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The Circumcision's Evangelion

Hanoch Ben Keshet     ' : , , .

 

This section spotlights Gal 2:7 to show that Israel's besorah was compatible with, but not identical to the later besorah of the nations. A survey of Acts shows that the besorah, or evangelion, proclaimed to Jewish people was based directly on the Tanakh, and this implies that many prophecies, including Eze 36:25-27, were part of the original message, whether cited in the NC writings or not. Indeed, no one doubts that Yeshua-believing Jews understood that Messiah's death inaugurated the New Covenant, yet Hebrews 8:8-12 is the only full quote of Jeremiah's promise in the NC writings. Furthermore, the evangelion of the nations proclaimed by Paul never replaced Israel's evangelion; instead both distinctive evangelia were acknowledged in Gal 2:7 as valid messages for their respective audiences, and this implies that Eze 36:25-27 remained an essential part of Israel's besorah as did Jeremiah 31:31-34.

 

Moses' final words remind Israel of the blessing of obedience and of the curse that disobedience to Hashem surely brings. Yet Moses prophesied that though Israel disobey and suffer the curse, a day would come when the people would repent and seek Hashem. Scattered Israel would not only be regathered to the land (Dt 30:1-5), but afterward, Hashem would change them internally:

 

Deuteronomy 30:6, 8

And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live. . . And you shall again obey the voice of the Lord and keep all his commandments that I command you today. (ESV)

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This Torah promise surely remains a key eschatological hope for Israel and was certainly a fountain from which subsequent prophets drew inspiration. Jeremiah's New Covenant includes the pledge that the Torah will be written on the heart and Ezekiel promises that Hashem will replace the heart of stone with flesh and will put his Ruach in his people to cause them to obey Torah. Arguably Ezekiel 36:16-38 elucidates the promises of Deuteronomy 30:1-10 directly. James Dunn draws out the implications in terms of New Covenant theology: 

 

Among the specific promises of the Father for the messianic time and the new covenant the parallel between Ezek. 36.27 and Jer. 31.33 is particularly noticeable: both promise ability to keep the law, the law written in the heart (the enabling factor in Jeremiah) being precisely equivalent to the gift of the Spirit (the enabling factor in Ezekiel). In any new covenant theology, therefore, the Spirit is to be seen as the agent of the new covenant and its supreme blessing the one who will write the law in their hearts, the one we may say who is the law written in their hearts.[1]

 

Paul's epistles indeed affirm the transformed life promised by the prophets, which Paul described as established fact. For example, Richard Hays observes that Paul's metaphor of the Corinthians as a "letter from Christ" discloses its true wealth "only in the company of Moses and Jeremiah and Ezekiel."[2] Paul recalls Jeremiah's terminology of Hashem writing his Torah on Israel's heart when he calls the Corinthians a letter "written on our hearts." Hays rightly points out that Paul's explicit mention of the New Covenant in 2 Cor 3:6 secures the intertextual linkage between ideas that, superficially, seems tenuous:

 

The phrase, "inscribed not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God" (v. 2) probably echoes the language of yet another scriptural passage in which God is depicted as a covenant writer: Exod. 31:18 (cf. Deut. 9:10-11) describes the stone tables (plakas lithinas) of the covenant given to Moses as "written by the finger of God [gegrammenas to daktylo tou theou]. If this echo of Exodus, however, creates the expectation of a positive correlation between the Mosaic covenant and the new covenant in Jeremiah, such a correlation is surely indicated by the figure of the new covenant that expectation is immediately disturbed by the last phrase of 2 Cor. 3:3: "not on stone tablets [en plaxin lithinais] but on the tablets of fleshy hearts [en plaxin kardias sarkinais]." The negative contrast between the stone and flesh echoes Ezek. 36:26: "And I will give you a new heart [kardian kainen], and a new spirit [pneuma kainon] I will give among you, and I will take away the stone heart [ten kardian ten lithinen] out of your flesh, and I will give you a fleshy heart [kardian sarkinen]."[3]

 

Surely then the Deuteronomic heart-surgery, together with Jeremiah's and Ezekiel's promises of Torah obedience, are essential to the Israel's besorah. The crucial question that follows is this: Did Paul's apostleship to the nations signal the end of the Israel-specific evangelion which promised divine enabling for Torah obedience? Supersessionsists vigorously promote this view, but the NC writings themselves do not.

