Euangelion / Gospel
Word Studies
What does the word Gospel mean? Learn more in this video as we explore the meaning of this word in the biblical Greek.

What does “gospel” mean?

In Christian communities, the word gospel is often used as a shorthand for the core message of the Christian faith. However, the exact meaning of gospel varies from church to church, based on the larger tradition or denomination. For some, gospel refers to the message that Jesus died for the sins of humanity. For others, it may refer to the general idea that God loves us or that we will spend eternity with him. So if we’re looking for clarity, the best way forward is to go back to the original source of this word in the biblical story.

A Royal Rescue

Throughout the Hebrew Bible, we see that the kings who rule Israel are as corrupt and violent as the rulers of any other nation. This is a problem because God had promised Israel’s ancestors that through this nation all other nations would find God’s blessing. In the book of Isaiah, the prophet announced the good news that Israel’s divine King, the Creator of all things, was going to come to Earth and be crowned as the new king of Israel (Isaiah 40-55). But first, Israel’s corrupt kings had to be dealt with, which we see in the exile of the Israelites to Babylon (1-2 Kings). While it may look like the evil kings of Israel or Babylon are running the world, there is still good news. Israel’s God is the true King of the world, and he’s coming one day to restore hope to God’s people. (Isaiah 40:1-11 and 52:1-10).

The Good News No One Expected

Jesus announced the arrival of Israel’s long-awaited messianic King, but the way he asserted his rule was surprising. When Jesus arrived in Jerusalem, the city where David once reigned, he did not use violent force to inaugurate his kingdom. Instead he rode into the city, weeping over its corruption and fate (Luke 19:41-44), and then he marched into the temple, the throne room of the God of Israel, to disrupt the sacrificial system and declare that Israel’s rulers were leading the people toward destruction.

This led to Jesus’ eventual arrest, where he was sentenced as a traitor claiming to be the king of Israel. This all led to his death on a Roman execution device, the cross. But the account of Jesus’ death positions his crucifixion as his exaltation as king. He is given a robe, a crown, and a scepter as soldiers bow down to him. To them, it’s a cruel joke, but in reality, it was a royal announcement, a gospel. Jesus was being lifted up as the cosmic King of the world on his wooden throne, where he died because of the sins of his enemies. The cross is the royal announcement that God’s purpose was to rescue his world by dying for it. But because God’s love is more powerful than evil, he overcame it with his resurrection life, which he now offers to anyone who turns and puts their trust in him.

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