Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Gospel

"Glad tidings" or "good news, " from Anglo-Saxon godspell .

The Old Testament . Good news is proclaimed widely ( 1 Sam 31:9 ; Psalm 96:2-3 ; Isa 40:9 ; 52:7 ), spread rapidly ( 2 Sam 18:19-31 ; 2 Kings 7:9 ; Psalm 68:11 ), and declared and received joyfully ( 2 Sam 1:20 ; Psalm 96:11-12 ; Isa 52:7-9 ; Jer 20:15 ).

Where the message is gospel for Israelites and based on fact, the news is in every case but one ( Jer 20:15 ) related to God the Savior. Psalm 40:9-10 celebrates his saving help. Kings and armies are scattered by the Almighty ( Psalms 68:11 Psalms 68:14 ). It is he who delivers David from his enemies ( 2 Sam 18:19-31 ). A direct act of God puts the Syrians to flight ( 2 Kings 7:1-9 ); he breaks the Assyrian yoke ( Nahum 1:13 Nahum 1:15 ). Having conquered Babylon by the hand of Cyrus ( Isaiah 41:25 Isaiah 41:27 ), the mighty God returns to Zion ( 40:9-10 ). The peace and salvation announced in Isaiah 52:7 are won by his sovereign power ("Your God reigns!"). "The year of the Lord's favor" brings glad tidings to the afflicted ( 61:1-2 ).

The explanation for God's saving action lies nowhere but in God himself. In whatever measure Israel has paid for her past sins ( Isa 40:2 ), she remains a sinful people ( 42:25 ; 46:12-13 ). She is saved by divine grace alone ( 55:1-7 ). There being no righteousness to reward, Yahweh Acts to create righteousness in Israel ( 45:8 ; Isaiah 61:3 Isaiah 61:10-11 ). The penalty for sin is exacted not from Israel but from the Servant appointed to stand in her place ( 53:4-12 ). Through the Servant's work, many will be justified ( 53:11 ); those who possess no righteousness ( 43:25-28 ) will be acquitted.

The joy that attends the gospel finds ultimate expression in the praise of God. "Praise be to the Lord your God!" exclaims Ahimaaz in reporting victory to David ( 2 Sam 18:28 ). The glad tidings of Psalm 68:11-14 are recollected during a festal procession celebrating God's enthronement (cf. Psalm 40:9-10 ). The watchmen of Isaiah 52:7-8 shout for joy over Yahweh's return to Zion. Psalm 96:1-3 summons the whole earth to tell of Yahweh's salvation, to "bless his name" and "declare his glory."

With the return of the exiles from Babylon, the salvation announced in Isaiah is but partly realized. The foreign nations, far from becoming her fellow worshipers, remain Israel's oppressors. Israel's own unrighteousness was to persist; the Servant appointed to bear her iniquities has not yet appeared. As Isaiah makes clear, the full realization of salvation awaits the dawn of a new age — an age created by the saving God. At the close of the Old Testament, the inauguration of this new age is still awaited.

The New Testament: Stage One . Except for Galatians 3:8 and Hebrews 4:2, 6, the New Testament restricts gospel terminology to proclamations made during the time of fulfillment, when the salvation promised in the Old Testament is actually accomplished . According to Mark 1:1-4 the gospel "begins" not in the Old Testament but with John the Baptist, in whom Old Testament prophecy is fulfilled. The promised birth of John, Messiah's forerunner, is good news ( Luke 1:19 ). John's own preaching is gospel, too ( Luke 3:18 ): it warns sinners of impending doom and urges them to repent before the axe falls ( 3:7-9 ); it assures the repentant of forgiveness ( 3:3 ) and membership in Messiah's community ( 3:17 ). Messiah's own birth is announced as "good news of great joy" ( 2:10-11 ). According to Romans 1:1-5 the gospel promised in the Old Testament is actually given when Jesus comes (see also Acts 13:32-33 ).

Jesus' gospel declares: "The time has come. The kingdom of God is near" ( Mark 1:14-15 ). God reigns eternally over all that he has made. Yet his will is not done on earth as it is in heaven; wrong, not right, prevails. But these conditions are not final. With the coming of the kingdom, God's rule will be complete; wrong will be judged and right established. That kingdom is now being inaugurated: "The time has come" ( Mark 1:15a ) for Old Testament promises to be fulfilled. The consummation of the kingdom is no longer a distant prospect; the full realization of God's rule is "near" ( Mark 1:15b ).

In the synagogue at Nazareth, Jesus reads from Isaiah 61: "the Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor" ( Luke 4:18-19 ). the prophecy is fulfilled in Jesus' own ministry ( 4:21 ). He has come to free the physically infirm, such as the blind ( 4:18 ) and the leprous ( 4:27 ; cf. 7:21 ; 9:6 ). He helps the materially poor, like the widow in Elijah's day ( 4:25-26 ; cf. Luke 6:20-25 Luke 6:30-38 ). Yet the spiritually poor are primarily in view people broken and grieved by misery and poverty, oppression and injustice, suffering and death, national apostasy and personal sin, who in their extremity cry out to God to bring forth justice, bestow his mercy, and establish his kingdom ( Matt 5:3-10 ). Jesus has come to usher in the kingdom, to rescue the lost, to liberate the enslaved, to cure the afflicted, and to forgive the guilty ( Mark 2:5 Mark 2:10 Mark 2:17 ; 10:45 ; Luke 7:48-49 ; 19:10 ).

The coming of the kingdom is not the effect or the reward of human effort, but God's answer to the human predicament the gift of his favor ( Luke 12:32 ). The explanation for the salvation of the poor lies nowhere but in the gracious God. As the prodigal son recognizes, he is not worthy to be called his father's son; nothing he has done, not even his repentance, accounts for the father's love ( Luke 15:11-32 ). In the parable of Matthew 20:1-16, it is owing to the goodness of the employer that the last workers hired receive a full day's wages. The first debtor in Matthew 18:23-35 has earned nothing but the right to be sold into slavery; instead the king cancels his enormous debt. The publican with nothing to offer God but a confession of sin and a plea for mercy is justified ( Luke 18:13-14 ). The same holds true for the more virtuous among the poor, such as those described in Matthew 5:7-10. Their virtue is real, not imagined. Yet in keeping God's commands, they do not put him in their debt; they are simply doing their duty ( Luke 17:7-10 ). Even the most merciful need divine mercy ( Matt 5:7 ); for even those most zealous to obey God's law are unable to fulfill all its requirements ( Matt 11:28-30 ). Grace depends for its exercise upon the inability of its objects ( Luke 14:12-14 ).

As the Israelites are a sinful people ( Matt 1:21 ; Luke 1:77 ), Jesus proclaims his gospel to the whole nation ( Matt 4:23 ; 9:35 ; 15:24 ). From the most respectable to the least, all are summoned to submit to God's rule, to come to the banquet he has spread ( Luke 14:16-24 ). Salvation must be received to be experienced ( Mark 10:15 ). While it is a gift that costs nothing, it is also a priceless treasure for which a wise person will sacrifice all else ( Matt 13:44-46 ). "Repent and believe the good news!" commands Jesus ( Mark 1:15 ). The self-righteous and the self-sufficient must be jolted out of their false security and recognize their need of God ( Luke 6:24-26 ). An announcement of liberation ( Luke 4:18-19 ) is good news only to people who are enslaved and know they are. Even the destitute and the afflicted must learn that it is being personally related to God as subject to sovereign and as child to father, which makes one "blessed" ( Matt 5:3-10 ). Even those who are already "poor in spirit" in the sense defined above, are not really "blessed" until they acknowledge the truth of Jesus' claims ( Matt 11:6 ) and commit themselves to a life of obedience on his terms ( Matt 7:21-27 ).

Throughout Jesus' ministry, the theme of his gospel remains the dawning kingdom of God ( Matt 4:23 ; 24:14 ; Luke 4:43 ; 16:16 ), a message preached almost exclusively to Jews ( Matt 10:5-6 ; 15:24 ). Yet Jesus provides glimpses into what the gospel is to become. He speaks of persons who make sacrifices "for me and for the gospel" ( Mark 8:35 ; 10:29 ). Jesus and the gospel are here associated in the closest way. We are moving toward the time when the Proclaimer of the gospel will become the Proclaimed. Mark 13:10 and Matthew 24:14 foretell the preaching of the gospel of the kingdom to the Gentiles. Mark 14:8-9 indicates that Jesus and his death will be prominent themes in the worldwide gospel. Here we have an indication of the cruciality of Jesus' death both for the provision of salvation announced in his gospel and for the launching of the mission to the Gentiles.

The New Testament: Stage Two: For the gospel declared after Jesus' resurrection, our main sources are Acts and the letters of Paul.

God authors the gospel and authorizes its proclamation ( Acts 15:7 ; 16:10 ; Rom 1:1-5 ; Gal 1:11-16 ; 2:7-9 ; 1 Thess 2:2-9 ). God himself is an Evangelist, personally calling persons to salvation through his human agents ( Acts 10:36 ; 2 Col 4:4-6 ; Gal 1:6 ; 2 Thess 2:13-14 ; Rev 10:7 ). Paul's gospel is both a witness to an expression of God's grace ( Acts 20:24 ; Col 1:5-6 ), power ( Rom 1:16 ; 1 Col 1:17-25 ), and glory ( 2 Col 4:4-6 ; 1 Tim 1:11 ). To accept the gospel is to turn to God ( Acts 14:15 ; 1 Thess 1:5-9 ). To disobey the gospel is to be deprived of the knowledge of God ( 2 Thess 1:8 ). To trade the true gospel for a false one is to turn away from God ( Gal 1:6 ).

