Prior to Jesus’ Resurrection and Ascension, He told His disciples in Acts 1:8, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Then, He proclaimed confidently that the gospel would be spread to the entire world. Therefore, we should take the responsibility to be witnesses of Jesus Christ even to the ends of the earth, as the last Judgment day comes nearer.
2 Timothy 4:1-2 says, “I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom:  Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.”
Preaching the gospel was Jesus’ last will on this earth and the Great Commission, and is our greatest duty. One might say, “I don’t have any duty in the church,” but he may have forgotten his mission to be a witness for Jesus Christ. Surely, preaching the gospel is the most important mission of all Christians who received the Holy Spirit as a gift. To do our duty, we should spread the Word in season and out of season.
Let’s look into Matthew 12:41-42. It says, “The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here.  “The queen of the South will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and indeed a greater than Solomon is here.”
Based on the above verses, I will explain briefly about the duty of preaching the gospel.
First, let’s delve into the spiritual definition of some words to help better understand the meaning of the whole part.
‘The Judgment day’ was mentioned in verse 41, and when does it refer to? John 12:31 says, “Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out.” The phrase ‘now is the judgment’ here is corresponding to the judgment day above.
The prince of the world refers to the ruler of the kingdom of the air, as mentioned in Ephesians 2:2. It was before Jesus’ crucifixion that He prophesied, “Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out.” And His prophecy came true. After Jesus’ crucifixion, He told apparently that enemy Satan, the ruler of the world would be cast away, as said in 2 Timothy 1:10, “but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”
Therefore, ‘the judgment day’ is the time between the resurrection of the Lord and His Second Coming to the earth. ‘Judgment day’ here does not refer to ‘the Final Judgment’, which is the Judgment of the Great White throne. Therefore, we can see that the judgment day is right now in which we are living.
It was also said in Matthew 12:41, “The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah.” What do the men of Nineveh and Jonah imply spiritually? To better understand this, let us review the historical background of the people of Jonah and Nineveh portrayed in the Bible.
Jonah was a prophet who worked for God in the northern part of Israel at around 780 BC, namely 780 years before Christ came. As a prophet, he had a mission to let the men of Nineveh know the message of God. Nineveh, the capital city of Assyria, was located nearby the upper stream of the Tigris. In Jonah 1:2, God commanded Jonah, “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”
But Jonah ran away from God and headed for Tarshish. He went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from God. Assyria was an enemy country of Israel, which gave hard time to Israel. So, if Assyria was destroyed, Israelites did not have to worry any more. Suppose that the men of Nineveh could repent and escape from the judgment of God by the preaching of Jonah. Therefore, Jonah did not want them to repented and be saved by his preaching. He decided to run away from God disobeying His command. His love for his nation made him run away from the will of God. It reminds us of the relation between Japan and Korea under the rule of Japanese imperialism.
However, Jonah clearly disobeyed God in spiritual aspect. It was wicked of Jonah to leave people to fall into destruction. In one sense, his patriotism was commendable, but Jonah was inevitably judged to be narrow and exclusive-minded by God who loves all mankind. God of Justice loves all nations, not only the Jewish, the chosen people, because He is God of all nations.
Therefore, the LORD sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose while Johan was onboard the ship that was going to Tarshish. All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship. But the ship was still threatened to break up. When they tried to cast lots to find who was responsible, the lot fell on Jonah.
Finally, the sailors took Jonah and threw him overboard as a sacrifice. At that moment, a great fish, which God provided, swallowed him. While Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights, he turned back by repenting thoroughly. Jonah prayed to God in Jonah 2:2, “In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me. From the depths of the grave I called for help, and you listened to my cry.” Then, the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.
Just as the word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time, he went to the great city of Nineveh and proclaimed undauntedly, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned.” Then, the Ninevites began to believe God, declare a fast. And all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth for repentance. When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened. The above verses tell us how important preaching the gospel is.
Jonah is like a minister who preaches God’s Word in today’s sense. The ‘people of Nineveh’ refers to people who used to live in sins without knowing God, but came to accept the gospel through ministers or evangelists, opened their heart, accepted Jesus Christ confessing that they are sinners, and came to dwell in spirit by becoming God’s children. If the people of Nineveh had not repented and turned back, they would have fall into the eternal death. But because they repented and turned back completely, they were forgiven.
In the following verses, we see the queen of the South. She was the queen of Sheba portrayed in 2 Kings 10. The South under the queen’s reign refers to Ethiopia today in Africa. She heard about the fame of Solomon that he was such a great king reigning his nation with God-given wisdom. She came and saw the excellent wisdom of Solomon and the blessings he had received from God. She was overwhelmed, saying “blessed be the LORD your God, who delighted in you, setting you on the throne of Israel! Because the LORD has loved Israel forever, therefore He made you king, to do justice and righteousness.” Gentile as she was, she praised the name of God.
The queen of Sheba came to God, not by somebody’s invitation but by her own wish to listen to the wisdom of King Solomon, hearing the news about his fame. And Sheba, the queen of the South came to believe in God by the preaching of Solomon. Then, she went back to her own country and preached to her people, and the whole nation came to worship God.
Therefore the queen of the South refers to people who come to church not by somebody else’s preaching but by themselves. As the queen of Sheba did, when they hear some things about God, they would come to the church with good heart. They are wiling to hear what ministers say in the church. Then, they come to welcome Jesus as their Savior inspired by the Word of God. Sometimes, when they hear some news that works of the living God are taking place, read the Word of God in newspapers or books, they come to church by themselves, not by somebody’s invitation.
