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And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world (oikoumene) for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.


Matthew 24:14
and oikoumene

  • Acts 2:5 “Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven.”
  • Colossians 1:5-6 “For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit”
  • Colossians 1:23 “This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.”
  • Romans 1:8 “I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. “
  • Romans 10:18 “Their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the end of the world “
  • 1Timothy 3:16 “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.”
  • Romans 15:19 “Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.”

Chrysostom (375)
“After this again, what is more grievous than all, they shall not have so much as the consolation from love. Then indicating, that these things will in no degree harm the noble and the firm, He saith, Fear not, neither be troubled. For if ye show forth the patience that becomes you, the dangers will not prevail over you. And it is a plain proof of this, that the word shall surely be preached everywhere in the world, so much shall ye be above the things that alarm you. For, that they may not say, how then shall we live? He said more, Ye shall both live and preach everywhere. Therefore He added moreover, “And this gospel shall be preached in the whole world for a witness to all nations, and then shall the end come,”(7) of the downfall of Jerusalem.

“For in proof that He meant this, and that before the taking of Jerusalem the gospel was preached, hear what Paul saith, “Their sound went into all the earth;”(8) and again, “The gospel which was preached to every creature which is under Heaven.”(9) And seest thou him running from Jerusalem unto Spain ? And if one took so large a portion, consider what the rest also wrought. For writing to others also, Paul again saith con-coming the gospel, that “it is bringing forth fruit, and growing up in every creature which is under Heaven.”(10)

“But what meaneth, “For a witness to all nations?” Forasmuch as though it was everywhere preached, yet it was not everywhere believed. It was for a witness, He saith, to them that were disbelieving, that is, for conviction, for accusation, for a testimony; for they that believed will bear witness against them that believed not, and will condemn them. And for this cause, after the gospel is preached in every part of the world, Jerusalem is destroyed, that they may not have so much as a shadow of an excuse for their perverseness. For they that saw His power shine throughout every place, and in an instant take the world captive, what excuse could they then have for continuing in the same perverseness? For in proof that it was everywhere preached at that time, hear what Paul saith, “of the gospel which was preached to every creature which is under Heaven.”(11)

“Which also is a very great sign of Christ’s power, that in twenty or at most thirty years the word had reached the ends of the world. “After this therefore,” saith He, “shall come the end of Jerusalem.” For that He intimates this was manifested by what follows.” (Homilies)

Clement of Rome (1st Century)
“But not to dwell upon ancient examples, let us come to the most recent spiritual heroes.(11) Let us take the noble examples furnished in our own generation. Through envy and jealousy, the greatest and most righteous pillars [of the Church](3) have been persecuted and put to death.(12) Let us set before our eyes the illustrious(13) apostles. Peter, through unrighteous envy, endured not one or two, but numerous labours and when he had at length suffered martyrdom, departed to the place of glory due to him. Owing to envy, Paul also obtained the reward of patient endurance, after being seven times thrown into captivity,(14) compelled(15) to flee, and stoned. After preaching both in the east and west, he gained the illustrious reputation due to his faith, having taught righteousness to the whole world, and come to the extreme limit of the west,(16) and suffered martyrdom under the prefects.(17) Thus was he removed from the world, and went into the holy place, having proved himself a striking example of patience.” (Chap. V.– The First Epistle to the Corinthians)

Eusebius (325)
“THUS, under the influence of heavenly power, and with the divine co-operation, the doctrine of the Saviour, like the rays of the sun, quickly illumined the whole world;[1] and straightway, in accordance with the divine Scriptures,[2] the voice of the inspired evangelists and apostles went forth through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. (Book II, Ch.III.)

