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Good news (Christianity)

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Christians believe that Jesus is the mediator of the New Covenant (see Hebrews 8:6). Depicted is his famous Sermon on the Mount in which he commented on the Law. Some scholars (see Antithesis of the Law) consider this to be an antitype of the proclamation of the Ten Commandments or Mosaic Covenant by Moses from the Biblical Mount Sinai.

In Christianity, the good news or evangelium (from Koine Greek euangelion– also translated as "gospel", "glad tidings" and variants) is the message of Jesus, the Christ (the Messiah), specifically the coming Kingdom of God, His atoning death on the cross and resurrection, the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost as "helper" (paraclete), and the resulting promise and hope of salvation for the faithful.

Good News is the English translation of the Koine Greek ευαγγέλιον (euangelion) (eu "good" + angelion "message"). The Greek term was Latinized as evangelium, and translated into Latin as bona annuntiatio. In Old English, it was translated as gōdspel (gōd "good" + spel "news"). The Old English term was retained as gospel in Middle English Bible translations and hence remains in use also in Modern English. The written accounts of the life and teaching of Jesus are also generally known as "Gospels".[1]

The Christian message of good news is described in the Bible. It relates to the saving acts of God, centred upon the person of Jesus and his substitutionary death on the cross and resurrection from the dead. Its context is the storyline of the Christian Bible as a whole, which tells of the creation of humanity, humanity's rebellion against God, and how people from all nations are restored to relationship with God through the person of Jesus. A key theme of the Christian good news is that God offers a new life and forgiveness through Jesus. Jesus' teaching of the good news also relates to the coming of the Kingdom of God (Mark 1:14-15), see also second coming.

In Acts

The good news can be summarized in many ways, reflecting various emphases. Cambridge New Testament scholar C.H. Dodd (1964[1][2]) has summarized the Christian good news as taught by the apostle Peter in the Book of Acts (see Kerygma; Acts 2:14-41; Acts 3:11-4:4; Acts 10:34-43):

  1. The Age of Fulfillment has dawned, the "latter days" foretold by the prophets. Acts 3:18-26
  2. This has taken place through the birth, life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Acts 2:22-31
  3. By virtue of the resurrection, Jesus has been exalted at the right hand of God as Messianic head of the new Israel. Acts 2:32-36
  4. The Holy Spirit in the church is the sign of Christ's present power and glory. Acts 10:44-48
  5. The Messianic Age will reach its consummation in the return of Christ. Acts 3:20-21
  6. An appeal is made for repentance with the offer of forgiveness, the Holy Spirit, and salvation.Acts 2:37-41

Broader Biblical background

Christian writers and teachers often present the Good News set within the context of the storyline of the whole Bible. This discipline, of understanding the Christian message in terms of Biblical salvation history, is known as Biblical Theology. This clarifies the connection between Old Testament and the Christian teachings of the good news about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

For example, the Roman Catholic Church promotes the teaching of the good news in the context of biblical salvation history as a "fundamental part of the content" of its instruction, (General Directory for Catechesis 1997, paragraph108). There are numerous exponents of the Biblical Theology approach to understanding the Good News. Some Christian teachers and Biblical theologians who have published descriptions of the Bible authors' message in terms of salvation history include Köstenberger and O'Brien (2001), who have published a biblical theology of mission; and Goldsworthy (1991), who writes from an evangelical Christian perspective. Many Bible scholars and Christian groups have placed similar descriptions on the internet (such as 'Biblical Theology' in Bakers Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology). Because the good news is multifaceted, there is a degree of variation in perspective between such descriptions. However, the main focus is generally the same: the Bible storyline tells of God working throughout history to save a people for himself, and these saving acts are completed through the person and work of Jesus. A brief summary of the teachings of the Bible writers, might read as follows:

The Book of John states that in the beginning, God co-existed with his son, "the Word". Through the Word, God made the universe and humankind (John 1.1-3; see also Logos,Ex nihilo,Creation myth). The Book of Genesis describes humanity, male and female, as created to be rulers of God's created world (Genesis 1, [3]). Humanity was given a perfect place in which to live in perfect relationship with God, dependent upon God for all his needs (Genesis 2).

Mankind, however, disobeyed God's instructions. This resulted in the breaking of mankind's fellowship with God, leading to spiritual death (Genesis 3, see also Fall of Man) and spiritual and social depravity (Genesis 4-11).

