This is the first statement made by Jesus in the Book of Mark - quoted from the Lost Gospels of Jesus. And it defines Jesus' teachings - as long as it isn't mistranslated or misinterpreted.
“The sanctuary of God is readily available. Change your heart and trust this good news.” (Mark 1:15)
The Kingdom of God or Sanctuary of God?
Among the various translations of this statement, we find the first phrase often translated to "kingdom of God."
As such, we find the following translation of Mark 1:15 in the King James Version:
The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.In the New International Version, we find the following translation to Mark 1:15:
“The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”The translation to "kingdom" doesn't make sense in this context, because everywhere and everything is part of God's kingdom. To stipulate anything else would be to contradict God's omnipotence. If one accepts the Supreme Being as the Creator and Owner of everything - then there is not any place or thing that is not part of His kingdom.
Rather, the Greek word βασιλεία (basileia) means, according to the lexicon, “royal power, kingship, dominion, rule - not to be confused with an actual kingdom but rather the right or authority to rule over a kingdom.”
This context regards kingship or authority in reference to the authority of God. In order to take refuge in God, one must accept God's authority. Such a choice takes place within the heart. It is an internal decision. For example, we find this statement made by Jesus, translated from the New King James Version:
“For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:21, NKJV)This of course is puzzling, because how can a location or place be within a person? This and other statements by Jesus contradict the notion that Jesus was referring to a physical location, and thus using the word "kingdom."
Rather, Jesus is using the word βασιλεία (basileia) to describe becoming dedicated and dependent upon God's authority - thus taking sanctuary in the Supreme Being. This is essentially taking refuge in God, or taking shelter in God. Thus a better translation of Luke 17:21 would be:
“For indeed, the sanctuary of God is within you.” (Luke 17:21 Lost Gospels)This is consistent with the use of this word during Jesus' times. During ancient times, tribes and nations fought each other vigorously for territory. Those kings who were strongest provided their citizens with protection - refuge – or sanctuary.
At hand or readily available?
One of the key differences between this translation and some others - as quoted above - relates to the words, "readily available" versus "at hand" or "come near."
These phrases are being translated from the Greek word ἤγγικεν, which means, according to the lexicon, "to bring near, to join one thing to another" and "to draw or come near to, to approach."
So we find that the word is speaking of closeness in distance - not time. Some translations have tried to interpret Jesus' statement to mean a time is nearing.
Some have interpreted Jesus' and John's statements to mean - that he was warning about some coming apocalypse - the end of the world.
This makes no sense. We know that Jesus lived several years after he said this. Then we also know that many centuries have passed since Jesus said this, and the end of the world hasn't come. Was Jesus lying? Was he just trying to create anxiety as fanatical preachers have been doing?
Let's be clear. It is some 2,000 years after Jesus and John said these statements, and the end of the world still hasn't come. This is not to say there won't someday be an apocalyptic event - but this was not the point of Jesus' statement and John's statements before him.
They were each speaking to a crowd of their students. An apocalyptic event coming more than 2,000 years later is hardly "near" or "at hand."
Rather, their statements have nothing to do with the element of time - which would relate to the word soon not near.
But time is not being referred to by Jesus. ἤγγικεν refers to closeness - distance. Jesus is indicating that the sanctuary (or kingdom) of God is nearby. It is close. It is able to be approached. It is available.
Yes, the Supreme Being is truly available. He is right next to each of us in His expansion as the Holy Spirit. He is thus available to each of us at any time - when we decide we want to turn to Him, He is there for each of us.
Change of heart or repent?
And this - deciding we want to turn to Him - is indicated directly as Jesus' called them to "repent."
This word "repent" from some translations comes from the Greek word μετανοέω (metanoeō) which means, according to the lexicon, "to change one's mind." In other words, Jesus and John are speaking of having a change of heart.
And what is that change of heart? Is it simply the desire to be saved? Sorry. That is still a self-centered desire.
It is the desire to direct one's life towards coming to know, love, and serve the Supreme Being. This is the change of heart that Jesus and John were referring to.
Believe or trust?
This also relates directly to the word "believe" in some translations, and "trust" in the Gospels of Jesus. This word is translated from the Greek word πιστεύω (pisteuō).
While πιστεύω can be translated to "believe," the better translation is to "trust," as the lexicon indicates the word can mean to "place confidence in." And to "place confidence in" the teachings coming from God's representative is to trust in the Supreme Being.
After all, how do his students know Jesus is telling them the truth?
We - and they - can know only when we trust in the Supreme Being. When we trust that He exists, and trust that He has our best interests at heart: When we trust that He loves us and wants the best for us. This is the true meaning of the word πιστεύω (pisteuō).
Does this confirm teachings of the Prophets?
Jesus was not making up this teaching. It was being passed down from previous Prophets. We should note Jesus' similar statements from Luke and Matthew:
From that time, Jesus began to preach and taught, “Change your heart, for the sanctuary of God is readily available.”(Matthew 4:17)
"But know that the sanctuary of God is readily available.’" (Luke 10:11)But we also find that this was also a teaching of John the Baptist:
During this time John the Baptiser appeared, preaching in the wilderness of Judea – and teaching, “Change your heart, for the sanctuary of God is readily available.” (Matt. 3:1-2)And Jesus taught his students to preach the same message:
"Heal those who are sick and tell them, ‘The sanctuary of God is available to you.’" (Luke 10:9)So we know that this teaching is not just Jesus' teaching. It was also John the Baptist's teaching. And it was the teaching of Jesus' disciples.
"And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The sanctuary of God is readily available.’’" (Matt. 10:7)
And we find these teachings were also taught by the Prophets that came before John, including Isaiah:
"Seek the LORD while He may be found; call on Him while He is near." (Isaiah 55:6 NIV)This statement by Isaiah also reflects the true meaning of the concept of "near." This teaching - as does Jesus' and John's teaching - refers to God being available to each of us.
Jesus wanted his students to make that change of heart now, and decide to come to know and learn to love and serve the Supreme Being right away - because He is available to us. He is right next to each of us.
What is the 'good news'?
This is consistent with the meaning of "good news." This is currently a misinterpreted ecclesiastical phrase with little meaning - a phrase that has been misused over the centuries.
Its real meaning is found from its original Greek - εὐαγγέλιον (euaggelion) - which means "the gospel" or plainly, the teachings of love for the Supreme Being.
This, in fact, was Jesus' most important teaching, evidenced by Jesus' statement when asked which was the most important commandment:
“The most important of all the instructions is, ‘Hear O Israel – the LORD our God is our only Lord – and you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength’ – this is the most important instruction." (Mark 12:29-30)