About Jesus - Steve Sweetman
Is there just one gospel?
Are there a number of gospels? Are
there many aspects of one gospel? These
are questions we as Evangelicals might want to think about.
I think we have some
Evangelical traditions to rethink when thinking of the word
been associated with the Evangelical world since birth, which at times,
prided itself as not being traditional.
The fact of the matter is that Evangelicals have traditions, some
of which should be rethought.
The tradition among
Evangelicals concerning "the gospel" is that there is one
gospel and that is the gospel of salvation, meaning, the teaching that
states how an individual comes to personal salvation.
The point I'm about to make is that this definition does not
fully represent the concept of gospel as stated in the New Testament.
The Greek word
"euaggelion" is translated as "gospel" in the New
Testament. In the first
century Roman world the word "euaggelion" came to mean any
news or information that is good. Like
many other words found in the Bible,"euaggelion" was not a
religious word. Jesus, as
well as first century Christians, merely applied this word to fit its
many New Testament applications. For
example, in John 14:16 Jesus told the disciples that He'd ask the Father
and the Father would give them the Holy Spirit.
Even though the word "euaggelion" is not found in this
passage, what Jesus promised was good news.
It was "euaggelion".
There are countless examples in the New Testament where Jesus or
someone else passes on some pieces of good news where
"euaggelion" is not specifically written into the text but
what is stated in terms of being good news.
packaged up our English word "gospel" into a nice concise, but
limited, concept which states the process by which one is saved.
The New Testament doesn't present the gospel in this simplistic
is used in the New Testament in a much wider way.
For this reason, I think we as Evangelicals tend to miss the full
meaning to the gospel.
directly associated with the following in the New Testament.
- the gospel of grace -
- the gospel of God
- Romans 1:1
- the gospel of His Son -
- the gospel of Christ -
- the gospel of peace -
- the gospel of the
uncircumcision and circumcision - Galatians 2:7
- the everlasting gospel
- Revelation 14:6
Beyond the above direct
associations, the word "gospel" is also associated with
"my (Paul's) gospel (Romans 2:16) and "our" gospel (2
Corinthians 4:3). Beyond
this, the word "gospel" must be understood in its context.
For example, "this gospel" as used in Mark 24:14 and
elsewhere must be understood in its context.
I think I can safely say
that the word "gospel" as understood by its New Testament
usage applies to more than just how one gets saved.
There are numerous pieces of good news the New Testament teaches
apart from how one gets saved. Depending
on the context of "euaggelion", to whom "euaggelion"
was directed, and, the time in which "euaggelion" is in
referred to, will determine how we should understand the specific good
news being spoken of in any given passage.
Galatians 1:6 and
following is a key verse that needs to be studied when thinking of
"one gospel". Paul
spoke of the Galatians turning to a different gospel.
He then qualifies what he meant by saying that this different
gospel isn't really a gospel at all. In
other words, reverting back to law was not good news.
The aspect of the gospel Paul was specifically speaking to in
Galatians 1 concerned the gospel of the grace of Jesus that the
Galatians were turning from. (Galatians 1:6 - 7) It
should be noted that no where in this passage does Paul specifically say
there is "one" gospel. You
might suggest that the words "another gospel" and "the
one I preach" states that there is one gospel, and that might well
be right. That being said, I
don't believe Paul was making the point that there is one gospel.
His point was that his gospel, the one he preached, differed from
the one the Galatians were thinking of adapting. Think
about it this way. A boy has
a bag full of balls. He
pulls one ball out of his bag and asks his friend, "Do you want
this ball"? It's not
that they boy only has one ball. It's
that he has one particular ball in his hand that he is offering his
I conclude that our over
simplistic Evangelical gospel as we apply it to getting saved doesn't
fully represent the New Testament "euaggelion".
There might well be one gospel, but that one gospel is associated
with many pieces of good news items, some of which we have realized,
some of which we
are in the process of realizing, and, some of which we will yet realize
in the future. The gospel
concerns a wide rage of things other than personal salvation.
I guess whether you view the gospel as one gospel
with variety aspects, or, more than one gospel, it's your choice to