“Where’s the evidence?” This is something that we might ask when someone makes a claim? In this case, we need to ask the question: “Is there evidence in the ‘New Testament’ which supports the fact that there is more to ‘the gospel’ than just ‘the death, burial, and resurrection of the Messiah Yeshua (Jesus)'”?
In part 1 of this series, I discussed how the “Christian gospel” that’s been presented since the end of the first century has not been the “whole gospel,” but a version that has been reduced, refocused, and repackaged by the Gentile [non-Jewish] followers of Yeshua (Jesus) who broke away from the Jewish Kingdom Movement, called “The Way” to form and mold themselves into their own religion. Their view of “the gospel” does not include the “original gospel” that was proclaimed throughout the land of Israel. Instead, the “original gospel” was about the redemption and restoration of Israel.” It was a continuation of the romantic epic between ADONAI, the Holy One of Israel, who is “the Perfect Groom,” and His one and only Bride, Israel.
We might describe the “Christian version” as being the doorway to the rest of “the gospel,” but it is not the “whole message.” So for over 1,900 years, Christianity has not presented “the whole gospel” originally due to their own biases, racial prejudices, and feelings of superiority. In this part, I would like to examine the biblical evidence in the “New Testament” that there is more to “the gospel” than what we have heard or been taught.
The first time I realized that there was more to “the gospel” than what Christianity has preached or taught, I was reading through the four Gospels. For example, in the Gospel of Luke, the angel Gabriel comes to a young Jewish virgin by the name of Mir’yam (Mary). He tells her that she is going to give birth to a son, and she is to name Him Yeshua (Jesus). He also tells her,
He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and His kingdom will have no end. (Luke 1:32-33)
Here we can see Mir’yam (Mary) was promised that her Son would be promised a king’s political throne, “the throne of His father David,” and that He would “reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” He was not promised “the throne of God in heaven,” but “the throne of David,” which is in the city of Jerusalem here on earth. Therefore, based on this promise, Yeshua (Jesus) has not ascended the throne of the position that He was promised.
Mir’yam (Mary) asked him the same question any young woman would have asked, even today. “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” (Luke 1: 34)
The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy offspring shall be called the Son of God. And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. For nothing will be impossible with God. (Luke 1: 35-37)
Mary’s Praise to God
Upon hearing this news, she went to visit her relative, Elizabeth, to see if what the angel had told her was true. When she got there, she discovered that she was six months pregnant. Upon hearing her greeting, Elizabeth tells her:
Blessed among women are you, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord. (Luke 1:42-45)
In response to this, Mir’yam (Mary) offers up her praise to the God of Israel. At the end of her praise, she says,
He has given help to Israel His servant, in remembrance of His mercy, as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and his offspring forever. (Luke 1:54-55)
Based on what she says, this should provoke a number of questions:
- How is her Son “[giving] help to Israel, His servant”?
- How is His birth a “remembrance of His mercy that He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and his offspring forever”?
- What “mercy” was spoken to Abraham and his offspring”?
The Prophecy of Zacharias
The next evidence was spoken by the Levitical priest, Zacharias, after his son was born and circumcised and named Yochanan (John), his father, Zacharias, began to prophesy. The first part of the prophecy dealt with the Messiah, and the second half of the prophecy dealt with Yochanan’s (John’s) role in His ministry. He says,
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people, and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of David His servant — As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old — Salvation from our enemies, and from the hand of all who hate us; to show mercy toward our fathers, and to remember His holy covenant, the oath which He swore to Abraham our father, to grant that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him all our days. (Luke 1:68-75)
Again, in this prophecy, Zacharias is speaking about the Davidic throne – “a horn of salvation for us in the house of David His servant” – as He had spoken “by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old.” And just like Mir’yam (Mary) he refers to God “[showing] mercy toward our fathers,” but he adds “and to remember His holy covenant, the oath which He swore,” and like Mir’yam (Mary) he mentions “to Abraham our father.” But again, this should provoke a number of questions:
- What “mercy” was shown “toward our fathers”?
- How did showing this “mercy” “remember His holy covenant”?
- How was “His holy covenant, the oath which He swore to Abraham, our father”?
- When and when did He make this “covenant”?
- And what in this “covenant” does He make reference or alludes to the Messiah?
As we can already see in these two examples, “the gospel” was not just something that began in the “New Testament,” but both Mir’yam (Mary) and Zacharias both link it back to Abraham and the covenant that God made with him.
In Zacharias’ prophecy, he says that they “should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us.” But considering the history of the Jewish people of being persecuted, hunted, tortured and killed, including the Inquisition, Pogroms, and the Holocaust, we might say that what he prophecies did not come to pass. Notice, he doesn’t say that they “will” or “shall be saved,” but he uses the word “should be.” This phrase means that even though it isn’t going to happen, it is what “should” happen. It is an expression of Zacharias’ heart and spirit for his people, Israel.
If these questions are not enough for us to contemplate, he continues,
that He would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him, all the days of our life. (Luke 1:74-75)
In this final part, he says that we “might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him, all the days of our life,” but is this our daily experience? From what Christians say and teach, we would say, “No, it isn’t,” but Zacharias prophesied that it should be.
Yeshua (Jesus) Himself
The third one to connect Yeshua (Jesus) and Abraham is Yeshua (Jesus) Himself. In the Gospel of John, Yeshua (Jesus) is speaking to a group of believing Jews, but He does not congratulate them and say, “Now that you have believed in Me, you are all set so that when you die, you will automatically go to heaven,” as many Christians teach today. Instead, Yeshua (Jesus) tells them,
If you abide (or “continue”) in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (John 8:31-32)
Notice He said, “If you CONTINUE in My word, then are you My disciples indeed” (John 8:30; emphasis added). Throughout His teachings, He places an emphasis on the idea of them CONTINUING in His teachings, like we find here, but the problem is that this emphasis is not brought out in most English Bibles. But this begins a line of discussions that ends with these same “believing Jewish men” wanting to stone Him. Near the end of this discussion, Yeshua (Jesus) tells them,
Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad. (John 8:56)
In response to this, we might ask the questions:
- When did Abraham see the the day of Messiah?
- He said, “he saw it and was glad.” But what did it mean to him when “he saw it”?
The Jewish men who were standing there had their own question that they asked,
You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham? (John 8:57)
Yeshua (Jesus) then tells them,
Truly, Truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I Am.” (John 8:58)
In response to Him connecting Himself with the name God gave Moses at the burning bush, it says that the people picked up stones to stone Him, but Yeshua (Jesus) hid Himself from them. (John 8:59).
The Teaching of Sha’ul Paulus (Paul)
In the Synagogue of Pisidian Antioch
The fourth one to witness to this connection between Yeshua (Jesus) and Abraham is the believing Pharisee, Sha’ul Paulus (Paulus). For example, in the book of Acts, on his first missionary journey, we read.
But going on from Perga, they arrived at Pisidian Antioch, and on the Sabbath day they went onto the synagogue and sat down. And after the reading of the Law and the Prophets the synagogue officials sent to them, saying, “Brethren, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, say it.” And Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand, he said, “Men of Israel, and you who fear God listen.” (Acts 13:14-16)
Sha’ul Paulus (Paul) and his companions were Torah-observant Jews who kept the Sabbath, and they did what any Torah-observant Jews would do, even today, they went to synagogue on the Sabbath day. They did not go to the synagogue to preach, because there is no evidence here that the synagogue rulers knew or had any type of previous relationship with Sha’ul Paulus (Paul). It says that they were not approached to speak until “after the reading of the Law and the Prophets.” These two parts of the Hebrew Bible are still read in synagogues, even today.
For those who have never gone to a synagogue, this means that at least half or more of the service was already over BEFORE the officials sent a message over to Sha’ul Paulus (Paul) and his companions to see if they have any exhortation for the people in the congregation. So we have to ask ourselves, “Why would the rulers of the synagogue walk up to complete strangers and ask them if they have any exhortation that they would like to say to the congregation?
I really did not know the answer to this question, until a Messianic Jewish rabbi told me that the Pharisees wore a distinctive uniform, and when the synagogue rulers saw him in his uniform, they realized two things: he was an important man, and he was from Jerusalem. So I can imagine that when they seen him that they asked him because they wanted to show consideration to someone of his important position, and secondly, because they thought that he was going to tell them about what has been going on in Jerusalem. However, Sha’ul Paulus (Paul) took this unforeseen opportunity to present “the gospel” to this congregation.
The other thing that we should note is that this was a mixed congregation: Jewish men, women and children and Gentile [non-Jewish] men, women, and children. For example, he addresses them as “Men of Israel” [the Jewish people there] and “you who fear God” [or “God-fearers”]. The “God-fearers” who consisted of Gentiles who were interested in the God of Israel to full converts to Judaism, and everything in between. Sha’ul Paulus (Paul) also addresses them later on in the same sermon as “Brethren, sons of Abraham’s family” [the Jewish people there], and “those among you who fear God” [the “God-fearers”]. And what does he say to both groups: “to us the word of this salvation is sent out” (Acts 13:26)
It is later in this same sermon, that Sha’ul Paulus (Paul) says,
And we preach to you the good news of the promise made to the fathers, that God has fulfilled this promise to our children in that He raised up Jesus…And as for the fact that He raised Him up from the dead, no more to return to decay,… (Acts 13:32-34a)
Based on this statement made by him during this sermon, it should provoke the following questions:
- What was “the promise made to the fathers”?
- Who did he mean by “the fathers”?
- How is “the good news” related to this “promise”?
- How did the bodily resurrection of Yeshua (Jesus) a fulfillment of “this promise”?
- Where and when was “this promise” made?