“But the holy apostles and disciples of our Saviour, being scattered over the whole world, Thomas, according to tradition, received Parthia as his alloted region; Andrew received Scythia, and John, Asia, where, after continuing for some time, he died at Ephesus. Peter appears to have preached through Pontus, Galatia, Bythinia, Cappapodica and Asia, to the Jews that were scattered abroad” (Book III, Ch. 1)

“The same historian records another fact still more wonderful than this. He says that a certain oracle was found in their sacred writings which declared that at that time a certain person should go forth from their country to rule the world. He himself understood that this was fulfilled in Vespasian. But Vespasian did not rule the whole world, but only that part of it which was subject to the Romans. With better right could it be applied to Christ; to whom it was said by the Father, “Ask of me, and I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the ends of the earth for thy possession.” At that very time, indeed, the voice of his holy apostles “went throughout all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.” (Book III, Ch. 8)

“For the Lord knew that the hearts of the disciples would be made sad by the destruction of Jerusalem, and overthrow of their nation, and He therefore comforts them with a promise that more of the Gentiles should believe than of the Jews should perish.”  (Matthew 24:14, Ibid.)

Peter Auriol (1320)
(On Revelation 6:2) “Here it should be known that, according to Eusebius, the preaching of the name of Christ was spread abroad throughout the whole world in a short time under the emperors Tiberius, Gaius, and Claudius.  For, the aforementioned emperors permitted the apostles and disciples to run to and fro throughout the whole world.  There, in the beginning of the fourth chapter, he says that divine providence operated in the mind of Caesar so that he threatened danger to all the accusers of the Christians.  In those initial times the word of the gospel ran forth quickly, as if a divinely manifested light, and a ray of the sun breaking forth, were illuminating the whole world with the brightness of heavenly light.  And the prophecy was fulfilled, Their sound has gone out throughout the whole earth (Ps. 19:4; cf. Rom. 10:18).  And throughout the all the cities and all the towns immense multitudes of people were gathered into the churches, as when grain is gathered to the threshing floors in the time of the harvests.  Therefore, John saw in the book of divine foreknowledge this free dissemination.  And this was designated as the first seal because it was at first closed, and because Christ opened it first.  Therefore, it is called the opening of the first seal.”

“For, the white horse designates the army of the apostles and disciples, who were white in doctrine and in life, like horses running to and fro very quickly.  Upon it, Christ was sitting with the weapons of preaching and with the grace of the word, which penetrated them, just as he had promised, saying, Behold, I shall give you a mouth and wisdom, which your adversaries will not be able to contradict (Luke 21:15).  And because a crown of victory was given to him, he went forth conquering and to conquer,  because he subjugated the world to his faith in the space of a short time, as was said.”(Compendium of the Holy Scriptures, in loc.)

Matthew Henry (1721)
“It is intimated that the gospel should be, if not heard, yet at least heard of, throughout the then known world, before the destruction of Jerusalem; that the Old-Testament church should not be quite dissolved till the New Testament was pretty well settled, had got considerable footing, and began to make some figure. Better is the face of a corrupt degenerate church than none at all. Within forty years after Christ’s death, the sound of the gospel was gone forth to the ends of the earth, Romans 10:18. St. Paul fully preached the gospel from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum; and the other apostles were not idle. The persecuting of the saints at Jerusalem helped to disperse them, so that they went every where, preaching the word, Acts 8:1–4. And when the tidings of the Redeemer are sent over all parts of the world, then shall come the end of the Jewish state. Thus, that which they thought to prevent, by putting Christ to death, they thereby procured; all menbelieved on him, and the Romans came, and took away their place and nation, John 11:48. Paul speaks of the gospel being come to all the world, and preached to every creature, Colossians 1:6, 23.” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible)

B.W. Johnson (1891)
“This gospel of the kingdom, etc. The gospel was preached throughout the Roman empire, ‘the world’ of the New Testament, before A. D. 70. Then the end shall come. Of the Jewish state.” (B. W. Johnson’s The People’s New Testament Commentary)

Rev. J.C. Robertson (1904)
“the Apostles went forth “into all the world,” as their Master had ordered them, to “preach the Gospel to every creature” (St Mark xvi. 15). The Book of Acts tells us something of what they did, and we may learn something more about it from the Epistles. And, although this be but a small part of the whole, it will give us a notion of the rest, if we consider that, while St. Paul was preaching in Asia Minor, /Greece, and at Rome, the other Apostles were busily doing the same  work in other countries.

