DID THE 12 APOSTLES PREACH THE GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM AFTER CHRIST ASCENDED?
by Shawn Brasseaux
“Did the 12 preach the Gospel of the Kingdom after Christ ascended?”
Simply put, “Yes.” As always, we let the Holy Scriptures speak, and we give an eye to read, an ear to hear, and (most importantly) a heart to believe.
We begin in Matthew 10:5-8, the first part of the so-called “Great Commission:” “ These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not:  But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.  Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.” The Bible says in Matthew 4:17,23: “ From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.  And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.” Now, we compare the above passages with Mark 1:14-15: “ Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,  And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.”
The Bible could not be clearer that Jesus preached the Gospel of the Kingdom. He preached, “Repent, the kingdom of heaven (or, ‘the kingdom of God’) is at hand.” John the Baptist preached that same message: “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2). Paul affirmed, “When John had first preached before his [Jesus’] coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel” (Acts 13:24). John the Baptist, Jesus Christ, and the 12 Apostles preached water baptism and repentance as part of their salvation message.
Jesus said in famous Second Olivet Discourse, “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:14). The word “this” again affirms that Jesus preached the Gospel of the Kingdom. “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” is the Gospel of the Kingdom (Jesus’ coming being a fulfillment of Israel’s King coming). (The Gospel of the Kingdom, as Matthew chapter 24 says, will be preached again after our Dispensation of Grace.)
We will now look at Hebrews 2:3-5: “ How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;  God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?  For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak.”
Hebrews 2:3-5 says that the early Acts period (pre-Acts chapter 9) was a continuation of Christ’s earthly ministry. Whatever Jesus preached and did in the books of Matthew through John, the 12 Apostles were preaching it and doing it in early Acts. The Holy Spirit had come down (Acts chapter 2) and He was enabling Israel’s 12 apostles to do what Jesus Christ had done the three years prior during His earthly ministry. In Acts chapter 1, Jesus Christ had left Earth as a Royal Exile, ascended back to Heaven, gone to sit at the Father’s right hand, until His enemies were to be made His footstool (Psalm 110:1; Acts 2:31-36). To continue what Jesus started, the 12 apostles of Israel preached the Gospel of the Kingdom and performed various healing miracles!
The message that Peter and the 11 preached in early Acts was nearly the same message that John the Baptist and Jesus had preached during His earthly ministry. But, God had commissioned the 12 apostles of Israel to preach an advanced revelation—Israel had since crucified Messiah Jesus, He had since resurrected, and the Holy Spirit had come down from heaven. The crucifixion, the resurrection, and the coming of the Holy Spirit were the three advancements in the Kingdom message. Jesus Christ was still Israel’s Messiah-King, He was still coming to establish His earthly kingdom, and miraculous demonstrations proved it. That did not change in early Acts.
We read of this post-resurrection passage that transitions from the Four Gospels into the book of Acts, Luke chapter 24: “ And [Jesus] said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:  And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.  And ye are witnesses of these things.  And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.”
The 12 followed Jesus’ instructions in the book of Acts. Note what was preached in Jerusalem in Acts 2:38, in perfect accordance with Luke chapter 24: “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” And Acts 3:18-21, also preached in Jerusalem: “ But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled.  Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.  And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you:  Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.”
Whether it was John the Baptist or Jesus in the Four Gospels, or Peter and the 11 in the early book of Acts, they all preached repentance and water baptism to prepare Israel for her King and coming kingdom (Jesus being the King, Israel being a “kingdom of priests;” Exodus 19:5-6; 1 Peter 2:9). In stark contrast, Paul never preached such a message; Paul never offered Israel her kingdom. He never did it in the book of Acts and he never wrote about it in his epistles, Romans through Philemon. Paul never preached water baptism and repentance for salvation. He never did it in the book of Acts and he never wrote about it in his epistles, Romans through Philemon.
Calvary was not good news in the early Acts period (that is, prior to God’s revelation to Paul). The crucifixion was something preached as evil, something Israel had done to bring God’s wrath upon them (see Acts 2:22-36; Acts 3:12-26; Acts 4:9-12; Acts 5:27-32). It is only when we come to Paul’s ministry and message that God reveals that Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork is now the means whereby He will save Jews and Gentiles alike by simple faith in that crosswork. Peter and the 11 did not preach in early Acts, “Christ died for our sins.” Paul did preach that message, however (1 Corinthians 15:3, written during the book of Acts). Paul simply preached faith and faith alone in Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork as means for forgiveness, for salvation from sins, to receive the Holy Spirit, et cetera (Acts 13:38-39; Acts 16:30-31; Romans 1:16; Romans 3:22-28; Romans 4:1-8; Romans 4:24-25; 1 Corinthians 1:21; Ephesians 1:13-14; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5; et cetera)—Romans and Corinthians were written during Acts.