When Paul wrote to the Corinthians that the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus are “amongst things of primary importance,” the point under discussion must be kept in mind; some Corinthian Christians were beginning to question and doubt the resurrection. “How do some among you say there is no resurrection of the dead?” Paul asks (1 Cor. 15:12). It is to answer this particular crisis of belief that Paul reminds his readers that the death and resurrection of Jesus are absolutely fundamental to the Christian Gospel. Without the death of Jesus giving assurance of forgiveness, and without the resurrection of Jesus from the grave, there will be no salvation in the coming Kingdom of God. If Jesus has not been raised to life again, then the hope of salvation which is the arrival of the Kingdom of God on earth is a forlorn hope. Before Calvary and Easter Sunday, Jesus and the apostles preached the Gospel for years without any inclusion of these great redemptive facts. After Easter Sunday, the apostles (as we shall soon see) still preached the Gospel of the future Kingdom, but were then able to supply as vital information guaranteeing that Kingdom, the facts of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Vital and crucial as the death and resurrection of Christ are, they are not the bedrock. They are “among the first things” that Paul preached (1 Cor. 15:3). For Paul the climax of the Gospel is when God’s Messiah “delivers up the kingdom to the God and Father” (1 Cor. 15:24). Thus Paul is in total agreement with Jesus’ “Gospel of the Kingdom,” for there is an unbreakable link between the resurrection of the dead and the coming of the Kingdom.
We are saying that the big reason why the mainstream “orthodox” interpretation that Jesus came only to do three days’ work cannot be defended biblically is because it ignores the historical life-setting of Jesus’ ministry. Historically, Jesus first preached to Jews, not the Church; Jesus founded his Church with Jewish apostles and converts, though his message was later offered to the nations and has timeless implications of course. Jesus proclaimed his very Hebrew-oriented Gospel of the Kingdom to first-century Jews and later authorized the same saving Gospel for us all. “It makes all the difference to our understanding of Christianity if we are enabled to apprehend that it did not begin as a new religion but as a movement of monotheistic Jews who held Jesus to be their God-sent king and deliverer. Here in a sentence, is what is imperative to know about the origins of Christianity,” says Schonfield. To avoid creating a Gentile (pagan!) Jesus, his announcement that “the Kingdom of God is at hand” must be considered within the framework of Judaism. Jesus was not a “Christian” in our modern sense. He was a first-century Jewish prophet. The Jewish world view at that time “grew directly out of Jewish monotheism: Israel’s God was the one God of all the world. Theology and politics, piety and revolution, went hand in hand.” When Yahweh becomes king, Israel will be rescued from evil domination, and God Himself will return to Zion; the Kingdom will have arrived. “It was about Israel’s story reaching its climax, about Israel’s history moving toward its decisive moment.” Jesus’ call to repent and believe this Gospel announcement had much more than modern connotations of individual salvation in mind, more than “believe in Jesus and when you die you will live forever in heaven.” Jesus was summoning his hearers to seize the moment and take up their proper role in God’s unfolding drama. If they accepted Jesus as their promised Messianic Lord, and followed him in his new way, then they would be the true Israel, the true people of God, when God’s Kingdom day arrived.
 Schonfield, The Passover Plot, p. 22.
 N.T. Wright, The Meaning of Jesus, HarperSanFrancisco, 1999, p. 33.
 Ibid., p. 35.