We must remember, too, the constant coming and going which in those days took place throughout the world, how Jews from all quarters went up to keep the Passover and other feasts at Jerusalem; how the great Roman empire stretched from our own island of Britain as far as Persia and Ethiopia, and people from all parts of it were continually going to Rome and returning. We must consider how merchants travelled from country to country on account of their trade; how soldiers were sent into all quarters of the empire and were moved about from one country to another. And from these things we may get some understanding of the way in which the knowledge of the Gospel would be spread, when once it had taken root in the great cities of Jerusalem and Rome. ” (SKETCHES OF CHURCH HISTORY. From AD 33 to the Reformation, 1)

“{Preached} (kêruchthentos). First aorist passive participle of kêrussô, to herald, to proclaim. {In all creation} (en pasêi ktise|). |Ktisis| is the act of founding (Ro 1:20) from ktizô (verse Col 1:16), then a created thing (Ro 1:25), then the sum of created things as here and Re 3:14. It is hyperbole, to be sure, but Paul does not say that all men are converted, but only that the message has been heralded abroad over the Roman Empire in a wider fashion than most people imagine. {A minister} (diakonos). General term for service (dia, konis, raising a dust by speed) and used often as here of preachers like our “minister” today, one who serves. Jesus used the verb diakonêsai of himself (Mr 10:45). Our “deacon” is this word transliterated and given a technical meaning as in Php 1:1. (Robertson’s Word Pictures, 1932)

Thomas Scott (1817)
“Not withstanding all these commotions and scandals, the gospel would soon be preached through the various nations of the Roman empire, and in the different parts of the then known world; for a witness to them, that the Messiah was come, to be ‘a Light to lighten the Gentiles,’ and ‘to be for salvation to the ends of the earth:’ and when this should be accomplished, the end of the Jewish church and state would come.” (Thomas Scott’s Commentary on the Bible)

John Wesley (1754)
This Gospel shall he preached in all the world—Not universally: this is not done yet: but in general through the several parts of the world, and not only in Judea. And this was done by St. Paul and the other apostles, before Jerusalem was destroyed. And then shall the end come—Of the city and temple. Josephus’s History of the Jewish War is the best commentary on this chapter. It is a wonderful instance of God’s providence, that he, an eyewitness, and one who lived and died a Jew, should, especially in so extraordinary a manner, be preserved, to transmit to us a collection of important facts, which so exactly illustrate this glorious prophecy, in almost every circumstance. Mark 13:10.” (John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes of the New Testament)

John A. Broadus (1886)
“‘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 could be regarded as a hyperbolical prediction of what was fulfilled before the destruction of Jerusalem, even as Paul wrote to the Colossians (about A.D. 63), concerning ‘the gospel which ye heard, which was preached in all creation under heaven.’ (Col. 1:23, Rev. Ver.) It will evidently be fulfilled much more thoroughly before the second coming of Christ; yet Paul’s phrase, and the primary reference here to A.D.70 as ‘the end,’ should restrain theorizers from insisting that the second coming of Christ cannot take place until this has been fulfilled with literal completeness.” (Broadus, vol. 1, p. 485)

John Calvin
“This is improperly restricted by some to the destruction of the temple, and the abolition of the service of the Law; for it ought to be understood as referring to the end and renovation of the world. Those two things having been blended by the disciples, as if the temple could not be overthrown without the destruction of the whole world, Christ, in replying to the whole question which had been put to him, reminded them that a long and melancholy succession of calamities was at hand, and that they must not hasten to seize the prize, before they had passed through many contests and dangers. In this manner, therefore, we ought to explain this latter clause: “The end of the world will not come before I have tried my Church, for a long period, by severe and painful temptations” (pp. 129, 130).

