Although most people have heard of the “Christian gospel,” very few have heard of “Abraham’s gospel.” It is something that is not widely discussed, even though it is alluded to several times within what has come to be called the “New Testament.” For example, the believing Pharisee, Sha’ul Paulus (Paul), writes about it in his letter to the congregation in Galatia,
Even so Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him for righteousness. Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith [trusting and being faithful], who are the children of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles (non-Jews) by faith [trusting and being faithful], PREACHED THE GOSPEL BEFOREHAND TO ABRAHAM, saying, “All nations shall be blessed in you.” So then they who are of faith [trusting and being faithful] are blessed with Abraham, the believer. (Galatians 3:6-9, NASB)
This passage should provoke a couple of questions:
- What was “the gospel” that was “preached beforehand to Abraham”?
- When and where do we see this “gospel” “preached” to him?
- What was the essence of “the gospel”?
- Was this the same “gospel” that we see proclaimed and taught within the four Gospels and the book of Acts?
Here we can see in this passage, Sha’ul (Paul) tells us that “the gospel” was “preached BEFOREHAND to Abraham.” The word translated as “beforehand” is the Greek word proeuaggelizomai (G4283), which according to Strong’s “New Testament Dictionary” means –
From pro (4253), before, and euaggelizo (2097), to preach the gospel or the good news. To proclaim the gospel beforehand. Only in Gal. 3:8. (2261)
Here Sha’ul (Paul) tells us that Abraham heard “the gospel beforehand” or “in advance,” yet out of all the years my family and I attended a small Pentecostal church while I was growing up, and even as an adult, I have never heard about Abraham while “the gospel” was being presented. And what was the essence of that “gospel”? That “All shall nations be blessed in you.” But in the writings of has come to be called the “New Testament,” there is no one else in the Bible who is said to have heard “the gospel” before Abraham and no one else is connected to the word “gospel”/”Good News” before him. He is where this message began.
The Word “Gospel” Defined
The word “gospel” comes from a Middle English compound word, “god-spell.” According to Daniel Lancaster, a teacher with First Fruits of Zion, in the second video of their conference, Y3K, he explains the meaning of “gospel”:
What is the message of the gospel? Of course, we know what “gospel” means – it comes from a Middle English usage of our language, the words were “God-spell.” “God,” not meaning “God” but “good,” and “spell” meaning “spell,” as we would understand “a spell,” or another definition is “a story.” A “story” is a “spell,” because a good storyteller *puts “a spell” on you, in a way. This is the “good story,” or “good news.” It comes from the Hebrew word basorah,” which means “good news.” “Gospel” is “good news.”
Here Lancaster tells us that the word “gospel” means “good news,” and it is the English equivalent of the Hebrew word basorah, which also means “good news.” And as I will show, the concept of something being “good news” is not foreign to the Tanakh, nor is its use as I will show. For example,
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 is your God!” [Yeshe’yahu (Isaiah) 40:9, NASB; emphasis added]
In both of these lines, the phrase “bearer or Good News” is the English translation of the Hebrew word, m’basseret (H1319), which is transliterated into Greek as euaggelizo (G2097), “announce good news,” but when this Greek word in translated into English, it becomes “preach the gospel” (Luke 4:18). Is there a difference between “announcing good news” and “preaching the gospel”? This is not the only place where we find the Hebrew m’basseret used, but it is used in other places as well.
Abraham & Sarah – “Our Model Parents”?
Abraham and Sarah are the ONLY couple in Scripture that we are specifically told in the Scriptures to look back and examine. For example, in Yeshe’yahu (Isaiah) 51, we read,
Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the LORD. Look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged. LOOK UNTO ABRAHAM YOUR FATHER, AND UNTO SARAH THAT BARE YOU: for I called him alone, and blessed him, and increased him. [Yeshe’yahu (Isaiah) 51:1-2, KJV]
The statement that we “Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you,” is not a suggestion. This is a command, and it is not directed just at the Jewish people, but it is addressed to anyone who “follows after righteousness” and “that seek the LORD.” This can be anyone, regardless of your national, ethnic, or sexual identity.
This also provokes some rather interesting questions:
- What is it about the lives of Abraham and Sarah that is so important that we are commanded to look back at their lives?
- And why is it important for us to know that God “called him alone, and blessed him, and increased him”?
Could it be that the reason that we are to look back to Abraham and Sarah is because the “good news” that we see proclaimed in the writings of the Jewish disciples of Yeshua – that Christians call the “New Testament” or Messianics call the B’rit Chadasha, begins with Abraham and Sarah?
Testimony of Mir’yam
For the first testimony we see that there is a connection between Abraham and the coming of Messiah is made by Mir’yam, the mother of Yeshua when she went to visit her relative, Elisheva (Elizabeth). After she greets Elisheva, she responds to Elisheva‘s greeting with a praise to the Holy One of Isra’el, and it is at the end of her praise, we read about Avraham:
He [God] has given help to Isra’el His servant, in remembrance of His mercy, as He spoke to our fathers, TO ABRAHAM AND HIS OFFSPRING FOREVER. (Luke 1:54-55, NASB)
This provokes some interesting questions:
- How was the conception and birth of Yeshua God giving “help to Isra’el”?
