This semester I’m teaching an entire course on this phrase. And essentially I’m teaching the class on one verb in this one verse. The question is how to translate ἤγγικεν.
Mat 4:17 τότε ἤρξατο ὁ Ἰησοῦς κηρύσσειν καὶ λέγειν, Μετανοεῖτε· ἤγγικεν γὰρ ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν.
KJV From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
NIV From that time on Jesus began to preach, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near."
I have my opinions about how this verb should be translated. It needs to take into account Matthew 3:2 and 10:7. You need to look at the 14 occurrences of the verb in this tense and the 42 total occurrences of this verb in the New Testament.
You need to look at how people use English today. I was rather doubtful of the contemporary use of “is at hand” but this video convinced me that it is still very much recognizable English:
So I guess I’ll ask you for help. What did Jesus say? And what did Jesus mean? And how can we best translate this verb to communicate ancient meaning to modern readers?