This refers to the good news of the Kingdom of God and of salvation by faith in Jesus Christ. It is called in the Bible “the good news of the kingdom” (Mt 4:23), “the good news of God” (Ro 15:16), “the good news about Jesus Christ” (Mr 1:1), “the good news of the undeserved kindness of God” (Ac 20:24), “the good news of peace” (Eph 6:15), and the “everlasting good news” (Re 14:6).
The Greek word translated “good news” (“gospel” in KJ and some other versions) is eu·ag·geʹli·on. “An evangelizer” (the English word being almost a transliteration of the Greek) is a preacher of the good news.—Ac 21:8; 2Ti 4:5.
Its Content. An idea of the content and scope of the good news can be gained from the above designations. It includes all the truths about which Jesus spoke and the disciples wrote. While men of old hoped in God and had faith through knowledge of Him, God’s purpose and undeserved kindness were first “made clearly evident through the manifestation of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has abolished death but has shed light upon life and incorruption through the good news.”—2Ti 1:9, 10.
Centuries earlier God had declared the good news to Abraham, thereby indicating the means by which he purposed to provide the good news. He said: “By means of you all the nations will be blessed.” (Ga 3:8) Later, through the prophet Isaiah, Jehovah spoke of the preaching of the good news. Jesus Christ read from this prophecy in the synagogue at Nazareth, afterward saying: “Today this scripture that you just heard is fulfilled.” (Lu 4:16-21) Isaiah’s prophecy described the purpose and effect of the good news to be preached, particularly from the time of Messiah’s coming.—Isa 61:1-3.
Its Progress. At Jesus’ birth the angel announced to the shepherds: “Have no fear, for, look! I am declaring to you good news of a great joy that all the people will have.” (Lu 2:10) John the Baptizer prepared the way for Jesus’ preaching of the good news, saying to the Jews: “Repent, for the kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.” (Mt 3:1, 2) Jesus said of John’s preaching: “From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of the heavens is the goal toward which men press, and those pressing forward are seizing it.”—Mt 11:12.
During Jesus’ earthly ministry, he confined his preaching of the good news to the Jews and proselytes, saying: “I was not sent forth to any but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Mt 15:24) When sending out the 12 apostles, he commanded them: “Do not go off into the road of the nations, and do not enter into a Samaritan city; but, instead, go continually to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Mt 10:5, 6) On one occasion he preached to a woman of the Samaritans, who were related to the Israelites, but this was not because he had gone into the city to preach. However, the response of the woman and others was so favorable that Jesus stayed with them for two days.—Joh 4:7-42.
After Jesus’ death and resurrection, he gave his disciples the command: “Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit, teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you.” (Mt 28:19, 20) He also told them that their preaching would reach to “the most distant part of the earth.” (Ac 1:8) But for about three and a half years afterward the holy spirit led the disciples to confine their preaching to Jews and Samaritans. Then Peter was sent by God to bring the good news to the household of the Roman army officer Cornelius. (Ac chaps 10, 11; 15:7) From that time on, the good news was declared to the greatest possible extent over the widest area.
Its Importance. The apostle Paul wrote with strong conviction about the provision for salvation that God had made through Jesus Christ. He declared that if anyone was to declare to the Galatians something beyond what they had learned, something that was actually a different teaching, “let him be accursed.” Then, pointing to the source of the good news that he declared, Paul stated: “Neither did I receive it from man, nor was I taught it, except through revelation by Jesus Christ.” (Ga 1:8, 11, 12) This strong declaration was necessary, for even then there were some who were trying to overthrow the true faith by preaching ‘another good news.’ (2Co 11:4; Ga 1:6, 7) Paul warned of an apostasy to come and stated that ‘the mystery of lawlessness’ was already at work; he admonished Christians to remember the purpose of the good news and to stand firm and maintain their hold on the spirit-guided traditions they had learned through the apostles.—2Th 2:3, 7, 14, 15; see TRADITION.
