Preaching Another Jesus
When certain “super-apostles” began to undermine his teachings and question his apostolic authority, Paul reminded believers in Corinth that the “Serpent beguiled Eve in his craftiness.” He warned against anyone who might appear among them, “Proclaiming another Jesus, whom we did not preach, or a different spirit, or a different Gospel.” The Assembly must not deviate from the original message taught by the Apostles.
Disciples must remain watchful. After all, Satan himself can appear as “an angel of light.” Likewise, his earthly agents who infiltrate the Assembly with false teachings cloak themselves with the trappings of apostolic authority.
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To the Corinthians and Galatians, Paul pointed to the same Jesus first proclaimed by him as the benchmark against which all other would-be messianic claimants or their spokesmen are to be measured.
In his Letter to the Galatians, he expressed his exasperation at how easily the congregations of Galatia accepted a false gospel, one that deviated from the Gospel received by Paul from Jesus himself on the road to Damascus:
- (Galatians 1:6-8) – “I marvel that you are so quickly removing from him that called you in the grace of Christ to a different gospel, which is not another gospel; only there are some that trouble you and pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we or an angel from heaven preach to you any gospel other than that which we preached to you, let him be anathema.”
What kind of Messiah did Paul preach? He was quite explicit in his first letter to the Corinthians – He proclaimed a CRUCIFIED MESSIAH, the belief that God achieved victory over sin, death, and Satan through the self-sacrificial death and subsequent resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. Because of his faithful submission to an unjust death, God exalted him to reign over all things.
Unlike Adam, Jesus did NOT attempt to “seize the likeness” of God. Instead, he “poured himself out” and became “obedient unto death,” a shameful death on a Roman cross. Consequently, “God highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things on earth and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father” – (Philippians 2:9-11).
Indeed, Jesus is, present tense, “Before all things and the head of the body, the assembly.” But he achieved preeminence because he was the “Firstborn of the Dead,” namely, through his death and resurrection. It was ON THE CROSS that he gained victory over all the hostile “powers and principalities.” From beginning to end, his death and resurrection form the center of the Gospel preached by Paul - (Colossians 2:13-15).
A FALSE GOSPEL
Many voices today are proclaiming a gospel of triumphalism rather than the message of the Cross, preferring the “roaring Lion of the Tribe of Judah” over the “slain Lamb.”
A verse in the Book of Revelation is cited to validate this counterfeit messiah. But in doing so, the proponents of this “gospel” ignore the literary context and theology of the Book, reading one brief phrase out of context:
- “Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David has conquered to open the scroll and to open its seven seals” - (Revelation 5:5).
According to this “gospel,” which is NOT at all good News, Jesus is the conquering “lion” rather than the sacrificial “Lamb.” In this interpretation, it is the “lion” who overthrew his enemies and attained the right to take sovereignty over the Earth. He has become the sword-wielding warrior-king who is determined to crush all his enemies.
However, in his vision, John HEARD a voice declaring, “The lion of the tribe of Judah,” but when he looked, he SAW a freshly sacrificed “Lamb.” What he saw interpreted what he first heard.
Thus, Jesus IS the “lion of Judah” but fulfills that role as the slain “Lamb.” He conquers in a paradoxical way that is contrary to our expectations, not by slaying his enemies, but by allowing them to slay him; by dying for them! - (Revelation 5:5-6).
Nor did he suddenly change from being a lamb to a lion after his resurrection. In Revelation, the myriad of voices from around the Divine Throne declares the “Lamb,” NOT the lion, “worthy” to take and open the Sealed Scroll.
The single passage in Chapter 5 is the first, last, and the ONLY TIME that Jesus is referred to as a “lion” in the entire Book of Revelation. From Chapter 5 onwards, “Lamb” becomes his primary designation, and he is called “Lamb” a total of 28 times in the Book - (Revelation 5:9-12).
WHEREVER HE GOES
The “saints” overcome the “Dragon,” the “Beast from the Sea,” and the “False Prophet” by the “blood of the LAMB, the word of their testimony; and because they love not their lives unto death.” It is through their faithful testimony in “tribulation” that they “overcome,” including martyrdom – (Revelation 7:9-17, 12:11).
In Chapter 14, victorious men are standing on “Mount Zion with the LAMB,” not the “lion.” They are with him because they follow him “wherever he goes” even when doing so means a violent death - (Revelation 14:1-4).
When John saw the “woman clothed with the sun,” she was pregnant and about to give birth. She brought forth the “son” who is destined to “shepherd all the nations with a rod of iron,” alluding to the messianic prophecy in the second Psalm.
But in Revelation, the original Hebrew verb for “BREAK the nations” is changed to “SHEPHERD the nations.” This follows the text of the Greek Septuagint version of the Psalm. This suggests an unexpected and paradoxical fulfillment. It is THIS “son,” the “shepherd,” who was “caught up to God and to his Throne.” He does not “smash” the nations. Instead, he “shepherds” them – (Psalm 2:1-9, Revelation 12:1-5, 19:11-21).
Even after Satan is cast into the “Lake of Fire,” Jesus is still called the “Lamb.” In “New Jerusalem,” John saw no temple since “the Lord God the Almighty, and the LAMB are its temple.” God’s glory illuminated the city and the “LAMB was its lamp,” and the triumphant roar of the “lion” is not heard in the city - (Revelation 21:22-27).
From the start, Revelation anchors its visions in the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus. He is the “Faithful Witness and the Firstborn of the Dead,” and the “Ruler of the kings of the Earth” because of his obedient death.
This is the Messiah who “loosed us from our sins by his own blood,” not the blood of his enemies. Because of his death, he now possesses the “keys of death and Hades” and reigns over all things – (Revelation 1:4-6, 1:18).
As their all-powerful king, Jesus encourages, corrects, and praises his assemblies. He calls his followers to “overcome,” not by wielding political power over their neighbors or enemies, but by emulating his faithfulness and priestly service.
The saints reign alongside him on his Father’s Throne, “Just as I also overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne.” Believers “overcome” in the same manner Jesus did, and likewise reign with him in the same manner that the “Shepherd of the nations” now does - (Revelation 3:21).
Overcoming believers reign as “priests,” not warriors. The call to overcome is a summons to persevere through tribulations while bearing faithful witness. To suffer for the kingdom is what it means to follow the “Lamb wherever he goes.” This is how believers “overcome” the “Dragon” and his minions, and it is how they reign with Jesus over the Earth, and in the present - (Revelation 1:4-9, 5:9-10).
The worldly and even political triumphalism that is being promoted today is “another gospel,” and it is promoting a radically “different messiah,” one who is incompatible with the Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified for the sake of all men on a Roman cross.