What is the gospel?

“The gospel” is another word for the Christian message or the central teaching about God’s work in and through Jesus. In Koine Greek, euangelion (ευαγγελιον) means “good news.” In early Christian communities of the first century, those the apostles started, the gospel was the central message of their faith. Paul summarizes in 1 Corinthians 15:1-8 what he understood to be the gospel: Christ died for our sins as the Scriptures said, he was buried and then raised from the dead on the third day, and he was seen by many eyewitnesses including Peter and the other apostles, over 500 of his followers, and also by Paul (in a vision).

In time, Christians came to use the word “gospel” to refer to one of the written works centered on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, probably starting with Mark (see Mark 1:1) and eventually including Matthew, Luke and John. There were other books after these four bearing the name “gospel”, but these have not gained wide acceptance in the ancient, medieval or modern church.

Is a gospel by any other name still the gospel?

There is a third sense in which people use “gospel” today in everyday speech and even outside of faith circles. If something is “gospel”, it’s a true word that you can count on, like when someone raps and says, “That’s gospel!” They mean it’s not a lie, it’s the truth. There are obviously other uses of the word too, such as describing a type of religious music.

Maybe you’ve come across other uses of “gospel” than what I’ve mentioned. What is the point? Is the gospel (message) and gospel (book) really different?


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14. Kingdom Come

Starting a Journey with Jesus, Day 14  (Matthew: 4:23-25)

Today we cover a lot of ground.  Put your walking shoes on, we are going to follow Jesus all over the hilly region of Galilee.  There are only two cities here (Sepphoris near Nazareth and Tiberias on the Sea of Galilee) and many small villages.  Most of the people are farmers and fishermen living under Roman rule that is exercised through the Herodian family.

He went across all of Galilee teaching in the synagogues and preaching the good news of God’s kingdom and healing all the sickness and disease of the people.   The report about what he was doing went beyond Galilee into all of Syria.  People brought to him anybody who was ill with an ailment or problem, those suffering great pain, the demon-oppressed, epileptics and paralyzed, and he healed them all.  Great crowds came to him from Galilee, from the “Ten Cities” across the lake, others from Jerusalem and Judea, and others from across the Jordan. (Matthew 4:23-25)


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13. Come Follow Me

Starting a Journey with Jesus, Day 13  (Matthew 4:18-22)

Jesus invited two sets of brothers, all fishermen, to come and journey with him.  You are invited to continue the journey too.

Walking beside Lake Galilee, Jesus saw two brothers: Simon (later called Peter) and Andrew.  They were throwing their nets into the lake, for their work was fishing.  Jesus said to them, “Follow after me. I’ll make you a fisher of men.”  Right away they left their nets and followed him.

A little ways further he saw another pair of brothers, James and John, Zebedee’s sons.  They were sitting in a boat with their father, Zebedee, mending their fishnets, and Jesus called them to follow.  They immediately left behind the boat and their father and followed him. (Matthew 4:18-22)


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