Sometimes you or someone you know needs the Gospel explained simply in Scripture with Bible verses, so our editors created this resource.
The canonical Gospels found in the New Testament of the Holy Bible represent the heart and soul of the Christian faith. That’s because it’s where we find the story of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. Those events make up the very foundation of our faith. The promise of our eternal destiny rests on the truth that we find throughout the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. These men were witnesses to the events that have shaped our faith, and they were divinely inspired to write the books of the Bible that bring our mission as followers of Jesus into such clear focus.
And what is our mission? It’s to spread the Gospel of Christ to people worldwide. We are called to follow in Jesus’ footsteps and continue His redemptive work in the world. Jesus’ example in the Gospels shows us how it is done. Jesus put the needs of others above His own and did everything out of genuine love for others. That’s precisely what we are called to do as well.
Knowing the Gospel is of paramount importance to our role as children of God. Together, we are going to look at the message of the Gospel as a whole, as well as what it means for us and how to obtain it. From there, we will take a look at what makes each of the individual Gospel accounts in the Bible unique.
The Gospel Explained
The Gospel Explained In-Depth
To explain what the Gospel is, it’s helpful to look at the origins of the word itself. In the Greek New Testament, “Gospel” is the translation of the Greek word euangelion. This word is found 76 times in the Greek New Testament. Ever hear the Gospel referred to as “The Good News?” That’s because euangelion translates to “good news.” A similar word found 54 times in the Greek New Testament, euangelizo, means “to bring or announce good news.” The noun euangelion became a technical term for the message of victory, though it was also used for a political or private message that brought happiness, hence “good news.”
Both of these words derive from the Greek noun angelos, translating to “messenger.” To understand the importance of this word and its meaning in the ancient world, we must consider some of the realities of that time. In those days, they didn’t have the internet or TV. They didn’t even have newspapers or magazines! So, how did people receive important news in their communities and kingdoms?
A herald or a messenger would travel, proclaiming important events throughout the kingdom. When a change in leadership would occur, they would go around proclaiming the “good news!” So, the people of that time had a very vivid and clear understanding of what it meant when a herald brought good news.
That’s what makes the beginning of the Gospel story so striking. In Mark 1:14-15, we witness the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. And what was the first thing He did? He acted as a herald of the Good News of the arrival of the Kingdom of God! He called on people to repent and believe the Good News. He wanted everyone far and wide to know that the Kingdom of God had arrived!
The Oxford Dictionary defines the word “Gospel” as “the teaching or revelation of Christ;” “a thing that is absolutely true;” “a set of principles or beliefs;” and “the record of Jesus’ life and teaching in the first four books of the New Testament.”
So, when we refer to the Gospel, we speak of the story of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection as found in the four canonical Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. We also speak of the beliefs, principles, and ideals found within: salvation, hope, freedom from sin, and eternal life through the acceptance of Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. The word “Gospel” encompasses all of this! It’s crucial to understand this as you will quite often hear the word used in both ways.
So, let’s start with the story of the Gospel. What actually happened so long ago that still inspired hope and belief in countless individuals today?
The beginning of the Gospel story starts with the birth of Jesus. We learn of His parents, Mary and Joseph. Mary was visited by a messenger of the Lord who told her that she would conceive a child by miraculous means of the Holy Spirit. Being a godly woman and faithful to the Lord, she accepted this prophecy and committed to seeing it through to fruition.
Now, you could imagine everyone’s surprise when she was found to be pregnant while engaged to Joseph! The Bible even tells us that Joseph was about to call off the engagement, believing she had been unfaithful to him. But then another messenger of the Lord arrives, this time to tell Joseph of the incredible things that were about to transpire. He told Joseph that Mary’s son was of the Holy Spirit, would be the Son of God, and that Joseph should name Him Jesus (Yeshua in Hebrew, meaning “salvation”).
So, Mary and Joseph committed together to live out God’s plans for their lives. Mary gave birth to Jesus in a manger after they could not find an inn to stay at while they were in Nazareth for the census. God’s miraculous prophecy for their lives had come true!
Stories of Jesus’ childhood are few and far between, with the only biblical account of such a story taking place in the Gospel of Luke. But we can assume that He grew up similarly to how any other child at that time did. He learned His father’s craft of carpentry and grew up in the Hebrew faith.
It wasn’t until Jesus was 30 (Luke 3:23) that He started His public ministry. This is where most of the Gospel accounts pick up His story. His cousin John (the son of Mary’s sister) went out preaching to prepare the way for the Messiah, as prophesized in the book of Isaiah. Then, Jesus came, was baptized by John, and began preaching about the arrival of the Kingdom of God.
