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The Four Gospels In Contrast With The Pauline Epistles
by E.W. Kenyon
In the early days of my ministry, German philosophy had gained the ascendancy in many of our theological institutions, and there came a strange new slogan. You heard it continuously -- "Back to Jesus." It captured my imagination but I didn't know what it meant.
Then I heard one of our leaders declare that Paul had altogether too much influence over the Church, and that we are to give up the Pauline Revelation and go "back to Jesus." That was really the beginning of my study of the Pauline Revelation.
The four Gospels, you remember, were written years after Christ's resurrection. Luke's Gospel was written from 63 to 80 A.D. The Gospel of John was written from 80 to 110 A.D. That meant two generations after the resurrection of Jesus before John wrote.
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From my study, I notice this strange fact, that Paul quoted Jesus only twice, and in John's Gospel there were only two traces of the Pauline Revelation One is John 1:16,17 -- "For of his fulness we all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ."|
I began to wonder why the four Gospels did not have any of the Pauline Revelation in them. Then I discovered that they recorded only events up to the resurrection and ascension.
They knew what had taken place on the Day of Pentecost and of the tremendous upheaval that followed the preaching of the Apostles in Jerusalem, Samaria, and in the Roman Empire, yet they never made mention of it. I wondered how John could have written his Gospel as he did, knowing that he had passed through the great revival in Jerusalem; that he had been a part of all those mighty miracles until the destruction of Jerusalem, when he himself was banished from the holy land; and knowing of the miracles that had attended his ministry before he was banished to the Isle of Patmos, and yet he did not tell us any of those wonderful things that had taken place.
You remember in John 20:30,31, he declares, "Many other signs therefore did Jesus in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book: but these are written, that ye may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye may have life in his name." You see, the object of his writing was that we might have faith in Christ.
Then I said to John in my imagination, "Brother, why haven't you told us more about the miracles that occurred under your ministry through the name of Jesus?" And then it seemed to me as though John answered, "I wrote only what the Holy Spirit gave me." Then I saw one of the greatest literary miracles of all ages.
The four men who had written these Gospels, had been shut in, as it were, by the Holy Spirit. They had been unable to give their interpretation of the miracles or what the miracles meant. They wrote only what He had permitted, or rather, had inspired them to write. You can't conceive of anyone writing a book like Luke or Matthew, or John or Mark who had the experiences they had, without those experiences intruding themselves into the biography of the man of whom they were written.
Here are some facts: John didn't write for more than seventy years after the ascension of our Lord. He must have known of the Pauline Revelation. Paul's letters had some circulation during those two generations, and John had met Paul and had visited with him. He had learned from the lips of Paul what Christ had done for him in His great Substitutionary sacrifice, and yet there is no intimation of it in his Gospel.
Luke, a convert of Paul, travelled with him about eighteen years. He had been Paul's helper and had taken care of him when he was in prison, and yet I challenge you to go through his Gospel and find one sentence that indicates that he knew anything about the Pauline Revelation.
The same thing is true of the Book of Acts. That is another literary miracle. Luke loved Paul. He lived in the consciousness of the finished work of Christ. Christ's ministry at the right hand of the Father was one of the dearest facts of his life without doubt, and yet he never mentions it.
Mark was Paul's companion for years, yet you can see no intimation of the Substitutionary Sacrifice of Christ in his Gospel.
Some of the things they knew
Let us notice some of the things that they knew but utterly ignored. None of them mention Christ as a Substitute, the sin-bearer, the one who would put sin away by the sacrifice of Himself. The New Creation was not developed.
John gives us the little talk that Jesus had with Nicodemus, but the Ruler of Israel did not understand it. John had a great opportunity there to have put in what he had come to know about the New Creation.
Not a word is mentioned about Christ becoming our Righteousness, or how He was delivered up on account of our trespasses and raised when we were Justified.
Not a word is mentioned about the Body of Christ. The nearest is John 15 where Jesus said, "I am the vine, ye are the branches." What an opportunity John had then to develop the theme and how glad we would have been if he had done it. No, God shut him in and enabled him to say exactly what He wanted him to say and nothing more.
