Hebrews, Paul and the divisiveness of dispensationalism’s ‘other gospel’.
Series : The Heresies of Dispensationalist Dom Samdhal
One of the most popular but misleading sites out there is one simply called www.doctrine.org; it is the work of Dom Samdhal, and is one of the most deceitful out there – not that I doubt the guys sincerity, but he distorts scripture so badly and is a classic example of how off-base dispensationalism can really drive people.
http://doctrine.org/who-wrote-hebrews/ Dom Samdahl
In this article, Samdahl argues that Paul was the author of the letter to the Hebrews, a view with considerable support in church history, but little amongst modern scholarship (not that that means much, necessarily!). Now, he makes some pretty good points and could well be right in his conclusion, but as usual, the article is marred by some pretty absurd outworkings of dispensationalism. I will (mostly) put aside wider issues like the claim of conflict or strong difference between Paul and Jerusalem / Jewish believers about obedience to the law, although I think that Samdahl gets this very wrong and flatly contradicts the message of the New Testament and Jesus when he claims that ‘the Law ended for Jews also’. But he then goes even further and makes statements that would be considered utter heresy in the early church. Consider this deeply dangerous paragraph:
The defection from Paul’s doctrines began in his lifetime and has continued for nearly 2,000 years. The doctrines of the Twelve and Paul have been merged and homogenized into a syncretic mess. Most of Christendom spends most of its time in the gospels. The Twelve are viewed as apostles of the Church instead of Paul, the apostle of the Church, the body of Christ. But the Scriptures reveal the Twelve were apostles of Israel (cf. Matthew 19.28) not the Church. They had nothing to do with the Church. The Lord committed the great doctrines of the Church, the body of Christ, to Paul alone. Paul called these doctrines “secrets.” The Twelve never had a ministry to Gentiles. That was the domain the risen Lord gave Paul. Since most of Christendom spends 90% of its time in the gospels it remains largely ignorant of Paul’s great truths for the Church. This explains the Church’s confusion and weakness. While the gospels are beneficial, as is all Scripture (2 Timothy 3.16), for our learning (Romans 15.4; 1 Corinthians 10.11) the gospels are Old Testament. They were written to Jews for Jews. They recorded the Lord’s ministry to Israel (Romans 15.8) not to the Church, the body of Christ.
The doctrines of the Twelve and Paul have been merged and homogonized into a syncretic mess?! Now that really would have Paul turning in his grave, and demonstrates just how far into heresy dispensationalism can take you. Instead of the unified doctrine that the New Testament has, we are here taught to separate part out as inferior and to be ignored! As Paul would say, Anethema! How is this any different from the Pharisees nullifying the command of God for the sake of the traditions of men? And hark the man – the Twelve are not, contrary to the entire teaching of church history, the apostles of the church, despite Jesus words about building his church on the confession of Peter. And Matthew 19.28 never says that the Twelve were apostles of Israel, rather than the church, but rather says that they will judge Israel – not the same thing at all, and certainly not a sound basis for the appalling and blasphemous lies that the apostles ‘had nothing to do with the Church’. As Paul himself said in Ephesians .2.19-20, the church is made of people who are made fellow citizens with God’s people (Israel), ‘members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets…’. You can’t really say it more clearly than that. Rather than a huge divide between Israel and the church, Paul says the Gentile believers are made part of the same household, fellow citizens, and are built on the foundation of the apostles. Samdahl’s beloved Paul himself exposes his lies. And what a great God we have, who manages to only record the life and teachings of our Redeemer, Saviour and Lord in books that somehow aren’t for the church, only for Jews. What an accursed and barren doctrine, what an insult to the God of grace and wisdom! And claiming that the church is weak because it spends ‘too much’ time on the teaching of life and Jesus is an absurd calumny, an utterly perverted logic indeed!
