Gospel and Resurrection

When I pose the question, “what is the gospel” to Christians, the majority of the time I get an explanation along the lines of

“Jesus died for my sins and was raised from the dead.” 

There is no denying the essential truth of this response. The difficulty is this: Jesus was a tireless itinerant preacher of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, as were the disciples (Luke 9:2, 6, 60; 10:9, 11, etc.), and according to our narratives, in the first two-thirds of Jesus’ ministry nothing at all is said of his death or resurrection. 

In Luke (4:43) his stated purpose was to 

“proclaim the Gospel about the Kingdom of God...that is the reason why God commissioned me” (Matt. 4:23; 9:35; 24:14; Mark 1:14-15). 

They had all been preaching the gospel when Jesus finally revealed that he would die, and when he did we are told 

“they understood none of these things” (Luke 18:34).

Peter even rebuked him for suggesting it (Matt. 16; Mark 8). What is Paul suggesting when telling the Galatians that the gospel was preached to Abraham (3:8)? Are we to think that Jesus’ death and resurrection was preached to Abraham? What is being communicated in Revelation when the angel’s “eternal gospel” to 

“those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people” 

was to 

“fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water” (Rev 14:6-7)? 

Perhaps our modern versions of the “gospel” are missing an integral part. Paul preached to the Stoic Philosophers in Athens, and what he said sounds similar to the “eternal gospel” proclaimed by the angel in Revelation: 

“The times of ignorance” 

said Paul, 

“God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed…” 

What is so interesting about this narrative is that Paul claims the assurance of this “fixed day” on which 

“he [God] will judge...by a man” 

is the resurrection. God validated his chosen “judge” by raising Jesus (Acts 17:30-31). 

The resurrection is that stamp of approval. If the resurrection is the validation of the message of the gospel, what then was this “gospel” Jesus was preaching?

No comments: