November 17, 2018

Good News

📜 Some mostly developed theological thoughts on the good news and associated terms 📜

In the New Testament, there is a wordgroup εὐαγγέλιον, that corresponds to the noun 'good news.'  There is also a verbal form, εὐαγγελίζω, that presents the verbal idea of 'sharing/delivering good news.'  It can take different tenses and voices.

The verbal, εὐαγγελίζω, (euangelidzo):

The Logos software word study features a distinction of 'convey the Gospel' versus to 'bring good news.' This distinction is drawn from the contextual usages.

The noun, εὐαγγέλιον, (euangellion)

The usage of euangellion: The term is a construct of εὖ (eu, good, well) and ἀγγελία (angelia, message) , merged together meaning good news.

Entry on Euangelion from Bauer Danker Ardnt & Gingrich:
εὐαγγέλιον, ου, τό (Hom.+; LXX, Joseph.) orig. a reward for good news, then simply good news (so Plut., Sertor. 11, 8; 26, 6, Phoc. 16, 8; 23, 6 al.; Appian, Bell. Civ. 3, 93 §384; 4, 20 §78; Ps.-Lucian, Asin. 26; Jos., Bell. 2, 420;4, 618; 656; IG III 10=2 1081 [OWeinreich, ARW 18, ’15, p. 43, 3]; papyrus letter [after 238 AD] in Dssm., LO 313f [LAE 371]=Sb 421.-Also in religious use: Diod. S. 15, 74, 2 Διονύσιος τοῖς θεοῖς εὐαγγέλια θύσας=offered a sacrifice for good news to the gods; Dit., Or. 458=Inschr. v. Priene 105, 40f ἦρξεν δὲ τῷ κόσμῳ τῶν διʼ αὐτὸν εὐανγελίων ἡ γενέθλιος τοῦ θεοῦ [cf. AHarnack, Red. u. Aufs. I2 ’06, 310ff; PWendland, ZNW 5, ’04, 335ff, D. urchristl. Literaturformen ’12, 409f]; Philostrat., Vi. Apollon. 1, 28 of the appearing of Apollon.; Ael. Aristid. 53, 3 K.=55 p. 708 D.: Ζεὺς Εὐαγγέλιος) in our lit. only in the specif. sense God’s good news to men, the gospel.

