The Gospel of Messiah
by David Sielaff, May 2006
Read the accompanying Newsletter for May 2006
There have been several legitimate “messiahs” throughout biblical history. However, the Gospel that is preached consistently throughout the New Testament is about “the Messiah,” Jesus Christ. In fact, using the term “Christ” with “Messiah” is in a sense redundant because “Christ” means “Messiah.” The message preached by the New Testament apostles and evangelists was about the man Jesus Christ fulfilling the promises and prophecies in the Old Testament about the Messiah. “The Gospel of Messiah” was consistently preached immediately after Christ’s ascension, throughout the period of the New Covenant, and by the apostle Paul as part of the Mystery of God.
This article follows on from a previous article titled “Christ and Messiah.” 1 In that article I showed that whenever the term “Christ” was used, the word “Messiah” was intended and understood. This is consistent throughout the New Testament. “Christ” is not Jesus’ last name; rather, “Christ” is an important title. In this article, as in the previous one, I will indicate when the definite article is used in Greek to designate the Messiah (as opposed to others). I do this by putting a star (*) in front of “Christ” as *Christ. The definite article is not always indicated correctly in the King James Version. “Christ” means Messiah. “The Christ” refers specifically to the expected Messiah who is Jesus. This is explicitly stated in the New Testament.
The apostle John, a Jew, twice interjects into the flow of his Gospel that the Greek word “Christ” (christos in Greek) has the same meaning as the Hebrew word “messiah” (messias in Greek):
“He first finds his own brother Simon, and says unto him, ‘We have found the Messias,’ which is, being interpreted, the Christ. And he brought him to Jesus.”
“The woman says unto him, ‘I know that Messias comes, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things.’ Jesus says unto her, ‘I that speak unto you am he.’”
What do these verses demonstrate? They prove that the word “Christ” and “Messiah” can be used interchangeably throughout the Gospel of John (John 1:17, 20, 25, 41, 3:28, 4:25, 29, 42, 6:69, 7:26f, 31, 41f, 9:22, 10:24, 11:27, 12:34, 17:3, 20:31). When one considers the late date of composition of the Gospel of John toward the end of John’s life (in the 90s C.E. or even later), and the role that the apostle John had in completing and finishing the canon of the New Testament, it also demonstrates that not only were the terms considered interchangeable by John, they were also interchangeable for his audience, and indeed for the entire New Testament. 2
With this in mind, in the John 4:26 passage Jesus admits that He is the Messiah, “I that speak unto you am he [the Messiah].” He makes that admission to a Samaritan woman, not to the Jews during His ministry. He does, however, admit that He is the Messiah at the judgments before the chief priest and Pilate. This is the testimony of Jesus Himself. This is the testimony of the apostle John. This is the testimony of all New Testament writers who use the word “Christ,” by which they mean Messiah.
Luke wrote his Gospel from the compiled records of eyewitnesses (Luke 1:1–4 and Acts 1:1). After the resurrection, Jesus appeared to His disciples, likely in the Upper Room. 3 At that time He explained to them about the Messiah, in light of His own resurrection:
“And he [Jesus] said unto them, ‘These are the words which I spoke unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were  written in the law of Moses, and  in the prophets, and  in the psalms, concerning me.’ Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,
And said unto them, ‘Thus it is written, and thus it behooved *Christ [the Messiah] to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name [the Messiah’s name] among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things.’”
I cite this passage, as I did in the “Christ and Messiah” article, because it is vitally important: Jesus’ resurrection proves that He was (and is) the predicted Messiah of the Old Testament. The “Gospel of Messiah” was then commanded to be taught by the apostles as part of the total teaching about Jesus and His mission to save mankind: “repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his [the Messiah’s] name among all nations. And you are witnesses of these things.”
The word “gospel” is a Middle English term derived from the Old English gōdspel which is a direct translation of the Greek root noun euaggelionor evangel, which simply means “good message” or “good news.” As the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia states in the article “Gospel,” the Old Testament presents precursors to the New Testament Gospel:
“It begins with the prophecy concerning the ‘seed of the woman’ (Gen 3:15), and the promise concerning Abraham, in whom all the nations should be blessed (Gen 12:3; 15:5) and is also indicated in Acts 10:43 and in the argument in Rom 4.”
ISBE, article “Gospel”
The Gospel is a message, not just a book or books.
