What is the basic concept of the word gospel? Should we think of circus tent revivals and greasy-haired evangelists? Is gospel an un-Jewish word? Could there be a “Jewish gospel”?
I spent an hour this morning reading through a compilation of thoughts about the meaning of besorah (the word in the Hebrew Bible) and evangelion (the word used in the New Testament). The common English translations are good news and gospel.
Scot McKnight has a book coming out called In the Beginning Was the Gospel and the search for the meaning of the word began on his blog in 2008, in a series of posts which were all compiled in February 2009 into one very long post on his blog. If you have some time on your hands and enjoy thorough word studies, you will enjoy reading McKnight’s post here: http://www.patheos.com/community/jesuscreed/2009/02/16/the-gospel-series/
To make a very long story short, the meaning of the word gospel ends up being the life, death, resurrection, ascension, exaltation, and return of Yeshua.
This may sound like a humdrum conclusion, but if you’ve been let down somewhere in your past by pop-Christianity, if you’ve been disappointed by shallow religion, a lot of it is due to an insufficient understanding of the word gospel.
The popular understanding of the word gospel is about the benefits of the gospel and not the gospel itself. The gospel has been reduced to a benefits package. In this popular understanding, there is nothing about the gospel to be obeyed. There is no depth. And that is why a little reading on the breadth and depth of the good news is worthwhile. We need a bigger picture.