Some call it the Gospel. Others, the Good News. And some, the Evangel. Regardless of the designation, the “Gospel” is passed around by a variety of churches and sects. One hears it in the preaching of tele-evangelists, or reads it in a wide-range of writings. For many the word “Gospel” has become a simplistic statement unclearly referring to Jesus as a person. What is the “Gospel”? Not everyone gives the same answer. One group will answer that it is the good news that Jesus returned invisibly in 1874 or 1914 - or came for an inspection in 1844.
The English word “gospel” is rooted in godspel or “good spell” and then “good story.” [God + story = god-story] The word has come to dominate either the sum of the teachings of Jesus the Nazarene, or the story of his life. The Greek word used in the Christian Bible is EUANGELIOU [Mark 1:1] which literal means “well” plus “angel.” Or, a good message, an excellent story, or proclamation.
“Good News” or Gospel occurs about 120 times in the Christian Bible, occurring most often in Acts [18 times] and Galatians [15 times].
What is the meaning of the Gospel? What are the major subjects involved in the Gospel? Will a future Gospel be revealed to humanity?
The term “good news” is most often connected with three subjects: God, Jesus, and the Kingdom. [God -- Mark 1:14; Romans 15:16; 2 Corinthians 11:7; 1 Thessalonians 2;2, 8, 9; 1 Timothy 1:11; 1 Peter 4:17; Jesus -- Mark 1:1; Acts 5:42; 8:35; 10:36; 11:20; 17:18; Romans 1:9; 15:19; 1 Corinthians 9:12; 2 Corinthians 2:12; 4:4; 9:13; 10:14; Galatians 1:7, 16; Ephesians 3:8; Philippians 1:27; 1 Thessalonians 3:2; 2 Thessalonians 1:8; Kingdom -- Matthew 4:23; 9:35; 24:14; Luke 4:43; 8:1; 16:16; Acts 8:12]
When Jesus the Nazarene used the term “good news” it was almost always in connection with the word “kingdom” - the good news of the Kingdom. [Matthew 4:23; 9:35; 24:14; Luke 4:43; 8:1; 16:16] It is interesting to note that neither Mark of John do this. Indeed, in the “Gospel” of John the word “good news” never occurs.
In the Nazarene’s teachings there are two kingdoms:
It was “good news” that humans could enter this “Realm of Profession” belonging to Christ Jesus. In this context the “kingdom” becomes the same as the “congregation.” [Matthew 16:18, 28] Upon his ascension to heaven in the year 33 CE, Jesus was “installed” by God as King. [Psalm 2:6, 7; Acts 13:33; 1 Corinthians 15:25; Hebrews 10:12, 13] This was in fulfillment of Daniel 7:13, “I continued to observe in my night visions, and, look! With the clouds of the Sky someone like a Son of Humankind was arriving. He was bought to the Ancient of Days. The angels brought him into the Presence of the One And to this [Son of Humankind] there were given government and dignity and realm, so that peoples, languages should all serve him.” [Daniel 7:13, 14 NCMM]
Just so, Christ became King and thousands of “peoples” of many “languages” submitted to his reign. [Acts 2:5, 6, 41] These became his Body or Congregation within his “kingdom.” [Ephesians 1:19-23; Colossians 1:13] This was good news indeed - the opportunity of gaining entrance into this kingdom or realm. [Matthew 11:11, 12; Luke 13:24]
This good news also involved another aspect - one most thrilling and wonderous! The possibility of actually moving from the Son’s “realm” [filled with scandal and lawlessness; see notes on Matthew 13:43 in Nazarene Commentary©] into the “Kingdom of the Father.” [Compare also Daniel 12:3.] This marvelous prospect will be realized at some future moment described in Revelation 11:15-18 and Revelation 12:10 -
RV11:15 And the 7th Angel trumpeted.
Great voices occurred in Heaven, saying:
“The sovereignty of the world
became our Lord’s and His Messiah.
The Lord will reign into the Ages of the Ages.”
RV11:16 And the 24 Presbyters,
those in the sight of The God,
those sitting on their thrones,
they fell upon their faces and worshipped The God, saying:
RV11:17 “We give thanks to you, The Lord,
The God, The Almighty,
The-One-Who-Is, and, The-One-Who-Was,
because you have taken your great power and reigned.
RV11:18 And the nations were wrathful,
and Your wrath came.
The appointed time to judge the dead.
To give the reward to Your Slaves the Prophets,
to the Saints,
to those fearing your Name,
the small and the great.
To corrupt those who thoroughly corrupted the earth.”
RV12:10 And I heard a great voice in Heaven, saying:
“Salvation has occurred!
The Power, the Kingdom of our God,
the authority of His Messiah!
[NCMM; for complete discussion see Nazarene Apocalypse©]
So, the Gospel essentially involves God, Jesus, and their Kingdoms. At the center of the Gospel are the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, as well as his teachings. [Acts 10:36-43] However, what other subjects are involved in the Gospel?
The story of a special woman. It is a revelation of Jesus’ character that an often overlooked matter is an important part of the “Gospel.” The record is found in Matthew 26:6-13 [Mark 14:9] and involves a woman’s use of expensive perfumed oil to anoint Jesus in anticipation of his death. It tells us a lot about the Nazarene’s sensitivity to women in the face of his disciples’ disdain.
The Word of God cannot be separated from the Gospel. Peter writes: “For, ‘all flesh is grass, and all its glory is as the flower of the field. The grass has withered, and the flower has fallen off, but [the] Saying of YHWH remains into the Age.’ [Isaiah 40:6-8] Now this ‘Saying’ is what has been declared to you as Good News.” [1 Peter 1:24, 25 NCMM] The “word” is connected to the Gospel. Indeed, Acts 15:35 speaks of “the good news of the Word of the Lord.” Thus, if one is to become familiar with the Gospel one must also become acquainted with the “Saying” of Yehowah, which would involved the Hebrew Scriptures.
Mere belief or conviction is not enough to benefit from the Gospel. Several times “obedience” is associated with the Gospel. Note the following:
“ … because you are submissive to the good news about the Christ.” [2 Corinthians 9:13 NWT] “ … they were not walking uprightly in the spirit of the Good News [Galatians 2:19 Weymouth Translation] “ … inflicting vengeance upon those who do not know God and upon those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.” [2 Thessalonians 1:8 Revised Standard Version] “… what will be the end of those who are not obedient to good news?” [1 Peter 4:17 NWT]
This “obedience” to the Gospel must involve the teachings and commandments of the Nazarene. He taught, “My friends are those who observe my commandments.” [John 14:15; 15:14] Such obedience would involve becoming very familiar with the sixty “commandments” of Jesus. [For details see the work Nazarene Commandments 2000© in Nazarene Commentary 2000©.]
Such “commandments” of the good news of Jesus involved two main themes: conviction and charity.
The Gospel about Jesus Christ cannot be separated from the Hebrew Bible for this is the source of the Good News. This Good News was declared throughout the history of God’s relationship with His Hebrew worshippers. [Romans 16:25, 26; Galatians 3:8]
Romans 1:1-4, 9, 16 declares this association with the Gospel:
Paul, a slave of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to God’s good news, which He promised by means of His prophets in sacred writings, -- concerning His Son who descended from David’s seed by means of flesh, declared God’s Son (our Lord Jesus Christ) by a resurrection from the dead through a spirit of holiness. … For I am not ashamed of the good news because it is God’s power unto salvation.” [NCMM]
Thus the Gospel included:
As much as some wish to avoid this subject, the Gospel deals not just with salvation, but also judgment. Paul speaks so: “[The non-Jews] demonstrated the Law’s work ‘written within their hearts’ [Jeremiah 31:33] - the combined testimony working between their conscience and their logical thoughts, either prosecuting or defending them. According to my own Good News through Christ Jesus [this is how] t will be in the day The God judges the secret things of all humankind.” [Romans 2:15, 16 NCMM]
When declaring the good news to the first non-Jews Peter had also associated judgment with the Gospel: “[God] sent out the word to the sons of Israel to declare to them the good news of peace through Jesus Christ. … [God] ordered us to preach to the people and to give a thorough witness that this is the One decreed by God to be judge of the living and the dead.” [Acts 10:36, 42 NWT] There can be no salvation without first judgment. [Hebrews 5:8, 9; 9:27; compare Matthew 12:36, 37]
There are three religious mysteries or sacred secrets also involved with the Gospel.
