I 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.