Risen from the dead, Christ again evangelizes ( Eph 2:16-17 ) through his representatives ( Rom 15:16-18 ; 1 Col 1:17 ; 9:12-18 ; 2 Tim 1:9-11 ). Moreover, Christ has become the gospel's major theme. This is repeatedly affirmed in Acts and in Paul's writings. Mark describes his whole book as "the gospel about Jesus Christ" ( 1:1 ). Galatians 2:7-9 speaks not of two gospels but of two mission fields; Paul (apostle to the uncircumcised) and Peter (apostle to the circumcised) are both entrusted with the "gospel of Christ" ( Gal 1:7 ), the message ordained for the salvation of Jews and Gentiles alike ( Rom 1:16 ). The "different gospel" of Galatians 1:6-9 and 2 Corinthians 11:4 is not another gospel about Jesus, but a message about "another Jesus" not the real Jesus, but one who exists only in the minds and the message of its advocates. On the other hand, to preach the true Christ is to preach the true gospel, however questionable one's motives ( Php 1:15-18 ); to respond rightly to the gospel is to turn to Christ ( Acts 11:20-21 ; Rom 10:8-17 ; Gal 2:14-16 ).

The gospel bears witness to every aspect of Christ's saving work, from his birth and public ministry to his second coming and the last judgment. But Christ's death and resurrection, the crucial saving events, are the gospel's most prominent themes. Mark's whole Gospel prepares for Passion Week. In Paul's gospel Jesus' death and resurrection are central ( 1 Cor 15:1-4 ), with the cross at the very center ( 1 Col 1:17-2:5 ; Rom 3:21-26 ; 2 Col 5:14-21 ). Acts proclaims Jesus' death ( 8:35 ; Acts 20:24 Acts 20:28 ) and preeminently his resurrection, the event by which he conquered death and was exalted as Lord and coming Judge ( 10:36-43 ; 13:32-33 ; 17:31 ). According to 1 Peter the bearers of the gospel focused, as had the Old Testament prophets, upon "the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow" ( 1:11-12 ).

Paul declares ( Rom 1:16 ; 1 Col 1:17-18 ) the gospel to be "the power of God" not merely a witness to, but an expression of his power. The gospel is no bare word but is laden with the power of the Holy Spirit ( 1 Col 2:1-5 ; 1 Thess 1:5-6 ). Thus it cannot be fettered ( 2 Tim 2:8-9 ). The gospel effects the salvation it announces and imparts the life it promises.

The gospel offers salvation "through the grace of our Lord Jesus" ( Acts 15:11 ). Paul testifies "to the gospel of God's grace" ( Acts 20:24 ). The gospel is a witness to God's grace. In offering his Son as a sacrifice for sins ( Rom 3:25a ), God demonstrates his righteousness ( Romans 3:25 Romans 3:26 ). In Jesus' death sins formerly "passed over" ( 3:25c ) become the object of divine wrath ( 1:18 ). Yet in the place where God deals justly with sins, he shows grace to sinners. For the judgment is focused not upon the sinners themselves but upon the One who stands in their place ( 4:25 ; 5:6-11 ; 2 Cor 5:21 ; Gal 3:13 ). Sinners are therefore freely pardoned ( Rom 3:24 ). The gospel is a channel of God's grace. "A righteousness from God is revealed" in the gospel ( Rom 1:17 )not merely expounded but unleashed, so that the gospel becomes "the power of God for salvation" ( 1:16 ). God activates his righteousness by bestowing it freely upon sinners ( 5:17 ). They are acquitted, justified, "declared righteous, " by God the Judge by virtue of their union with Christ, who is himself their righteousness ( 1 Col 1:30 ; 2 Col 5:21 ; Php 3:9 ).

The gospel calls for a threefold response. (1) Believing . The gospel is "the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes" ( Rom 1:16 ). Faith abandons all reliance on "works of law" for justification ( Rom 3:28 ) and trusts in God's grace imparted in Christ ( Romans 3:22 Romans 3:26 ; Galatians 2:16 Galatians 2:20 ). One must believe the gospel for here God's salvation is mediated. (2) Growing . The gospel is both a message to be received and a place in which to stand ( 1 Cor 15:1-2 ); it both gives and sustains life. The Spirit imparts wisdom by taking persons ever more deeply into the gospel of the cross ( 1 Col 1:18-2:16 ). Paul is eager to declare the gospel to the Christians in Rome ( Rom 1:15 ), by both his letter and his visit. (3) Hoping . "The hope held out in the gospel" ( Col 1:23 ) includes Christ's return and the heavenly glory ( Col 1:5 ; 2 Thess 2:14-16 ), as well as the final judgment ( Rom 2:16 ). For those who embrace the gospel the judgment holds no terrors, because the Judge has rescued them from the wrath to come ( Rom 8:1 ; 1 Thess 1:10 ); the last judgment marks their final vindication ( 1 Col 4:5 ; Gal 5:5 ). Those who died after believing the gospel ( 1 Peter 4:6 ) have not suffered the fate of the lawless; their response to the gospel assures them of approval by the coming Lord ( 4:5-6 ; 5:4 ) and of a share in the imperishable inheritance of heaven ( 1:4 ).

J. Knox Chamblin

See also Death of Christ ; Faith ; Grace ; Jesus Christ ; Kerygma ; Salvation

Bibliography . W. Barclay, New Testament Words, pp. 101-6; U. Becker, NIDNTT, 2:107-15; K. Chamblin, Gospel according to Paul ; G. Friedrich, TDNT, 2:707-37; P. Stuhlmacher, ed., The Gospel and the Gospels .

For usage information, please read the Baker Book House Copyright Statement .

Easton's Bible Dictionary - Gospel

King james dictionary - gospel.

Good news. And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the GOSPEL of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people. ( Matthew 4:23 )

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Gospel

define as gospel

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the teachings of Jesus and the apostles; the Christian revelation.

the story of Christ's life and teachings, especially as contained in the first four books of the New Testament, namely Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

( usually initial capital letter ) any of these four books.

something regarded as true and implicitly believed: to take his report for gospel.

a doctrine regarded as of prime importance: political gospel.

glad tidings, especially concerning salvation and the kingdom of God as announced to the world by Christ.

( often initial capital letter ) Ecclesiastical . an extract from one of the four Gospels, forming part of the Eucharistic service in certain churches.

gospel music .

of, relating to, or proclaiming the gospel or its teachings: a gospel preacher.

in accordance with the gospel; evangelical.

of or relating to gospel music : a gospel singer.

Origin of gospel

Other words from gospel.

  • non·gos·pel, adjective

Words Nearby gospel

  • go so far as to
  • gospel music
  • gospel oath

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use gospel in a sentence

You should also tell your clients that the metrics reported in these tools are not to be taken for gospel .

I also wanted to be able to demonstrate that the data from SEO tools shouldn’t be taken for gospel , but rather, they should be used for broad trend identification and quick-and-dirty competitor analysis.

Because Gitlab makes money by selling software that helps programmers do their jobs without a physical office, it also benefits from spreading its own, WFH brand of gospel .

Arthur Daniels, an 86-year-old deacon who liked to sing gospel songs, was living in an outdated nursing home when the pandemic arrived.

Carlson says early on, whenever Lee or Michael Dearing, one of her professors at Stanford, would give her a piece of advice, she felt like it was the gospel .

As it currently stands, the Via Dolorosa follows the account given in the gospel of John.

The rest of the episode follows Carrie spreading the gospel of her indignance over the thoughtless goodbye.

And its mean-hearted message, in my opinion, has corrupted the social gospel .

To get into that emotional state, she played gospel music her grandmother had played.

We think of Christianity as sexless, this [ gospel ] says that sex is sacred.

The spread of the holy gospel and uninterrupted preaching went on until the return of the ambassador.

The extent to which the man was lowered and lost in the risen Lord is especially revealed in the fourth gospel .

I gib ten dollars toward de stated preaching ob de gospel de fus' year, and de peepil all call me Brudder Dickson.

These are points that will help us signally in any attempt to understand such a story as the gospel story of the Resurrection.

That the whole people will, in gospel times, be united in such a relation the voice of prophecy would seem to indicate.

British Dictionary definitions for gospel (1 of 2)

/ ( ˈɡɒsp ə l ) /

Also called: gospel truth an unquestionable truth : to take someone's word as gospel

a doctrine maintained to be of great importance

Black religious music originating in the churches of the Southern states of the United States

the message or doctrine of a religious teacher

the story of Christ's life and teachings as narrated in the Gospels

the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ

( as modifier ) : the gospel story

British Dictionary definitions for Gospel (2 of 2)

any of the first four books of the New Testament, namely Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John

a reading from one of these in a religious service

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Cultural definitions for gospel

The “good news” of salvation (see also salvation ) ( see Gospels ). Certain styles of religious music are also called “gospel.” ( See spirituals (see also spirituals ).)

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Cambridge Dictionary

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Meaning of gospel in English

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gospel noun ( CHRISTIANITY )

  • annunciation
  • resurrection
  • the disciples phrase
  • the last judgment
  • the Last Supper
  • the Second Coming
  • the Ten Commandments

gospel noun ( TRUTH )

  • authenticity
  • axiomatically
  • impostor syndrome
  • it is what it is idiom
  • the real McCoy
  • the real thing
  • the real world phrase
  • truth is stranger than fiction idiom
  • truth will out idiom
  • verisimilitude

gospel noun ( MUSIC )

  • ambient music
  • drum and bass
  • early music
  • easy listening
  • Latinization
  • melodically
  • symphonically

gospel noun ( BELIEFS )

  • article of faith
  • ascribe something to something
  • feel it in your bones idiom
  • give someone the benefit of the doubt idiom
  • incline to/towards something
  • room for doubt idiom
  • see something in someone/something
  • seeing is believing idiom
  • self-deceit
  • self-deceiving

gospel | Intermediate English

Gospel noun ( book ), translations of gospel.