Before going on to further weighty matters, I will mention one other flaw in Samdahl’s argument. He claims that the letter to the Hebrews is demonstrably Paul’s because of the greeting at the end which says ‘grace to you all’. He gives a table containing all the opening and closing greetings in Paul which all have ‘grace’ (and often ‘peace’) too, and then argues that this is the ‘distinctive’ of Paul, showing a letter is his. Aside from opening greetings of ‘grace and peace’ being found in both Peter’s letters and 2 John, the one flaw is that the New Testament contains at least one other letter emphatically not by Paul that has exactly the same pattern, the letter that we know as the book of Revelation, which opens with ‘Grace and peace to you’ in 1.4 and ends with ‘the grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people’ (22.21). Unless Samdahl is going to argue that really Revelation was written by Paul, that blows his argument out of the water – just because Paul consistently used a very common and standard greeting does NOT mean that it is indicative of his authorship when it appears.
Samdahl also appears to be on sticky ground when he argues that Peter testifies to Paul’s authorship to the Hebrews. The argument is that in 2 Peter 3, Peter says that Paul has written a letter to Peter’s audience, and that since Peter was writing to Jews, not Gentiles, and that none of the letters explicitly by Paul were to Jews, this must mean Hebrews was the letter Peter was talking about here:
Peter’s ministered to Jews, not Gentiles (Acts 2.22, 36, 3. 12, 25; Galatians 2.7-9; 1 Peter 1.1) while Paul’s ministry was primarily to Gentiles (Romans 11.13; Galatians 2.7-9). In the passage above, Peter wrote to Jewish believers about Paul’s having written to them. What letter did Paul write to Jews? Two possibilities exist: 1) An unknown, lost letter, or 2) Hebrews.
Peter seems to have had access to Paul’s writings even though he had little contact with him. He confessed that he found some of Paul’s teachings difficult. These teachings were Paul’s “secrets” (μυστήριον, Romans 11.25, 16.25; 1 Corinthians 2.7, 4.1, 13.2, 14.2, 15.51; Ephesians 1.9, 3.3-4, 9, 5.32, 6.19; Colossians 1.26-27, 2.2, 4.3; 2 Thessalonians 2.7; 1 Timothy 3.9, 16). Paul’s “secrets” included his doctrine of the Church as the “body of Christ,” the Rapture, the significance of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, the believer’s heavenly citizenship, the temporary blinding of Israel, and salvation by faith alone. Jesus had taught none of these things in His earthly ministry. Nor did He reveal them to the Twelve. These unknown truths, these “secrets” He revealed to Paul alone.
However, on occasion, Peter is recorded as ministering to Gentiles (Acts 10), plus we need to remember that Acts actually recorded very little of the ministry of the Twelve apostles. We know from church history that they actually preached to many nations. Peter does seem to have kept within the Roman Empire, unlike some of his fellow apostles, but we have no reason to believe he disobeyed Jesus’ command to make disciples of all nations, even if his focus was on his fellow Jews. There are two further flaws in this argument. For one, a good many of Paul’s letters were written to churches which were made up of a mixture of Jews and Gentiles, including, for instance, the Thessalonian church, whose makeup Acts 17.4 specifically tells us. If Peter was indeed writing to Jews, then why could he not be writing to the Jews in churches such as that? But that is a big if. Many claim that 1 Peter must have been written for Jewish believers, since he addresses it to ‘God’s elect, exiles’ scattered through the provinces of what is now Turkey (1.1). Now that might be so, but in actual fact, he could be referring to Gentile Christians too as God’s elect, perhaps churches scattered by persecution, or perhaps it is a theological designation since in 2.11 he uses ‘foreigners and exiles’ not in relation to Jewishness, but in relation to holy living in a sinful world. What is perhaps even more significant is that in the previous verse, he has said that his hearers were once not a people, but are now the people of God, hardly something you would expect a Jewish believer to write to other Jewish believers. This is very reminiscent of the language Paul used of Gentile believers in the passage from Ephesians 2 that we touched on earlier. In fact, it is worth quoting it more fully:
Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called ‘uncircumcised’ by those who call themselves ‘the circumcision’ (which is done in the body by human hands) – remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ……
He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. (Ephesians 2.11-13, 17-20)
Israel was near, Gentiles were far away, and foreigners and strangers, not a people.
