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In Christianity, the gospel (Greek: εὐαγγέλιον, translit. euangélion; Old English: gōdspel; Latin: ēvangelium Latin pronunciation: [e.vanˈd͡ʒeː.li.um]), or the Good News, is the news of the coming of the Kingdom of God (Mark 1:14-15). The message of good news is described as a narrative in the four canonical gospels.
The message of good news is described as theology in many of the New Testament letters. It relates to the saving acts of God due to the work of Jesus on the cross and Jesus' resurrection from the dead which bring reconciliation ("atonement") between people and God. The apostle Paul's gospel is of Jesus's death on the cross and resurrection to restore people's relationship with God. It may also include the descent of the Holy Spirit upon believers and the second coming of Jesus. Paul gave the following summary (translated into English) of this good news (gospel) in one of his letters to Christians in the city of Corinth:
Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, (1 Corinthians 15:1-4 NASB)
Christian theology describes the Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ not as a new concept, but one that has been foretold throughout the Old Testament and was prophetically preached even at the time of the fall of man as contained in Genesis 3:14–15, which has been called the "Proto-Evangelion" or "Proto-Gospel".
Gospel (//) is the Old English translation of Greek εὐαγγέλιον, meaning "good news". This may be seen from analysis of euangélion (εὖ eû "good" + ἄγγελος ángelos "messenger" + -ιον -ion diminutive suffix). The Greek term was Latinized as evangelium in the Vulgate, and translated into Latin as bona annuntiatio.
In Old English, it was translated as gōdspel (gōd "good" + spel "news"). The Old English term was retained as gospel in Middle English Bible translations and hence remains in use also in Modern English. The written accounts of the life and teaching of Jesus are also generally known as "Gospels".
The good news can be summarized in many ways, reflecting various emphases. Cambridge New Testament scholar C.H. Dodd (1964 ) has summarized the Christian good news as taught by the apostle Peter in the Book of Acts (see Kerygma; Acts 2:14-41; Acts 3:11-4:4; Acts 10:34-43):
- The Age of Fulfillment has dawned, the "latter days" foretold by the prophets. Acts 3:18-26
- This has taken place through the birth, life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Acts 2:22-31
- By virtue of the resurrection, Jesus has been exalted at the right hand of God as Messianic head of the new Israel. Acts 2:32-36
- The Holy Spirit in the church is the sign of Christ's present power and glory. Acts 10:44-48
- The Messianic Age will reach its consummation in the return of Christ. Acts 3:20-21
- An appeal is made for repentance with the offer of forgiveness, the Holy Spirit, and salvation. Acts 2:37-41
Broader biblical background
Generally speaking, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, or the message of salvation, justification, and sanctification, is explained by the apostle Paul in his epistle to the Romans, especially in chapters 3 to 8.
Christian writers and teachers often present the Good News set within the context of the storyline of the whole Bible. This discipline, of understanding the Christian message in terms of biblical salvation history, is known as biblical theology. This attempts to posit a connection between Old Testament and the Christian teachings of the good news about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
For example, the Roman Catholic Church promotes the teaching of the good news in the context of biblical salvation history as a "fundamental part of the content" of its instruction. There are numerous exponents of the biblical theology approach to understanding the Good News. Some Christian teachers and biblical theologians who have published descriptions of the Bible authors' message in terms of salvation history include Köstenberger and O'Brien (2001), who have published a biblical theology of mission; and Goldsworthy (1991), who writes from an evangelical Christian perspective. Many Bible scholars and Christian groups have placed similar descriptions on the internet. There is a degree of variation in perspective between such descriptions. However, the main focus is generally the same: the Bible storyline tells of God working throughout history to save a people for himself, and these saving acts are completed through the person and work of Jesus.
In various Christian movements
The good news is described in many different ways in the Bible. Each one reflects different emphases, and describes part or all of the Biblical narrative. Christian teaching of the good news — including the preaching of the Apostles in the Book of Acts — generally focuses upon the resurrection of Jesus and its implications. Sometimes in the Bible, the good news is described in other terms, but it still describes God's saving acts. For example, the Apostle Paul taught that the good news was announced to the patriarch Abraham in the words, "All nations will be blessed through you." (Galatians 3:6-9; c.f. Genesis 12:1-3).
Liberation theology, articulated in the teachings of Latin American Catholic theologians Leonardo Boff and Gustavo Gutiérrez, emphasizes that Jesus came not only to save humanity, but also to liberate the poor and oppressed. A similar movement among the Latin American evangelical movement is Integral Mission, where the church is seen as an agent for positively transforming the wider world, in response to the good news. This can likewise be seen in black theology of certain African and African American Christians.