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define as gospel

What are the Gospels?

The answer is far more exciting and complex than we’ve been led to believe.

define as gospel

If you are jumping into the Gospels for the first time, or even the twentieth, get ready to be surprised all over again. Jesus never fails to challenge our paradigms of thought and dismantle our expectations. However, before you do jump in, let's take some time to understand what you are about to read. The four Gospels offer the earliest accounts of the story of Jesus, namely his life, death, and resurrection. But what kind of story is a “ Gospel ”?

What is a "Gospel?"

Before we get ahead of ourselves, we should talk about what the word “Gospel” actually means. The word itself comes from a Greek word euangelion , which literally means “good news.” In the New Testament , it refers to the announcement that Jesus has brought the reign of God to our world through his life, death, and resurrection from the dead.

“'The time has come,'” Jesus said. 'The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!'”

"The good news… Regarding God’s Son, who descended from David in his physical lineage, and who was appointed by the Holy Spirit to be the Son of God in power through his resurrection from the dead: Jesus, the Messiah, our Lord."

Interestingly, both Jesus and Paul derived this important word from the prophetic poetry of Isaiah where the future arrival of God’s kingdom through the Messiah is called “good news” (see Isa 52:7-10). The Gospels are not merely historical chronicles but are also narrative announcements that make the significant claim that Jesus is the Messiah of Israel and the true Lord of the world. The Gospel stories claim to both recount history and aim to persuade the reader to acknowledge Jesus as Lord and become his disciple.

Four Features of the Gospels

The Gospels share four features that make them unique amongst other biblical stories or contemporary biographical narratives. First, they expertly weave in Old Testament stories into the story of Jesus. Second, the stories are designed to make claims about the identity of Jesus. Third, they all present the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus as the climax of the entire biblical narrative. Finally, the chronology of events has been rearranged to better reveal unique aspects of Jesus’ character.

Feature 1 – Old Testament References

The Gospels show how Jesus fulfills the Old Testament story through constant reference to the Scriptures. The authors assume a high degree of familiarity with the Old Testament Scriptures by the way they refer to them. They do this in multiple ways:

Direct Quotations : For example, Matthew presents Jesus’ healing ministry (Matt 8:14-16) as a fulfillment of Isaiah’s description of the suffering servant (Isa 53:4).

Subtle Allusions : In Mark 1:9-11, Jesus is baptized, and God announces from heaven, “You are my beloved Son (Gen 22:2), in you I am well-pleased (Isa 42:1 & Ps 2:7).” This sentence blends phrases from three biblical texts to show that Jesus is the messianic servant King who is the seed of Abraham.

Narrative Parallels : Matthew presents Jesus as a greater-than-Moses figure by designing his story to match the basic outline of Moses’ career. Moses and Jesus both come up out of Egypt, pass through the waters, spend forty days in the wilderness, and ascend a mountain to teach the Torah.

Feature 2 – Identity Claims

Gospel authors sometimes make explicit claims about Jesus’ identity, such as in Mark 1:1, “The beginning of the Gospel about Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of God.” However, more often they shape the reader’s perception of Jesus through indirect means. The list includes, but is not limited to:

  • Miracle stories that show Jesus’ power over creation
  • Words: Teachings, parables , dialogues
  • Testimonies: People whose lives were touched by Jesus
  • God: “This is my Son” (Matt 3:17)
  • The disciples: “What kind of man is this?” (Matt 8:27)
  • Demons: “What do you want with us Son of God?” (Matt 8:29)
  • People of Nazareth: “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son?” (Matt 13:55)
  • Canaanite Woman: “Lord, Son of David!” (Matt 15:22)
  • Peter: “You’re the messiah, Son of the living God” (Matt 16:16)
  • High Priest: “Are you the Messiah, the son of God?” (Matt 26:63)
  • Pilate: “Are you the king of the Jews?” (Matt 27:11)
  • Roman Soldier: “Surely this man was the Son of God” (Matt 27:54)

Feature 3 – Climax of the Biblical Story

Each of the four Gospel accounts present the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus as the climax of the story of the Bible.

Mark allots ten chapters to roughly three years of Jesus’ kingdom announcement, and six chapters to the seven days Jesus spent in Jerusalem leading up to his death.

Jesus’ death at the hand of Israel’s leaders is introduced early on in Matthew (Matt 12:14), and anticipated four times by Jesus himself (Matt 16:21, 16:27, 17:22-23, 20:18-19) as the moment where he will become king (Matt 27:37).

Feature 4 – Rearrangement of Events

While the four Gospels do claim to recount real historical events, each author has taken the core stories of Jesus and edited, arranged, and designed them in a careful way to emphasize unique facets of Jesus’ character. Subsequent blogs will focus on the different aspects of each Gospel, but in brief:

  • Matthew portrays Jesus as a greater-than-Moses figure who fulfills the promises of the ancient Scriptures and whose resurrection has enthroned him as the King of heaven and earth.
  • Mark emphasizes the mystery and misunderstanding caused by Jesus’ announcement of the kingdom of God. He shows Jesus as the unexpected Messiah and highlights the paradox of how the exalted Messiah can only be recognized in the humiliated, crucified Jesus.
  • Luke highlights how Jesus brings the Gospel to the nations. He shows him empowered by the Holy Spirit to bring to fulfillment the Old Testament promise that God’s salvation would reach beyond Israel to include all nations.
  • John introduces Jesus as God-become-human, presenting signs that demonstrate the truth of his messianic claim and his offer of eternal life for any that will trust in him.

How to Read the Gospels

There are three skills we can offer to better equip you to read the Gospels:

Tip I– Identify key repeated words and themes.

The authors have woven their large-scale stories out of dozens of smaller stories of Jesus’ teachings or miracles. They have linked them all together using key repeated words and ideas to highlight their themes.

Look for the repeated words and ideas in smaller stories about Jesus and ask, “What does the author want us to know about Jesus through these stories individually?”

How has the Gospel author connected these stories together, and what message is he trying to tell me by putting them side by side?

Example I – Stories linked together by repeated words

  • Luke 3:21-22: Jesus’ baptism: declared to be God’s “beloved Son.”
  • Luke 3:23-38: Jesus’ genealogy links back to Adam “the son of God.”
  • Luke 4:1-13: Jesus’ wilderness testing: the Satan questions Jesus’ identity as “Son of God.”
  • Luke 4:14-32: Jesus is rejected by his hometown Nazareth, “whose Son is this?”
  • Luke 4:33-41: Jesus casts out demons who proclaim “you are the Son of God.”

The point : Luke has woven these stories together to emphasize how Jesus is the Son of God, Israel’s Messiah, and humanity’s representative. However, his identity is contested, as some question, doubt, or even reject him.

Example II – Stories linked together by repeated ideas

  • Matthew 11:1-19: John the Baptist doubts whether Jesus is the Messiah.
  • Matthew 11:20-30: Jesus reacts to Israelite towns that reject him as the Messiah.
  • Matthew 12: Four stories of the Pharisees rejecting Jesus and one story of sick people accepting him as the Messiah (12:15-23).
  • Matthew 13: Jesus tells a parable of the four soils.

The point : Many people doubt or reject Jesus, but those who find themselves transformed by his grace accept him. Jesus then uses parables to reflect on why there are such diverse responses to his message and he challenges everyone to pay attention.

Tip II - Pay attention to how characters in the story respond to Jesus.

Instead of simply telling you how to respond to Jesus, the Gospel authors use peoples’ diverse reactions as a way of showing you how to, or how not to, react. Pause after each short story and ask yourself:

  • How do the various people in this particular story react to Jesus?
  • What are their motivations?
  • What are the results?
  • Do I see my own responses to Jesus mirrored in these characters?

Tip III - Read, re-read, and re-read some more!

These Gospel accounts were designed to be read many times, and eventually memorized. There will be insights about Jesus that you will only pick up after reading the Gospels multiple times through and paying attention to the repeated words and themes. Read it slowly, then read it fast, then slow again. You cannot immerse yourself in these four Gospels too much!

Remember, the authors of the Gospels have an agenda for writing: to present a persuasive portrait of Jesus so that you too will acknowledge and follow him. While they don’t often hit the audience over the head with overt messages about Jesus’ identity (passages like Mark 1:1 are the exception, not the rule), the authors do want you to experience Jesus for yourself in a very real way. However subtle the messages might be in the Gospels, one thing is not subtle, that they require a response from the reader.

In Read the Bible for a Change:Understanding and Responding to God's Word , author Ray Lubeck says it best, “The Christ-story is used as the vehicle for attempting to change the reader's understanding of God, the world, and self in light of what Jesus has done. Thus the purpose of the Gospels is to proclaim the good news of what God has done in and through Jesus Christ so that people will respond by repentance. A key difference separating it from a mere biography is that it demands a response from the reader."

In one sense this is the most serious literature you will ever read, and in another sense, it's the best news you could ever hear. Through these texts Jesus springs to life, inviting us into a thrilling and challenging adventure of following him. These stories and teaching have the potential to shape and form you to become a new and different kind of person. That is, if you let him.

define as gospel

Tim Mackie is a writer and the Chief Education Officer for BibleProject. He has a PhD in Semitic Languages and Biblical Studies. He wrote his dissertation on the manuscript history of the book of Ezekiel, with a focus on the Septuagint and Dead Sea Scrolls. What a total nerd! He was a professor at Western Seminary and served as a teaching pastor for many years.

Goshen

What Is the Gospel?

define as gospel

Many Christians, churches, and organizations regularly use the word gospel to describe their convictions. Theological controversies have occurred and do occur over the meaning of the gospel and who preaches it faithfully. What does that familiar word gospel mean? The best way to answer that question is to turn to the Bible.

In the Greek New Testament, the noun euangelion (“gospel”) appears just over seventy times. Since, in one sense, the whole New Testament is about the gospel, we might have expected the word to have been used more frequently. Even more surprisingly, its use varies greatly among the authors of the New Testament books. Paul uses the word more than three times as often as all the other authors combined. Most of the other uses are found in Matthew and Mark, with very few, if any, in Luke, John, Peter, and James.

The word gospel most simply means “good news.” The word is not unique to the Christian message, but it was also used in the pagan world to refer to a good announcement. In the New Testament, it refers to the good news of Jesus the Savior. Often, it is used with the assumption that the reader knows what the word means.

As we look more closely at the ways in which gospel is used in the New Testament, several points come through strongly.

  • First, we often find the phrase “the gospel of God.” This phrase stresses the source of the gospel as a gift from God. The gospel is of divine, not human, origin.
  • Second, the character of the gospel is specified in several ways: the gospel is true (Gal. 2:5, 14; Col. 1:5), gracious (Acts 20:24), and glorious (2 Cor. 4:4; 1 Tim. 1:11).
  • Third, we see two responses to the gospel. The primary response is faith (Acts 15:7; Eph. 1:13). But obedience is also a response (1 Peter 4:7; Rom. 1:5; 10:16; 16:26; 2 Thess. 1:8). (Paul’s use of the idea of the obedience of faith in Romans has an element of irony as he responds to those who have accused him of antinomianism, being against the law.)
  • Fourth, we see several results of the gospel. The gospel, of course, brings salvation (Rom. 1:16; Eph. 1:13). It also brings the kingdom (Matt. 4:23; 9:35, 24:14). It evokes hope in the people of God (Col. 1:23). The gospel is also a motivation to sanctification (Mark 8:35; 10:29; 2 Cor. 9:13; Eph. 6:15; Phil. 1:27).

All of these ways in which the word gospel is used point to its content, but there are also passages in the New Testament that are explicit as to its content. In examining these texts, we discover that sometimes the word gospel refers broadly to all aspects of the salvation and new life that Jesus gives His people, and sometimes it is used narrowly to refer to what Jesus does for us outside of us. In other words, sometimes the term gospel refers broadly to Jesus’ work of justification and sanctification for and in His people, and sometimes it refers narrowly to Jesus’ work of justification. Another way of putting this distinction is that sometimes the word gospel refers broadly to all the New Testament fulfillment of what was promised in the Old Testament, and sometimes the term gospel is used narrowly of Jesus’ doing in contrast to our doing of the Law.

An example of the broader sense of the word gospel can be seen in Mark 1:1, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” This use of the word gospel seems to refer to everything that Mark tells us about the teaching and work of Jesus. We see another broad use in Revelation 14:6–7:

Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people. And he said with a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.”

Here the gospel is the call to repent and worship God.

More often, the term gospel is used narrowly and its content is specified. We see this in 1 Corinthians 15:1–4:

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word 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 in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.

Here, the gospel is the message of the saving death and resurrection of Jesus.

In another place, Paul writes of “the glorious gospel of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted,” and he specifies what that gospel is:

The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. (1 Tim. 1:11, 15–16)

Here, the gospel is the saving work of Christ for sinners.

Paul writes similarly in 2 Timothy:

Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. . . . Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel. (2 Tim. 1:8–10; 2:8)

This narrow use of the word gospel was very common in the writings of the sixteenth-century Reformers. We can see this in the thought of John Calvin:

The word of faith is put by metonymy [using the name of one concept for another concept to which it is related] for the word of promise, i.e. for the Gospel itself, since it is related to faith. The contrast between law and Gospel is to be understood, and from this distinction we deduce that, just as the law demands work, the Gospel requires only that men should bring faith in order to receive the grace of God.

It is also clear in Zacharias Ursinus. Near the beginning of his commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism, Ursinus divides all of doctrine into law and gospel:

The doctrine of the church consists of two parts: the Law, and the Gospel; in which we have comprehended the sum and substance of the sacred Scriptures. The law is called the Decalogue, and the gospel is the doctrine concerning Christ the mediator, and the free remission of sins, through faith.

Such reflections on the gospel have remained common in Reformed theology, as we see from this long, fascinating quotation from the great Dutch theologian Herman Bavinck:

But the word of God, both as law and gospel, is the revelation of the will of God, the promulgation of the covenant of works and the covenant of grace. . . . Although in a broad sense the terms “law” and “gospel” can indeed be used to denote the old and the new dispensation of the covenant of grace, in their actual significance they definitely describe two essentially different revelations of divine will [Bavinck here cites many New Testament proof texts]. . . . In these texts law and gospel are contrasted as demand and gift, as command and promise, as sin and grace, as sickness and healing, as death and life . . . . The law proceeds from God’s holiness, the gospel from God’s grace; the law is known from nature, the gospel only from special revelation; the law demands perfect righteousness, but the gospel grants it; the law leads people to eternal life by works, and the gospel produces good works from the riches of the eternal life granted in faith; the law presently condemns people, and the gospel acquits them; the law addresses itself to all people, and the gospel only to those who live within its hearing.

How clear, distinct, biblical, and precious is this presentation of the gospel.

The church needs to preach the gospel in both its broad and narrow senses. The Greek word for gospel has given the English-speaking world the word evangelism . True evangelism, according to the Great Commission given by Jesus in Matthew 28:18–20, is a matter of making disciples: first, in the narrow sense of calling men and women to believe in Jesus and, second, in the broad sense of teaching them to observe all things that Jesus has taught His people. For the sake of the gospel, let’s all promote true evangelism.

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Gospel is a term used over 75 times in the New Testament. While it has various nuances of meaning, it's most fundamental meaning from the Greek is "good news." But good news of what? According to the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology edited by Walter Elwell, "the gospel is the joyous proclamation of God's redemptive activity in Christ Jesus on behalf of man enslaved by sin."

Another usage of the term is to refer to specific books in the Bible that set forth the life and teaching of Jesus, for example the Gospel of Matthew, etc.

The importance of the gospel cannot be overstated. Indeed, it is the culminating concept of the entire Bible. So as the biblical writers proclaimed this good news to all, so we in turn proclaim it to our readers. As it says in the most famous of all Bible passages:

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16) .

John 3:16 is what most Christians would give as an answer to "what is the gospel?" But note that the word gospel is not actually used in this passage. So we look further for a more precise biblical definition. Should you like, you may view a word search for gospel at BibleGateway .

In many places, the Bible uses the term "gospel of God" or "gospel of Christ." In Matthew 4:23  and Matthew 9:35 Jesus used the phrase "the gospel of the kingdom," indicating the good news that He as the Messiah was now among them to usher in the new covenant. In Matthew 26:12-13, Jesus used the term "this gospel" alluding to his coming death. In Mark 8:35, Jesus explains that the gospel is of such tremendous importance that for its sake a man must be willing to enter upon a life of complete self-denial.

For the apostle Paul, the gospel was the reason for his existence. That there would be no doubt about exactly what the gospel means, Paul specifically defines it in his first letter to the Corinthians:

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word 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 in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me (1 Corinthians 15:1-8) .

This passage offers the clearest definition of the gospel. It is indeed, perhaps the most important passage of the entire Bible. In subsequent verses (1 Corinthians 15:9-58), Paul goes on to explain the significance of the resurrection event. Because of Christ's suffering, death, and resurrection, we all have hope of eternal life. He stakes everything on the resurrection being an actual historical event. He insists that unless Christ's resurrection really and truly happened, our faith is in vain.

Note that in 1 Corinthians 15:1-8, the first four verses define the gospel. The second four verses give an apologetic for the gospel. In other words, Paul tells us why it is true! This is significant. Those who preach the gospel without an accompanying apologetic are not preaching the gospel biblically!

Evidence for the historicity of the resurrection is part of the gospel message. He insists that the resurrection was not a figment of someone's imagination. There were over 500 witnesses, including Paul himself! By the way, this passage was not written hundreds of years after the events. Paul penned these words within 20-25 years or so after Christ's resurrection. He proclaims that if his readers do not believe it, they can go check out these things with the actual living witnesses. Scholars, incidentally, believe that the statement Paul makes in the first few verses of 1 Corinthians 15 is a formal creed used by the earliest Christians that dates back to within 5 years of Christ's death.

So the gospel is not only about an actual historical event, it is about the consequences to mankind forever.

Let's look at three other passages, this time from Paul's letter to the Romans, his letter to the Ephesians, and his letter to the Colossians:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes (Romans 1:16). And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession—to the praise of his glory (Ephesians 1:13-14). But he has now reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you have heard.... (Colossians 1:22-23).

Together with the 1 Corinthians passage above, Paul makes it clear in these passages that the gospel is not something that man does. Rather, it is something that God has done for us . It is God's power through Christ and the Holy Spirit that is the gospel. This is our salvation via the medium of faith. Thus, a clear distinction should be made between gospel (that which we believe for our salvation) and law (that which explains what we are to do in response to our saving faith, as well as that which shows us the need for the gospel ala Romans 3:20).

So putting these passages together we see that an accurate definition of the gospel is this:

The gospel is the perfect life, atoning death, and resurrection of Jesus—which is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes.

But in slightly different contexts, the writers of the New Testament use the term "obey the gospel" on three separate occasions— Romans 10:16 ,  2 Thessalonians 1:8, and 1 Peter 4:17. These passages confuse some people as they think these mean that the gospel itself is something that man has to do. Make no mistake, man must respond to God's offer of salvation. He must receive Christ (John 1:12; Revelation 3:20); he must repent while believing in the gospel (Mark 1:1; Acts 3:19); he must trust in God/Christ (Acts 4:12; Romans 4:5 ). But obedience is a result of the gospel, rather than the gospel itself.