Adam Clarke (1810)
“And this Gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world] But, notwithstanding these persecutions, there should be a universal publication of the glad tidings of the kingdom, for a testimony to all nations. God would have the iniquity of the Jews published every where, before the heavy stroke of his judgments should fall upon them; that all mankind, as it were, might be brought as witnesses against their cruelty and obstinacy in crucifying and rejecting the Lord Jesus. In all the world, [‘in all the oikoumene’]. . . Perhaps no more is meant here than the Roman empire; for it is beyond controversy that [the Greek ‘all the oikoumene,’] Luke ii. 1, means no more than the whole empire: as a decree for taxation or enrollment from Augustus Caesar could have no influence but in the Roman dominions; but see on Luke ii. 1. Tacitus informs us, Annal. l. xv., that, as early as the reign of Nero, the Christians were grown so numerous at Rome as to excite the jealousy of the government; and in other parts they were in proportion. However, we are under no necessity to restrain the phrase to the Roman empire, as, previously to the destruction of Jerusalem, the Gospel was not only preached in the lesser Asia, and Greece, and Italy, the greatest theatres of action then in the world; but was likewise propagated as far north as SCYTHIA; as far south as ETHIOPIA; as far east as PARTHIA and INDIA; and as far west as SPAIN and BRITAIN. On this point, Bishop Newton goes on to say, That there is some probability that the Gospel was preached in the British nations by St. Simon the apostle; that there is much greater probability that it was preached here by St. Paul; and that there is an absolute certainty that it was planted here in the times of the apostles, before the destruction of Jerusalem. See his proofs. Dissert. vol. ii. p. 235, 236. edit. 1758.2 St. Paul himself speaks, Colossians i. 6, 23, of the Gospel’s being come into ALL THE WORLD, and preached TO EVERY CREATURE under heaven. And in his Epistle to the Romans, Rom. x. 18, he very elegantly applies to the lights of the Church, what the psalmist said of the lights of heaven Their sound went into ALL THE EARTH, and their words unto the END of the WORLD. What but the wisdom of God could foretell this? and what but the power of God could accomplish it? Then shall the end come.] When this general publication of the Gospel shall have taken place, then a period shall be put to the whole Jewish economy, by the utter destruction of their city and temple.” (Adam Clarke’s Commentary)

Henry Cowles (1881)
“All the world” is literally all the inhabited–i.e, to the extent of what is peopled. But in usage, “all the world” to the Romans was the Roman Empire: to the Greeks it meant the countries at the utmost where their tongue was spoken: to the Jew it was primarily Palestine; but ultimately became coextensive with the range of their dispersions. That is to say, the usage of the word made its scope rather national than universal.

The New Testament usage may be seen in Luke 2:1–“All the world enrolled for taxation”–which could not extend beyond the limits of the Roman Empire. Also Acts 11:28–“Great dearth [famine] throughout all the world“–foretold by Agabus. This was probably less in extent than the whole Roman Empire.–This restricted usage appears also in profane classic writers.

“Thus we do no violence either to the sense of these words or to the historic facts, if we hold that this prophecy had its fair fulfillment before the fall of the doomed city.” (Matthew and Mark: With Notes Critical, Explanatory, and Practical (New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1881), 210, 211.)

Gary DeMar (2002)
“Few modern commentaries deal with Matthew 24:14 exegetically. It’s as if Greek never existed. Fewer still even acknowledge that for centuries the view of nearly every pre-twentieth-century commentator applied the events of Matthew 24 to the time leading up to and including the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.  Contrary to how modern commentaries handle Matthew 24:14 and its significance in determining the timing of prophetic events, older commentaries offer detailed discussions of the passage and show how it found proximate fulfillment in the first century prior to Jerusalem’s destruction. What follows is merely a sample of how standard older commentaries, many still in print and used widely, interpreted Matthew 24:14.”

“The events of Matthew 24 are to take place before “this generation” passes away (v. 34). Jesus always uses “this generation” in reference to His contemporaries (Matt. 11:16; 12:41, 42; 23:36; Mark 8:12; 13:30; Luke 7:31; 11:29, 30, 31, 32, 50, 51; 17:25; 21:32). “This generation” is never used to describe a future generation.

“The English translation “whole world” in 24:14 is based on the Greek word oikoumene which is best translated “inhabited earth” rather than the more global word (from our perspective) “world” (kosmos). This means that the gospel had to go no further than the census decreed by Caesar Augustus. Most modern translations (e.g., NASV and NIV) translate oikoumene in Luke 2:1 as “the inhabited earth.”

The use of “all the nations” is not always a reference to every nation on earth. In many cases it refers only to those known nations in which one could travel (Matt. 24:9; Acts 2:5).

“The end” to which Jesus refers to in 24:14 is the same end described in 24:3 and 6–the “end of the age”: the end of the old covenant (Heb. 1:1–2).”

