The 12 apostles didn’t teach grace

by Nathan Rambeck on

After looking at the teachings of Jesus in His earthly ministry and the Gospel of the Kingdom that He preached, I concluded that Jesus taught in accordance with the Law of Moses and not according to the gospel of grace. But what about His apostles?

Jesus sends out the 12 to preach

Jesus spent time with his disciples, teaching them about the coming Kingdom of God. It wasn’t long before he started sending them out two-by-two to preach the same message to the nation of Israel.

Then He called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases. He sent them to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick… So they departed and went through the towns, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere. Luke 9:1–2,6

Jesus sent His 12 disciples to preach the same gospel He did, the Gospel of the Kingdom. Later on, Jesus also sent out 72 more disciples to do the same thing.

After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go… [And he told them] heal the sick there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ Luke 10:1,9

Everyone Jesus sent out to preach had the same message as Jesus, the Gospel of the Kingdom.

The Apostles’ Message after Christ Ascended

Of course, all of this preaching was during Jesus’ earthly ministry, so it’s totally expected that Christ’s disciples would preach the same thing He did. But surely, after Jesus died and rose from the dead, they began to preach about Christ’s atoning blood for the sins of the world, right? Actually, even after His resurrection Jesus continued to expound about the coming Kingdom of God.

to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. Acts 1:3

If Jesus did teach His 12 disciples about the atoning power of His blood as a propitiation for the sins of the world, there is no record of it in scripture.

Before Jesus ascended, the disciples wanted to know exactly when the new kingdom would be established that He had been teaching and preaching about this whole time.

Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” And He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. Acts 1:6–7

The coming Kingdom continued to be the focus of the apostles’ ministry even after Christ ascended into heaven. Even after the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost the message of the apostles was focused on the Kingdom of God, with the addition that Jesus was the Messiah and He was the one who would sit on the throne of David in the restored kingdom.

When Peter preached to the Jews in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost, he never mentioned the atoning blood of Christ or a change from following the Law of Moses to a new salvation plan that was by grace through faith. He told them to believe the prophets who foretold of the coming restoration, believe in Jesus as the Messiah and king of the Kingdom, and to repent and be baptized so they could be forgiven.

"Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ [Messiah] to sit on his throne, he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption. Acts 2:29–31

Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:37–38

Not long after, Peter and John healed a lame man and began preaching to the crowd of Jews gathered. Again their message was not to trust in the blood of Christ shed for their sins. Instead they reminded them of what their prophets foretold, and that Jesus was the Messiah they spoke of. Their call to action was not faith in the free gift of grace, but to repent so that the Father would send back Jesus to bring in the times of refreshing and the restoration of the Kingdom of David.

Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began. Acts 3:19-21

As you read through the book of Acts you’ll realize that the 12 apostles never tell a single person that Christ died for their sins. I know some of you may not believe me. I didn’t believe it the first time I heard someone make this claim, but I challenge you to read and see for yourself.

This post is part of a series entitled Foundations of Grace and is best read from beginning to end.


Nathan Rambeck is a full-time husband, father and software engineer; and a part-time Bible teacher, abolitionist and evangelist. He lives in the Dayton, Ohio area with his wife Jamie and 6 children. (Facebook)