Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

According to my gospel

Eusebius wrote: “It is actually suggested that Paul was in the habit of referring to Luke’s gospel whenever he said, as if writing of some gospel of his own: ‘According to my gospel.’” [Rom 2:16; 16:25; 2 Tim. 2:8].

When Paul says in Romans 2:16 “on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus” he in fact is discussing the Lucan understanding of the function and role of the Son of man as the eschatological judge at the end of days. According to Paul, Jesus “judges the secrets of men” by “searching the hearts of men.” This same idea is expressed by Luke as the beginning of his gospel: “Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, ‘Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed.’” Lk 2:34-35.

In Romans 16:25, Paul at the end of his letter made a second “my gospel” allusion to Luke 22:31-32 and Luke 8:10, 17 by stating: "Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which was kept secret for long ages."

The first allusion, using the words "able to strengthen you", refers to Jesus telling Simon Peter that he "prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren." The Lucan Jesus urged Simon Peter to strengthen his brethren. Paul reminds his audience by identifying the Lucan “preaching of Jesus Christ” that Jesus is able to strengthen them.

The second part of verse 25 "according to the revelation of the mystery which was kept secret for long ages" is an allusion to the Lucan explanation of the Parable of the Sower. Jesus states in 8:10 "To you has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God; but for others they are in parables, so that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand. Although Paul could be alluding directing to Psalm 78, it is more likely since he uses the phrase “according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ” that he is alluding to explanation provided by the Lucan Jesus. Paul could not be alluding to the Matthean version since Matthew has according to Gundry quoted Acts 28:26-27. Only Luke utilized Deuteronomy 30:11.

Luke (in the 24th chapter) is the only one of the four that records the revelation of the mystery by Jesus to the disciples from the Old Testament prophetic Scriptures. Paul indicated that my Gospel and Jesus Christ's preaching was the source of this revelation of the mystery.

Paul stated plainly, in his defense before Agrippa, that his Gospel was entirely contained within the Old Testament prophetic Scriptures. "To this day I have had the help that comes from God, and so I stand here testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass: that the Christ must suffer, and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to the people and to the Gentiles."

These two examples provide support for the statement made by Eusebius.

The third citation provided by Eusebius comes from 2 Tim. 2:8 which states: “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descended from David, as preached in my gospel.”

The statement of Paul that Jesus Christ is "descended from David" is an allusion to Lk 2:4 which states: “And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David.”

There are three problems with this third citation. Second Timothy is not one of the undisputed writings of Paul. Plummer does not believe 2 Timothy quotes Luke but does not address the possibility of an allusion. One could easily argue that the author of 2 Timothy is alluding to John 7:42 which states: “Has not the scripture said that the Christ is descended from David, and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David was?”

However, there are two additional allusions that strengthen the “my gospel” claim.

The early Christian kerygma of 1 Cor. 15:4 is based upon the Lucan focus on the third day which is unique to Luke among the Synoptic resurrection portrayals. This is a key kergmatic phrase not because it is persuasive but because it proclaims the resurrection.

In addition, Jesus' command, “this do in remembrance of me,” quoted by Paul, was recorded in Luke's Gospel alone. And Paul stated the source of this history, “For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you...” and then immediately gave the account including the Lord's command, “this do in remembrance of me.”

“On the third day” is a statement of faith and is the essence of the gospel. Therefore its proclamation by Paul means that Luke's Gospel was essentially what Paul preached.

This is a major rewrite of “According to my gospel” first posted February 25, 2006

Copyrighted 2007


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