Truth, Understanding, Insight


6th December 2008, hej


1) About the Gospel


In English the word 'Gospel' is from Middle English go(d)spell, which was from Old English gōdspell god='good' + spell='to announce', or good news. In Icelandic it is guðspjall, however most other languages have imported untranslated the Greek word euaggelion. For example in German it is, das Evangelium and it is evangelium in Czech, Danish, Hungarian, Norwegian and Swedish.

In English we have also inherited this word as 'Evangelical' or 'evangelise'.

Euaggelion is a compound Greek word from eu =good and aggelos = 'to bring tidings/news', which is translated as 'angel' or 'messenger'.

What is the origin of the idea of good news?

The idea of good news is not a New Testament or Christian doctrine, the idea comes from the Old Testament

As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country. (Proverbs 25:25)

A word for word translation of this Hebrew proverb is,

Water - cold upon thirsty/weary - soul is as

news - good out of land (eretz) - far off

The gospel is the good news of a distant land, in Hebrew eretz (as in Eretz Yisrael), and it is to the thirsty soul like cold water. This means the subject of the news refreshes us.

The prophet Isaiah speaks quite a lot about this good news,

Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD has spoken it... All flesh is grass,.. surely the people is grass. The grass withers ..but the word of our God shall stand for ever. O Zion, that brings good tidings, get you up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that brings good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God! (Isaiah 40:4-9)

The good news it to come from Zion and Jerusalem when the glory of the LORD shall be revealed on earth. All people die, but the good news is to be brought that all flesh shall see the glory of the LORD together. Isaiah also speaks of one who comes revealing the future and they will bring good news to Jerusalem,

The first shall say to Zion, Behold, behold them: and I will give to Jerusalem one that brings good tidings. (Isaiah 41:26-27)

But what is the good news about?

The best information about what the good news is comes from Isaiah. He writes that the LORD said,

Therefore my people shall know my name: therefore they shall know in that day that I am he that does speak: behold, it is I.
How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that brings good tidings, that publishes peace; that brings good tidings of good, that publishes salvation; that says unto Zion, Thy God reigns!
Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye, when the LORD shall bring again Zion. Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem: for the LORD has comforted his people, he has redeemed Jerusalem. The LORD has made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God. (Isaiah 52:6-10)

We are told the good news is about peace, good, salvation and that this is equalled to saying “thy God reigns”. This good salvation will come at a specific time in the future when the LORD will redeem his people and when all the earth will see the salvation. This has not happened yet. Compare Nahum 1:5 where this is repeated,

Behold upon the mountains the feet of him that brings good tidings, that publishes peace! O Judah, keep thy solemn feasts, perform thy vows: for the wicked shall no more pass through thee; he is utterly cut off. (Nahum 1:15)

There will be salvation and peace and the wicked will be cut off from going to Jerusalem.

But according to Paul not many would believe the good news,

And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias says, Lord, who has believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:15-17)

First people must hear of the good news, and then they can believe it and then they may have faith in it.