Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
What, Exactly, Is the "Gospel"?
When it comes to the Bible many of Israel forget the PRIMARY laws of language. Reader's of the Bible seem unable to make the connection between different expressions for the same subject. This failure causes them to lose sight of VITAL information about the Gospel message itself.
by HOIM Staff
It is a puzzling fact that many of Israel who read the Bible abandon the simple rules of interpretation which they successfully apply to all other documents. They seem to forget the basic laws of communication which govern all written and spoken material. One of the most fundamental of these laws, which under normal circumstances we all apply unconsciously, is the "law of synonymous terms." A narrative which introduces the word "automobile" may continue to refer to the same subject under varied terms. When the word "car" appears, or even "vehicle" or perhaps even "jalopy," readers are not confused. They understand that these are words to describe the same thing.
A synonymous expression may be simply an abbreviation. "The United States of America" may appear as "the United States," "the States," "the U.S." or "America." No one is disturbed by such use of alternative terms for the same thing. A letter which introduced its subject as "the wedding of Tom and Jenny" will later refer to the same event as "the wedding." These are just plain, easy facts about all communication. If I say, "Tomorrow is my birthday, and when we go on our picnic..." you have no difficulty in seeing that the picnic is a birthday outing.
When it comes to the Bible, however, many of Israel forget these primary laws of language. An amazing miracle of misunderstanding occurs, affecting the heart of the Christian Israelite faith. Readers of Scripture seem unable to make the connection between different expressions for the same object. This failure to connect synonymous terms causes them to lose track of vital, revealing information about the Gospel itself. Let us illustrate our point.
The Primary Definitions of the Gospel
In Matthew 13:19, the Gospel Message brought by the Messiah is defined as "the message about the Kingdom," i.e., "the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God," since that is the full title of the Gospel as Matthew had earlier told us in 4:17. In the very next verses (Matthew 13:20-23) this "message about the Kingdom" is abbreviated to "the message." This happens five times in the four following verses. The original phrase "message of the Kingdom" is shortened to simply "the message." But we are expected to make the connection correctly. It would be very foolish to deny that "the message of the Kingdom" of` Matthew 13:19 is something different when it is described as "the message" in the next four verses. Clearly "the message" is "the message about the Kingdom."
This simple piece of information has a dramatic effect on how we read the rest of the New Testament. The same Gospel Message appears under different "labels," all of which, however, should be referred back to the basic definition of the Gospel provided by the Messiah himself. When these interlocking connections are disregarded, the Gospel easily becomes detached from the Messiah, the author (as YEHOVAH's representative) of the Gospel Message. Detachment of the Gospel from the Messiah's own preaching is a theological disaster everywhere evident in contemporary invitations to salvation.
Here again is Yeshua's description of the Gospel Message, recorded by Matthew. We have no difficulty equating "the message about the Kingdom" with "the message." The Message is simply a "shorthand" version of "the message about the Kingdom":
"When anyone hears the message about the Kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart ...As for the one on whom seed was sown on rocky places, this is the man who hears the message and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the message, immediately he falls away. And the one on whom the seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the message, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the message and it becomes unfruitful. And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the message and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty" (Matthew 13:19-23).
When Luke records the same parable he employs exactly the same "shorthand" technique. In Luke 8:11 "the seed [sown by the sower] is the message of YEHOVAH God," but in verses 12, 13, 15 it appears as "the message." No one, however, would argue that it was no longer "the message of YEHOVAH God." Nor should we forget what Matthew taught us: that it is "the message about the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God."
If we extend our examination of Gospel synonyms over a wider span, we shall find that the law of equivalent phrases works to clarify and expand our understanding. Thus Matthew's "message of the Kingdom" (Matthew 13:19) reappears in a later chapter as "the Gospel of the Kingdom'' which is to be "preached in the whole world" of Israel (Matthew 24:14). This variant expression allows us immediately to make another connection. "The Gospel of the Kingdom" is the same exactly as "the message of the Kingdom." But both expressions often appear, in the gospels as well as the rest of the New Testament, abbreviated as simply "the message" or "the Gospel."
The Christian Israelite Message may alternatively be called the "Gospel of YEHOVAH God." This expression tells us something vitally important about the origin of the Gospel. It comes from YEHOVAH God and so it is a divine message. Mark introduces the Gospel as the "the Gospel of YEHOVAH God" and in the next breath he defines what he means. It is "the Gospel about the Kingdom." We make the obvious connection as we read Mark 1:14, 15: "Jesus came into Galilee proclaiming the Gospel of God and saying, `The time is fulfilled and the Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe the Gospel."' What Gospel`? The Gospel of YEHOVAH God. And what is that Gospel about? It is "the Gospel about the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God."
