“How to Approach the Bible” 

A study series by Arthur J Licursi


Part 16 of 24 - What about the Words Spoken by Jesus of Nazareth in the Gospels?

Jesus of Nazareth came to Israel “under the Law” dispensation, which was still in effect at that time. Galatians 4:4… God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law.

Paul here also confirms that the eternal “Word became flesh” (John 1:14), that He was incarnated into human “flesh” through His physical birth via the physical body of Mary. Of course Jesus then became one who was of Adam’s lineage, as noted in His “human genealogy” found in Luke 3:38. Adam was originally created in the image and likeness of God, but Adam fell into sin (Rom 5:12), thus acquiring the “Sin (as a nature) in his flesh” (Rom 8:3b in KJV) and the flesh of all of humanity. Later, Adam “begat a son in his own likeness, after his image” (Gen. 5:3). All mankind bear Adam’s likeness and image and this includes the Sin infection that is passed from physical body to physical body by human birth. While Jesus of Nazareth received a corruptible temporal human body from Mary, complete with the Sin nature that all humans bear – He never actualized Sin by any act of sinning. Hebrews 4:15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

We can note that by His incarnation Jesus of Nazareth was born of the Kingly Tribe of Judah, Rom 1:3 … (Jesus) was descended from (King) David according to the flesh. His Kingly genealogy is found in Matthews’s gospel. However, Jesus was an Israelite only on His mother’s side. His Father was the “Spirit of God.” Thus, Jesus of Nazareth was fully God and fully man. His real life source was His eternal Spirit-life and divine nature that was one with God the Father in His Spirit.

Jesus was born at a time that Paul calls “time past” (Eph 2:7), under Israel ’s “Law” dispensation, as compared to this day of “the dispensation of the grace of God” pertaining to “the church which is the body of Christ.” In fact, at the time of Jesus’ physical birth it was not yet the New Testament since the testator of the New Testament for Israel , Jesus, had not yet died. No “Will & Testament” is applicable until after the death of its testator (Heb 9:6).

In Jesus’ ministry on earth, His words were specifically addressed to and concerning the people of Israel NOT “the church, which is His body.” Matthew 15:24 But he (Jesus) answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel . Paul here clearly identifies the singular object of Jesus ministry. Romans 15:8 Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision ( Israel ) for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers (of Israel ):.

Jesus also instructed His disciples to only go tothe lost sheep of the house of Israel .” Matthew 10:5-6 These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: 6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel .

Jesus’ ministry was to confirm every promise that God had made to Abraham and His seed, the children of Israel . Thus, He continued the Mosaic laws. Matthew 5:18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. In fact, Jesus added to and intensified the law to include matters of the heart that were not written in “the Law.” Matthew 5:27-28 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: 28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. This intensification of law was to raise the bar of righteousness so high that those who heard Him would realize their need of a Savior, that they would receive Him by a new spirit-birth of His life.

So, with regard to Jesus of Nazareth’s earthly ministry, these facts are profoundly clear to us.

Some would still deny Jesus exclusive ministry to Israel and say something like this.

“Okay, Jesus came to Israel, but Jesus knew Gentiles would be addressed at a later time, so the writings of the four gospels concerning  Jesus’ time on earth must also be speaking to the Gentiles as instruction for the Gentiles; they are not written strictly for Jews only.”

I want to be very clear about how we should view the words of Jesus in the Gospels.

We as Christians today are to learn from the entire Bible, including the four Gospels. Israel ’s relationship with God under the Law is seen in the Gospels in its stark contrast to our “grace” relationship that we possess with God as our literal Father by faith. Learning of this contrast enriches our understanding and appreciation as we consider the riches of the grace of God toward us in Christ. Paul said this of the Old Testament happenings to Israel , “These things are written for our learning.” (Rom 10:15:4). Yet, the doctrine and instructions that apply to “the body of Christ” are derived only from Paul’s writings to “the body of Christ.” 1Corinthians 14:37 (KJV) If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I (Paul) write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. Romans 2:16 (KJV) In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my (Paul’s) gospel.

