To the “Whole World” and “All the Nations”
When describing the signs of his return, Jesus said:
This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:14)
This is reiterated in Mark 13, where Jesus says:
And the gospel must first be preached to all the nations. (Mark 13:10)
Good missions research has been done, showing that “all the nations” refers to all ethnic groups, not countries. Therefore, every one of the 12,000 ethnic groups in the world must hear the Gospel before Jesus returns.
Furthermore, the Gospel must go to the “whole world.” Whenever this phrase is used in Greek, it refers to the entire world, not just the Roman world. For example:
And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. (Revelation 12:9)
“Whole world” in Revelation 12:9 is the same set of Greek words as in Matthew 24:14. And I am unaware of any place inhabited on the globe that Satan has not deceived.
What is the Gospel?
It is the “gospel of the kingdom” that must be proclaimed in the whole world. But what is the Gospel?
Now I make known to you, brothers and sisters, the gospel which I preached to you, which you also received, in which you also stand, 2 by which you also are saved, if you hold firmly to the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.
3 For I handed down to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 After that He appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; 7 then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; 8 and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed. (1 Corinthians 15:1-11)
Many scholars believe that this is an early creed, which developed within 5 years of the resurrection of Jesus. But where did this come from? Before his ascension, Jesus gave this charge to his disciples:
4 Now He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all the things that are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and He said to them, “So it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And behold, I am sending the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:44-49)
Comparing Paul’s Gospel to Jesus’ Commission
Comparing Peter’s Preaching to Jesus’ Commission
This is the template that Peter follows in his earliest preaching in the book of Acts.
28% of the World Has Not Heard
Jesus says that this message will be proclaimed to “all the nations.” According to Gordon Conwell’s Center for Global Christianity, 28% percent of the world’s population has not heard the Gospel. For the Gospel to go to the “whole world,” this 28% basically has to go down to about 0%. The completion of this missions task is related to the “Great Commission” where Jesus commands his disciples to make disciples of all nations:
And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
Jesus Film Project’s 2025 Vision
In December of 2021, the executive director of the Jesus Film Project, Josh Newell, said in a video that the Great Commission was “possible” to be completed in the next 5-10 years. The Jesus Film is one of the most widely used missionary tools. As a result, missionary partners to the Jesus Film are able to provide statistical reporting to the Jesus Film Project, to measure its impact.
By 2025, the Jesus Film intends to give continuous Gospel access to the world by providing 1 billion annual views to its materials, primarily through digital means. They do this by running advertisements on social media, as well as by running TV campaigns in areas with very few Christians. Furthermore, they aim to have the Jesus Film translated into 2200 languages, which would cover 99% of the world’s population.
These goals are realistic. The Jesus Film already got 740 million views in 2020. So a billion annual views by 2025 is very achievable. Furthermore, the Jesus Film has already been translated into almost 2000 languages. Therefore, 2200 by 2025 is very possible.
The Internet as an Evangelistic Game-Changer
About 87% of the world will have Internet in the next ten years. This is based on the idea that the growth rate of the Internet will stay the same it has from 2005-2020.
Yet some people who don’t have the Internet have already heard about Jesus. 72% of the world has already heard about Jesus, or at least has access to the message. Of the 13% of the population that will not have Internet in the next decade, approximately 72% of them are already evangelized. (A good example of a region with very little Internet and lots of Gospel access would would be Sub-Saharan Africa.)
72% of 13% is about 9%. If we consider that all Internet users will have Gospel access in the next ten years, then 96% of the world will be evangelized by the year 2031. (87% evangelized through internet + 72% of the remaining 13% already evangelized = 96% evangelized).
I calculated evangelism and Internet penetration forecasts for each country in Excel, in order to verify this. The analysis largely agrees with the back-of-the-napkin calculation, saying that about 95% of the world will be evangelized by 2031.
This doesn’t count special missionary activity to groups with no Internet, which Jesus Film and its partners intend to do as well. In any case, the Jesus Film objectives are realistic and achievable. There are entire ministries devoted to this, such as Renew World Outreach (which partners with the Jesus Film). They have tools to deliver the message of Christ to primarily oral cultures. In the words of their executive director, Josh Newell, the Jesus Film intends to reach “every tribe and every touchscreen.”
“And Then the End Will Come”
When Jesus says “and then” the end will come, he is referring to something that is pretty immediately subsequent to something else. Other uses of “and then” (in Greek) bear this out.
22 Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’ (Matthew 7:22-24)
And Jesus said to them, “The attendants of the bridegroom cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they? But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast. (Matthew 9:15)
Therefore, once the whole world hears the Gospel, “the end” arrives.
What Happens Near the End?
This verse must be taken in context of the rest of Matthew 24. Chapter 24 is a long list of very specific signs of the Second Coming of Christ, most of which have never happened. It is illuminating to look at the verses immediately before and after Matthew 24:14.
Before this verse, Jesus talks about a persecution that is perpetrated by “all nations.” This global persecution by every ethnic group is only possible if every ethnic group is aware of Christians. As of now, they are not. But they will be soon.
9 “Then they will hand you over to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. 10 And at that time many will fall away, and they will betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will rise up and mislead many people. 12 And because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will become cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end is the one who will be saved. 14 This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:9-14)
Immediately after Matthew 24:14, comes Matthew 24:15:
15 “Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place—let the reader understand— 16 then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains. (Matthew 24:15)
The “abomination of desolation” is a reference to an idol in the temple. In the end times, this will be a person who sets himself up as God in the temple.
3 No one is to deceive you in any way! For it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God. (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4)
This specific event has never happened before. The appearance of this person in the Jewish temple will trigger the worst time in human history.
17 Whoever is on the housetop must not go down to get things out of his house. 18 And whoever is in the field must not turn back to get his cloak. 19 But woe to those women who are pregnant, and to those who are nursing babies in those days! 20 Moreover, pray that when you flee, it will not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath. 21 For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will again. (Matthew 24:17-21)
This terrible time will be marked by mass death and terrible deception.
22 And if those days had not been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. 23 Then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ,’ or ‘He is over here,’ do not believe him. 24 For false christs and false prophets will arise and will provide great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. 25 Behold, I have told you in advance. 26 So if they say to you, ‘Behold, He is in the wilderness,’ do not go out; or, ‘Behold, He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe them. 27 For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes as far as the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be. 28 Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather. (Matthew 24:22-28)
The Return of Jesus
Yet this time comes to an abrupt end when Jesus returns:
29 “But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. 31 And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet blast, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other. (Matthew 24:29-31)
We cannot know the day or hour that this will happen (Matthew 24:36). But we can know the general time frame:
32 “Now learn the parable from the fig tree: as soon as its branch has become tender and sprouts its leaves, you know that summer is near; 33 so you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door. (Matthew 24:32-33)
What Should We Do?
If this is true, difficult days are coming in the next few years. However, all that difficulty will be put to shame by the glorious return of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1) Participate in the Great Commission
Short time or long, the Gospel will go to every ethnic group. This is a prophecy by Jesus.
This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:14)
As a result, we should participate in the completion of the Great Commission, by funding ministries who are working to get the Gospel to the most unevangelized areas of the world. You can click here to give to Jesus Film.
2) Prepare for Persecution and Deception
We must prepare our brothers and sisters in Christ against the danger of apostasy. Jesus warned of the dangers of false prophets in the end times. We must not fall prey to them.
Then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ,’ or ‘He is over here,’ do not believe him. 24 For false christs and false prophets will arise and will provide great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. 25 Behold, I have told you in advance. (Matthew 24:23-25)
3) Become More Like Christ
Furthermore, since we have the hope of Christ return, we must purify ourselves.
2 Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope set on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. (1 John 3:2-3)
4) Long for the Return of Christ
The return of Christ is our blessed hope. No matter how bad things get before then, the return of Christ will put them to shame.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. (Romans 8:18)
The sun is setting on this present age. We must be ready for what lies ahead.
Come Lord Jesus!
Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible, unless otherwise noted.