By Femi Aribisala
Jesus does not have two contradictory gospels; one for Jews and another for Gentiles.
The gospel Paul preached is different from that of Jesus. Paul’s gospel is about “the grace of God.” (Acts 20:24). This says: “Rejoice: Jesus died for our sins.” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). However, Jesus’ gospel is not about dying for sins but about the kingdom of God. This says: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17).
Paul says there is one gospel for Gentiles, which he claims was committed to him; and another gospel for Jews, which he claims was committed to Peter: “The gospel for the uncircumcised had been committed to me, as the gospel for the circumcised was to Peter (for he who worked effectively in Peter for the apostleship to the circumcised also worked effectively in me toward the Gentiles).” (Galatians 2:7-8).
Paul’s gospel is personal to him. He says to Gentiles: “to him who is able to establish you according to my gospel.” (Romans 16:25). He claims critical elements of his gospel were never revealed before; not even by Jesus to his disciples. Paul was ostensibly entrusted with: “the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began but now made manifest.” (Romans 16:25-26).
For this reason, Paul says he decided to reveal his gospel to Jesus’ earlier disciples in order to prove to them it is divinely authorized: “After fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and also took Titus with me. And I went up by revelation, and communicated to them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to those who were of reputation, lest by any means I might run, or had run, in vain.” (Galatians 1:1-2).
A crucial indicator that Jesus did not preach Paul’s gospel comes from Paul’s assertion that his gospel had to be hidden from Satan, otherwise Jesus would not have been crucified: “We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” (1 Corinthians 2:7-8).
This mystery of the gospel is such a big deal, according to Paul, that he pleads with the Ephesians: “Pray for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel.” (Ephesians 6:19). What exactly is this mystery of the gospel? What mystery can there be in the gospel that Jesus himself failed to reveal? Remember, Jesus says he left nothing out: “Be on guard; I have told you all things beforehand.” (Mark 13:23).
According to Paul, this mystery is that: “the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of (God’s) promise in Christ through the gospel.” (Ephesians 3:6). Simply put, it means Gentiles (Nigerians included) will share in the promises of God to Israel.
What Paul is calling “a great mystery” turns out to be actually no mystery at all. Paul’s “great mystery” was prophesied again and again by the prophets. Paul himself admits this elsewhere, thereby contradicting himself. While he called his gospel a hidden mystery to the Ephesians, he told Festus it was no mystery at all because it had long been prophesied by Moses and the prophets.
Hear him: “Therefore, having obtained help from God, to this day I stand, witnessing both to small and great, saying no other things than those which the prophets and Moses said would come- that the Christ would suffer, that he would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.” (Acts 26:22-23).
There was nothing hidden or mysterious about the fact that the light of God would be proclaimed to the Gentiles, to make them partakers of his promise to the Jews. It was implied when God told Abraham he would be the father of many nations. “Many nations” means it would not be limited to the Jewish nation but Gentiles would be included. Indeed, the headquarters of Jesus’ ministry was in Gentile land: “Galilee of the Gentiles.” (Matthew 4:15; Isaiah 9:1).
Here is Paul contradicting himself by affirming the inclusion of the Gentiles in God’s promises was long revealed in the scriptures; the very thing he claims elsewhere is a “great mystery:”
“Now I say that Jesus Christ has become a servant to the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers, and that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy, as it is written: ‘For this reason I will confess to you among the Gentiles, and sing to your name.’ And again he says: ‘rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people!’ And again: ‘praise the Lord, all you Gentiles! Laud him, all you peoples!’ And again, Isaiah says: ‘There shall be a root of Jesse; and he who shall rise to reign over the Gentiles, in him the Gentiles shall hope.’” (Romans 15:8-12).
Christ is not divided
Paul’s “mystery” is entirely the product of his pomposity: “Inasmuch as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry.” (Romans 11:13). You can find Paul’s “hidden mystery” exposed for all to see again and again in the scriptures.
“Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the Gentiles.” (Isaiah 42:1).
“It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel; I will make you as a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” (Isaiah 49:6).
“Thus says the Lord GOD: “Behold, I will lift up my hand to the Gentiles, and raise my signal to the peoples.” (Isaiah 49:22).
“The Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.” (Isaiah 60:3).
“O LORD, my strength and my stronghold, my refuge in the day of trouble, to you shall the Gentiles come from the ends of the earth.” (Jeremiah 16:19).
“From the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the Gentiles.” (Malachi 1:11).
Jesus does not have two contradictory gospels; one for Jews and another for Gentiles. Long before Paul appeared on the scene, God called Peter to the Gentiles through Cornelius. (Acts 10:1-48). Peter himself acknowledged this: “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe.” (Acts 15:7). Nevertheless, Peter did not find it necessary to change the message of the gospel to the Gentiles from what he preached to Jews.
On his resurrection, Jesus told his disciples: “Go to the people of all nations and make them my disciples. Baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to do everything I have told you.” (Matthew 28:19-20). Jesus did not say there would be a different gospel for all nations, apart from the Jews.