The context of these passages is important. If you read the verses surrounding Romans 10:16, you will see that the context is belief . The context of 2 Thessalonians 1:8 and 1 Peter 4:17 is the imminent return of Christ in judgment against the Jews in AD 70. The warning of "obeying the gospel" is clearly, in these two instances, a warning specifically to the first-century Jews who have rejected Jesus and were persecuting the Christians.

There is good evidence that the English term "obey" in these passages is a mistranslation that is apparently a holdover from the King James Version of the Bible. The Greek word for obey in the first two passages is hupakouo. This  word is defined in Strong's Concordance as "to hear under (as a subordinate), i.e. to listen attentively; by implication to heed or conform to a command or authority—hearken, be obedient, to obey" (emphasis added). So this instruction is somewhat like what a parent might say to a recalcitrant child: "Listen up, Buster! I'm telling you the truth!" Obedience is the implied result, but it is not the focus of the message.

Similarly, the Greek word in the third passage is apeitheo , which means "not to allow one's self to be persuaded" or "to refuse belief and obedience."

As the notes in the Reformation Study Bible (page 1902) say, "The gospel must be accepted, believed, and obeyed (1 Peter 4:17). Its divine command is for absolute surrender to God through the peace made by Jesus Christ." But man's requirement is to respond in faith. Obedience comes after the proclamation of the gospel, and after God's work of redemption. So the gospel is one thing; obedience is another thing which follows as an expression of a living faith.

These three "obey the gospel" passages need some further explanation. It makes no sense for us to obey something that someone else has already accomplished for us. No single English word really gets at the meaning of what is most often translated as "obey." But perhaps these passages are best understood as respect the gospel, welcome the gospel, accept the gospel, heed the gospel, believe the gospel, or hearken to the gospel. Indeed, these terms are sometimes used in English translations rather than the term obey.

As stated by the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology (page 474), the gospel "proclaims the redemptive activity of God. This activity is bound up with the person and work of God's Son, Christ Jesus." Also, as an instrument of the Holy Spirit the gospel convicts (1 Thess. 1:5) and converts (Col. 1:6). Still further, "To those who refuse the gospel it is both foolishness and a stumbling block (1 Cor. 1:18ff.), but to those who respond in faith, it proves itself to be the ‘power of God unto salvation' (Rom. 1:16)."

The gospel is something to be preached and to be believed (1 Corinthians 15:11). The gospel is the proclamation of the glory of Christ rather than something we proclaim about ourselves (2 Corinthians 4:4-6). Yet the gospel has implications for our obedience.

Since the gospel is delivered by belief, more light on this can be shed by what is meant by “believe in” in such passages as John 3:16: “Whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” The word in (Greek eis ) really means “into” or “unto.” Since we do not have an idiom in English “to believe into” or “to believe unto” it is translated “believe in .” But the meaning is deeper than mere intellectual assent (James 2:14-19). It implies that we believe so deeply in Jesus that we will commit our whole being and obedience to him.

As explained in James 2, we are saved by a particular type of faith. We are saved by a living faith, as opposed to a dead faith. In other words, we are saved by a faith that is obedient. But it is not the obedience that saves, but rather the faith itself. See the discussion on this in our Christian Cram Course .

The gospel, by the way, is the same in the Old Testament as in the New Testament. See Romans 1:1-3, Romans 4, Galatians 3:8,  Isaiah 52:13-53:12 .

Let's take a further moment and comment on what the gospel is not .

  • It is not, "Have your best life now"—as a popular TV preacher proclaims.
  • It is not, "Jesus came to be your best friend."
  • It is not sacramental. Paul specifically states in 1 Corinthians 1:17-18 that the gospel does not include baptism.
  • It is not placing one's trust in the church, but rather in Christ's finished work on the cross.
  • It is not something that we must do.
  • Further, it is not the so-called social gospel. (The social gospel is a response by certain liberal Christians who began to doubt the Bible and its miracles, including the bodily resurrection of Christ. Left with no gospel at all, these professing Christians turned to social action in society as their focus and redemption.) 
  • Nor is the gospel the whole of the New Testament, which some Christians who tend toward legalism think.

While being baptized, responding in obedience, being faithful to the church, or caring for the downtrodden, etc. are important—these are not the gospel. The gospel is the good news that Christ lived a perfect life, died on the cross, and rose from the dead to satisfy God's wrathful judgment on the world. Because of Jesus' payment in full for OUR debt, it is now possible for anyone to receive salvation through a living faith in Christ.

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Definition of gospel noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary

  • the Gospel according to St John
  • St Mark’s Gospel

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  • preaching/spreading the gospel
  • Thousands came to hear the gospel.
  • believe in God/​Christ/​Allah/​free will/​predestination/​heaven and hell/​an afterlife/​reincarnation
  • be/​become a believer/​an atheist/​an agnostic/​a Christian/​Muslim/​Hindu/​Buddhist, etc.
  • convert to/​practise a religion/​Buddhism/​Catholicism/​Christianity/​Islam/​Judaism, etc.
  • go to church/ (North American English) temple (= the synagogue)
  • go to the local church/​mosque/​synagogue/​gurdwara
  • belong to a church/​a religious community
  • join/​enter the church/​a convent/​a monastery/​a religious sect/​the clergy/​the priesthood
  • praise/​worship/​obey/​serve/​glorify God
  • attend/​hold/​conduct/​lead a service
  • perform a ceremony/​a rite/​a ritual/​a baptism/​the Hajj/​a mitzvah
  • carry out/​perform a sacred/​burial/​funeral/​fertility/​purification rite
  • go on/​make a pilgrimage
  • celebrate Christmas/​Easter/​Eid/​Ramadan/​Hanukkah/​Passover/​Diwali
  • observe/​break the Sabbath/​a fast/​Ramadan
  • deliver/​preach/​hear a sermon
  • lead/​address the congregation
  • say/​recite a prayer/​blessing
  • preach/​proclaim/​spread the word of God/​the Gospel/​the message of Islam
  • study/​follow the dharma/​the teachings of Buddha
  • read/​study/​understand/​interpret scripture/​the Bible/​the Koran/​the gospel/​the Torah
  • be based on/​derive from divine revelation
  • commit/​consider something heresy/​sacrilege
  • seek/​find/​gain enlightenment/​wisdom
  • strengthen/​lose your faith
  • keep/​practise/​practice/​abandon the faith
  • save/​purify/​lose your soul
  • obey/​follow/​keep/​break/​violate a commandment/​Islamic law/​Jewish law
  • be/​accept/​do God’s will
  • receive/​experience divine grace
  • achieve/​attain enlightenment/​salvation/​nirvana
  • undergo a conversion/​rebirth/​reincarnation
  • hear/​answer a prayer
  • commit/​confess/​forgive a sin
  • do/​perform penance
  • He preached a gospel of military strength.
  • the football gospel according to Kevin
  • Is that gospel?
  • Don't take his word as gospel.
  • a gospel choir

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What Is the Gospel?

The gospel means "good news."

Have you ever heard someone use the term “gospel” and wondered what it means? The word “gospel” means news. It is the news about who Jesus Christ is, what He has done, and how that changes everything for all of us.

The gospel, or the good news about Jesus, is the best and most important news you will ever hear. It’s the most life-changing news you could ever share with someone else.

As you explore the question “What is the gospel?” below, our hope is that you will deepen your understanding of what it means and grow in your experience and confidence to communicate it with others.  

If you're in a hurry, you can use these links to go straight to each section:

Understanding the Gospel

Experiencing the gospel, communicating the gospel, learn more about living out the gospel.

define as gospel

The gospel is so simple that a child can comprehend it yet so profound that you will spend a lifetime exploring and experiencing its fullness.

There is only one gospel, and it is very important that we get it right. Of course, there are other so-called "gospels” out there, but the better you know the true gospel, the easier it will be to recognize the counterfeits and the distortions.

So what is the gospel?

To begin with, the apostle Paul, who wrote much of the New Testament (the latter part of the Bible, written after the life of Jesus) talks about “the gospel of God … concerning His Son” (Romans 1:1-3, English Standard Version). These seven words highlight two important truths about the gospel.

First, it is the message that has come to us from God. It does not originate in any person or church. It is “the gospel of God.”

Second, it is a message about Jesus, God’s Son. That is what makes it so important and life-changing. The gospel is the message that God has given you so that you can experience Jesus Christ as your Savior (the One who saves you from your sins) and Lord (the One who guides and is in charge of your life).

To wrap your mind around this life-changing message, you’ll find it helpful to think of the gospel in both its essence and its fullness.

The essence of the gospel

The gospel can be distilled down to an essence. While not everyone might explain the gospel the same way every time, there are critical elements that should always be included. What are those elements? They are who Jesus is, what He has done and why He has done it.

Here’s one example, written by Paul, from 1 Corinthians:

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word 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 in accordance with the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then He appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared also to me. (1 Corinthians 15:1-8, ESV, emphasis ours)

The elements of Paul’s gospel can be framed with five questions. Each of these elements is also found in a similar passage, Luke 24:45-49, in which Jesus explains His life and mission. The following table compares these two summaries.  

A chart summarizing Jesus' life and mission.

There you have it. Comparing these two passages, we can now summarize the essence of the gospel as announcing:

Who is Jesus: He is the Christ. That is His title as our Savior, Lord and King.

What has Jesus done: He died on the cross and rose from the dead. This is the work of salvation — what Christ did to save us.

Why has Jesus done this: He has done this to forgive your sins and bestow on you the benefits that come with salvation.

How can we know that it is true: Because it fulfills the Old Testament Scriptures, and many eyewitnesses have testified to His resurrection.

How should we respond: With repentance (that is, by turning to God) and faith.  

