Monthly Archives: October 2013

What is the Gospel – What does the Bible say?

Tyndale_Bible_-_Gospel_of_JohnI ended my last post by saying that the first, and primary, place we should turn in thinking about what the Gospel is would be the Bible. So what does the Bible actually say about the Gospel and how is the word used in the New Testament?

The New Testament was written in Greek and there are two words that are behind the English translations of the word Gospel. The first is the Greek word εὐαγγελίζω euaggelízō. This word is translated as to proclaim, bring, tell or preach the Gospel. It is the root of the word for evangelise, or evangelism. The second Greek word is εὐαγγέλιον euaggélion which is translated as gospel or good news.

Bearing in mind my traditional understanding of the meaning of the word Gospel the first thing that surprises me is that there are only two verses in the entire New Testament where the words Gospel and Salvation are linked together, Romans 1:16 and Ephesians 1:13. No where in the New Testament is the word Gospel linked with the words sin, forgiveness or eternal life within the same verse. Only once is the Gospel linked with the benefits of eternal life (Mk 10:29-30). The Gospel clearly is linked to our salvation as it is described as having “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” But as the word Gospel appears a total of 125 times (euaggélion 73 times and euaggelízō 52 times) in the New Testament there must be a greater breadth to it’s meaning than traditionally taught.

It is interesting to see how the Gospel is described in the New Testament. It is:
The Gospel of the Kingdom – Matt 4:23, 9:35, 24:14, Lk 16:16
The Gospel of Jesus Christ The Son of God – Mk 1:1
The Gospel of Christ – Rom 15:19, 1 Cor 9:12, 2 Cor 2:12, 9:13, 10:14, Gal 1:7, Phil 1:27 1 Thess 3:2,
The Gospel of God – Mk 1:14, Rom 1:1, Rom 15:16, 2 Cor 11:7, 1 Thess 2:2, 2:8, 2:9, 1 Pet 4:17
The Gospel of His Son – Rom 1:9
The Gospel of Our Lord Jesus – 2 Thess 1:8
The Gospel of the blessed God – 1 Tim 1:11,
The Gospel of the Grace of God – Acts 20:24
The Gospel of the glory of Christ – 2 Cor 4:4
The Gospel of your salvation – Eph 1:13
The Gospel of peace – Eph 6:15

Apart from the references to Jesus or God the Gospel is described as the Gospel of the Kingdom, of Grace, of your salvation and of Peace. The most common association however is between the word Gospel and the word Kingdom. Either the Gospel is described as the Gospel (euaggélion) of the Kingdom or we are told about preaching or proclaiming the Gospel (euaggelízō) of the Kingdom.

You can be set apart for the Gospel (Romans 1:1). Preaching the Gospel has some connection with signs and wonders (Romans 15: 18-19). THe Gospel is not just about words (1 Thessalonians 1:5). The gospel includes the death of Christ for our sins and his resurrection (1 Corinthians 15). The gospel has something to do with how we live today and not just our intellectual beliefs or what will happen when we die. Who we eat and drink with and how we relate to others is included in the gospel (Galatians 2:11-14). The gospel has something to do with our hope for heaven (Colossians 1:5).

What I find fascinating is that Jesus speaks about the Gospel, and his disciples preach the Gospel and all of this before any hint about his death and resurrection! The Gospel was real and existed BEFORE forgiveness through the sacrifice of Jesus was possible.

All of this seems to me to conclusively indicate that the Gospel is far broader than sin, forgiveness and our ticket to heaven.


The Gospel – As I've Traditionally Understood It

Cross Photo by Peat BakkeBack to my question: What is the Gospel?

As a starter it is the description given to the first four books of the New Testament, the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John. These are the stories of Jesus, his birth, life, ministry, death and resurrection.

In Christian life and language the word Gospel is also used as a shorthand term to explain the reason for the story of Jesus. Jesus lived and died to be and the bring the Good News, or the Gospel, to mankind. What therefore is this Gospel that Jesus came to be and to proclaim?

It encompasses sin, forgiveness and eternal life in heaven. It is summarised in one of the best known verses in the bible John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

The Gospel starts with our sin. All of us have sinned and as a result are separated from God. The Gospel is needed because we have no way of restoring our relationship with God, only He could do that.

The Gospel is then about forgiveness. In the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross we have the possibility of forgiveness for our sin if we will accept him as our Lord & Saviour. Acts 4:12 “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

So, in Jesus, we are saved from our sin and the eternal consequences of our sin. We are also saved to an eternal destiny in Heaven. As those who have accepted Jesus and submitted our lives to Him as our Lord, Christians can be absolutely certain of their eternal destiny. When we die we will be with Jesus in Heaven, Halleluia!

So the gospel is about the forgiveness of sin and the certainty of eternity lived in Heaven. We know that we are forgiven and we know where we’re going.

The question I’ve started to grapple with over the past few weeks is whether what I’ve said above is it, or is there more to the Gospel than I’ve previously thought?

Next time I’ll be looking at the references to the word Gospel within the bible. After all the bible should be the first place that we turn to for our understanding.



The War on Christians

Thank you for the few comments and responses that I received to my last post. I’ll be returning to that theme soon.

Today I read an article in the Spectator that really made me stop and think and here are some quotes from it:





80 percent of all acts of religious discrimination in the world today are directed at Christians. Statistically speaking, that makes Christians by far the most persecuted religious body on the planet.


An average of 100,000 Christians have been killed in what the centre calls a ‘situation of witness’ each year for the past decade. That works out to 11

Christians killed somewhere in the world every hour, seven days a week and 365 days a year, for reasons related to their faith.


Of the 65 Christian churches in Baghdad, 40 have been bombed at least once since the beginning of the 2003 US-led invasion.


The truth is that in the West, a threat to religious freedom means someone might get sued; in many other parts of the world, it means someone might get shot, and surely the latter is the more dramatic scenario.


‘When I hear that so many Christians in the world are suffering, am I indifferent, or is it as if a member of my own family is suffering?’ the Pope asked his following. ‘Am I open to that brother or that sister in my family who’s giving his or her life for Jesus Christ?’

In 2011, the Catholic Patriarch of Jerusalem, Fouad Twal, who leads a church with more than its fair share of new martyrs, phrased the same questions more plaintively during a conference in London. He bluntly asked: ‘Does anybody hear our cry? How many atrocities must we endure before somebody, somewhere, comes to our aid?


The full article from The Spectator can be read here: