What is the gospel message that the Apostles preached in Acts? Most would answer something about the fact that Jesus died on the cross for our sins. Sophisticated words for this are propitiation, atonement, reconciliation, or justification by faith.
But does this encompass the full gospel of Peter, James and Paul?
Acts 2:22-41 records Peter’s sermon where he outlines the gospel message as fully as anywhere in the bible;
“22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. 25 For David says concerning him,
“‘I saw the Lord always before me,
for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken;
26 therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced;
my flesh also will dwell in hope.
27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades,
or let your Holy One see corruption.
28 You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’
29 “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. 32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. 33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. 34 For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says,
“‘The Lord said to my Lord,
Sit at my right hand,
35 until I make your enemies your footstool.’
36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”
37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.”
Encompassed within this short presentation are all the elements of the good news of Christ, King of all Kings. It includes the cross, the resurrection, the session and more.
But what is conspicuously absent from it is the primary message of Jesus. As recorded in Acts 1:3, after his resurrection Jesus taught the disciples about the kingdom of God. This was Jesus primary message as is expressed in his first recorded sermon in Mark 1:14-15, as well as in Luke 4:43 where Jesus says he was sent for this purpose, to preach the gospel of the kingdom of God.
Paul himself closes the Book of Acts preaching and teaching the same in Rome. Acts 28 reads;
23 When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets. 24 And some were convinced by what he said, but others disbelieved. 25 And disagreeing among themselves, they departed after Paul had made one statement: “The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your fathers through Isaiah the prophet:
26 “‘Go to this people, and say,
You will indeed hear but never understand,
and you will indeed see but never perceive.
27 For this people’s heart has grown dull,
and with their ears they can barely hear,
and their eyes they have closed;
lest they should see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart
and turn, and I would heal them.’
28 Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.”
30 He lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, 31 proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.
So here we see that in Acts the Apostles preached both the King (Acts 2) and the Kingdom (Acts 28 and more). One aspect of the gospel without the other is reductionist. It is not only less than a full gospel, it is a false gospel to proclaim one without the other.
I would argue that the end goal of the King is to bring His Kingdom, making that the primary aspect of the good news. But the Kingdom without the King who defines it is incomprehensible. As well, the King without His Kingdom is somehow less than He has for us.