1. abs.— 
a. τὸ εὐαγγέλιον Mk 1:15; 8:35; 10:29; Ro 1:16; 10:16; 11:28; 1 Cor 4:15; 9:18, 23; 2 Cor 8:18; Gal 2:2; Eph 3:6; Phil 1:5; 2:22; 4:3; 1 Th 2:4; 2 Ti 1:8, 10; IPhld 5:1, 2; 8:2; 9:2; ISm 5:1; 7:2; MPol 1:1; 22:1.
b. in gen., dependent on another noun ὁ λόγος τοῦ εὐ. Ac 15:7; τὸ μυστήριον τ. εὐ. Eph 6:19; cf. vs. 15; Phil 1:7, 12, 16; ἡ ἀλήθεια τοῦ εὐ. Gal 2:5, 14; Col 1:5 (but the last passage can also be transl. the true message of the gospel). ἡ ἐλπὶς τοῦ εὐ. the hope that is kindled by the gospel vs. 23; ἡ πίστις τοῦ εὐ. faith in the gospel Phil 1:27; ἐν τ. δεσμοῖς τοῦ εὐ. Phlm 13; ἡ ἐξουσία τοῦ εὐ. authority over (i.e. to preach) the gospel B 8:3; ἀρχὴ τοῦ εὐ. beginning (of the preaching) of the gospel Phil 4:15; cf. 1 Cl 47:2 (s. on this WHartke, D. Sammlung u. d. ältesten Ausgaben der Paulusbriefe ’17, 55); Mk 1:1 (s. 3 below).
c. in certain combinations w. verbs τὸ εὐ. κηρύσσειν Mt 26:13; Mk 13:10; 14:9 (JoachJeremias, ZNW 44, ’53, 103-7: apocalyptic proclamation); 16:15 (cf. Mt 4:23; 9:35; 24:14; Mk 1:14; Ac 1:2 D; B 5:9). καταγγέλλειν 1 Cor 9:14. γνωρίζειν 15:1. εὐαγγελίζεσθαι Gal 1:11 (cf. 2 Cor 11:7).
2. in combination— 
a. w. adj. εὐ. αἰώνιον Rv 14:6. ἕτερον 2 Cor 11:4; Gal 1:6 (EGrässer, ZThK 66, ’69, 306-44).
b. w. gen. (cf. OSchmitz, D. Christusgemeinschaft des Pls im Lichte seines Genetivgebrauchs ’24, 45-88).
α. objective genitive εὐ. τῆς βασιλείας Mt 4:23; 9:35; 24:14. τ. θεοῦ Mk 1:14. τ. χάριτος τ. θεοῦ of God’s grace Ac 20:24. τ. εἰρήνης Eph 6:15. τ. σωτηρίας 1:13. τ. δόξης τ. Χριστοῦ of the glory of Christ 2 Cor 4:4; cf. 1 Ti 1:11. εὐ. τ. Χριστοῦ is usu. interpr. as the gospel (good news) about Christ (because of Ro 1:1-3; 2 Cor 4:4; 1 Th 3:2, cf. Ro 15:16) Ro 15:19; 1 Cor 9:12; 2 Cor 2:12 (here and Ro 1:1 εἰς εὐαγγέλιον=for the purpose of bringing the good news, as Appian, Bell. Civ. 4, 113 §474); 9:13; 10:14; Gal 1:7; Phil 1:27; 1 Th 3:2; cf. Ro 1:9; 2 Th 1:8; B 5:9; MPol 19:1. εὐ. τῆς ἀκροβυστίας the gospel for the uncircumcised Gal 2:7.
β. subjective genitive (τοῦ) θεοῦ Ro 1:1; 15:16; 2 Cor 11:7; 1 Th 2:2, 8, 9; 1 Pt 4:17. The man who is commissioned to do the preaching can be mentioned in the subj. gen. εὐ. μου, ἡμῶν Ro 2:16; 16:25; 2 Cor 4:3; 1 Th 1:5; 2 Th 2:14; 2 Ti 2:8. S. LBaudiment, ‘L’Évangile’ de St. Paul ’25; Molland (below) 83-97.
3. The transition to the later Christian usage, in which εὐ. means a book dealing with the life and teaching of Jesus (Justin, Apol. 1, 66), is felt in D 8:2; 11:3; 15:3f; MPol 4:1; 2 Cl 8:5, perh. also Mk 1:1 (LEKeck, The Introduction to Mark’s Gospel, NTS 12, ’66, 352-70); IPhld 8:2; ISm 7:2.
4. The later mng. (sense 3) is certain for Dg 11:6 (supplement).—ASeeberg, D. Evangelium Christi ’05; Harnack, Entstehg. u. Entwicklg. d. Kirchenverfassung ’10, 199-239; PZondervan, Het woord ‘Evangelium’: ThT 48, ’14, 187-213; MBurrows, The Origin of the Word ‘Gospel’: JBL 44, ’25, 21-33; JSchniewind, Euangelion 1; 2; ’27, ’31, Die Begriffe Wort u. Evglm. b. Pls, Diss. Halle ’10; AFridrichsen, Τὸ εὐαγγέλιον hos Pls: Norsk Teol. Tidsskr. 13, ’12, 153-70; 209-56, Der Begriff Evgl. b. Irenäus, Hippolyt, Novatian: ibid. ’17, 148-70; AOepke, D. Missionspredigt des Ap. Pls. ’20, 50ff; EDBurton, ICC Gal ’21, 422f; EMolland, D. Paulin. Euangelion; D. Wort u. d. Sache ’34; RAsting, D. Verkündigung im Urchristentum ’39 (on Word of God, Gospel, Witness); GFriedrich, TW II 705-35; KHRengstorf, ZNW 31, ’32, 54-6; MAlbertz, D. Botschaft des NT, vols. I and II, ’47-’57; JAEvDodewaard, Biblica 35, ’54, 160-73; HKoester, TU 65, ’57, 6-12; JWBowman, ‘Gospel’ and its Cognates in Palestinian Syriac, NTEssays (TWManson memorial) ed. Higgins ’59, 54-67. M-M.*
William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979), 317–318.
In approaching the Bible, the narrative stories concerning Jesus are called 'Gospels'  The usage of Gospel is as a definitive usage to declare the contents of each book. This is may be a technical usage, as the commentator Telford presents:
"the text actually begins with the word (1.1 'The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ') but it is not clear whether it is used in Mark with its usual connotation of 'good news' or as a technical term for the religious or doctrinal content of the message preached by or perhaps about Jesus (see Rom. 1.1-4)."
William Telford, The Theology of the Gospel of Mark (Cambridge University Press, 1999), 5.
So we observe in the New Testament, that there is a strong usage of 'good news,' and that the antecedent of the message is sometimes assumed. The understanding of the message, though perhaps representing a technical means of presentation, is dependent on the content of the message.
No longer can he bring any accusations against God’s elect (Rom. 8:33–34). So the gospel, God’s “good news,” is preached and many are coming to Christ. The word εὐαγγέλιον (“gospel”) originated in the language of military combat and is a technical term for the announcement of victory.  
David J. MacLeod, “The Third ‘Last Thing’: The Binding of Satan (Rev. 20:1–3),” Bibliotheca Sacra 156 (1999): 481.
While it is observed as a 'technical term,' the technical term does not pre-load the antecedent. In the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, the previously referenced section is from the "Outside the NT" section. It references the origins of the word and contextual usages (here among Greek usages):
