For the past two thousand years, rabbinical Jews and Christians have been proclaiming and teaching different parts of “the gospel”? Most people are totally oblivious that Christianity has not been proclaiming and teaching “the whole gospel” – but only a part of “the gospel” – since near the end of the first century, C.E. But what may surprise many people is that Rabbinical Jews has been proclaiming and teaching the other part of “the gospel.” Sadly, neither of these groups has been teaching the “whole gospel.” I am sure that this may be a surprise – even a shock – to both Rabbinical Jews and Christians.
The Word “Gospel” – “Good News”?
Obviously, this provokes the question, “What, then, is the gospel?” The word “gospel” or “good news” is the Old English translation of the Greek word euaggelion, from which we get the word “evangel,” “evangelist,” “evangelism,” or “evangelize,” and this Greek word is the equivalent of the Hebrew word, basar [“good news”], which is seen by comparing Isaiah 61:1-2a and Luke 4: 18-19, where Yeshua (Jesus) is reading from the scroll of the prophet Yesa’yahu (Isaiah) in the synagogue in Natzeret (Nazaeth) in the Gospel of Luke 4. The word basar [H1319], according to the Strong’s Concordance means –
A verb meaning to bring good news or to bear tidings. The general idea of this word is that of a messenger announcing a message, which may either be bad news (I Sa 4:17, the death of Eli’s sons) or good news (Jer 20:15, the birth of Jeremiah). It is often used within the military setting: a messenger coming from battle lines to report the news 2 Sa 18:19, 20, 26) or victory (I Sa 3:19; 2 Sa 1:20)/ When used of God’s message, this word conveys the victorious salvation which God provides to His people (Ps. 96:2; Isa. 40:9; 52:7; 61:1). (1827)
The word basar [H1319] is written as vasser with the letters veth-patach-sin-sere-raysh, and the beth (“b”) doesn’t have a dagesh in it, so it should be translated as a “v”, rather than a “b”, in Isaiah 61:1 and Isaiah 40:9. For example, we also see the letter veth (“v”) used in the name that’s commonly translated as “Abraham,” rather than the name “Avraham,” as it is actually pronounced in Hebrew in the Middle East, even today. Continuing onward, under the veth (“v”), there is a patach (“a”), at the next letter is “seen” (“s”) has a dagesh in it, so the letter is doubled, and it has an sere (“ey” as in “they”) under it, and then it ends with the letter raysh (“r”). Therefore, the word for “good news” or “gospel” didn’t begin in the New Testament, but we also find it in the Hebrew Bible, or what Christians have been taught to call the “Old Testament.”
The Isaiah Text
What is also interesting to compare are the translations from the Hebrew-English Tanakh, published by the Jewish Publication Society and the English version of the New American Standard Bible, a Christian publication:
Isaiah 61:1-2 (JPS)
Isaiah 61:1-2a (NASB)
The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because
The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because He has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and freedom to prisoners;
to proclaim a year of the LORD’s favor….
to proclaim the favorable year of the LORD,….
The differences between these two publications are the following:
- In the Jewish publication, the word “spirit” does not begin with a capital letter, but it does begin with a capital in the Christian NASB version.
- In the JPS version, they translate the sacred covenant name of God, YHWH, as “the LORD,” but the Christian version drop the sacred covenant name of God and uses the word “He” instead.
- The message brought by the “herald” is translated as “joy”; whereas, according to the Christian translation, it is translated as “good news”
- In the Jewish translation, the message is brought to the “humble;” whereas, in the Christian translation, it is to brought to “the afflicted.”
- The difference between the two translations in the rest of the verse is a difference in how they chose to word the verse.
Another Isaiah Text
This same Hebrew word is used twice in Isaiah 40:9, and we also see the same difference in how the Jewish and Christian Bibles are translated. For example,
Isaiah 40:9 (JPS)
Isaiah 40:9 (NASB)
Ascend to a lofty mountain, O herald of joy to
Get yourself up on a high mountain, O Zion, bearer of good news, Lift up your voice mightily, O Jerusalem, bearer of good news; Lift it up, do not fear. Say to the cities of Judah,
Here again, we can see the word “joy” and “good news” is the English translation of the Hebrew word basar [H1319.], or vasser, as it is used in these two passages. A third example of this can also be seen in the psalms. For example, in Psalm 92, we find the following verse in our English Bibles:
Sing to the LORD, bless His name, proclaim His victory day after day. (Psalm 92:2)
In this verse, the Hebrew word bass’ru translated as “proclaim,” and it is the same base root BaSR, as the word “good news.” Obviously, then, the word “gospel’ or “good news” didn’t have its origin in the New Testament (better trans. “New Covenant), but it is a word we see used in both the Hebrew Bible (aka, “Old Testament”), and the “New Covenant’ Scriptures.