“In the New Testament the gospel never means simply a book, but rather the message which Christ and His apostles announced. In some places it is called ‘the gospel of God,’ as, for example, Rom 1:1; 1 Thess 2:2, 9; 1 Tim 1:11. In others it is called ‘the gospel of Christ’ (Mk 1:1; Rom 1:16; 15:19; 1 Cor 9:12, 18; Gal 1:7). In another it is called ‘the gospel of the grace of God’ (Acts 20:24); in another ‘the gospel of peace’ (Eph 6:15); in another ‘the gospel of your salvation’ (Eph 1:13); and in yet another ‘the glorious gospel’ (2 Cor 4:4 the King James Version). The gospel is Christ: He is the subject of it, the object of it, and the life of it. It was preached by Him (Mt 4:23; 11:5; Mk 1:14; Lk 4:18 margin), by the apostles (Acts 16:10; Rom 1:15; 2:16; 1 Cor 9:16) and by the evangelists (Acts 8:25).”
ISBE, article “Gospel” 4
For a “quick and easy” but intense presentation of what the biblical message of the Gospel is, I strongly encourage you to read Dr. Ernest Martin’s small book ABCs of the Gospel. All chapters of this book are available online at http://www.askelm.com/abc/index.asp.
Christ Himself preached the Gospel of the Kingdom to the Jews (Matthew 4:23, 9:35, 24:14; Mark 1:14f). He did not directly teach the Jews that He was the Messiah. 5 He left that for His apostles to do after His resurrection and ascension back to heaven. The Greek texts of Luke 4:43, 8:1, 16:16 and Acts 8:42 also use the Greek term “Gospel” (verbal root euaggelizo) in relation to the Kingdom of God. For some reason this is not indicated in the King James Version. Of course, Jesus also preached about the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 4:17, 10:7; Luke 4:43, 9:2, 60). That preaching was also the Gospel. Note how the Revised Standard Version incorporates the correct Greek in its translation:
“"The law and the prophets were until John; since then the good news [the Gospel] of the kingdom of God is preached.”
Luke 16:16, Revised Standard Version
Jesus did not preach the Gospel of Christ or the Gospel of Messiah. He preached the Gospel of the Kingdom because He was the Christ; He was the Messiah. Jesus let others talk about His person. Jesus taught the message about the Kingdom that He, as Messiah, would bring forth. Matthew shows this clearly as he tells of the time when John the Baptist heard that the works of the Messiah were being accomplished and sent his disciples to ask Jesus about the matter. Jesus answered specifically about the works that were being accomplished. He did not dispute that they were the works of the Messiah:
“Now when John had heard in the prison the works of *Christ [the Messiah], he sent two of his disciples, And said unto him, ‘Are you he that should come, or do we look for another?’ Jesus answered and said unto them, ‘Go and show John again those things which you do hear and see:
 The blind receive their sight,
 and the lame walk,
 the lepers are cleansed,
 and the deaf hear,
 the dead are raised up,
 and the poor have the gospel preached to them.”
Jesus’ role as the Messiah [Christ] was intimately related to His preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom. His preaching was part of the fulfillment of Him being the Messiah. The people and the larger group of disciples were instructed that they had one master only (that was Himself, although that was not clear at that time), the Messiah: “Neither be you called masters: for one is your Master, even *Christ [the Messiah]” (Matthew 23:1, 10).
The first verses of the Gospel of Mark declare explicitly what the subject of his written work is. The subject is Jesus as Messiah. One of the titles and functions of Messiah was as the Son of God:
“The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ [Messiah], the Son of God; As it is written in the prophets …”
This introduction identifies the Gospel both to Jesus as Messiah and to Jesus as the Son of God. 6 This witness by Mark is important and should not be minimized. As noted earlier, Christ Himself as Messiah preached about the Kingdom:
“Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent you, and believe the gospel.’”
Jesus was the King of that Kingdom as He told Pilate during the Roman governor’s interrogation of Him:
“Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.’
Pilate therefore said unto him, ‘Are you a king then?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause [to be the King of the Kingdom] came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth.’”
After the resurrection and ascension of Jesus, the apostles (as eyewitnesses, Acts 5:32) went about preaching about Christ [Messiah] and the Kingdom of God as Luke makes clear in Acts chapter 4:1–31 and chapter 5. Their message was reinforced by miracles and healings (Acts 5:12–16). These healings were a sign and further evidence (beyond their eyewitness accounts) that God was indeed supporting their teaching and that their testimony was true.
