Did Jesus and Paul Preach the Same Gospel?

Throughout the last two centuries, many have grappled with the seeming confusion portrayed in the New Testament when comparing Paul’s letters with Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Paul hammers home the gospel of the grace of God, while the four gospels seem to be heavy on a kingdom message. Many have tried to rectify this problem by reading Paul’s message of grace back into the gospels. The problem with this is that in Paul’s Holy Spirit inspired letters; over and over again he claims that his message was a mystery, never before revealed until he received it. Others have tried to combine Jesus’ and the twelve apostles’ message with Paul and say that there has only been one gospel, therefore they all preached the same message. This is a grave error as well. Jesus and the apostles told the nation of Israel to “repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”, something Paul never once is heard to have uttered. Did Paul preach something different than Jesus and the twelve? Is there more than one gospel spoken of in the New Testament? Can all of this be reconciled? The good news is that, yes, this is all easily understood if we study the Scripture without thinking it says something that it really doesn’t.

Part of the problem stems from the “red letter” Bibles that so many of us now have. Although I appreciate the red letters for study purposes, we need to recognize that the red letters printed to emphasize Jesus’ words, by no means make what was preached in the four gospels any more important than any other part of Scripture. The whole Bible is Holy Spirit (God) inspired and Paul emphasizes time and again that his message was given to him by the risen, glorified and ascended Lord Jesus Christ and not handed down to him by any man, including the apostles. One can’t read chapter one of Galatians and come away with any other notion. Paul was given a special message to “preach Christ crucified”, something Jesus and the twelve never did in the four gospels or the first half of the book of Acts. What follows is a comprehensive look at Jesus and the twelve in the gospels versus Paul’s letters with a detailed list of Scriptures that show that Paul’s gospel of the cross was NOT preached by Jesus and the twelve.

Let us start with the meaning of the word gospel. This word in the Greek is euangelizo, which means good news. It is a noun and not a verb, like “gospeling”, as some has taught. Paul makes it perfectly clear that the gospel, good news, to the Gentiles was that the Messiah of Israel had died for the sins of the whole world and then rose from the dead. If you believe, trust, put your faith in this and not in your own works, you will be saved. The clearest expose of Paul’s gospel is 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, “ 1Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, 2by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. 3For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,” This is the good news of the cross. Is this “preached” as good news in Matthew, Mark, Luke, John or early Acts?

The word “preached” is defined in the Strong’s concordance in the following way. “To proclaim, tell, often urging acceptance of the message with warnings of consequence for not doing so.” This is exactly how Paul preached the cross in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4-“ 1Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, 2by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.” But, did Jesus and the twelve refer to the cross as the good news of their day? The four gospels actually show the complete opposite. The cross was in reality a source of horror for the apostles. The synopsis below will show the Scripture references in the four gospels pertaining to Christ’s death and what the passage actually says about the crucifixion of Jesus.

 

Matthew 16:21-23

21From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day. 22Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.” 23But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.”

This doesn’t sound like Peter was preaching this as good news.

 

Matthew 17:22-23

“22And while they were gathering together in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men; 23and they will kill Him, and He will be raised on the third day.” And they were deeply grieved.”

Being “grieved” is the opposite of good news.

 

Mark 9:30-32

“30From there they went out and began to go through Galilee, and He did not want anyone to know about it. 31For He was teaching His disciples and telling them, “The Son of Man is to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill Him; and when He has been killed, He will rise three days later.” 32But they did not understand this statement, and they were afraid to ask Him.”

How could the twelve preach the cross if they didn’t even understand that Jesus was to die?

 

Mark 10:32-34

“32They were on the road going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking on ahead of them; and they were amazed, and those who followed were fearful. And again He took the twelve aside and began to tell them what was going to happen to Him, 33saying, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and will hand Him over to the Gentiles. 34″They will mock Him and spit on Him, and scourge Him and kill Him, and three days later He will rise again.”

“Those who followed were fearful”….Fearful of the gospel? Good news?

 

Luke 18-31-34

“31Then He took the twelve aside and said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things which are written through the prophets about the Son of Man will be accomplished. 32″For He will be handed over to the Gentiles, and will be mocked and mistreated and spit upon, 33and after they have scourged Him, they will kill Him; and the third day He will rise again.” 34But the disciples understood none of these things, and the meaning of this statement was hidden from them, and they did not comprehend the things that were said.”