- How was His coming “in remembrance of [God’s] mercy,” as He had spoke to “our fathers”?
- When and where did make this promise to the three patriarchs of Isra’el, specifically “to Abraham and his offspring forever.”
Why aren’t we shown this “mysterious connection” within the writings of “the four Gospels”? Why isn’t this “connection” ever explained to us within the Scriptures?” Why is it kept as a “mystery”?
Testimony of Z’haryah, the Cohen
Then the next person who makes this connection is Z’kharyah (Zacharias/Zachariah) the Cohen (priest), who was also speaking by the Ruach Ha-Elohim (Spirit of God). At the b’ris (circumcision) of his son when he was named Yochanan (John), we read that Z’kharyah’s tongue was released, and the Ruach Ha-Elohim (Spirit of God) came upon him, and he began to prophecy. The first part of his prophecy dealt with the Messiah and the second half dealt with the role his son shall have for the Messiah:
Blessed be the Lord God of Isra’el, 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 [continue to] 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 us 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, NASB; emphasis added)
This passages provokes some of the same questions and some others:
- How did God visit Isra’el and accomplish “redemption for His people”?
- What does he mean by “raising up a horn of salvation for us in the house of David”?
- Who are the “enemies,” and who are “the hand of all who [continue to] hate us?
- Again, how is the birth of Messiah Yeshua “showing mercy toward our fathers [the three patriarchs of Isra’el]”?
- What “holy covenant” is he referring to?
- When and where in the Scriptures do we see God making this “covenant” with Abraham?
- As a result of His coming, how have we been “delivered from the hand of our enemies,” “are we really able to ‘serve Him without fear,” and “can we serve Him ‘in holiness and righteousness before Him all our days”?
As we can see, Z’kharyah’s prophecy provokes many questions that we have to wonder if they have been fulfilled yet, and is the time of their fulfillment still future? But here we have both Mir’yam (Mary) and Z’kharyah (Zachariah/Zacharias) claiming that the coming of Messiah was God showing His “mercy” (Heb. chesed) “toward our fathers,” the patriarchs of Isra’el, and Him remembering “His holy covenant,” and so that we do not sit around wondering what “covenant,” he continues by saying, “the oath which He swore to Abraham our father” (Heb. Avraham Aveinu).
The Gospel – “Mercy to the Three Patriarchs”?
So if Yeshua the Messiah came as an act of God’s chesed (“mercy.” “lovingkindness,” “covenantal love”) toward the three patriarchs of Isra’el – Avraham (Abraham), Yitzchak (Isaac), and Ya’acov (Jacob), in order “to remember His holy covenant,” the “oath which He swore to Abraham our father.” Both of them are speaking by inspiration of the Spirit of God (aka, “Holy Spirit”), and they are both identifying the reason that Messiah has come was because of “the oath,” which God promised to “Abraham,” and it is this same promise/oath that was passed down to each of the three patriarchs. I was completely shocked when God revealed this “good news” to me. The “good news” which is right there within the Scriptures. It shocked me because this is NOT “the gospel,” the “good news” that Christianity has been proclaiming and teaching people around the world for over the past 1,900 years! Think about it: if “the gospel” that we find in the Scriptures is Messiah fulfilling a covenantal promise that God made with Abraham, then why isn’t this “the gospel” that is being told? Why isn’t this “the gospel” that people are taught in churches? Who changed this message and why?
Testimony of Yeshua
Not only does Mir’yam (Mary) and Z’kharyah (Zachariah/Zacharias) connect Messiah Yeshua to Abraham, but so does Yeshua Himself. In the Gospel of Yochanan (John), we read,
“Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” [Yochanan (John) 8:56, NASB]
Tell me, when did Abraham see the day of Yeshua, and why did him seeing it make him glad? These are all questions that Christianity’s version of “the gospel” does not even begin to address or answer.
Testimonials of Sha’ul Paulus (Paul), the Jewish Pharisee
On his first missionary journey outside of the land of Isra’el, Sha’ul (Paul) is speaking to the mixed congregation of Jews and Gentiles (non-Jews) in Antioch Pisidia, he says,
Brethren, sons of Abraham’s family, and those among you you fear God (i.e., “God-fearers”), to us the word of this salvation has been sent out….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 (Heb. Y’hoshua/Yeshua),… (Acts 13:26, 32-33a, NASB)
Here again, we are met with a text that provokes several questions:
- Who are those who “fear God” or “God-fearers”? Why is it that we never hear anyone speak about them?
- Why is it that it is to the “sons of Abraham’s family” and the “God-fearers” that God’s “salvation has been sent out”?
- Here again we can that “the Good News” is about “the promise made to the fathers, the three patriarchs of Isra’el: Avraham (Abraham), Yitzchak (Isaac), and Ya’acov (Jacob).” What is this “promise”?
- When and where in the Bible was this “promise” made?
- What did this “promise” consist of?
- How did God fulfill “this promise” by raising “up Jesus” from the dead?
Again, these are questions I have never heard any minister, Bible teacher, or evangelist address as I was growing up as part of a Christian family attending a Pentecostal church. Why is that? Doesn’t this seem to indicate that there is much more to “the gospel” than what Christianity has traditionally preached or taught throughout the centuries?
We see this again by Sha’ul (Paul) when he is presenting his testimony before King Agrippa after he had been falsely arrested at the Temple. Before King Agrippa, he says,
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 [my Jewish opponents]. (Acts 26:6-7, NASB; emphasis added)
Sha’ul (Paul) does not claim to be on trial for something that has already happened – “the death, burial, and resurrection of Yeshua,” but on something that has not happened yet. This is why he repeatedly uses the word “hope.” You don’t “hope” for something that has already happened, but for something that has not happened. This raises several questions:
- What is “the promise made by God to our fathers”?
- How is “the promise to which our Twelve Tribes hope to attain the same hope as God made to the fathers?”
- When and where was this promise made?
- What did this “promise” consist of?
As we can see, there are numerous reasons to question the Christian understanding of the Scriptures. Particularly, since their presentation of “the gospel” does not even begin to address any of these questions. This is why I believe there needs to be a distinction made between what I call “the gospel of Abraham” and “the Christian gospel.” And from the questions that I can be asked by these sample texts, it is evident that there is much more to the account of “the gospel” than any presentation of “the gospel” from any Christian minister/pastor, Bible teacher, or evangelist (whether on television or not).
The Bible – Not a Divided Book
To understand “the gospel of Abraham,” you need to be able to see the Bible as a comprehensive whole – not as a divided Bible that teaches two distinctly different revelations, as Christianity teaches. I am thoroughly convinced it is because of this doctrine of a divided Bible taught by Christians and Messianic ministries why they do not see and understand this “gospel.”
Paul’s Final Warning
On his way to Jerusalem for the feast of Shavuot (Pentecost), Sha’ul (Paul) stopped at Miletus for a final warning to the congregational leaders of Ephesus. He sent a messenger to the various leaders and had them come to Miletus. Once they arrived, he gave them his final farewell, but during it, he gave them this final warning:
I know that after my departure [death] savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from 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, NASB)
Sha’ul (Paul) prophecies that change is coming to these Gentile believers from two sources: from without and from within. There would be people – who were “savage wolves” – who would come inside the congregation from outside of it, and they would change the character and nature of the congregations, “not sparing the flock,” and then change would also come from their own leaders who would “speak perverse things” to take disciples after themselves. Nor was this a sudden warning, but Sha’ul told them that he had been warning them about this “night and day” (daily) for a period of “three years,” and these coming changes did not excite him or make him happy, but they literally broke his heart, because he warned them of this “with tears.”
The Tragedy Changed Judaism and Led to the Birth of Christianity
The tragedy that provoked this change came two years later when the Roman military, under the leadership of Titus, marched against Jerusalem and destroyed the city and the Holy Temple in 70 C.E. When many of the Gentile (non-Jewish) believers heard about this, they interpreted it to mean that God had changed His back on Isra’el and the Jewish people, including the Jewish believers, and they began to believe that they were now the “New Israel,” the “New People of God,” and from now on, they would get all of the blessings, and the Jews would get nothing but the “curses.” And to reaffirm this belief, they also began to teach that the “New Testament” has “replaced,” “did await with,” “annulled” and even “superseded” the “Old Testament.” This belief is called “Supersessionism” or “Replacement Theology,” and it was the official position of Christianity up until the 1800’s when “Dispensationalism” was added. And every denomination some form or all of it, even to this day.
We Need A Return
We need to return to the message, teachings, and lifestyles lived by Yeshua, His early disciples, including Sha’ul (Paul) the Pharisee. We need to return to being HaDerekh Adonai (“The Way of the LORD”) and teach “All the Scriptures” from the “from the front cover to the maps,” like many ministers claimed they did. But rather than “claiming this,” we need to actually do it. And if we do, then we will finish strong. We will be what God describes the end time believers. For example, in Revelation 12, they are described as –
who [continue to] keep the commandments of God and [continue to] hold to the testimony of Jesus/Yeshua. (Revelations 12:17, NASB)
And we see this again in Revelation 14,
Here is the perseverance of the saints who [continue to] keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus/Yeshua. (Revelation 14:12, NASB)
Let us continue to keep the commandments of God that He handed down to Mosheh (Moses) on Mt. Sinai, as well as our faith in Yeshua the Messiah, but also let us return to “the gospel of Abraham,” which is called “the gospel of the Kingdom” mentioned in the Gospels.
In the Next Part of this Series:
In the next part of the series, I want to go back and examine the life of Abraham, and the covenant that God made with him.
Shalom v’chesed (Peace & Grace).
Very well said and explained, thanks