In conclusion, Jonah refers to ministers, the men of Nineveh those who came to believe at the preaching of ministers, and the queen of the South those who came to church not by one’s invitation, but by themselves.
In Matthew 12:41, it is said, “the men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it.” Who has the authority to judge according to the above verse?
Hebrew 12:23 says, “to God the Judge of all” Therefore, for God is the Judge of all, He has the authority to judge people. And it is said in John 5:27, “[God] has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man.” The Son of Man refers to Jesus Christ, our Savior. Since Adam, the first man ate the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil, sin came into men and has led people to the way of eternal death.
It is said in Romans 5:18-19, “As through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.” Likewise, as through one man eternal death came to all men, gaining eternal life should also be done through one Man. It was Jesus Christ that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Though he was the one and only Son of God, he came to the earth as a Man. Three days After He was crucified with His blood shedding, He was resurrected to save all men through redemption of their sin. So it is said Jesus is the Son of Man. Then, it explains that Jesus was given the authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man.
No one in the world has the authority to judge others except God who works through the Holy Spirit and the Lord who redeemed us from all sin. James 4:11-12 says, “Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He, who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?”
Also, Luke 6:37 says, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” As said, we should have mercy even on our enemy. The Lord’s Prayer teaches us that for if we forgive men when they sin against us, our heavenly Father would also forgive us. Suppose that you prayed, “Forgive my sin, heavenly Father” without forgiving others. You would not be answered or forgiven by God. As for men, anyone does not have the authority to judge and condemn.
Romans 2:1 says, “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.” Therefore, we should not judge others, because God will certainly judge us for we have judged others.
As mentioned above, Jesus said you should not judge others. Then, why did He say that people of Nineveh would stand up at the judgment? As explained, only God is the Judge of all. Then, why do the men of Nineveh and the queen of the South will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, while there are so many people who believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior?
Many people tried to understand the 66 books of the Bible for a long time, but only in vain. That is why some people just guess and say about this passage that God will let the men of Nineveh and the queen of the South stand up at the Last Judgment. But this implies that not God but men will be the Judge of all. In this way, we misinterpret the Word of God because we depend on our own thoughts and wisdom. Therefore, 2 Peter 1:20 says, “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation.”
What, then, does it mean spiritually by that the men of Nineveh and the queen of the South will stand up at the Judgment? John 3:18 explains “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” Namely, those who have accepted Jesus Christ will not be judged by God. Whoever believes in Jesus Christ as the Savior has the authority as a child of God, and so the Heavenly Father will not condemn him because he is God’s child. However, God said that the one who do not believe in the name of God’s one and only Son stands condemned already.
Then, why do they not believe in Jesus as their Savior, even if we let them know that Heaven and Hell and the Judgment exist? John 3:19 onward say, “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”
Because God wants to redeem people from all their sins and save them, He let Jesus Christ, the light, come into the world. However, men did not welcome Him as their Savior. They loved darkness rather than light, for their deeds were evil.
What do those who love darkness rather than light say? They say, “They say I have to give up smoking and drinking, once I begin to attend church. What will be my pleasure, then?” They also turn down one’s invitation to go to church, saying, “I would not have any time to spare if I went to church even on the weekend. I’d rather go fishing and golfing, or I will watch a baseball game and meet some friends.”
Therefore, even though Jesus Christ came to the world as the light, those who do not welcome Jesus Christ as their Savior will finally fall into hell, the eternal death, because their deeds are evil. It is based on Rome 6:23, “for the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” God said that men who do not believe in the name of God’s one and only Son stand condemned already. He explains it in a perfect tense, not in a future tense, saying, “You will be condemned.”
When Christians, who have accepted the gospel and Jesus Christ, let people know the gospel to the world, those who open their hearts and welcome Jesus as their Savior will get to the salvation. However, those who do not believe and welcome Jesus Christ stand condemned already.
Then, who will this generation be condemned by? After all, it will be condemned by those who preach the gospel to them. Condemning does not refer to threatening them saying, “You will go to hell if you do not believe in God.” It means that those who deny the gospel that they heard will be condemned and then put to eternal death.
But the passage does not say, “(They) have condemned” but “(They) will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it.” This is because Jesus talked about what would happen in days to come in faith. Since the time of Jesus’ resurrection, those who accept the gospel through preaching or those who come to church by themselves by hearing news about God will preach the gospel to people to accept Jesus Christ. If people do not accept their preaching and invitation, they will be judged and condemned.
For example, John 19:30 says, “When Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is finished!’ And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.'” What meaning would Jesus’ death have and what would have been finished if everything was over after He died shedding His blood? Jesus said this with faith because He knew He would accomplish the redemption for all mankind by being crucified and resurrecting on the third day.
Preaching the gospel is the last will of Jesus Christ, the Great Commission and the most important mission, as it is said in Acts 1:8 and 2 Timothy 4:1-2. To do our duty, the Great Commission, we should spread the Word in season and out of season.
In 1 Corinthians 9:16, the apostle Paul said, “Yet when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, for I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” We should do our duties, the Great Commission by obeying the Word of God. On the Final Judgment day, God will ask us where our parents, children, brothers, and sisters are. Therefore, we should be clear-minded and do our duties well by realizing how important the Great Commission is, for we see the last day is coming .
3 John 1:2 say, “Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.” This verse is telling us that not only our own souls should go well but also we should spread the gospel to the unbelievers so that their souls will be well, too. When we do our duties well, our Heavenly Father will be pleased with us and give us His blessings.
Those who are chosen and blessed first have a mission to let family, neighbors and all nations know the gospel. Romans 10:14-15 say, “Then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘how beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!'” I hope you will fulfill your duties well by spreading that God is living and Jesus Christ is our Savior.