What is the Gospel? – 09 – Significant Passages that Shape the Gospel

104 question markThis post consists of a series of passages which speak about the gospel. These passages are what I refer to as significant passages and they shape the way I understand the gospel. I quote them all and string together a series of points from them.

Today we continue my series on – What is the Gospel? The series has several posts and it forms the biblical basis for my Gospel page. The first post has all the links for the series.

Contents

Significant Gospel Shaping Passages

I’ve argued earlier that the way we understand a given concept should be based on all scripture. However there will be significant passages which shape our thinking and define the boundaries of what scripture teaches. Today I will attempt this and apply it to the gospel.

As we go along I will explain the impact the passage has on our progressive understanding of the gospel by stringing together a series of points or reinforcing earlier ones.

Gal 1.6-9

6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. (Gal 1.6-9)

Paul argues – there is only one gospel, there are no others. He curses any being who preaches another gospel.

We also know the gospel is preached in many different circumstances and in varying ways (e.g. 1 Cor 15.1-5; Acts 10.34-43; Mark 1.1f). Holding these two truths together;

  • Gal 1.6-9; There is a minimum set of features which is explicit and common to all gospel messages. Preach something else as the gospel at your own risk.

So what is this minimum set common to the one gospel?

1 Cor 15.1-5,22-25

15 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received:

that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4

that he was buried,

that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and

that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.

22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.

23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits,

then at his coming those who belong to Christ.

24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father

after destroying every rule and every authority and power.

25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. (1 Cor 15.1-5,22-25)

Paul strings along a series of points which form a narrative sequence of events in Christ’s life.

What is the minimum number of events are necessary to preach the gospel?

Here Paul preaches at least six (death, burial, resurrection, appearances, return and judgment). In Acts 10.34-43 Peter mentions five of these and adds another in the narrative, bringing it to six as well (Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, appearances, return and judgment). In Acts 13.16-41 Paul mentions at least four (death, burial, resurrection and appearances).

  • 1 Cor 15; The more truncated the story of Jesus in the message is, the less likely the message will adhere what the scriptures say the gospel is.

Paul is speaking about Jesus and he names him Christ.

  • 1 Cor 15; In the gospel Jesus is declared the Christ. King, Lord or Judge will do.

Paul relates the events in the narrative sequence to the Old Testament scriptures.

  • 1 Cor 15; The gospel is connected to the Old Testament scriptures. The story of creation through to the story of Israel and the promises and prophecies therein (e.g. promised Christ).

The gospel can be used for different purposes. He says early on, the gospel is what is saving them (1 Cor 15.2).

The main purpose of Paul in quoting the gospel in 1 Cor 15 however is to teach the Corinthians about the general resurrection and what resurrected bodies will be like. The gospel is not always used to bring about conversion. It can be used for other purposes.

  • 1 Cor 15; The gospel can be used in varying ways to achieve different ends (e.g. Salvation, Teaching).

Mk 1.1

1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. (Mk 1.1)

Is there a maximum size the narrative sequence can be? The gospel according to Mark gives a whole sixteen chapters!

  • Mark 1.1; The whole story of Jesus is the gospel (birth, life, ministry, death, burial, resurrection and appearances).
  • 1 Cor 15; Mk 1.1; In the gospel Jesus is declared the Christ. King, Lord or Judge will do.

Mk 1.14-15

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

The passage is often quoted to try and assert the call to repentance is part of the gospel message. It’s true Jesus does call his audience here to repent, but on closer examination the text distinguishes between the gospel and the call to repent.

Jesus has uttered the gospel before he calls people to repent in this passage. The gospel message does not in itself include the call to repentance, but it can be followed with the call to repent.

So what is the gospel Jesus has declared in this passage? He says, ‘the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand’. This is Jesus’ gospel message and the gospel message his disciples proclaimed (Mt 4.23; 9.35; 24.14; Mk 1.15; Lk 4.43; 8.1; 16.16).

The kingdom of God is coming. The gospel is connected to the Old Testament scriptures. This particular message anticipates the return of Jesus to judge. Hence its related to his story. Jesus is the king of the kingdom. Jesus is declared the Christ.

In light of God’s coming Kingdom, people will be judged. Therefore people should repent of their sins to be ready to have their lives evaluated.

  • 1 Cor 15; Mk 1.14-15; The gospel can be used in varying ways to achieve different ends (e.g. Salvation, Teaching, Repent).
  • 1 Cor 15; Rom 1.1-4; Mk 1.14-15; The gospel is connected to the Old Testament scriptures. The story of creation through to the story of Israel and the promises and prophecies therein (e.g. promised Christ, Kingdom of God).

Mt 26.6-13

6 Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, 7 a woman came up to him with an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head as he reclined at table. 8 And when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? 9 For this could have been sold for a large sum and given to the poor.” 10 But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me. 11 For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. 12 In pouring this ointment on my body, she has done it to prepare me for burial. 13 Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.” (Mt 26:6–13)

The gospel can be used for different purposes. This purpose of mentioning this in the gospel is to remember the actions of this woman. (See also Mk 14.3-9; Lk 7.37-39; Jn 12.1-8). This is a repeated point.

