The kingdom of heaven
Has come near.”
λέγων Μετανοεῖτε· ἤγγικεν γὰρ ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν.
The preaching message of John was very simple. John said that they should repent (λέγων Μετανοεῖτε). They should turn their lives around, with a profound metanoia, a change of their spirit. The equivalent about repentance, metanoia, or the change of heart can be found in Mark, chapter 1:4, and Luke chapter 3:3. Matthew had John say that the kingdom of heaven (γὰρ ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν) was at hand, coming near (ἤγγικεν). Notice that Matthew did not say the kingdom of God, but the kingdom of heaven. In fact, it is in the plural “heavens,” perhaps due to the Hebrew word for heaven that was both singular and plural. Only Matthew used this apocalyptic phrase over 30 times. The other canonical gospel writers did not use this term, “kingdom of heaven.”