2.      εὐαγγέλιον among the Greeks.
a. εὐαγγέλιον is an adj. used as subst. Like εὐαγγελίζεσθαι (→ 710), it derives from εὐάγγελος. It means that which is proper to an εὐάγγελος. This gives εὐαγγέλιον a twofold sense. For those to whom an εὐάγγελος comes, what is proper to him is good news; but for the εὐάγγελος himself, what is proper is his reward. In the oldest known example in Hom. Od., 14, 152 f., 166 f. εὐαγγέλιον means “reward for good news.” The sense of “good news” is attested only from the time of Cic. Att., II, 3, 1. Yet both meanings are equally sound. Thus εὐαγγέλια θύειν, known from the time of Aristoph. Eq., 656, plainly presupposes εὐαγγέλιον in the sense of good news, for it means “to celebrate good news by sacrifices.”
  εὐαγγέλιον is a technical term for “news of victory.” The messenger appears, raises his right hand in greeting and calls out with a loud voice: χαῖρε … νικῶμεν. By his appearance it is known already that he brings good news.7 His face shines, his spear is decked with laurel,9 his head is crowned, he swings a branch of palms, joy fills the city, εὐαγγέλια are offered, the temples are garlanded, an agon is held, crowns are put on for the sacrifices13 and the one to whom the message is owed is honoured with a wreath. Political and private reports can also be εὐαγγέλια. For them, too, sacrificial feasts are held.16 But εὐαγγέλιον is closely linked with the thought of victory in battle. This may be seen from the misunderstanding of which we read in Philostr. Vit. Ap., V, 8. Nero had been successful in the games and he ordered εὐαγγέλια to be offered. But some cities believed that he had been victorious in war and had taken some Olympians captive. εὐαγγειλια ἐπάγειν or θύειν is something so familiar that it can be used for comparison or illustration. There is a caricature in Aristophanes.18
  Good fortune is contained in the words. Aristoph. Pl., 646 ff.: ὡς ἀγαθὰ συλλήβδην ἅπαντά σοι φέρω. καὶ ποῦ ʼστιν; ἐν τοῖς λεγομένοις· εἴσει τάχα. πέραινε τοίνυν ὅ τι λέγεις ἀνύσᾶ ποτέ. For this reason the message is rewarded. It is intrinsically valuable. It does not merely declare salvation; it effects it. Because of the importance of the message, the messenger exerts himself to be first. If another arrives before him, his reward is less.21 A slow messenger can be punished for his dilatoriness, for he deprives the recipients of their good fortune. So far as possible bad news is suppressed.23 Good news is a gift of the gods. This is why it is celebrated with sacrificial feasts.
  It is to be noted that where εὐαγγέλιον is used as a religious term we do not find εὐαγγέλια θύειν. This is surprising, but it is no accident. Either through misinformation or for psychological or political reasons reports were often circulated and festivities held when there was really no cause. Indeed, the truth might sometimes be the very opposite of that for which the festivities were celebrated
Gerhard Friedrich, “Εὐαγγελίζομαι, Εὐαγγέλιον, Προευαγγελίζομαι, Εὐαγγελιστής,” ed. Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, and Gerhard Friedrich, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964–), 721–723.
In New Testament passages of the Bible, notably usage by the apostle Paul, the 'good news' has such context as to not need explanatory qualifiers of what is the content of the news:
a. Most of the NT εὐαγγέλιον passages are in Paul (→ 727). How firm a magnitude the concept is for him may be seen from the fact that in almost half of the passages he speaks of τὸ εὐαγγέλιον in the absolute. He does not need any noun or adj. to define it. The readers know what it is. Hence explanation is unnecessary. Nevertheless, for us εὐαγγέλιον is not a consistent and clearly definable term which we can express in a brief formula.
Gerhard Friedrich, “Εὐαγγελίζομαι, Εὐαγγέλιον, Προευαγγελίζομαι, Εὐαγγελιστής,” ed. Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, and Gerhard Friedrich, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964–), 729.
So where do the New Testament usages originate? Observe Jesus' interaction with the scroll of Isaiah:
17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,
            18       “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
      because he has anointed me
      to proclaim good news to the poor.
                  He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
      and recovering of sight to the blind,
      to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
            19       to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Luke 4:17–19 ESV
We observe that in the following verses, Jesus state the passages had been fulfilled as of His reading, in the hearing of His audience. Jesus here references the 'good news' as presented in the scroll of Isaiah. The apostle Peter also references the good news as presented in the scroll of Isaiah:
22 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; 24 for
                  “All flesh is like grass
                  and all its glory like the flower of grass.
                  The grass withers,
                  and the flower falls,
       25       but the word of the Lord remains forever.”
And this word is the good news that was preached to you.
1 Pet. 1:22–25 ESV
So, fittingly, there is a clear precedent that the good news as found in the New Testament, has some origin in the message of the Old Testament.