First, is the mystery that not just fleshly Hebrews or Jews would gain entry into the Kingdom, but also non-Jews would be blessed in the Gospel. Note how Paul involves this mystery with the gospel:
Thus, after he arrived (in the flesh) he proclaimed the Gospel to you (non-Jews) -- peace and unity to both the strangers and the citizens. Because by means of Christ we are being led together in one unified mind to approach the Father. … All past generations of humankind were ignorant of this sacred mystery as it has been revealed to the sanctified apostles and prophets by Pneuma. The mystery is this: non-Jews are to be fellow heirs in a consolidated Body! Collective partakers of the promise incorporated in Jesus Christ according to the Gospel! … pray for me so I might be given the right words and the ability to speak freely as I make known the mystery of the Gospel.” [Ephesians 2:17, 18; 3:5-8; 6:19 NCMM Paraphrase]
Second, the resurrection of the Church to immortality in the heavens was also part of the glorious Gospel. This is describes as “the hope of the Gospel.” [Colossians 1:23] This marvelous hope is described in 1 Corinthians 15:1, 2, 48-54 -
Now I make known to you, brothers, the good news which I declared to you, which you also received, in which you also stand, 2 through which you are also being saved, with the speech with which I declared the good news to you, if you are holding it fast, unless, in fact, you became believers to no purpose. … 48 As the one made of dust [is], so those made of dust [are] also; and as the heavenly one [is], so those who are heavenly [are] also. 49 And just as we have borne the image of the one made of dust, we shall bear also the image of the heavenly one. 50 However, this I say, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit God's kingdom, neither does corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Look! I tell you a sacred secret: We shall not all fall asleep [in death], but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, during the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised up incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this which is corruptible must put on incorruption, and this which is mortal must put on immortality. 54 But when [this which is corruptible puts on incorruption and] this which is mortal puts on immortality, then the saying will take place that is written: "Death is swallowed up forever." [NWT]
Paul also wrote: “And from us thanks are always due to God on your behalf--brethren whom the Lord loves--because God from the beginning has chosen you for salvation through the Spirit's sanctifying influence and your belief in the truth. To this blessing God has called you by our Good News, so that you may have a share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” [2 Thessalonians 2:13, 14 Weymouth Translation] “And now has manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. For this gospel I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher.” [2 Timothy 2:10, 11 RSV]
The resurrection of the dead Saints and the Rapture of the living Saints is part of the Truth of the Gospel. [1 Thessalonians 4:15-17]
Finally, The Book of Revelation cannot be separated from the Gospel. That mystery unveiled in the Bible’s last apocalyptic book is also highly related to the Gospel. “For in the days of the voice of the Seventh Angel, when the Angel is about to trumpet, the Mystery of The God is finished! [Just] as He declared the Good News to His Slaves the Prophets.” [Revelation 10:7 NCMM] It follows that if one is to know, obey, and be blessed by the Gospel an acquaintance with the prophecy of Revelation. Revelation 1:3 makes this clear: “Happy is he who reads aloud and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and who observe the things written in it.” [NWT]
The above helps us appreciate what is involved in the Gospel. However, is there danger of “another Gospel”?
Not only Jesus, but all of his inspired disciples who wrote after him, warned of an apostasy away from original Christian Gospel. [Matthew 13:37-43; 2 Thessalonians 2:3FF] Paul cautions about such who would introduce a pseudo gospel inspired by Satan. Consider:
“The god of this Period of Time has blinded the minds of unbelievers so that the illumination of the glorious good news about the Christ may not beam forth. … Indeed, if another arrives preaching a different ‘Jesus’ - not the One we preached - or a different spirit - you receive them; or, a different Gospel than what you accepted, you easily tolerate such. … Such persons are pseudo apostles, deceitful workers, refashioning themselves into Christ’s apostles. And no wonder, for Satan himself continues to transform himself into an ‘angel of light’. It is not great thing, then, if his servants also continue to refashion themselves as ministers of righteousness.” [2 Corinthians 4:3, 4; 11:4, 13-15 NCMM]
To Paul “a different Gospel” is not just a matter of opinion to be tolerated as if he had “agreed to disagree.” Galatians 1:6-9 stresses the importance of the original Gospel:
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and turning to a different gospel -- not that there is another gospel, but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, If any one is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed.” [RSV]
By reading the above Biblical description of the true Gospel, one will be able to identify those who preach “another gospel” - a “different gospel.” [Matthew 7:21-23] Happily in the future the Gospel will be proclaimed in such a way that all humanity will have the opportunity to make a decision leading to blessed opportunities.
Revelation 14:6, 7 foretells a future event as the “hour of judgment” arrives: “And I saw another angel flying in the atmosphere having everlasting Good News to declare as glad news to those sitting upon the earth - and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people - haying in a great voice: ‘Fear The God and give Him glory, because the hour of the judgment has arrived. And so worship the One wo made the heaven and the earth and the sea and fountains of water.”
This sky-high angelic announcement of the Gospel does not mention Jesus Christ. It calls upon all peoples to worship the Creator, exhorting only that He be given fear and glory. This announcement - in whatever form it takes - occurs before the collapse of Babylon the Great and before the beastly creation of global economic control. [Revelation 14:8-12 NCMM; for details see Nazarene Apocalypse in Nazarene Commentary 2000©] We rejoice that there is yet opportunity to repent and fear God!
Will you now benefit from the Gospel by your faith in and obedience to Jesus Christ the Nazarene? Right now the Gospel offers the wondrous opportunity to gain entrance into the “Kingdom of the Son” with its glorious hope. Study the teachings of the Nazarene. Read the Bible. Then make your decision to “follow the Lamb no matter where he goes.” [Revelation 14:4; 1 Peter 2:21] No doubt you will be moved to share the Gospel with others as the most stirring News despite the passing of two thousand years. [Romans 15:16; 2 Corinthians 11:7; 1 Thessalonians 2;2, 8, 9] God bless those who hear and obey the Gospel!
Nazarene Commentary 2000© by Mark Heber Miller
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