Footnote 1 – “For example, Arno C. Gaebelein’s rambling and rabidly dispensational commentary, first published in 1910, dismisses without argument any view that is not dispensational; Ed Glasscock’s commentary in the Moody Gospel Commentary series (1997) assumes a futurist view of Matthew 24:14 with no mention of oikoumene or any consideration of how the New Testament uses oikoumene in other contexts; Leon Morris’s The Gospel According to Matthew (Eerdmans, 1992) does not discuss oikoumene; Craig S. Keener’s massiveCommentary on the Gospel of Matthew (Eerdmans, 1999) and his abridged commentary for InterVarsity Press (1997) assume a futurist view with no discussion of oikoumene except in a footnote; in more than two pages of commentary on Matthew 24, William Hendriksen makes no mention that oikoumene is used (Baker 1973); dispensationalist Stanley D. Toussaint avoids any discussion of oikoumene in his Behold the King: A Study of Matthew (Multnomah, 1980) and in his unpublished paper “A Critique of the Preterist View of the Olivet Discourse” (no date); John F. Walvoord’s Matthew: Thy Kingdom Come (Moody, 1974), says nothing about oikoumene and its possible relation to an A.D. 70 fulfillment, and there is no discussion of verse 14 in his The Prophecy Knowledge Handbook which claims to include “all the prophecies of Scriptures” (Victor, 1990); while Lutheran scholar R.C.H. Lenski does mention that oikoumene is used, there is no discussion of its possible significance (Augusburg, 1943); the dispensational Liberty Bible Commentary (1982) defaults to an end-time, pre-tribulational reading of the text; the same is true for Louis Barbieri’s exposition of Matthew in the Bible Knowledge Commentary (Victor, 1983); J. Barton Payne’s only comment on Matthew 24:14 in his 754-page Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy is that it refers to “universal gospel preaching” (Harper & Row, 1973).” (The Gospel Preached to All the World)

Gary DeMar on All the Nations

“Jesus tells His disciples that the gospel must be preached in the “whole world for a witness to all the nations” (Matt. 24:14). Ice does not deal with how “all the nations” is often used in a restrictive sense. He asserts, because of his futurist presuppositions, that “all nations,” by definition, must have a global fulfillment. The interpreter would be making a serious mistake if every time he read “all nations” he concluded that the biblical writer had every nation around the globe in mind. The following examples will show that “all nations” and “all kingdoms” often have a limited geographical application”

Philip Doddridge (1740)
This gospel—shall be preached in all the world] The accomplishment of this extraordinary prophecy is admirably illustrated by Dr. Arthur Young, On Idolatry, vol ii, p. 216–234. It appears from the most credible records, that the gospel was preached in Idumea, Syria, and Mesopotamia, by Jude; in Egypt, Marmorica, Mauritania, and other parts of Africa, by mark, Simon, and Jude; in Ethiopia, by Candace’s Eunuch, and Matthias; in Pontus, Galatia, and the neighbouring parts of Asia, by Peter; in the territories of the Seven Asiatic Churches by John; in Parthia, by Matthew; in Scythia, by Philip and Andrew; in the northern and western parts of Asia, by Bartholomew; in Persia, by Simon and Jude; in Media, Carmania, and several eastern parts, by Thomas; through the vast tract of Jerusalem round about unto Illyricum, by Paul; as also in Italy, and probably in Spain, Gaul, and Britain; in most of which places Christian churches were planted in less than thirty years after the death of Christ, which was before the destruction of Jerusalem.” (Philip Doddridge’s Family Exposition of the New Testament)

John Gill (1809)
“Ver. 14. And this Gospel of the kingdom, &c.] Which Christ himself preached, and which he called and sent his apostles to preach, in all the cities of Judah; by which means men were brought into the kingdom of the Messiah, or Gospel dispensation; and which treated both of the kingdom of grace and glory, and pointed out the saints’ meetness for the kingdom of heaven, and their right unto it, and gives the best account of the glories of it: shall be preached in all the world; not only in Judea, where it was now confined, and that by the express orders of Christ himself; but in all the nations of the world, for which the apostles had their commission enlarged, after our Lord’s resurrection; when they were bid to go into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature; and when the Jews put away the Gospel from them, they accordingly turned to the Gentiles; and before the destruction of Jerusalem, it was preached to all the nations under the heavens; and churches were planted in most places, through the ministry of it: for a witness unto all nations; meaning either for a witness against all such in them, as should reject it; or as a testimony of Christ and salvation, unto all such as should believe in him: and then shall the end come; not the end of the world, as the Ethiopic version reads it, and others understand it; but the end of the Jewish state, the end of the city and temple: so that the universal preaching of the Gospel all over the world, was the last criterion and sign, of the destruction of Jerusalem; and the account of that itself next follows, with the dismal circumstances which attended it.” (Exposition of the Entire Bible)

