Introduction to the Mystery
The Gospels and Israel's promises.
Christ did not come in the first place to found the « Church ». He Himself testified that He did not come to destroy the Law or the Prophets but to fulfill it, Mat. 5:17. « For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled ». Paul calls Him in Rom. 15:8 a minister of the Circumcision. Only after Israel would the Gentiles come; Rom. 15:9: « And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy ». God first sent Him to Israel to bless them, Acts 3:26. Christ forbade His disciples to go on the way of the Gentiles or in any town of the Samaritan; they had to go only to the lost sheep of the House of Israel, Mat. 10:5, 6. To them should be preached the kingdom of heaven, v. 7.
It is important to point further to the Israeli character of the Gospels.
Mat. 1:1 opens that sphere: « The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham ». As the Son of David, He inherits David's throne, 2 Sam. 7, Psa. 89, as the Son of Abraham He is entitled to the Land of Canaan, Gen. 12:7; 13:15; 17:8. The wise men ask for the born King of the Jews, Mat. 2:2. The mission of Christ's apostles, as mentioned, concerns only Israel, 10:5 — 7. Elijah comes to restore everything once, 17:12. And Elijah was and is for Israel, Mal. 4:5. Only for those who accepted the Kingdom of heaven could John be considered Elijah, Mat. 17:11. Above the cross stood: this is jesus the king of the jews, Mat. 27:37.
Mark, though representing more the Servant of the Lord, speaks of the Kingdom of Father David, Mark 11:9, 10.
At Luke we find the same Israelite character. The Lord is announced by the angel as King over the House of Jacob, 1:31 — 33. House of Jacob points in the O.T. always to Jacob's natural offspring. See Gen. 46:27; Ex. 19:3 ; Isa. 14:1 and others. To Christ the throne of His father David is given, 1:32. Mary sings about the taking up of Israel, His servant, 1:54, Zechariah speaks of the establishment of a horn of salvation (i.e. power for salvation) in the House of David, 1:69, a salvation from « our », i.e. Israel's enemies, from a remembrance of His holy covenant, from the oath to Abraham, from giving knowledge of sins to His people, Israel, 1:68 — 80. Simeon praises the glory of « Your people Israel », 2:32. He himself expected the consolation of Israel, 2:25. Anna spoke to all who expected redemption in Jerusalem, 2:38. The Emmaus travelers expected the salvation of Israel, 24:21. And Christ Himself said that He must enter into His glory through suffering. That is the glory that He will have on His glorious throne, Mat. 25:31, on the throne of His father David. Now He is seated in the Father's glory, see Rev. 3:21.
Johannes is also Israelite. Nathanael sees Christ as King of Israel, 1:50. Nicodemus had to know the things that the Lord spoke, 3:10. How could that be, if the Lord did not continue and work out what the O.T. learned? The Lord meant the spiritual and national recovery. See Eze. 36. Many out of Israel believe that He is the Christ, 7:41, who would come out of the seed of David, v. 42. Christ refers to the life of the coming aion, which He can give and promises in it the same as what the Lord did in Gen. 13:15. He speaks of being a Shepherd, chapter 10 that Ezekiel also speaks of, Eze. 34. All these and other traits show that Christ really was a servant of the Circumcision. He came to His, to His people Israel, to bring them from being a servant to being a son, from the condition of a child (who in the beginning is no different from that of a servant, Gal. 4:1) to the state of a son. This is the meaning of the term: « adoption of sons » (literally: setting in the position of sons) Rom. 9:4, what God had for Israel.
The « my gospel », of Paul is a separate line through which God worked alongside Israel. It is the elaboration of a pre-Israelite dispensation and contains the Abrahamic promises, of which it is a part. The promise itself, however, is richer. God is multiple in blessing.
To understand Paul's gospel, one must drop the national of Jew and Gentile and ascend to the supernational as far as position is concerned. In Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, Gal. 3:28. Those who belong to this group are made a blessing to the nations, Gal. 3:8. Of course they themselves then stand above it.
This shows the difference with Christ's ministry on earth for Israel. He came to his, His own did not accept Him. Not even after the day of Pentecost. Now God is beginning to work along a « new » line, which was previously in principle present, but which is now being fully extended in and through Paul's ministry and whose continuation is found in a special, later revealed, mystery. For this you can see the documents about: « the Great Mystery », further along in this book.
The gospel of the kingdom. ↑
All the way one wants to proclaim « the gospel », the good news. Without knowing, that the gospel does not exist, but there are just gospels. One must always ask: Which gospel is necessary to bring.
One of the Gospels is gospel of the Kingdom. This term is only found three times, namely in Mat. 4:23; 9:35 and 24:14. So exclusively in Matthew.
What content does this gospel have? This, that God wants to make Israel the kingdom that used to be under David and Solomon, even more wonderfully and permanently to the same people of Israel. One of the clearest predictions for this is found in Dan. 2:44.
« And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever »
Also in Dan. 7:27 « And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High ... »
That was and still is the good news for Israel. That does not apply to the « Church ». This one can not but rejoice over it because it is God who proclaims it and fits every creature, not only to approve his deeds, but also to rejoice. Even more where this will bring peace to earth.
