“Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. ..." (Matthew 10:5-10)

“Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, preach this message: The kingdom of heaven is near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out the demons. Freely you have received, freely give. Do not take along any gold or silver or copper in your belts; take no bag for the journey, or extra tunic, or sandals or a staff; for the worker is worth his keep." (Matt. 10:5-10)

Why didn't Jesus want them to preach to Gentiles and Samaritans?

Jesus is giving specific instructions to his students according to a particular time and circumstance. The context of those teachings was founded upon the teachings of the Prophets.

Jesus is sending them out to teach the message of love for the Supreme Being to a specific group of people. He is also passing on the teachings of John the Baptist. How do we know this?

Consider these prior verses:
In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea and saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." (Matt. 3:2)
From that time on [after Jesus had heard of John's imprisonment] Jesus began to preach, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." (Matt. 4:17)
And now we find in this verse above that Jesus was telling his own disciples to carry on that same teaching:
"As you go, preach this message: 'The kingdom of heaven is near.’"
These verses indicate that Jesus did not make up his teachings. Once his own teacher - John the Baptist - was imprisoned, Jesus carried on those teachings and asked his own followers to do so as well.

This is the tradition of all the prophets and messengers of God. They each became the student of a teacher, taught those teachings, and then told their students to pass on those teachings.

One might ask why the Gentiles or Samaritans were not to be taught. To answer this we must understand that Jesus is asking his students to teach a particular message to a particular people. It is not as if Jesus’ mercy and teachings are not to be spread to anyone and everyone.

Rather, this is a testament to the fact that particular messages are given at particular times to particular people. For example, a college professor would have an altogether different set of instructions to a college class than a kindergarten teacher would have for a class of kindergartners. The two teachers have the same goal in mind - to teach the children. But their specific information is tailored to the age, maturity and education level of the students.

In the time of Jesus, the people of Judea generally had access to a collection of knowledge that had been handed down from the great prophets such as Abraham and Moses. As such, teaching specifically to that segment of society had to be altogether different than the teachings Jesus would have for Gentiles and Samaritans. This is not to say that Jesus did not teach to the Gentiles and Samaritans - he certainly did, as evidenced in other verses.

As for the specific instructions he gave them to teach the people, “The kingdom of heaven is near;” the interpretation that this is an 'end of the world' statement was put forth by politically-oriented institutions to help create a false sense of urgency among the population. This is an attempt to scare people into joining their institution.

This 'end of the world' interpretation grew out of the Fourth Century's First Council of Nicaea - organized by the Roman Emperor Constantine to politically organize and control the Christian world. This manipulation continued through the Second Council of Ephesus in 449 put together by the Roman Emperor Theodosius II, which led to the creation of the Roman Catholic Church.

The manipulation of information by the Roman Empire continued through the centuries by the Roman Catholic institution - often called the Holy Roman Empire.

As a result, for many centuries, some claiming to follow Jesus have preached that the world is coming to an end based upon this statement by Jesus. (See this page for a partial list.) In each generation, different “signs” have been used together with various quotes from different books within the Bible to offer proof that the world will end next year or even tomorrow.

So many centuries have passed, and still the world has not come to an end. Yet these false prophets are still teaching that the world is coming to an end on a particular date. At what point will we figure out that this interpretation is wrong?

What does the 'kingdom of heaven is near' mean?

The correct interpretation of "The kingdom of heaven is near" is quite different: The Greek word used is ἐγγίζω, which means, according to the Greek lexicon:
1) to bring near, to join one thing to another
2) to draw or come near to, to approach

Near is not a time element: Near is an element of distance.

Near means 'close by.' For each of us, the kingdom of heaven is truly near. For Israelites who had been taught strict adherence to the scriptures, we might say the kingdom of heaven was especially near, because they had access to the scriptures and the teachings of the prophets. They simply had to understand those teachings and apply them within their hearts. They had to simply realize, as Jesus and Moses taught, that love for God is the “first and foremost commandment.” (Matt. 22:38)

More importantly, the Supreme Being in His expansion as the Holy Ghost is right next to each of us: He is truly near.

