Restoring the Gospel Message to Its Hebraic Roots

The Gospel Message Is More Than You Have Heard in the Church—Much More!

The word gospel is one of the most common words in all of Christendom. But what does it mean, and where does the concept originate? If you believe that the idea of the gospel originated in the New Testament, you would be mistaken. As we shall discover and learn about below, the idea of the gospel (an Old English word for “good news”) came straight out of the book of Isaiah in the Old Testament hundreds of years earlier. But there is more. What follows will be the backstory behind the biblical concept of the gospel message—something you never learned in Sunday school!

The word gospel itself is easily enough defined, but what about the concept behind the word? The answer will take us into a whole other dimension and level of biblical understanding. The apostolic writers use the word gospel or its synonyms 132 times in the Testimony of Yeshua (NT).The word gospel literally means “good news or glad tidings.” There are two Greek words fors gospel: (euaggellion and euaggelizo). They are translated into English in the Authorized Version (KJV) via the following words: as a noun, gospel and as a verb, preach, bring good tidings, show glad tidings, declare, and declare glad tidings. The word itself is quickly defined, but what really is the good news? Let us begin to answer this by first seeing how the apostolic writers used this term. The vast majority of times the term gospel is used in the Testimony of Yeshua, the word stands alone in its noun form as simply the gospel without any adjective modifiers. However, on several occasions, the word gospel is used in a modifying phrase. This gives us a clue as to the meaning and scope of the word in the minds of the biblical authors.

  • Gospel of the kingdom or of Elohim (used five times, see Matt 4:23; 9:35; 24:14; Mark 1:14)
  • Gospel of Yeshua the Messiah or Yeshua (used 15 times, see Mark 1:1; Rom 1:16; 15:19; 1 Cor 9:12; Gal 1:7; Phil 1:27; 1 Thess 3:2)
  • Gospel of the grace of Elohim (Acts 20:24)
  • Gospel of Elohim (used five times, see Rom 1:1; 15:16; 2 Cor 11:7; 1 Thess 2:2, 8, 9)
  • Gospel of peace (Rom 10:15; Eph 6:15)

But again, what is the good news? One cannot read the Testimony of Yeshua without seeing that Yeshua the Messiah is at the center of this good news message. Thankfully, this same good news (or gospel) of “Jesus” has been at the center of the Christian message for two thousand years. This will hardly come as a new revelation to the reader. The well known passage from John 3:16 sums up this blessed message perhaps better than any other: 

For Elohim so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

The good news of the Messiah (Acts 5:42; 1 Cor 1:23; 2:2; 2 Cor 2:12) involves understanding the spiritual significance of his death, burial and resurrection and how that relates to the redemption, reconciliation and salvation of sinful man through Yeshua’s shed blood at the cross of Calvary (Heb. Golgatha). But is there more to the basic message of the good news that most Christian have missed? Yes. A whole lot more that adds richness and depth to this message, and help bring the whole Bible to life in a new and profound way. Let us now venture down this road of revelation and discovery.

Let us on this path of discovery by reading a passage from the writings of the Paul, a Jewish Torah scholar without peer in the first century, who discusses the deeper implications of the meaning of the term gospel in Romans 10:14–15,

How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” (emphasis added)

This is a quote from Isaiah 52:7. As we learn here, Isaiah who lived some five hundred years before the New Testament was written, coined the phrase “the good news” from which the word gospel originates. But what is this good news or gospel to which Paul is referring? Let us now gain a quick contextual overview of the passage from Isaiah which Paul is quoting by starting in Isaiah 52:2.

Isaiah 52:2, “O captive daughter of Zion.” This verse identifies the subject of the prophecy as the people of Israel.

Isaiah 52:3, “You have sold yourselves [to your harlot lovers] for nothing; and you shall be redeemed without money.” The people of Israel had turned away from Elohim and become apostate spiritually. This history has repeated itself many times in Israel’s long and sad history.

Isaiah 52:5, “…my people is taken away for nought?” Israel went into captivity because of her spiritual apostasy.

Isaiah 52:7, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that brings good tidings, that publishes peace; that brings good tidings of good, that publishes salvation; that says unto Zion, Your Elohim reigns!” Isaiah prophesies that the time of Israel’s spiritual restoration, redemption and deliverance is coming.

Isaiah 52:8, “…when YHVH shall bring again Zion.” YHVH promises to redeem Israel from the physical and spiritual captivity where they were taken because they left the Torah ways of YHVH and sold themselves into adulterous relationships with their foreign, pagan lovers. He promised to bring them back into a righteous relationship with him

Isaiah 52:9, “…he has redeemed Jerusalem.” How will YHVH redeem Israel out of sinfulness and bring them back to himself spiritually? He has a plan to do this, which he has revealed to Isaiah, which the prophet will now share with his readers.