We have already discovered the same truth in Matthew's account. Further confirmation about the content of the Gospel appears earlier in Matthew. He reported Yeshua's ministry in these words: "Jesus was going throughout all Galilee teaching in their synagogues and preaching the Gospel about the Kingdom" (Matthew 4:23; 9:35).
Yeshua the Messiah and the Gospel writers, being excellent teachers and wanting to be sure that we of Israel do not fail to grasp the saving Message, keep telling us what the Gospel is. They carefully introduce us to the basic Christian vocabulary, just as we introduce children to the words they need to use as the basic tools of communication. Matthew says that the Messiah went about "preaching the Gospel about the Kingdom." Mark summarizes the content of the Messiah's preaching about the Kingdom as the "the Gospel of YEHOVAH God" (Mark 1:14, 15). In his version of the parable we examined above, Mark later abbreviates the Gospel of the Kingdom and calls it, like Luke, "the message" (Mark 2:2; 4:14-20, 33). Matthew, as we saw, gives the same "shorthand" expression, calling the Gospel "the message." In this way the narratives of the life of the Messiah set up a network of interconnected synonyms, equivalent phrases all pointing to the same central idea -- the Gospel concerning the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God.
The three accounts of the Messiah's parable of the sower furnish us with an indispensable key to understanding the Christian Israelite faith. What Matthew calls "the message about the Kingdom" (Matthew 13:19), Luke calls "the message of YEHOVAH God" (Luke 8:11) and Mark simply "the message"' (Mark 4:14). These are interchangeable names for the one saving Gospel -- the Gospel about the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God, the Christian Israelite Gospel. "Message" ("word") and "Gospel" are synonymous terms, giving "the Message about the Kingdom," "the Gospel about the Kingdom," "the Message of God," "the Gospel of God," "the Message" and "the Gospel."
Throughout the accounts of the Messiah's ministry we find confirmation of the "law of synonymous expression." Thus, for example, Matthew reports Yeshua as saying: "This Gospel about the Kingdom of God will be preached in all the world [of Israel] as a witness" (Matthew 24:14). Mark records the same saying by writing that "this Gospel will be preached" (Mark 13:10). Later Matthew refers to the Gospel as simply "this Gospel" (Matthew 26:13) and Mark writes "the Gospel" (Mark 14:9).
Our study reveals that the Christian Israelite Gospel has a name: It is the Gospel (or Message) about the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God, known alternatively as YEHOVAH's Gospel or simply the Gospel (or Message).
A major confusion arises in the minds of Bible readers when they encounter yet another name for the Gospel: "The Gospel of Christ." Does this mean the Gospel preached by the Messiah or the Message preached about the Messiah? Many instinctively opt for the second alternative only, forgetting that the Gospel of the Kingdom, the Messiah's Gospel, is the foundation of all biblical preaching (Hebrews 2:3).
A major error of interpretation occurs when the primary definition of the Gospel from the lips of the Messiah is forgotten. When the proper connections are made, however, there can be no doubt what the Gospel of the Messiah is: It is "the Message/Gospel about the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God" (Matthew 13:19; 4:23; 9:35; 24:14), the Message preached by the Messiah. This is not to deny that the Gospel is also about the Messiah -- his death and his resurrection. However, the foundation of the Gospel was laid by the Messiah in his preaching about the Kingdom, long before he said a word about his death and resurrection.
The Messiah's Gospel, according to the documents describing his ministry, was the Gospel about the Kingdom, which is also YEHOVAH God's Message. YEHOVAH is the originator of the Gospel Message (the Gospel of YEHOVAH God); the Messiah is the one who preached it (the Gospel of the Messiah). The subject matter of the Gospel is the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God (the Gospel of the Kingdom). These phrases may be compressed as "the Gospel," but we must never forget its full title as YEHOVAH God's and the Messiah's Gospel Message about the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God.
Every time "the message" is preached or received in the book of Acts, it is essential that we of Israel remind ourselves of the content of that Message. Otherwise we are in danger of failing to connect synonymous phrases and precious information is thrown away. Luke is careful to maintain in the book of Acts the same basic gospel terminology he established in his first book (the gospel of Luke). Thus in Acts 6:4, the Apostles devote themselves "to prayer and the service of the message." "Those who were scattered went about preaching the message" (8:4), which is exactly the same as "preaching Christ" (8:5).
What was involved in this activity? The answer appears in Acts 8:12: "When they believed Philip as he preached the Good News [Gospel] about the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, both men and women.'' Luke then reports that those of Israel who so believed had "received the message" (Acts 8:14). What message? The Message about the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God and the Name of the Messiah.
