Why did Yeshua (Jesus) come to do?” For many centuries, people have been told that Yeshua (Jesus) came to do the following:
- He came to build a new entity, “the church”; and
- He came to die for our sins
However, there is a problem with this historical interpretation. None of these things were the primary reason(s) why He had come. This completely surprised me! I had grown up in the church, and I was always told that He had come to die for us. Imagine my surprise when I studying the Gospels, and I came across this passage in Luke,
Now when it was day, He left and went to a desert place. The crowds were searching for Him, and they came to Him and were trying to keep Him from leaving them. But He said to them, “I must proclaim the Good News of the kingdom of God to the other town also. It was for this purpose I was sent.” So He kept preaching in the synagogues of Judea. (Like 4:42-43)
According to Yeshua (Jesus) Himself, the reason that God had sent Him was to proclaim “the Good News of the Kingdom of God.” Because Christians claim that the Bible is about Salvation, they believe that the reason Yeshua (Jesus) came was to die for everyone, but clearly here Yeshua (Jesus) says that He was sent to “proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom of God.” So this provokes the questions: (1) What is “the Kingdom of God”? And what is “the Good News about it?”
In the New Testament, there are two interchangeable synonyms used: the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven. For example in Matthew 4:17, we read,
From then on, Yeshua [Jesus] began to proclaim, “Turn away from your sins, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17)
In comparison to this verse, Mark presents in his version of the Gospel,
Now after John was put in jail, Yeshua (Jesus) came into the Galilee, proclaiming the Good News of God. “Now if the fullness of time,” He said, “and the kingdom of God is near! Turn away from your sins, and believe in the Good News!” (Mark 1:14-15)
In the Matthew version, he uses “the kingdom of heaven,” and in the Mark version, he uses “the kingdom of God.” As a result, there are Christians who believe that these phrases represent two different kingdoms: one physical, the kingdom of heaven – which will be the kingdom during the Millennium – and one spiritual, the kingdom of God -which has been His rule and reign in the spiritual realm. However, they forget one thing: Yeshua (Jesus) is a Torah-observant Jew.
During the Intertestamental period, the Jews stopped using the covenantal name of God, YHWH, and started using evasive synonyms in its place. For example, John the Baptizer uses “heaven” in the following synonym for God:
A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven. You yourselves testify that I said, “I am not the Messiah,” but rather, “I am sent before Him.” The one who has the bride-is the bridegroom, but the best man rejoices when he stands and hears the bridegroom’s voice. So now my joy is complete! He must increase, while I must decrease.” (John 1:
In the passage above, the word “heaven” is a synonym for God. Also, he identifies Yeshua (Jesus) as “the bridegroom,” but who is he identifying as “the bride”? It can’t be what Christianity calls “the church,” since Christians claim that it did not exist at this time. It was not “born” until the Pentecost (Shavuot) after His crucifixion. Therefore, “the bride” is clearly someone else. Instead, “the bride” is Israel; however, the problem is in how Israel is defined. Most people use the definition that is proposed by the Jews and the Christians; the problem is that they are not using God’s definition that is given in the Scriptures.
So if “the Kingdom of God” (Heb. Malkhut Elohim) and the “Kingdom of heaven” (Heb. Malkhut Shamayim) are synonyms, then there are not two different kingdoms, but two different audiences. Because Matthew is writing to the Jews, he uses the phrase “the Kingdom of heaven,” and since the other writers are aiming their writings to people who live outside of the land of Israel, who dominantly speak Greek, they use “the kingdom of God.” In my research of Jewish writers, I have even found a third alternative, “the kingdom of the Almighty” (Heb. Malkhut Shaddai).
So if these three phrases are synonyms for one another, what do they mean? I believe that all three phrases can find as their root a phrase from I Chronicles 28,
Yet Adonai, the God of Israel, has chosen me out of all my ancestral house to be king over Israel forever. For He chose Judah as ruler, and of the house of Judah, my father’s house, and of my father’s sons, He took pleasure in me to make me king over all Israel. Moreover, of all my sons – for Adonai has given me many sons – He has chosen Solomon my son to sit on the throne of THE KINGDOM OF ADONAI over Israel. (I Chronicles 28:4-5)
In this passage, the phrase “the kingdom of ADONAI” (Heb. malkhut YHWH) is the root for what we find in the New Testament as “the kingdom of heaven” and “the kingdom of God.” Since the Jews had stopped using the covenantal name of God, they created evasive synonyms for His covenantal name: “Heaven,” “Power,” Adonai (the LORD), and HaShem (“the name,” see Levitical ). Also, this phrase is clearly used in a political context: the inauguration of a son of David as King over the tribes of Israel. Now up until the death of the Apostle John, the kingdom of God was not seen as “a spiritual kingdom,” but as “a political kingdom.” Now just because Yeshua (Jesus) did not return prior to John’s death does not invalidate God’s kingdom as “a political kingdom.” After all, Yeshua (Jesus) was sent to proclaim “a Kingdom” – not “a religion.”
