Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory. 1 Timothy 3:16 (ESV)
It was Pentecost. About 120 persons including Jesus’ disciples were gathered in an upper room in Jerusalem awaiting an outpouring of power that would change the world. Jesus had told them, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8 ESV) It did not take long for his words to come to pass.
Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” (Acts 2:5-11 ESV)
Included in this “mystery of godliness” (God’s great gospel scheme and the great confession of the church) is the proclamation that a Savior has come into the world. He died to pay the debt of sin and rose from the dead. And to all who repent and believe on him for the forgiveness of sins there is eternal life. This proclamation was not to be relegated to Jews only, but to all the Gentile nations as well (Luke 2:32).
After Pentecost the apostles continue to proclaim the gospel of Christ to the Jews in Jerusalem. When persecution arose following the martyrdom of Stephen, many believers were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria and proclaimed the gospel to mainly Jews (Acts 8:1, 19). Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word. Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ. (Acts 8:4-5 ESV)
Later, a Pharisee named Saul, also known as Paul, became the primary herald of the gospel to the Gentiles (Galatians 2:2). However, before Paul began his missionary journeys, Philip and Peter were given the opportunity to proclaim Christ to the Gentiles (Acts 8:26-39; 10:34-43). It was in fact part of the great mystery that, “the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” (Ephesians 3:6 ESV)
Jesus shed his blood to ransom a people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation (Revelation 5:9), and then left a command, which his disciples took seriously, to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28-19-20). God’s plan even today is that the gospel of the kingdom be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony among the nations and then the end will come (Matthew 24:14).
Are you a herald for the gospel of Jesus Christ?
Scriptures for meditation:
2 Corinthians 4:5
1 Peter 2:9