Are There Two Gospels?

It has been stated that there are two gospels in the Bible.

One is the Kingdom message which Jesus and his twelve apostles taught, and the other is the gospel of grace, preached by Paul. Or so they say. The first was addressed to the Jews, but the grace gospel was meant for the non-Jews (Gentiles) and those Jews who would accept Jesus as their Saviour, according to those who teach about the two gospel s. They teach that the kingdom gospel is asscciated with law keeping and that it has been temporarily set aside. For us at this present time, the kingdom message is supposed to be irrelevant. The kingdom is an earthly thing, whilst our promises relate to the heavenly.

Let us examine what the Bible says:

Nowhere in the Bible is it explicitly stated that there are or were two gospels. This is an interpretation or deduction made by men in the light of their understanding of certain passages.

For example, Paul spoke about “my gospel” in Rom. 16:25. Does that mean he was the only one preaching what he preached? When he said let anyone who preached a differerent gospel than his, be cursed (Gal. 1:9), did that mean that Peter, James and John and the other apostles were to be cursed?

Galatians 1:23 says that the churches in Judea had heard that Paul was now preaching ‘the faith” which he previously seeked to destroy. That sounds like he was preaching what the other apostles were preaching. If we read on we find in the next chapter that Paul, James, Peter and John agreed that Paul would go to the “heathen” (non Jews) whilst they would go to the “circumcision” (the Jews). No indication that their messages or gospels were different. All that would be different was the audience.

Did Paul ignore the kingdom message? Admittedly, he didn’t use the word “kingdom” as frequently as Jesus, but he did preach the kingdom and he definitely did not ignore it. By the way, he also didn’t use the term “born again”, but that doesn’t mean he ignored it. He had another way of describing it.In Acts 14:22 Barnabas and Paul were preaching that we must through much tribulation enter the kingdom of God. In Acts 19:8 it is said that for three months Paul disputed and persuaded in the synagogue coincerning issues related to the kingdom of God. In Acts 20:25 (NIV) Paul told the elders of the Church in Ephese, “Now I know that none of you among whom I have gone about preaching the kingdom will ever see me again.” Interesting! For the Book of Ephesians itself does not have the kingdom of God as a major theme. There is only one reference to the kingdom and that is in Eph 5:5 where he warns that immoral and greedy persons will not have any inheritance in the kingdom of God. But what is clear is that in his preaching to them, the kingdom of God was a major theme.

It is not as if Paul preached about the kingdom in his early ministry and then changed his story. As we go on towards the last chapter in the Book of Acts , we find in Acts 28:23 that he testified to the Jews in Rome of the kingdom of God. The very last verse in the Book of Acts reads, “Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Acts 28:31).

Paul may have used different approaches and starting points when he spoke to different cultural groups – to the Jews he became like a Jew – but the gospel would ultimately be the same. It is correct to refer to the gospel of grace. See Acts 20:24. But the very next verse refer to preaching the kingdom of God!

Is that a contradiction in the Bible? No way! The gospel is so rich and encompassing that it includes the kingdom message, the kingship of Jesus Christ, the restoration of paradise on earth, the grace of God, forgivenerss of sin and the new life in Christ for the believer of this present dispensation, the knowledge of God spreading around the whole earth, the glorifying of God, the conquering of death and the new heaven and new earth when God the Father dwells with mankind forever in the glorious New Jerusalem.

Our treasures are now reserved in heaven (even Jesus alluded to that in the law dispensation to a Jewish audience in Mat. 6:20), but it is on earth that we believers will receive it. Part and parcel of that is that we will rule and judge with Jesus Christ in God’s Kingdom. And guess who said that? Paul in 1 Cor. 6:2 and 2 Tim. 2:12.

It is true that God gave the revelation of the mystery of Christ in us, to Paul. It was added to the existing gospel package, but it did not mean a totally new and different gospel. And in time, after Peter, James and John had heard of the mystyery, they also teached it. Remember Peter’s reference to us as “partakers of the divine nature” ?

So you will find there are different aspects to the gospel and different ways in which it is being described in the Bible. It is about Jesus being the Messiah ( Acts 18:5), and about him being the Son of God (Acts 9:20). It is about the Cross (1 Cor. 1:18). It is, about repentance toward God and faith toward Jesus (Acts 20:21); about reconciliation between God and man (2 Cor. 5:19). It is about theresurrection of the dead through Jesus (Acts 3:21); it is about the birthing of a new person and the mystery of Christ in us (Col. 1:25-28).

Just like as there is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all (Eph. 4:6), there is one gospel, to which God has added at different times new insights and revelations .The impact of the gospel is huge! It provides answers to everything that is wrong in this world. It is really good news – the best news one could imagine…and even beyond our imagination.

Johann Grobler

Febr 2018