As Jesus traveled and preached the Word of God, He formed a group of twelve disciples who would come to form His inner circle. They witnessed Jesus not only preaching the Word of God with authority but performing miracles only possible by the power of God. The more they traveled with Him and learned from Him, the more they grew in their faith and shared in His work.
Jesus caused quite the buzz among the people. They would travel far and wide to hear Him speak and to seek His healing power. We have many stories throughout the Gospel of Jesus ministering to these people with authority and power. He healed the sick, cast out demons, and revealed hidden wisdom in the Scriptures.
All of this excitement about Jesus drew the ire of the Pharisees, the religious elite of the time. The Pharisees, in their zealotry, had built up quite the rapport with the people. That reputation brought them power, even gaining them a little bit of leverage with the Romans, who ruled over the Jewish people with an iron fist. In light of Jesus’ popularity among the people and the ways that He often taught contrary to their teachings, they felt their power threatened and plotted to have Him killed.
Judas Iscariot, one of Jesus’ twelve disciples, betrayed Jesus to the Pharisees for money. The Pharisees turned Jesus over to Rome, manipulating them to charge Jesus with treason (a crime punishable by death) for being known as “The King of the Jews.” The Romans flogged, humiliated, and crucified Jesus. Jesus died on the cross and was placed in a tomb.
Jesus’ body lay in a tomb for three days. Then, the climax of the entire Gospel story takes place. Jesus is raised from the dead, conquering death and sin. He shows Himself to His disciples over the course of the next forty days. Then, He ascends into heaven, promising them that the Holy Spirit will come and fill them with power so they can continue in His redemptive work of preaching the Gospel to the ends of the earth.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ
When studying the identity of Jesus, you’ll often come across the word “incarnation.” Interestingly enough, the word “incarnation” does not appear in the Bible. It stems from the Latin words in and caro (flesh). So, together, it would literally mean “in the flesh.” The word “incarnation” thus speaks to the act of God assuming flesh. It is used in theology solely for the purpose of describing the incredible act of God taking on human flesh in the person of Jesus Christ.
So, Jesus is God Himself born as a human. The virgin birth is important because it protects Jesus’ deity and perfect nature. Since He was not born of human will, Adam’s sinful nature was not passed on to Him. He was the perfection of humanity, in its purest form, without the tainting of sin that we all experience.
This detail is vital because, for Jesus’ sacrifice to mean what it did, He had to be perfect. He had to represent the purest form of humanity that only ever existed before the fall. But Jesus was even more special and brought further perfection to humanity because of His divine nature. This is what it means when we claim that Jesus was both fully human and fully divine. He carried the fullness of both natures within Himself.
We understand that our sinful human nature prevents us from ever being able to see God in this life. The human condition is so far from God’s holiness that we are separated from Him in a way that cannot be cleansed by any other than Jesus Christ. But even though this reality exists, we can see God through Jesus. He has made God known. That is another miraculous, beautiful truth of the Gospel. God took on the limitations of flesh so that we could know Him better and grow closer in relationship to Him.
His eternal glory to become a man. Consider for a moment the position Jesus took in His relationship with others during His time here on earth. Jesus, the only one worthy of our worship and praise, chose instead to serve others. He took no recognition for His truly unique place in all of the universe. His desire was to meet the needs of others and build the Kingdom of God here on earth.
The Gospel Explained Simply
Early on in history, evil entered the world because people didn’t listen to God. God let the people continue to make their own decisions because He loved them. Sadly, people continued to choose evil instead of God.
God tried again and again to reach the hearts of His people. He wanted nothing more than for His people to love Him back and live according to His teachings. But the people kept turning away from God and choosing to do things their own way. Because of this, they had chosen a path of eternal separation from God forever.
Since God is holy, sin cannot be in His presence. This broke God’s heart because He loves His people and longs to be close to them. Human nature had been tainted by sin and He knew they couldn’t escape it on their own. If things were going to change, God would have to intervene so that people could be brought close to Him once again and spend eternity by His side.
So, God was born as a human baby named Jesus. He experienced all the things in life that we do and grew into a man. Then, He began to serve others, meeting their needs and taking care of them in powerful and profound ways. In doing so, He spread the message of God’s love far and wide. People came from everywhere to hear His teaching and be healed by His power.
Jesus lived the only perfect human life ever lived. He never sinned or did anything wrong. But evil showed its face again in the world. Some people plotted against Him, and Jesus was unfairly put to death for crimes He did not commit.
But this was all prophesized in the Bible! God’s plan was to live a perfect human life through Jesus, then to be sacrificed for the sins of all. Then, He would be bearing the punishment of everyone for their sins, so they didn’t have to. But there was still one more part of God’s plan left to accomplish.