Are all the usages of euangellion about the good news of Jesus? In 1 Thessalonians, we read:
6 But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us the good news of your faith and love and reported that you always remember us kindly and long to see us, as we long to see you—
1 Thess. 3:6 ESV.
Observe here that the antecedent of 'good news' is about the faith and love of the Thessalonian church. So the antecedent is important when understanding what the 'good news' is about.

So where do we go for a clear understanding of the good news as presented in the New Testament? Probably the clearest expression in the New Testament is the apostle Paul's explanation in 1 Corinthians 15.

What I might term the 'good news proper' is made up of four parts according to 1 Cor 15. Those four parts are based upon the verbals Paul uses and their distinctions via the use of kai hoti. The four verbals are that Christ: Died for sins, Was buried, Rose from the Grave, and Was observed. This is the 'good news' proper as presented by the apostle Paul. This information is about Christ and the good news about his death and resurrection. This is the gospel.

However, the theological implications of this information (effects) is also what we would consider the good news. Paul continues in 1 Cor. 15 to explain how Christ’s life affected his. Thus, there is a part of presenting the historical gospel, which would include how this good new affected the presenter.

However, this proper information, and how it affects the lives of humans is in kernel form only, and the theological implications must be communicated to the recipient for them to understand this information to be understood. This is the good news, as those in the church would commonly use it.

This part of the good news would be information such as: that man is a sinner. That God is holy. That because of those two factors, there is a gulf between man and God. Next it is important to show that because man is a sinner, he will reap the rewards of sinning, which is death eternal. Thus, there must be a resolution between God and man for man to not suffer eternal death. This is where the good new proper fits in. That Christ died for sins. Christ was an atonement for man’s sin, and that men can accept this through faith in Christ. And, that Christ is the Only way to life eternal. Also, that ‘believing and confessing that Christ is Lord, you will be saved.’ That belief and confession of Christ as Lord must be done in integrity. Thus, that integrity will dictate a change in the unbeliever’s life. There will be true repentance in the believers’ life. Thus a person is saved by Grace (the free gift of God) through Faith (truly believing God), and this is evidenced by true repentance in their life (turning from evil and toward God). Faith being the first step of repentance.

