Adult Bible Class Material

Adult Bible Class Material

What Does the Bible Mean When It Says "Gospel"?

What Does the Bible Mean When It Says "Gospel"?

The term “gospel” is often explained as meaning “good news”. The word was sometimes used by Romans to talk about good news about their emperor. The report of a victory or the report of the birth of a successor to the throne might have been called gospel. So then how did it come to refer to a Christian message about Jesus?

When ancient Jewish translators were working on Isaiah, they selected this word for announcing this good news about a kingdom. But Isaiah was not talking about an earthly kingdom.

  • “Go on up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good news; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good news; lift it up, fear not; say to the cities of Judah, ‘Behold your God!’”
    (Isaiah 40:9. All references in this article are from the English Standard Version of the Bible)

Later on, he says again,

  • “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns.’”
    (Isaiah 52:7)

Isaiah was challenging the nation of Judah to remember that they only need to trust in the one true God, Yahweh. They wanted to trust in other kings, in Egypt or in Assyria––or even in their false gods. Isaiah reminded them that their God ruled over all.

Isaiah also indicated that God was a different kind of King, sending his Servant for the sake of the lowly and the broken.

  • “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound”
    (Isaiah 61:1)

Jesus is that Servant. He would eventually take on this proclamation of good news, saying that God’s kingdom was very near.

  • “Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’”
    (Mark 1:14-15)

The title “Christ” refers to one who is anointed. Anointing a person with oil was a kind of coronation. Newly established kings were anointed to show they were king. So when Peter boldly confessed his belief that Jesus was indeed the Christ, he was saying that Jesus was the promised King of that promised kingdom. Jesus made it clear that he would not only be a king, but truly be this different kind of king. When two of his disciples made a move to have positions of honor in what they imagined to be Jesus’ regime, Jesus challenged them to shift their vision of the kingdom. The other disciples had contempt for the two who were more opportunistic. Here’s what Jesus taught them all.

  • “And Jesus called them to him and said to them, ‘You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’”
    (Mark 10:42-45)

The news that Jesus is the one in charge and that he serves the least of us should be refreshing. Yet, if he was to die, how could he be king any longer? Jesus gave himself as a sacrifice for us, but he was not defeated by death. The sinless sacrifice of the Son of God atoned for sin, from which death derives its power. God raised Jesus. And his resurrection further established his throne.

A number of years later, the apostle Paul would summarize the gospel in this way. Notice what this this good news (gospel) is all about.

  • “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations,”
    (Romans 1:1-5)

Jesus served us, died for us, and he was raised to reign forever. This is the gospel. We respond to this powerfully good news by trusting in and submitting to our King (“the obedience of faith”).

Thank you for your interest in the Christian Scriptures! Would you like to study more? Find a Bible study or request a personal Bible study that fits your schedule.

For our King,


Mason Venuso