Their witnessing and healing was so successful that the Jewish leaders felt directly threatened in their religious authority over the people. They persecuted and prosecuted the apostles (Acts 5:17–41). After their imprisonment and release the apostles taught and preached and witnessed even more to the people about the Messiah of the Jews who was the resurrected Jesus. Their testimony had a tremendous impact everywhere in Jerusalem. They preached and taught not only in the Temple, but even in the houses of Jerusalem:
“And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus *Christ [the Messiah].”
The King James Version fails to translate this verse correctly. The Greek actually reads “… they ceased not to teach and preach the Gospel of [evangelize about] the Messiah Jesus.” And, remember there were 12 apostles, so they could cover a great deal of territory within that city in a few days time by teaching groups of people, large and small, in Jerusalem.
After the stoning of Stephen the newly converted ekklesia was dispersed from Jerusalem to the territories of Samaria and Judea by the persecution instigated by Saul (later the apostle Paul). That dispersal affected everyone except the apostles who remained in Jerusalem continuing to preach and teach.
“At that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.”
As part of that same dispersal, the evangelist Philip preached in Samaria about the Kingdom of God and the name of the Messiah Jesus:
“But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ [Messiah], they were baptized, both men and women.”
After the apostle Paul was converted by Jesus the Messiah, he recovered from his blindness and went forth preaching about the Messiah 7:
“Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus. And straightway he preached Christ [Messiah] in the synagogues, that he [Messiah] is the Son of God [c.f., Mark 1:1]. But all that heard him were amazed,”
What Paul taught the Jews in Damascus was the same Gospel presented in the Gospel of Mark (Mark 1:1). In his preaching Paul proved to the Jews (from his own eyewitness experience of the resurrected Christ) that Jesus was the Messiah:
“But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very *Christ [is the Messiah].”
To the Corinthians Paul mentions the specific commission that the resurrected Messiah gave to him as an apostle to preach:
“For *Christ [the Messiah] sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross [tree] of *Christ [the Messiah] should be made of none effect. …
But we preach Christ [Messiah] crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness.”
1 Corinthians 1:17, 23
Paul and his associates understood the centrality of the crucifixion when they began the ekklesia at Corinth:
“For though you have ten thousand instructors in Christ [Messiah], yet have you not many fathers: for in Christ [Messiah] Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.”
1 Corinthians 4:15
Paul and his associates were willing to suffer all manner of indignity and injury, even death, for the Gospel of the Messiah and for the members of the ekklesia:
“Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of *Christ [the Messiah].”
1 Corinthians 9:12
What was the Gospel that the Paul taught? He presents it simply and clearly later in First Corinthians:
“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel
- [the gospel] which I preached unto you,
- [the gospel] which also you have received, and
- [the gospel] wherein you stand;
- [the gospel] by which also you are saved,
if you keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless you have believed in vain.”
1 Corinthians 15:1–2
The message Paul preached to the Corinthians was about the Gospel and it was important for them to remember that Gospel teaching. What was the specific teaching of the Gospel that the apostle Paul preached to the Corinthians, that they took so much for granted:
“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how
 that Christ [Messiah] died for our sins according to the scriptures, and
 that he [Messiah] was buried, and
 that he [Messiah] rose again the third day according to the scriptures ...”
1 Corinthians 15:3–4
Paul then goes on to describe the many witnesses to the resurrected Messiah (1 Corinthians 15:5–8). The particulars of the Gospel of Messiah are mentioned several times in Second Corinthians: “Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach *Christ's [the Messiah's] gospel” (2 Corinthians 2:12). The underlined phrase is awkward in English but the Greek is actually more explicit: “the gospel of the Christ [the Messiah].” Paul continues:
“For the Son of God, Jesus Christ [Messiah], who was preached among you by us ... For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us. Now he which establishes us with you in Christ [Messiah], and has anointed us [like the Messiah], is God.”
2 Corinthians 2:19–21
The Gospel of Messiah and His resurrection comprise the beginning teachings about Christ. They are the basics, the milk for those who are babes in Messiah, as the apostle Paul made clear in the Book of Hebrews:
“For every one that uses milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongs to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ [Messiah], let us go on unto perfection …”
Paul goes on in Hebrews to list those basic teachings (Hebrews 6:1–2), and then he proceeds from there to the more mature teachings of the Gospel.