Genesis describes how God scattered mankind over the face of the earth, forming the different nations and ethnic groups (Genesis 11). Beginning with the prophet and patriarch Abram (Abraham), God chose specific people to live in obedience and fellowship with him, and blessed them, their land, and their descendants. This was so that the different peoples of the world would receive God's blessing (Genesis 12:1-3; Catholic Encyclopedia: Abraham).

The Old Testament writers describe how through the prophets, God revealed that he would send a person who would fulfil the role of prophet (Deuteronomy 18:14-22), priest (Psalm 110:1-4), and king (Psalm 2), in restoring humanity to fellowship with God (see Threefold Office; Catholic Encyclopedia: Salvation). This person would be called the Messiah (the Hebrew term referring to these roles: literally, "anointed one"), "God's son" (Psalm 2:7), and even "mighty God" (Isaiah 9:6). The prophet Isaiah described a servant-like figure, who would suffer because of the offences of mankind against God. This punishment would satisfy God's anger and finally bring peace between God and humanity. After this, he would be brought back to life and be raised to a high position (Isaiah 53:9-14)(See also Messiah; Catholic Encyclopedia: Messias).

The author of Luke in the New Testament describes an angel announcing the forthcoming birth of a child who would be called Yeshua (or "Jesus"), the Son of the Most High God (Luke 1:30-36). The writers of the four New Testament Gospels describe Jesus performing signs and wonders in the power of God's Spirit. During his life in Palestine, Jesus called people to follow him as disciples. He taught them about the character of God's kingdom: that it was a kingdom characterized by humility, gentleness and peace (Matthew 5:1-10; see also Catholic Encyclopedia: Kingdom of God).

The New Testament gospels record the disciple Peter stating that Jesus was "the Messiah, the Son of the living God," (Matthew 16:13-17). Jesus claimed that he would suffer at the hands of the religious leaders and be killed; but would return to life on the third day of these events (Matthew 16:21). He was put to death by being nailed to a cross, and was buried in a tomb cut into rock (Matthew 27).

The Gospel writers describe Jesus returning to life from the dead. On the morning after the day of rest (Sabbath), some of the women who followed Jesus went to the tomb, but found it empty (Luke 24:1-8). They announced to the other disciples that they had seen Jesus, having returned to life from death (John 20:10-18; see also Catholic Encyclopedia: Resurrection of Jesus Christ). Jesus told his followers that as he had been given all authority from God, he was now commanding them , "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you," (Matthew 28:18-20; see also Great Commission).

The Book of Acts describes how Jesus' disciples took this message to peoples of many nations in the Ancient Near East. They taught that Jesus' return to life showed that he was in fact the Messiah (Acts 2:14-41); the way that people are forgiven (Acts 13:36-39); and the one God has chosen to judge the world (Acts 17:29-31). They taught that in response, people should turn from their old ways of life, and be baptised in the name of Jesus, receiving forgiveness and God's gift of his Holy Spirit (Acts 2:36-39). In the same way that Jesus was brought back to life, all who believe and accept the opportunity to join his people will also be raised to everlasting life in God's kingdom (1 Corinthians 15:1-24). Even in nations to whom God did not originally send the message, people are now able to believe in Jesus and join his people (Acts 11:1-18; Acts 15:7-9). The disciples also maintained that it is not necessary for people of different cultures to change their culture in order to accept and follow Jesus (Acts 15:10-21, Catholic Encyclopedia: Judaizers see also Council of Jerusalem).

The Bible closes with images in the Book of Revelation of the future destiny of humanity: a great crowd of people, from all nations, tribes, people and languages, stands worshipping before the throne of Jesus (Revelation 7:9-17). They are made clean and holy through the death of Jesus. There is a new created order, described as a great city, where God lives among his people, and there is no more crying, tears or pain (Revelation 21:1-4).[2]

In various Christian movements

The good news is described in many different ways in the Bible. Each one reflects different emphases, and describes part or all of the Biblical narrative. Christian teaching of the good news — including the preaching of the Apostles in the Book of Acts — generally focuses upon the resurrection of Jesus and its implications. Sometimes in the Bible, the good news is described in other terms, but it still describes God's saving acts. For example, the Apostle Paul taught that the good news was announced to the patriarch Abraham in the words, "All nations will be blessed through you." (Galatians 3:6-9; c.f. Genesis 12:1-3).

