Dr. John Thomas

This is in effect the language of the religious leaders of the world, and of those who surrender their understandings to the traditions with which they make of none effect the "word of the kingdom of God".

But these traditions are sheer nonsense, and without the least foundation in the scriptures.

They belong to a dark and foolish generation, and find their origin in the speculations of men of corrupt minds and reprobate concerning the faith.

When the apostles preached on the day of Pentecost, they announced that God had raised up Jesus to sit upon the throne of David.

In the porch of the temple, they told the Jews that God would send Jesus Christ to them at the time of the restitution.

When Philip preached the word concerning Christ to the Samaritans, he announced "the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ".

In the convention of the apostles and elders, James invited their attention to Peter's narrative and the prediction of Amos.

He stated that the work to be done was to take out of the nations a people for the name of God, as it is written, "After this I will return, and raise up the dwelling place of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old: that they may possess the remnant of Edom, and all the heathen which are called by my name.

And I will bring again the captivity of my people Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them.

And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land Which I have given them, saith the Lord".

In Athens, Paul announced that God intended to rule the world in righteousness by Jesus Christ; and that He had raised him from the dead as an assurance of its verity.

In the Ephesian synagogue he disputed for three months, persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God.

Paul stood at the bar of Agrippa, and was judged "for the hope of the promise made of God unto the fathers; unto which promise the twelve tribes of Israel, instantly serving God, day and night, hope to come," Hence, he preached the hope of Israel's twelve tribes, as set forth in Amos, and all the prophets; and directed their attention to Jesus as the personage whom God had raised up to accomplish their desire.

Indeed, he told the Jews at Rome plainly, that he was a prisoner in chains on account of the hope of Israel; and in illustration of it, "he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, both out of the law of Moses and the prophets, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ".

According to the law and the testimony he spoke, diffusing the light of the glorious gospel of the blessed God, for two whole years in Rome, "the great city which reigns over the kings of the earth".

To understand the relations of things, it must be known that the gospel stands related to Abraham's descendants before the preaching of John the Baptist; to Israel from John to the day of Pentecost; from this epoch until the calling of the Gentiles; and then to the Gentiles at large.

"The law and the prophets were until John, then the kingdom of God was proclaimed" to Israel by John, Jesus, the seventy, and the twelve.

There was "a mystery," however, connected with the gospel which was not manifested in the proclamation of it before the day of Pentecost.

The people were taught in parables, but the apostles were favoured with an interpretation of them in private; for, said Jesus to them, "To you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God, but to them it is not given".

Referring to this, Paul says, "My gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, but now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets made known to all nations for the obedience of faith".

"Pray for me," says he, "that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in bonds".

Again, "By revelation God hath made known unto me, Paul, the mystery, which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto the holy apostles and prophets by the spirit; that the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel To me was given to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which, from the beginning of the world (apo; tw`n aijwvnwn) hath been hid in God, who created all things: to the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in the high places might be made known through the church the multifarious wisdom of God".

From these writings we learn that the gospel of the kingdom of God is a phrase which embraces the whole subject; and that the mystery of the kingdom, and the fellowship of the mystery, are things pertaining to the gospel of the kingdom in a special sense, but unknown until revealed to the apostles.