How could the twelve preach something that they didn’t understand and was hidden from them?

 

Luke 24:6-11

“6″He is not here, but He has risen Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee, 7saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.” 8And they remembered His words, 9and returned from the tomb and reported all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. 10Now they were Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James; also the other women with them were telling these things to the apostles. 11But these words appeared to them as nonsense, and they would not believe them.”

They obviously couldn’t have been preaching Jesus’ resurrection from the dead if they themselves thought that it was “nonsense”.

 

Luke 24:18-21

“18One of them, named Cleopas, answered and said to Him, “Are You the only one visiting Jerusalem and unaware of the things which have happened here in these days?” 19And He said to them, “What things?” And they said to Him, “The things about Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word in the sight of God and all the people, 20and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to the sentence of death, and crucified Him. 21″But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, it is the third day since these things happened.”

The reaction to the crucifixion by these disciples is an obvious sign that the cross was not preached as good news.

 

John 12:28-34a

“28″Father, glorify Your name ” Then a voice came out of heaven: “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.” 29So the crowd of people who stood by and heard it were saying that it had thundered; others were saying, “An angel has spoken to Him.” 30Jesus answered and said, “This voice has not come for My sake, but for your sakes. 31″Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. 32″And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.” 33But He was saying this to indicate the kind of death by which He was to die. 34The crowd then answered Him, “We have heard out of the Law that the Christ is to remain forever; and how can You say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’?”

The crowd definitely didn’t expect the Messiah of Israel to be crucified, exemplifying the fact that this was not preached as good news.

 

John 20:1-9

“1Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came early to the tomb, while it was still dark, and saw the stone already taken away from the tomb. 2So she ran and came to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.” 3So Peter and the other disciple went forth, and they were going to the tomb. 4The two were running together; and the other disciple ran ahead faster than Peter and came to the tomb first; 5and stooping and looking in, he saw the linen wrappings lying there; but he did not go in. 6And so Simon Peter also came, following him, and entered the tomb; and he saw the linen wrappings lying there, 7and the face-cloth which had been on His head, not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself. 8So the other disciple who had first come to the tomb then also entered, and he saw and believed. 9For as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.”

Again, how could Peter and John have been preaching the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus if they didn’t understand it?

From the passages listed so far, it seems very clear that Jesus and the twelve did not preach the same gospel as Paul. But, they did preach a gospel. Our translators have labeled Matthew, Mark, Luke and John “the gospels” for a reason. What gospel were they preaching if the work of the cross was not the object of their belief? Mark 1:14-15 says that Jesus came preaching that the kingdom was at hand and that Israel was to repent and believe in the gospel. What gospel? Jesus tells us what the gospel to Israel was at the beginning of the passage.

 

Mark 1:14-15

“14Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, 15and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

The “good news” to Israel was that there long awaited Messiah and King was here and the kingdom was not far away from a reality. So John the Baptizer, Jesus and the apostles were calling Israel back into a proper relationship with God by telling them to repent of their ways and believe that the King was here. This is known as “the gospel of the kingdom” and this is the phrase that the Holy Spirit has chosen to label it throughout the four gospels as we shall see.

 

Matthew 3:1-2

“1Now in those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, 2″Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

The kingdom of heaven is the kingdom promised to Israel from the time of David. Here, John the Baptizer is heralding the fact that the King was coming soon and in fact had arrived as John ushered his disciples away from himself and pointed them to Jesus. “He must increase, but I must decrease.”-John 3:30.

 

Matthew 4:17 and 23

17From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” 23Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people.”