 

In Galatians 2:7 Paul wrote that he was entrusted with the evangelion of the uncircumcision, or foreskinned [4] and that Peter likewise was entrusted with the evangelion of the circumcision. Admittedly neither Paul nor Peter nor any other NC author elucidate the differences point for point, yet the NC writings contain substantial data, even from Paul, by which to understand their unique aspects.

 

To be sure, the core testimony of each evangelion is identical. The core is focused on who Yeshua is and what he did in the world (1 Cor 15:1-11) as well as the transformation caused by the out-poured Ruach Hakodesh (Titus 3:5-7). A fundamental unity binds the Body of Messiah precisely by shared core experience (cf., Eph. 4:1-6): Yeshua, D'var Hashem (Word of Hashem), is the Messiah of Israel, unjustly crucified, yet providing atonement for sins through his death, risen into everlasting life, ascended into heaven and made Lord of heaven and earth, pouring out the Ruach Hakodesh, and changing hearts of stone to hearts of flesh. These aspects are indistinguishable for Jews and Gentiles.

 

Nevertheless, the two partnered evangelia were sufficiently distinct as to make them unsuitable for the "wrong" audience. Forcing one evangelion on the other non-designated community was a misrepresentation of the message. In other words:

 

     Preaching the evangelion of the circumcision to Gentiles was not good news

     Preaching the evangelion of the foreskinned to Jews was not good news

 

Mark Kinzer goes as far as to suggest that the agreement Paul described in Galatians 2:7-10 demonstrates Apostolic commitment to two stand-alone communities of Yeshua-believers.

 

The full implications of the wording of this agreement often go unnoticed. The agreement demarcates two distinct corporate spheres of responsibility: the circumcision (the Jewish people) and the uncircumcision (the non-Jewish nations). It implies, not only two distinct missions, but also two distinct networks of communities resulting from those missions and two distinct leadership structures overseeing those missions and communities. If our reading of James 1:1 is correct, and James (or the one writing in his name) addressed his letter to the Jewish Yeshua-believing congregations of the Diaspora, then this implication is confirmed. [K]

 

While Kinzer's view intially seems surprising, the argument needs careful consideration. Gal. 2:7-10 certainly demonstrates that Jewish Yeshua-believers never abandoned their commitment  to Jewish norms. How that Jewish commitment worked out in provinces outside of Judea in areas where significant numbers of non-Jews trusted Messiah is open to study.

 

In any case, Paul's warning in Galatians 1 about "another evangelion which is not an evangelion" becomes clear. Paul addresses a predominantly gentile Galatian church, not a Jewish congregation in Jerusalem. Misguided Jews evidently tried to convince the Galatians to obey the evangelion of the circumcision, but the Galatians were uncircumcised, so that evangelion was not appropriate and was not good news for them, i.e. it was not an evangelion. Also note that Paul twice cursed "anyone" who "evangelizes you" (εὐαγγελίζηται ὑμῖν) contrary to "how you had been evangelized" (εὐηγγελισάμεθα ὑμῖν) (Gal 1:8-9); Paul did not denounce an evangelion but people who mistakenly proclaimed an audience-dependent evangelion to improper addressees. In late second Temple days the main trouble was the circumcision's evangelion wrongfully proclaimed to gentiles. After the Temple's destruction, and to this day, the problem changed to the evangelion of the foreskinned being decreed for Jews. These flawed approaches distort both community-suited evangelia. Indeed, according to Mark Nanos, both Church and Synagogue misrepresent Paul's evangelion. This almost certainly is due to their failure to recognize two valid evangelia:

 

[A] central proposition of Christianity, that it is "not-Judaism," and of Judaism, that it is "not-Christianity," revolves around the prevailing portrait of the "Law-free" (or better, "Torah-free") Paul and his supposedly "Law-free Gospel" (or better, "Torah-free Gospel"), instead of around Jesus and his teachings. . . [T]his nomenclature highlights the problem of polemic at work at the level of ideology.[5]

 

Nanos rightly emphasizes that Paul never proclaimed a "Torah-Free" evangelion in opposition to a "Torah-Loyal" evangelion by Messiah and the original Jewish Shlihim. But now driven by polemic, both Church and Synagogue fail to understand what Paul actually did proclaim: transformation and Spirit-enabled righteousness.

