For over nineteen centuries, since the beginning of Christianity as a distinct, individual religion, near the beginning of the second century, C.E., Christianity has only been teaching a portion of “the gospel.” They have not been teaching the “whole gospel,’ not even today. Christianity has removed “the gospel” from its original intended contexts – the History of Israel, the Tanakh (aka, “Old Testament”), and Second-Temple Judaism – some time after the destruction of Jerusalem and the Holy Temple by the Romans under Titus in 70 C.E. and before 100 C.E., and then the message was refocused, repackaged, and then re-identified as a “Christian message.”
People need to understand that the focus of “the gospel” was primarily NATIONAL and secondarily INDIVIDUAL. The intended audience of “the gospel” was to Israel and those non-Jewish people [i.e., Gentiles] who have decided to attach themselves to Israel, like Rahab, Ruth, Doeg the Edomite, Uriah the Hittite, etc. For example, in the book of Acts, Sha’ul Paulus (Paul) is on his first missionary journey, and he and those who were with him went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day to observe the Sabbath day, as all Jews did of the time, “and after the reading of the law and the prophets,” a practice that still continues to this day in synagogues around the world, the leaders of the synagogue saw Sha’ul Paulus (Paul) with his Pharisaic uniform on and realized he was from Jerusalem and asked him if he had “any word of exhortation for the people,” to please go ahead and address the people. During his address, he says,
Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham [i.e., the Jewish people], and whosoever among you [who continue to] fear God, to YOU is the WORD OF THIS SALVATION sent. (Acts 13:26)
To whom does Paul say is the intended audience of this message? “Children of the stock of Abraham” [i.e., the Jewish people] AND whosoever among you who [continue to] fear God [i.e., those Gentiles who were there and had attached themselves to Israel]. For example, Joseph Good writes in his book, Rosh HaShanah and the Messianic Kingdom to Come (1989),
The gentile believers of the first century are seldom understood by today’s Biblical scholars. They belonged to a group known as the “sebomenoi,” of God-fearers [trans. as “those who fear God”]. These were Gentiles who had left paganism and were already attending synagogues. They observed the Sabbath, as well as the Jewish festivals, and had incorporated into their own life-style many of the Jewish customs. Laws defined within the Torah defined how they were to be treated as well as how they were to live. (v)
As we can see here, these “God-fearers” were non-Jews who had attached themselves to Israel and to the God of Israel, who were attending the synagogue and learning about the God of Israel, His Torah and requirements about how they were to live. They observed the weekly Sabbath, as well as the Jewish festivals, and had even incorporated many of the Jewish customs into their own personal lives. Now many of Paul’s early converts came from the synagogue, both Jews and “God-fearers.” One well-known “God-fearer” from the book of Acts is the Roman centurion, Cornelius (Acts 10). This man even prayed at the same subscribed times as the Jewish people.
The problem with Christian understanding of the “New Testament,” including “the gospel,” is that because they have removed them from their original contexts, they have made all of its teachings into a “pre-text,” and they have opened the doorway wide for misinterpretation, misunderstanding, and error. And if anyone has studied the history of Christianity over the centuries knows that misinterpretations, misunderstandings, and errors have been an on-going struggle within the Christian religion. We need to return the “New Testament,” including “the gospel” back to its original contexts, and then read and study it within those contexts, and then bring that meaning forward to our day and time and see how it can be applied today. When we do, we discover that “the gospel of the kingdom” is that God was about to begin “the redemption and restoration of Israel.”