Notice what went right along with the gospel of the kingdom; healing of sickness and disease. Why all the healing? First, Acts 2:22 tells us that God had validated Jesus as the chosen Messiah with signs, miracles and wonders that He did through Jesus. There is another reason why Jesus went about healing Israel. It was promised throughout the Scriptures that in the kingdom, the blind shall see, the deaf shall hear and the lame shall walk. He was presenting himself as King of this majestic, perfect kingdom with God himself ruling on the throne in Jerusalem in the person of Jesus, the Son of God. Anyone that survives the tribulation will enter this kingdom in flesh and blood; therefore they must be healed as promised. This is why healings are not a part of Paul’s gospel of the grace of God. One of the mysteries of Paul’s gospel to the Gentiles is that the Body of Christ, formed from Jew and Gentile, is a heavenly body. Our mortal bodies on earth will be changed at the rapture to fit our eternal purpose in the heavenlies. A thorough study of Paul’s letters will show that there is no promise of a physical kingdom on earth. Our citizenship is in heaven, not in Jerusalem-Ephesians 1:3 and Philippians 3:20. We have no promise of healing; we groan within ourselves waiting for the redemption of our bodies at the rapture-Romans 8:23 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-57. This doesn’t mean that healings don’t occur today. God does heal according to His good pleasure, but physical healing is not promised to us in the Body of Christ as part of the gospel of grace as it was promised to Israel with the gospel of the kingdom. One other possible reason for Israel being healed for the kingdom is their role in the kingdom. Exodus 19 and 1 Peter 2 promises Israel that they will be a kingdom of priests. According to Leviticus 21:17-23, priests must not have any defects. Therefore the Israelites entering the kingdom were to be in perfect health as they will be representing Almighty God to the nations.

 

Matthew 9:35

“35Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.”

Matthew 10:5-8

“5These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them: “Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans; 6but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7″And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ 8″Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give.”

These passages of Scripture are the key to understanding the difference between the gospel of the kingdom to Israel and the gospel of the grace of God that Paul preached, mainly to the Gentiles. The Old Testament, Gospels and early Acts tell us that if Gentiles were to join in worshipping Israel’s God, they had to become proselytes. The men needed to be circumcised and Gentiles were to be subjugated to the Jews. But, Israel had fallen away from God’s covenant relationship and now John the Baptizer, Jesus and the twelve were calling them back in order for Israel to take her prominent role in the kingdom as the light of the world-Isaiah 49:6 and 60:1-3. The four gospels are just a continuation of what was to come next for the nation of Israel. Before any Gentile could be approached with the gospel of the kingdom of Israel, Israel had to believe first. After all, the kingdom was promised to Israel. These passages in Matthew testify to all of this, and notice that the healings followed their kingdom message again. That is why the commissions, for Israel, tell them to start in Jerusalem, then Judea, then Samaria and then to the nations, but not before Israel believed-Luke 24:44-47 and Acts 1:8. We could discuss at length the commissions given to the twelve apostles of Israel and how they fit with the book of Acts, but let’s keep our focus for now on the gospels and Paul’s letters.

 

Luke 8:1

“1Soon afterwards, He began going around from one city and village to another, proclaiming and preaching the kingdom of God. The twelve were with Him,”

Luke 16:16 “16″The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John; since that time the gospel of the kingdom of God has been preached,…”

We see from the previous passages that the gospel of the kingdom was preached and it had nothing to do with the cross. Israel had to accept Jesus as Messiah. Along with this came other expectations for salvation. We have to remember that the whole time Jesus walked about Israel preaching the gospel of the kingdom; both He and Israel were still under the Law-Galatians 4:4, “4But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law,”. It follows that any instruction for salvation to the nation of Israel would have its roots in the Old Testament Law given to Moses. Believe it or not, water baptism was a part of this as we shall see.

 

Matthew 19:16-21

“16And someone came to Him and said, “Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?” 17And He said to him, “Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” 18Then he said to Him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER; YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY; YOU SHALL NOT STEAL; YOU SHALL NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS; 19HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER; and YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” 20The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept; what am I still lacking?” 21Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”

What was the answer that Jesus gave for salvation? “keep the commandments”. Along with this was selling all one had. This is to be taken literally as further study of the gospels and the early part of Acts reveals that the disciples did just that.

 

Matthew 19:27-

“27Then Peter said to Him, “Behold, we have left everything and followed You…” and Acts 4:34-35- “34For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales 35and lay them at the apostles’ feet, and they would be distributed to each as any had need.”

Their existence was to be wholly relied upon God to provide everything. This is a direct contradiction of what Paul tells us to do in this age of grace-1 Timothy 5:8- “8But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

 

Mark 16:15-20

“15And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16″He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned. 17″These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; 18they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” 19So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. 20And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed.] [And they promptly reported all these instructions to Peter and his companions. And after that, Jesus Himself sent out through them from east to west the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation.]”

