The Gospel

What’s the difference between the gospel and the Gospels?

The gospel is the good news of what God has done in Jesus’s life, death, resurrection, and ascension to redeem His people for His own glory.1

The Gospels are the four books that begin the New Testament - Matthew, Mark, Luke, John. These four books are “historical narrative motivated by theological concerns”2 and “stories of God’s eschatological, redemptive, covenant-fulfilling activity through the person of Jesus of Nazareth.”3 

What does this mean? The four Gospels are historically-true, authoritative, and infallible narratives about Jesus the Messiah and how He is the fulfillment of God’s redemptive plan. The Gospels are what G.K. Beale calls redemptive history, which he defines as “God’s salvific dealings with his people throughout the entire history, from the fall of Adam until the final consummation.”4 We may not be told about Jesus’s eye color or His childhood interactions with friends, but we are told and shown how He fulfills and even continues the story of the Old Testament, and how He will bring history to completion at His return.

The four documents we now call Gospels weren’t designated as such until after the Second Century. But the earliest disciples of Jesus were anticipating written documents because the Jewish community already had a precedent for such documents: the entire Old Testament. Since the disciples were intimately familiar with covenantal documents, they were expecting new documents to come with the New Covenant. Not only this, but Jesus Himself tells of this reality in John 17:
“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word.” From the beginning, Christianity was going to continue in the tradition of Judaism as it advanced through “the word” of Jesus’ disciples. We have that “word” recorded in the Gospels.

__________________________________________________________________________

1. D.A. Carson, The Gospel Coalition
2. Mark Strauss, Four Portraits, One Jesus
3. Michael J. Kruger, Covenant Theology: Covenant in the Gospels
4. G.K. Beale
Posted in ,