But even if we grant for arguments sake that 1 Peter was written to Jewish believers because of the ‘God’s elect, exiles’, it does not follow that 2 Peter must have been written to the same audience, and in fact there is good reason to think otherwise, because the language of the greeting at the start of 2 Peter is very different and contains no hint that it is written to Jewish believers – instead, it is ‘to those who through the righteousness of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours’. What is more, if Peter here is talking like Paul does when addressing specifically Gentile believers, then it strongly suggests that Peter is writing to Gentiles, who have received a faith ‘as precious as ours’, with ‘ours’ meaning the faith of Jewish believers in Jesus.
Furthermore, to claim that the Twelve did not understand ‘the significance of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ’ or the fact that salvation was by faith, and that they had to wait for Paul to understand this is breathtakingly stupid (not to mention condescending to those to whom Jesus entrusted his message, and by extension, to Jesus himself, who repeatedly taught about the significance of his death, burial and resurrection). It is part of the idolatrous exaltation of Paul that false dispensationalist teachers like Samdahl are compelled to to try and justify their unjustifiable assertions. And by the way, am I the only one who finds it disturbing that the central doctrine of the death and resurrection of Christ must take second fiddle to dispensationalist dogmas about the rapture?
However, the main point I would challenge is Samdahl’s argument over the issue of ‘spiritual eyewitnesses’ (number 4 in the objections to Pauline authorship in his article). I agree with him that this is a poor argument against Pauline authorship of Hebrews, but for almost exactly the opposite reasons he gives.
The original objection is:
Spiritual eyewitnesses are appealed to (Hebrews 2.3) while Paul insisted on no intermediaries for his gospel (Galatians 1.12).
Samdahl’s argument is that in Hebrews 2.3, the writer is not claiming that he learned of the gospel from others, but only had it confirmed by others. Thus he claims that there is therefore no contradiction with Galatians 1.12 where Paul says that he was not taught the gospel, nor received it from any individual person, but got it direct from Jesus, no doubt to maintain his heretical claims about Paul having a separate ‘gospel’ from the Twelve. There are three fundamental problems here. The first is that Hebrews 2.3 does not talk about the gospel per se, but salvation. Although the two concepts are, of course, very closely inter-connected, in that the gospel, or good news, is about salvation and is the means for salvation, they are NOT the same thing. It is like comparing apples and pears. The second is that unless the author of Hebrews (Paul or otherwise) has suddenly switched to using the modern ‘royal we’, then he is not only not talking about salvation rather than the gospel, but he is talking about how the church in general heard about salvation, whereas the passage from Galatians forms part of Paul’s testimony of how he personally received the gospel by direct revelation through the famous ‘Road to Damascus’ encounter he had. Not only that, but Paul is using his experiences specifically to make a particular argument so in Galatians he is at pains to emphasize how he worked independently of the Jerusalem church. The trouble is that dispensationalists like Samdahl make this rhetorical ‘molehill’ into a theological mountain, and hang all sorts of heavy conclusions on this tenuous line. In fact, the testimony of both Acts and comments in a number of Paul’s letters, including, ironically enough, Galatians itself, indicate that despite some tensions, Paul worked closely and harmoniously with the Jerusalem church as a whole, was sensitive to their concerns, and practiced and taught allegiance to the ‘mother church’.
