About the word “Gospel”

This page contains linguistic considerations about the word “Gospel”. For the message of Christianity see What is so good about the Good News?.

The word Gospel is the English translation of the greek term εὐαγγέλιον (euangélion). This term is used for two very different things: Biblical authors used it to designate Jesus’s teachings as a whole, and Christians later used it also to designate the texts about Jesus’s life1. The difference is usually clear from the context.

Good News

The teachings brought to humanity through Jesus Christ.

Jesus “proclaimed the gospel of God”. He said “The time is fulfilled” and “The kingdom of God has come near”. He told people to “Repent” and to “believe this good news” (Mk 1:14-15).

Gospel (Good News)

A synonym for the Good News.

Gospel (literal genre)

A text that describes Jesus’s life, death and resurrection. Usually one of the four books of this genre that are part of the Bible (Mark, Matthew, Luke and John).

The English Wikipedia has an article about the first meaning The Gospel, which is an exception to the general Wikipedia rule of avoiding definite and indefinite articles.

Nijay Gupta suggests at least three “dimensions” of what Christians mean when they talk about “the Gospel”: It is (1) the person of Jesus Christ and/or (2) the Christian world view and/or (3) the mission of Christianity.2

Footnotes

1

It “originally meant the Christian message itself, but in the 2nd century it came to be used for the books in which the message was set out.” — Cross & Livingstone (2005). The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church.

2

Nijay Gupta in Why Is It So Hard to Define “The Gospel”? A Short Reflection and a Case Study,