Steve Gregg (1997)
“Likewise “the world” normally speaks to us of the planet earth.   But to biblical writers it often was limited in scope to the Mediterranean world or the Roman Empire (see Luke 2:1; Col. 1:6).  Thus in Revelation, a statement about “the tim eof trial which shall come upon the whole world to test those who dwell on the earth (Rev. 3:10) may refere to an empire-wide crisis, which will especially place stress upon those who dwell in Israel.” (Revelation: Four Views, p,22,23)

Ezra Gould(1896)
“there is general consent now that the prophecy is restricted in time to that generation, v. 30. In general, the historical interpretation of this prophecy is fairly settled.” (p.249)

John Lightfoot
“[And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world.] Jerusalem was not to be destroyed before the gospel was spread over all the world: God so ordering and designing it that the world, being first a catechumen in the doctrine of Christ, might have at length an eminent and undeniable testimony of Christ presented to it; when all men, as many as ever heard the history of Christ, should understand that dreadful wrath and severe vengeance which was poured out upon that city and nation by which he was crucified.” (John Lightfoot’s Hebrew and Talmudical Exercitations)

Dr. Thomas Newton (1753)
“But notwithstanding the persecutions and calamities of the Christians, there was to be an universal publication of the gospel before the destruction of Jerusalem, ver. 14,– ‘ And this gospel of the ‘kingdom’ (this gospel of the kingdom of God) ‘shall be preached in all the world, for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end come;’ and then shall the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the Jewish polity come to pass ; when all nations shall be or may be convinced of the crying sin of the Jews in crucifying the Lord of glory, and of the justice of God’s judgments upon them for it. The Acts of the Apostles contain only a small part of the history of a small part of the Apostles; and yet even in that history we see, the gospel was widely disseminated, and had taken root in the most considerable parts of the Roman empire. As early as in the reign of Nero, the Christians were grown so numerous at home, as -o raise the jealousy of the government, and the first general persecution was commenced against them under pretence of their having set fire to the city, of which the emperor himself was really guilty, but willing to transfer the blame and odium upon the poor innocent Christians. Clement, who was a contemporary and fellow laborer with St. Paul, says of him in particular, that ,he was a preacher both in the east and in the west, that he taught the whole world righteousness, and travelled as far as to the utmost borders of the west :” and if such were the labours of one apostle, though the chiefest of the apostles, what were the united labours of them all ? It appears indeed from the writers of the history of the church, that before the destruction of Jerusalem the gospel was not only preached in the lesser Asia, and Greece, and Italy, the great theatres of action then in the world ; but was likewise propagated as far northward as Scythia, as far southward as Ethiopia, as far eastward as Parthia, and India, as far westward as Spain and Britain. Our ancestors of this island seem to have lain as remote from the scene of our Saviour’s actions as almost any nation, and were a “rough inhospitable people,” as unlikely to receive so civilized an institution as any people whatever. But yet there is some probability, that the gospel was preached here by St. Simon the apostle ; there is much greater probability, that it was preached here by St Paul; and there is absolute certainty, that Christianity was planted in this country in the days of the apostles, before the destruction of Jerusalem. Agreeably to this, Eusebius informs us, that the apostles preached the gospel in all the world ; and some of them it passed beyond the ocean to the Britannic isles.” Theodoret likewise affirms, that the apostles had induced every nation and kind of men to embrace the gospel, and among the converted nations he reckons particularly the Britons. St. Paul himself, in his Epistle to the Colossians, i. 6,23, speaketh of the gospel’s being ‘ come into all the world, and preached to every creature under heaven :’ and in his Epistle to the Romans, x. 18, very elegantly applies to the lights of the church what the Psalmist said of the lights of heaven, ‘ their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.’ But how improbable, and in all human appearance impossible was it, that a few poor fishermen, and such inferior, illiterate persons should propagate and establish a new religion, in so short a space of time, throughout the world ! Doubtless it was not man’s but God’s work, and from the same divine spirit proceeded both the prophecy and the completion !”)  (The Prophecy of Matthew 24, Dissertation XVIII)

