The following evidences are consistent with the gospel having been preached to the whole world in the First Century AD
Colossians 1:3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, 5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, 6 which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth,
How could the gospel have been “bearing fruit and increasing” in areas where it had not been preached?
Colossians 1:21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation[g] under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.
Indeed, this is a direct statement that it had been preached everywhere under the heaven. And as if that weren’t clear enough here, Paul stated it in yet a third way in Romans:
Romans 16:25 Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26 but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— 27 to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.
This assertion (that they did indeed fulfill the Great Commission in that century) is summarily dismissed by many who think it hogwash. They scoff that there’s no evidence that the gospel was preached everywhere. (Which is particularly interesting since one has to disregard all three of these Bible passages in order to make such a claim.)
Regardless, this is a case in which misunderstanding Genesis 1 causes people to misunderstand the gospel. Tradition says that Genesis 1 is about the creation of the universe–which did not exist before Genesis 1—and that the “Earth” in Genesis 1 is a reference to what we call today “Planet Earth”. But this is not the case, for we see in Genesis 1:10 that what God called “Earth” was only that area of “dry land” he had created, and not the whole of the planet. Indeed, do not all the Bible texts focus their attention on that area surrounding the Mediterranean Sea? Here’s a work in progress, where I explain my “limited firmament” (or limited raqia) theory.