Isaiah 52:13ff, Enter Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus Christ), the Suffering Servant, who will redeem his sinful and apostate people and bring them back to Elohim.

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The Divorce and Remarriage YHVH the Son and the Deeper Meaning of the Gospel Message

Romans 7:1–6 —The Law of the Husband Explained

How many of us have read the first few verses of Romans chapter seven and assumed that somehow Paul is telling us that we are dead to the entire Torah-law—that we are no longer bound to it, that we no longer have to keep it? Is this what he is really saying? If so, does this mean that it’s now all right to violate the Torah’s prohibitions to steal, lie, murder, commit sexual sins, covet, worship idols, dishonor our parents, take YHVH’s name in vain and worship idols? If not, then what is Paul really saying in this passage—one that is often used by perhaps well-intended but misguided people in an attempt to prove that the Torah-law that YHVH Elohim gave to Moses and the children of Israel has been “done away with”?

To understand what Paul is really saying in Romans 7:1–6, let’s take a trip back into the Torah to understand what he is saying with regard to a specific law that has to do with the marriage covenant which Paul refers to as “the law of her husband” (v. 2), and which law a wife is dead to (v. 4) if her husband dies, and then how this relates prophetically to Yeshua’s death on the cross and the saint. You are to discover a deep truth pertaining to the gospel message that has been hidden in plain sight all along!

In Deuteronomy 24:1–5 we read,

1 When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favor in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her [The Stone Edition Tanach: found in her a matter of immorality; found her offensive in some respect] then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house.

2 And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man’s wife.

3 And if the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill of divorcement, and giveth it in her hand, and sendeth her out of his house; or if the latter husband die, which took her to be his wife;

4 Her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that is abomination before YHVH: and thou shalt not cause the land to sin, which YHVH your Elohim giveth thee for an inheritance. [Emphasized sections are to be discussed.]

The word uncleanness or immorality is the Hebrew word ervah (Strong’s H6172) which according to The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament refers simply to “nakedness or the resulting shame therefrom.” Strong’s Expanded Concordance adds to this definition: an indecent thing or figuratively the idea of disgrace or blemish. According to Strong’s Concordance this word is used in a various ways in the Tanakh (Old Testament) with reference to shameful sexual exposure or nudity as in the case of unlawful cohabitation (Lev 18:6), or the shame resulting from Israel’s spiritual adultery (Lam 1:8); or any “indecent thing” that represents defilement or uncleanness resulting from the misuse of the physical body (e.g. uncleanness [due to not burying human excrement] in the military camp, or violation of any laws of sexual abstinence, or being in a state of impurity from sexual cohabitation or nocturnal emissions). With regard to Deuteronomy 24:1 Strong’s comments, “ervah appears to bear this emphasis on any violation of the laws of purity—if a groom is dissatisfied with his bride ‘because he hath found some uncleanness in her,’ he may divorce her. Obviously this evidence is not of previous cohabitation, since such a sin merits death (Deut 22:13ff).”

The exact meaning of ervah is of great controversy between scholars. In his commentary on this passage, Jewish Torah scholar Samson Raphael Hirsch says nothing about the subject, although he goes into great detail about the peripheral issues relating to divorce and remarriage, the legalities concerning the bill of divorcement (Heb. get), etc., but not the cause of the divorce in the first place (i.e. the biblical meaning of unclean thing). Likewise, a cursory search of the Mishna on the subject reveals dozens of pages of minute details regarding divorce and remarriage and various attendant subjects, but I could find no legal definitions regarding the meaning of ervah or had how a marriage could be dissolved because a man found ervah in his wife. The meaning of this word and what were indeed grounds for a man to “put his wife away” was a controversy that raged in the first century between the two main Pharisee camps as well (i.e. the Schools of Hillel and Shammai). Even Yeshua weighed in on this controversial subject in Matthew 5:31–32 siding with the more conservative school of Shammai. The meaning of his exact words have fueled theological debates among Christian scholars to this day with regard to what constitutes legal grounds for divorce among believers.

In the simple or literal (Heb. pashat) meaning of this text ervah may or may not be specifically referring to the loss of the bride’s virginity prior to consummation of her marriage with her new husband, since Deuteronomy 24:1 neither specifically states, nor implies that this is the first marriage for both of them. This is underscored by the Torah’s use of the Hebrew word ishah (wife or woman) in verse one as opposed to either the words bethulah or almah both of which lexically have stronger references to a virgin, youthful bride or young maiden as opposed to the more generic term ishah. Therefore, based on the generic meaning of the word ervah (as discussed above) there could be broader meanings as to why the husband was compelled to “put his wife away” (e.g. as for adultery). If this is the case, do we find any example of this elsewhere in Scripture which could give us additional insight into the Hebraic understanding into the meaning of ervah?

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