The Christian missions movement believes the Christian good news to be a message for all peoples, of all nations, tribes, cultures and languages. This movement teaches that it is through the good news of Jesus that the nations of humanity are restored to relationship with God; and that the destiny of the nations is related to this process. Missiology professor Howard A. Snyder writes, "God has chosen to place the [worldwide] Church with Christ at the very center of His plan to reconcile the world to himself (Ephesians 1:20-23),".
Another perspective described in the writings of the Apostle Paul is that it is through the good news of Jesus' death and resurrection, and the resulting worship of people from all nations, that evil is defeated on a cosmic scale. Reflecting on the third chapter of Paul's letter to the Ephesians , Howard A. Snyder writes,
"God's plan for the [worldwide] church extends to the fullest extent of the cosmos. By God's 'manifold wisdom' the [worldwide] Church displays an early fullness of what Christ will accomplish at the conclusion of all the ages. The spectacle is to reach beyond the range of humanity, even to the angelic realms. The [worldwide] church is to be God's display of Christ's reconciling love,".
- Book of Revelation
- Council of Jerusalem
- Gospel in Islam
- Ministry of Jesus
- Threefold office
- The Proto-Gospel, by R. C. Sproul.Archived 2008-12-03 at the Wayback Machine
- Luther and the Christology of the Old Testament Archived 2015-01-20 at the Wayback Machine, by Dr. Raymond F. Surburg, p14, saying: "Messianic prophecy has its origin in Genesis 3:15, which has been called the "protevangelium," the first Gospel promise. It was spoken by the LORD God ( יְהוָה אֱלֹהִם ) to the Serpent, used by Satan, in the hearing of Adam and Eve."
- The Lutheran Study Bible, p20, "3:15...This points to Christ and His defeat of Satan on the cross, and for this reason this verse is often called the 'protevangelium' (the first promise of the Gospel)"
- Worldwide Mission: The Work of the Triune God Archived 2015-01-20 at the Wayback Machine, by Dr. Paul Peter, p3, saying "After the Fall of man (Gen. 3) and its dire results, the loss of Paradise (3:23f.), death by sin (3:3; Rom. 5:12), and the cursing of the ground (3:17), preceded by the Protevangelium (3:15), the first revelation of the missio Dei, the Scriptures continue with the generations of Adam and the names of all the patriarchs from Adam to Noah..."
- Woodhead 2004, p. 4.
- Evangelism is the spreading of the evangelium, i.e. Christian proselytization, see also the Great Commission. Evangelicalism is a 20th century branch of Protestantism that emphasizes the reception of the "good news" by the individual (see also Low church), in contrast to the traditional and historical emphasis on the communal aspect of the Church's guardianship of the authentic Gospel (see also High church) as crucial to the salvation of the faithful (Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus).
- General Directory for Catechesis 1997, paragraph108
- For an example, see 'Biblical Theology' in Bakers Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology
- Tappert, T.G., Selected Writings of Martin Luther, Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2007, p.325
- Padilla 2004, p. 20
- Snyder 1999, p. 139
- Snyder 1999, p. 138
- Dodd, C. H. 1964 The Apostolic Preaching and its Developments Harper and Row.
- General Directory for Catechesis 1997, Congregation for the Clergy
- Goldsworthy, G, 1991, According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible Sydney: Lancer Press.
- Johnstone, P, 2001, Operation World, Carlisle, UK: Paternoster Lifestyle.
- Köstenberger, A and P. O'Brien, 2001, Salvation to the Ends of the Earth: A Biblical Theology of Mission New Studies in Biblical Theology 11, Leicester: Apollos.
- Padilla, R, 2004, 'An Ecclesiology for Integral Mission,' in The Local Church, Agent of Transformation: An Ecclesiology for Integral Mission, T. Yamamori and C. R. Padilla, eds, Buenos Aires: Kairos Ediciones.
- Snyder, H. A., 1999, 'The Church in God's Plan,' in Perspectives on the World Christian Movement, 3rd edn, Pasedena, California: William Carey Library.
- Jepsen, Bent Kim, 2009 The Origin of Good News
- 'Biblical Theology' in Bakers Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - online version
- The Simplicity of the Gospel - A Biblical outline for the foundation of the Good News
- Catholic Encyclopedia: Judaizers - Concerning the cultural implications of the Good News
- Catholic Encyclopedia: Salvation
- American Right To Life: Know the Gospel - Presentation of and links to Gospel sites
- The Gospel - Online booklet explaining the Gospel
- Lordship salvation - Reformed Christian Gospel presentation emphasizing Lordship Salvation
- "What Is The Gospel?" - compares the accuracy of the Gospel used by many in evangelism today, with the Gospel preached by the Apostle Peter (to the Jews) and the Apostle Paul (to the Gentiles).