Notice that water baptism is still required for salvation under the gospel of the kingdom. Nothing had changed from what we will read in Mark 1:4, Luke 7 and elsewhere. There are some who dismiss this part of Mark, because it is not in some of the manuscripts, but I believe that it does belong in Mark, because Peter preached the same thing in Acts 2:37-38-“37Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” 38Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Even in early Acts, the apostles were still preaching the gospel of the kingdom to Israel and water baptism was a requirement of their faith, just like in the gospels. The water baptism of Israel was to prepare them for their role as priests in the kingdom. The Law demanded that priests be washed and so it is no wonder that this went hand in glove with the gospel of the kingdom. We see that healings are mentioned in the Mark 16 passage as well and that lines up with the gospel of the kingdom preached in the four gospels and in early Acts too.

 

Luke 7:28-30

“28″I say to you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” 29When all the people and the tax collectors heard this, they acknowledged God’s justice, having been baptized with the baptism of John. 30But the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected God’s purpose for themselves, not having been baptized by John.”

Notice that the people “acknowledged God’s justice” (in other words, they believed God) and showed their faith by being water baptized. This is the theme throughout the four gospels, the commissions and the early chapters of the book of Acts. Israel had to exemplify their faith with the works of the Law of which water baptism was a major part. Hebrews 9:8-10-“8The Holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed while the outer tabernacle is still standing, 9which is a symbol for the present time. Accordingly both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make the worshiper perfect in conscience, 10since they relate only to food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until a time of reformation.” The letter to the Hebrews was written to implore the Jews to forsake their law and move on to the greater aspects of Christ. These “various washings”, baptismos in the Greek, were all part of the law. Did you see that Jesus admonished the Pharisees in the Luke passage for not obeying God’s will and getting baptized? Now, notice what Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 1- “14I thank God that I baptized none of you” (except a few); “17For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void.” Paul is saying here that water baptism distracts people away from the power of the gospel of the cross. He even thanked God that he didn’t baptize many. If water baptism is part of our commission today, then Paul thanked God that he wasn’t obeying this part of God’s will and he goes on to say that the gospel is why he was called to be the Apostle of the Gentiles, not to baptize anybody. Water baptism was a symbol of what Christ would do for us by His blood. The Hebrews passage is clear that now that the “new order” (NIV) has come; the “various washings” that pointed to Christ were to fade away. So, was Paul preaching the same thing as Jesus and the apostles?

 

Luke 7:36-50

“36Now one of the Pharisees was requesting Him to dine with him, and He entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37And there was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume, 38and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume. 39Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner.” 40And Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he replied, “Say it, Teacher.” 41″A moneylender had two debtors: one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42″When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. So which of them will love him more?” 43Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” And He said to him, “You have judged correctly.” 44Turning toward the woman, He said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45″You gave Me no kiss; but she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss My feet. 46″You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed My feet with perfume. 47″For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.” 48Then He said to her, “Your sins have been forgiven.” 49Those who were reclining at the table with Him began to say to themselves, “Who is this man who even forgives sins?” 50And He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Why were her sins forgiven? Did Jesus say that he would die for her and by believing this, she is now saved? No, she had recognized her King and had acknowledged this by her actions. This was why she was saved and all of Israel was to come to the realization of Jesus as Messiah.

 

Luke 10:25-37

“25And a lawyer stood up and put Him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26And He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?” 27And he answered, “YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND; AND YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” 28And He said to him, “You have answered correctly; DO THIS AND YOU WILL LIVE.” 29But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30Jesus replied and said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead. 31″And by chance a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32″Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33″But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, 34and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35″On the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.’ 36″Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?” 37And he said, “The one who showed mercy toward him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.”

We see here, again, that the works of the law were requirements of “eternal life” for the Jew under the gospel of the kingdom. The Good Samaritan story is given as an example by Jesus of good works needed for salvation.

 

Luke 19:1-10

“1He entered Jericho and was passing through. 2And there was a man called by the name of Zaccheus; he was a chief tax collector and he was rich. 3Zaccheus was trying to see who Jesus was, and was unable because of the crowd, for he was small in stature. 4So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree in order to see Him, for He was about to pass through that way. 5When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, “Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” 6And he hurried and came down and received Him gladly. 7When they saw it, they all began to grumble, saying, “He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” 8Zaccheus stopped and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.” 9And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham. 10″For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

Notice that “salvation” had come to Zaccheus, not because of the work of the cross, but because he followed the instructions of Jesus to repent of wrong doing, go sell what he had and because He was a Jew; keeping right in line with Matthew 10:5-8.

