Mark 1:15 Commentary | The Kingdom of God Has Come; Repent & Believe!

Mark Commentary

Mark 1:15 Text & Translation

15 καὶ λέγων ὅτι Πεπλήρωται ὁ καιρὸς καὶ ἤγγικεν ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ· μετανοεῖτε καὶ πιστεύετε ἐν τῷ εὐαγγελίῳ.1

and saying: “The [appointed] time has been fulfilled and the Kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe in the Gospel!” (Mk 1:15, AT)

Time is Fulfilled

What “Time” Is It?

After playing on the playground for some time, my mother might have said to me, “OK, Danny, let’s go home.” Not wanting to leave, I might’ve asked, “But Mom, what time is it?”. She might have replied, “It’s time to go home.”

Notice how, in this encounter, there are two different senses of time. I had been playing on the playground for some time and later asked what time it was. Here, time is chronological.

When my mother said, “It’s time to go”, she is thinking of time in a different sense. This sense entails a time that is appointed — the time she appointed for our departure.

We also have expressions like, “it’s my time to shine” or “your day will come” or “moment of truth”. Here, time is not about the hands on a clock, but being handed an opportunity.

When a coach, asks his or her players, “What time is it?”, it would be incorrect to reply, “Coach, it’s 6:37”. It’s game time!

While in English, we use the word in various ways, in Greek, there are actually multiple words for time. The word χρόνος (chronos) refers to chronological time, and the word καιρός (kairos) refers to “opportune time, appointed time, ‘season’”(cf. Eze 7:12; Dan 12:4,9; Eph 1:10).2

When Jesus says the time has been fulfilled, He uses kairos — for He is speaking of God’s appointed time.

God’s Timing

God has “a plan for human history which has set times and seasons”.3 John the Baptist was a (transitional) part of the old era/old covenant; with Jesus the new covenant begins (cf. Mk 2:21; Lk 16:16; Ac 10:36-37;4 Mt 11:9-11; Lk 7:26-28).5 As we read in Luke 16:

16 “The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached… (Lk 16:16a, NIV)6

We have already discussed how John the Baptist fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies of the Elijah-type prophet who would prepare the way for the LORD (cf. Mal 3:1, 4:5). I might add that in Matthew 11, Jesus says:

13 For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. 14 And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come. (Mt 11:13-14, NIV)

The dawning of the end-time (eschatological) age is now at hand (cf. Is 56:1; Eze 7:3, 12).7 What John the Baptist foretold is now being fulfilled.8

The forerunner of the Messiah (who precedes Christ in ministry and in death) essentially passes the metaphorical baton to Jesus.9 As one scholar writes:

“John is also a transitional figure, with one foot in each age. As the forerunner and herald of the Messiah, he passes the prophetic baton across the ages to Jesus. John announces the need to repent in light of the soon coming of eschatological judgment. Jesus will proclaim its arrival through his own words and deeds.” 10

In the first sense of time (chronos), this baton was passed in the 15th year of the Roman Emperor Tiberius (Lk 3:1-2).11 This would date Jesus’ earthly ministry around AD 27-30.12

However, in the second sense of time (kairos), the baton was passed at God’s appointed time. As we read in Galatians 4:

But when the set time [kairos] had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship (Gal 4:4-5, NIV)13

The Kingdom (Reign) of God

OT: The LORD Reigns As King Now

Jews knew that — in a certain sense — God reigns over the entire universe (cf. Ps 24:1).14 In the Old Testament, He is called both the king of Israel (Is 41:21, 43:15) and king of all nations (Jer 10:7; Mal 1:14;15 cf. Ex 15:18; 1 Sam 12:12; Ps 5:2)16

For example, in 1 Samuel, after Samuel anoints Saul as the first king of Israel, he says:

12 “But when you saw that Nahash king of the Ammonites was moving against you, you said to me, ‘No, we want a king to rule over us’—even though the LORD your God was your king (1 Sam 12:12, NIV)17

And, in Jeremiah 10, it reads:

7 Who should not fear you,
King of the nations?
This is your due.
Among all the wise leaders of the nations
and in all their kingdoms,
there is no one like you. (Jer 10:7, NIV)18

Psalm 47 declares:

7 For God is the King of all the earth;
sing to him a psalm of praise. (Ps 47:7, NIV)19

God reigns as king over Israel, over the nations, over the entire earth — right now.