Those who do not believe the Gospel of the Messiah have been blinded by Satan (which is presently allowed by God for His own purposes), which blindness will be removed when God sees fit to do so.
“In whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of *Christ [the Messiah], who is the image of God, should shine unto them. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ [Messiah] Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.”
2 Corinthians 4:4–5
Again the English is awkward and the Greek is somewhat different, although the correct understanding is reflected in most all modern translations. Verse 4 should actually read: “the light of the gospel of the glory of the Messiah, who is the image of God.” The focus of this passage is not the Gospel, but it is Christ Himself. The Messiah is glorious; the Gospel is about His glory. The Messiah as “the image of God” would shine gloriously unto those who do not believe at present, were it not for their blindness. Take this into consideration when you read or view anything that denies that Jesus is the Messiah. “The god of this world” is the source of their “blindness.”
Paul preached about the Messiah Jesus. No matter what opposition he encountered he preached the Gospel of the Messiah. The Corinthian ekklesia responded to Paul’s reminder about the glory of the Messiah by liberally giving to needy Jews in Jerusalem and the surrounding area. Paul took their generosity as evidence of their affirmation of the Gospel of the Messiah:
“Whiles by the experiment [proof] of this ministration [ministry] they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of *Christ [the Messiah], and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men.”
2 Corinthians 9:13
In a defense of his ministry Paul says that he went far beyond expectations by coming to the Corinthians to preach the Messiah’s Gospel.
“For we stretch not ourselves beyond our measure, as though we reached not unto you: for we are come as far as to you also in preaching the gospel of Christ [the Messiah]:”
2 Corinthians 10:14
The Gospel of Messiah can be distorted so much that believers could be disturbed and moved away from the truth. Note what the earliest Pauline epistle says:
“I marvel that you are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ [Messiah] unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of *Christ [the Messiah].”
The lordship of Jesus as the Messiah was extremely important to the apostle Paul; it was a major subject of Paul’s preaching. That message directly involved the resurrection, as witnessed by those chosen by God to explain the Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah, “… to give all the prophets witness” (Acts 10:39–43).
When the apostle Paul went to the synagogue 8 at Thessalonica, he proclaimed (to the Jews first) that Jesus was the Messiah of the Jews:
“And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, Opening and alleging, that *Christ [the Messiah] must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is *Christ [the Messiah]. And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few.”
Paul’s reasoning and preaching was that the Messiah needed to suffer, that He rose from the dead, and that Jesus “is the Messiah” (present tense).
Note who responded to Paul’s reasoning and preaching: a few Jews, “a great multitude” of Greeks, some of which were “the chief women” of the city. During that period of time those Greeks needed to become Israelites. Paul taught and preached to the Thessalonians during the New Covenant phase of God’s revelation to mankind. 9
In his first epistle to that same Thessalonian congregation the apostle Paul uses the phrase “the Gospel of the Messiah” in discussing his and his associates’ message to that ekklesia.
“… and sent Timotheus, our brother, and minister of God, and our fellowlaborer in the gospel of *Christ [the Messiah], to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith:”
1 Thessalonians 3:2
This is the same Gospel, “the Gospel of God” that Paul discussed earlier in the epistle (1 Thessalonians 2:2, 8–9).
The Gospel the Paul preached is not to be trifled with or ignored. In fact Paul says that God will take revenge upon those who knowingly do not obey that Gospel. In his second epistle to the Thessalonians, Paul reminds the ekklesia about the judgments to come upon unbelievers, those who reject the Gospel of the Messiah as the Second Advent approaches:
“Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ [Messiah].”
2 Thessalonians 1:6–8
This is a serious matter. God does not trifle with His Messiah’s gospel. This pronouncement by Paul may seem harsh at first, but keep in mind the context within which Paul is writing. The Thessalonians are undergoing severe persecution and tribulation (1 Thessalonians 1:4) from unbelievers, and Paul thought the Second Advent of Christ was imminent. Paul is reminding them that their suffering has been noticed by God, and He will not ignore their plight. God will take action (1 Thessalonians 1:6). Those who are punished will suffer destruction that will last for an age (1 Thessalonians 1:9). 10
For the Thessalonian believers, Paul has confidence that they shall let “the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for *Christ [the Messiah]” (2 Thessalonians 3:5). Indeed, Paul is saying that it is extremely worthwhile for us to wait patiently for the Messiah! This is an excellent message for us today. Remember that Paul is speaking of a time that is still future to us today so we may obtain to the glory of Messiah. 11
“Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ [Messiah]. Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which you have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.”
