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  • Writer's pictureJoseph Greenberg

Introduction to the Gospels and Acts – Besorah

The Tree of Life Version (TLV) follows the Jewish order of the Hebrew Scriptures, and the story of the New Covenant in the Greek Scriptures flows directly from what came first. This story becomes a universal story for all people, times, and places. It becomes our story too!

Second Chronicles ends with the decree that God had appointed King Cyrus to build His house in Jerusalem. Yet God never filled this rebuilt house with His Presence. Since God had filled both the Tabernacle and the first Temple, it seemed odd that this latest house was not filled. Yet King Cyrus’s words close the Hebrew canon: “Whoever among you of all His people may go up and may ADONAI his God be with him” (2 Chron. 36:23).

Over five hundred years passed. Finally, the Good News of Matthew answers the outstanding question. Messiah Yeshua, the son of David, the son of Abraham, has come into the world to fulfill prophecy and to build the house. Matthew highlights Yeshua’s humble beginnings. Yet at the same time, Yeshua is the fulfillment of Jewish hopes, the promised Messiah, the authoritative teacher, and for those with eyes to see, the coming King of Israel. So begins the Good News of the New Covenant.

Peter’s travel companion Mark, writing the earliest gospel account, paints a vivid picture of the kingdom of God breaking in—with miracles, victories over demons, and supernatural healings. Much in the way that Moses had performed signs and wonders leading up to the covenant at Sinai, now Yeshua performs signs and wonders leading up to the New Covenant. Yet despite the astounding miracles, no Jewish person had eyes to see that Yeshua was greater than Moses and higher than the angels. But after His death, all this would change.

Paul’s travel companion Luke, writing the most historically detailed account, devotes nearly half of his book to the events of Yeshua’s final journey to Jerusalem. Luke, a doctor, functions as historian par excellence. These first three gospel accounts reinforce the Good News of Yeshua’s life story and how His atoning death and resurrection inaugurated the New Covenant.

Written last, the Good News according to John records Yeshua’s signs and wonders as a witness to Jewish people that Yeshua is Mashiach Ben-Elohim. Those who believe in Yeshua will have abundance of life, including everlasting life in the world-to-come. Ironically, the first Jewish person to explicitly acknowledge Yeshua’s deity is Thomas, as he exclaims, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28). And this takes place only after he personally witnesses Yeshua’s post-resurrection appearance!

The book of Acts, authored by Luke as a second historical volume, continues the story after Yeshua’s resurrection from the dead. A crowd witnesses Yeshua’s ascension from the Mount of Olives to the heavens. Not even satan had been able to exalt himself over God’s throne, and yet God raises Yeshua to be seated at His right hand! To the strictly monotheistic Jewish crowd who witnessed the event, this proved Yeshua’s deity. Only the Son of God, Ben-Elohim, could fulfill Psalm 110 and be seated beside God! No more would the disciples fear for their lives. Their witness would go, as commanded, to the ends of the earth.

More was to come. On Shavuot, the Ruach ha-Kodesh filled the Jewish believers who were waiting for power to come from on High. Such power radiated God’s holiness to each one who was filled. The rest of the book of Acts records the power of the Ruach at work through Stephen, Philip, Peter, Mark, Barnabas, Paul, Luke, Silas, and others. The Word spreads throughout Judea, Samaria, and distant parts of the Roman Empire. Messiah’s community expands to include Hellenistic Jews in the Diaspora, God-fearing Gentiles, and former pagans.

The work continues. Through Yeshua, those who believe are now granted direct access to God’s throne. God’s kedoshim become living carriers of God’s Word, “holy ones” indwelt by the permanent Presence of God’s Spirit. The Ruach now abides in hearts of living flesh! Stone by stone, the Ruach continues the work of building God’s House. And the words of Yeshua remain: “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20).

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