Tuesday, September 23, 2008

What is the Gospel?---The NT Uses the Word "Gospel" In Two Ways

Greg Gilbert @ http://blog.9marks.org is reviewing the New Testament usage of the word "Gospel".

From his introduction:

Sometimes it uses “gospel” in a very broad way, that is, to describe all the promises that God intends to fulfill in Christ, including not only forgiveness of sin, but also everything else that flows from it—the establishment of the kingdom, the new heavens and new earth, etc. There are other times, though, where it uses “gospel” in a very narrow way, that is, to describe specifically the forgiveness of sins through the substitutionary death and resurrection of Christ. In those places, the broader promises don’t seem to be so much in view.

He then sites some of the clearest places where the Bible uses the word “gospel” in the narrow sense:

1. ESV Acts 10:36-43 As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ ( he is Lord of all), . . . To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name."

2. ESV Romans 1:16-17 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, "The righteous shall live by faith."

3. ESV 1 Corinthians 1:17-18 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. 18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

4. ESV 1 Corinthians 15:1-5 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you- unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.

In the second section, he sites some of the clearest places where it’s used in the broad sense:

1. ESV Matthew 4:23 And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people.

(Repentance is linked with Mt4:17)

2. ESV Mark 1:14-15 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.

3. ESV Luke 4:18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed,

4. ESV Acts 13:32 And we bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers, 33 this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus, . . .

To summarize the two usages:
  • Broadly, as in Matthew 4, Mark 1, Luke 4, and Acts 13, it refers to all the promises made to us through the work of Jesus—not only forgiveness of sins, but also resurrection, reconciliation with both God and others, sanctification, glorification, coming Kingdom, new heavens and new earth, and so forth. You might say that in those cases, “gospel” refers to the whole complex of God’s promises secured through the life and work of Christ.
  • In the narrow sense, such as we see in Acts 10, the whole book of Romans, 1 Corinthians 1 and 1 Corinthians 15, “gospel” refers specifically to the atoning death and resurrection of Jesus and the call to all people to repent and believe in him.

There are two important distinctions:

  • The broad use of the word “gospel” necessarily includes the narrow. Therefore repent and believe!
  • Second, it’s worth noting explicitly, again, the fact that the New Testament calls the specific, narrow message of forgiveness of sins through Christ “The Gospel.

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