Furthermore, that the LORD is King (cf. Ex 15:18; Ps 29:10, 97:1, 99:1, 47:7, 103:19)20is more about the reign of the LORD, than a particular realm He reigns over (but see Is 24:23).21

That is, God’s reign is more about His dynamic kingship than a static kingdom. The kingdom of God is not merely a geographical location.

OT: The LORD Will Reign As King in the Future

However, not everyone currently submits to His kingship; not everyone acknowledges the LORD as sovereign. Thus, we live in an age rife with sin, suffering, death, etc.22

As one scholar writes:

The Bible confirms that God reigns supreme (Exod 15:18). He is the sovereign Lord of the universe. Everything exists because of him and for his glory. Human beings represent the pinnacle of his creation and reflect his image (Gen 1:26–27; Ps 8). Yet the biblical story is also one of tragedy and alienation. Adam and Eve, tested by the Adversary, rejected God’s sovereignty and defied his commands. Human nature entered a fallen state and judgment followed. God’s good creation was placed under a curse (Gen 3). Evil, sin, suffering, disease, decay, poverty, and death became the constants of human existence.23

Not unaware of this, Jews also prayed daily for the time when God’s rule “would be established over all peoples of the earth”24 – a time when God would rid the world of evil and “inaugurate a new, unprecedented age of blessing, prosperity and joy”.25

As we read in Zechariah 14:

The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and his name the only name. (Zc 14:9, NIV)26

This foretold reign of God would be, in some sense, spiritual. As we read in Isaiah 11, which was likely alluded to during the (post-)baptism of Jesus, we read:

9 They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. (Is 11:9, NIV)27

Also, in Isaiah 45, the LORD says:

“22 Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other. 23 By myself I have sworn, my mouth has uttered in all integrity a word that will not be revoked: Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear. 24 They will say of me, ‘In the Lord alone are deliverance and strength.’ ” All who have raged against him will come to him and be put to shame. (Is 45:22-24, NIV)28

In the foretold reign of God, all people will acknowledge that God is King (cf. Php 2:9-11; Rom 14:11) — even those who previously rejected Him (though at that point it will be too little, too late).

Furthermore, the reign of God also has a political component. God’s people will be liberated from oppressive Gentile governments.

As we read in Daniel 7, all nations, peoples of every language, and all rulers will worship the Son of Man and the Most High in the everlasting kingdom (Dn 7:13-14, 22, 27;29 cf. Mk 8:38, 14:61-62).

The great messianic prophecy of Isaiah 9, which we often hear read around Christmas, states:

6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this. (Is 9:6-7, NIV)30

The messianic kingdom of God would be characterized by everlasting justice and righteousness, for the messianic Son (i.e., descendant) of David would reign on the throne.

Furthermore, in the prophesied kingdom of God, there would be no “poverty, hunger, famine or deprivation” (cf. Is 32:1-8, 35:1-2).31

Isaiah prophesies that the wilderness will burst into full bloom (Is 35:1-2).32 And godly kingship would be like streams of water in a desert (Is 32:2).33

Though ungodly fools currently are respected in this world, there will come a time when the world will be ruled by the noble (cf. Is 32:4-8).34

In this great reversal, as one author writes:

“The powers of sin, death and darkness are replaced by peace, justice and the worship of the one true God. In essence, it is the hope that the rule of God would be restored over all creation.”35

The vicious cycle of sin and death, which began in the Garden of Eden, will be broken.36 The Creator will restore His creation.

No wonder why Jews prayed for this wonderful kingdom, this awesome reign of God.

And no wonder why Jesus instructed His disciples to pray: “your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”. (Mt 6:10, NIV).37

Kingdom of God: Realm or Reign?