  • 1 Cor 15; Mk 1.14-15; Mt 26.6-13; The gospel can be used in varying ways to achieve different ends (e.g. Salvation, Teaching, Repent, Remembering people involved).

Jesus also refers to his current context and situation as the gospel. He is alluding to his own story. He does something similar in Mt 24.14, referring to ‘this gospel of the kingdom’.

  • Mark 1.1; Mt 24.14; 26.6-13; The whole story of Jesus is the gospel (birth, life, ministry, death, burial, resurrection, appearances and future calamities).

Rom 1.1-4

1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh 4 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. (Rom 1.1-4)

The gospel is promised beforehand in the Old Testament. Jesus is descended from King David. He is the promised Christ, declared to be the Son of God.

  • 1 Cor 15; Mk 1.1; Rom 1.1-4; In the gospel Jesus is declared the Christ. King, Lord or Judge will do.
  • 1 Cor 15; Mk 1.14-15; Rom 1.1-4; The gospel is connected to the Old Testament scriptures. The story of creation through to the story of Israel and the promises and prophecies therein (e.g. promised Christ).

Rom 1.16-17

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, jas it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” (Rom 1.16-17)

The gospel is the power of salvation. A repeated point. However Paul says, for everyone who believes – Jews and Gentiles.

  • 1 Cor 15; Mk 1.14-15; Mt 26.6-13; Rom 1.16-17; The gospel can be used in varying ways to achieve different ends (e.g. Salvation, Teaching, Repent, Remembering people involved).
  • Rom 1.16-17; The gospel saves Gentiles who believe as well as Jews.

2 Tim 2.8

3 Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. 5 An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. 6 It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. 7 Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.

8 Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, 9 for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! (2 Ti 2:3–9)

In the midst of his own suffering, Paul urges Timothy to remember Jesus. Jesus was risen from the dead because he suffered and died. David was no stranger to suffering himself. Paul refers to the gospel to encourage Timothy in his own suffering. They are not alone. Jesus and David suffered before them.

Paul also says Jesus is the offspring of David and this fact is part of his gospel message. Paul is again alluding the the Old Testament background (‘according to the scriptures’) of the gospel.

  • 1 Cor 15; Mt 26.6-13; Rom 1.16-17; 2 Tim 2.8; The gospel can be used in varying ways to achieve different ends (e.g. Salvation, Teaching, Remembering people involved, Encouraging those who suffer).
  • 1 Cor 15; Mk 1.14-15; Rom 1.1-4; 2 Tim 2.8; The gospel is connected to the Old Testament scriptures. The story of creation through to the story of Israel and the promises and prophecies therein (e.g. promised Christ, Kingdom of God).

Rom 2.16

16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus. (Rom 2.16)

According to Paul’s gospel God will judge by Christ Jesus. How does Paul speak about judgement in the gospel?

Jesus is described as the judge in Acts 10.42 and 1 Cor 15.22-28 as well. In both cases Jesus coming to judge is included at the end of the narrative sequence of events in Jesus’ life.

The narrative in Peter’s gospel (Acts 10) describes Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, appearances, return and judgment.

The narrative in Paul’s gospel (1 Cor 15) relates his death, burial, resurrection, appearances, return and judgment.

The scriptures present the future judgement at the end of the good news about Jesus life, death, burial, resurrection, appearances and second coming.

  • Mark 1.1; Mt 24.14; 26.6-13; Rom 2.16; The whole story of Jesus is the gospel (birth, life, ministry, death, burial, resurrection, appearances, future calamities, return and judgment).

Summary

Lets reorder these around a bit. Seven points!

  1. Gal 1.6-9; There is a minimum set of features which is explicit and common to all gospel messages.  Preach something else as the gospel at your own risk.
  2. Mark 1.1; Mt 24.14; 26.6-13; Rom 2.16; The whole story of Jesus is the gospel (birth, life, ministry, death, burial, resurrection, appearances, future calamities, return and judgment).
  3. 1 Cor 15; The more truncated the story of Jesus in someones message is, the less likely the message will adhere what the scriptures say the gospel is. Take to much Jesus out and it may not be the gospel.
  4. 1 Cor 15; Mk 1.1; Rom 1.1-4; In the gospel Jesus is declared the Christ. King, Lord or Judge will do.
  5. 1 Cor 15; Mk 1.14-15; Rom 1.1-4; 2 Tim 2.8; The gospel is connected to the Old Testament scriptures. The story of creation through to the story of Israel and the promises and prophecies therein (e.g. promised Christ, Kingdom of God).
  6. 1 Cor 15; Mk 1.14-15; Mt 26.6-13; Rom 1.16-17; 2 Tim 2.8; The gospel can be used in varying ways to achieve different ends for its listeners (e.g. Salvation, Teaching, Repent, Remembering people involved, Encouraging those who suffer).
  7. Rom 1.16-17; The gospel saves Gentiles who believe as well as Jews.

The next post is the last in the series. I will try and summarise the series and make a few concluding remarks.


Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2014. All Rights Reserved.

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