There is nothing about the great ministry of our Master at the right hand of the Father, of His being a Mediator, Intercessor, Advocate, High Priest and Lord.
All this sums up to one tremendous fact, that when you read the four Gospels, you are standing in the presence of God Himself, unseen, but He is there.
He is the Author of those four matchless documents.
He is there unveiling His Son and the Son is unveiling Him.
In the Pauline Epistles we have the Father unveiling the work that He wrought in His Son and through Him.
He is also unveiling the family, the Body of Christ, the Sons of God.
The contrast illustrated
But we are interested in another phase of it -- a contrast of the Pauline Revelation, and Jesus' teaching.
Paul's treatment of Faith is an illustration. Jesus continually urged His hearers, the sons of that First Covenant, to believe. In such scriptures as Mark 9:23, Jesus said, "All things are possible to him that believeth." Again He said to His disciples in the midst of that storm on the sea, "Oh thou of little faith; wherefore didst thou doubt?" Mark 11:23,24, "Whosover shall say unto this mountain, Be thou taken up and cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that what he saith cometh to pass; he shall have it. Therefore I say unto you, all things whatsoever ye pray and ask for, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them."
Why didn't Paul urge his Epistles people to believe. He urged the unsaved to believe on Christ, but he never urged the Church to believe. That confused me. I wondered why, for I remembered that all of our preachers and evangelists and teachers have told what we might do as believers if we only had faith.
Then I saw the secret. We are believers. We are the Sons of God. Ephesians 1:3 declares, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with every spiritual blessing." We are in the Family. All that the Father has and all that He wrought in Christ, and all that Christ is, belongs to us. We don't need faith for a thing that is already ours. The thing for which I must have faith is something that I do not possess.
I Corinthians 3:21 declares, "Wherefore let no one glory in men. For all things are yours." Whether Paul gave you the revelation of it or Peter or John, it makes no difference. They unveiled simply what belongs to us.
Now we can understand why our modern preaching in regard to faith has been almost destructive.
Paul's Revelation gives us a perfect Redemption
Ephesians 1:7 "In whom we have our redemption through his blood the remission of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace." Notice the tense here. Not, we may have it if we have faith enough; no, "In whom we have (now) our redemption through his blood," We have "the remission of our trespasses." The Greek word does not mean "forgiveness," as it is translated; it is "remission." That comes always in the New Birth.
Forgiveness is something we get when we sin as believers. Remission is something that the sinner gets when he comes into the Family. The Greek word "aphesis" is used in Colossians 1:14 (and Ephesians 1:7): "In whom we have our redemption, the remission of our trespasses." Rotherham's translation will clear it up for anyone who wishes to study the subject.
Not only have we a perfect Redemption in the Pauline Revelation, but now we can go back and stand by the side of the cross with the disciples and we can say, "Peter, do you know what Jesus is doing on the cross? He is being made sin now. Watch Him, and when He cries that last bitter cry and yields up His spirit, He is going to the place of suffering as your Substitute and mine. He is going to stay there until the demands of Justice are met, until Satan is conquered, until the New Birth becomes a possibility; until man can be justified, receive the Nature and Life of Deity, and become the very Righteousness of God in Christ."
Peter looks mystified. John draws near and says, "Pardon me, but what are you talking about?" You see, they knew nothing about what Christ was doing for us. Jesus had broken into the realm of sense knowledge, had been manifest among them as the Son of God for three and a half years, and they didn't know Him. They didn't know what He did on the cross and what He did during the three days and three nights. They didn't know what His resurrection meant, nor what He meant when he said to Mary to touch Him not for He had not yet ascended to the Father. All this was unknown to them.
It is deeply important that we understand the difference between the Pauline Revelation and the ministry of Jesus and its teachings as recorded in the four Gospels.
This page Copyright © 2000 Peter Wade. The Bible text in this publication, except where otherwise indicated, is from the King James Version. This article appears on the site: http://www.peterwade.com/.
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