Gospel. The Greek word translated gospel means “good news.” The word appears seventy-six times in all but eight of the twenty-seven New Testament books. But even though eight books do not contain the specific word, they include references to the person and work of Jesus Christ that fit within the framework of the gospel message. For example, the book of John, which does not include the word gospel, is so rich in references to the gospel message that it is commonly known as “The Gospel According to John.”
Every book written by Apostle Paul except one (Titus) uses the word gospel. Early in his longest book, he wrote, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith’” (Romans 1:16-17).
Before we think about defining the gospel, we should note that it is God’s power, it produces salvation, it is for all believers and that from beginning to end, it is a matter of faith.
Because of the characteristics of various world languages, the Louw-Nida Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament suggests that in some languages, it may be necessary to translate the Greek word behind the English gospel as something like “news that makes one happy,” “information that causes one joy,” “words that bring smiles,” or “a message that causes the heart to be sweet.”
Paul wrote a clear definition of the gospel and its connection with salvation:
Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you – unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures (I Corinthians 15:1-4).
Let’s examine three aspects of Paul’s words. Together, they comprise the gospel.
1. Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures. This is amazingly good news! Since Christ died for our sins, we don’t have a sin problem. If we believe and obey the gospel, we are washed from our sins.
To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood (Revelation 1:5).
But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered (Romans 6:17).
But they have not all obeyed the gospel (Romans 10:16).
… when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ (II Thessalonians 1:7-8).
And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him (Hebrews 5:9).
For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God (I Peter 4:17)?
Although there are warnings about the fate of those who do not obey the gospel, these need not strike fear in our hearts. These warnings are for those who stubbornly refuse to believe on Jesus, those who reject Him, those who insist on going their own way rather than following His way.
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind (II Timothy 1:7).
Before we leave our discussion of the first aspect of the gospel, notice that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures. This means that in His death, Jesus fulfilled all the Old Testament prophecies about how the Messiah would bear our sins. For example:
But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; … and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. … He was cut off from the land of the living; For the transgressions of My people He was stricken. … By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities. … He poured out His soul unto death … Because He was numbered with the transgressors, and He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors (Isaiah 53:5-6, 8, 11-12).
2. He was buried. How can this be good news? Is this really part of the gospel? It is, because Christ’s burial is proof of His death. If He had not died for our sins, we would have no hope of salvation. We have all sinned, and the wages of sin is death (Romans 3:23; 6:23). Jesus was sinless, but He suffered and died for us.
Christ also suffered for us … “Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth” … who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree (I Peter 2:21-22, 24).
For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15).
Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God, which He purchased with His own blood (Acts 20:28).
The death of the Messiah was foretold in the Hebrew Scriptures, but so was His burial.
And they made His grave with the wicked – But with the rich at His death (Isaiah 53:9).
3. He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures. Christ’s resurrection from the dead is our assurance that we too will rise.
There were some people among the Corinthians in the first century who denied the resurrection of the dead. Nearly sixty verses in I Corinthians 15 are given to Paul’s defense of the resurrection. This includes the fact that after Jesus’ resurrection He was seen by more than 500 people.
Fifteen verses of I Corinthians 15 discuss the nature of the resurrection body. Our present bodies are corruptible, but in the resurrection they will become incorruptible. They are now mortal, but they will become immortal.
As he neared the end of his defense of the resurrection, Paul wrote these astonishing words:
So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” (I Corinthians 15:54-55).
Remember These Three Things …
The good news, the gospel, includes the death of Christ for our sins, His burial, and His resurrection from death. These things were foretold by the ancient Hebrew prophets and are included in the Scriptures we commonly refer to as the Old Testament.
The gospel is the basis of salvation. Without it we could not be saved.
On the birthday of the Church, Apostle Peter preached the gospel in response to the questions of those who were in Jerusalem for the celebration of the Day of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit had fallen upon about 120 people in Jerusalem who believed on Jesus, and all of them began speaking in languages they had never learned. In these languages, they spoke of the wonderful works of God, amazing and perplexing those who had not yet believed on Jesus.
Some said, “Whatever could this mean?” Mocking, others said, “They are full of new wine.”
In response, Peter explained that this event was the fulfillment of a prophecy given by Joel. Then, he talked about the death and resurrection of Jesus, pointing out that this was prophesied by David.
Those who heard Peter’s words were “cut to the heart” and asked, “What shall we do?” Peter answered,
Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call (Acts 2:38-39).
This first proclamation of the gospel after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus resulted in about 3,000 people being saved that day. Since that day, only God knows how many people have heard and responded to the good news of Christ’s death for our sins, His burial, and His resurrection.
Whether they heard the gospel in the English language as good news or in other languages of the world as news that makes one happy, or information that causes one joy, or words that bring smiles, or a message that causes the heart to be sweet, all who have heard and believed the gospel have experienced transformed lives.
And they now know that death is not the end. The promise of the resurrection has removed death’s sting and robbed the grave of victory.
Just as Christ arose, so shall we!
Beloved, now we are the children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as he is (I John 3:2).
Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13).
 The Greek word translated gospel is εὐαγγέλιον [euangelion]. The word gospel developed from “Old English godspel ‘glad tidings announced by Jesus; one of the four gospels,’ literally ‘good spell,’ from god ‘good’ … + spel ‘story, message’ … [http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=gospel].
 To see some of the references to gospel content in books that do not use the word, see John 1:29; 3:16; 19:28, 36-37; 20:9; Titus 2:13-14; 3:4-5; James 2:1, 19; II Peter 1:1, 19; I John 1:7; 2:1-2; 3:5, 16; 4:14; 5:13; II John 9:10 (in II John, the “doctrine [teaching] of Christ includes verses 3 and 7); III John 4 (the reference to “the truth” would include all that was declared to be true by the Scriptures); Jude 3, 4, 21 (the “common salvation”) would refer to all that was commonly believed about salvation by the first century church.
 All quotations from the Bible in this lesson are from the New King James Version.
 To be sanctified is to be made holy.
 To be justified is to be placed in right standing with God.
 See also Revelation 7:14.
 I Corinthians 15:12.
 I Corinthians 15:5-8.
 I Corinthians 15:14-19.
 I Corinthians 15:20-23.
 I Corinthians 15:35-49.
 I Corinthians 15:50-53.
 See Acts 2:1-13.
 Compare Acts 2:16-21 with Joel 2:28-32.
 Compare Acts 2:22-36 with Psalm 16:8-11; 110:1.
 Acts 2:40-41.