The gospel in its fullness

To clarify the essence of the gospel is not to have said everything important about it. There is a much greater “fullness” to the gospel. Its truths, themes and implications are so vast and rich that it will take you your lifetime to explore, understand and experience.

To start, think of the first four books in the New Testament. They are titled the Gospel According to Matthew, the Gospel According to Mark, the Gospel According to Luke and the Gospel According to John. They communicate the same gospel (that is, who is Jesus, what has He done and why), but they do so in a fuller narrative form, each sharing the story of Jesus’ life, ministry, death and resurrection with its own theme or emphasis. That is why these gospels are so loved.

define as gospel

For example, Matthew builds his book around “the gospel of the kingdom,” or how Jesus came as Israel’s long-expected king — only in quite unexpected ways. John emphasizes (among other things) eternal life. They emphasize different things but present one message, and by reading both, you gain a fuller understanding of the one true gospel and of Jesus Christ.

As you move on into the book of the Bible called the Acts of the Apostles, you read various “gospel messages.” If you look closely, you will discover that each communicates the essence of the gospel. So when Peter spoke to the Jews on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2) and Paul to the philosophers in Athens (Acts 17:22-32), they both shared Jesus, but each did so in a manner relevant to his particular audience and situation.

After this, if you continue reading the New Testament, you will reach the epistles — letters that the earliest Christian leaders wrote to local churches.

The theme of Paul’s letter to the Romans is the gospel (see Romans 1:1-4,15-17). Like Galatians and the other New Testament letters, it explains the gospel while unpacking its fuller theological and practical implications.

define as gospel

For instance, one of the benefits that come through Christ’s saving work is that we are adopted into the family of God, the community of all true believers. The gospel not only brings us into a right relationship with God, it’s the foundation for our relationships with one another. Learning to love each other well — or, as Jesus said, to love one another as He has loved us (John 13:34-35) — is a direct outworking of the gospel.

This is just one of many examples of how the gospel leads us to Jesus and how Jesus transforms all of life.

But there is more. Jesus taught the disciples to see that the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms (that is, all the Old Testament Scriptures — the parts of the Bible written before Jesus’ life) speak of Him (Luke 24:44-49). They all point to gospel truth.

The gospel, at its core, is always a message about Jesus, and all of the Bible communicates gospel truth. No wonder it takes a lifetime to explore.

define as gospel

To experience the gospel involves more than simply understanding its truths. It involves the ongoing experience of the presence and power of Jesus Christ. This is why the gospel is life-changing.

It is through the gospel that you can receive Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord and begin experiencing the new life that only He can give. Knowing four truths has helped many people enter into this relationship with Jesus.  

define as gospel

No. 1: God’s love

The gospel reveals God’s great love for us: “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent His only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him” (1 John 4:9, ESV).

define as gospel

No. 2: Our problem

Through the gospel, we also grow in the awareness of our own failure and need. Each of us has turned from God and gone astray at many times and in many ways. This is what the Bible calls sin. The result is that we are spiritually dead or separated from God and the life He gives. “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23, ESV).

define as gospel

No. 3: Christ’s solution

This is the heart of the gospel, its essence, which meets our need. As the Savior and Lord, Jesus died in our place, paying the penalty for our sins. But He did not just die. He rose from the dead and is alive today, reigning as the Lord of all. “God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, ESV).

define as gospel

No. 4: Our response

As we understand who Jesus is and what He has done for us, we realize there is nothing we could do on our own to earn or merit salvation from our sin and its consequences. Jesus Christ has done it all. So now we can receive Him into our lives through faith (John 1:12). Paul describes this as the gift of God’s grace: “By grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8–9, ESV).

Has Christ entered your life, forgiven your sin, given you eternal life and begun changing you into the kind of person you were meant to be?

Perhaps you haven’t yet made this change of course in your life journey. If not, you can receive Christ right now by faith through prayer.

In your own words, honestly admit to God that you have sinned and fallen short. Thank God that Jesus died in your place, paying the penalty for your sin, and now lives to be your Savior and Lord. Ask Jesus to enter your life, forgive your sin and begin changing you into the person He wants you to be. As an expression of your faith, thank Him for answering your prayer.

To explore a fuller explanation of these truths, read, “Would You Like to Know God Personally?”

define as gospel

Having begun a relationship with Christ through the gospel, you do not move on to some other, deeper truth. The gospel is not just an initial message for the follower of Christ; it is the message you come back to again and again throughout the entire Bible and throughout your entire life.

We are gospel people, so we always seek to apply gospel truth to our lives.

Think of it as being changed from the inside out. The Christian life is about more than just changing your behavior. It is a life of inward transformation, in which God’s Spirit uses His Word, the Bible, to expose the sin and brokenness in your heart.

The answer to your deep needs is the same: It’s experiencing the love of Jesus and the power of His Spirit as you obey His Word. Doing this, you discover what makes the Christian life so exciting — it is Jesus Christ living His life in and through you by the power of His Holy Spirit (Galatians 2:20).

Find out more about the Holy Spirit and how you can experience God in your life.

define as gospel

When you experience Jesus Christ through His gospel, it is natural to want to introduce others to Him. That is a genuine expression of love. But how can you communicate the gospel with clarity and relevance?  

define as gospel

In one sense, telling the good news of Jesus Christ can be as simple as sharing what you have experienced and inviting someone else to consider Him.

That is what happened when Andrew met Jesus. He immediately went to his brother Peter and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (John 1:41, ESV). Likewise, Philip went to his friend Nathaniel and said, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.... Come and see” (John 1:45,47, ESV).

define as gospel

Another simple but powerful way to communicate the gospel is to use the Bible. Many people start believing in Jesus Christ after reading one of the four biblical accounts of His life: the Gospels According to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

Inviting a loved one to read one of these Gospel accounts can be a great way to enable them to get to know Jesus for themselves. You might find it helpful to suggest they begin with Mark (the shortest account) or John (many people’s favorite).

define as gospel

Alternatively, you may suggest they watch the “JESUS” film. This story of Jesus is based on the Gospel of Luke and is one of the most watched films of all time. You can view the “JESUS” film online or download the free Jesus Film App , which can show the film in over 1,800 languages.

Often, it’s most helpful for another person to hear a clear explanation of the gospel. There are many examples of this in the book of Acts. For instance, when Philip discovered the Ethiopian eunuch puzzling over an Old Testament prophecy, “Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus” (Acts 8:35, ESV).

As you talk to the people in your life about the gospel, make sure you are clear about Jesus while communicating in a relevant and effective manner. There is no one way to do this. However, there are tools that help people from all kinds of backgrounds and circumstances understand and experience Jesus personally.

define as gospel

Download the free GodTools app to see different ways of explaining the gospel to someone as you sit and talk with them. You might begin with “Knowing God Personally” or “Teach Me to Share.”

One last thing: While the gospel is a message that’s communicated through our words, it is important to recognize the role that our lives play in relation to it.

The apostle Paul wrote, “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Philippians 1:27, New International Version). We begin doing that by obeying the second great commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39, ESV). As we live a life of love with those closest to us, within our broader communities and in the world beyond, the good news of Jesus Christ will spread in a powerful way.

  • To better understand the gospel in the Christian life, read “The Music of Gospel.”
  • To learn how to experience the power of the Holy Spirit and live out the gospel in your life daily, read “Satisfied?”
  • Read more on the importance of living out the gospel in your words and actions.

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accept / take as gospel

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What Is the Gospel?

define as gospel

A Message from God

What exactly do Christians mean when they talk about the “gospel of Jesus Christ”? Since the word “gospel” means “good news,” when Christians talk about the gospel, they’re simply telling the good news about Jesus! It’s a message from God saying, “Good news! Here is how you can be saved from my judgment!” That’s an announcement you can’t afford to ignore.

Why Is the Gospel Good News?

So, what is the good news about Jesus Christ?

Since the earliest Christians announced the good news about Jesus, it has been organized around these questions:

  • Who made us, and to whom are we accountable?
  • What is our problem?
  • What is God’s solution to our problem?
  • How can I be included in his solution?

Christians through the centuries since Christ have answered those questions with the same truth from the Bible.

  • We are accountable to God.
  • Our problem is our sin against him.
  • God’s solution is salvation through Jesus Christ.
  • We come to be included in that salvation by faith and repentance.

Let’s summarize those points like this: God, Mankind, Jesus Christ, and Our Response.

The first thing to know about the good news of Jesus is that “in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). Everything starts from that point, so if you get that point wrong then everything else that follows will be wrong. Because God created everything—including us—he has the right to tell us how to live. You have to understand that in order to understand the good news about Jesus. To understand just how glorious and life-giving the gospel of Jesus Christ is, we have to understand that God is also holy and righteous. He is determined never to ignore or tolerate sin. Including ours!

When God created the first human beings, Adam and Eve, he intended for them to live under his righteous rule in perfect joy—obeying him and living in fellowship with him. When Adam disobeyed God, though, and ate the one fruit that God had told him not to eat, that fellowship with God was broken. Moreover, Adam and Eve had declared rebellion against God. They were denying his authority over their lives.

It’s not just Adam and Eve who are guilty of sin. The Bible says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Sin is the rejection of God himself and his authority over those to whom he gives life.

Sin is the rejection of God himself and his authority over those to whom he gives life.

Once you understand sin in that light, you begin to understand why “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). That’s not just physical death, but spiritual death, a forceful separating of our sinful, rebellious selves from the presence of God forever. The Bible teaches that the final destiny for unbelieving sinners is eternal, active judgment in a place called “hell.”

Jesus Christ

The word “Christ” means “anointed one,” referring to anointing a king with oil when he is crowned. So, when we say “Jesus Christ,” we’re saying that Jesus is a King!

When Jesus began his public ministry, he told the people, “The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe the good news!” As Jesus died on a cross, the awful weight of all our sins fell on his shoulders. The sentence of death God had pronounced against rebellious sinners struck. And Jesus died. For you and me!

But the story doesn’t end there. Jesus the Crucified is no longer dead. The Bible tells us that he rose from the grave. Jesus’s rising from the grave was God’s way of saying, “What Jesus claimed about who he is and what he came to do is true!”

Our Response

What does God expect us to do with the information that Jesus died in our place so we can be saved from God’s righteous wrath against our sins? He expects us to respond with repentance and faith.

What Is the Gospel?

Greg Gilbert

Adapted from Greg Gilbert’s book What Is the Gospel? , this tract uses evidence from the Bible to provide answers to the most commonly asked questions about Jesus Christ. 

To repent of our sins means to turn away from our rebellion against God. Repentance doesn’t mean we’ll bring an immediate end to our sinning. It does mean, though, that we’ll never again live at peace with our sins.

Not only that, but we also turn to God in faith. Faith is reliance. It’s a promise-founded trust in the risen Jesus to save you from your sins. If God is ever to count us righteous, he’ll have to do it on the basis of someone else’s record, someone who’s qualified to stand in as our substitute. And that’s what happens when a person is saved by Jesus: All our sins are credited to Jesus who took the punishment for them, and the perfect righteousness of Jesus is then credited to us when we place our trust in what he has done for us! That’s what faith means—to rely on Jesus, to trust in him alone to stand in our place and win a righteous verdict from God!

This article is adapted from the tract "What Is the Gospel?" by Greg Gilbert.

Greg Gilbert

Greg Gilbert (MDiv, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is senior pastor at Third Avenue Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky. He is the author of What Is the Gospel? ; James: A 12-Week Study ; and Who Is Jesus? ; and is the coauthor of What Is the Mission of the Church? Greg and his wife, Moriah, have three children.

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define as gospel

Warner University

What the Gospel Is, What It’s Not, and Why an Accurate Definition Is Important

by Leigh Ann Wynn | Jan 28, 2022 | Academics , Faculty | 2 comments

Gentry Sutton

By Dr. Gentry Sutton

In Luke 24:45–47, we read about the risen Jesus succinctly communicating to the disciples the message of the gospel before his ascension to be with the Father: “Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, ‘This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations’” (emphases added). Jesus also references this message to be preached to all the world at the end of the Gospel of Mark, and there he calls it the “good news” (Mark 16:15).

In 1 Corinthians 15:1–4, we read about the Apostle Paul communicating this same gospel in his own words:

Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved , if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.   For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance : that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures …” (emphases added)

We see three overlapping elements in both Jesus’s and Paul’s iterations of the “good news”: (1) The Christ died, (2) The Christ rose from the grave, and (3) The Christ’s death and resurrection were for the forgiveness of our sins. While the concept of repentance that appears explicitly in the Luke passage is absent from the 1 Corinthians passage, we know that repentance was indeed a part of Paul’s theology of salvation (see Acts 17:30–31, Acts 20:21, and 1 Corinthians 6:9–11, for example).

Bible scholars generally agree that Paul was restating an early creed that had been recited within the Christian community when he defined the gospel in 1 Corinthians 15. This fact is important because of the early date of Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, believed to have been written just over 20 years after Jesus’s death. In other words, as the passage indicates, Paul had preached this gospel to the Corinthians some years earlier, and the fact that Christ dying and rising again for the forgiveness of sins had been “creed-alized” so soon after Jesus’s death contrasts with the popular worldly notion that the words of Jesus were “distorted” by the early disciples. Quite to the contrary, it seems that the early believers were, in fact, so committed to preserving the true definition of the gospel that they put it in creedal form precisely so that later disciples would not manipulate its meaning. Professor and scholar Justin Bass establishes this argument well in his 2020 book titled The Bedrock of Christianity: The Unalterable Facts of Jesus’ Death and Resurrection .

Unfortunately, just as was true in Paul’s time, today a number of other issues are being conflated with the gospel. I hear frequently that [fill in the blank] is a “gospel issue.” Usually, the blank is filled in with “social justice” or one of its aspects. However, in no biblical iteration of the gospel is social justice or any aspect of social justice a part of it. As evidenced by the passages above, the gospel is about Jesus dying and rising again for the forgiveness of people’s sins. Period, full stop.

Given that Jesus does not separate repentance from forgiveness of sins when he talks about the good news (Luke 24:47), I will acknowledge that social justice issues are “gospel issues” in the sense that any heart or behavioral evil related to them should be repented of. In this same sense, though, every sin would be a “gospel issue,” and it is curious that we do not hear about marital unfaithfulness, gambling, drunkenness, cheating, lying, or stealing being referred to as “gospel issues.” Moreover, repentance is a condition of the gospel, not the gospel itself. Perhaps the fact that we hear of only certain things being “gospel issues” and not others should be a greater topic of conversation within the Christian community. But addressing that concern is beyond the scope of this essay, and I digress.

An accurate definition of the gospel is important for at least five reasons:

  • The “good news” is not about what we do. Rather, it is about what Jesus has done. We immediately take the focus off Jesus when we attach anything to the gospel, for whatever we attach is inevitably going to be about ourselves. And when the focus is on ourselves, we miss the whole point.
  • When we associate something we must do (other than repent) with the gospel, we run the risk of communicating a works-based understanding of salvation. As Paul wrote, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8). We in the Wesleyan-Holiness tradition, as Warner University and the Church of God—Anderson are, should be especially cautious about saying that anything is a “gospel” issue, for our tradition has at times in its past tended toward legalism. Our tradition has a rich history and ethic of social action, but that ethic must always be tempered with recognition that such action is a response to the gospel, not salvific work. Even John Wesley himself struggled with this issue: he was well along in years of ministry when he realized he had never truly understood the gospel as a gracious gift from God received by faith. I acknowledge that many people who make statements about such and such being a “gospel issue” intellectually understand that the gospel has nothing to do with social action or anything else we must do (besides repent). The problem is that generations of people do not understand that fact, so we must be more careful with language.
  • Depending on what is being conflated with the gospel, we can minimize the significance of personal sin and the fact that personal sin is what we need to repent of in order to be right with God and be beneficiaries of the “good news.” For example, when someone says social justice is a gospel issue, and when the culture simultaneously says that social in justice is a product of corrupt systems and processes, then the “the gospel” can come to mean liberation from systems. Thus, the tendency can be to see imperfect systems, instead of personal sin, as the great plague of humanity. Social sin is certainly real, and Scripture calls nations to repent of collective sin. However, personal sin is always the target of the gospel of salvation.
  • The fourth reason an accurate definition of the gospel is so important flows from the second and third: Anyone who puts his or trust of salvation in any type of work is not truly saved; therefore, he or she is not regenerated and indwelled by the Holy Spirit. This reality is significant especially in discussions about social justice, for it is precisely because social justice issues are so important that we want people filled with the Holy Spirit making decisions about them.
  • Scripture’s warnings about teaching anything other than the true gospel are serious. Paul wrote to the Galatians,
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!

The gospel means “good news,” and the fact that our Christian identity calls us to seek justice is definitely good news, for it means that a holy and perfect lawgiver requires just behavior of us. But this reality is not the good news. The good news is that Jesus has done for us what we could never do for ourselves. It is the best news of all—ever.

It is important that both our understanding and communication of the gospel come from the biblical text itself, and it is important that we continue to communicate and advocate for the one true gospel. Jesus died and rose again so that our sins would be forgiven. Our commitment to live a holy life and do the things that Jesus wants us to do is a love response to the Savior who first loved us and the gospel he has offered in his grace as a gift.

Mark Aydelotte

Dr. Sutton…thank you so much for this thoughtful essay. Modern churches are rife with misunderstandings of The Gospel. Some churches will say you need to believe “the entire Gospel,” meaning the Gospel plus works or the Gospel plus self improvement or the Gospel plus social and political activism. They will often condem “easy beliveism” and point to additional works as being essential to salvation.

Your clarity here is much appreciated.

Samuel

God bless you for sharing the gospel

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What Is the Gospel?

The gospel is good news—the good news of what God has done in Jesus Christ.

The Bible depicts human beings, all human beings everywhere, as in revolt against God, and therefore under his judgment. But although God stands over against us in judgment because of our sin, quite amazingly he stands over against us in love, because he is that kind of God—and the gospel is the good news of what God, in love, has done in Jesus Christ, especially in Jesus’s cross and resurrection, to deal with our sin and to reconcile us to himself.

Christ bore our sin on the cross. He bore the penalty, turned aside God’s judgment, God’s wrath, from us, and cancelled sin. The brokenness of our lives he restores; the shattered relationships he rebuilds in the context of the church; the new life that we human beings find in Christ is granted out of the sheer grace of God. It is received by faith as we repent of our sins and turn to Jesus. We confess him as Lord, and bow to him joyfully.

One day he will make all things new. The good news culminates in a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness, where neither sin nor any of its effects can survive, and where we enjoy the presence of God forever in the context of resurrection existence.

And we announce this good news to people everywhere, entreating them with the words, “Be reconciled to God!” by repenting of sin, asking God for his mercy, and trusting Jesus Christ.

For deeper study explore these related resources.

What is the Gospel – Course

The Free Offer of the Gospel

Topic: The Gospel

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

The Gospels

  • Introduction

THE GOSPELS

The collection of writings that constitutes the New Testament begins with four gospels. Next comes the Acts of the Apostles, followed by twenty-one letters that are attributed to Paul, James, Peter, John, and Jude. Finally, at the end of the early church’s scriptures stands the Revelation to John. Virtually all Christians agree that these twenty-seven books constitute the “canon,” a term that means “rule” and designates the list of writings that are regarded as authoritative for Christian faith and life.

