Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Gospel According to Paul

2 Corinthians 11:4 (ESV) — 4 For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.

What is Paul's idea of "Gospel"? Does the Gospel of Christ or the Gospel of God mean that the subject of the Gospel is God or does it mean that God authored the Gospel? The passage above seems to point to the former rather than the latter. Although, God may in fact be the author of the Gospel, it seems apparent that the salvific work of Christ on the cross and his resurrection from the dead is the Good News! Both of which seem to be the foundation for salvation as described in Romans 10:9-10.

In this passage, Paul interchanges his use of preaching the "Gospel" and preaching "Jesus" which seems to point to the fact that they are interchangeable.

Interestingly, Paul interchanges this phrase with "God's Gospel" in verse 7. In these two letters, there are 20 instances of this word in 17 verses. In the entire Pauline corpus, there are 73 instances in 67 verses. In the entire NT, there are 97 instances. Twenty percent of all uses are in these two letters and there is no doubt that Paul's usage of this word is paramount in the entire NT. The single use of this word in the LXX is translated "Good News." The question that remains after this preliminary and incomplete word study is where Paul got his idea of "Gospel" (εὐαγγέλιον). It seems that the Gospel for Paul as set forth in his letters is centered upon the plan of salvation, its doctrines, declarations, precepts, and promises (WSNTIDICT).

There are also instances in the NT where Paul uses the phrase "My Gospel" (Ro 2.16, Ro 16.25, and 2 Ti 2.8).

There is one instance where Paul uses Gospel with the preposition δια with the accusative in 1 Co 9.23. This is the only instance where Paul says that he has done something "because of" or "for the sake of" the Gospel. He writes, "I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings." Another translation may allude to the fact that "on account of" the Gospel, Paul does all things. It is clear that the Gospel was not merely an intellectual assent that Paul had in his mind. It was not something that he studied and thought about once and a while. No. Paul allowed the Gospel to infiltrate every area of his life. He had done "all things." It was not just one area or one group of people. He allowed the Gospel to flow through him and affect those around him at every time and in every place.

Quite simply, the message here is that the Gospel is not just a one time thing that we do. It is not just something that we learn and master at one time in our lives. No, it is to envelop and flow through and out of every nook and cranny of our core being. Let it affect us all in this manner.