Concerning the end of the world and when this will happen Mark 13:10 says:
And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. (NIV)
Has the gospel been preached to all nations?
Christianity Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for committed Christians, experts in Christianity and those interested in learning more. It only takes a minute to sign up.Sign up to join this community
The word translated 'nations' is ἔθνος (ethnos), from which we derive the word 'ethnic'. It is talking about ethnic communities, which we might call people groups today, not political states.
The Joshua Project estimates that there are 16,825 people groups in the word. Of those, 7,287 are unreached, by which they mean "less than 2% Evangelical Christian and less than 5% Christian Adherents". Because there are so few Christians in an unreached people group they will struggle to evangelise their own group with the gospel, which means many Christians believe they need outside missionary help. This represents 2.91 billion people.
The International Mission Board estimates there are 2,945 unengaged people groups. An unengaged people group is one where there are no Christian in the group, and no plan for anyone to take the gospel to them. They estimate there are over 190 million people in unengaged people groups.
I believe this was fulfilled. In Col. 1:23, the apostle Paul wrote,
If you remain in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached among every creature which is under heaven, of which, I Paul, was made a minister
εἴγε ἐπιμένετε τῇ πίστει τεθεμελιωμένοι καὶ ἑδραῖοι καὶ μὴ μετακινούμενοι ἀπὸ τῆς ἐλπίδος τοῦ εὐαγγελίου οὗ ἠκούσατε τοῦ κηρυχθέντος ἐν πάσῃ τῇ κτίσει τῇ ὑπὸ τὸν οὐρανόν οὗ ἐγενόμην ἐγὼ Παῦλος διάκονος
At least, if you choose to believe it was fulfilled, you have a biblical justification for doing so.
Colossians 1:23 is translated in the NIV and several other translations as follows…” proclaimed”… “under heaven”. Paul may have been referring to the gospel in the stars. The zodiac has been found in some ancient Hebrew temples, and would have been a great mnemonic for recalling the Biblical message at a time when the written word was expensive and sparsely available. The stars are available everywhere, although different in the northern and southern hemispheres. Explanation of the meaning of the constellations would still be required even if they could be seen everywhere.
I think there is general agreement on terms. Preaching the gospel can be verbal and does not require the Bible to be published in every language and dialect. Mark 13:10 was a command to the apostles decades before the gospel first appeared in written form. The apostles did not understand this command to mean 'published', or they would have rushed out and written a gospel immediately. 'Nations' is to be read as understood in the first century: as ethnic groups, not as political entities, and presumably not as individual towns or local communities.
Colossians 1:23 says the gospel has been preached all over the world, to everyone under heaven, but clearly this was not yet true, because the author of Colossians was only aware of the Mediterranean/Near Eastern world. The author of Colossians tells us that the gospel had been preached to all nations within that geographically limited world, so his is the meaning I would use for 'preach'.
The Joshua Project shows numerous communities as 'unreached' even in Europe, United States and Australia (including two of Australia's biggest cities). The Joshua Project definition of unreached can not mean that there are so many places where the gospel has never been preached, even if only on a street corner or in a house. The International Mission Board estimates are likewise measures of success, not of preaching. I do not see in Jesus' statement in Mark 13:10, a command to the apostles to preach to all nations, that the gospel must be accepted and believed by a substantial proportion of each ethnic group. It seems that Jesus' command is fulfilled by having preached the gospel, even if people choose not to believe.
Colossians tells us that the gospel had been preached all over the Mediterranean/Near Eastern world by around the middle of the first century, although we know the great majority of people had never personally heard the gospel. By the same standard, the gospel has now been preached all over the entire world.
Prominent dispensationalist John MacArthur understands this passage to be a prophecy that will be fulfilled in the future, but not primarily through the church's work of evangelism. Instead, his literal approach to Revelation indicates to him that immediately prior to the outpouring of the bowl judgments (Revelation 16), God will send an angel to "supernaturally present the gospel to every person on earth":
6 Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people. 7 And he said with a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.” (Revelation 14:6–7, ESV)
That will be the final and total evangelization of the world, miraculously proclaimed from heaven. After that proclamation man's day will be finished [...] and his opportunity for salvation will be over.
MacArthur New Testament Commentary on Matthew 24:14
While word translated 'nations' is ἔθνος (ethnos) is the word from which we derive the word 'ethnic', according to the Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, this word is defined as "body of persons united by kinship, culture, and common traditions", the Lexicon tells us it should be translated as Nation or People in this context (it can also be translated as Gentiles) and the majority of the translations cited are "Nation".