The Content of the “Original Gospel”
Just as the word “gospel” or “good news” is not unique to the New Covenant, so is the content of the “original message” that was proclaimed by Yochanan the Immerser (commonly trans. “John the Baptist”), (Jesus) of Nazareth, and His eighty-two disciples (The Twelve – Matthew 10:1-4; Mark 3: 13-19; Luke 6:12-16 – and the Seventy, Luke 10:1) for over three years. For example, in Matthew 3, we read,
Now in those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 3:1-2)
Now in the next chapter, we read the following,
Now when He [Heb. Yeshua/Jesus] heard that John [Heb. Yochanan] had been taken into custody, He withdrew into Galilee; and leaving Nazareth, He came and settled in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali….From that time Jesus [Heb. Yeshua] began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17)
Now as we see Yeshua (Jesus) preached the same message as Yochanan (John) the Baptizer since Yochanan (John) was the forerunner. This means he set the stage and prepared the hearts of the people, as well as started the message of the “original gospel” that Yeshua (Jesus) would pick up and continue, as well as further define, develop, and elaborate upon. Now if we look at Mark’s parallel version of this same time and his summary of the message:
And after John had been taken into custody, Jesus [Heb. Yeshua] came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent ye, and believe the gospel.” (Mark 1:14-15, KJV)
The Three Phrases
Notice in this passage, the message concerning “the kingdom of God” is called “the gospel,” or by its full name, “the gospel of the kingdom of God.” So if the word “gospel” means “good news,” then what is the “good news” concerning “the kingdom of God.” This provokes the questions: “What is ‘the kingdom of heaven’?” And is it the same thing or different than ‘the kingdom of God’?” In answer to these questions, Christianity is split. There are those who believe that they are two terms for the same thing, and then there are those who believe they are different. For example, those who believe they are different believe that “the kingdom of God” is the universal spiritual rule and reign of God;” whereas, “the kingdom of heaven” refers to the temporal future rule and reign of the Messiah, known as the Millennium or the Messianic Kingdom. However, in searching Jewish sources, I found a third term, “the kingdom of the Almighty” (Heb. malkhut Shaddai). This phrase is used in the Oral Law (aka, the Mishnah), and the Talmud.
The One Source
Because of what I have discovered, I believe that these three phrases – “the kingdom of heaven, the kingdom of God, and the kingdom of the Almighty” – are all synonyms for one another, and they all trace back to a common phrase seen and used in the Hebrew Bible, “the kingdom of the LORD.” In the book of I Chronicles, King David is giving his final speech for the inauguration of his son, Solomon, and he says during this speech,
Yet, the LORD, the God of Israel, chose me from all the house of my father to be king over Israel forever. For He has chosen Judah tp be a leader; and in the house of Judah, my father’s house, and among the sons of my father He took pleasure in me to make me king over all Israel. And of all my sons (for the LORD has given me many sons), He has chosen my son Solomon to sit on the throne of THE KINGDOM OF THE LORD over Israel.” (I Chronicles 28:4-5)
This passage is given within a clearly political context – the inauguration of the son of David as king – and the phrase “the kingdom of the LORD” in Hebrew is malkhut YHWH. As a result of the Babylonian exile, the Jews started using evasive synonyms for God’s covenantal name, such as “heaven,” “power,” “the Name” and “God.” Therefore, malkhut YHWH (“kingdom of the LORD”) became malkhut shamayim (“kingdom of heaven”), or it became malkhut shaddai (“kingdom of the Almighty”), or even malkhut elohim (“kingdom of God”). I think it is critical that we remember that the New Covenant (aka, “New Testament”) was not written by “Christians” but by Torah-observant Jews, or what might be called “Orthodox Jews” today – to other Jews, during the Second Temple period of Judaism, about things that were close and dear to the Jewish heart. This message was a continuation of the romantic epic between YHWH, the God of Israel, who is the Perfect Groom, and His one and only bride, Israel. Therefore, the context and content of the “original message” was thoroughly Jewish.