 

Commentators tend to see the two "gospels" of Gal 2:7 in one of two extremes, 1) that there is absolutely no difference between them,[6] or 2) following the so-called law-free vs law-bound notion[7], that they are so different as to be antithetical, as seen in Rudolf Meyer's TDNT entry:

 

Paul was now accepted as the preacher of the εὐαγγέλιον τῆς ἀκροβυστίας [good news of the foreskinned] and Peter as the preacher of the εὐαγγέλιον τῆς περιτομῆς, [good news of the circumcised] with no clarification of the theological antithesis.[8]

 

Ronald Fung replies to Meyer's remark, noting that Gal 2:7 "has been taken to imply that there were two gospels, a Petrine gospel and a Pauline gospel, which represented a 'theological antithesis' or at least contained important differences in content."[9] Fung insists that there are not two different gospels, and yet states:

 

Actually, however, the so-called Petrine gospel is merely the gospel as Peter preached it to the Jews, with the particular approach and emphasis appropriate to Jewish audiences, just as the so-called Pauline gospel is the same gospel as Paul proclaimed it among the Gentiles, with the particular approach and emphasis appropriate to Gentile audiences.[10]

 

But that is precisely the problem: the two evangelia proclaimed by Paul and Peter were dependent on the audience and thus were different. The ramifications and application of the core message were not identical for Jews and Gentiles.

 

Distinctive Content of Paul's Evangelion

The flaw exemplified in Fung's argument stems from reliance on the theologically-charged English word "gospel" to represent the Greek evangelion (εὐαγγέλιον) and then unconsciously reading in the idea of inviolable "Gospel." But Paul's use of evangelion and the cognate verb bear the idea of announcing good news, whatever the content.[11] Thus a more accurate representation of Gal 2:7 is that of two partnered evangelia, both of which contain the core "Gospel," and which are sent to both Israel and the nations.

 

Astonishingly, Fung says that the subject of Paul's meeting with Jerusalem shlihim "was not the content of the gospel," contrary to Paul's explicit statement that he set his evangelion before them for their recognition of it.

 

Galatians 2:2

I went up because of a revelation. And I set before them the evangelion that I proclaim among the nations, (privately before those who seemed influential), in order to make sure I was not running or had not run in vain. [12]

ΠΡΟΣ ΓΑΛΑΤΑΣ 2:2

ἀνέβην δὲ κατὰ ἀποκάλυψιν· καὶ ἀνεθέμην αὐτοῖς τὸ εὐαγγέλιον ὃ κηρύσσω ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν, κατʼ ἰδίαν δὲ τοῖς δοκοῦσιν, μή πως εἰς κενὸν τρέχω ἢ ἔδραμον.

 

Though Donald Campbell holds to the "one gospel" view, he remarks that in Gal 2 Paul focused "not on the source of his message but on its content."[13] Campbell suggests that the issue before the Jerusalem apostles was to weigh the content of Paul's evangelion against their evangelion:

 

[Paul's presentation of his evangelion before the Jerusalem shlihim] does not mean Paul sought their approval of its truth and accuracy, for he had received the gospel from God by revelation. Rather, he wanted them to consider its relationship to the gospel they were proclaiming. But if the Jerusalem leaders insisted on circumcision and other requirements of the Law for Gentile converts, Paul's labor (running) among the Gentiles was in vain.[14]

 

But here Campbell contradicts his previous assertion of "one gospel." There evidently was a significant difference between what the Jewish shlihim proclaimed to Israel and what Paul proclaimed to the gentiles, which is borne out in the text:

 

Galatian 2:7

But on the contrary, having seen that I had been entrusted with the evangelion of the foreskinned, even as Peter the circumcision's [evangelion].

ΠΡΟΣ ΓΑΛΑΤΑΣ 2:7

ἀλλὰ τοὐναντίον ἰδόντες ὅτι πεπίστευμαι τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τῆς ἀκροβυστίας καθὼς Πέτρος τῆς περιτομῆς.