What does 'kingdom' mean?

The word "kingdom" is being translated from the Greek word βασιλεία (basileia) - which means, according to the lexicon, "royal power, kingship, dominion, rule" and "not to be confused with an actual kingdom but rather the right or authority to rule over a kingdom." In other words, the word refers to accepting the dominion and power of the Supreme Being. His ultimate authority.

Everything is part of God's kingdom: He owns everything and He controls everything. We can thus have a relationship with Him in whatever part of His kingdom we may reside. The "kingdom" that Jesus is referring to is the consciousness where we are devoted to Him. It is the place in our hearts where we are thinking of Him, and wanting to please Him and do His will.

The kingdom of God is so near that all we have to do is make a decision. We don't have to go anywhere special. We don't have to join any special organization. We don't have to undergo any special ceremony. All we have to do is drop to our knees and ask God directly, by the grace of His representatives like Jesus and Moses, to help us re-establish our loving relationship with Him.

Where are we now?

The physical world is that place where He sends those souls who need to grow spiritually. This physical world and these physical bodies are classrooms. Here we have the opportunity to learn to love and develop our loving relationship with God.

But this doesn't mean we aren't within the kingdom of God here? Everywhere is part of God's kingdom.

In this section of God’s kingdom - within the gross physical world - most of us wholly disregard God. We have the opportunity to chase our dreams for a while. We can now pretend that God doesn't exist.

This illusion allows us to chase our dreams of becoming wealthy, famous, attractive and whatever else we desire. Because we are forgetting our relationship with God we chase these things in order to gain the love of others.

But even if we gain those things we typically don't get any love from others. We typically only get envy. This is the nature of the physical world where everyone is chasing the same things.

Today some manipulate the teachings of Jesus to proclaim that we are each God. This is the epitome of our forgetfulness of the Supreme Being. They are proclaiming that we are all God but we forgot, and now they will teach us to remember we are God.

As if God can forget He is God. This is how far away from God we can get in the physical world. We want to enjoy the world as though we were God, and bend His scriptures to accommodate our goal.

But what about the kingdom of God?

Even though we might still be located within the kingdom of God - because everything is within God's kingdom - the question is where is our consciousness. 

A person whose consciousness is focused on love for God is situated in the kingdom of God.

In the kingdom of love for God, the residents are all concerned about God's happiness. They are concerned about others' happiness. We don't have to imagine such a world, as John Lennon sang. It does exist. We just are not in it because we are self-centered instead of being God-centered.

This is the kingdom that Jesus is referring to as near. This kingdom is ridiculously "near." It is as near as each of us making a decision to change. It is as near as a simple, heartfelt, and apologetic prayer asking forgiveness and offering ourselves to the Supreme Being. It is as near as the ground, where we can place our head and ask the Supreme Being - our Best Friend - if He will take us back, and teach us to love and serve Him again. Jesus illustrated how to do this:
Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as You will." (Matt. 26:39)
This simple key opens God’s personal kingdom to us. This is how near His kingdom is.

Can we depend on God?

We don't need to pretend to be God in order to become empowered. We can simply pledge ourselves, personally and internally, to the Supreme Being. We can become an associate of God's by asking God what we can do to serve Him and please Him.

This is clearly what gave Jesus his power and authority, and what he taught his followers to do.

As for Jesus telling his students to heal the sick, cast out demons, and travel without clothes and money, these are the tools Jesus gave his disciples in order for them to depend upon the Supreme Being and illustrate to others that they can depend upon God.

This is the pure message of Jesus’ instruction: Have complete trust in God and rely upon Him, and give our lives to Him because He is our Ultimate Savior, and He is near - He is readily available to us should we decide to return to Him.