In the days of John the Baptist the kingdom of heaven had come near. This is because of the birth and the presentation of the King. His herald led him into Israel. Yes more, the King Himself announces the kingdom. A part of His humiliation. Which earthly monarch nevertheless announces his own arrival in his empire or region? And yet the Lord had to do so because His forerunner was imprisoned.
What was the content of Christ's preaching? The O.T.. Lukas gives a short description of it in chapters 4:17 — 21. Here is a quote from Isa. 61:1 and 2a. Then the Lord says: « This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears ». If Israel had seen in Him the Promised of the fathers, then the following could also have taken place, the day of the Lord's vengeance, a year of recompences for the controversy of Zion, Isa. 34:8. It is Israel's own fault that it remained under the power of the Gentiles: it rejected the sent from God. And the greater is its guilt where Christ went through the land, doing well: « And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people » Mat. 4:23, 9:35. All the healings point out what condition would come when the kingdom was established. « Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing ... », Isa. 35:5, 6. The Lord points the disciples of John to it, Mat. 11:5. It was noted that Isa. 35 speaks of revenge first with the retribution of God, « He will come and save you » Isa. 35:4. The Lord therefore wanted to save Israel from all its enemies, Luke 1:68, 71 — 75 and give His people rest and peace, give healing and salvation. That was the good tiding for Israel.
Israel rejected its King. It therefore remained in the power of the enemies. Also because it did not want to accept the heightened King again. That is why God cut off his line. For ever? It would have been earned. Then — God is rich in mercy. What foretells the King: « And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come », Mat. 24:14. The end, is the end of this age, Greek: aion, incorrectly translated by the world; See Mat. 24:3, 6. That becomes the good tiding for the people who are favored again when the time of hardening ceases, when it turns to the Lord. Paul teaches us the following: « For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in », Rom. 11:25. « Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away », 2 Cor. 3:16.
The Gospel of the kingdom will therefore be preached again. In the whole world. This is also misunderstood. It is believed that the gospel of salvation must first be preached in the world before Christ. The Greek word, translated by world, is oikoumene, which means: civilized, ordered world of peoples, especially those located around Israel. It does not say that those nations will accept that gospel, it says it will be a witness to all nations. Israel's believers will begin to preach again that the Lord says: « Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion » Psa. 2:6. And further: « Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling », v. 10, 11.
Much is spoken about the Kingdom of Heaven, much about « bringing the gospel ». It is important to remember that the Kingdom of Heavens is an kingdom on earth, Israel's rule over the nations and that under Christ as the great Son of David, to whom God has promised this by virtue of the Davidic covenant (2 Sam.7). This good tiding will once again also be heard and accepted by Israel.
The gospel of the uncircumcision and
the gospel of the circumcision ↑
In Gal. 2:7 are the remarkable words: « But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the Uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the Circumcision was unto Peter » We learn from this that Paul's good tiding, which he preached, is called: the Gospel of the Uncircumcision (i.e., the Gentiles) and Peter's message the Gospel of the Circumcision, (i.e., the Jews, Israel). The question now is: Are those gospels of equal content, did Paul preach the same as Peter?
What the gospel of the Circumcision is, one can find in our previous exposition: The Gospel of the Kingdom. It is a happy message for Israel. After Christ's resurrection, the preaching of this gospel continued. That is evident from Heb. 2:3 and 4: « How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will? ». It is seen from this that what Christ has begun has been continued by the apostles whom He called upon the earth. God gave also witness through the Pentecostal gifts. The Gospel of the kingdom was thus continued, only the number of wonders and signs increased. This was what the Lord Jesus had promised. « Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father », John 14:12. The Lord thus foretold to His disciples that they would do yet more works, that is more in number, for His signs on earth ceased as He went to the Father, and they continued to work longer than He did. The Gospel of the kingdom was thus continued and there was tasted « And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the aion to come », Heb. 6:5.
Did the Gospel of the Uncircumcision now have the same content? Let us not confuse this question with another, namely this: Did Paul also have miracles and signs and powers and did others also share many things with Israel? The latter must be fully admitted. Barnabas and Paul reported in Jerusalem, « ... declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them » Acts 15:12. And Paul could then write to the Corinthians that « they come behind in no gift », 1 Cor. 1:7 and to the Galatians: « For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the Circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles » Gal. 2:8. In Corinth and other churches one had all kinds of gifts, see 1 Cor. 12:8 — 10.
With the recognition of these facts, however, the first question has not yet been answered. That the Gentiles also got those gifts was to provoke Israel to jealousy. So the gifts were not to erase the difference between Jew and Gentile, but to maintain it. Israel had to be stimulated by it to follow up on its calling. By their crime (not: fall as KJV says) namely in order not to accept salvation through the apostles of the Circumcision, salvation is come unto the Gentiles to provoke them to jealousy, Rom. 11:11.
We now come to the answer to the first question: Did the Gospel of the Uncircumcision have the same content as that of the Circumcision? This question is simple for those who have clearly seen what the Gospel of the Kingdom is. Namely the preaching that God wants to establish a kingdom on earth, in which Israel is a priestly kingdom ruling over the nations and leading them to God, which has its center in Jerusalem, the city of the great King, Mat. 5:35, his territory in Canaan, and King David's great Son, Jesus Christ, the King of the Jews, the King of Israel.