2 Thessalonians 2:14–15
In the book of Romans, chapter 1, Paul immediately presents the Gospel:
“Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ [Messiah], called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,”
In verse 16 of Romans chapter 1, most important Greek texts omit the prepositional phrase “of Christ,” nevertheless it does not affect the message Paul presents to the Romans. This is because Christ [Messiah] is mentioned earlier in the first chapter of Romans in verses 1, 5, 6, 7, and 8. Even without the prepositional phrase, the verse shows the power inherent in the message the Gospel of God, which is about the person of Jesus Christ, for both the Jew and Gentile, within the New Covenant. That being said, the King James Version says:
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of *Christ [the Messiah]: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believes; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”
In fact, Paul goes on to say that our own personal secrets, the secrets of every human being, the secrets of our lives, will be judged by the Messiah as proclaimed by the gospel of Paul:
“In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by [through] Jesus Christ [Messiah] according to my gospel.”
Those who reject Jesus as the Messiah of God cannot have the Spirit of Messiah. Only through acknowledging Jesus as Messiah can they receive the Spirit of Messiah, which is the Spirit of life. Paul makes this plain; the spirit of God is the Spirit of Messiah:
“But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have NOT the Spirit of Christ [Messiah], he is none of his. And [But] if Christ [Messiah] be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ [Messiah] from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his [Messiah’s] Spirit that dwells in you.”
All uses of the term “Spirit” in Romans 8:9–11 refer to “the Spirit of Messiah” from verse 9.
The apostle Paul understood that his ministry to the Gentiles meant preaching about the Messiah, which he did fully, yet where Jesus as Messiah was already known, among the Jews, Paul did not go.
“That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ [Messiah] to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost. I have therefore whereof I may glory through Jesus Christ [Messiah] 12 in those things which pertain to God.
For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ [Messiah] has not wrought by me, to make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed, Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of *Christ [the Messiah]. Yea, so have I striven to preach the gospel, not where Christ [Messiah] was named, lest I should build upon another man's foundation.”
Review the verses cited in this article (and the article “Christ and Messiah”) and take note of those that were from books of the Bible written after the revelation of the Mystery in 62–63 C.E. 13 (Read down the left column, then down the right column):
- Gospel of John
- 1 Peter
- 2 Peter
- 1 John
- 2 John
- 3 John
- The last 3 verses of the book of Romans (added by Paul after the Mystery revelation)
- Hebrews 14
- 1 Timothy
- 2 Timothy
The time when these biblical books were composed indicates that the Gospel of the Messiah continued to be taught by the apostles Paul, Peter, and John even after the Mystery was revealed to them. The content and time when these New Testament books were written show that they were composed with the full knowledge and understanding of “The Mystery,” yet the Gospel of Messiah was still vitally important as we shall see. In fact, the Gospel of the Messiah proceeds through, and is part of, both the New Covenant and the Mystery.
Just because a New Testament book was written after the revelation of the Mystery was revealed, does not mean that the subject of that book deals with the Mystery. For example, the Books of 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 2 John, 3 John, and Jude are part of catholic epistles which collectively appear (and properly so as Dr. Martin has shown) before the Pauline epistles, because their subject matter deals with the basics of the faith, but those books have nothing within them that deal with the Mystery.
Before and after the revelation of the Mystery the Gospel of Messiah was preached by the apostles, particularly to the Gentile ekklesias. Of course, the progressive revelation of the full teaching of God to mankind was completed with the disclosure of the Mystery. 15 Jesus as the Messiah of the Jews and all mankind provides a point of contact and continuity among the Old Covenant, the New Covenant, and the Mystery. Jesus is the Messiah for all three phases.
