lundi 25 septembre 2017

Is there two different Gospels,One for Paul and another for Peter?

Image result for the gospelLast weekend I was invited to participate in a dialogue-debate on the subject, "Is the Gospel preached by Paul different from the one preached by Peter?". It wasn't a debate per se, since we were never given the format to question the other presenter. My interlocutor was a young man who have come to believe in recent years after the year 2012 that there were supposedly two different gospels being preached in the New Testament. As for me, I was there to re-emphasis what the scriptures have been saying all along, that Peter and Paul were preaching the same Gospel albeit to different audiences (Circumcised Jews and uncircumcised non-Jews).

My contention was simple. We can not say that St. Paul had a different gospel than St. Peter if we can not first identify what was the Gospel preached by both. Only by knowing what they preached as Gospel could we point to similarities or dissimilarities. This was the basis of my presentation.

I introduced the participants to the content of the Gospel. One of the main issue in many debates is that people do not define or clarify words that they are using. For-example, my 'debate' opponent held to the view that there is supposedly one Gospel called the Gospel of the Kingdom preached by Peter and Jesus and that there were another Gospel called the Gospel of Grace preached by Paul. Obviously this distinction has zero basis in the scripture. It is not because the Gospel is called in one place the Gospel of the Kingdom and that in another place it is called the Gospel of Grace that this should mean that it is therefore two different Gospels. That is an incorrect reasoning. To that effect, I started to point out that the difference of names doesn't mean that they are different Gospels. I pointed out that the New Testament have used different names for the gospel.

For-example, the Gospel is also called:
1) My Gospel (2Timothy 2:8)
2) Our Gospel (1Thessalonians 1:5; 2Thessalonians 2:14)
3) The Gospel of God (1Thessalonians 2:8; 1Peter 4:17)
4) The Gospel of Peace (Ephesians 6:15, Acts 10:26)
5) The Gospel of His Son (Romans 1:9)
6) The Eternal Gospel (Revelation 14:6)
7) The Gospel of our Lord Jesus (2Thessalonians 1:8)
8) The Gospel of the glory of Christ (2Corinthians 4:4)
9) The Gospel of the Kingdom (Mathew 24:14)
10) The Gospel of Grace (Acts 20:24)
11) The Gospel of Christ (Galatians1:7)

As we can see, I was able to identify at least 11 different way that the Gospel is named. But this doesn't mean that the bible teaches about 11 different Gospels. And if we look carefully at every single instances in the New Testament, the Gospel is always in singular and never in plural form. There is no such thing as Gospels (in plural) but only Gospel (in singular). In the last name given to the gospel in the list above, we read  in Galatians 1:7 that "not that there is another [Gospel], but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ."

St. Paul clearly informed that there is no such thing as another Gospel and those claiming that there are other Gospels than the one was preached about Jesus by St. Paul and the other Apostle are simply troubling their audiences.

What Is Paul's Gospel?
Having said that, I went straight to identify what was the content of the Gospel preached by St. Paul and used it as the basis and benchmark to analyze which Gospel did Peter or Jesus preached in order to know if it is the same or if there are different.

Fortunately, St. Paul had provided an easy way to know what he considered the Gospel to be, based on the revelation he received from Jesus about it,
"For I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel that was proclaimed by me is not of human origin. For I did not receive it from a man, nor was I taught it, but it was revealed to me by Jesus the Messiah." - Galatians 1:11-12  
"Now I'm making known to you, brothers, the gospel that I proclaimed to you, which you accepted, on which you have taken your stand, and by which you are also being saved if you hold firmly to the message I proclaimed to you—unless, of course, your faith was worthless." - 1Corinthians 15:1-2  
Here is how St. Paul defined the Gospel in three points that are interlinked in 1 Corinthians 15 and I quote:

Intro: "Now I'm making known to you, brothers, the gospel that I proclaimed to you ..." - (1Co 15:3)  

First, "For I passed on to you the most important points that I received: The Messiah died for our sins according to the Scriptures," - (1Corinthians 15:3)
Second, "he was buried, he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures—and is still alive!" - (1Corinthians 15:4)
Third, "and he was seen by Cephas, and then by the Twelve." - (1Corinthians 15:5)

N.B: In brief, I can summarize St. Paul's identification of the Gospel he proclaimed in these two simple information:  1) Christ died and was buried; and 2) Christ was resurrected and he appeared alive (he was seen).

Since St. Paul identified the Gospel he preached on these two elements: Christ died, Buried and Christ was resurrected and seen; we can now go an look if these elements could be identified in the preaching of St. Peter and see if he preached the same Gospel or if he had a different Gospel as my debate opponent claimed.

