[Gr., eu·ag·geʹli·on, “gospel” in AV and some other versions].
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” (Matt. 4:23), “the good news of God” (Rom. 15:16), “the good news about Jesus Christ” (Mark 1:1), “the good news of the undeserved kindness of God” (Acts 20:24), “the good news of peace” (Eph. 6:15) and the “everlasting good news.” (Rev. 14:6) An “evangelizer” (the English word being almost a transliteration of the Greek) is a preacher of the good news.—Acts 21:8; 2 Tim. 4:5.
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 purposes 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.”—2 Tim. 1:9, 10.
God revealed centuries ago that he purposed to provide the good news through Christ by declaring the good news to Abraham, saying: “By means of you all the nations will be blessed.” (Gal. 3:8) Later, Jehovah spoke of the preaching of the good news through the prophet Isaiah. Jesus Christ read from this prophecy in the synagogue at Nazareth, afterward saying: “Today this scripture that you just heard is fulfilled.” (Luke 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.
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.” (Luke 2:10) John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus’ preaching of the good news, saying to the Jews: “Repent, for the kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.” (Matt. 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.”—Matt. 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.” (Matt. 15:24) When sending out the twelve 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.” (Matt. 10:5, 6) On one occasion he preached to a woman of the Samaritans, who were related to the Israelites. But he did not go into the city to preach. However, the response of the woman and others was so favorable that Jesus stayed with them for two days.—John 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.” (Matt. 28:19, 20) He also told them that their preaching would reach to “the most distant part of the earth.” (Acts 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 Cornelius, the Roman army officer. (Acts chaps. 10, 11; 15:7) From that time on, the good news was declared to the greatest possible extent over the widest area.
The apostle Paul made the strong declaration that the good news committed to the apostles was the only good news; that if the apostles themselves or even an angel out of heaven were to declare as good news something beyond what the apostles had declared as good news, “let him be accursed.” He then gave the reason, namely, that the good news is not something human, not from man, but through revelation by Jesus Christ. (Gal. 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.’ (2 Cor. 11:4; Gal. 1:6, 7) Paul warned of an apostasy to come and stated that the ‘mystery of lawlessness’ was already at work, admonishing 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.—2 Thess. 2:3, 7, 14, 15; see TRADITION.
Faithfulness in holding onto 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. (Mark 8:35; 1 Cor. 9:16; 2 Tim. 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.”—Mark 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. (1 Pet. 4:5, 6, 17; 2 Thess. 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 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. (1 Thess. 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. (1 Cor. 9:11-14) But the apostles 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.
The good news has been bitterly fought, the source of the enmity being 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.” (2 Cor. 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.”—Rom. 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.—Phil. 1:7, 16; compare Mark 13:9-13; Acts 4:18-20; 5:27-29.
CHRIST’S PRESENCE, ABSENCE AND RETURN
It is noteworthy that, for six months before Jesus came to him for baptism, John the Baptist 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!” (Matt. 3:1, 2; John 1:29) He announced the presence of the King and turned the people’s attention toward Him.—Acts 19:4.
Christ and his disciples, while Jesus was on earth, announced: “The Kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.” (Matt. 4:17; 10:7) Jesus, anointed as Christ, the King, said to the Pharisees, his enemies: “The kingdom of God is in your midst.” (Luke 17:20, 21) This was the theme or central point of the good news during Jesus’ earthly ministry. However, after Jesus’ death the disciples are not reported as proclaiming the Kingdom as having “drawn near” or being at hand. Rather, they preached a good news about Christ’s having ascended to heaven, after laying down his human life as the ransom price for salvation, and of his then sitting at God’s right hand; also, of Jesus’ return, and of the Kingdom to come at a later time.—Heb. 10:12, 13; 2 Tim. 4:1; Rev. 11:15; 12:10; 22:20; compare Luke 19:12, 15; Matthew 25:31.
When Jesus Christ was answering the question asked by his disciples, “What will be the sign of your presence and of the conclusion of the system of things?” 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.” (Matt. 24:3, 14; Mark 13:10; compare Colossians 1:23.) In the Revelation given to the apostle John about 96 C.E., he 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.’” (Rev. 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.