And what may surprise both Rabbinical Jews and Christians is that this “original message” is what God had sent Yeshua (Jesus) to proclaim all over Israel:
And when day came, He departed and went to a lonely place; and the multitudes were searching for Him, and came to Him, and tried to keep Him from going away from them. But He said to them, “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, for I was sent for this purpose.” (Luke 4:43)
Now while I was growing up in a Christian family and was faithfully attending church, I was never taught that Yeshua (Jesus) was sent by God to preach “the Kingdom of God,” but I was always taught that the reason “Jesus came was to die for us,” but this is not what Yeshua (Jesus) had told the crowd who came looking for Him, nor was I taught “the gospel of the kingdom” that Yeshua (Jesus) and His disciples taught throughout Israel, but “the gospel” I was taught is the same one taught by Christians since near the end of the first century, C.E., when “Christians” [non-Jews] had broken away from the original Jewish Kingdom Movement, who called themselves “The Way” (probably short for “The Way of the LORD”, Heb. HaDerekh Adonai), and formed, shaped, and molded themselves into their own religion, called “Christianity.”
Jesus Came to Finish God’s Work
I was also told growing up in the church that “Jesus came to start a new thing” (the church); however, this is also not true. He did not come to BEGIN something, but to FINISH it. For example, in John 4, right AFTER He had spoken to the woman of Samaria and BEFORE He began His ministry to the people of the area for the next “two days,” and began His ministry we see in Matthew 4 or Mark 1:14-15, which happened right after Yochanan (John the Baptizer) had been placed into prison by Herod and very early in the ministry of Yeshua (Jesus), the disciples had gone into town to get Him some food, when they returned and offered Him something to eat, He responded,
I have meat (food) that you no not of…My meat (food) is to do the will of him that sent me, and to FINISH [G5048] his work. (John 4:32, 35, KJV)
In the NASB, this same verse is translated as –
I have food to eat that you do not know about… My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to accomplish His work.
The Greek word that’s translated here in the King James Version (KJV) as “finish” and in the NASB as “accomplish” is the word teleioo, which means,
complete, i.e., (literal) accomplish, or (figurative) consummate (in character): – consecrate, finish, fulfill, make) perfect. (1) Particularly with the meaning to bring to a full end, completion, reaching the intended goal, to finish a work or duty (Lu 13:22; Jn 4:34; 5:36; 17:4); to finish a race or course (Ac 20:24; Php 3:12). (2290)
Consequently, then, Yeshua (Jesus) came to “complete” or to “finish” God’s work, “to bring it to a full end.” But if Yeshua (Jesus) came to “complete” or “finish” God’s work, then the next logical question would be “Where did God’s work begin?”
Abraham – “The Beginning of the Gospel”?
According to the believing Pharisee, Sha’ul Paulus (Paul), “the gospel” did not begin in a manger in the small village of Bethlehem, but it began with God calling a seventy-five-year-old man from Ur Kasdim (trans. “Ur of the Chaldees”), named Avraham (trans. “Abraham”), which was located in the northern part of the Mesopotamian empire (modern-day Turkey):
Even so Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness. Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles [non-Jews] by faith, PREACHED THE GOSPEL BEFOREHAND TO ABRAHAM, saying, “All the nations shall be blessed in you.” So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer. (Galatians 3:6-9)
Here we can see that Abraham was told “the gospel beforehand [or “in advance”], and what was the essence of this message: “All the nations shall be blessed in you.” So by putting John 4 together with this passage in Galatians, we can see that spectrum of the gospel begins with Abraham, and that it ends with Moshiach Yeshua (Messiah Jesus), but not during His first coming, but with His second coming and the establishment of His Kingdom here on earth – in Jerusalem, Israel. This means that “the gospel” has not yet been “completed,” but it is still going on. Now what was needed to provide the basis for all that God has done and is doing since the days of Abraham, Yeshua (Jesus) “finished” or “completed” at the crucifixion, but overall “the gospel” has not yet been completed.
What Christianity Teaches
Christianity teaches that the Bible all about “God’s Salvation” – rather than “the kingdom of God” – and as a result, they believe the “first gospel” (proto-euaggelion) is found in Genesis 3, as part of God’s judgment on the serpent for his role in the disobedience of Adam and Chavah (trans. “Eve”) – instead of Abraham as stated in the Bible. To the serpent, God says,
Because you have done this, Cursed are you more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; On your belly shall you go, and dust shall you eat all the days of your life; and I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel. (Genesis 3:14-15)
Christianity says that the last two lines – “He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel” – happened at the cross. “You shall bruise him on the heel” happened when the Romans crucified Yeshua (Jesus) since His heels were also nailed to the cross, and He [Messiah] shall bruise you [haSatan] on the head when Yeshua (Jesus) died. The problem is that there is not one verse or passage anywhere in the New Covenant Scriptures that teaches this interpretation of this passage of Scripture, nor does it allude to or refer to this verse or interpretation, In fact, this passage in Genesis 3 is never even quoted in the New Covenant, nor is it ever connected to phrase “the gospel” in any way whatsoever. Therefore, since this interpretation cannot be found in the Bible at all, then we may conclude that even though this interpretation may be considered “Christian,” it is not biblical.