This was “the gospel” that Yochanan the Immerser [trans. “John the Baptist”), Yeshua (Jesus) and His eighty-two disciples (The Twelve and the Seventy, Luke 10:1) spread throughout the land of Israel. “The gospel” they proclaimed did not focus on “the death, burial, and resurrection” but on “the kingdom of heaven” or “the kingdom of God,” (i.e., the redemption and restoration of Israel). For example, Yochanan (John) in Matthew 3, says,
In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 3:1-2)
Here we can see that the focus of his message is “the kingdom of heaven” (Heb. malkhut shamayim). And in the next chapter, we read that after Yochanan (John) is thrown into prison, Yeshua begins to proclaim the same exact message:
Now when Jesus [Yeshua] had heard that John [Yochanan] was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee; and leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt [lived] in Capernaum, which is upon the coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Naphtalim…From that time Jesus [Yeshua] began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”(Matthew 4:12-13, 17)
Here again, we see the focus is on “the kingdom of heaven,” and if we read Mark’s parallel version of this same time and message, we find the following:
Now after John [Yochanan] was put in prison, Jesus [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)
In Mark’s parallel version, we can see that the message of “the kingdom of heaven/God is, in fact, “the gospel.” The error comes the moment we see the “New Testament,” including “the gospel,” apart from the Tanakh (aka, “Old Testament”). But people say, “the phrase ‘the kingdom of heaven’ or ‘the kingdom of God’ is not in the Tanakh (aka, “Old Testament”). But these people want God to spoon feed them the answers and show them the connections. The Bible is not written that way. The Bible is like a huge jigsaw puzzle, and He wants us to “put the pieces together” and figure it out. Why? Because if we are willing to take the time and effort to do this, then it reveals to God that we really do love Him, but if we don’t, regardless of what we say, it reveals we really don’t love Him. What we love is what we are willing to spend our time and energy doing.
The phrases “kingdom of heaven” and “kingdom of God” can be traced back to something King David says at the inauguration of his son Shlomo (Solomon):
Howbeit the LORD God of Israel chose me before all the house of my father to be king over Israel for ever: for he hath chosen Judah to be ruler; and of the house of Judah, the house of my father; and among the sons of my father he liked me to make me king over all Israel; and of all my sons, (for the LORD hath given me many sons,) he hath chosen Solomon my son to sit upon THE KINGDOM OF THE LORD over Israel. (I Chronicles 28:4-5)
This phrase “the Kingdom of the LORD” is the root and source for what became “the kingdom of heaven” and “the kingdom of God” in the Second Temple period of Israel. Israel is not just a country in the Middle East, it is His One and Only Bride. God has no other Bride, and It was during this time of Second Temple Judaism when the things we read about in the “New Testament” were happening. Here in I Chronicles 28:5, we can see the phrase “the kingdom of the LORD” is used in an explicitly political context – the inauguration of Solomon – to become the king of Israel. Clearly, the phrase “the kingdom of the LORD” is associated with the United Kingdom of Israel.
But because of Solomon’s sins – He married multiple wives [700 wives and 300 concubines] and He worshipped their false gods, I Kings 11:1-8] – while he was the king, God told him that He was going to take the kingdom away from Solomon and give it unto his servant, but for David’s sake, this would not happen during his lifetime, but during his son’s.
And the LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned away from the LORD God of Israel, which had appeared to him twice, and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods: but he kept not that which the LORD commanded. Wherefore the LORD said unto Solomon, Forasmuch as this is done of you, and you have not kept my covenant and my statutes, which I have commanded you, I will surely rend [tear] the kingdom from you, and I will give it to your servant. Notwithstanding in your days I will not do it for David your father’s sake: but I will rend [tear] it out of the hand of your son. Howbeit I will not rend [tear] away all the kingdom; but will give one tribe to your son for David my servant’s sake, and for Jerusalem’s sake which I have chosen. (I Kings 11:9-13)
God here tells Solomon that He was taking the kingdom away from him and that it would be given to his servant Jeroboam, but it would not happen during his lifetime. It would happen when his son Rehoboam assumed the throne. And as we read in Scripture, this is exactly what happened. The United Kingdom divided into two kingdoms: the northern kingdom of Israel (aka, “Ephraim”) and the Southern Kingdom of Judah.
God continued to send prophets to both kingdoms. There were 19 Kings who ruled and reigned over the northern kingdom and 20 kings who ruled and reigned over the southern kingdom of Judah. But both kingdoms continued their practice of idolatry. Finally, God got tired of it, and He divorced a part a part of His Bride, the northern Tribes. We read about this in Jeremiah 3,
And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had PUT HER AWAY, and given her A BILL OF DIVORCE; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also. (Jeremiah 3:8)
She was “divorced” when God allowed the Assyrians to come into the northern kingdom of Israel, and take the people away into captivity. There were 10 tribes that made up the northern kingdom, and they became known as “the lost 10 tribes.” The southern kingdom didn’t learn from what happened to the northern kingdom, and they kept up with their idolatrous practices. So God ends up allowing Babylon to carry the southern kingdom away into captivity for 70 years, but He promises that He would not “divorce” His people Judah,
And she [Gomer] conceived again, and bare a daughter. and God said unto him [Hosea], Call her name Lo-ruhamah: for I will no more have mercy upon the house of Israel; but I will utterly take them away. But I will have mercy upon the house of Judah, and will save them by the LORD their God, and will not save them by bow, nor by sword, nor by battle, by horses, nor by horsemen. Now when she had weaned Lo-ruhamah, she conceived, and bare a son. Then God said, Call his name Lo-ammi: for you are not my people, and I will not be your God. (Hosea 1:6-9)
Even though makes this statement to the northern kingdom, He also promises that one day He would bring them back and restore them to Himself, to the southern kingdom (i.e., He would re-unite the kingdom), and to the land of Israel. He says,
Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said to them, You are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, You are the sons of the living God. (Hosea 1:10)
This promise of the redemption and the restoration of Israel is “the gospel of the kingdom” that was proclaimed and preached by Yochanan (John) the Immerser (aka, “Baptist”), Yeshua (Jesus) and His eighty-two disciples. This is “the gospel” that God sent His Son Yeshua (Jesus) to proclaim (Luke 4:43); it was “the gospel” that He taught and trained His disciples to proclaim, and it was this same “gospel” that He is still telling them about after His resurrection. For example, in Acts 1,
To whom also he showed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining of THE KINGDOM OF GOD: And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, you have heard of me. (Acts 1:3-4)
When speaking about “the gospel,” the phrases “the kingdom of heaven” or “the kingdom of God” doesn’t refer to “heaven” or “God,” but it refers to the news that God is going to begin “the restoration of Israel” (the United Kingdom of Israel).
Did suddenly change His program when some of the religious leaders rejected the Messianic claims of Yeshua (Jesus), like Christianity teaches? No, He didn’t. It was God’s plan that He be rejected, so that He would end up being crucified and die for the sins of Israel and lay the foundation for the restoration to happen. Not only did He die for Israel, but also for all those who would attach themselves to Israel, like Rahab and Ruth had done. But John writes in his “gospel,”
For God so loved the whole world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)
Israel has been scattered throughout all the nations of the world, so “the world” represents all the places where His Bride Israel lives, where it be the native-born Israelites or those who are “God-fearers,” those non-Jews who have attached themselves to the God of Israel, His Word, and the people of Israel. For example, gives this promise in the book of Isaiah,
Blessed is the man that does this, and the son of man that lays hold on it; that keeps the sabbath from polluting it, and keeps his hand from doing any evil…Also the sons of the stranger [Gentiles], that join themselves to the LORD, to serve him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be his servants, every one that keeps the sabbath from polluting it, and takes hold of my covenant; even them I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: Their burnt-offerings shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called a house of prayer for all people. The LORD God which gathers THE OUTCASTS OF ISRAEL says, Yet will I gather OTHERS to him, beside those that are gathered to him. (Isaiah 56:2, 6-8)
“The gospel” is God’s call for Israel the northern and southern kingdoms of Israel) and all those who wish to attach themselves to the God of Israel and the people of Israel to be UNITED together as the RESTORED, UNITED KINGDOM OF ISRAEL under the rule and reign of Messiah Yeshua, or what is translated in the “New Testament” as “the church” (Gk. Ekklesia).