Strong's Concordance agrees and records that this word is translated as "nation" or "nations" 67 times and "people" or "pagans" only 3 times.
Operating under the assumption that the translators knew what they were doing and translated this correctly, yes - the Gospel has been preached to every nation.
The Jesus Film Project reports
The film has been seen in every country of the world and translated into hundreds of languages since its initial release in 1979.
Through use by The JESUS Film Project, and more than 1,500 Christian agencies, this powerful film has had several billion viewings worldwide since 1979. On top of that, the great majority of those heard the story of Jesus in a language they easily understand.
As a result, more than More than 200 million people have indicated decisions to accept Christ as their personal Savior and Lord.
This film depicts the life, ministry and death of Jesus - the Gospel.
According to the project, the film is available in 1390 languages (currently) with more added every year. A complete list can be found here.
Because the film has been shown in every country in the world, the Gospel has therefore been preached to every nation.
No. According to the Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature,
One valid translation of this word is "Gentile" and Strong's Concordance records that it is translated this way in 93 of 163 appearances. Threfore, this word should more likely be translated as Gentile.
Since the Gospel has not been preached to every Gentile, the requirement of Mark 13:10 has not been filled.
Before even trying to unravel the mystery behind Jesus statement in Mark 13:10 we need to first determine just what and who Jesus meant. The two key words here are published and nations.
King James translation
Mark 13:10 And the gospel must first be published among all nations.
10 καὶ εἰς πάντα τὰ ἔθνη δεῖ πρῶτον ι κηρυχθῆνα τὸ εὐαγγέλιον.
Definitions of the Greek words:
ethnos (eth'-nos) n.
a race (as of the same habit), i.e. a tribe
(specially) a foreign (non-Jewish) one, Gentiles
(usually, by implication) pagan
KJV: Gentile, heathen, nation, people
kerusso (kay-roos'-so) v.
- to herald (as a public crier), especially divine truth (the gospel)
KJV: preacher(-er), proclaim, publish
Since Jesus spoke Aramaic and the Gospels were written in Greek we can not know for certainty these are accurate meanings, but since Greek is a verb oriented language, the meanings must be very near exact.
So We can say with assurance that what Jesus was saying is that the Gospel must be proclaimed to all tribes, which also would be all languages.
So how many languages are there?
Ethnologue (published by SIL International), whose detailed classified list as of 2009 included 6,909 distinct languages.
Much pioneering work in documenting the languages of the world has been done by missionary organizations (such as the Summer Institute of Linguistics, now known as SIL International) with an interest in translating the Christian Bible. As of 2009, at least a portion of the bible had been translated into 2,508 different languages, still a long way short of full coverage.
I may be wrong, but as I see it that Scripture will be fulfilled when the Bible is translated into all those languages and presented to them.
Much translation has been done since 2009, but I am unsure how many are left to be translated and published.
Colossians 1:6 (GOD'S WORD® Translation)
Colossians 1:23 (New Living Translation)
Not all Christians agree on what it means to "preach the Gospel."
It is an opinion - I am not sure whether dogma - within the Orthodox Church that the the Gospel can be proclaimed only by the Church and not by heretical sects, since otherwise not the true Gospel (capital "G") would be preached, but rather some other "gospel" (viz. Galatians 1:8, 2 Corinthians 11:14). Therefore, the opinion is that those who receive the Gospel only properly receive it when it is preached to them by the Orthodox Church. Since Eastern Orthodoxy has not yet reached the entire world, it follows from the above opinion that the Gospel has not, in fact, been preached to all nations.
Other answers scope this prophecy to political entities (actual nations), ethnic groups, or collections of people distinct by a combination of factors such as language, geography, political isolation, etc. that impose barriers to communicating the gospel. The definition is important to the implementation of the evangelistic project, but not the answer. Peoples rise and fall. Nations come into being and are overthrown. Languages split into dialects or are extinguished when nobody speaks them any more. The honest answer is that we don't know if there are new people groups, however defined, that will form in the future. If so, then the gospel has not reached all peoples yet.
Many theories of eschatology posit that a one-world government will arise in the end times, with Behemoth and Leviathan and their confederate nations dominating the planet. The conformity imposed by such a system may be the force that stops new people groups from forming and destroys all distinctions but two: the lost and the saved. New languages will not be tolerated, nor any religion but that of the Beast.
Absent an overwhelming power that prevents diversity, the prophecy cannot be fulfilled. That time will come, but has not yet arrived.