Then Jesus said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything 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 said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all 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 stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
50 And he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. 51 While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. 52 And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and were continually in the temple blessing God. – Luke 24:44-53
None of the commentaries I consulted made comment on the nuance I want to linger on today. But the translations are all over the place in regard to one word that is found in the grammatical nuances of the aorist, passive infinitive κηρυχθῆναι. The Greek means preach or proclaim. But the nuance has to do with how to describe this form of the verb. Is it should be, will be, would be, or is to be? Well like the old Pizza Hut commercial, but different, “Why not all three?”
The message of repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations [ESV]. Indeed it should be. This is something that should happen. We should take the gospel message to all people of all nations, tribes, languages, and tongues. It’s the right thing to do. God has commanded it. We ought to do it.
This message would be proclaimed in the authority of his name to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: ‘There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent,’ [NLT] is also a correct statement. We are living proof of that – we who have heard the message and been brought to faith in Jesus. We’re part of the “all nations” of this verse. We’ve been called to repent of our sins, and receive forgiveness.
It is also true that repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem [NIV]. The NRSV has “is to be preached,” which is yet another nuance to this verse. Perhaps it goes along with “would be proclaimed.” But this one is the one I want to lean into today. It’s gonna happen, Jesus is saying. This message will be preached. People will hear. People will repent. They will enjoy the blessings of forgiveness and eternal salvation.
Once upon a time a friend made this same point to me. I was five years out of the seminary and I wasn’t sure I liked the idea. It seemed to take too much off the shoulders of Jesus’ followers. Those who were given the commission to make disciples could lay back and let it get done (by someone else). God’s got this. Why do I need to worry.
Such thinking strikes me as akin to the question in Romans 6:1, “What shall we say then, shall we sin more that grace may increase?” The answer there is a dramatically emphatic, “May it never be!” But the reason isn’t that grace won’t increase. It’s not that grace will run out. It’s that we’ve died to sin, why would we want to live in it?!?
So if God’s got this, should we just sit back and let someone else proclaim the word? Should we just watch God work, rather than engaging in his mission? May it never be! How could we who have heard this message want to keep it to ourselves? The message will be preached. It should be. In would be (now and in previous years). We’re living proof of that. Thanks be to God. Is there someone you know who needs to hear it?