The original ‘good news’ had nothing to do with any mystical Salvation Plan™



As I discussed last time, there are indications throughout the New Testament that Jesus’ original ‘good news’ had nothing to do with a mystical salvation plan. There are clues too that the disciples clung to this original message – they’d heard it from Jesus himself, after all – even as other interpretations began to supersede it.

Let’s take a look at the evidence:

  1. Jesus tells his chosen twelve, which includes Judas, that they will rule with him in the age to come (Matt 19.28). As Bart Ehrman points out1, the fact that Jesus evidently had no foreknowledge of Judas’ later betrayal means this promise undoubtedly goes back to Jesus – it is unlikely later believers would have made it up. Though their names vary between gospels, Jesus hand-picked twelve men to rule with him.

  2. He appoints twelve disciples quite specifically and later tells them privately that this is so they can judge and each rule one of the twelve tribes of Israel once God’s Kingdom arrives (Luke 22.30).

  3. When Judas kills himself, the remaining eleven disciples think it vital to appoint a replacement twelfth (Matthias, in Acts 1.21-26). The number remains significant to them. How would they be able to rule the twelve tribes of Israel if there were only eleven of them? There had to be twelve for this very purpose. Even after Jesus’ death and supposed resurrection, the disciples are still preparing for the end of the age he prophesied and for their positions of power in God’s Kingdom.

  4. By the time the synoptic gospels were written, Jesus secret teaching that the Twelve would rule alongside him in the new kingdom had become common knowledge (hence its inclusion in the gospels). Given that he told them in private they’d be judges and rulers, it can only have been the disciples who later broadcast this information. And why would they do this? Because it was an integral part of their good news. Furthermore, all three synoptic gospels include a range of episodes in which the twelve are castigated for their presumption (eg: Mark 10.37-41; Matthew 20.22-24; Luke 22.24-30). These have all the hallmarks of stories created later, when a different ‘good news’ was emerging, specifically to mock the disciples’ belief.

  5. In much the same way, the disciples are consistently depicted as having no real understanding of Jesus’ mission (Mark 9.30-32; 10.35-45). And they don’t, in that they have no understanding of the later reinterpretation of Jesus’ significance. How could they? By the time the gospels came to be written, the mystical-Christ version of Christianity had started to take hold. Paul’s salvation plan and the supposed resurrection were beginning to assume greater importance than Jesus’ original message. How could the disciples, 40 years earlier, have known that this was going to happen? How could Jesus? They have to be portrayed as being largely ignorant of later developments – developments which, in any case, they opposed when they did encounter them (Acts 9.26; Galatians 1.6; 2.11-14; 3.1-3).

  6. In fact, Jesus teaching – all of it – was predicated on his belief that the Kingdom of God was ‘at hand’, imminent, about to happen real soon (Mark 1.15; 9.1; 13.30; Matthew 10.23; 16.28; 24.34), and that when it did, he and his chums would be there ruling it. It is unthinkable his inner circle would abandon this teaching, even after he died, in favour of something else. Any visions they had of him returned from the dead would only have reinforced their commitment to his ‘good news’; resurrection, after all, was a sure sign of the Kingdom’s arrival (Daniel 12.2-3).

To be continued…

1 Ehrman, Bart D., The Lost Gospel of Judas, p146

2 thoughts on “The original ‘good news’ had nothing to do with any mystical Salvation Plan™

  1. I remember being told the reason the disciples were so stupid is because they didn’t have the holy Spirit yet,like as if we can all understand because we do.Yet at other times the disciples are chosen to understand things and the unbelieving Jews are damned by their God given blindness
    I was on a Christian blog a few years ago that focuses on the” good news” of the coming kingdom.preaching we should be prepared to be administrators therein.And the head of their bible college was on there calling CS Lewis a heretic for saying Jesus was wrong on the kingdom coming in the lifetime of his disciples.His explanation was that understanding was a delusion of the disciples and making reference to there misunderstandings elsewhere.So I asked him if the disciples were deluded then who deluded them? he then denied saying what he had said so I quoted it to him and he left the site without responding.
    It’s no wonder every church has a varying version of the gospel since the bible itself is intertwined with different opinions.


    • Hi David. Believers tie themselves in metaphysical knots trying to defend the indefensible. There has to be a reason why the disciples are portrayed as not having a clue about what Jesus was up to. Of course Christians, and pastors in particular, plump for the implausible excuses like that of the Bible college head you mention. Yet the disciples were the men who ensured the survival of Jesus’ message in the years after his death; that that message was not the same as the ridiculous magical incantational faith that Paul devised was not their fault. The gospels, it seems to me, are caught during the change over. The original good news is still there (the imminent arrival of the Kingdom) but they’re also beginning to accommodate nonsense like Paul’s. The disciples have to be in the dark about the latter, given it didn’t begin to emerge until a couple of decades after their time with Jesus.


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