The third point is that Paul also appealed to spiritual eyewitnesses, ironically in a passage that Samdahl continually quotes in many of his articles including this one as evidence that Paul had a separate gospel to the Twelve – 1 Corinthians 15.1-4. It is obviously a major plank to him for his dispensationalist exalting of Paul and splitting him from the rest of the church. The trouble is that the passage carries almost the exact opposite significance to that which Samdahl thinks it has:
Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures…
You can see from the first two verses why Samdahl and other dispensationalists who go to his extremes want to claim this passage in support of their position – it is all about the gospel that ‘I preached’, and ‘by this gospel you are saved’ if they hold to the word ‘I preached to you’. ‘It’s Paul’s gospel of grace that saves’ they cry (usually ignoring that this is not ‘just believe’, but persevering in allegiance to Christ, but that’s a story for another day). However, although Paul is emphasizing the need to hold fast to the gospel he had preached to the Corinthian church, he is emphatically not saying that it is uniquely his gospel, unfortunately for Samdahl and his fellow travellers. The gospel word that he preached, was one that he passed on what he had received, which is typical language of discipleship in Jewish circles. You received a teaching from others, of whom you were a disciple, and passed it on to your disciples. Paul had received this message. Now, of course, Samdahl will say ‘Yes, but he received it direct from the glorified and ascended Jesus on the road to Damascus, not by human hand’. The trouble with that is that where Paul wants to emphasize that, such as in Galatians, he makes that clear, in a way that he emphatically does not do here. Unless we have clear context otherwise, we should consider such language as being that of a tradition passed on by human lips, something that was very important in the culture of the time. The other problem is that Samdahl, in typical dispensationalist fashion, rips this out of context, by ending the quote in the middle of a sentence. The reason has to be that the following verses make it very explicit that Paul was talking about a human tradition and history passed down, contrary to what Samdahl and co want it to mean. Samdahl, as we have seen, exalts Paul in an extraordinary way as the apostle par excellence, to whom God gave secret revelation superior to that of the Twelve, but that’s emphatically not the way Paul saw himself (and in fact, spent much of his 2nd letter to Corinthians sarcastically roasting his ‘super-apostle’ opponents for taking similar lines) as we see when we examine the context:
For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance[a]: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas,[Peter] and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. (15.3-9)
It not becomes crystal clear that Paul is passing on the tradition, the testimony of eyewitnesses. Thus Samdahl is quite wrong to claim that Paul never appeals to spiritual eyewitnesses, and is therefore going off on an unnecessary rabbit trail when he makes the distinction that Hebrews 2 merely refers to confirmation of the message of salvation.
(Samdahl also has failed to think through his claim that Pauline authorship is established by the fact that the writer to Hebrews placed himself amongst those who did not personally witness the ministry of Jesus. He asks ‘Who else but Paul could this be? The answer: no-one.’ The trouble is that he had earlier listed the main alternative contenders, and the same could be said of a good proportion of them, perhaps over half of them. He just really hasn’t thought this through at all.)
However, in support of his argument, he spouts much dispensationalist theological nonsense, similar to the paragraph we examined first at the start of this article, but even more heretical and extreme, if possible:
The second point is that those who make this objection assume the message of salvation of the Twelve was the same message of salvation of Paul. Such a view has no Scriptural support. The Twelve preached the “gospel of the kingdom.” Salvation according to the gospel of the kingdom was faith in the identity of Christ (John 3.18; Acts 2.21, 38, 3.6, 16, 4.7, 10, 12, 17-18, 30, 5.28, 40-41), who He was (Matthew 16.15-17; John 11.25-27; Acts 8.37), the Messiah, the Son of God. Paul did not preach the gospel of the kingdom. He preached the “gospel of the grace of God.” Paul’s gospel was based, not upon the identity of Christ, but upon the work of Christ: that He died for our sins and rose from the dead (1 Corinthians 15.1-4). These were different gospels. Both were valid from the time Paul received his gospel (Galatians 1.12), presumably during his three years in Arabia and Damascus, until the Jerusalem Council, in 51 A.D. At the end of that Council, only one gospel remained: Paul’s gospel (Acts 15.11, cf. Galatians 1.7-9).7 If Paul wrote Hebrews, the verse means the gospel the Twelve proclaimed was confirmed to Paul. Paul did not need his gospel confirmed. He received it directly from the Lord (Galatians 1.11-12). The gospel Paul needed confirmed was the gospel the Twelve preached, “the gospel of the kingdom.” God confirmed the gospel of the Twelve by their witness, i.e., “those who heard” and with signs and miracles.
Oh the irony! (Especially when he goes on after this paragraph to talk about people having things ‘exactly wrong’). We have already seen how 1 Corinthians 15.1-4 says the opposite of what Samdahl tries to claim – it emphatically does NOT refer to a separate Pauline gospel, but instead shows Paul faithfully handing on the one gospel that had been handed down to him by apostolic tradition. In fact, it is Samdahl’s heretical views of ‘two different gospels’ that has no scriptural support. As I have said in a recent article, the phrase ‘the gospel of the kingdom’ appears only once in the bible, in Matthew 24 (Jesus on the last days). Yet somehow, Samdahl thinks this is sufficient weight to hang a huge theological edifice on involving two different salvations and two different gospels! One is said to be based on Christ’s identity alone, the other on his work alone, as if these two things were completely separate. In genuine Christian theology, the identity and the work of Christ are inextricably bound up in each other, utterly unseperable, but for heretics like Samdahl, that truth is rejected in favour of their own atomizing approach. In fact, in Hebrew or Jewish thought, identity and work were inextricably linked together, particularly when it came to the divine identity of God. Thus, only God could create, save, redeem, be fully sovereign, legitimately accept worship. This is how we can know that from the start the early church hailed Christ as God, not because they spoke in language according to the later, Greek-thought-pattern creeds, but because they ascribed to Jesus functions or work that were the prerogative of God alone, such as receiving worship.