Have you ever noticed that never once does Paul, in his thirteen grace epistles, ever quote or refer to anything Jesus of Nazareth spoke in the Gospels or to any miracles of Jesus of Nazareth’s earthly ministry?

Yet, Paul is the one who introduces “the preaching of the cross” to us (1Cor 1:18). 1 Corinthians 2:2 (KJV) For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. Only that which Paul writes in His epistles is for the core understanding of our relationship with God today, under “the dispensation of the grace of God” (Eph 3:2), which is based upon the cross-work of Christ. The instruction we receive from Paul is not taken from Jesus of Nazareth’s terrestrial ministry, which was spoken to Israel . Rather, Paul’s passes onto us the instruction he received directly from the ascended heavenly Christ (v 3 below), who came down from heaven to reveal to Paul “the mystery,” the pure grace gospel for the Gentiles, which had been “hid from ages and generation” (Col 1:27) and “kept secret since the world began” (Rom 16:25).

Ephesians 3:1-4 For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, 2 If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: 3 How that by revelation he (Christ) made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, 4 Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)

Thus, Paul says we need to follow him, as he follows Christ. 1 Corinthians 11:1 Be ye followers of me (Paul), even as I also am of Christ.

Paul’s “mystery” gospel is of a salvation that is received “by grace through faith…not of works.” Logically, you cannot live under “the Law,” which Jesus confirmed to Israel , and “the dispensation of the grace of God” at the very same time. “The Law” and the works, which the law demands, are diametrically opposed to the pure grace of God, which operates on the basis of “faith” plus nothing.

Here below I summarize how the grace believer today should view the words of the entire Bible, as how it is that it may apply to them and there walk “in Christ.”

The members of the body of Christ can enjoy and in some cases apply any understandings they may gain from the non-Pauline Scriptures, such as the four gospels… so long as that item of information and understanding is not in conflict with the revealed truths ofthe dispensation of the grace of God,” which is in effect for “the body of Christ” today. 

Here is an example of how grace believers may view and learn from the non-Pauline Gospel Scriptures.

Jesus presented an allegory to His Jewish followers in John 15:1-8 that can also help us to vividly see our need, as “branches,” to abide in our union with Christ, as the “vine tree,” in order to have His life flow through us. John 15:4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.  The allegory of John 15:4 expands our view of Paul’s instruction he gave to the grace believers in Galatia . Galatians 5:25 (AMP) If we live by the [Holy] Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. [If by the Holy Spirit we have our life in God, let us go forward walking in line, our conduct controlled by the Spirit.]

On the other hand, we should not take what Jesus said in John 15:2 as if it concerns “the body of Christ.” John 15:2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it (cuts it off), that it may bring forth more fruit. We know that Paul tells us we are “saved by grace through faith” alone; so we cannot be lost, purged or cut-off. The John 15 tree with its branches particularly represents Israel of whom and concerning whom Jesus was speaking. Jesus’ allegory here was saying, some of the branches in Israel would reject Christ and His Kingdom and become cut-off, purged. In fact, the nation of Israel did fall and now is set aside “until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled” (Rom 11:25).

Let me now refer back to the metaphor of “postal mail” that I used in Part 3 of our study series. There is “mail” or information that may have been delivered into our mailbox (our Bible) that is not addressed specifically to us. 1) If I did not notice the name on the address label and thought it really was my mail I may erroneously react as though it was my mail. Perhaps it was a bill. I am not responsible to pay that bill that was intended for another addressee – it belongs to that addressee only. 2) Even if it was not my mail and I opened the envelope, I still may have learned something by reading from that which pertains to the specific addressee.

Sadly, I find most Christians trying to pay on the “bills” or meet the requirements of another dispensation that is based upon “the Law,” not fully realizing that Christ has already fulfilled the demand of “the Law” on our behalf (Matt 5:17).

This is just one example of the many serious hazards of miss-applying the dispensationally based mail that is found in the Bible. We should not take the mail or instruction that does not belong to us as though it does belong to us. We do not take that which was spoken to or concerning Israel as though applies to the members of "the body of Christ” who live under “the dispensation of the grace of God.”