There is a distinction between the content of the good news and the effects of the good news. the Theologian N.T. Wright observes:
First, we note once more that Romans 1:16 and 17 are not a statement of “the gospel.” I am aware that some of the things I have sometimes said on this point have been too truncated, and I am sorry for giving wrong impressions. Paul has various ways of summarizing his “gospel.” In Romans itself, he does it in 1:3–5, where it is the proclamation that Jesus, the Messiah, is the risen Lord of the world, summoning the whole world to believing allegiance. In 1 Corinthians 15:3–5 he does it in terms of the Messiah dying for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, and being raised again also in accordance with the Scriptures. But the important point to note is that “the gospel” is a message primarily about Jesus, and about what the one true God has done and is doing though him. By contrast, Romans 1:16–17 is a claim about the effect of the gospel: when it is preached, God’s power goes to work and people are saved. “I am not ashamed of the gospel,” followed by an explanation of what the gospel does, is not the same thing as “here is the gospel itself.”
N.T. Wright as quoted by Mike Stallard in “Gospel Centeredness, Jesus, and Social Ethics,” ed. Gary Gromacki and Mike Stallard, Journal of Ministry and Theology 15/2 (2011): 18.
In today's English speaking world, there is an fair bit of usage of the term Gospel. I feel that the Anglo-Saxon term Gospel jumps to the technical usage assuming certain antecedent messages, and it may be better for the listeners to hear 'good news' and probably qualify the antecedent(s) of the news. The message may not be clear to those who interact with the Anglo-Saxon term, whereas the phrase 'good news,' carries a clear message and has an undefined antecedent that forces the audience to interact with the content of the news.
The term Gospel translates the original Greek word εὐαγγέλιον meaning “good news.” As Jim Anderson noted: “The word comes to us through the Anglo-Saxon word that meant the story of God.”4 To describe the nature of this good news, some turn to 1 Corinthians 15:1–8 to explain it in terms of Christ’s redemption of mankind through His life, death and resurrection confirmed by many. While true, the gospel should not only be described in what Christ did for humanity, but also by the impact it has on mankind in the present and future. By dying, Christ paid humanity’s debt and died substitutionarily (this allows all who believe in Him to be justified before God; cf. Rom 3:21–4:5). By rising from the dead, this proves God accepted Christ’s sacrifice (Rom 4:25), gives believers present power to live righteously (Rom 5:9–10; 6:1–13; 8:1–39; 10:9–13) and guarantees the believers’ future with God (1 Cor 15:50–54; 1 Thess 4:13–5:11). Therefore, the gospel is good news with regard to what Christ did for humanity that encompasses the believer’s total experience from the time of birth to a future life with God.
René A. López, “New Testament Theology: The Synoptic Problem in the of Gospels,” ed. Christopher B. Cone, Journal of Dispensational Theology 15/44 (2011): 42–43.
For fun, here is my personal translation of 1 Corinthians 15:1-11:
1 Cor. 15:1 And I make known to you, brethren, the good news which I preached to you, and which you received, and in which you stand, 2 and by which you are saved, if you hold fast to the word which I preached to you, unless  if you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you the first things, which I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures 4 and that he was buried and that he having been raised on the third day according to the scriptures 5 and then he was seen by Cephas (Peter) then to the twelve. 6 Next he was seen by more than five hundred brethren at once, for the majority are abiding until now, but some have gone to sleep ; 7 next he appeared to Jacob (James) then to all the apostles ; 8 and last of all as though to the abnormally born he was seen by me also.
9 For I am the smallest of the apostles as I am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of god I am who I am, and his grace towards me did not become vain , but more than all of them I worked , not I but rather the grace of god with me. 11 Whether then I or them , thus we preach and thus you believed.
Using the term gospel does make communication faster, as a specialized term it features a more defined referent (of which news it refers to). However, the term may downplay the canonical big picture starting in the Old Testament. The Hebrew term (בָּשַׂר) is not generally translated as gospel, but as 'good news' or 'good tidings.'

The term gospel is not a magic word. Rather it is the antecedent of usages of 'news' that are of import. The content of the message is not about an esoteric mystical Anglo-Saxon word (featuring the allure of the foreign, such as words in Latin sounding more sincere or professional), but rather about the content of the message.

What is the good news? It is the news about new creation in Christ, reconciliation, redemption, the resurrection, and the implications thereof. The origins of the good news begin with the hope in Genesis, carried through the prophets such as Isaiah's usages coupled with the Branch and Servant, and coalesce in the Messiah, who inaugurates the new creation. And what the means for you and me.

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