So What is “the Good News of the Kingdom”?
The Good News of the Kingdom was not the death, burial, and resurrection of Yeshua (Jesus) since this was not the message He and His disciples spent time proclaiming for over three years. In fact, we can prove this by examining a portion of Scripture.
When Yeshua came into the region of Casesarea Philipi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of man is?” They answered, “Some say John the Immerser: others say Elijah, and still others say Jeremiah, or one of the other prophets. (Matthew 16:13-14, TLV)
The first question that Yeshua (Jesus) asks them is, “Who do people say that I am?” He first asks about the opinions of the crowds that they have spent over three years teaching and ministering. By their responses, the crowds are attempting to compare Him to others in the Scriptures, and they have either compared Him to one of the prophets who taught about the restoration of Israel, such as Jeremiah, or one of the other prophets, or to Elijah who is prophesied to come in the last days to prepare the way for the Messiah. Upon receiving this feedback, he then turns the question specifically to them:
He said, “But who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:15)
I am sure that this question caught them off guard, and they probably was not sure how they were supposed to respond to this question. But then Simon Peter takes the lead and responds to this question.
You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God. (Matthew 16:16)
Based on this response, can we conclusively say that Simon Peter understood Jesus to be a Divine being? No, we can’t. The word “Messiah,” or the Hebrew word Moshiach, was taught at that time to be “the promised son (or descendant) of David.” In addition, there were some Scriptures which indicated that the Messiah would be more than simply “another David” or “another Solomon,” but something much more. But these teachings were not part of the mainstream of the time. And according to the covenant that God had promised David:
I will set up your seed [one of your descendants] after you, which shall proceed out of your bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of His kingdom forever. I WILL BE HIS FATHER, AND HE SHALL BE MY SON. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men: But My mercy shall not depart away from Him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be established for ever before you: your throne shall be established for ever. (I Samuel 7:12-17)
Consequently, the teaching that the Messiah would be “the son of David” and “the son of the living God” are both tied together here in the Davidic covenant. Now I am not saying here that Yeshua (Jesus) was not in some way uniquely a part of God, but what I am saying here is that there is not enough textual evidence given here in Peter’s confession to boldly make this claim. There needs to be more evidence given than what we have here in this confession before such a claim can be positively made.
But what I find interesting is that Peter was not the first one to make such a bold proclamation about the Messiahship of Yeshua (Jesus). The first one was, in fact, Nathaniel. When Philip found him, he said to him,
We’ve found the One that Moses in the Torah, and also the prophets, wrote about, Yeshua of Natzaret, the son of Joseph. (John 1:45)
This confession is clearly one that a Torah-observant Jew would make in regard to the Messiah. Nathanel goes with him to see Yeshua (Jesus). When he gets there, Yeshua (Jesus) says to him,
Look, a true Israelite! There’s nothing false in him.” (John 1:47)
With that statement made about his integrity, Nathanel asks a question that any of us would ask in a similar situation,
How do you know me? (John 1:48, TLV)
Yeshua (Jesus) then surprises him with His response:
Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you. (John 1: 48, TLV)
Apparently, something special had happened to Nathanel during this time, because after Yeshua (Jesus) told him this, he then responded:
Rabbi, thou art Ben-Elohim! You are the King of Israel. (John 1:49, TLV)
Rather than responding like he did with Peter, he tells Nathanel,
Because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree, you believe? You will see greater things than that! And he said, Amen, amen, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God going up and coming down upon the Son of man. (John 1:50-51, TLV)
So since Nathanel made the same declaration that Peter had just done, why does Yeshua (Jesus) respond the way He does with Peter but not with him? They both responded by calling him the Messiah, “the King of Israel,” and “the son of God” or “the son of the living God”? Obviously, there was something different about Simon Peter’s confession than Nathanael’s.
