"Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every
creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that
believeth not shall be damned" (Mar 16:15,16).
"But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of
God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women" (Acts
The word 'gospel' means 'good news or tidings'. It comes from
the Greek word 'euangelion'', which occurs 101 times in the New Testament.
Although the word 'gospel' is a New Testament word, its roots are firmly fixed
in the Old Testament. As Gal 3:8 (see above) shows, the gospel was preached
thousands of years before Jesus was born. To understand the good news preached
by Jesus and his disciples, the good news taken by Paul out into the Roman
Empire, the good news we receive today, we must appreciate that its origins are
to be found at the beginning of time. Indeed, the Apostle Peter states that the
gospel he preached had been preached "since the world began" (Acts 3:21). The
four references above set out clearly the importance of the gospel and give a
framework for understanding it:
"For I [Paul] am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God
unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the
Greek" (Rom 1:16).
"And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith,
preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be
blessed" (Gal 3:8).
The gospel in both Old and New Testaments
- to believe the gospel brings salvation
- to disregard the gospel brings
- if the gospel is believed then baptism must follow
- the gospel
message is information about the Kingdom of God and the work of the Lord Jesus
- the hope of salvation is available to all men and women of all
- faith (belief) that God will accomplish His purpose of
bringing salvation through Jesus comes through hearing the gospel
- the gospel we receive today is the same gospel that Abraham believed
4,000 years ago.
The writings of the Apostle Paul show clearly that the gospel
message existed before he began his ministry. Before the Lord Jesus Christ was
born it was spoken of by the prophets of the Old Testament, preached to Israel
in the wilderness and believed and acted on by Abraham (Rom 1:1,2; 2Ti 3:15; Heb
4:2; Gal 3:6-9).
The New Testament describes the gospel as "the hope of
Israel", and Paul and all those who accepted and believed this gospel identified
their faith with that of Abraham and faithful men and women in Israel of old
(Acts 26:6,7; 28:20; Rom 4:11; Gal 3:29).
The work of Jesus was "to confirm the promises made unto the
fathers: and that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy" (Rom 15:8,9).
The gospel/good news is that God through Christ fulfils the promises to Abraham
and Israel, and thus opens up a way of salvation, that all men and women might
have eternal life in His Kingdom on this earth (Acts 13:32-39). Resurrection
from the dead, a physical experience, is the great hope enshrined in the
promises of God, and faith in this is at the heart of the true gospel (1Co
15:20-26; Psa 71:20,21; Isa 26:19; Joh 11:21-27). Abraham had faith in the
resurrection from the dead, as Heb 11:13-19 shows. Two incidents in his life
especially demonstrate this. Gen 15 shows Abraham asking, "whereby shall I know
that I shall inherit [the land]?" (v 8), and he is reassured that, even though
he will die "in a good old age", God has made a covenant with him to give him
his eternal inheritance (vv 15,18). Gen 22 contains the story of Abraham being
prepared to offer his son Isaac, and in so doing demonstrating his faith in
resurrection from the dead (Heb 11:19).
The things concerning the Kingdom
When Philip preached the gospel to the people in Samaria, "the
things concerning the kingdom of God" were an important part (Acts 8:12). It was
necessary for people to know and understand about the Kingdom prior to being
baptized. This Kingdom was the one that Abraham believed in and looked forward
to, being described in the promises made by God to him (Gen 12:1-3; 13:14-17;
Gen 15). Abraham expected the Kingdom to be on the earth, as can be seen from
Rom 4:13: "For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to
Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of
faith". Stephen, the first martyr, points out that Abraham still awaits the
fulfillment of the promises made by God concerning the earthly Kingdom: "He
[God] gave him none inheritance in it, no, not so much as to set his foot on:
yet He promised that He would give it to him for a possession" (Acts 7:5). Heb
11:39,40 confirms that Abraham will inherit this earthly Kingdom along with
faithful believers at a future time.
Jesus "went about... preaching the gospel of the kingdom", as
did his disciples (Mat 4:23; Luk 9:2,6,11). When he was born, the message of the
angel was, "the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and
he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall
be no end" (Luk 1:32,33). Here is the link to the descendants of Abraham,
showing that the Kingdom will be an everlasting Kingdom reigned over by
Jesus taught his followers to pray, "Thy kingdom come. Thy
will be done in earth, as it is in heaven" (Mat 6:10), having the same
expectation as that of Abraham. Along with his teaching, Jesus performed
miracles, which gave a cameo of what the Kingdom will be like. The blind
received sight, the deaf heard, the lame walked, disease was cured; he even
raised the dead. The poor were justly treated and the hungry fed. Even the wind
and waves obeyed his voice. His teaching showed men and women how to live and
worship. This was a foretaste of the Kingdom spoken of by the prophets (Isa 35;
Psa 37:11; 72; Mic 4:1-4).
The things concerning the name of Jesus
To live for ever in this wonderful Kingdom it will be
necessary for death to be overcome. Death is a punishment for sin, and every one
save Christ deserves to die (Gen 3:17-19; Rom 5:12). As Paul says, "the wages of
sin is death"; but he goes on to say, "...but the gift of God is eternal life
through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom 6:23). That is why Christ says, "Your father
Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad" (Joh 8:56). Abraham
looked forward to the time when the Son of God would make it possible for death
to be overcome through his sinless life. Hebrews confirms that Jesus came to put
away sin, and in his sacrifice our sins are forgiven (Heb 9:11,12,26; 10:10).
Jesus did not die instead of us, but his sacrifice is the means by which our
sins are forgiven and we can be made immortal (1Co 15:3,4,20-23).
Paul teaches that it is belief in the things of the Kingdom
and the work of Jesus that leads to baptism into the saving name of Jesus (Rom
6:1-6), and in baptism we are linked to Abraham and his faith (Gal
So the gospel that has been preached for thousands of years
holds out to all men and women the hope of eternal life in God's Kingdom on the
earth reigned over by Jesus Christ.