Defining the Gospel
“This gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”- Matthew 24:14
Euangelion, the Greek term meaning “good news,” is typically translated as “gospel” in our English Bibles. As we have seen, the key Old Testament background of what the New Testament means by “good news” or “gospel” is the prophets’ announcement of God’s rescue of His people from their enemies and the arrival of His blessed kingdom (Isa. 40; Nah. 1:15). In fact, the idea that the gospel is the “gospel of the kingdom” is prominent in the New Testament. Today’s passage, for example, records Jesus’ prediction that the “gospel of the kingdom” must be preached to all nations. Mark 1:14–15 refers to our Lord’s initial preaching of the “gospel of God,” and summarizes the message that Christ proclaimed as one of repentance upon the coming of God’s kingdom.
Without question, then, the message of the gospel“ concerns God’s kingdom, which we may define as that place where His saving reign is manifest and people do His will. Throughout the Old Testament, we find eager anticipations of the inbreaking of the kingdom. Texts such as Psalm 137 express the people’s wondering whether God, who had left the temple in Jerusalem right before the Babylonian exile, would ever return to the temple and bring the people back to their land. The failure of the people to keep the covenant and thus retain the Promised Land was, in itself, a sign that something more would have to be done if the children of Abraham were to be established permanently under God’s blessing. So, the prophets also foresaw a day when the Lord would intervene in a powerful way to cleanse the people of their sin and establish them as lords over creation. Accompanying the inbreaking of the kingdom would also be a new effort to bring the nations into the worship of Yahweh, the covenant Lord of Israel and the one true God of creation. With the cleansing of Israel’s sin would come the day in which God’s salvation would be made known to the ends of the earth (52:1–12).
The prophets also foresaw that the arrival of God’s kingdom could only occur through the death of the Davidic Messiah, who would be the propitiation for sin and exhaust the Lord’s curse against His wicked people (52:13–53:12). All of this comes together in Christ. The gospel proclaims the arrival of God’s blessed kingdom in our Savior and that the only way to become a citizen of this kingdom and receive eternal life is to trust in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus alone (John 14:6; Rom. 1:1–6).
Ultimately, there are only two possible kingdoms where we can hold citizenship. We can hold citizenship in the kingdom of this world and experience eternal death, or we can be citizens of the kingdom of God and live in His glorious presence forever. We become citizens of God’s kingdom only by trusting in Christ. With whom will you share this message today?
Passages for Further Study
2 Timothy 2:8