For after Simon Peter makes this bold declaration, Yeshua (Jesus) says to him,
Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven! And I also tell you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Community; and the gates of Sheol will not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you forbid on earth will have been forbidden in heaven and what you permit on earth will have been permitted in heaven.
The English word “Community,” or “church,” is actually not the words in the original Greek text, but when it was translated into English, the translators chose the English word “Community” or “church” to translate the Greek word συναγωγή (or Ecclesia), which means “the called out ones.” It does not refer to “a building” or to a particular “denomination,” or even “a system of belief,” but it refers to a “called out” group of people.
These people, the συναγωγή (or Ecclesia), have been “called out” to be a part of a group, a family, – whether they are Jewish or Gentile [non-Jewish] – and they are to come together to faithfully and loyally follow God and His Kingdom. Many people see “Israel” to be only the Jewish people; however, when Adonai called Avram out of Ur of the Chaldees, he himself was a Gentile, and there were other Gentiles with him, and when Adonai gave the Torah to Mosheh on Har Sinai, there were Jews and Gentiles there who received it – not just Jews! And, of course, what about Rahab and her family, Ruth, and Uriah the Hitite – were these all Jews? No, they were Gentiles non-Jews] who worked and lived in the land with the Israelites. We do not see the Jews separating themselves from the Gentiles [non-Jews] until Ezra the priest, who convinced the men to divorce and send away their Gentile [non-Jewish] wives and children (Ezra 10: 1-17).
Consequently, by God bringing the Gentiles [non-Jews] back into Israel, God is not doing a “new thing” or a “new revelation,” but God is restoring them back into Israel as they had been prior to the Babylonian exile. The problem is that many people are not reading and studying the Bible as “a whole book” or as “one continuous revelation.” Instead, they are dividing the Bible into “two distinctly different revelations” – “Old Testament” and “New Testament” – which are completely man-made divisions, as we see Christianity has done – and when we continue with this, then we will end up isolating the New Testament and take it out of its proper context of the Hebrew Scriptures, and the result with be that we will open the door wide to misinterpretation, misunderstanding, and error.
The words “Ecclesia” and “Sunagogue” in the Greek are synonyms that are interchangeably used for the people and nation of Israel. That’s right, throughout the Scriptures, God only has One Bride, and her name is Israel. He has not “replaced” or “set aside” His Bride, nor has He put her “on the back burner” while He is showing His favor or grace to another woman, called the Ecclesia, “the church,” as Christianity teaches.
So in Matthew 16:16, does Yeshua (Jesus) say that “He is going to build a Church”? No, the word “build” is the English translation of the Greek word, oikodomeo [G3618], which means “to build up, to encourage, to strengthen.” This same word is used the believing Pharisee, Sha’ul Paulus (Paul), when he writes in I Corinthians:
One who speaks in a tongue edifies [Gk., oikodomeo; #3618] himself; but one who prophecies edifies [G3618] the church. (I Corinthians 14:4)
Now when we place that understanding back into the Matthew 16 text:
And I also say to you that you are Petros (Peter), and upon this Petra (rock), I will build up, encourage, and strengthen My “called out ones,” Israel, and the gates of Hades shall not over power it. (Matthew 16:18)
What is remarkable about this passage is not that He says that He will “build up, encourage, and strengthen” His “called out ones,” or Israel, but the fact that He calls her “My called out ones,” or “My Israel.” By making this claim, He is, in fact, making a Messianic claim, a claim that many people completely miss. It is after this, that we then read,
Then He ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that He was the Messiah. From that time on, Yeshua began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and ruling kohanim [priests] and Torah scholars [scribes], and be killed, and raised on the third day. (Matthew 16:20-21)
Here we can see that according to Matthew, one of His disciples, He did not begin to reveal to them about His death until this point, which was about one or two weeks before His death, burial, and resurrection to prepare them for what was about to happen. Plainly, then, His death and resurrection was not “the gospel” that He and His disciples had been proclaiming all around Israel for most than three years.
In fact, after He told them what was about to happen, How did they respond? Did they say, “Yes, Lord, we know. We have heard you preach this, Lord, all around Israel, and we have even preached it.” But instead, it says that Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Never, Master! This must never happen to you!” (Matthew 16:22) Obviously, then, this was never a message that they had heard before.
So although Yeshua’s (Jesus’) death, burial, and resurrection became a part of the message at the end of His life, a message He told His disciples about, it was not the main message that He had been sent to spread around the nation of Israel. So with this the case, then why is it so few people know about this today?