Just as the historical origin of Christianity is problematic, so is the Christian “gospel.” Throughout most of my life, I have heard ministers say that there is only ONE GOSPEL, and although that is true in itself, but the message they preached about “the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ [Messiah]” is not the “whole gospel,” but only a portion of the message that has been removed from its original three contexts-
- The History of Israel;
- The Tanakh (aka, “Old Testament”); and
- Second Temple Judaism
Whenever we take anything out of its original context(s), we open the door wide to misinterpretation, misunderstanding, and error. The “New Testament,” including “the gospel,” was not only taken out of its intended three contexts, but it was also stripped of much of its biblical message that is prophesied and taught by the Scriptures, and that Yochanan the Immerser (trans. “John the Baptist”), Yeshua (Joshua/ Jesus) of Nazareth and His eighty-two disciples (The Twelve and the Seventy, Luke 10:1) proclaimed and taught throughout the land of Isra’el. Thus, there is far more to “the gospel” than what most people have heard preached or taught.
THE FOCUS OF THE “ORIGINAL GOSPEL”
“The original gospel” did not focus on “the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus” – but on the redemption and restoration of Isra’el.
In fact, if we look back into the Scriptures, and we study the prophetic contexts for both the new covenant and the renown Isaiah 53 passage is “the redemption and restoration of Isra’el.” Also, Yeshua (Jesus) calling “fishermen” for His initial disciples fulfilled Jeremiah’s prophecy about Isra’el’s restoration:
“Therefore behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when it will no longer be said, ‘As the LORD lives, who brought up the sons of Israel out of the land of Egypt,’ but ‘As the LORD lives, who brought up the sons of Israel from the land of the north and from all the countries where He had banished them.’ For I will restore them to their own land which I gave to their fathers. “Behold, I am going to send for MANY FISHERMEN,” declares the LORD, “AND THEY WILL FISH FOR THEM; and afterwards I shall send for many hunters, and they will hunt them from every mountain and every hill, and from the clefts of the rock.” (Jeremiah 16:16-17)
If we compare this prophecy in Jeremiah with the account of Yeshua (Jesus) calling His initial disciples, we can see He even fulfilled what it said that they would be doing – “fishing for people” – not fish.
And walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were FISHERMEN. And He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you FISHERS OF MEN.” And they immediately left the nets, and followed Him. And going on from there He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them. And they immediately left the boat and their father, and followed Him. (Matthew 4: 18-22)
Here we can see a direct connection between Yeshua (Jesus) calling of His initial four disciples who were FISHERMEN and the Jeremiah prophecy, which is clearly describing the redemption and restoration of Israel. But not only do we have this, but the fact that He also called TWELVE of them to be “Apostles” (or “emissaries”) also connects them to the TWELVE Tribes of Israel, and then in the very next verse, we read,
And Jesus was going about in 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. (Matthew 4:23)
Neither Yeshua (Jesus) nor any of His disciples had any interest of starting another religion. In fact, Yeshua (Jesus) told the Samaritan woman at the well,
Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, shall you worship the Father. You worship that which you do not know: WE worship that which WE know, for salvation is from the Jews” (John 4: 21-22)
Notice that He said “WE,” which means He included Himself among the other Jews of His time, and He said that “WE WORSHIP THAT WHICH WE KNOW,” yet Christianity has traditionally argued that the Jews do not know God, yet Yeshua (Jesus) seems to be in direct contradiction to their teaching right here. And this has not changed, even though He was crucified by the Romans.
The movement was about bringing about the redemption and restoration of Israel – not about bringing about a new religion, called “Christianity.” I think it is important for us to remember that the “original gospel” was taught by Torah-observant Second-Temple Israeli Jews to other Jews (both inside and outside of Isra’el) of the time of varying degrees of Torah-observance about things that were close and dear to the Jewish heart, the Hebrew Scriptures, which prophesies and teaches us about Israel’s redemption and restoration. For example, in the book of Acts, we read,
To these He also presented Himself alive, after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days, and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God, (Acts 1:3)
Here Yeshua (Jesus) is still speaking about “the kingdom of God,” the redemption and restoration of Israel, and in response, the disciples ask Him, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6) During most of my life, I have heard different Christian pastors and Bible teachers ridicule the disciples for asking this question. “They still don’t get it,” they argued, but the disciples heard and saw things that we do not have in the Scriptures, since the disciple Yochanan (John) writes at the end of his Gospel,
And there are also MANY OTHER THINGS which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books which were written. (John 21:25; emphasis added)
When Yochanan (John) had written his Gospel, he had already read the three synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), and he validated what they had written, but he said that they had omitted materials from the beginning and ending of His ministry, and so Yochanan (John) sought to “fill in the blanks.” This is why his Gospel is different from the other three Gospels.
In Part 3 and 4, we will be looking at biblical proof that “the Restoration of Isra’el” was the focus and content of the Gospel proclaimed and taught by Yeshua (Jesus) and His original 82 disciples. Click on the enclosed link to go to Part 3. May you be blessed.