 

John 5:28-34

“28″Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, 29and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment. 30″I can do nothing on My own initiative As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 31″If I alone testify about Myself, My testimony is not true. 32″There is another who testifies of Me, and I know that the testimony which He gives about Me is true. 33″You have sent to John, and he has testified to the truth. 34″But the testimony which I receive is not from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved.”

John had testified that Jesus was the one and now Jesus is verifying the same fact. He then explains that he says these things so that they may be saved; nothing about the cross, only who He is. The book of John is replete with examples of belief in who Jesus is. The finished work of the cross is not the object of faith in the four gospels; it is Jesus as Christ that is to be accepted. The mistake of Christendom for the better part of two centuries has been placing the beginning of the Body of Christ with the twelve apostles in the early part of the book of Acts. We have already seen from Acts 2, that the salvation message given by Peter is the same as in the four gospels. Nothing had changed until Saul of Tarsus was saved and the risen, ascended, glorified Lord Jesus Christ revealed the mysteries to him. Paul calls the Body of Christ a “mystery”, hidden in God; never before revealed-see Ephesians 3:4-5 and Colossians 1:26. The problem with putting the Body of Christ in Acts 2 is that the events happening there are all prophesied about in Joel 2 and elsewhere as is explained by Peter himself. If the events in Acts 2 are prophesied about, then by definition, they can’t be described as part of the “mystery”. Also, the Acts 2 passage is an explanation of what would happen in “these last days”. The last days of the church? I thought it was the beginning of the church. No, Peter had no concept of the Body of Christ, or that it would last almost 2000 years. After studying under the risen Christ as is portrayed in Luke 24 and Acts 1, Peter exclaims that what happened in Acts 2 was indeed the last days leading up to the tribulation for the nation of Israel. But, just in case you might think that the cross was now being preached for salvation by Peter and the twelve, let’s look at some passages in Acts 1-8. We will see what they were preaching and expecting and what they were saying about the death of Jesus.

 

Acts 1:6

“6So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?”

Were the apostles now preaching the gospel of the grace of God? Were they now preparing for God to form a new organism called the Body of Christ made up of Jews and Gentiles? No, they were expecting the kingdom that was promised to Israel. This is after having their eyes of understanding opened to the prophecies of Moses, the Psalms and the prophets-Luke 24:44-48. Based on the Scriptures of the Old Testament as instructed by Jesus after He rose from the dead, the eleven appoint another apostle to replace Judas. They needed to fill the twelfth throne for the kingdom-Matthew 19.

 

Acts 2:22-45

“22″Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know– 23this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. 24″But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power. 25″For David says of Him, ‘I SAW THE LORD ALWAYS IN MY PRESENCE; FOR HE IS AT MY RIGHT HAND, SO THAT I WILL NOT BE SHAKEN. 26’THEREFORE MY HEART WAS GLAD AND MY TONGUE EXULTED; MOREOVER MY FLESH ALSO WILL LIVE IN HOPE; 27BECAUSE YOU WILL NOT ABANDON MY SOUL TO HADES, NOR ALLOW YOUR HOLY ONE TO UNDERGO DECAY. 28’YOU HAVE MADE KNOWN TO ME THE WAYS OF LIFE; YOU WILL MAKE ME FULL OF GLADNESS WITH YOUR PRESENCE.’ 29″Brethren, I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30″And so, because he was a prophet and knew that GOD HAD SWORN TO HIM WITH AN OATH TO SEAT one OF HIS DESCENDANTS ON HIS THRONE, 31he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that HE WAS NEITHER ABANDONED TO HADES, NOR DID His flesh SUFFER DECAY. 32″This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses. 33″Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear. 34″For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says: ‘THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD, “SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, 35UNTIL I MAKE YOUR ENEMIES A FOOTSTOOL FOR YOUR FEET.”‘ 36″Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ–this Jesus whom you crucified.” 37Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” 38Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39″For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” 40And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation!” 41So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. 42They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. 44And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; 45and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need.”

Peter accuses Israel of murder and does not preach the cross as “good news”, but as the shame of Israel and demands that they repent of killing their Messiah. He then commands water baptism for salvation, confirming Mark 16 and we read that the believers sold all they had and began to live in a communal setting; just what was preached by Jesus in the gospels. Notice that Peter, throughout Acts 1-5, is only addressing Israel. This is consistent with Matthew 10, the commission given in Luke 24 and Galatians 2:7-9, which clearly shows that the twelve called by Jesus while He was on earth are NOT the apostles of the Body of Christ, but of Israel.