Jesus as Messiah fits perfectly with the message of the Mystery, which is that there is now no difference between Jews and Gentiles in God’s sight. The anointed of God has saved all mankind, has removed all barriers to God, has removed all rank, status, or comparison between and among people of whatever birth, and has placed and presented all human beings equally before God in salvation (eventually, after the Kingdom ends, 1 Corinthians 15:28). The Messiah Jesus has seated us legally with Him on the throne at the right hand of God the Father. 16
With this in mind, look at the final verses of Romans and particularly Romans 16:25:
“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ [Messiah] be with you all. Amen. 17
Now to him that is of power to establish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ [Messiah], according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,
But now [and never before] is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known [now] to all nations for the obedience of faith: To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ [Messiah] for ever [for the age of the ages]. Amen.”
The Mystery is specifically termed by Paul as “the mystery of the Gospel, for which I am an ambassador in bonds,” in Ephesians 6:19–20.
The essential statement of the Gospel of the Messiah is that the resurrection of Jesus truly happened. The resurrection is not just an interesting bit in the “theology” of Christianity that gives us a good feeling in our hearts. It is a fact, a fact of history. Let me put it another way. The resurrection of Jesus is the single most important fact of history. It is an existential, empirical, and ontological fact.
The resurrection proved that Jesus is the Messiah of the Jews and Gentiles. He is the Messiah within the revelation of the Mystery, the secret that all human beings will become deity, with all that implies. The Gospel of Messiah deals with “the Mystery of the Messiah” as Paul says:
“… by revelation he [God] made known unto me the mystery;
(as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of *Christ [the Messiah])
Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs [with the Jews], and of the same body [with the Jews], and partakers of his promise in Christ [Messiah] by the gospel [with the Jews]:
… that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of *Christ [the Messiah]; And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world has been hid in God.”
Ephesians 3:3–6, 8–9
This is a remarkable and stunning passage. The Gentiles benefit from the Gospel of Messiah and all the promises that derive from that Gospel, every bit as much as the Jews.
What does the (supposedly) Jewish concept of a Messiah have to do with the Mystery? The answer is that Jesus as the Messiah of God has made the Gentiles to be part of the Plan of God from the very beginning, from before the foundation of the world (see Ephesians 1:4). Jesus’ role as Messiah was God’s intention all along, to gather all things in the Messiah:
“That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he [God] might gather together in one all things in *Christ [the Messiah], both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him. In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who works all things after the counsel of his own will: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in *Christ [the Messiah].”
Those who reject this Gospel about Jesus being the Messiah as put forth by the apostles cannot, of necessity, know God’s will or destiny for mankind. It is only to be hinted at in the Old Testament, but it is fulfilled in Christ, the Messiah. Rejection of Jesus as the resurrected Messiah demonstrates that they know little about God, no matter how much they may know about the Bible itself.
In the Book of Colossians Paul expresses such sentiments as he completed, or fulfilled the word of God. The fulfilled Word of God, the Mystery, is that Messiah (through God’s Holy Spirit) is in you! This is what makes you part of the Body of Christ, both figuratively and literally (just as Romans 8:9–11 cited above says). Messiah in you is your hope of eventual glory:
“Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God; Even the mystery which has been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ [Messiah] in you, the hope of glory: Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ [Messiah] Jesus: Whereunto I also labor, striving according to his working, which works in me mightily.”
If someone does not accept Jesus as Messiah at the present time, they are missing out and they do not really know much about God that is important. Pray that God may open their minds to the glory that is the Gospel of the Messiah (2 Corinthians 4:4, Ephesians 1:10–12)! By necessity they must reject any possibility of equality between Gentiles and Jews. They cannot understand the scope or depth of salvation. The Plan of God began with the Messiah Jesus before the foundation of the world, and it is completed in the Messiah Jesus, even though it has not taken full effect. That full effect shall be achieved when the Messiah presents the reconciled Kingdom to God the Father (1 Corinthians 15:28; Philippians 2:9–11).
The Gospel that Paul presented was the Gospel of Messiah (1 Corinthians 15:1–4, above). Note how Paul focuses of the resurrection of Jesus and how that resurrection is essential to Jesus being the Messiah:
“Now if Christ [Messiah] be preached [by Paul and the other apostles as witnesses] that he [Messiah] rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?
But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ [Messiah] not risen: And if Christ [Messiah] be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up *Christ [the Messiah]: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.
For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ [Messiah] raised: And if Christ [Messiah] be not raised, your faith is vain; you are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ [Messiah] are perished.