However, there are some other observations that give the lie to Samdahl’s claims here. For instance, in claiming that the ‘gospel of the Kingdom’ was based around a salvation or gospel based solely on Christ’s identity, Samdahl cites as evidence a number of passages from the first five chapters of Acts which talk of things being done in ‘the name of Jesus’. He claims that this ‘gospel of the kingdom’ evidenced by such language ceased after the council of Jerusalem in Acts, but there is a huge, huge problem in his argument. Firstly, he is highly selective in his ‘evidence’. If there really was such a massive shift, we would expect the language used after Acts 15 to similarly shift to this alleged new gospel based on the work of Jesus’ death and resurrection, particularly since after Acts 15, Acts focuses pretty exclusively on Paul, the alleged sole apostle to whom this ‘new gospel’ was originally revealed to. A quick survey of Acts reveals that exactly the same language about ‘the name of the Lord Jesus’ is used consistently after Acts 15, and by Paul, no less, just as it is used by the 12 before Acts 15 and the alleged ‘new gospel’ (if you want a list of examples, Acts 15.26 in the letter of the Jerusalem council, supposedly declaring the ‘new gospel’ in Samdahl’s scheme, 16.18, 19.5, 13, 17, 21.13, 26.9, and one use about Paul before Acts 15, in 9.27). I would say that Luke, who was both a close companion of Paul (although I’m not sure it is justified to call him Paul’s ‘personal historian’ as Samdahl does) and one who carefully researched his gospel, and presumably the first part of Acts, from eyewitness sources, is definitely making a point in using the same language – it is because he is portraying Paul and the Twelve as preaching the same message, the same gospel.
What is more, we know that this is not some skewed version of Paul’s message, simply because Paul uses exactly the same kind of language that is allegedly the distinctive of the ‘gospel of the Kingdom’ in several of his letters, where he talks about the name (identity) of Jesus – 1 Corinthians 1.2, 10, 5.3, 6.11, Philippians 2.10, Colossians 3.17, 2 Thessalonians 1.12, 3.6. Not only that, but the same language is used in 1 John 3.23, which, unless you argue for a really early date for this letter, had to have come from after the time of the alleged new Gospel that was, according to Samdahl, the sole one in effect after the Acts 15 (a point that can also be used of all of Paul’s uses of the term too, by the way).
The other more general point is that in classic passages such as Philippians 2, Paul intertwines both Jesus’ identity, and his work on the cross in one seamless whole, unlike Samdahl and all too many of his fellow deceived dispensationalists, but very like the teaching of the New Testament in general (and it is also interesting to note that although implicitly the work of the cross is there, the emphasis both before and after the cross in Philippians 2 is on the identity of Jesus as Lord and divine, which is also odd if Paul’s gospel was allegedly a separate ‘gospel of grace’ that wasn’t based on Jesus identity).
One other telling example is that one of the verses that is evidence of an original but now defunct ‘gospel of the kingdom’ is Acts 2.21 where on the day of Pentecost, the apostle Peter, preaching to Jews and urging them to salvation, quotes the prophet Joel:
Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
That line from Joel is cited in one other place in the New Testament, by – you guessed it – Paul. It appears in Romans 10.13, a letter written specifically to Gentile Christians in Rome about proper relations to (unsaved) Jews, and a letter that in several places earlier on emphasizes, along with the goodness of the Law, God’s grace in the gospel. In other words, both before and after this alleged shift from an old defunct gospel / salvation to a new one, not only is the same language about the name of Jesus used, but the same Old Testament verse is used in the same way, with the same message of salvation. In short, they are preaching the same gospel, not radically different ones. As I’ve said before in another article, Samdahl’s claim that Acts 15.11 is the Twelve capitulating to Paul’s alleged new ‘gospel of grace’ is an utter distortion of the context. Instead, it is Peter declaring that he and his fellow Jewish believers have always believed in salvation by grace, just like Gentiles are saved by grace.
