Gospels: Did Peter and Paul preach the same gospel?
If when I began my preparation for the ministry someone had told me there was more than one “gospel” presented in the Bible, I would have thought they were crazy. I would have immediately thought of John 3:16 as the one and only gospel taught in the Scriptures. But is that the case? Is there really only one gospel in the Bible. I, like most Christians today, certainly thought so. But not long after I was saved, I began to wonder about that, especially after I ran across certain passages of Scripture. Let’s look at this first one.
7 But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; [Emphasis added]
There are several important things we need to understand about this verse. First, when it says, “when they saw,” it is telling us that by Paul’s teaching these men came to a new understanding, a new revelation of truth, something they did not know about prior to this occasion. Up to this point, they only had an understanding of what is called the gospel of the kingdom which is also known as the gospel of the circumcision. But on this occasion, they learned from the apostle Paul about a new and different gospel. That gospel, too, is also known by more than one name. It is called the gospel of the grace of God [Acts 20:24], the gospel of Christ [Galatians 1:7], and here it is called the gospel of the uncircumcision. This means the Twelve and Paul were not preaching the same gospel information. Some bad Bible translations would have you think that both groups were preaching the same thing. For instance, if you’re looking at the New International Version (NIV), the word “of” is translated “to,” which makes one think they were all presenting the same gospel but to different groups of people. The only difference being that one is preaching it to the circumcision, to Israel, and the other to the uncircumcision, the Gentiles. But we know for certain that this is not correct. We know that because of the correct reading of the original Greek text. In both the Received Text and the western Greek text there’s the Greek definite article TES. This means it can’t be correctly translated TO [the dative case translation] but must be translated OF [the genitive case translation]. Hence, we have the phrases gospel OF the circumcision and gospel OF the uncircumcision. The reason some translate it otherwise is to make it fit their theology, namely, their view that there’s only one “gospel” in the Bible. But that is clearly a perversion of the text. Paul is telling us here of not one, but TWO different gospel messages. Only one’s lack of familiarity with the Scriptures would cause one to think otherwise. You see, verse seven and verse nine, which we will look at, prove conclusively that there are two different gospels in view in Galatians. Galatians chapter two serves to back up what Paul states in chapter one, particularly verses six to nine.
6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another [HETEROS—meaning another of a different kind] gospel:
7 Which is not another [ALLOS—meaning another of the same kind]; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.
8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
9 As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. [Emphasis added]
This passage clearly speaks of two gospels. The one that’s for our application today is that which was originally given to the apostle Paul.
The rest of this document will show the contrast that exists between these two gospels, showing conclusively that Peter and Paul were commissioned with two different missions and messages. This means that even if you don’t accept the analysis I’ve just given about the Galatian passages, the many differences in these gospels I’ll now point out are irrefutable.
The Gentiles would be reached through Israel’s rise spiritually [Acts 3:22-26 cf. Isaiah 2:1-5; 60:1-3].
The Gentiles would be reached through Israel’s fall spiritually [Romans 11:11-12].
He preached to repent & be baptized for the remission of sins [Acts 2:38; Mark 16:16; I Peter 3:21 cf. Mark 1:4].
He preached to only believe on the Lord Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection for salvation [Acts 16:31 cf. I Corinthians 15:1-4]. Even though he baptized a few in the beginning of his ministry, he states that his ministry and message did not include water baptism [I Corinthians 1:17], only the one baptism of the Holy Spirit [Ephesians 4:5; I Corinthians 12:13].
He commanded the keeping of the Mosaic Law [Matthew 5:17-20; Matthew 23:1-3; 28:19-20; Acts 10:11-16; James 2:14-26].
He preached that we are not under the Mosaic Law, but under Grace [Romans 3:24; 6:14-15; Galatians 2:16, 20-21; Ephesians 2:8-9].
He preached that believers were baptized WITH the Holy Spirit [by Jesus Christ] [an anointing of the Spirit], being placed IN the Spirit [Matthew 3:11; Acts 1:4-5; 2:4].
He preached that believers are baptized BY the Holy Spirit, being placed IN Christ [I Corinthians 12:13].
He preached that the nation Israel killed Jesus Christ at Calvary [Acts 2:23; 5:30; 10:39].
He preached that God the Father killed Jesus Christ at Calvary [Romans 3:25; 8:32].
He preached that circumcision was required for all his converts [Matthew 23:1-3; Galatians 2:7].
He preached that circumcision is not required for all his converts [Galatians 2:7; 5:6, 11; 6:15, plus Colossians 3:11 cf. I Corinthians 12:13].