 

Acts 3:1-26

“1Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the ninth hour, the hour of prayer. 2And a man who had been lame from his mother’s womb was being carried along, whom they used to set down every day at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, in order to beg alms of those who were entering the temple. 3When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he began asking to receive alms. 4But Peter, along with John, fixed his gaze on him and said, “Look at us!” 5And he began to give them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. 6But Peter said, “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene–walk!” 7And seizing him by the right hand, he raised him up; and immediately his feet and his ankles were strengthened. 8With a leap he stood upright and began to walk; and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. 9And all the people saw him walking and praising God; 10and they were taking note of him as being the one who used to sit at the Beautiful Gate of the temple to beg alms, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. 11While he was clinging to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them at the so-called portico of Solomon, full of amazement. 12But when Peter saw this, he replied to the people, “Men of Israel, why are you amazed at this, or why do you gaze at us, as if by our own power or piety we had made him walk? 13″The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His servant Jesus, the one whom you delivered and disowned in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release Him. 14″But you disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 15but put to death the Prince of life, the one whom God raised from the dead, a fact to which we are witnesses. 16″And on the basis of faith in His name, it is the name of Jesus which has strengthened this man whom you see and know; and the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect health in the presence of you all. 17″And now, brethren, I know that you acted in ignorance, just as your rulers did also. 18″But the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled. 19″Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; 20and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, 21whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time. 22″Moses said, ‘THE LORD GOD WILL RAISE UP FOR YOU A PROPHET LIKE ME FROM YOUR BRETHREN; TO HIM YOU SHALL GIVE HEED to everything He says to you. 23’And it will be that every soul that does not heed that prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.’ 24″And likewise, all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and his successors onward, also announced these days. 25″It is you who are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant which God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘AND IN YOUR SEED ALL THE FAMILIES OF THE EARTH SHALL BE BLESSED.’ 26″For you first, God raised up His Servant and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways.”

From this passage we notice a number of things that don’t line up with the Body of Christ. First, the twelve are still practicing the Law as they are still keeping the “hour of prayer”. Second, the man was not healed by the cross of Christ; he was healed by the name of Christ. This is exactly what Israel had to believe in the gospels. Third, Peter, again, accuses Israel of murdering their Messiah. He doesn’t preach faith in the cross, he tells them to repent of killing Jesus. The last important tidbit is in verses 19 and 20. Peter actually offers the kingdom to Israel if they will repent. This is something that Paul never does in all his writings. Peter was preaching Jesus according to prophecy. It is only through Paul that we see Christ preached according to the mystery-Romans 16:25. The mystery being the one new Body made up of Jews and Gentiles, all saved by their faith in the work of the cross-1 Corinthians 15:1-4.

 

Acts 4:10-12

“10let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead–by this name this man stands here before you in good health. 11″He is the STONE WHICH WAS REJECTED by you, THE BUILDERS, but WHICH BECAME THE CHIEF CORNER stone. 12″And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”

The name of Jesus is the object of faith preached by Peter, not the cross. Notice again that Peter accuses Israel of murder. He does not offer salvation by way of the cross.

 

Acts 5:27-31

“27When they had brought them, they stood them before the Council. The high priest questioned them, 28saying, “We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” 29But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. 30″The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. 31″He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.”

After listening to the apostles preach about Jesus, the Council heard the preaching of the cross as an accusation and not for salvation. We also see that Peter still has his mind on the kingdom message as he speaks of the purpose of Jesus resurrection; “to grant repentance to Israel.”

 

Acts 7:51-52

“51″You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did. 52″Which one of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? They killed those who had previously announced the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become;”

Stephen is accusing the leaders of Israel of murdering their Messiah. He doesn’t preach the cross as the means of salvation. On the other hand, he preaches it as the downfall of Israel. This is approximately one year after the resurrection-Luke 13:6-9.

 

The twelve did preach the resurrection, but not as a means of salvation. Paul tells us that the resurrection was the hope of Israel. Of course it was; for without it, their Messiah is just another dead prophet. That is how and why the resurrection was preached by Peter and the twelve and not as the object of their faith like it is preached of by Paul.