Before King Agrippa
None of these questions are typically addressed in the Christian presentation of “the gospel.” And I found myself asking many of the same questions again when I read about Sha’ul Paulus’ (Paul’s) trial before King Agrippa. As he stands trial before him, King Agrippa allows him to present his defense. During which he says,
So then, all Jews know my manner of life from my youth up, which from the beginning was spent among my own nation [modern-day Turkey] and at Jerusalem; since they have known about me for a long time previously, if they are willing to testify, that I lived as a Pharisee according to the strictest sect of our religion. And now I am standing trial for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers; the promise to which our twelve tribes hope to attain, as they earnestly serve God night and day. And for this hope, O King, I am being accused by Jews. (Acts 26:4-7)
Sha’ul Paulus (Paul) begins by referencing something that all the Jews know about – His childhood and how he was raised. Apparently, he did not grow up in secret, but his life was open to everyone. He makes it quite clear that they all could testify to his life as “a Pharisee according to the strictest sect of our religion.” This was not a secret or hidden from anyone. But then we come to those same questions:
- What is “the hope of the promise” that God “made…to our fathers”?
- Who are the “fathers”?
- When and where did God make “this promise”?
- Why does he call it “the hope”? Isn’t he preaching about something that had already happened? If it happened, then how is it “a hope”?
- How does this “promise” relate to the “twelve tribes”?
- In what way do the “twelve tribes hope to attain, as they earnestly serve God night and day”?
- And why is it “for this hope” that he is “being accused of the Jews”?
And then after telling us all this, provoking all of these questions, he then asks those who are there in the court the following question:
Why is it considered incredible among you if God does raise the dead? (Acts 26:8)
As we can see, by asking this question, Sha’ul Paulus (Paul) connects this “hope of the promise” which he had been speaking about with the resurrection. Again, this provokes the question: “What does the resurrection have to do with any of this?”
Paul’s Teaching in the Book of Romans
Another place where Sha’ul Paulus (Paul) makes a connection with Abraham is in the book of Romans. For example, in Romans 4, we read,
What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found? (Romans 4:1)
The book of Romans was written to a congregation that was dominantly – if not completely Gentile [non-Jewish], so in what was “Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh”? How are we physically related to him? He then goes on to say,
For we say, “Faith was reckoned to Abraham as righteousness.” How then was it reckoned? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but uncircumcised; and he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which had while uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all who believe without being circumcised, that righteousness might be reckoned to them, and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also follow in the steps of the faith of our father Abraham which he had while uncircumcised. For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith. (Romans 4;9-13)
If Abraham is truly “the father of us all” (Romans 4:16), whether we are Jewish or Gentile [non-Jewish], then this means that we are not trying to “replace” the Jewish people – as the “supersessionists” or “Replacement Theologians” teach, nor are we “two distinctly different groups” – as the “dispensationalists teach – but we are ONE family, ONE group, ONE community, and ONE Kingdom. As a result, we need to begin treating each other like ONE family – not as complete strangers or as enemies. In the Restoration God has been working on bring three groups together into ONE: the descendants of the northern kingdom of Israel, the Jewish people [the southern kingdom of Judah], and all of those from the nations to form “the One New Man” (Ephesians 2:15).
Paul’s Teaching in the Book of Galatians
In this epistle, Sha’ul Paulus (Paul) tells us that God “preached before (or “in advance”) the gospel unto Abraham,” as a result, he was the first one in the Bible to be associated with “the gospel”?
Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know you therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, PREACHED BEFORE THE GOSPEL UNTO ABRAHAM, saying, In you shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham. (Galatians 3:6-9)
As we can see here, Sha’ul Paulus (Paul) is quoting from Genesis 15:6, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” Then he states that those who “are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.” And in saying that “the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith,” it is telling us that “the gospel” was, in fact, “preached” in the Hebrew Bible (aka, “Old Testament”). Here we can see that Abraham is the first one mentioned in the Bible that is explicitly connected to “the gospel.” And that the essence of “the gospel” is “In you shall all nations be blessed.” Notice that Sha’ul Paulus (Paul) doesn’t write that the gospel was that “all nations shall be blessed through ‘Abraham’s seed,” or by one of his descendants,” but that “all nations shall be blessed in Abraham.” Does this mean that only those who are physically related to Abraham “are saved”? Obviously not. We can see this isn’t the case, since in the passage above, the whole reason that “God preached the gospel before to Abraham,” or “in advance,” was because of His plan to “justify the heathen through faith.”
And as I sat here reading these passages over and over again and my mind exploding with questions, I couldn’t help but wonder, “Why hadn’t I heard about this connection with Abraham, the Patriarchs, and the Twelve Tribes before? Why didn’t I know about this part of the message growing up? And these questions, along with many others, started me on what became a forty-year in-depth study of the Scriptures that literally ended up changing my life and my wife’s, Karen’s, life. It wasn’t that either one of us didn’t know the Lord before I began this study since we both were saved and faithfully attended church.
But in the thousands of sermons that I have literally heard growing up, I had never heard any minister include “the hope” and this “promise of the fathers” as an intricate part of their presentation of the gospel. But when I look in the Bible now, like in the passages I cited, I find numerous places where this connection is made. And what I’ve discovered about “the promise,” about “the fathers,” and about this connection to the gospel has literally opened my mind to a deeper understanding of God, His Kingdom, the Bible, and His plan for my life, my wife’s life, and our children’s lives. It has opened up a relationship with God that I never had before, and it is that same information that the Lord wants me to share with you within this book. So yes, when it comes to the gospel, there is more, so much more, than what Christianity has told any of us.