Two gospels? Did Paul and Peter preach the same gospel?


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Question / Comment -  Are there two gospels? Did Paul and Peter preach the same gospel?

Hello, 

As I study how to rightly divide the word of truth these days I come across that there are two gospels - i.e. the gospel of the kingdom and the gospel of grace. Two in a sense that not they are contradicting with each other rather the Gospel of the Kingdom is meant for Israel and during the 7 years of tribulation (Matthew 24:14) and the Gospel of Grace (the mystery) is revealed specifically to Paul (not even to the 11 disciples). I think it is also termed as the gospel of the circumcised and uncircumcised (Gal 2:7). I read that when Peter preached to the Jews in Acts  (chapter 2 &3) he did not mention the blood of Jesus for the forgiveness of sins but simply believe in Jesus. However, Paul was the first one to mention forgiveness in the blood of Jesus. I kind of agree with this view if we have to rightly the word of truth. Please help.

JPN Reply:


Hi,

there is an element of truth in this but you have to be very careful where you tread here. We definitely need 'to rightly divide the word of God' as scripture tells us but it is easy to go too far and move past scripture and into our own thoughts. There is a whole movement within Christianity that consider themselves 'right dividers' or 'right division' that, unfortunately, leads to a lot of error and division. Instead of 'classical dispensationalism' it often leads to 'hyper-dispensationalism' where people teach that Paul and Peter had a different gospel and/or the Church didn't begin until midway through the books of Acts... or at the very end of Acts like 'ultra-dispensationalism'. Some say only Paul's letters are for the Church! Hyper and ultra-dispensationalism are not true and should be avoided. So to your specific questions...

Are there two gospels, the gospel of the Kingdom and the gospel of grace?

In short, no. There is only one gospel. But there are different aspects that are emphasized depending on when the message is given. Mat 4:23 has the first mention of 'gospel' in the New Testament. William MacDonald in the Believers Bible Commentary writes well on this stating:

While there is only one gospel, there are different features of the gospel in different times. For instance, there is a different emphasis between the gospel of the kingdom and the gospel of the grace of God. The gospel of the kingdom says, “Repent and receive the Messiah; then you will enter His kingdom when it is set up on earth.” The gospel of grace says, “Repent and receive Christ; then you will be taken up to meet Him and to be with Him forever.” Fundamentally, they are the same gospel—salvation by grace through faith—but they show that there are different administrations of the gospel according to God's dispensational purposes.

When Jesus preached the gospel of the kingdom, He was announcing His coming as King of the Jews and explaining the terms of admission into His kingdom. His miracles showed the wholesome nature of the kingdom.

This 'gospel of the Kingdom' is again preached in the last days during the tribulation as stated by Mathew:

Mat 24:14 "This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.

Again - this is not a new or different gospel. It is the good news of what Jesus did on the cross and the need to personally believe and accept God's incredibly gracious offer of salvation through faith. There is only one gospel. But there will be an emphasis during the proclamation of this gospel in the coming tribulation that Jesus is King, not the antichrist, and that there is a need to repent and turn to Him because God's judgment is here and the Lord's Kingdom is coming soon! (For example, Rev 14:6-7, 9-10) J.Vernon McGee writes on Mat 24:14

The gospel of the Kingdom is what John the Baptist preached—"Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Mat_3:2). And the Lord Jesus began His ministry with that message—"From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Mat_4:17). Also, He sent His apostles out with that message (see Matt. 10). But in Mat_11:28, we saw that our Lord's message changed to "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." And in Mat_20:28 He said that He had come to give His life a ransom for many. But during the Tribulation period the gospel of the Kingdom will again be preached. It is not for our day, because we are to preach the gospel of the grace of God. Is the gospel of the Kingdom another gospel? No, my friend, it is not. It is the same gospel with a different emphasis...

Now let me answer our critics who say that we who hold the dispensational view of Scripture teach that there are two or more ways of being saved. No, God has never had more than one basis on which He saves men, and that basis is the Cross of Christ. Every offering before Christ came looked forward to the Cross of Christ, and every commemoration since He has come looks back to the cross of Christ.

Is the gospel of the circumcised and uncircumcised (Gal 2:7) different?

No. Please be clear on this. There is not one gospel for the circumcised (Jews) and another for the uncircumcised (Gentiles). Look at the Galatian passage mentioned:

Gal 2:7-9 But on the contrary, seeing that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been to the circumcised (8) (for He who effectually worked for Peter in his apostleship to the circumcised effectually worked for me also to the Gentiles), (9) and recognizing the grace that had been given to me, James and Cephas and John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, so that we might go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.

This whole passage is NOT speaking of different gospels but simply who, among the Apostles, was to go to whom. James, Peter and John recognised the grace and position that God had given to Paul and agreed that he should go to the Gentiles while they concentrated on the Jews.  They didn't have a different gospel to tell. They simply went to different people groups to proclaim the one gospel. 

Was Peter preaching the same gospel in Acts 2 & 3? 

Yes! Peter was preaching the gospel of God's grace to the Jews and the many that had come from other nations to celebrate the feast of Pentecost. Was it tailored to those that where there because of what they had just done in crucifying Jesus? Of course. But it is still the one same gospel. He didn't mention the blood of Christ but he certainly spoke powerfully about the death and resurrection of the Lord, and their need to repent and receive forgiveness from God. (Acts 2:22-38) It is true that God revealed other 'mysteries' through Paul later (as Acts 2 is only 50 days on from the resurrection of the Lord) but this is simply bringing focus and revelation to the one true gospel. It isn't changing to a new gospel. 

The church began in Acts 2 - at Pentecost. This is when believers were baptised in the Holy Spirit into one body. And though the Church began in Jerusalem, the commission to go into all the nations had already been given by the Lord Jesus to all the disciples even before this point. See Mt. 28:16–20; Mk. 16:14–16; Lk. 24:45–49. So later when Paul and others went to the Gentiles, they were simply doing what Jesus had already said to do when He was with the disciples on earth. It isn't something new.

Though brief, I hope this helps. These arguments have been going on for many decades. The well-loved Bible teacher H.A Ironside wrote a great booklet called 'Wrongly dividing the word of truth' in 1938 that speaks to many of the errors in hyper-dispensationalism. If interested in reading more, you can find that here:

Wrongly dividing the word of truth

See also:

https://gracethrufaith.com/topical-studies/tough-questions-answered/a-different-gospel

https://gracethrufaith.com/end-times-prophecy/the-gospel-of-the-kingdom-vs-the-gospel-of-grace-conclusion/


God Bless,

Iain.


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