 

The genitive article and noun, τῆς ἀκροβυστίας (of the foreskinned), distinguishes this particular evangelion from one that is, τῆς περιτομῆς (of the circumcision), also genitive: the evangelion of the foreskinned and that of the circumcision.[15] Herman Ridderbos refuses however to distinguish between two "gospels":

 

[I]n the construction [of Gal 2:7] the gospel of the (un)circumcision the genitive looks to the address of the gospel preaching, not to its content [emphasis added]. The gospel was in both instances the same gospel.[16]

 

One thing is certain, "two issues" of one sort or another are distinguished in Gal 2:7. The question boils down to whether it is two work domains, or two evangelia, and here proponents of the "one gospel" theory fail to consider two issues that crush their notion:

 

     Why did Paul receive the self-same "gospel" by special revelation from heaven if that message was already proclaimed in Jerusalem for years?

     If Paul proclaimed the identical evangelion then why did he seek verification of the message by the Jerusalem shlihim, Gal 2:2.

 

Incredibly, if Paul intended a single identical "gospel" rather than two evangelia, then the prolonged life-experience he described in Gal 1-2 relates solely to mere division of labor, not message content, and this makes no sense in light of the charges dogging him that he had abandoned the Torah (Acts 21:20-12). Thus Galatians 2:7 is important evidence that two valid evangelia were recognized by the shlihim, including Paul and Peter, despite "one gospel" resistance.

 

It is crucial to note that Paul did not annul the idea of two partnered evangelia in his rebuke of Peter (Gal 2:11-16). Peter was in Antioch, not Jerusalem, and his aloofness toward Yeshua-believers from the Nations implied that their relationship with Hashem was incomplete, which was a betrayal of the "truth of the Good News." Yet, it does not follow from this rebuke that every Jewish convention of restrictive association was now obsolete. For example, Paul took Titus, an uncircumcised Greek, with him to Jerusalem (Gal 2:1-3) yet there is no hint whatsoever that Paul might have taken Titus, or any other non-Jew into the Temple (cf., Acts 21:29; 24:17-19; 28:17). Though Paul described the Body of Messiah as a Temple of G-d, Paul never stated that restrictive conduct in the second Temple has been superseded so that he, for example, from the tribe of Benjamin, could go as he pleased into the second Temple's holy of holies. Gentiles indeed were certainly welcome in certain areas of the Temple, as Messiah Yeshua's quotation of Isaiah 56:6-7 in Matt 21:13 proves. But it is impossible to imagine that Yeshua expected Jews or Gentiles to ignore Torah conventions of second Temple operation, which would be in accord with Paul's admonition in 1 Corinthians 10:32-33:

 

Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved. (ESV)

 

Therefore, just as Peter was forbidden from imposing a Jewish (Torah loyal) lifestyle on Yeshua-believers from the Nations, so Gentile believers should not assume that their liberties in Yeshua-faith must determine all conduct in a Jewish venue, such as in the land of Israel or especially at the Temple in Jerusalem.

 

Acceptance of supersessionism misled the Church, resulting in a de facto ban on the distinctive evangelion for Israel.[17] Instead the Church proclaimed a defective one-size-fits-all gospel that shortchanged both Israel and the nations and which led to episodes such as the Spanish Inquisition, the bloody proof of this false premise. Recognized or not, the single gospel theory of Gal 2:7 is driven by flawed theology, not the sentence structure.

 

Arguably Galatians contains a succinct verse which sums up Paul's evangelion of the foreskinned and which echoes Israel's hope to receive a circumcised heart, Hashem's indwelling Ruach and the Torah written on their hearts:

 

Galatians 5:18

But if you are led by the Ruach, you are not under Torah.

ΠΡΟΣ ΓΑΛΑΤΑΣ 5:18

εἰ δὲ πνεύματι ἄγεσθε, οὐκ ἐστὲ ὑπὸ νόμον. (SBL)

 

The context of this verse proves that Paul saw the Ruach Hakodesh as the enabler of righteous life for the nations (Gal 5:4-5), just as the prophets promised Israel. Paul contrasted the leading of the Ruach against the flesh's inability to obey mitzvot, using the word hupo (ὑπὸ) to suggest "under subjection."

