The Gospels Rise and Fall on Daniel

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Note this in an excerpt from Son of Man: The Gospel of Daniel 7.

When we carefully read the gospels and consider how Jesus taught in the gospels, it leads us to an incredible conclusion: the gospels as they are written rise and fall on Daniel 7.Daniel 7 was not the only Old Testament passage Jesus referenced by any means, but He used it undergird His identity and every primary theme He taught. While Jesus quoted a number of Old Testament passages, no other chapter comes close to being referenced as many times as Jesus referenced Daniel 7.

The main aspects of the gospel can certainly be found in a number of Old Testament passages and the gospel can be preached without Daniel 7. In fact, the gospel is nearly always preached without Daniel 7 because the chapter is usually relegated to the genre of end-time apocalyptic literature.

The gospeldoes not rise and fall on Daniel. The gospels we have in the New Testament however do rise and fall on Daniel. This does not mean Daniel is superior to other Old Testament prophets. However, it should cause us to ask why the gospels were written this way. Jesus could have taught differently and the gospel authors could have recorded His teaching differently. 

Jesus intentionally decided to make His message dependent on Israel and all four gospels record His teaching this way. The gospels record Jesus’ witness of Himself to Israel and therefore instruct the church in how to deliver the Gospel of the Kingdom to Israel. 

Jesus’ Jewish Gospel

Jesus’ gospel was much more Jewish than many Christian commentators throughout history have imagined. As we have seen, His teaching was not a completely new break from the Jewish prophets. He did not create a brand new religion. Jesus brought tremendous revelation to howthe Old Testament would be fulfilled but He did not remove those prophecies from their context. 

For example, when Jesus quoted Daniel 7 sometimes He combined it with other messianic passages. He combined Daniel 7 with Psalm 110:1:

64 Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” (Matthew 26:64 ESV)

He also combined it with Zechariah 12:10-12:

30 Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. (Matthew 24:30 ESV)

This was a very Jewish way of teaching typically referred to as a midrash. Jesus combined Old Testament passages to bring a new insight to both passages. Jesus combined passages because He anticipated Gentile theologians would misinterpret the “Kingdom of Heaven” He spoke about as some sort of new invention. Therefore He quoted Daniel 7 to demonstrate the kingdom was an Old Testament prediction and then combined it with other passages to demonstrate that Daniel’s “Kingdom of Heaven” was part of Israel’s story. Jesus would fulfill Israel’s story not replace it.

Jesus claimed a higher identity than messiah by focusing on His divine identity as the Son of Man, but He combined His claim to divinity with predictions about messiah so His audience understood He was enlarging their view of messiah, not dismissing Israel’s promises and expectations. 

Jesus would be Israel’s messiah—but first He wanted to be received as Israel’s God.He did not want to be received primarily as a political ruler, but He also did not abandon His messianic calling. He was still messiah and will do everything the prophets predicted messiah will do.

The gospel remains first of all a message to Israel about her God.Jesus demonstrated this priority in His own ministry.[1]Paul was sent to the Gentiles but he maintained the same priority. His strategy of beginning at the synagogue in a city was not just a pragmatic approach. He understood the Gospel of the Kingdom was first of all a message to Israel.[2]Sadly the church has not maintained this same priority.

[1]            Matthew 10:5-6; 15:24.

[2]            Romans 1:16.


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