We must understand that Jesus and his apostles ministered to the House of Israel with a message of an offered kingdom if the nation would collectively repent. It was not contingent upon individual repentance, but national. There were at least five thousand Jews, maybe eight thousand, depending how you interpret the response to Peter’s second sermon, that we know of that repented in the book of Acts (Acts 2:41; Acts 4:4), but the nation itself never did repent, and thus, rejected their Messiah and his kingdom offer. The kingdom was postponed, not be offered again until the Tribulation Period or what is called Daniel’s Seventieth Week (Daniel 9:27). As such, God raised up the Apostle Paul with a new message to take to the Gentiles.
Another thing that many fail to see is that the New Testament does not start in Matthew, chapter 1, in spite of the fact that all of our Bibles have a page marked New Testament between Malachi and Matthew. As a matter of fact, it could not have started until after the crucifixion, and I would contend, the resurrection of Christ. Hebrews 9:16-17 makes this clear when it says, For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth. In other words, there can be no testament without the death of the one making it, i.e., Jesus. (Remember, that our Last Will and Testaments are not enforced until after we die.) That means that all of the Gospels are Old Testament. The New Testament could not have begun until at least Matthew 27:51 when Christ died. To rightly interpret the Bible is to understand this. Do not be tempted to pull the teachings in the Gospels into the Church! If you do, you will end up with confusion as I discussed in the last blog.
With that said, the epistles of Paul are of supreme importance to you and me today. They are where the Church gets its doctrine. Also, they shed tremendous amounts of light on the Old Testament by revealing things that we never would have or could have known without them.
This also means that the gospel that Paul received from God himself was different than the gospel which Jesus and the apostles taught in the Gospels and even well into the book of Acts. Now, before you become a bit unhinged, remember that the apostles had no clue that Jesus was going to be crucified; even when he told them directly because the Bible says that it was hidden from them (Luke 18:31-34). Bear in mind, this was right after he had commissioned them to go out and preach the kingdom of God (we call this the Gospel of the Kingdom) and they had already returned (Luke 9:1-10). The apostles were not preaching the Gospel of Grace that Paul preached.
Paul’s gospel was different in that it included the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. It also required only belief as compared to the Kingdom Gospel that required repentance and baptism. (That is another blog for another day). All throughout Paul’s epistles, he refers to this gospel that was exclusively delivered to him. He said in Galatians 1:11-12, But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. Also, in Ephesians 3:2-4, If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ). Paul even stated in Romans 2:16 that God will judge the secrets of men…according to my gospel. Other verses that speak to this gospel can be found in Galatians 1:15-17; Galatians 2:2; Romans 16:25. The bottom line is that the gospel that Paul preached was different from the gospel that the other apostles taught.
The conclusion is that when interpreting the Bible, we must remember that Paul’s gospel is unique to the Church. Only he received the revelation of the mystery (Romans 16:25) that had been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints (Colossians 1:26) as revealed to the Apostle Paul.