“According to my gospel” Romans 2:16
It may be startling to hear this at first, but Paul’s Gospel message was a different message from the Gospel preached by Jesus. Jesus associated the Gospel with the Kingdom of God, and His message and teaching revolved around this (see Matt.4:23, 9:35, 24:14; Mark 1:14-15). Paul associated the Gospel with a right standing with God through faith apart from the Law (see Romans).
The message of Grace became clear through the writings of Paul. Not that Grace wasn’t around before him- on the contrary, you can even find grace throughout the old covenant if you look for it. But Paul was the appointed messenger to bring the Grace message to its full revelation:
“According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust” (1Timothy 1:11).
The message of Grace was committed to Paul, just as the Law was once committed to Moses. All belongs to God, but God entrusted these to His servants.
On one side of the cross, the Law of Moses. On the other side of the cross, the Gospel of Paul. Jesus is central and above, the One reigning over all. The good news (gospel) before Jesus was that the Christ was coming. The good news with Jesus was that the Christ was here, and the kingdom was at hand. Then He died and rose again, and by doing so He changed the whole relational order between God and man. The good news was that sin and death had been defeated and that the veil that separated us had been torn.
Then God calls Paul, a Jew of the highest order, and a persecutor of the church, to preach the message of salvation and righteousness by faith apart from works or heritage- even so far as saying that circumcision was no longer necessary! All of this was tantamount to blasphemy to the Jewish ear, being so ingrained in the works of the Law and the Temple culture. But he believed, and entered into the highest place of freedom in the Spirit of God.
The Jews who believed risked everything, because it seemed blasphemous to forsake the customs and rituals they had lived under and had even received from God. Some couldn’t accept it and felt, like Paul before his conversion, that they were doing God’s work by persecuting these blasphemers (Christians).
Today, people still try to take out Paul. And even some in the Church emphasize works and rules over faith and freedom. But in doing so they minimize the great significance of God’s work through Jesus on the cross and in His resurrection. They fail to understand the progressive revelation that God brought about through Moses, then at the focal point with Jesus, and then through Paul.
The Law drove us to our need for a savior. The Savior came and inaugurated His kingdom. He took care of the problem of sin and death. Righteousness and salvation are now acceptable as a gift through faith.
The good news of the Gospel is much more than a teaching. It must be received and owned as our very own. In this manner, we like Paul can also call it “my Gospel.”