The pattern of preaching is exactly what we saw demonstrated by the Messiah's own ministry as preacher of the Kingdom. the Messiah, in fact, after his resurrection, continued the proclamation of the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God Gospel through his Apostles. The new facts about his death and resurrection were incorporated into the Gospel of the Kingdom. This confirmed the hope that the Kingdom of' YEHOVAH God would eventually appear.
Let us summarize what we have found so far. The Gospel which the Messiah preached for the salvation of YEHOVAH's people Israel is the Gospel about the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God. The Messiah stated that the entire reason why YEHOVAH God commissioned him was to preach the Kingdom: "I must proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom in the other cities [of Israel] also; that is the reason for which I was sent" (Luke 4:43). In the very next verse (Luke 5:1) we learn that people crowded round the Messiah to hear "the message (word)." The following equations are crystal clear:
The Gospel about the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God = the Gospel of YEHOVAH God = the Message of the Kingdom = the Message of YEHOVAH God = the Message.
In Paul's letters the vocabulary is the same. In his earliest writing Paul represents his Israelite converts as "imitators of us and the Lord" because they had "received the message" (1 Thessalonians 1:6) that "God was calling them into His own Kingdom" (1 Thessalonians 2:12). He urged his converts to be "worthy of the Kingdom of God" (2 Thessalonians 1:5). Paul never deviated from his practice of' presenting the Message about the Kingdom. Nearing his death, he urged Timothy to continue to "preach the message" (2 Timothy 4:2) in view of "Jesus' appearing and Kingdom" (v. 1). Once again the Message and the Kingdom are inseparably linked. Paul has faithfully preached the same Gospel as the Messiah.
Across the pages of the New Testament one message unites the Messiah's and the Apostles' preaching: It is the Message about the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God. This is the "Gospel of YEHOVAH God." As we have seen, the Messiah opened his ministry with this Message (Mark 1:14, 15). "The Gospel of YEHOVAH God" is the name of the Message proclaimed also by Paul (Romans 1:1, 15:16, 2 Corinthians 11:7; 1 Thessalonians 2:2, 8, 9) and equally by Peter (1 Peter 4:17). The same Message came from the lips of the Messiah (Luke 8:11) and later from the Apostles: "they spoke the message of God with boldness" (Acts 4:31).
Other synonymous terms describe the same Gospel Message as "the word of hearing" (1 Thessalonians 2:13; Hebrews 4:2), emphasizing the method of communication by which the Gospel was spread and the critical need for those of us of Israel to hear and understand. It is "the message of (the) truth" (2 Timothy 2:15). In Ephesians 1:13 the saving Message is called "the message of (the) truth, the Gospel of your [Israel's] salvation," because of its ability to dispel all the lying, counterfeit gospels of the Devil. The same Message is "the message of life" (Philippians 2:16) because by receiving it we of Israel may gain life and immortality from YEHOVAH God in the coming Kingdom. "Life" is itself a synonym for the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God (Matthew 19:17, 23; Romans 5:17).
It is "the message of salvation" (Acts 13:26) for those of Israel, because it alone is able to rescue us from death. And it is also "the message of reconciliation" (2 Corinthians 5:19) because it brings about a reconciliation between YEHOVAH God and His people Israel. It is the "Gospel of grace" (Acts 20:24) because YEHOVAH's plan to set up the Kingdom (v. 25) is His gracious act in favor of those of Israel who obey Him. Finally it includes "the message of the cross" (1 Corinthians 1:18) because the death of the Messiah for YEHOVAH's people Israel ratifies the New Contract (Covenant) and makes possible his future hand in establishing the Kingdom.
The fundamental content of this Message is "the Good News about the Kingdom" (Mark 1:14, 15; Luke 4:43; 8:1; 9:2, 11, 60; Matthew 3:2; 4:17, 23; 9:35; 24:14; Acts 8:12; 19:8; 20:25; 28:23, 31). This is the Messiah's own Gospel, the Gospel of the Messiah, the special revelation of grace (Acts 20:24) granted by YEHOVAH God who declares His purpose to establish the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God on earth. As Paul preached the Gospel of grace (Acts 20:24) he was proclaiming the Kingdom. (v. 25). There is no difference whatever between the Gospel of grace and the proclamation of the Kingdom (Acts 20:24, 25). In the book of Revelation the Gospel is called "the Gospel of the coming age," mistranslated in our versions as "the eternal Gospel" (Revelation 14:6).
A moment's reflection reveals that the Bible's constant name for the Gospel is "the Gospel about the Kingdom." All the other synonymous titles for the Gospel should be referred back to the "parent texts" in Mark 1:14, 15, Matthew 4:23 and Luke 4:43, the key to the definition of YEHOVAH's saving Message.
