II. THE GOSPEL OF THE UNCIRCUMCISION
No doubt the question pressing for attention now is, How can we know the gospels for today? To this, we propose to let the one divinely chosen, called, severed by the holy spirit and commissioned with a peculiar message for the nations in this administration of the secret, give the answer. Some twenty times the Scriptures speak of Paul as a herald and an apostle and a teacher of the nations in knowledge and truth (2 Tim.1:11).
After his conversion, as Saul, he was associated with those apostles who were called directly from Judaism--the twelve--and, for the Acts period, he proclaimed the gospel of the kingdom in the synagogues outside the land to those in the dispersion--Jews and proselytes.
In the thirteenth chapter of Acts, we read of his severance for the work whereunto he was called; and, as Paul, he goes to the nations, preaching his first message direct to the nations at Psidian Antioch, where he makes the first mention of his grand doctrine of justification, the peculiar gospel for which he was severed, and which he delighted to call "my gospel." However, it must be borne in mind that Paul, as we have pointed out in Chapter VII, from his severance in Acts thirteen, carried on a two-fold ministry until the conclusion of the Acts period. In the synagogues, outside the land, he proclaims the evangel of the kingdom as a witness to the Jews and gentile proselytes gathered there. After being driven out, he preached the gospel of God-- justification by faith--to all who would listen to him, Jew and gentile alike (Acts 13:2; Rom.1:2; Gal.1:11,12; Rom.1:16,17; 3: 21-26; and 4:25-5:1,2).
Let it be remembered, however, that this gospel-- justification by faith--was never preached by the twelve. At this point, comes all the confusion. By mixing the gospel of the kingdom (which carries pardon, or forgiveness), with the gospel of the grace of God (which carries justification, acquittal, and vindication), there is produced "a different gospel, which is not another," an adulterated gospel with an anathema for all who preach it!
After Paul and Barnabas had preached the evangel in Lystra and Derbe and the country round about, "Some coming down from Judea, taught the brethren that, `If you should not be circumcised after the custom of Moses you cannot be saved'" (Acts 15:6). After quite a commotion and questioning with them, in accord with the decision of the brethren in Antioch and a special revelation, Paul goes up to Jerusalem and submits to those of repute the evangel which he is proclaiming among the nations (Gal.2:2).
From Paul's account of this meeting, in his Galatian epistle, we learn that
not even for an hour do we simulate by subjection, that the truth of the evangel may continue with you (Gal.2:5).
On the other hand, Paul obtained the fullest recognition of his apostleship from those of repute, as he recounts to the Galatian brethren:
Now from those reputed to be somewhat (what kind they once were is of no consequence at all to me--God is not taken up with the human aspect) for those of repute submitted nothing to me. But, on the contrary, perceiving that I have been entrusted with the evangel of the Uncircumcision, according as Peter of the Circumcision (for He Who operates in Peter for the apostleship of the Circumcision operates in me also for the nations), and knowing the grace which is being given to me, James and Cephas and John, who are supposed to be pillars, give me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we, indeed, are to be for the nations, yet they for the Circumcision (Gal.2:6-9).
At this meeting, James (not the apostle), the Lord's brother, having assumed headship of the Jerusalem ecclesia, decides to make decrees and send them to those among the nations who have believed (Acts 15:19-32). Paul and Barnabas with others are sent forth with these decrees. Presently a sharp dissension arises between Paul and Barnabas. Paul chooses Silas, and being given over to the grace of God by the brethren (Acts 15:40), soon hears the Macedonian call and goes to new fields.
From this time until the close of the Acts period, there is on ever-widening distinction between the ecclesia (out-called) from the Circumcision and the ecclesia from among the Uncircumcision. Paul, as we learn from his epistles, is preaching "the evangel of God...concerning His Son" for which he was severed "for faith obedience among all the nations for His name's sake" (Rom.1:1-6), which he, terms "the evangel which is being preached by me" (Gal.1:11), "the evangel which I preach among the nations" (Gal.2:1), "my evangel" (Rom. 2:16; 16:25; 2 Tim.2:8).
This is, of course, "the evangel of the grace of God" given only to the apostle Paul to certify. It is the good news that Christ, rejected and crucified, was made a sin offering for the world, that He was roused from among the dead because of our justification, and through the deliverance which God wrought in Him, through faith in His blood, we are justified from all things, and may be having peace, and may glory in expectation of the glory of God. Nothing like this is found in the writings of the Circumcision.
This evangel is described in many ways. It is called "the evangel of God" in Romans 1:1, because it originates in His love; "the evangel of Christ" in 2 Corinthians 10:4, because it flows from His sacrifice, and because He is the sole object of gospel faith. It is called "the evangel of the grace of God" in Acts 20: 24, because it saves those whom the law curses, and justifies those to whom no promises or covenants were ever made. It is called "the evangel of the glory of Christ" in 2 Corinthians 4:4, because it concerns Him Who left His preeminent place in glory, emptied Himself, took on the form of a slave, coming to be in the likeness of humanity, humbles Himself, becoming obedient unto death, even the death of the cross, wherefore, God has exalted Him at His right hand in glory
up above every sovereignty and authority and power and dominion and every name that is named, not only in this eon, but in that which is future, also, and subjects all under His feet, and gives Him the headship over all to the ecclesia which is His body, the complement which is completing the entire universe (Eph.1:21-23).
It is called "the evangel of our salvation" (Eph.1:13), because it is God's "power for salvation to every one who is believing" (Rom.1:16). It is called "the evangel of the Uncircumcision" (Gal.2:7), because it saves wholly and apart from all works, forms, and ordinances--Paul being the called apostle and chosen dispenser of it "for faith obedience among all the nations, for His name's sake" (Rom.1:5).
The "gospel of the Uncircumcision" together with the "mystery of the gospel" is the evangel that should be preached today.