Milton Terry (1898)
“it seems like the persistent blindness of a dogmatic bias to insist that ‘preaching of the gospel in all the world for a testimony to the nations’ must needs included all the missionary operations of the Church during the Christian centuries. . . . This ‘world’ did not signify to Galilean fishermen or to learned Jewish rabbis what it does to a modern reader, familiar every day with telegraphic communications from remote continents and islands. Nor does Paul’s comprehensive phrase, ‘all creation under heaven,’ require us to interpret it with any more rigid literalism than we do in the statement at the close of John’s gospel, that ‘the world itself would not contain the books that should be written.’ Such expressions are usually understood to contain an element of hyperbole and are common in all the languages of men.” (Milton S. Terry, Biblical Apocalyptics: A Study of the Most Notable Revelations of God and of Christ (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, [1898] 1988), 233.)

Foy Wallace (1966)
“The end of the Jewish world – verse 14: “Then shall the end come.”  Here, at once, with one accord, the millennialist jumps to the conclusion that this “end” means the end of the world – “then shall the end come” – but the end of what?  The end of Jerusalem; the destruction of the temple and the end of the Jewish state and the end of Judaism.”  (The Book of Revelation, TX: Wallace, 1966, p. 351)

John S.C. Abbott (1878)
“In all the world. Before the destruction of Jerusalem, the gospel had been preached through all the regions of the then known world.” (Jacob Abbott’s Illustrated New Testament)

J.A. Alexander (1857)
“Throughout all the world, literally, on (or overthe whole inhabited (earth) [Acts 11:28]. This phrase, though strictly universal in its import, is often used in a restricted sense. The Greeks in their particular pride of race, applied it to their own country; the Romans, in like manner, to the empire.” (Acts of the Apostle (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, [1857] 1980), 438)

R. Baldwin Publishing (1760)
(On oikoumene in Revelation 3:10) “by all the World here, as in other Places of the New Testament, is meant the Roman Empire, as Ch. ii.6” An Illustration of the New Testament, by Notes and Explications, etc. (London: R. Baldwin, 923.

Otto Flender (1979)
“The oikoumene is the inhabited world in the sense that all its population has to suffer under Satanic powers for religious, but mainly political, reasons. Equally in the story of Christ’s temptation, the replacement in Lk. 4:5 of ‘kosmos’ by oikoumene suggests a strong political connotation, even though “the kingdoms of the world” prevents a direct identification with the Roman empire.” (Otto Flender, “Oikoumene,” in the New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, ed. Colin Brown, 3 vols. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1979), 1:519.)

Dr. F. Furman Kearley (1980)
This Gospel Shall be Preached: Jesus concluded this section of warning by indicating that the end of the temple would not come until the gospel had been preached in the whole world.  Most commentators are agreed that the term world as used here is a reference to the then known world or Roman Empire.  This would be equivalent to Paul’s statement in Colossians 1:23,” (“An Exegesis of Matthew 24”, p. 123)

Simon Kistemaker (1990)
[oikoumene] “The famine that Agabus predicted occurred during the reign of Emperor Claudius, who ruled from A.D. 41 to 54. Luke calls it a severe famine, for in varying degrees it affected the entire Roman empire. Egypt sold grain for the benefit of the people in famine-stricken Jerusalem. Cyprus supplied figs, and the Christians in Antioch sent aid to the believers in Judea (v. 29). Different parts of the Roman empire suffered famines. Therefore, we interpret Luke’s description, “a severe famine all over the Roman world,” not in a literal but in a broad sense.” (New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Acts of the Apostles (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1990), 425.)