That gospel now was a good message for Israel and later also for the Gentiles, as they would be blessed in and by Israel, but it is not the gospel of the Uncircumcision that God has entrusted to Paul. Paul says that he proposed the gospel he preached among the Gentiles to the apostles and others, that they submitted to them, Gal. 2:2. How could that be the same if it first had to be explained to them? Then he could have simply said: I preach the same as you. Now that was not the case. Paul also said that he had not received or learned from a man, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ, Gal. 1:12. It was the gospel of the grace of Christ, 1:6 and had as its content that man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, 2:16, that those who are of faith to be « blessed with the believing Abraham », 3:9. The Gospel of the Uncircumcision is mainly elaborated in the Letter to the Romans. This speaks of no kingdom for Israel, but of revelation of the children (Greek: Sons) of God for the groaning creation (not creature) to deliverance from service, Rom. 8:19 — 21. This is a higher sphere of blessing. Gospel of Circumcision and Uncircumcision therefore differ.
The Gospel of the Uncircumcision. « My Gospel » ↑
The great confusion in Christendom and in Christianity is the result of the non-discrimination of the dual gospel that is mentioned in Gal. 2:7. The cause (which is also the result) is that the key to Scripture has been lost. That key is Israel. Just as no one can come into his closed house without a house key, neither can the Scripture be opened without the insight that Israel is the subject of the greater part of God's Word. Six sevenths of the scriptures deal with this people. They speak of its history, of its fall, and of its readoption, as far as necessary to take notice of it. Where Israel's restoration was soon denied in the Old Christian Church, the key of Scripture was lost. The result has been that the contents of the various Gospels have not been understood and this has resulted in the fact that everything has been mixed together. This has created an inextricable theological tangle where neither beginning nor end can be found.
The Scriptures speak of more than one gospel, more than one good tiding. God who is rich in mercy is not uniform in His good tidings, especially Paul is the man to whom he has much trusted. He was a chosen vessel in many ways. Paul clearly understood God's calling and called his good tidings for his first dispensation: « My gospel », Rom. 2:16, 16:25, the gospel of His (God's) Son, 1:9, that of the grace of Christ, Gal. 1:6, the Gospel of the Foreskin, 2:7. We noted in our previous exposition that this gospel is in a different sphere than that of Israel. It is preached to Israel that God would raise up another Prophet, greater than Moses, to whom one should hear, Acts 3:22; whoever did not hear Him would be cut off from the people, v. 23. They were told that they were the children of the prophets, and of the covenant that God made with the fathers to bless in them all the families of the earth, 3:25; Christ is represented as David's great Son, 2:25 — 36, He is the Redeemer of things that God has foretold in the prophets, 3:21. All this limits Him to Israel. Of these, the Gentile was a stranger.
God gives something different in the Gospel of the Uncircumcision. In this He opens a higher sphere. The promise for this had already been given to Abraham in Gen. 15:5 and 6: Your seed as the stars of heaven, the faith counted for righteousness. This is the short content of it. The inheritance is now not only the Land of Canaan or even the earth, but also the heavens, God's rich creation above us with its wonderful secrets and great powers. And this is not given by virtue of any precedence as to Israel the kingdom on earth, but by faith in Christ as Son of God. This is not a sphere around, but above Israel; not in, but above the Circumcision, Rom. 4:10. The promises for this are not in the law, but by the righteousness of faith, Rom. 4:13. In this sphere one is heir of God and co-heir with Christ, Rom. 8:17; not with Him as David's Son, but as God's Son, 8:29. Who is the Firstborn among many brethren. Firstborn namely from the dead, v. 34. Paul's gospel contains the work of grace that flows from the death and resurrection of Christ. These have first become manifest in his work through his gospel. For Israel, Christ's death was a salvation from the curse of the law, for the Gentile he becomes a positive blessing because of Christ, through His death and resurrection, opens the way to the setting in the higher sphere.
You can see how Paul's gospel does not lift Israel's sphere but confirms it. It is not the case that the salvation of Israel has now become universal (worldwide), that the Church that is called in Israel in national windings is now freeing up and making a world church, that Israel's sphere is an intermediary to the world salvation. It is so that Paul opens a new sphere that He has already given to Abraham in perspective, which He foreshadowed in Joseph's position and to which in the spirit the individual believer in the O.T. has risen, but it was reserved for Paul to first make known to the Gentiles without rejecting Israel, or to undo the calling of that people.
This is not understood neither by the Jew nor by the Church. The Jew could not bear to have the Gentiles receive gifts and did not understand that it was to lead him further. The Church did not understand it, because it did what Paul already foresaw: boasting against the cut-off branches. God temporarily put the Jew aside, He would not spare the grafted branches, Rom. 11:20, 21. They have already been cut off, but they are not yet fully withered, because God wants to collect the fruit from them. The branches, the external forms, are rejected. Christianity will wither. As well according to Paul's gospel.