Me with my lovely wife, Kathy:

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

What is the gospel, #3:

Like most New Testament words that have been infused with powerful Theological meaning the word εὐαγγέλιον (euangelion) was a term already in use in the First Century.  I found this blog where Glen Davis has compiled a number of ancient references of the use of the word εὐαγγέλιον in non-Christian, pre-Christian ways.  The word is used in reference to military victories, the death of an enemy, or the benefits that a human ruler brings to his land.
In the Bible one finds indication that the word is, at least part of the time, used in this general good-news sense.

  • When Luke quotes the word of the angel, in Luke 2:10, "I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people."  The verb form of the word is similar to the way a herald in the employ of an earthly leader would use it.  The angelic use of the word is not all that different than the way another announcer used it in regard to a very non-divine matter: "I’ve got good news [εὐαγγέλια ] for you!” I said to them.  “News that are so good, I want to make sure that I’m the first to announce them to you.  It’s the price of sardines, folks!  It’s the best it’s ever been since the outbreak of the war!”
    The Gospel of Sardines, :)
  • Dispensationalists have recognized this general use of the term.  Whether one agrees with their recognition of different gospels--the Gospel of the Kingdom, the Gospel of Grace, and the Eternal Gospel--it is clear that they are right from a historical viewpoint that one cannot automatically assume that every use of the word εὐαγγέλιον, or one of its other forms, means what we have come to understand as "THE GOSPEL."
  • Indeed, some of the modifiers attached to "gospel" indicate that the writers a talking about a particular gospel.  (See below)
  • The Apostle Paul, as the Theologian of the New Testament draws the clearest lines.  He gives a definitive statement of the gospel in 1 Corinthians 15:1-6, and sometimes refers to the message he preached as "my gospel."  Pointedly he warns about "different gospels"--which lead to condemnation rather than salvation. 

    While this list is incomplete, here are some observations about how "gospel appears in the New Testament (This is simply some notes I kept for myself.  I haven't polished them.):
    Gospel, Euangellion is found over 100 times in NT.
    “Gospel of the Kingdom”
    ·        Matt. 4:23
    ·        Matt. 9:35
    ·        Matt. 24:14, “this Gospel of the Kingdom”
    ·        Luke 16:16
    “Gospel of Jesus” (or some other title referring to Christ)
    ·        Mark 1:1
    ·        Romans 1:9
    ·        Romans 15:19
    ·        1 Cor. 9:12
    ·        2 Cor. 2:12
    ·        2 Cor. 9:13
    ·        2 Cor. 10:14
    ·        Gal. 1:7
    ·        Phil. 1:27
    ·        1 Thes. 3:2
    ·        2 Thes. 1:8
     “Gospel of God”
    ·        Mark 1:14
    ·        Romans 1:1
    ·        2 Cor. 11:7
    ·        1 Thes. 2:8,9
    ·        1 Tim. 1:11
    ·        1 Peter 4:17
    “Gospel of the grace of God”
    ·        Acts 20:24
    Gospel & Great Commission, Mark 16:15
    “My Gospel”
    ·        Romans 2:16
    ·        Romans 16:25
    ·        2 Timothy 2:8
    “Different gospel”
    ·        2 Corinthians 11:4
    ·        Galatians 1:6
    On a couple of occasions we find the words, “this Gospel.”  Does that indicate more than one gospel?  Also note Rev. 14:6 “an eternal gospel.”
    Definitive statements about what constitutes the Gospel
    Look at Acts 15:7 & backtrack to what Peter actually did preach.
    Romans 1:16, salvation
    Romans 10:16 & 11:28 indicates that the Gospel is such that it excludes, as well as includes.
    1 Cor. 15:1>>
    2 Cor. 9:13, it is something that can be confessed.
    There are other, heteros, gospels: 2 Cor. 11:4, Gal. 1:6-7
    Note Gal. 1-2.  Clearly from 2:14 it is clear that Gospel includes aspects of Christian life as well as Salvation experience.
    “Gospel of your salvation” Eph. 1:13
    One effect of the Gospel is the breaking down of the barrier between Jew and Gentile, Eph. 3:6
    Hope in heaven comes through the Gospel, Col. 1:5 
    Could part of the current debate be the result of trying to take a word with general meaning, and make it more specific than it is intended to be?
    Einstein is credited with saying something like, "Everything should be made as simple as possible and not one bit simpler."
    As we try to boil Christianity down to its core that is an adage that ought to be kept in mind.

    I appreciate your thoughts.


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