The kingdom of God is a central theme of the Gospel of Mark (cf. Mk 4:11, 26, 30; 9:1, 47; 10:14–15, 23–24; 12:34; 14:25; 15:43).38

Jesus the King (cf. Mk 15:26) comes twice: first to inaugurate the Kingdom/Rule/Reign of God, and second to consummate the Kingdom/Reign/Rule over the whole world.39

Many debate whether kingdom (βασιλεία | basileia) describes a “realm or a reign, a state or a divine activity”.40

Generally the kingdom refers to activity where God’s reign is made manifest in a person or situation — when His intentions are fulfilled.41 Thus, as we mentioned above, the kingdom/reign of God is more about “rule” rather than “realm” .42

However,  when describing the future, it also seems to refer to a place where the divine reign is manifest.43 For, in the future, people can enter, obtain, and even inherit44 (cf. 1 Cor 6:9-10, 15:50; Gal 5:21; Eph 5:5; Col 1:12; Jas 2:5 cf. Rev 21:7-8) the kingdom.

For example:

And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, (Mk 9:47, NIV;45 cf. Mk 9:1, 10:15)46

Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it. (Mk 10:15, NIV)47

Truly I tell you, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” (Mk 14:25, NIV)48

So, is the kingdom of God about a realm or reign? It certainly seems that the answer is both.

Kingdom of God: Has Come or Is Coming?

Come near (ἐγγίζω | engizō) can mean come near in a temporal sense (like employees want 5:00PM on Fridays to come near so the weekend can begin)49 or in a spatial sense (since King Jesus has physically come near)50 or both.51

Come near can also mean “has drawn near” (i.e., imminence) or “has come” (i.e., arrival).52

In other words, if the kingdom of God was like a train, has it come near — meaning we can see it coming from the distance — or has it already arrived at the station?

OT Nearness

In the Old Testament (LXX), this world usually refers to the nearness (i.e, imminence) of God or His judgment (Dt 4:7; Is 51:5; Is 56:1; Jer 23:23; cf. Is 48:1653 cf. Is 46:13).54

For example, in Isaiah 51:5, the LORD says:

5 My righteousness draws near [engizō] speedily,
my salvation is on the way,
and my arm will bring justice to the nations.
The islands will look to me
and wait in hope for my arm. (Is 51:5, NIV)55

This certainly sounds like the LORD’s help has not yet arrived but is coming soon.

Later in Isaiah 56, we read:

This is what the LORD says:

“Maintain justice
and do what is right,
for my salvation is close at hand [engizō]
and my righteousness will soon be revealed. (Is 56:1, NIV)56

Again, the LORD’s salvation has not yet arrived but will come soon. It is close at hand. Thus, it is not surprising that many translations translate engizō as “at hand” (cf. Mk 1:15, NASB; Mk 1:15, ESV; Mk 1:15, KJV; etc.).

Moreover, whereas these examples in Isaiah seem to speak of the LORD”s nearness in a temporal sense, other Old Testament passages use this word to describe the LORD”s nearness in a spatial sense. For example, in Deuteronomy 4, we read:

7 What other nation is so great as to have their gods near[engizō] them the way the LORD our God is near us whenever we pray to him? (Dt. 4:7, NIV)57

This seems to refer not to the LORD being near as in coming soon but near as in close by. Also, in Jeremiah 23, the LORD says:

23 “Am I only a God nearby,”
declares the LORD,
“and not a God far away?
24 Who can hide in secret places
so that I cannot see them?”
declares the LORD.
“Do not I fill heaven and earth?”
declares the LORD. (Jer 23:23-24, NIV)58

Here it appears that the LORD is claiming not only to be close by (engizō), but to be omnipresent. In a sense, there is no place on earth where one can hide from the LORD.

So, as we have seen, in the Old Testament, engizō is often used to describe the LORD coming near (i.e., imminence) — either temporally (i.e., on the way) or spatially (close by).

NT Nearness

In the New Testament, engizō is also often used to describe imminence. For example, in 1 Peter we read:

The end of all things is near [engizō]. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. (1 Pe 4:7, NIV cf. Rom 13:12; Jas 5:8; Lk 21:8, 20)59

When 1 Peter was written in the first century AD,  clearly the end of all things had not yet come. Rather, in a sense, the end had come near.

That being said, if the time has been fulfilled, it would not make sense to say that the kingdom of God had not yet arrived at all.60 The wording may have “intentional ambiguity”.61

Thy Kingdom Came, Coming or Both?

Over the years, this ambiguity has led to many different interpretations of the kingdom of God. One scholar surveys various views on the kingdom of God quite nicely:

  1. “a Davidic-like kingdom about to be established in Jerusalem (the political view);
  2. a new, spiritual rule of God being established in the human heart (the noneschatological view);
  3. the end of history soon occurring and the final judgment taking place (the consistent eschatological view);
  4. the promised rule of God now having arrived in its entirety (the realized eschatological view); and
  5. the reign of God now beginning, in that the OT promises are being fulfilled, the promised Spirit is once again being active and soon dwelling in every believer, but the final consummation still lying in the future (the “already but not yet” view).”62

Political View

Some who hold the (1) political view that maintain that Jesus was a political revolutionary who sought to set up an alternate system of government to supplant Roman rule.

Yet, this seems to be at odds with His teaching on giving what is Caesar’s to Caesar and giving to what is God’s to God (Mk 12:13-17 also see Mt 5:39-42, 44-47).63

Jesus could have renounced paying taxes to Rome, maintaining that the only true king was God — as did the group known as the Zealots.64 But He didn’t.

Noneschatological View

The (2) noneschatological view seems unlikely since Jesus does not speak of the kingdom of God as simply some “subjective principle within the human heart…”65

As we’ve seen, there is clearly an eschatological (end-time) aspect to the kingdom. And, as it’s been said, “It is not the kingdom that enters into the believer but rather the believer who enters into the kingdom.”66

The Consistent Eschatological View

The third and fourth views are essentially opposites.

On the consistent eschatological view, the kingdom of God — and the final Day of Judgment — is coming in the (near) future. There are several texts that apparently support this perspective (Mk 9:1, 14:25; Lk 11:2, 13:22-30; Mt 7:21-23, 8:11-12, 25:31-46).67

Later in Mark, Jesus tells His disciples that some of them will not taste death before they see the kingdom having come with power (Mk 9:1; cf. Mk 14:25). Certainly sounds like this will happen in the near future.

Moreover, in Matthew 7, Jesus says that not everyone who calls Him, “Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but only those who obey the Father, Who is in heaven (Mt 7:21-23).

Concerning who will enter and who will be thrown out, there appears to be an element of future judgment  (cf. Lk 13:22-30, Mt 8:11-12, 25:31-46).68

Seeing that Jesus instructed His disciples to pray, “Your kingdom come” (Lk 11:2), at least some aspect of the kingdom of God concerns the future. 

Realized Eschatology View

This is why the fourth view fails. It’s hard to believe that the magnificent kingdom of God that was foretold in the Old Testament has fully arrived right now.

That being said, the third view fails because the kingdom is not completely a future phenomenon (cf. Mk 2:21-22; Mt 11:4-6).69

Some aspects of the kingdom that the Old testament prophets and righteous people of God longed to see are present in the present.

For example, In Luke 11, Jesus says:

But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. (Lk 11:20, NIV)70

Finger of God is likely an allusion to Ex 8:19. There the magicians in Pharoah’s court try to reproduce the plagues God brought about through Moses, but ultimately have to admit that it is indeed “the finger of God” working through Moses.71

Jesus’ cites His exorcisms as proof that the kingdom of God was being manifested — “now!”72 Later in Luke, He says:

16 “The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then, the good news of the kingdom of God has been proclaimed, and everyone is strongly urged to enter it. (Lk 16:16, HCSB).73

The expression The Law and the Prophets refers to the entire Old Testament.74

As we noted in an earlier lesson on Jesus’ post-Baptism, many Jews believed that Malachi (c. 500-460 BC)75 was the last prophet. Many thought that the prophetic voice would be muted until the dawning of the messianic era.

John the Baptist announces the beginning of this era.76 He is the transitional figure between the old age and the new age of the kingdom of God.

