Posted on Oct 04, 2022 by Mike LeDuke
Defining the Gospel
Have you ever heard someone use the term “gospel”? Most likely, if you’ve spent time in Christian contexts, you’ve probably heard the term thrown around, or maybe even used it yourself. But, if someone asked you to define the gospel, what would you say? How do you think the Lord Jesus would define it? Or what about the apostle Paul? Both of them discussed “the gospel” in their teaching, yet they never gave the term a simple definition — meaning that in order to understand it, we have to do some digging. In this series of posts about “the gospel,” we’ll attempt to see when and how the Lord used the term, and then how the term was used after him by the apostles. We’ll see that Christ’s use of the word is perhaps a little different than we might at first expect.
When asked to define the gospel, many of us who are evangelical Christians might simply answer that it is God’s plan of salvation. It is an acknowledgment of our sins and an opening of our lives and hearts to acknowledge Jesus as our Savior. And, that’s certainly an aspect of the gospel. But, if that’s all that we take to be the gospel of the Lord Jesus, not only are we missing a number of pieces, but we’re also shortchanging ourselves in our relationship with the Lord and in our intimacy with him.
So, what is the gospel?
Well to start, “gospel” is an English form of the Greek word εὐαγγέλιον (the New Testament was originally written in Greek), which is pronounced “euangelion,” and is where we get our terms evangelize and evangelical. Briefly, it translates to “good news.” Thus, in its most simplistic term, the word “gospel” can reference any good news at all — and thus, the plan of salvation is definitely, according to that definitely, gospel or "good news".
But what about the gospel? We don’t have space to cover it in this first post, but let’s just read two verses about Christ that reference the gospel, and consider what it might mean there:
“And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people” (Matthew 4:23).
“And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction” (Matthew 9:35).
Jesus taught the gospel — and when he taught, he taught about something specific, at least according to the verses above. It’s that theme that we will see come up over and over with regard to the gospel as we attempt to unearth this concept from centuries of traditions, ideas, and emotions, and see it as it is truly presented in the New Testament.
— Jason Hensley, PhD