So why does Christianity teach an interpretation that is not even taught in the Bible, but they don’t teach one that is in the Bible?
The Gospel – An Added Teaching?
What Christians call “the gospel” was added to “the original gospel” by Yeshua (Jesus) when He took His disciples to Caesarea Phillipi, and after Shi’mon Petros gives his renown confession of faith: “You are the Christ [Messiah], the Son of the living God!” (Matthew 16:16), and Yeshua (Jesus) blesses him, He tells the disciples about the events that will happen during the time of Passover in Jerusalem to prepare His disciples for what was going to happen:
From that time Jesus Christ [Yeshua Moshiach] 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 on the third day. (Matthew 16:21)
Here we can see that Matthew explicitly writes that it was here in Caesarea Phillippi that Yeshua (Jesus) BEGAN to teach what Christianity preaches are the events of “the gospel”: His death, burial, and resurrection. This happened only a few weeks before Passover. And we know that this teaching was not part of the “original message” – that they had been proclaimed all over the land of Israel for over three years, and the disciples themselves were sent out to teach out to teach the same “gospel” – because of how the disciples react when Yeshua (Jesus) tells them about His upcoming “death, burial, and resurrection – they are in shock, if not devastated. For example, in Matthew 16, we read,
And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.” (Matthew 16:22)
This is a strange reaction from those who had heard this message for over the past three years, and they have even gone out and proclaimed the same message. Obviously, then, “the death, burial, and resurrection” were not part of “the original gospel” that Yeshua (Jesus) and His disciples had been proclaiming all over Israel for over the past three years.
What Christians consider “the gospel” is also based on what Sha’ul Paulus (Paul) wrote to the congregation in Corinth, Greece. He wrote,
Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance of what I also received, that Christ [Messiah] died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas and then to the twelve. (I Corinthians 15:1-4)
Here we can see that Sha’ul Paulus (Paul) explicitly identifies “the death, burial, and resurrection on the third day” as part of “the gospel.” Notice, he didn’t say that this was “all” of “the gospel,” since he said that “the death, burial, and resurrection on the third day” were “of first importance of what I also received.” If this was “the first,” then there had to be a “second,” and perhaps, a “third.” In other words, the wording here suggests that this was not all that there was to this message, called “the gospel.”
Based on my study and research, I am convinced that “the gospel of the kingdom” actually was the announcement that God was preparing to begin His promise to redeem and restore the people to Him who were the descendants of the two kingdoms of Israel – the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah – and those individuals from the nations. He was going to bring these three groups together to form the “One New Man” (Ephesian 2:15), “the body of Christ” [Messiah], or “the church” [Gk. Ecclesia] (I Corinthians 12:27; Ephesians 4:12), which Sha’ul Paulus (Paul) uses for different names for Israel, God’s one true Bride, or “the Israel of God” (Galatians 6:16). Thus, “the gospel” involves not only Abraham, the redemption and restoration of Israel, and the death, burial, and resurrection of Messiah. Therefore, Rabbinical Judaism has been teaching about Abraham and the Restoration of Israel, and Christianity has been proclaiming the death, burial, and resurrection of Messiah, so both have been involved in some way on teaching parts of “the gospel”, but neither one has been teaching the “whole gospel.”
A Pharisee’s Prophetic Warning
So if the “original gospel” was about the redemption and restoration of Israel, and then the message of the death. burial, and resurrection on the third day was added by Yeshua (Jesus) a few weeks before they went to Jerusalem, by the disciples, and Sha’ul Paulus (Paul) in I Corinthians 15:1-4. what happened to change “the gospel” so that through the centuries, beginning with almost the second century, C.E., Christianity has exclusively taught “the gospel” as comprising “the death, burial, and the resurrection on the third day”?