Thus we have seen the perils of dispensationalism. Samdahl’s particular extreme expression of dispensationalism is a logical outworking of the dispensationalist doctrine or mantra of ‘keeping separate what the bible keeps separate’, and one that exposes its true fruit –it ends up separating what the bible intertwines closely together, and is evidence of its utter falsity and heretical nature.
Contrary to Samdahl’s claims, there is absolutely no scriptural support for his outrageous heresy that there are two gospels in the New Testament. For all the emphasis on a couple of ripped out of context verses from Galatians 1 that are claimed by Samdahl to be evidence that Paul was touting a new gospel of grace, the wider context suggests otherwise. Before we examine these, we need to understand a couple of things. Scholars of all stripes are united in believing that Galatians was one of the earliest of Paul’s letters. There are two basic positions – one that says it is the first of his letters, and was written just before the Acts 15 council in Jerusalem, which is the position I hold, and one that holds that it was written fairly shortly after that council, and from what I’ve seen, Samdahl assumes this position because he says 2.7-9 is about the Jerusalem council in other posts. I won’t go into the details of the debate here, but suffice to say that my main point that is coming up holds regardless of which position you take. Much of Galatians 1 and 2 is taken up with Paul’s personal account of his relations up to that point, whether before or after the council, with the Twelve and the leaders of the Jewish Jerusalem church. He takes pains to emphasize that he did not receive the gospel, the good news about Jesus, from any human source, but rather direct from Jesus (presumably Road to Damascus experience plus his prodigiously theologically trained mind going to work on the consequences). Here is what he said in 2.1-10:
Then after fourteen years, I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas. I took Titus along also. I went in response to a revelation and, meeting privately with those esteemed as leaders, I presented to them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. I wanted to be sure I was not running and had not been running my race in vain. Yet not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek. This matter arose because some false believers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you.
As for those who were held in high esteem – whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not show favouritism – they added nothing to my message. On the contrary, they recognised that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been to the circumcised. For God, who was at work in Peter as an apostle to the circumcised, was also at work in me as an apostle to the Gentiles. James, Cephas and John, those esteemed as pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognised the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the circumcised. All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I had been eager to do all along.
Again, Cephas being Peter. Regardless of whether Paul is describing the Jerusalem council, or, as I believe, an earlier visit, it is quite clear that despite his rhetoric to the Galatians about his direct reception of the gospel, Paul recognized the authority of, and the need to have the approval of, the church leaders in Jerusalem. He was concerned that what he preached, as he had it by direct revelation, was not in accord with the true gospel as taught and authorized by the Jerusalem elders, and that he might be ‘running his race in vain’. In the event, when he presented to them the gospel of the gentiles that he preached, they thoroughly agreed with him, and there is no indication that they agreed by changing from a different gospel to Paul’s gospel, but rather that they acknowledged Paul was preaching the same gospel as they, and had a special calling from God to preach to the Gentiles.
In light of this gospel unity, it is worth quoting Paul in the first part of Galatians 1 against Samdahl and fellow dispensationalist heretics who take a similar line the passage from just before the verses he quotes out of context claiming a ‘new gospel’:
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel – which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! As we have already said, so now I say again: if anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!
Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. (1.6-10)
Samdahl and most of his fellow false teachers and heretics do not have the excuses of the Galatians – that they were brand new Christians easily prey to deception – yet they have embraced a different gospel to the one that the Twelve and Paul preached, a teaching that falsely claims that there are two different gospels, not one gospel preached to both Jew and Gentile. Remember this gospel that Paul is preaching and protecting as the truth is the one that gained full support from the Jerusalem church, not some schismatic, separate gospel of his own, as Samdahl here falsely claims. Whilst the details of the heresy of dispensationalism are very different to that which Paul faced in Galatians, we can know without a shadow of a doubt how he would react – in the same way – that anyone preaching another gospel from that approved by the 12 and retained through church history, let them be under a curse, because it is really no gospel at all.