Now, this verse can be translated in various ways. Jesus may be saying that people are forcing their way into the kingdom (cf. Lk 16:16 NIV; Lk 16:16 NRSV; Lk 16:16 ESV; Lk 16:16 NASB), or being forcefully urged to enter the kingdom (Lk 16:16 HCSB) or are forcefully opposing the kingdom.77

But, no matter how you slice it, He is describing something that was happening in the present.

And finally, in Luke 17, we find:

20 Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, 21 nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst. (Lk 17:20-21)78

Here, Jesus tells the Pharisess that (at least in some sense) the kingdom of God “is somehow present”79 — likely because it is “present in the Person and ministry of Jesus”80

“Already, But Not Yet”

The kingdom of God is not entirely political (contra 1), is eschatological (contra 2), is not entirely future (contra 3), yet not entirely present (contra 4).

All things considered, the most plausible view seems to be that of the “already but not yet”.81 That is, the kingdom of God has come but is not completely realized.82

The kingdom of God is both a “present reality and a future hope”83 until Jesus comes back84 (cf. Mk 8:38, 13:26-27, 33-34, 14:62).85

The reign/kingdom of God has come (near) because the King has come.86 When others submitted to God’s reign, the reign began to expand.87

As we see in the Parable of the Growing Seed, the kingdom of God is like a seed that grows until harvest (Mk 4:26-29).88 As we see in the Parable of the Mustard Seed, the kingdom of God is like a small mustard seed that grows into a large plant (Mk 4:30-32).89

Repent and Believe

Indicative Precedes the Imperative

Verse 15 (Mk 1:15) is essentially a summary statement of the Gospel of Mark.90 In it, two indicatives precede two imperatives.91

As noted in a previous study on the Ten Commandments (see sources cited there), this is the typical pattern in Scripture. God tells us what He has done (indicative) before telling us what to do (imperative).

For instance, before what we call the Ten Commandments (many Jews actually count Exodus 20:2 as the 1st Commandment) it reads:

“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery” (Ex 20:2, NIV).

When I was younger, if my mother told me to do something and I asked, “Why?”, she would likely say something like, “Because I’m your mother. I brought you into this world.”

Similarly, if any Israelite ever wondered why they should follow the LORD’s commands, I can imagine God saying, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery” (Ex 20:2, NIV).

There is an implicit therefore before all of the Ten Commandments. God basically says: I brought you ought of Egypt, therefore you shall have no other gods before me (Ex 20:3), etc.

Here, Jesus indicates what has been done: (1) the time is fulfilled and (2) the kingdom of God has come/come near before giving two imperative commands: (1) repent and (2) believe the Gospel (i.e., Good News).

The King has come, therefore people should submit to His Kingship.

Faith is a voluntary response to God’s grace.92 “The gracious activity of God evokes and demands an appropriate response from humanity” (e.g., Exodus 19-20; Dt. 29:2-15).93

Moreover, this response must be continual. In Greek, these commands are present-tense — implying continual repentance and faith.94

Faith is a major theme of Mark,95 and people are often commanded to believe (Mk 1:15, 5:36, 11:22, 24).96

Unbelief is rebuked (Mk 4:40, 6:6, 9:19)97; genuine belief is commended (Mk 2:5, 5:34, 9:23, 10:52, 11:23).98


Repent and Belive the Gospel of Jesus Christ (U Turn) traffic sign99

Like John, Jesus preached repentance (cf. Mk 1:4).100 When you repent, you turn (U turn).That is, negatively turning from sin, but also positively turning to God.

Jesus is more explicit about this positive, active trust (i.e., faith).101 Yet, He still emphasizes the grave importance of repentance:

Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. 2 Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? 3 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. (Lk 13:1-3, NIV)

Repenting entails “switching allegiances” from self to Savior.102 And this allegiance entails obedience and true commitment103 – with one’s whole heart in “total surrender”.104

Christ calls us to die to self, selfish desires, and to a self-directed lifestyle.105 This is not “cheap grace”; it’s costly discipleship.106

As noted in a previous sermon, later in Mark Jesus tells His disciples:

“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (Mk 8:34b, NIV)

The disciples will preach repentance, as well (Mk 6:12)107 — as should we.

Faith: A Verb

Believe (πιστεύω | pisteuō) is the verb-form of the noun faith(fulness) (πίστις | pistis). In English, we don’t say, “I am faithing in God”. We say, “I am believing in God” or “I have faith in God”.

But as mentioned in a previous sermon and study, faith is not merely something you have; it’s something you do. Faith is a verb.

For example, John 3:16, one of the most popular passages in Scripture, says:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes [faiths; pisteuō] in him shall not perish but have eternal life (Jn 3:16, NIV)

Also, Romans 10:9 says:

9 because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe [faith; pisteuō] in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Rom 10:9, NRSV)

Belief That vs. Belief In

But what does it mean to believe? To faith? (verb). As it’s been said, there’s a difference between belief that and belief in. 

Belief that entails mere intellectual assent — believing that something is “true or valid”; belief in entails trusting in something actively.108

For example, say a doctor prescibes a patient medication that will make them well. A patient may believe that taking the medication will make them well — and yet never take their medication. Their intellectual assent is not matched by action.

Another example: one can believe that diet and exercise can lead to a healthier physical life. However, it is easy to agree with this notion without ever cutting calories or hitting the gym.

Believing in diet and exercise to give one a healthier physical life entails actively dieting and exercising.

Similarly, one can believe that faith in Christ can lead to a healthier spiritual life. However, it is easy to agree with this notion without ever being faithful to Christ.

Believing in Jesus Christ to give one a healthier spiritual live entails actively being faithful to Christ.

One can believe that Jesus is Lord without believing in Jesus as Lord.

As we find in Scripture, even demons believe that Jesus is the Son of God:

24 “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.” (Mk 1:24, ESV)

11 Whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and shouted, “You are the Son of God!” (Mk 3:11, NRSV)

7 And crying out with a loud voice, he said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” (Mk 5:7, ESV)

Demons also believe that there is a God:

You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. (Jas 2:19, NASB)

Demons believe that there is a God, but do not believe in God. For believing in God — being faithful to our Lord Jesus Christ — entails faithful obedience (cf. Rom 1:5, 16:26; Mt 7:21).

As we find in Romans 1, Paul says:

…we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for the sake of his name (Ro 1:5, NRSV)

And as Jesus says:

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. (Mt 7:21, NRSV)

Faith is an active response to God’s grace. And “faith” without works of godly obedience and mercy is dead (Jas 2:17, 26).

Believing in Christ entails loyal obedience to Christ — and loving Jesus entails obeying Jesus (Jn 14:15, 23, 15:14 cf. 1 Jn 5:3).

Can’t Have One Without the Other

Repentance and faith are connected (cf. Ac 11:17-18; Heb 6:1;109 Ac 19:4; 26:20).110 For example, in Acts 20, Paul says:

I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus (Ac 20:21, NIV)111

When one is commanded, the other is implied. You can’t have one without the other (cf. Ac 2:38, 16:31).112. They are essentially two sides of the same coin.113

To believe in the Gospel is essentially another way of saying to believe in Jesus (Mk 8:35, 10:29).114

In the time of the inbreaking kingdom of God, repentance and faith are no longer exclusively associated with God’s Presence in the Temple, but with the Son of God who was present among His people.115

Choose Wisely!

Christ commands people to repent and believe. The King brings people to an urgent, radical decision:

  • choose the world or
  • choose the One who created the world – and seeks to redeem it through Jesus 116

No one would say, “So and so has become king! If it pleases you, accept him as your king!”117

This is an official proclamation with an “implicit demand for submission118 — a summons! 119

Yet many in our society will choose to ignore the summons. This is likely partly due to society having a “shallow view of sin”.120

Many are in denial; some say sin is non-existent.121 Many have repented from belief in objective standards for right and wrong, as moral relativism is preached in academia, the media, etc.

More and more people believe that morality is basically a matter of personal opinion. In such a culture, commanding someone to repent from their self-directed, wicked ways is seen as offensive.