The twelve did preach the cross, but as an object of shame. For their Law explains that “cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”. This is why Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians that the cross is a stumbling block to the Jew. They did not preach the cross for salvation. In fact, the word blood isn’t mentioned as a means of forgiveness in the book of Acts until Acts 20:28 and not by the twelve, it was by Paul. It is not until Peter had met with Paul and had these “things hard to understand” (2 Peter 3:15-16) explained to him, that we read in 1 Peter 1:17-19 that salvation was purchased by “the precious blood of the lamb”. This is not preached by John the Baptizer, Jesus or the apostles anywhere in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John or in Acts. It is first preached by Paul who was given the special message for the Body of Christ today-Ephesians 3:1-8 and Colossians 1:24-26.

It is Paul that preached the cross as “good news”. Look up the following passages in Paul’s letters and you will see a constant throughout-Christ and Him crucified as “good news”-Romans 3:25 and 5:9; 1 Corinthians 1:18, 21 and 23; 1 Corinthians 2:2; Galatians 6:14; Ephesians 1:7 and 2:13 and Colossians 1:14 and 20.

Did Jesus and Paul preach the same gospel? The Jesus of the four gospels did not preach the cross as the good news for Israel. The ascended and glorified Lord Jesus Christ does preach, today, salvation through His cross and resurrection for everyone. It is through the pen of the Apostle Paul, though. When the church begins to realize the special revelation given exclusively to this apostle, it is then that true unity in the body will be actualized.

Article written by Paul D. Pedro, Oakdale, Minnesota

Copyright 2013 All Rights Reserved

All Scripture references are taken from the New American Standard Bible.

Any underlining or emphasis added to the Scripture was done by the author.

9 Comments

  1. Sam Gerhardt
    Posted May 4, 2013 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

    Sound doctrine…

  2. Prince Charles
    Posted May 6, 2013 at 12:52 am | Permalink

    Gospel of liberty and effortless salvation.

  3. Prince Charles
    Posted May 6, 2013 at 12:55 am | Permalink

    There’s indeed two gospels- the gospel of the kingdom and the gospel of grace, preached by Paul alone, and that is the gospel by which we are saved today.

  4. beameup
    Posted March 7, 2016 at 6:54 am | Permalink

    Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: Colossians 1:26-27
    Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. Colossians 2:8
    This “mystery” was hidden from Satan so that he could not interfere with God’s plan of salvation.

  5. bob breyfogle
    Posted May 8, 2016 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

    I had begun to understand this truth from TV tapes aired by Les Feldick almost three years ago. Thanks for making this detailed explanation available and with such clarity.

    p.s. I believe that ALL will be saved eventually, in God’s time when God grants belief to those now deceived.

  6. Paul
    Posted May 9, 2016 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

    Bob,

    I’m thankful that this article was helpful for you. I do have to disagree with you as to your belief that everyone will eventually be saved. That goes against so many Scriptures. Daniel 12:2, Matthew 18:8, 25:41 and 46, Mark 3:29, Jude 1:7 and 13 and Rev 19:3 and 20:10 all say that there is an eternal punishment. The word “eternal” means “everlasting, permanent, never ending”. Now, if that doesn’t mean forever, then our salvation may also not mean forever, as we are told that we gain “eternal life” when we believe.

    Also, if everyone is saved no matter what, then why did Christ have to die?

    One last thought, if everyone is eventually saved, then will Judas Iscariot be saved? Christ said that it is better that His betrayer would never have been born. Why would He say that if everyone will eventually be saved? How about the Antichrist? He is just a man. Will he be saved sooner or later? That position doesn’t hold water in light of the Scriptures. I hope you will look at the Scriptures that I have listed and reconsider.

    Again, thank you for your comment,

    Paul

  7. Ed Wolan
    Posted December 20, 2016 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    Very detailed information and analytical! Good job!
    What is your background and when did you see the light, the scales fell from your eyes?

  8. G.Marty Nichols
    Posted February 20, 2017 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    To Paul: Thanks for all the hard work you are doing to teach “all men the unsearchable riches of the mystery of Christ.
    Many of us know that it is false doctrine to say “all will be saved”; but few of us will explain why, as you have done.I have a website called “Paul, Our Apostle” and I invite you and others interested to visit.http://xcatholic.yuku.com

  9. Ed Wolan
    Posted February 20, 2017 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    Do you have a King James version? Liking it,so far!!

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