The Gospel Preached Beforehand

Yesterday I preached a pair of messages on the “gospel preached beforehand.”  In Galatians 3:8, Paul writes, “And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.”

I have thought much about what the contents of that ‘gospel message’ would have been, and yesterday I sought to explain from Genesis 12, 15, 17, and 22, how the Lord proclaimed the good news to the patriarch Abraham.  In short order, I argued that the content of the gospel can be witnessed in God’s promise of grace (Gen 12), justification by faith that results in a covenant relationship (Gen 15), circumcised citizenship in the kingdom of God (Gen 17), and the necessity of the Lord’s sacrifice, substitution, and resurrection (Gen 22).

Only when all of these elements are included do you have the full gospel message. Maybe I saw too much Christ in the Old Testament, maybe not enough. Tell me what you think.

Here is the sermon audio. The first message begins in Luke 24 and turns to look at Genesis 12, 15, and 17; the second message covers Genesis 22 with an introductory excursus asking this question: ‘Since we have the full gospel (Heb 1:1-4), why should we spend much time on the gospel preached beforehand?”

Soli Deo Gloria, dss

2 thoughts on “The Gospel Preached Beforehand

  1. That’s how I see it. I think the that the substance if the gospel preached to Abe can be boiled down to faith and grace. Both elements are clearly there.

    The only problem is circumcision, at least in my opinion. If you include it as part if the “gospel” beforehand, then you might as well be a Presbyterian and welcome infants (non-believers) into the kingdom of Christ. Or at least you’re dangerously close to it (not that I’m saying you are Dave!) if you overly spiritualize the rite. Paul doesn’t bring that aspect over in the new covenant. That part of Israel’s former “faith” is annulled. Circumcision is just over, along with the demands of the law. The gospel preached to Abe isn’t. It’s still the same faith in the promises of God, fulfilled in Christ.

  2. Josh, thanks for the pushback.

    What do you do with Deuteronomy 10:16 and 30:6 and Colossians 2:11-14? Doesn’t the new covenant give a circumcised heart, whereas the old covenant demands a circumcised flesh? I would take circumcision under the old covenant as typological of the greater circumcision given by Christ. Certainly the outward sign is not carried over (as Presbyterians make it), but the inward reality is. The new covenant terminates the old covenants sign, but improves the reality of circumcision via a new creation (Gal 6:15). Interestingly, the circumcision performed on the eighth day is the day (numerically speaking) of new creation—but perhaps such a reading makes me too speculative.

    What do you think?


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