Evangelical theology

In the twentieth century, Pentecostal theology and the charismatic movement became widespread. These movements emphasize that the good news teaches the coming of the Kingdom of God, which also includes outworkings of God's Holy Spirit (such as healings, miracles and speaking in other tongues). The charismatic movement exists within all major branches of Christianity: Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant and Independent

Another western school of thought is prosperity theology, which teaches that the good news promises not only salvation, but also material and financial success.

Liberal Christianity

In liberal Christianity, the Bible is sometimes regarded as spiritual myth or allegory. The Christian good news is often interpreted in terms of God's love for humankind, or in terms of specific parts of the Bible such as the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) and Jesus' other teachings. The doctrine of original sin is less emphasised.

Liberation theology

Liberation theology, articulated in the teachings of Latin American Catholic theologians Leonardo Boff and Gustavo Gutiérrez, emphasizes that Jesus came not only to save humanity, but also to liberate the poor and oppressed. A similar movement among the Latin American evangelical movement is Integral Mission, where the church is seen as an agent for positively transforming the wider world, in response to the good news (Padilla 2004, p. 20).

Christian Mission

AugsburgConfessionArticle7OftheChurch holy Church is to continue forever. The Church is the congregation of saints, in which the Gospel is rightly taught and the Sacraments are rightly administered. –Augsburg Confession[3]

The good news about Jesus, His atoning death on the cross and resurrection from the dead, had a central place in the growth of Christianity. The Apostle Paul taught that if Jesus was not raised to life from the dead, then the preaching of Paul and the other apostles is useless and they are false witnesses (1 Corinthians 15:14-15; Resurrection). In the early centuries after the time of Jesus, the good news spread from Judea to parts of Africa, Asia and Europe.

The Christian missions movement understands the Christian good news to be a message for all peoples, of all nations, tribes, cultures and languages. This movement teaches that it is through the good news of Jesus that the nations of humanity are restored to relationship with God; and that the destiny of the nations is related to this process. Missiology professor Howard A. Snyder writes, "God has chosen to place the [worldwide] Church with Christ at the very center of His plan to reconcile the world to himself (Ephesians 1:20-23)," (Snyder 1999, p. 139).

Another perspective is described in the writings of the Apostle Paul: is that it is through the good news of Jesus' death and resurrection, and the resulting worship of people from all nations, that evil is defeated on a cosmic scale. Reflecting on the third chapter of Paul's letter to the Ephesians, Howard A. Snyder writes,

"God's plan for the [worldwide] church extends to the fullest extent of the cosmos. By God's 'manifold wisdom' the [worldwide] Church displays an early fullness of what Christ will accomplish at the conclusion of all the ages. The spectacle is to reach beyond the range of humanity, even to the angelic realms. The [worldwide] church is to be God's display of Christ's reconciling love," (Snyder 1999, p. 138).

Arabic Name

The Arabic name Beshara (also spelled Bishara of Bechara) means "Good News" and is used as both a first name and a family name among Arab Christians, especially in Lebanon.


  1. Evangelism is the spreading of the evangelium, i.e. Christian proselytization[dubious ], see also the Great Commission. Evangelicalism is a 20th century branch of Protestantism that emphasizes the reception of the "good news" by the individual (see also Low church), contrasting with the traditional emphasis on the Church (see also High church) as crucial to the salvation of the faithful (Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus).
  2. The section in italics above is simply a brief summary of the teachings of the Bible writers: it is not a quotation from a secondary source.
  3. See Augsburg Confession, Article 7, Of the Church

See also


  • Dodd, C. H. 1964 The Apostolic Preaching and its Developments Harper and Row.
  • General Directory for Catechesis 1997, Congregation for the Clergy
  • Goldsworthy, G, 1991, According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible Sydney: Lancer Press.
  • Johnstone, P, 2001, Operation World, Carlisle, UK: Paternoster Lifestyle.
  • Köstenberger, A and P. O'Brien, 2001, Salvation to the Ends of the Earth: A Biblical Theology of Mission New Studies in Biblical Theology 11, Leicester: Apollos.
  • Padilla, R, 2004, 'An Ecclesiology for Integral Mission,' in The Local Church, Agent of Transformation: An Ecclesiology for Integral Mission, T. Yamamori and C. R. Padilla, eds, Buenos Aires: Kairos Ediciones.
  • Snyder, H. A., 1999, 'The Church in God's Plan,' in Perspectives on the World Christian Movement, 3rd edn, Pasedena, California: William Carey Library.
  • Jepsen, Bent Kim, 2009 The Origin of Good News[4]

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