Peter's Preaching:
At Pentecost, we see St. Peter preaching the Jews while touching exactly the same content which makes the Gospel as preached by St. Paul namely, Jesus was killed (died and was buried in a Tomb) and he was resurrected and he was seen. The disciples are witness of that resurrection.
Act 2:23-24  "this One given to you by the before-determined counsel and foreknowledge of God, you have taken and by lawless hands, crucifying Him, you put Him to deathwhom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it."
Act 2:31-32 "he looked ahead and spoke about the resurrection of the Messiah: 'He was not abandoned to Hades, and his flesh did not experience decay.' "It was this very Jesus whom God raised, and of that we are all witnesses."
At the Gate's of Salomon, St. Peter explained the gospel to those who were astonished of the healing miracle of a crippled man. And surely enough he pointed out to the same contents which was identified by St. Paul as the Gospel preached to the nations in 1 Corinthians 15, namely Jesus died, God raised him from the dead and they are witness of that resurrection because they saw Jesus appearing to them alive.
Act 3:15  "And you killed the Prince of Life, whom God has raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses.
At Cornelius house, St. Peter said that the Gospel Jesus preached to the sons of Israel before the cross was called the gospel of peace, using the  exact same word St. Paul use when he talked to the non-jews about the gospel calling it the gospel of peace in Ephesians 6:15. More interestingly is that St. Peter use all the same important point of the gospel just as St. Paul identified them in 1 Corinthians 15 namely, Christ died, was resurrected and he was seen after the resurrection for God showed him openly.
Act 10:36  "You know the Word which God sent to the sons of Israel, preaching the gospel of peace by Jesus Christ (He is Lord of all!); And we are witnesses of all things which He did, both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed Him and hanged Him on a tree;"
Act 10:40  "but God raised Him up the third day and showed Him openly, not to all the people, but to witnesses hand-picked before by God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He rose from the dead."
In all frankness, there is no logical reason, no biblical reasons to believe that St. Paul and St. Peter preached a different Gospel. It is clear that it is the same Gospel for it does mention the very same historical facts about Jesus death and resurrection. The only different that maybe perceived between them can simply be expressed in linguistic style of speaking and the different audiences they met.

In my 'debate' I brought the audience to even more evidences that both St. Paul and St. Peter preached the same message to all the nations, remarking that the Bible has always had a chronology about how the preaching should have been preached. For three (3) years during the ministry of the Lord Jesus in the land of Israel, the gospel was exclusively focused to the sons of Israel but after the cross this same message called the gospel of peace or the gospel of the kingdom or the gospel of Jesus Christ, the son of God (Mark 1:1) was now to be preached to all nations as per Jesus explicit order in Luke 24 and prophetically in Mathew 24:14.
Luke 24:46-47 "[Jesus] told them, "This is how it is written: the Messiah was to suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and then repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all the nations, beginning at Jerusalem."
The Gospel that Jesus ordered to the disciples was to begin in Jerusalem but was never to stay in Jerusalem. Jerusalem was just the beginning. St. Paul understood that as well,
Rom 15:19  "by the power of signs and wonders, and by the power of God's Spirit, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of the Messiah from Jerusalem as far as Illyricum." 
Rom 1:16  "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is God's power for the salvation of everyone who believes, of the Jew first and of the Greek as well."
The reason I raised the point that the same gospel brought salvation to both Jews and Greek or people of other nations, it is because in the belief system of my debate opponent, the gospel preached by Peter and Jesus was only to be preached to Jews while the message preached by Paul was somehow mysteriously for the nations and the Jews. But we see clearly that the same gospel was preached not only to Jews who were outside Jerusalem but it was also preached by St. Paul in Jerusalem. He didn't change his message depending on which geographic location he happened to be in contrary to what those believing in the supposedly "two gospels" says. For some reason they get this simple fact spectacularly wrong.

Even the Lord Jesus pointed out that the Gospel of the Kingdom which is the same as the gospel of peace was to be preached ultimately to all nations and not to the Jews in Israel only. Here is how the Lord Jesus puts it:
Mathew 24:14  "And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
When St. Paul spoke of the gospel of grace that he was preaching, he presciently linked it to the message of the Kingdom as if he anticipated almost 2000 years in advance this wrong belief that will try to artificially separate the message of grace and the message of the kingdom.
Act 20:24-25 "But I don't place any value on my life, if only I can finish my race and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus of testifying to the gospel of God's grace. "Now I know that none of you among whom I traveled preaching about the kingdom will ever see my face again."
So the conclusion given in the scripture is that St. Paul and St. Peter preached the very same message of salvation. St. Peter admitted as much that both the Jews in Jerusalem and non-jews in the nation have received the same message of grace,
"We certainly believe that it is through the grace of the Lord Jesus, the Messiah, that we are saved, just as they are." - Acts 15:11  
St. Paul said exactly the same about the gospel that he preached saying that it is comparable to the one the other apostles like Peter (Cephas) were peaching:
"So, whether it was I or the others, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed." - 1Corinthians 15:11   
I will end with a quote of the apostle Paul summarizing his gospel in one point which makes it even more similar and recognizable as the message all the other apostles and evangelists in the New Testament preached,
"Meditate on Jesus, the Messiah, who was raised from the dead and is a descendant of David. This is the gospel I tell others." - 2 Timothy 2:8  ISV

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