What Is “Gospel”? Part 3

emptytomb2In parts 1 and 2 we considered the two primary New Testament texts defining “gospel” and the Old Testament texts that introduced the idea of gospel long before Jesus came. In this and the next part, we’ll work through most of the remaining Pauline texts on “gospel.”

Rom 1:16-17

(Rom 1:16-17)  I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

We learn that —

  • The gospel brings salvation to those who believe
  • God’s righteousness, that is, his faithfulness to  his covenant with Abraham, is revealed in the gospel
  • The gospel is “by faith from first to last”
  • The righteous live by faith

Rom 2:16

(Rom 2:16)  This will take place on the day when God will judge men’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.

The “gospel” includes Judgment Day. After all, what’s the point of salvation unless there’s something to be saved from? More importantly, the goodness of the good news includes getting to spend eternity with God.

Rom 16:25-27

(Rom 16:25-27)  Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, 26 but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey him — 27 to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.

The “mystery” is Jesus and God’s plan to redeem “all nations” through belief in and obedience to Jesus. The language, of course, echoes God’s covenant to bless “all nations” through Abraham’s seed.

1 Cor 1:16-24

(1 Cor 1:17-24)  For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel — not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. 18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” 20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?

21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

Paul equates “gospel” with “message of the cross” and “the power of God.” He emphasizes that this power is not about scholarship and intellect. Rather, the preaching is simply “Christ crucified.”

Thus, the gospel —

  • Is about the power of God, not the abilities of man
  • Saves those who believe
  • Centers on the crucifixion
  • Was never meant to be complicated or hard to understand

2 Cor 4:3-7

(2 Cor 4:3-7)  And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. 7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

The gospel —

  • Shows the glory of Christ (“glory” is God’s presence, so Paul is saying Jesus is co-equal with God)
  • Shows Christ to be the image of God (God is selfless, serving, compassionate, just as is Jesus)
  • Jesus is Christ (=Messiah=King) and Lord (=King)
  • Knowledge of God through Christ comes by the power of God

Gal 1 – 3

(Gal 1:6-9)  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 — 7 which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 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! 9 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!

Paul does not here define the gospel. Rather, he emphatically makes the point that whatever error was being taught cuts to the heart of the gospel.

(Gal 2:11-21)  When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong. 12 Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. 13 The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.

14 When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?

15 “We who are Jews by birth and not ‘Gentile sinners’ 16 know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.

17 “If, while we seek to be justified in Christ, it becomes evident that we ourselves are sinners, does that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! 18 If I rebuild what I destroyed, I prove that I am a lawbreaker. 19 For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”

Peter’s refusal of table fellowship with Gentiles was contrary to “the truth of the gospel.” That truth is —

  • A man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ
  • By observing the law no one will be justified
  • A Christian is crucified with Christ so that Christ now lives in the Christian.
  • Christians live by faith in the Son of God
  • The gospel affects how we live and with whom we fellowship

The gospel has a double edge. It saves by faith in Jesus, but only faith in Jesus saves. Thus, seeking salvation by some other means, such as by obedience to the law, damns — perverting the gospel to become a “different gospel” that doesn’t save at all.

(Gal 3:8-9)  The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.” 9 So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

  • Justification is by faith in Jesus.
  • Justification is for all nations
  • All with faith have the blessings of the gospel

The point of the Galatian view of “gospel” is that gospel is by faith and not works, and adding works to gospel destroys the power of the gospel to save.

Eph 1 and 3

(Eph 1:13-14)  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, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession — to the praise of his glory.

The gospel, therefore —

  • Includes us in Christ
  • Comes from hearing the “word of truth”  = gospel
  • Marks believers with the seal of the Holy Spirit
  • Provides an inheritance
  • Promises redemption
  • Makes us “God’s possession”

(Eph 3:4-6)  In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. 6 This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.

The gospel reveals a “mystery” —

  • Gentiles are heirs together with Jews
  • Gentiles and Jews are part of one body
  • Gentiles and Jews share together in the promise in Christ Jesus

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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10 Responses to What Is “Gospel”? Part 3

  1. David Himes says:

    I agree with everything you say here, but to me the gospel is even simpler — it's the good news that there is a way I can escape my own failures and find peace forever.

    One of the most telling questions to ask a believer, is: From what have you been saved.

    The answer is very revealing. And it is central to the meaning of "good news."

  2. Charles Gash says:

    1 Cor.15:1. Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand,
    2. by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you unless you believed in vain.
    3. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
    4. and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,
    5. and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve.
    Acts 2:38. Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Charles, Paul told the Corinthians-1 Corinthians 1:17 "For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect."

  4. Charles Gash says:

    The gospel (repentance and remission of sins )was first preached in Jerusalem

    Luke 24: 46. Then He said to them, "Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day,
    47. "and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
    Love ya in the Lord Jesus Christ.
    Charles Gash

  5. Charles Gash says:

    2 Tim.4: 1. I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom:
    2. Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.
    3. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers;
    4. and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.
    How about that.?

    Charles Gash~~

  6. Anonymous says:

    2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance."

    Acts 10:43-44 “To Him all the prophets witness that through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive the remission of sins. While Peter was still speaking to these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word."

    Ephesians 1:13-14 “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory."

  7. Acts 2:38. Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. – Charles

    Anyone who just lives close to a CofC building will know the first three-fourths of that verse.

    The reason we're having these discussions, though, is because of our complete unfamiliarity with the very last part, right after the semi-colon. If we were discussing the Holy Spirit (meat) part as deeply as we were discussing the definition of the gospel (milk), we would be so much more able in ALL facets of the gospel, be it the message, or living it.

  8. "the goodness of the good news includes getting to spend eternity with God."

    I believe that in addition, the goodness of the good news is that I don't have to be miserable in this life. I don't have to hate people, lie to people, cheat them, prejudge them, etc. and I don't have to worry about others doing the same to me.

  9. Trent Tanaro says:

    Thank your Brother for taking us back to the cross, someday along with the Spirits help, we will all 'climb' up out of the sectarian mess we have gotten ourselves into. Thanks for all you do!!

  10. Nick Gill says:

    On Romans 2:16 — I don't think the gospel is declaring what we'll be saved from (Judgment Day) but rather when God will complete our salvation. How good is a gospel that says things are gonna stay just as bad as they are? Not very good, obviously — so the gospel must address about the day when all secrets are revealed, and the stone that was cast out is revealed to be the true cornerstone of reality.

    On the Galatian view of the gospel — I wonder if we'll ever understand the great damage done by the gospel we preached for decades in America, where our "Gentiles" weren't granted table fellowship and, in fact, weren't believed to be truly human.

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