Nonetheless, one has to admit one has a problem (i.e., sin) before seeking the Solution (i.e., Jesus).122 This is the first step.

Jesus is the Great Physician but many refuse treatment because they don’t think they’re sick (cf. Mk 2:17). It’s hard for someone to take talk about forgiveness of sin seriously if they don’t think they need to be forgiven!

Moreover, in Auden’s For the Time Being, King Herod says, “I like committing crimes; God likes forgiving them. Really the world is admirably arranged.”123

Not only do many not feel the need to repent; many simply do not want to repent. Sometimes we ask forgiveness for things we don’t even want to repent from!

Furthermore, each person must respond to Christ individually.124 We can’t shift blame to others (cf. Aaron in Ex 32:21-24; Adam in Gen 3:12-13).125 — not our family, not our society, or anyone else.

For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat individually (Rom 14:10, 12; 2 Cor 5:10):

10 You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. 11 It is written:

“ ‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,
‘every knee will bow before me;
every tongue will acknowledge God.’ ”

12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God. (Rom 14:10-12, NIV)

To enter the Kingdom of God, God must reign in one’s own heart.126


Jesus announces the inauguration of the prophesied, inbreaking kingdom of God — which has come at God’s appointed time. The kingdom has come because the King has come.127

The kingdom is here “already” but “not yet” fully consummated — not until the Second Coming.

In the meantime, Jesus commands people to repent and believe the Good News of the kingdom. We must turn from our sin and turn to Christ the King in loving, loyal obedience.

For more commentary on Mark, please visit the Book Study Overview page. For the sources cited, please see the bibliography.