"Jesus came into Galilee proclaiming God's Gospel and saying, 'Repent because the Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe the Gospel'" (Mark 1:14, 15).
"Jesus went about all Galilee teaching in their synagogues, preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom"' (Matthew 4:23; 9:35).
"I must preach the Gospel of the Kingdom in the other cities [of Israel] also: that is the reason for which I was sent" (Luke 4:43).
There is an urgent need for the biblical label for the Gospel to be taught everywhere amongst Israel since the "Gospel of the Kingdom," amazingly, is a phrase seldom, if ever, now heard on the lips of modern evangelists. In this they betray their departure from the preaching of the Messiah. The absence of the phrase "Gospel about the Kingdom" is all the more alarming since the Messiah's first command to the potential convert was "Repent and believe in the Gospel about the Kingdom of God" (see Mark 1:14, 15). That's where Christian Israelite conversion, rebirth and discipleship begin.
New Testament Christianity is based on the Messiah's teaching. This is a simple fact frequently overlooked. John considered this lesson one of the most important to be driven home to his Israelite disciples. He warned that "Anyone who in the name of progress does not abide in Christ's teaching has no grasp of God" (2 John 9). The Messiah's teaching is summarized under the heading the Gospel Message about the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God (Matthew 13:19; Mark 1:14, 15; Luke 4:43, etc.). It is that Message which, according to the Messiah, must take firm root as the seed of immortality sown in the heart of the Israelite believer. The Devil understands this (perhaps better than many contemporary preachers).
Luke's warning is clear: "Whenever anyone hears the message [about the Kingdom, Matthew 13:19], the Devil comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart, so that he may not believe and be saved" (Luke 8:12). In Christianity salvation depends on hearing, understanding and acting upon the Gospel about the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God -- hearing, believing and obeying it. Christians according to the Messiah's definition are "disciples of the Kingdom" (Matthew 13:52) and "sons [of Israel] destined for the Kingdom" (Matthew 13:38). Jewish scholars (scribes) who become Christians are those who are "trained in the Kingdom message" (Matthew 13:52).
Once they have understood the Kingdom, Christians Israelites are meant to pass on the Gospel about the Kingdom to others of Israel far and wide (see the urgency of the task in Luke 9:60). They are committed to following the Ecclesia's "marching orders" to go into the whole world of Israel and preach and teach everything the Messiah taught, summarized as the Gospel of the Kingdom. The practice of the Messiah and Paul is identical when it comes to their evangelistic activity:
"Jesus welcomed them and began speaking about the Kingdom of God" (Luke 9:11).
"For two whole years Paul welcomed all who came to see him. Boldly and without hindrance he preached the Kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 28:30, 31).
How well are you complying with the Messiah's orders`?
The Gospel in John
What about John? Does he record that Yeshua the Messiah preached the Kingdom? Here an important principle comes into play. We have seen how the New Testament describes the same Gospel under different terms. How does John speak of Yeshua's preaching?
To answer this question we must recall a statement of the Messiah recorded by Matthew: "This Gospel of the Kingdom must be proclaimed among all the nations [of Israel] as a witness" (Matthew 24:14). The Gospel may be referred to as a witness or testimony, and that is one of the ways John refers to the Messiah's preaching of the Kingdom. In John 3:11 the Messiah complained that the people of Israel did "not receive our testimony [witness]." According to the Messiah John the Baptist also "testified to the truth" (John 5:33). John proclaimed the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God (Matthew 3:2). The Messiah mentioned this "so that they [of Israel] might be saved" (John 5:34). Elsewhere very frequently John the Apostle calls Yeshua's preaching his "word," "words" or "teaching." These are all synonyms for the Gospel of the Kingdom.
These equivalent phrases will help you to make good sense of the New Testament and of the Christian Israelite faith: Kingdom of YEHOVAH God = eternal life. Truth = Gospel (James 1:18; Ephesians 1:14, 15). Spirit of Truth (John 14:17; 15:26; John 16:13; l John 4:6) = Spirit of the Gospel (see Ephesians 1:13; 3:6). Gospel = Gospel about the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God (Matthew 3:2; 4:17, 23; 9:35; 24:14). Word of YEHOVAH God = Gospel of the Kingdom (the Messiah's parable of the sower as recorded by Matthew, Mark and Luke).
How well has the Ecclesia been following the information given by these biblical phrases?
Hope of Israel Ministries -- Preparing the Way for the Return of YEHOVAH God and His Messiah!
Hope of Israel Ministries
|Scan with your