 

1 Corinthians 9:20-21

To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. (ESV)

ΠΡΟΣ ΚΟΡΙΝΘΙΟΥΣ Α 9:20-21

20 καὶ ἐγενόμην τοῖς Ἰουδαίοις ὡς Ἰουδαῖος, ἵνα Ἰουδαίους κερδήσω· τοῖς ὑπὸ νόμον ὡς ὑπὸ νόμον, μὴ ὢν αὐτὸς ὑπὸ νόμον, ἵνα τοὺς ὑπὸ νόμον κερδήσω· 21 τοῖς ἀνόμοις ὡς ἄνομος, μὴ ὢν ἄνομος θεοῦ ἀλλʼ ἔννομος Χριστοῦ, ἵνα κερδάνω τοὺς ἀνόμους·(SBL)

 

Thus someone led by the Ruach is not under subjection to Torah, but that does not mean the leading of the Spirit is (") anti-Torah. Paul never disparaged the Torah but said instead that the whole Torah is fulfilled in one word: You shall love your neighbor as yourself (Gal 5:14). Indeed, Paul's works of the flesh in Gal 5:19-21 relate to several negative "do not do," lo ta'aseh ( ) mitzvot of the Torah, or admonitions of the prophets. Nearly all are found in extant Jewish literature:

 

πορνεία

sexual immorality

Gen 38:24; Lv 18

ἀκαθαρσία

uncleanness

Lv 15:24 31; 18:19

ἀσέλγεια

sensuality

Wsd 14:26

εἰδωλολατρία

idolatry

Ex 20:4; Lv 19:4; 26:30; Dt 5:8

φαρμακεία

sorcery

Ex 22:18; Dt 18:10

ἔχθραι

hatred

Nm 35:20, 22; Jer 9:8; Prv 15:17

ἔρις

strife

Sir 28:11; 40:4, 9

ζῆλος

jealousies

Sir 30:24; 40:4

θυμοί

outbursts of anger

Gn 49:6-7

ἐριθεῖαι

rivalries

1 Sm 12:14-15; Sir 8:2; 11:9

διχοστασίαι

divisions

1 Mc 3:29

αἱρέσεις

heresies

Cf., Ps 133:1

φθόνοι

envyings

1 Mc 8:16; Wsd 2:24; 6:23

μέθαι

drunkenness

Prv 20:1; 31:6

κῶμοι

orgies

2 Mc 6:4; Wsd 14:23

 

Paul's positive fruits of the Ruach Hakodesh are also seen in Jewish literature, including the commandments of loving Hashem and one's neighbor.

 

ἀγάπη

love

Lv 19:18; Dt 6:5; 7:9; 10:12

χαρά

joy

1 Chr 29:22; Ps 21:6; Bar 4:22

εἰρήνη

peace

Nm 6:26; 1Sm 1:17; Ps 4:8; 34:14

μακροθυμία

patient endurance

Isa 57:15

χρηστότης

kindness

Ps 37:3

ἀγαθωσύνη

goodness

Ps 52:3

πίστις

faithfulness

Prv 12:17; 14:22; Sir 1:27

πραΰτης

gentleness

Sir 1:27; 3:17; 4:8; 10:28

ἐγκράτεια

self-control

4 Mc 5:34

 

Regarding the virtues of the Ruach Hakodesh Paul insists there is no Law, yet he never hinted that the gentile Galatians were "free" from the righteous life required of Israel. Instead Paul emphasized over and over that the indwelling Ruach Hakodesh enables the righteousness life from within; it simply cannot be imposed from without. Partnership between Jews and Greeks in the New Covenant was based on righteous life by the power of the Holy Spirit. Israel was never (") to abandon its national keepsake, the Torah, nor were the Gentiles suddenly made custodians of the written commandments; both communities were called to holy intimacy with Hashem through the Ruach Hakodesh. With these two partnered evangelia in view, we turn to the question of the circumcision's evangelion.

 

Two Pauline Evangelia

Perhaps the simplest way to see two valid evangelia is to compare, side-by-side, the evangelion of Paul in the Antiochian synagogue and that in the Athenian Areopagus. Neither evangelion would make much sense for the other audience, and there are audience-specific implications for each group.

 

Antiochian Synagogue

Acts 13:14-43

[B]ut they went on from Perga and came to Antioch in Pisidia. And on the Sabbath day they went into the synagogue and sat down. 15 After the reading from the Law and the Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent a message to them, saying, Brothers, if you have any word of encouragement for the people, say it. 16 So Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand said:

Men of Israel and you who fear God, listen. 17 The God of this people Israel chose our fathers and made the people great during their stay in the land of Egypt, and with uplifted arm he led them out of it.18 And for about forty years he put up with them in the wilderness.19 And after destroying seven nations in the land of Canaan, he gave them their land as an inheritance. 20 All this took about 450 years. And after that he gave them judges until Samuel the prophet. 21 Then they asked for a king, and God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years. 22 And when he had removed him, he raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will. 23 Of this man's offspring God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, as he promised. 24 Before his coming, John had proclaimed a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. 25 And as John was finishing his course, he said, What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. No, but behold, after me one is coming, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to untie.

