Preaching by Christ Jesus, Preaching by Paul and Peter, and Later Preaching
What did Christ Jesus preach in His holly mission till the Crucifixion and the Resurrection?
Did He preach that He was the Son of God or even God Himself? In other word, did Christ Jesus preach about Himself? No, but he preached teachings of God.
Accordingly, Paul, Peter, and other Apostles must have also preached teachings of God. They did not preach the life of Christ Jesus or what His mission had been like. Accordingly, they did not need the Gospels to take with them in their missions. In deed, while Christ Jesus had been preaching, he once sent His disciples for preaching to different places, but He did not tell them to carry holy books of Christianity or Judaism.
So, Paul, Peter, and other Apostles must have not carried any holy books in their missions after the death of Christ Jesus. What they relied on was words and teachings of Christ Jesus they remembered. Therefore, the very early Christian leaders did not need the Gospels. They must not have asked Luke, Mark, Mathew, and John to write Gospels for their missions. It means that their Gospels were written for other purposes than preaching.
The largest reason must be linked with Paul who was sent to Rome for a court trial. If Paul had been found guilty by the Roman authority in a court of Rome, the negative shock the very early Christians in the Roman Empire would have had should have been so devastating. So, leaders of the very early Christians, and especially Peter, must have made full efforts to help Paul get absolved.
Accordingly, Peter went to Rome to meet and help Paul. But how? The means Peter took must have been writing of a document that could prove innocence of Paul. To prove innocence of Paul, the document should explain what Christianity was and what Christ Jesus was. Accordingly, Peter asked Mark and Paul asked Luke to write their versions of the Gospel.
So, these Gospels were expected to be read by influential Romans and other Judaists or Romans who were interested in Christianity and had an influence on the Roman authority.
However, although Paul was once relieved by the Roman authority probably due to these Gospels, Paul and Peter were later executed by Emperor Nero. So, another Gospel was written by Mathew, following the examples of Mark and Luke, to save other Christians in Rome from further persecution. For this reason, Mathew emphasized the tie of Christianity to Judaism, so that the Roman authority and the Emperor would not regard Christianity as something utterly new and dangerous but as a kind of extension of Judaism.
Yet, subsequently the Jewish-Roman War erupted and the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed by Roman troops. The linkage to Judaism would not benefit the early Christians any more. It must have looked rather safer for Christians to show their independence from Judaism to the Roman authority. Accordingly, John wrote his version of the Gospel, following Mark, Luke, and Mathew but emphasizing independence of Christianity from Judaism.
So, these Gospels were not written for general purposes to promote faith among Christians like in later centuries or today. But they were written for urgent necessities of the era, namely in the late first century. That is why today scholars of the Gospels find some mysterious expressions or sentences in these Gospels. To understand these expressions, we have to know why they were written. They were written for specific expected readers in each specific circumstance for each specific purpose.
But these Gospels focus on Christ Jesus rather than His teachings or teachings of God He introduced. So, Christianity today looks like meaning knowing Christ Jesus through the Gospels. But, Christ Jesus did not teach that Christians must know Him and His mission. Christ Jesus preached teachings of God.
So, there have been three phases in Christianity: (1) the preaching by Christ Jesus, (2) the preaching by Paul, Peter, and other Apostles without the Gospels, and (3) the preaching by later Christian leaders relying on the Gospels.
However, it is difficult to judge whether God had from the beginning expected Christianity to prevail through these phases, since there are too many betrayers of Christ Jesus in the Christian communities all over the world today.
**** **** ****
Luk 2:24 And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.
Luk 2:25 And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.
Luk 2:26 And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ.