gos'-pel (to euaggelion): The word gospel is derived from the Anglo-Saxon word which meant "the story concerning God." In the New Testament the Greek word euaggelion, means "good news." It proclaims tidings of deliverance. The word sometimes stands for the record of the life of our Lord (Mr 1:1), embracing all His teachings, as in Ac 20:24. But the word "gospel" now has a peculiar use, and describes primarily the message which Christianity announces. "Good news" is its significance. It means a gift from God. It is the proclamation of the forgiveness of sins and sonship with God restored through Christ. It means remission of sins and reconciliation with God. The gospel is not only a message of salvation, but also the instrument through which the Holy Spirit works (Ro 1:16).
The gospel differs from the law in being known entirely from revelation. It is proclaimed in all its fullness in the revelation given in the New Testament. It is also found, although obscurely, in the Old Testament. It begins with the prophecy concerning the `seed of the woman' (Ge 3:15), and the promise concerning Abraham, in whom all the nations should be blessed (Ge 12:3; 15:5) and is also indicated in Ac 10:43 and in the argument in Ro 4:1-25.
In the New Testament the gospel never means simply a book, but rather the message which Christ and His apostles announced. In some places it is called "the gospel of God," as, for example, Ro 1:1; 1Th 2:2,9; 1Ti 1:11. In others it is called "the gospel of Christ" (Mr 1:1; Ro 1:16; 15:19; 1Co 9:12,18; Ga 1:7). In another it is called "the gospel of the grace of God" (Ac 20:24); in another "the gospel of peace" (Eph 6:15); in another "the gospel of your salvation" (Eph 1:13); and in yet another "the glorious gospel" (2Co 4:4 the King James Version). The gospel is Christ: He is the subject of it, the object of it, and the life of it. It was preached by Him (Mt 4:23; 11:5; Mr 1:14; Lu 4:18 margin), by the apostles (Ac 16:10; Ro 1:15; 2:16; 1Co 9:16) and by the evangelists (Ac 8:25).
We must note the clear antithesis between the law and the gospel. The distinction between the two is important because, as Luther indicates, it contains the substance of all Christian doctrine. "By the law," says he, "nothing else is meant than God's word and command, directing what to do and what to leave undone, and requiring of us obedience of works. But the gospel is such doctrine of the word of God that neither requires our works nor commands us to do anything, but announces the offered grace of the forgiveness of sin and eternal salvation. Here we do nothing, but only receive what is offered through the word." The gospel, then, is the message of God, the teaching of Christianity, the redemption in and by Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, offered to all mankind. And as the gospel is bound up in the life of Christ, His biography and the record of His works, and the proclamation of what He has to offer, are all gathered into this single word, of which no better definition can be given than that of Melanchthon: "The gospel is the gratuitous promise of the remission of sins for Christ's sake." To hold tenaciously that in this gospel we have a supernatural revelation is in perfect consistency with the spirit of scientific inquiry. The gospel, as the whole message and doctrine of salvation, and as chiefly efficacious for contrition, faith, justification, renewal and sanctification, deals with facts of revelation and experience.
David H. Bauslin