  1. Barbara Aland et al., eds., The Greek New Testament, Fifth Revised Edition (Stuttgart, Germany: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2014), Mk 1:15.
  2. UBS, 37 cf. Brooks, 47; Edwards, 47; Guelich, 43
  3. Witherington, 77
  4. Stein, 70
  5. Strauss, 80
  6. Strauss, 80; Stein, 70
  7. Witherington, 77 cf. Bock; 408
  8. Lane, 64
  9. Strauss, 80
  10. Strauss, 80
  11. Garland, 59; Strauss, 71. “Luke says that John’s ministry began in the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar (Luke 3:1), which could be either c. AD 27 or 30, depending on whether Luke is referring to Tiberius’s coregency with Caesar Augustus (AD 11–12) or his sole reign after his father’s death (AD 14). The Synoptic Gospels mention only one Passover during Jesus’ ministry, but John refers to three (John 2:13; 6:4; 11:55) and possibly four ([John 5:1]). This suggests a ministry of approximately three and a half years, perhaps either AD 27–30 or AD 30–33. The former seems slightly more likely in light of John 2:20, where we learn that Herod’s temple construction had been going on for forty-six years (approx. 20 BC to AD 27).” Strauss, 71
  12. Schnabel, 44
  13. Garland, 59; cf. Eph 1:10; Edwards, 47; Stein, 73; Strauss, 80
  14. Keener, 130
  15. English, 50
  16. Edwards, 45
  17. Edwards, 45
  18. English, 50
  19. Strauss, 80
  20. Strauss, 80
  21. Strauss, 80
  22. Strauss, 81
  23. Strauss, 84-85
  24. Keener, 130
  25. Kernaghan, 41
  26. English, 50; Garland, 62
  27. Kernaghan, 41
  28. English, 50
  29. Kernaghan, 41
  30. Kernaghan, 41
  31. Kernaghan, 41
  32. Kernaghan, 41
  33. Kernaghan, 41
  34. Kernaghan, 41
  35. Kernaghan, 41
  36. Strauss, 85
  37. cf. Stein, 72
  38. Garland, 59; Brooks, 47; Strauss, 80
  39. Keener, 130
  40. Witherington, 78
  41. Witherington, 78
  42. English, 49; cf. Brooks, 47; Stein, 72
  43. Witherington, 78 contra Garland, 59
  44. Witherington, 78 cf. Mt 6:10; Stein, 72
  45. Witherington, 78
  46. Stein, 81
  47. Witherington, 78; Stein, 81; cf. Strauss, 81
  48. Witherington, 78; Stein, 72; Strauss, 81
  49. BDAG, 270
  50. Lane, 65; Edwards, 46
  51. Lane, 65; Strauss, 80
  52. NIDNTTE, 78; cf. Kernaghan, 41; Bock, 408; France, 91; Strauss, 80
  53. Witherington, 78; cf. NIDNTTE, 78
  54. France, 91
  55. Witherington, 78
  56. WItherington, 78
  57. Witherington, 78
  58. Witherington, 78
  59. Witherington, 78
  60. NIDNTTE, 78; Kernaghan, 41 cf. Schnabel, 51
  61. NIDNTTE, 78 cf. Strauss, 80
  62. Stein, 72
  63. Stein, 72
  64. Keener, 159
  65. “…involving such things as the fatherhood of God, the interconnection of all humans, and the infinite value of the human soul.” Stein, 72
  66. Stein, 72
  67. Stein, 72
  68. Stein, 72
  69. Stein, 72
  70. Stein, 72
  71. Keener, 210
  72. Morris, 216
  73. Stein, 72
  74. Morris, 268; Keener, 223
  75. BEB, 1380
  76. Keener, 223
  77. Evans, 230 contra Morris, 268. “There is a problem with every one enters it violently. If the verb biazetai is middle it means ‘presses hard’, if passive, ‘is pressed hard’, ‘urged’. Some see the meaning as ‘every one treats it violently’, but this seems unlikely. There may be the thought of pressing into the kingdom ‘with the greatest earnestness, self-denial and determination, as though with spiritual violence’ (Geldenhuys). Or Jesus may mean that those pressing into the kingdom must be at least as much in earnest as the violent men of Palestine who tried to bring it in by force of arms. In the context we may think of people like the astute steward. When they see the value of entrance to God’s kingdom they are ready to force their way in, in contrast to the Pharisees who did not make use of their opportunity.”
  78. Stein, 72
  79. Keener, 225
  80. Morris, 276-277
  81. Stein, 73
  82. Kernaghan, 42; Bock, 408; Cole, 112; Brooks, 47; cf. parables of Mark 4 and 13; Guelich, 44; France, 93
  83. Strauss, 81
  84. Brooks, 47
  85. Strauss, 82
  86. Keener, 225; Morris, 276-277; cf. Witherington, 78
  87. Witherington, 78 cf. Cole, 112
  88. Strauss, 81 cf. Guelich, 44)
  89. Strauss, 81 cf. Guelich, 44; France, 94
  90. Keener, 130; Witherington, 77; Brooks, 45; Guelich, 41; France, 90 cf. Schnabel, 50; Stein, 69
  91. cf. Stein, 70
  92. cf. English, 52; Garland, 66
  93. Edwards, 47
  94. Edwards, 47
  95. Brooks, 47; Edwards, 47
  96. Brooks, 47
  97. Brooks, 47
  98. Brooks, 47
  100. Brooks, 47
  101. cf. Brooks, 47; Edwards, 47; cf. Guelich, 45
  102. Garland, 64
  103. Schnabel, 51
  104. Guelich, 45
  105. Witherington, 81; English, 44
  106. English, 45
  107. Edwards, 47; France, 89; Stein, 73)
  108. NIDNTTE, 765 cf. France, 93
  109. Guelich, 44
  110. Stein, 73
  111. Guelich, 44; France, 93
  112. Stein, 74
  113. Strauss, 82
  114. Stein, 74
  115. Schnabel, 52
  116. cf. Lane, 66
  117. Garland, 60
  118. Garland, 60
  119. Lane, 66
  120. Garland, 64
  121. Garland, 65
  122. Garland, 64
  123. Garland, 65
  124. Witherington, 81; Kernaghan, 42
  125. Garland, 64
  126. cf. English, 31
  127. Strauss, 85
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Imperfect Servant ✝?⛪ | Husband | Princeton U. Alum | M. Div. | Assistant (to the) Pastor | Sound Doctrine & Apologetics @catchforchrist