26 Brothers, sons of the family of Abraham, and those among you who fear God, to us has been sent the message of this salvation. 27 For those who live in Jerusalem and their rulers, because they did not recognize him nor understand the utterances of the prophets, which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled them by condemning him. 28 And though they found in him no guilt worthy of death, they asked Pilate to have him executed. 29 And when they had carried out all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. 30 But God raised him from the dead, 31 and for many days he appeared to those who had come up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now his witnesses to the people. 32 And we bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers, 33 this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus, as also it is written in the second Psalm,

You are my Son,

today I have begotten you.

34 And as for the fact that he raised him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, he has spoken in this way,

I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David.

35 Therefore he says also in another psalm,

You will not let your Holy One see corruption.

36 For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers and saw corruption, 37 but he whom God raised up did not see corruption. 38 Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, 39 and by him everyone who believes is freedfrom everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses. 40 Beware, therefore, lest what is said in the Prophets should come about:

41 Look, you scoffers, be astounded and perish; for I am doing a work in your days, a work that you will not believe, even if one tells it to you.

42 As they went out, the people begged that these things might be told them the next Sabbath. 43 And after the meeting of the synagogue broke up, many Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who, as they spoke with them, urged them to continue in the grace of God. (ESV)

Athenian Areopagus

Acts 17:16-34

Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols. 17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. 18 Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him. And some said, What does this babbler wish to say? Others said, He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinitiesbecause he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. 19 And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20 For you bring some strange things to our ears. We wish to know therefore what these things mean. 21 Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new.

22 So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, To the unknown god. What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, 28 for

In him we live and move and have our being;

as even some of your own poets have said,

For we are indeed his offspring.

29 Being then God's offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. 30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.

32 Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, We will hear you again about this. 33 So Paul went out from their midst. 34 But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them. (ESV)

 

The point is that Paul's announcement for the Jewish audience specifically included the statement that Yohanan had proclaimed a water baptism of repentance to all Israel. It seems highly suspect that if a new "Christian" water rite had supplanted Yohanan's rite, that Luke, through Paul no less, would only mention Yohanan's rite and not mention the supposed superior "Christian" water rite. But if the Good News to Israel is not identical to that announced to the nations, then the water rite Yohanan proclaimed to Israel might still be valid for Israel, performed by Messiah's endorsement (i.e. in his name), and not applicable for the nations. But Israel and the nations would be equal recipients of the eschatological Gift of the Ruach Hakodesh.

 

 


[1] James D.G. Dunn, Baptism in the Holy Spirit (London: SCM Press, 1970, 2010) 47-48.

 

[2] Richard B. Hays, Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul, (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1989) 127-8.

 

[3] Hays, Echoes (1989) 128.

 

[4] The Greek εὐαγγέλιον τῆς ἀκροβυστίας literally means good news of the foreskinned. Use of the word "uncircumcised" to translate akrobustias (ἀκροβυστίας), i.e. [those with] foreskin, can be taken to imply an antithetical relationship to Jewish "circumcision" which is not true. For example, in Romans 4:9-12 Paul uses akrobustias (ἀκροβυστίας) positively six times in reference to Avraham's righteousness by faith prior to circumcision. While uncircumcision is a widely used it certainly is not an optimal choice. The author expresses thanks to Mark Nanos for the reminder of akrobustias' significance in Gal 2:7.

 

[K] Kinzer, Mark S. (2005-11-01). Postmissionary Messianic Judaism: Redefining Christian Engagement with the Jewish People (Kindle Locations 2778-2782). Baker Book Group. Kindle Edition.

 

[5] Cf., Mark Nanos, "The Myth of the 'Law-Free' Paul Standing Between Christians and Jews" for Studies in Christian-Jewish Relations, Volume 4 (2009) 1-21.

 

[6] Cf., NIV which reads: "On the contrary, they saw that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, just as Peter had been to the Jews." See also ESV and NASB.

