Ever wonder about the word "gospel"? We spread the gospel, we say it is truth but what does the word mean? Where did it come from?
Gospel is from the old English, "godspel," a compound word that was built from the old English words god meaning "good" (not God as many say, even though He is good) and spel meaning "story" or "message".
"Godspel" was translated from the Latin word, bona adnuntiatio which came from the Greek word euangelion. Our English word "evangelist" springs from this Greek word. But where did that come from?
Of the four Gospels, Mark is the only one that calls itself a Gospel. When Mark wrote his remembrance of Peter's sermons to the great city of Rome, he introduced the document that we know as the Gospel of Mark with the words, "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God." None of the other "gospel" writers used the term "gospel" to describe their book. It made me wonder why.
Matthew was for a Hebrew audience, Luke for a Greek culture and John was written to a culture polluted by Gnostic heresy, but Mark was for the Latin church in Rome, the city of Caesar. It is said that church documents were in Greek rather then Latin at the time of Mark. Even so, the Gospel of Mark is rich with "Latinisms" unlike the other gospels. Gospel or euangelion is one of those Latinisms. It can refer to the person who spreads the news or the subject of the news. It is a word that communicates the "glad tidings" or good news of a powerful leader, such as Caesar. I have always heard the phrase "good news" associated with gospel. In fact, when I conducted a casual survey, everyone said gospel meant good news. But what is that good news?
The "good news" or "glad tidings" originally meant the birthday of the god-king (Caesar). An evangelist gave the report of this historical event which introduced a new situation for the world. Therefore, John-Mark was announcing the God-King, Jesus, as a radical event which brought a new state of affairs for mankind. He introduced this event with Jewish prophecy in order that all would understand that the Christ was the long awaited hope of Israel, and a light for the entire world.
The Gospel is the report of the Messiah who came to set us captives free from our slavery to sin and death. Have you heard about it? Have you passed it on?
Orginally blogged on July 28, 2009 on my Shoutlife page.
Shoutlife has been my blogging home for over a year. To read it you need to be a member of shoutlife. I am taking a chance that this less private format will be worth the space.