It is the purpose of this Introduction to describe those features that are common to the four gospels. A similar treatment of the letters of the New Testament is provided in the two Introductions that appear before the Letter to the Romans and before the Letter of James, respectively. The Acts of the Apostles, a work that is both historical and theological, and Revelation, an apocalyptic work, have no counterparts in the New Testament; the special Introductions prefixed to these books treat of the literary characteristics proper to each of them.

While the New Testament contains four writings called “gospels,” there is in reality only one gospel running through all of the Christian scriptures, the gospel of and about Jesus Christ. Our English word “gospel” translates the Greek term euangelion , meaning “good news.” This noun was used in the plural by the Greek translators of the Old Testament to render the Hebrew term for “good news” ( 2 Sm 4:10 ; possibly also 2 Sm 18:20 , 25 ). But it is the corresponding verb euangelizomai , “to proclaim good news,” that was especially significant in preparing for the New Testament idea of “gospel,” since this term is used by Deutero-Isaiah of announcing the great victory of God that was to establish his universal kingship and inaugurate the new age ( Is 40:9 ; 52:7 ; 61:1 ).

Paul used the word euangelion to designate the message that he and the other apostles proclaimed, the “gospel of God” ( Rom 1:1 ; 15:16 ; 2 Cor 11:7 ; 1 Thes 2:2 , 8 , 9 ). He often referred to it simply as “the gospel” ( Rom 1:16 ; 10:16 ; 11:28 ; etc.) or, because of its content and origin, as “the gospel of Christ” ( Rom 15:19 ; 1 Cor 9:12 ; 1 Thes 3:2 ; etc.). Because of its personal meaning for him and his own particular manner of telling the story about Jesus Christ and of explaining the significance of his cross and resurrection, Paul also referred to this message as “my gospel” ( Rom 2:16 ; cf. Gal 1:11 ; 2:2 ) or “our gospel” ( 2 Cor 4:3 ; 1 Thes 1:5 ; 2 Thes 2:14 ).

It was Mark, as far as we know, who first applied the term “gospel” to a book telling the story of Jesus; see Mk 1:1 and the note there. This form of presenting Jesus’ life, works, teachings, passion, and resurrection was developed further by the other evangelists; see the Introduction to each gospel. The first three of the canonical gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, are so similar at many points when viewed together, particularly when arranged in parallel columns or lines, that they are called “synoptic” gospels, from the Greek word for such a general view. The fourth gospel, John, often differs significantly from the synoptics in outline and approach. This work never uses the word “gospel” or its corresponding verb; nevertheless, its message concerns the same Jesus, and the reader is urged to believe in him as the Messiah, “that through this belief you may have life in his name” ( Jn 20:31 ).

From the second century onward, the practice arose of designating each of these four books as a “gospel,” understood as a title, and of adding a phrase with a name that identified the traditional author, e.g., “The Gospel according to Matthew.” The arrangement of the canon that was adopted, with the four gospels grouped together at the beginning followed by Acts, provides a massive focus upon Jesus and allows Acts to serve as a framework for the letters of the New Testament. This order, however, conceals the fact that Luke’s two volumes, a gospel and Acts, were intended by their author to go together. It further obscures the point that Paul’s letters were written before any of our gospels, though the sayings and deeds of Jesus stand behind all the New Testament writings.

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COMMENTS

  1. Gospel Definition & Meaning

    noun gos· pel ˈgä-spəl Synonyms of gospel 1 a often capitalized : the message concerning Christ, the kingdom of God, and salvation b capitalized : one of the first four New Testament books telling of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ also : a similar apocryphal (see apocrypha sense 2) book c

  2. GOSPEL

    noun uk / ˈɡɒs.p ə l / us / ˈɡɑː.sp ə l / gospel noun (CHRISTIANITY) Add to word list Add to word list [ C ] any of the four books of the Bible that contain details of the life of Jesus Christ: gospel according to St Mark's Gospel/the Gospel according to St Mark the gospel [ S ] the teachings of Jesus Christ:

  3. What is the Gospel?

    In short, "the Gospel" is the sum total of the saving truth as God has communicated it to lost humanity as it is revealed in the person of His Son and in the Holy Scriptures, the Bible. If you aren't sure whether or not you are God's child, you might want to read God's Plan of Salvation before you read on in this lesson.

  4. What is the gospel?

    Answer The word gospel literally means "good news" and occurs 93 times in the Bible, exclusively in the New Testament. In Greek, it is the word euaggelion, from which we get our English words evangelist, evangel, and evangelical.

  5. Gospel

    Gospel is the Old English translation of the Hellenistic Greek term εὐαγγέλιον, meaning "good news"; [15] this may be seen from analysis of ευαγγέλιον ( εὖ "good" + ἄγγελος "messenger" + -ιον diminutive suffix). The Greek term was Latinized as evangelium in the Vulgate, and translated into Latin as bona ...

  6. Gospel Meaning

    Quick Reference Dictionary Gospel Gospel Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Gospel Gospel [N] [E] "Glad tidings" or "good news, " from Anglo-Saxon godspell. The Old Testament.

  7. GOSPEL Definition & Usage Examples

    noun the teachings of Jesus and the apostles; the Christian revelation. the story of Christ's life and teachings, especially as contained in the first four books of the New Testament, namely Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. ( usually initial capital letter) any of these four books.

  8. Gospel

    Gospel, any of four biblical narratives covering the life and death of Jesus Christ. Written, according to tradition, respectively by St. Matthew, St. Mark, St. Luke, and St. John (the four evangelists), they are placed at the beginning of the New Testament and make up about half the total text.

  9. GOSPEL

    GOSPEL meaning: 1. any of the four books of the Bible that contain details of the life of Jesus Christ: 2. the…. Learn more.

  10. What is a Gospel?

    What is a "Gospel?" Before we get ahead of ourselves, we should talk about what the word "Gospel" actually means. The word itself comes from a Greek word euangelion, which literally means "good news."

  11. Bible Dictionary: Gospel

    Glad tidings; especially, the good news concerning Christ, the Kingdom of God, and salvation. 2. ( n.) One of the four narratives of the life and death of Jesus Christ, written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. 3. ( n.) A selection from one of the gospels, for use in a religious service; as, the gospel for the day.

  12. What Does "Gospel" Mean?

    ( Matt. 3:2 ). The gospel is about Jesus—what He did, His life of perfect obedience, His atoning death on the cross, His resurrection from the dead, His ascension into heaven, and His outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the church. Jesus did the same in His parables, proclaiming, "the kingdom of God is like . . ."

  13. What Is the Gospel?

    Here, the gospel is the message of the saving death and resurrection of Jesus. The source of the gospel as a gift from God. The gospel is of divine, not human, origin. In another place, Paul writes of "the glorious gospel of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted," and he specifies what that gospel is: The saying is trustworthy ...

  14. What is the Gospel?

    According to the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology edited by Walter Elwell, "the gospel is the joyous proclamation of God's redemptive activity in Christ Jesus on behalf of man enslaved by sin."

  15. What does the term "gospel" mean?

    In the Greek New Testament, gospel is the translation of the Greek noun euangelion (occurring 76 times) "good news," and the verb euangelizo„ (occurring 54 times), meaning "to bring or announce good news." Both words are derived from the noun angelos, "messenger."

  16. gospel noun

    [countable, usually singular] a set of ideas that somebody believes in and tries to persuade others to accept He preached a gospel of military strength. the football gospel according to Kevin (also gospel truth) [uncountable] (informal) the complete truth Is that gospel? Don't take his word as gospel. (also gospel music)

  17. What Is the Gospel?

    First, it is the message that has come to us from God. It does not originate in any person or church. It is "the gospel of God.". Second, it is a message about Jesus, God's Son. That is what makes it so important and life-changing. The gospel is the message that God has given you so that you can experience Jesus Christ as your Savior (the ...

  18. Accept/take as gospel Definition & Meaning

    : to believe (something) to be true These myths are accepted/taken as gospel by many teenagers. Examples of accept/take as gospel in a Sentence

  19. What Is the Gospel?

    Jesus Christ. The word "Christ" means "anointed one," referring to anointing a king with oil when he is crowned. So, when we say "Jesus Christ," we're saying that Jesus is a King! When Jesus began his public ministry, he told the people, "The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe the good news!". As Jesus died on a ...

  20. What the Gospel Is, What It's Not, and Why an Accurate Definition Is

    The gospel means "good news," and the fact that our Christian identity calls us to seek justice is definitely good news, for it means that a holy and perfect lawgiver requires just behavior of us. But this reality is not the good news. The good news is that Jesus has done for us what we could never do for ourselves.

  21. What is the gospel of Jesus Christ?

    The word gospel means "good news," so the gospel of Christ is the good news of His coming to provide forgiveness of sins for all who will believe (Colossians 1:14; Romans 10:9). Since the first man's sin, mankind has been under the condemnation of God (Romans 5:12). Because everyone breaks God's perfect law by committing sin, everyone is guilty (Romans 3:23).

  22. What Is the Gospel?

    What Is the Gospel? The gospel is good news—the good news of what God has done in Jesus Christ. The Bible depicts human beings, all human beings everywhere, as in revolt against God, and therefore under his judgment. But although God stands over against us in judgment because of our sin, quite amazingly he stands over against us in love ...

  23. Gospels Introduction, THE GOSPELS

    THE GOSPELS The collection of writings that constitutes the New Testament begins with four gospels. Next comes the Acts of the Apostles, followed by twenty-one letters that are attributed to Paul, James, Peter, John, and Jude. Finally, at the end of the early church's scriptures stands the Revelation to John. Virtually all Christians agree that these twenty-seven books constitute the ...