 

[7] Richard Longenecker says Paul claimed the gospel he proclaimed was my gospel because of his "clear recognition of its law-free nature." Galatians, Word Biblical Commentary, (Dallas: Word, 1990) 23.

  

[8] Cf., Vol VI, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, translated by G.W. Bromiley, (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1968) 83. Longenecker evidently suggests Gal 2:7 is a non-Pauline formulation derived from an official text and finds Betz's two point evaluation of this theory to be preferred: "(1) that the non-Pauline notions of the 'gospel of the circumcision' and 'of circumcision' as well as the name of 'Peter' may very well come from and underlying official statement, but (2) that rather than quoting from the written protocol, Paul reminds the readers of the agreements by using the terms upon which the parties had agreed." Galatians (1990) 55-56.

 

[9] Cf., Ronald Y.K. Fung, The Epistle to the Galatians, New International Commentary on the NT. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1988) 98.

 

[10] Ibid. So also Donald Campbell insists, "There was one gospel though it was preached by different apostles to two distinct groups of people." Donald K. Campbell "Galatians," The Bible Knowledge Commentary: New Testament, eds John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck (Wheaton: Scripture Press Publications, Victor Books, 1983) 594.

 

[11] Cf., 1 Thess 3:6. Mark Nanos explains: "At least one case makes it completely clear that for Paul the semantic field of εὐαγγέλιον is not specifically limited to the announcement of the good news of Jesus Christ" upon which Nanos notes 1 Thess. 3:6 where Timothy εὐαγγελισαμένου brings good news to Paul of the Thessalonians' faith and love. "In this case, he follows the common nonchristological usage for the bringing of good news noted among other first century Jewish authors of the Hellenistic world" (e.g. Josephus and Philo). "In other words, the semantic field was broader among Jews, as it was among Greeks, than the christological or even messianic purpose to which it was being primarily put by Paul and the other believers in Jesus as Christ in describing the fulfillment of the Abrahamic promise in Jesus Christ." Nanos follows this trajectory and supposes the εὐαγγέλιον of the Galatian influencers may not have been about Jesus Christ at all. The Irony of Galatians, Pauls Letter in First-Century Context, Mark Nanos (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2002), 295.  This paper does not subscribe to Nanos' suggestion, but does note the need to neutralize a theologically-charged word, εὐαγγέλιον, and thus makes use of good news, besorah, and evangelion

 

[12] Longenecker cites F.F. Bruce who explains, "Paul's commission was not from Jerusalem, but could not be executed effectively except in fellowship with Jerusalem." Galatians (1990) 49.

 

[13] Campbell "Galatians" (1983) 593, cited by Thomas L. Constable, who says that this proves Paul "preached the same gospel the other apostles did." Notes on Galatians 2013 Edition http://www.soniclight.com/constable/notes/pdf/galatians.pdf, pg 18; Don Garlington implicitly agrees that Paul's evangelion was unique by his citation of Han Dieter Betz, "Indeed, he would run in vain if the Galatians acceptance of the gospel and their faith in Christ were not sufficient for their eschatological redemption." Hans Dieter Betz, Galatians: A Commentary on Pauls Letter to the Churches in Galatia (Hermeneia; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1979) 88, cited by Don Garlington, A Shorter Commentary on Galatians, http://www.thepaulpage.com/Shorter_Galatians.pdf.

 

[14] Campbell "Galatians" (1983) 593.

 

[15] Cf., "[B]ut, on the contrary, having seen that I have been entrusted with the good news of the uncircumcision, as Peter with that of the circumcision." (Young's Literal); "But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter;" (KJV Cambridge); "But contrariwise, when they had seen that to me was committed the gospel of the uncircumcision, as to Peter was that of the circumcision." (Douay-Rheims Bible).

 

[16] Herman N. Ridderbos, The Epistle of Paul to the Churches of Galatia, The New International Commentary on the New  Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, reprint 1984) 88.

 

[17] Indeed, the e-Catena collection of NT allusions by ante-Nicene fathers has no quotation or allusion to Gal 2:7. http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/e-catena/galatians2.html While this e-Catena is dated and not exhaustive, one does observe numerous citations of adjacent verses in Gal 2. Moreover, a search in the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae turns up no citation of Gal 2:7 until John Chrysostom of the 4th-5th century. http://www.tlg.uci.edu/