If in this life only we have hope in Christ [Messiah], we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ [Messiah] risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.”
1 Corinthians 15:12–20
As we can see, Jesus as the resurrected Messiah is central to the message of the apostle Paul. It should be central to our understanding of the Gospel also.
In his salutations and greetings to particular people at the ekklesia in Rome the apostle Paul makes this declaration without rancor, yet bluntly, against any person:
“If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ [Messiah], let him be Anathema [cursed] Maranatha.”
1 Corinthians 16:22
Anathema means essentially “to curse,” or set aside for destruction. The sense is that the person essentially curses him or herself. The word Maranatha is of Aramaic origin and it is a declaration “the Lord come!” Combined together into a phrase, “Anathema Maranatha” appears to refer to Malachi 4:5–6 where the desire for the Lord’s coming is coupled with possibility of the earth being cursed due to unbelief.
Note that the gospel of Messiah can be perverted. Look at Paul’s emphasis about the Gospel and that the Gospel deals with the Messiah:
“I marvel that you are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ [Messiah] unto another gospel:
but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of *Christ [the Messiah]. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel [such as, that Jesus is not the Messiah] unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed [anathema].
As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that you have received, let him be accursed [anathema]. For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ [Messiah].”
Paul’s repetition is stunning in its emphasis. Today “another Gospel” (verse 6) would be a spiritualized gospel that denies that Jesus was actually the Messiah, and that the term “Christ” only has power as a nice spiritual theological term, without any reality, without any link to the Messiahship of Jesus and everything that Messiah means.
Please understand that those who do not know that Jesus is the Messiah have no more fault to them than you and I did before we knew the truth and believed. After all it was God and Christ who gave you and me the faith to believe, just as He gave faith to the apostle Paul, and just like He gave faith to every other believer in the Gospel of Messiah.
For Paul, those who preach Messiah (Christ) at least have something going for them. Even if they preach from contention, Paul did not care too much. What he wanted was for Messiah to be preached. Unfortunately that happens all too seldom in the churches of today. What Paul describes seems to fit the state of current Christianity. It is pitiful.
“Some indeed preach *Christ [the Messiah] even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: The one preach *Christ [the Messiah] of contention [faction], not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defense of the gospel. What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ [Messiah] is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.”
Unfortunately, all too often Messiah is not preached.
Paul believed that the Gospel of Messiah should guide the ekklesia. This is what he wrote in to the Philippians (and to the ekklesia in general) regarding proper conduct and unity of purpose. Note how it relates to the Gospel of the Messiah:
“Only let your conversation be as it becomes the gospel of *Christ [the Messiah]: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel [the gospel of Messiah].”
Jesus as Messiah abolished death and He brings life through the Gospel, the Gospel of the Messiah:
“Who has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ [Messiah] Jesus before the world began, But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ [Messiah], who has abolished death, and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”
2 Timothy 1:9–10
There are three objections to Jesus:
You will usually see variations of all three in every book that dismisses Christianity, the message of the New Testament, and the Gospel of Messiah. That Gospel answers all three objections. The proof of the answer is the eyewitness accounts of Jesus’ resurrection. Of course, if you dismiss, diminish, or distrust the eyewitness accounts of the New Testament, then those objections seemingly become valid.
The objective reality is that Jesus was incarnated in the flesh, He lived a sinless life, He suffered, He was crucified, He was resurrected, He ascended into heaven, and this was witnessed and recorded and preached about by hundreds of people. Some of those witnesses were commissioned and compelled to write down their accounts and some of those accounts became the books that collectively we call the New Testament.
As we have seen, rejection of the Gospel of the Messiah prevents the Spirit of the Messiah, with all its accompanying benefits (Romans 8:9–11). You cannot be saved without accepting Jesus as the Messiah (1 Corinthians 15:2). Rejection of Messiah means a misunderstanding of the image and glory of God (2 Corinthians 4:4–5; Colossians 1:25–29), due to a blindness likely caused by “the god of this world.” Rejection also means a restriction of God’s grace (Galatians 1:6). Rejection will bring about the vengeance of God (2 Thessalonians 1:8). Rejection shows shame toward the power of God (Romans 1:16). Rejection prevents knowledge of “the Mystery of the Christ” (Ephesians 3:4), “the promise in Messiah” (Ephesians 3:6), and “the unsearchable riches of the Messiah” (Ephesians 3:8). Rejection prevents trust in Messiah so that God’s will for mankind cannot be known (Ephesians 1:12). Anyone rejecting the Messiah who preaches another Gospel brings upon himself a curse (Galatians 1:8).
