Honestly, I can’t believe I need to write an entire blog post to explain this one, but apparently, there are Christians who really do believe that Jesus taught one Gospel and that Paul taught another.
[Hint: they did no such thing]
So, in the interest of debunking this nonsense, let me explain a few things:
First, both Jesus and Paul preached the same Gospel. This is the Gospel of the Kingdom.
What’s the Gospel of the Kingdom, you ask? Well, very simply, it’s the “Good News” that the Kingdom of God where He rules and reigns can be experienced today by anyone who surrenders their life to Christ as their King and begins to learn to follow Jesus in their daily life.
Jesus talks about the Gospel of the Kingdom all throughout his ministry, for example:
“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand.” – Mark 1:15
“The kingdom of God has come upon you.”- Matthew 12:28
“For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.” – Luke 17:21
“After his suffering, he [Jesus] presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.” – Acts 1:3
Paul also taught the Gospel of the Kingdom, as we see here:
“I have gone [among you] preaching the kingdom of God” – Acts 20:25
“We must go through many tribulations to enter the kingdom of God.” – Acts 14:22
“For the kingdom of God is…righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” – Romans 14:17
“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.” – 1 Cor. 4:20
“Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God.” – Acts 19:8
“He [Paul] witnessed to them from morning till evening, explaining about the kingdom of God, and from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets he tried to persuade them about Jesus.” – Acts 28:23
“He [Paul] proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance!” – Acts 28:31
“Now I [Paul] know that none of you among whom I have gone about preaching the kingdom will ever see me again.” – Acts 29:25
For that matter, Philip and the other Apostles also taught the Good News of the Kingdom [because there was no other Gospel to teach], as we see demonstrated here:
“But when they believed Philip as he proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.” – Acts 8:12
Heb. 1:8; 11:33; 12:28
2 Peter 1:11
Rev. 1:6; 1:9; 5:10; 11:15; 12:10
What’s the big deal?
Well, the problem with believing that Jesus and Paul each had a different Gospel is that we run the risk of missing the actual Gospel that Jesus [and the Apostles] preached.
Some Christians want to say that Jesus may have taught the Kingdom Gospel, but Paul taught the “Gospel of Grace”.
This “Gospel of Grace” was for the rest of us [the Gentiles], while Jesus’ Gospel of the Kingdom was meant only for the Jews.
One of the biggest problems with that assumption is that we see that the Gospel of the Kingdom is preached to the Gentiles all the time. [See those references above, for example]
Some want us to believe that the Hebraic Epistles [like the book of James, for example] contain the “Gospel of the Kingdom” while the epistles written to the Gentiles contain the “Gospel of Grace”.
Again, this isn’t what we see at all. Paul speaks about the Kingdom to both Jews and Gentiles alike.
The Key To The Kingdom
The phrase, “Jesus is Lord”, is a statement about the Kingdom of God, because, in a kingdom you need a king, or a “lord”.
Paul affirms to both Jews and Gentiles alike that everyone who confesses that “Jesus is Lord” will be saved. [See Romans 10:9]
This means that Paul understood the “Gospel of the Kingdom” and he taught it all throughout his ministry.
The confusion comes because some Christians have lost the “Jesus-Centric” approach to scripture. They major on the teachings of Paul and wrongly assume that he can’t be talking about the same things that Jesus talked about.
They also get easily confused when Paul says:
“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel.” [Gal. 1:6]
They think that Paul must be saying that he taught people to “live in the grace of Christ” and that there must be more than one Gospel.
But that’s not what Paul is saying. Not at all. In fact, let’s look again at the full passage and please notice something at the end:
“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—which is really no gospel at all. Evidently, some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.” [Gal. 1:6-7]
Did you catch it? Notice that right after Paul says that people are turning away from the Gospel of Grace he refers to this Gospel as “the gospel of Christ”.
That’s right. Paul’s Gospel of Grace is the Gospel of Christ.
And the Gospel of Christ is what Christ preached: The Gospel of the Kingdom of God.
Keep in mind, Paul didn’t think he was writing the Bible. He was writing letters to friends and fellow Christians in various places who were struggling to follow Jesus in their respective lands.
Because of this, Paul doesn’t spend a lot of time repeating the Gospel of the Kingdom to these people. He knows they already know it. In fact, many of them knew this Gospel long before Paul knew it. Remember, when the movement stared, Paul [Saul] was persecuting the Church.
But we do know that Paul was aware of this Gospel of the Kingdom because
A) he preached this Gospel all through his ministry [see references above] and
B) it was the only Gospel anyone in the Christian church had ever heard.
Elsewhere, Paul says we should prepare ourselves to preach the “Gospel of Peace” [Eph. 6:15]. So, does that mean we have a third Gospel now? Is the Gospel of Peace yet another Gospel competing for space with the Gospels of the Kingdom and Grace?
Of course not. There is only one Gospel. Paul knows that. The people he is writing to know that. There is no Gospel other than the one that Jesus preached.
Is the Gospel also about Grace? Yes.
Is the Gospel also about Peace? Yes, again.
But there is only one Gospel and that is the Gospel that Jesus preached and that Gospel is the Gospel of the Kingdom, as found in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and also in John.
Jesus and Paul were on the same page.
We should be too.
Keith Giles is the author of several books, including “Jesus Untangled: Crucifying Our Politics To Pledge Allgiance To The Lamb” and the co-host of the Heretic Happy Hour Podcast. He lives in Orange, CA with his wife and two sons.