Scot McKnight on the earliest Christian gospel (4): did Jesus preach the gospel?

Friday and Saturday 11-12 June we had a fantastic 2010 IBI Summer Institute with Scot McKnight. Two full days, 8 sessions, a full house. Scot worked hard and was brilliant.

I’m doing a few posts on what Scot had to say. And I should say that these are just based on my notes.

Much of the content of the lectures will be the material for a new book The Earliest Christian Gospel – so we were treated to a special preview.

Another ‘stir the pot’ question Scot asked was ‘Did Jesus Preach the Gospel?’

To answer this question everything of course depends on what you mean by ‘the gospel’.

If it means the traditional evangelical ‘plan of salvation’ there is a lot that Jesus says and does that does not ‘fit’ or feel necessary.

Scot argued that the 4 Gospels are ‘gospel’ – they tell the story of Israel in the light of Jesus. And this is the gospel they tell:

1. The gospels preach the death and resurrection of Jesus

The gospels are extended reflections on the significance of Jesus’ death in light of his resurrection. This is their focus.

2. The gospels preach Jesus’ life, death and resurrection ‘according to the scriptures’

The gospels are completely taken up with how Jesus fulfils the story of Israel ‘according to the Scriptures’. He is Israel’s Messiah.

3. The gospels preach ‘Jesus died for our sins’

A big theme in the gospels. See Mt 1:21, Jeshua ‘will save his people from their sins’. Sin is mentioned 41 times in the gospels; sin and forgiveness are central.’This is my blood of the covenant which is poured out for the forgiveness of sins’.

4. The gospel is to declare the story of Jesus which completes the story of Israel.

The gospel is all about Jesus and it proclaims him as the central character in the story of Israel. This gospel is not expressed in terms of ‘justification by faith’, but in terms of Jesus as the climax and fulfilment of the story of Israel.

5. The gospel of Jesus is bound up with the kingdom of God

  • Jesus believed, against all odds, that he kingdom of God was actually breaking into history right now.
  • Jesus declares that there is a new society in the Land.
  • Jesus declares a new citizenship
    • The story of Jesus is about a new community marked by justice, holiness, peace and love; a community that reconstitutes Israel, forming the people of God.
  • Jesus declares  that he is the king; the one in whom all this is happening through and in.
    • He said ‘believe in me and you will enter the kingdom of God
    • He is the king, his disciples are citizens of the new Israel. The represent the 12 tribes, he represents the king. He did not appoint 11 disciples and make up the 12th himself. He ‘rules over’ the disciples.
    • His miracles attest to the fact that he is the one – the blind see, the lame walk, the deaf hear.
    • In Luke 4 it is dramatically explicit: ‘Today’ the hopes of Israel are fulfilled in me’
    • Jesus consistently and explicitly promotes himself as the hope of Israel.

This is the gospel that Jesus preaches. The response called for is to believe in him and enter his kingdom.

In the next post, we’ll follow what Scot said about the identity of this Jesus.

How does this rendering of the gospel sit with you?

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5 thoughts on “Scot McKnight on the earliest Christian gospel (4): did Jesus preach the gospel?

  1. Loving your snippets of Scot’s material as I couldn’t make it to the summer school. Thanks and keep it up!

  2. I have been looking through a bag of old tracts that i have. Most of them (actually nearly all of them) focus entirely on forgiveness as the reason of Jesus’ coming. Some have some mention of the kingdom or the Spirit and none have any mention of
    Israel. My question is with the push for all of us to contextualise the gospel how would one talk of Israel to Irish people. Who cares if he fulfilled the story of another nation?

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