He preached of a circumcision made with hands [Ephesians 2:11].
He preached of a circumcision made without hands [Colossians 2:11 cf. I Corinthians 12:13].
He preached that believers were to observe Israel’s feast days and holy days and all those things prescribed by the Mosaic Law [Acts 2:1; 3:1; 10:10-16].
He preached that believers were not to observe Israel’s feast days and holy days and those other things prescribed by the Mosaic Law [Colossians 2:16-17].
He preached first to Israel knowing that he and the 11 were not to leave Jerusalem until Israel was first converted [Matthew 10:23; Luke 24:47 cf. Acts 1:8; 3:21-26]. At the time of the dispersion the 12 still rightfully remained in Jerusalem because most of the people there continued to reject their message [Acts 8:1]. Note that other believers scattered, but the apostles did not because they were to remain there until there was a positive response to their message. That response never came.
He preached in Gentile nations immediately. He was the apostle to the Gentiles [Romans 11:13].
He preached but did not evangelize the world with his Gospel of The Kingdom. However, this world evangelism with this Gospel of the Kingdom will occur in the coming time of the Tribulation [Matthew 24:14]. It was this same gospel that Christ preached in His earthly ministry [Matthew 4:23; 9:23 cf. Romans 15:8].
He preached to the Gentiles, even though he initially sought out Jews first, and did evangelize the entire world of his day with his Gospel of The Grace of God [Acts 17:6; Romans 1:8; Colossians 1:6, 23; I Thessalonians 1:8].
He preached to sell what one has and to have all things in common with others [Matthew 19:21-22; Acts 2:44-47; 4:33-37].
He preached that if one was unwilling to work, he should not be able to eat [II Thessalonians 3:9-10].
He preached of things that had been “spoken [as prophecy] since the world began” [Acts 3:21 cf. Luke 1:70].
He preached of things that had been “kept secret [unspoken as a mystery] since the world began” [Romans 16:25-26; Ephesians 3:3-5; Colossians 1:26].
He preached about a promised kingdom on earth in which believers would dwell [Matthew 5:5; Revelation 5:10 cf. Psalm 37:11].
He preached about the promise of heaven as a place believers [the body of Christ believers] would dwell [Ephesians 1:20-23; 2:6-7; Colossians 3:1-2; II Timothy 4:18].
He preached about Israel becoming a Kingdom of Priests [I Peter 2:9-10; Revelation 5:10 cf. Exodus 19:5-6].
He preached about the church being the Body of Christ [I Corinthians 12:12-27; Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 1:18]. [Only Paul wrote about the body of Christ. Furthermore, He never speaks of us as ever being a part of a priesthood.]
He preached only about believers eagerly waiting for the return of Jesus Christ to come back to the earth to establish His earthly kingdom [Acts 1:6-11]. Not even once does he speak of the Rapture.
He preached about believers eagerly anticipating Christ’s return to meet them in the air [not coming to the earth at that time] to provide them with a resurrection body in which they will dwell in heaven [I Corinthians 15:51-55; I Thessalonians 4:13-18; Titus 2:13].
Neither he nor any of the other apostles completed the writings of Scripture [including John’s writing of the book of the Revelation] as most of church tradition tells us.
He did complete the writings of Scripture for the Bible [Colossians 1:25-29 cf. II Timothy 3:16-17].
Therefore, it is extremely important to know that the Gospel Christ preached in His earthly ministry, the Gospel of the circumcision [also called the Gospel of the Kingdom–Matthew 4:23; 9:35] was not the same as the Gospel of the Grace of God Jesus Christ gave Paul from His heavenly ministry.
II Corinthians 5:16
16 Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh [in His earthly ministry], yet now henceforth know we him no more. [Emphasis added]
Today God’s plan and program for His people comes to us by way of Christ’s heavenly ministry revealed to us through the apostle Paul’s writings. Even the apostle Peter’s very last words tell us we’re to turn to Paul and the revelation given to him for an understanding of these things that had been kept secret as a mystery until they were disclosed to the apostle Paul.
II Peter 3:14-16
14 Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things [Christ’s return to the earth to establish His kingdom], be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.
15 And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;
16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest [STREBLOO—twist or pervert], as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. [Emphasis added]
Like my other articles, I did not write this to create division and controversy. We already have that. This article was written to be of help to those who have become aware of the differences that appear to be contradictions in Peter and Paul’s teaching but are not. Hopefully this article has helped you see that their ministry and message, though they are strikingly different, are both of God. It’s just that it is the heart of Paul’s message that is specifically TO us and for our application today, not Peter’s.