Jesus was laid in a tomb after His death. After three days, Jesus came back to life! In doing so, He conquered death and broke the hold of sin over us forever. Through His life, sacrifice, and resurrection, we have the promise of eternal life through Jesus. All we have to do is accept Him into our hearts as our Savior.
What the Gospel Means for us and How to Obtain it
The Gospel is of critical importance to every single person in the world. The truth is that we are all in need of salvation because of our tainted human nature, and the Gospel is the only way to attain it. No matter how diligently we are in living righteous lives, we will always fall short. That’s why we need a savior and why Jesus gave it all for us.
On the cross and through His subsequent resurrection, Jesus broke the power of sin and death over our lives forever. He looked death in the face and denied its power over Him. He shares that victory with each and every person that calls Him their Lord and Savior. God did all of this because He loves us unconditionally and wanted to give us the opportunity to be in a personal relationship with Him once again, a blessing lost in Adam and Eve’s disobedience.
In Eden, Adam and Eve had a face-to-face relationship with God. They were holy and blameless, true children of God. Evil had yet to enter the world and sin had not yet tainted the human condition. This was God’s original and ultimate intent for humanity and the world. But He also gave Adam and Eve a choice of whether or not to obey Him. Why? Because there is no love without free will! And God is love!
But it all changed with the fall. From there, people continue on in their disobedience of God. That has led us all the way to today. We are still living in the grasp of sin and evil, a web of ungodliness that we could never escape on our own power. Thankfully, we don’t have to.
Through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, we are granted freedom. Following Jesus means breaking free of the shackles that have held us back for so long. We can have a personal relationship with God once again! Jesus shattered evil’s grip over our lives and beckons us to follow Him.
How do we accept this free and beautiful gift of salvation? Thankfully, it’s quite simple and available to EVERYONE! In Romans 10:9-10, we learn the requirements for receiving the salvation of Christ: we must make a public confession of faith with our mouths while genuinely believing in our hearts. That’s all! This simple act of putting your faith in Jesus and wearing it on your sleeve brings to you the salvation of the Gospel.
While there are no further requirements for salvation, a genuinely saved person should begin to live according to the ways of Christ. Throughout the Gospels, He has given us the perfect example to emulate, for He lived a perfect life. He has taught us everything we need to know about life. All we must do is faithfully follow His teachings, learning them through the reading of God’s Word and a vibrant prayer life. The things we learn should spur us into a life of fellowship with other believers, service to others, and preaching the Gospel to those who have yet to believe.
The Four Canonical Gospels
Matthew is placed first among the canonical New Testament books. Matthew tells the story of how Jesus, the Messiah, came to earth to live out the will of God and fulfill the prophecies of the Old Testament. Matthew covers the entire length of the Gospel story, emphasizing the Jewish roots of Jesus and the fact that Jesus fulfilled the demands of Old Testament law instead of simply canceling them out. The majority of scholars agree that Matthew wrote his Gospel between the years of A.D. 80-90.
Mark is placed second in the New Testament canon. Mark is the shortest Gospel, starting at the start of Jesus’ public ministry instead of His birth. Mark focuses on Jesus’ roles as a teacher, exorcist, healer, and miracle worker. In Mark, there is an emphasis on the prophecy of the Messiah as a suffering servant and all the ways Jesus fulfilled that prophecy. Most scholars date the writing of Mark to A.D. 66-74.
The Gospel of Luke covers Jesus’ story of Jesus’ origins, birth, ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension. Luke also wrote the book of Acts, which follows the story of the disciples after Jesus’ ascension. Together, Luke and Acts make up over a quarter of the entire New Testament! Luke is more detailed-oriented than the other Gospels, making sense since Luke Himself was a physician. Luke also contains the only account we have of Jesus as a youth. Scholars are in agreement that Luke was written between A.D. 80-110.
John is perhaps the most unique of all the Gospels. It beings with a prologue that hearkens back to the creation narrative in Genesis. This time, John places Jesus right alongside God in the creation of the universe, which we have come to understand as Jesus being the second person of the Holy Trinity. John goes on to tell the story of Jesus’ life, framing the story around a focus on Jesus’ divine nature. John also later wrote the book of Revelation. Most scholars agree that John was completed between A.D. 90-110.
The Gospel is a beautiful thing. It is the free gift of God to humanity that allows us the blessed opportunity to once again share a personal relationship with God Himself, the very thing we were created for. The Gospel grants us freedom and points us toward the truth. Even though we live in a world full of darkness, the Gospel is the beacon of light that guides our way. I pray that this article has taught you more about the Gospel and if you’ve yet to make a commitment to Christ, that you would today!
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