Jack P. Lewis (1998)
“How often this passage has been applied to the final end of the world!  Some, seeing much of the world unevangelized, take comfort that the end us not near.  However, most of the empired was evangelized before A.D.70 (1 Thess 1:8; Rom. 1:5,8; Col. 1:6,23).” (Matthew 24:13; The Gospel According to Matthew: Part II, 13:53 – 28:20, The Living Word Commentary, gen. ed. Everett Ferguson, Austin, TX: Sweet Publishing Company, 1976, p. 124)

Dr. Cecil May, Jr. (1998)
“There were, of course, persecutions, betrayals, and apostasies within the generation to whom Jesus was speaking, including several recorded in Acts, and, contrary again to much popular preaching, God is not still waiting for the gospel to be preached worldwide so he can bring about the end (Matt. 24:9-14).  The gospel was preached to the whole world in the generation to which Jesus spoke.” (“Are there Signs that Jesus is Coming Soon?” in Theology Matters, p. 329)

Douglas Moo (1996)
“How could Paul assert, in A.D. 57, that the gospel has been proclaimed “to the whole earth”? Two implicit qualifications of Paul’s language are frequently noted. First, as the word oikoumene in the second line of the quotation might suggest, Paul may be thinking in terms of the Roman Empire of his day rather than of the entire globe. Second, Paul’s focus might be corporate rather than individualistic: he asserts not that the gospel has been preached to every person but to every nation, and especially to both Jews and Gentiles. Both these considerations may well be relevant. But perhaps it would be simpler to think that Paul engages in hyperbole, using the language of the Psalm to assert that very many people by the time Paul writes Romans have had the opportunity to hear.” (The Epistle to the Romans (NICNT) (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 667)

Francis S. Sampson (1856)
“The classic usage of [oikoumene] gives the sense of “the inhabited earth,” especially as settled by Greeks. By people of the Roman empire, it was currently used to express the empire (as in Luke 2:1, . . .), by a sort of arrogant exaggeration, as though the empire embraced the whole world.” (A Critical Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews (New York: Robert Carter and Brothers, 1856), 85–86.)

E. M. Zerr
“The end means the end of Jerusalem, as the climax of the war. That event occurred in 70 A. D., and the Gospel was to have been offered to all nations of the (civilized) world by that time. Hence the great commission of the apostles was fulfilled in the first century.”


Cyrus, the king of Persia, said, “The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth” (Ezra 1:2; 2 Chron. 36:23).

David writes, “All nations surrounded me” (Ps. 118:10).

God “brought the fear of [David] on all the nations” (1 Chron. 14:17).

It is written of Hezekiah king of Judah “that he was exalted in the sight of all nations . . .” (2 Chron. 32:23).

The Chaldeans are said to “march throughout the earth” (Hab. 1:6).

“The people from all the earth came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph” (Gen. 41:57).

All the earth was seeking the presence of Solomon” (1 Kings 10:24).

“And all the nations shall serve him [Nebuchadnezzar], and his son, and his grandson, until the time of his own land comes” (Jer. 27:7).

Nebuchadnezzar addresses his decree as “the king to all the peoples, nations, and men of every language that live in all the earth” (Dan. 4:1).7

At Pentecost “there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men, from every nation under heaven” (Acts 2:5).

Jesus told His disciples that they would be “hated by all nations” (Matt. 24:9).  (The Gospel Preached to All the World)

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Date: 10 May 2007
Time: 16:43:37

I have been doing a good deal of study on Matthew 24. Coming from a life of dispen-sensationalism and trying to determine where I stand on this issue I appreciate the commentary posted here.

In my studies I have found the arugment ‘how was the gospel preached in America’ back then as one that supposedly tears down the assertion it has been fulfilled. The ignornance of this question completely baffles me in that these same men can go on to promise that this is soon to be fulfilled.

I mean how can they possibly ever qualify and quantify their obvious paradox. For this to happen even piece of land yet to be settled or person yet to be born will have to be preached in and to. When is the gospel going to be in Greenland, Antartica or the North Pole. If any new nation or area is to be settled or person born, then it will continually be a dog chasing its tail in trying to fulfill this verse.

Again, it seems clear given the context, the testimony of the apostles, that this indeed was fulfilled by the very ones it was directed to.

Thanks again