Faithfulness in holding on to and continuing to proclaim the good news was counted by Jesus as more important than one’s present life, and Paul recognized that faithfully declaring it was vital. (Mr 8:35; 1Co 9:16; 2Ti 1:8) The individual might suffer the loss of his most cherished possessions, even undergoing persecutions but, in turn, would receive a hundredfold now, “houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and fields, . . . and in the coming system of things everlasting life.”—Mr 10:29, 30.
The good news is the touchstone by which mankind is judged: Acceptance of and obedience to the good news result in salvation; rejection and disobedience bring destruction. (1Pe 4:5, 6, 17; 2Th 1:6-8) Particularly with this fact in view, the individual’s motive in preaching the good news must be pure and he must preach it from the heart, out of love for those hearing. The apostles were so appreciative of the life-giving importance of the good news and were so fired with God’s spirit and with love that they imparted not only the good news but also their “own souls” to those who listened to their preaching. (1Th 2:8) God provided that the proclaimers of the good news had the right to accept material help from those to whom they brought it. (1Co 9:11-14) But Paul and his close associates so cherished their privilege as bearers of the good news that they carefully avoided making financial gain therefrom, or even giving the appearance of doing so in connection with their preaching. The apostle Paul describes his course of action in this regard at 1 Corinthians 9:15-18 and 1 Thessalonians 2:6, 9.
Enemies. The good news has been bitterly fought, and the source of the enmity is identified by the apostle: “If, now, the good news we declare is in fact veiled, it is veiled among those who are perishing, among whom the god of this system of things has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, that the illumination of the glorious good news about the Christ, who is the image of God, might not shine through.” (2Co 4:3, 4) The earliest enemies of the good news were the religious leaders of the Jews. Their enmity, however, resulted in good to the Gentiles, or people of the nations, in that it opened up the opportunity for Gentiles to be fellow partakers of “the promise in union with Christ Jesus through the good news.”—Ro 11:25, 28; Eph 3:5, 6.
Enemies of the good news caused the Christians much suffering and required the apostles to put up a hard fight before rulers in defending and legally establishing the good news so that it might spread with the greatest possible freeness.—Php 1:7, 16; compare Mr 13:9-13; Ac 4:18-20; 5:27-29.
Jesus’ Earthly Ministry and His Return. It is noteworthy that, for about six months before Jesus came to him for baptism, John the Baptizer preached: “Repent, for the kingdom of the heavens has drawn near,” and when Jesus appeared, John pointed to Jesus as “the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world!” (Mt 3:1, 2; Joh 1:29) Thus he turned the people’s attention toward the long-awaited Messianic King.—Ac 19:4.
While Jesus was on earth, he and his disciples announced: “The kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.” (Mt 4:17; 10:7) Jesus, anointed as Christ, the King, said to the Pharisees, his enemies: “The kingdom of God is in your midst.” (Lu 17:20, 21) This was the theme, or central point, of the good news during Jesus’ earthly ministry. However, it is not reported that after Jesus’ death the disciples proclaimed the Kingdom as having “drawn near” or as being at hand. Rather, the good news they preached was that after Jesus had laid down his life as the ransom price for salvation, he ascended to heaven and was then sitting at God’s right hand. They also preached about Jesus’ return at a later time and his Kingdom to come.—Heb 10:12, 13; 2Ti 4:1; Re 11:15; 12:10; 22:20; compare Lu 19:12, 15.
Jesus’ disciples asked him, “What will be the sign of your presence and of the conclusion of the system of things?” In his answer Jesus enumerated certain things due to occur at that time. He said, among other things: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.” (Mt 24:3, 14; Mr 13:10; compare Col 1:23.) In the Revelation given to the apostle John about 96 C.E., John saw an “angel flying in midheaven” who had “everlasting good news to declare as glad tidings to those who dwell on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people, saying in a loud voice: ‘Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of the judgment by him has arrived.’” (Re 14:6, 7) These inspired statements indicate that in the “last days” there would be an unparalleled proclamation of the good news of the Kingdom.