Let us review the elements about the Gospel of Messiah, Jesus Christ:
One can only conclude with the admonition of the apostle Peter, written immediately after he talked about how easily the writings of the apostle Paul could be misunderstood:
“You therefore, beloved, seeing you know these things before, beware lest you also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ [Messiah]. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.”
2 Peter 3:17–18
David Sielaff, May 2006
2 See the story of how the New Testament was compiled in Dr. Ernest Martin’s book Restoring the Original Bible (Portland, OR: Associates for Scriptural Knowledge, 1994). See particularly chapters 25–29. The book is online at: http://www.askelm.com/restoring/index.asp.
4 “Gospel” in The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, 1915, 1st Edition, from Dr. Stanley Morris (IBT, 1997).
5 This is sometimes referred to as the “Messianic secret.”
6 John gives similar words and sentiments when Jesus appears to the disciples after His resurrection:
“And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ [the Messiah], the Son of God; and that believing you might have life through his name.”
7 Here the Messiah is stated to be the Son of God, just like Matthew 16:16, 26:63; Mark 1:1; Luke 4:41; John 6:69, 20:31; 2 Corinthians 1:19; Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 4:13; 1 John 5:20; and 2 John 1:3. This identification of the Messiah with the Son of God is also very important. Martha the sister of Lazarus gave her testimony:
“She says unto him, ‘Yea, Lord: I believe that you are the Christ [the Messiah], the Son of God, which should come into the world.’”
8 See Dr. Martin’s article “Synagogues and Ekklesias” at http://www.askelm.com/doctrine/d051201.htm which shows the nature, organization, and function of the Jewish synagogue in the middle of the 1st century.
9 Dr. Martin’s chapter “Gentiles Must Become Israelites” at http://www.askelm.com/essentials/ess009.htm from his book The Essentials of New Testament Doctrine (Portland, OR: ASK Publications, 2004) shows the advance of the New Covenant over the Old Covenant, and how the New Covenant falls short of final revelation of “The Mystery.”
10 They will not suffer for an age, but the effects of their destruction, their annihilation, will last for an age.
11 Recall that the Greek manuscripts do not present the Pauline writings in a chronological order, or the order of composition. The Pauline writings are presented in an educative order from simplest to most sophisticated, each building upon the understanding of the previous work. The two epistles of First and Second Thessalonians were written over a decade before Colossians and Ephesians. See chapter 23, “The Epistles of Paul” at http://www.askelm.com/restoring/res029.htm, of Dr. Martin’s book Restoring the Original Bible.
12 In the Greek of Romans 15:17 the order of the phrase is actually “Christ Jesus” or “Messiah Jesus.”
13 See Dr. Martin’s article, “The History of the Revelation of the Mystery” at http://www.askelm.com/doctrine/d040101.htm. To read the full explanation of “The Mystery” see Dr. Martin’s comprehensive chapter “‘Our Destiny,’ The Final Revelation of God” at http://www.askelm.com/essentials/ess033.htm, from his book The Essentials of New Testament Doctrine. Several other chapters in that book are directly relevant to “The Mystery.”
14 See Dr. Martin’s article, “The Book of Hebrews” at http://www.askelm.com/doctrine/d040901.htm. It is clear from the internal evidence that Hebrews was written after the revelation of the Mystery. The Book of Hebrews deals with information relevant to millennial issues.
15 This is fully explained in Dr. Martin’s book The Essentials of New Testament Doctrine.
16 We are part of the “body of Messiah”: Romans 7:4, 12:5; 1 Corinthians 10:16, 12:12, 27; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Ephesians 3:6, 4:12; Philippians 1:20; and Colossians 1:24, 2:17, 3:15.
17 This “amen” marks the first ending of Romans, then comes the portion written after the revelation of the Mystery. The Book of Romans deals with 1st principles, but the last 3 verses talk about the Mystery. These verses were added to Romans by Paul after the Mystery was revealed to him. See the discussion in chapter 24, “The Canonization of Paul’s Epistles” in Dr. Martin’s Restoring the Original Bible at http://www.askelm.com/restoring/res031.htm.
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