As Sha’ul Paulus (Paul) was heading to Jerusalem for the biblical feast of Passover, he decided to temporarily stop in Miletus to say farewell to the congregational leader in and around the city of Ephesus and to give them his warning one more time. During his speech, he gave the following warning:
I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I
did not cease to admonish each one with tears. (Acts 20:29-31)
As we can see here, Sha’ul Paulus (Paul) warned them that change was coming from without and from within. It was coming from “savage wolves” who would “come in among you,” and they would not “spare the flock” but destroy them, and it would come from within when men – “from among your own selves” – “will arise,” and they would speak “perverse things,” and “draw away the disciples after them.” Sha’ul Paulus (Paul) had been giving them warning of the changes that were coming, he said, “for a period of three years,” and the changes he saw coming broke his heart, for he continued to warn them “with tears.”
Indeed the changes came as a result of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Holy Temple by the Roman army. under the leadership of Titus, the eldest son of the Roman Emperor, in 70 C.E. The destruction, not only changed the face of Israel and Judaism, but along with them, it changed the original Jewish Kingdom movement, called “The Way” or “Nazarenes” (see Acts 24:5). The original movement was firmly located within the heart of Second Temple Judaism, but there was a division that happened as a result of the destruction that happened.
Many, though not all, the Gentile [non-Jewish] believers saw the destruction of Jerusalem and the Holy Temple as a sign from God that He had turned His back on Israel and the Jewish people. And they began to see themselves as “the New Israel” and the “New People of God,” and to reaffirm this belief and idea, they also began to teach that “the New Testament” (representing Christianity, they believed) had replaced “the Old Testament” (representing Israel). This belief is called “Supersessionism” or “Replacement Theology.” And there are denominations within Christianity that still believe that Christianity has, in fact, “replaced” Israel,, and most denominations of Christianity believe that the “New Testament” has. in some way, “replaced,” “annulled,” “did away with,” “abolished” or “set aside” the “Old Testament.”
My Own Position
However, my own position is that I do not believe in “Supersessionism” or “Replacement Theology” in way, shape, or form. Nor do I believe any longer that Christianity and Israel are two distinctly separate communities, as is taught in “Dispensationalism,” but I believe that “the church” is another term for Israel, in which Gentile [non-Jewish] believers have been “engrafted” and God is continuing to mold and shape us all into “One New Man,” as Sha’ul Paulus (Paul) taught in Romans 11 and Ephesians 2.
The Modern Restoration
In the twentieth century, C.E., with the birth of Hibbat Zion (“Love of Zion”) Movement in 1881, the publication of Leon Pinsker’s book Auto-Emancipation in 1882, and then Theodore Herzl’s book, Der Judenstaat (“The Jewish State”) in 1896, and then the following year, in 1897, with the formation of the First Zionist Congress, and then on November 2, 1917, with the Balfour Declaration and in November 1947, with the U.N. passing their Resolution, we have watched all of these come together with the birth of the state of Israel on May 14, 1948. These were all steps taken by God in keeping His promise to restore the people and nation of Israel.
Then we have watched as the Jewish people reclaimed all of the city of Jerusalem on June 7, 1967 during the Six-Day War. And then beginning in 1987 with the formation of the Temple Institute in Jerusalem and the research they have done, and the things they have made for the next Temple, as well as the Levitical priests they have trained, I believe that we are on the verge of seeing the restoration of the Holy Temple completed very soon. All that is missing is the building.
I can agree with many Rabbinical Jews and Christians that the Messiah and His Kingdom is very close; in fact, it is right around the corner. Now mainstream Rabbinical Jews and I may disagree to His identity, but we both agree that our belief in the Messiah and His coming Kingdom is an essential part of our belief in Rabbinical Judaism, Messianic Judaism, and in Christianity. So don’t you think that it is time that we come together, heal the hurts and divisions that exist between our people, and in so doing, we bring healing to the division between us, by laying aside our own man-made definitions, and accept the definition of Israel, God’s own Bride, as He Himself has defined her within His own Torah, – goy v’qahal goyim (“a nation and a multitude/assembly/or church] of nations” (Genesis 35:11).
We Are One
God has defined His Bride, Israel, as an international body comprised of the Jewish people (“a nation”) and those from the nations of the world (“a multitude/assembly/or church of nations”). Therefore, we are One People, One Community, and One Kingdom. And it is time for us to bring reconciliation, healing, and forgiveness to one another, as we unite as One to follow the same God, the Holy One of Israel, and to keep His commandments, as we have been commanded within His Word since He is the One True God, the Creator of all things, and the “King of kings and Lord of lords.”