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What is the gospel supposed to mean? In what ways can it be used? What do Christians generally mean when they use the term "gospel"?

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This is an okay question - a little bit basic, but I understand why you raised it. Your answer is good, too - and we do encourage answering your own question - although typically the bar is "Did you need to do some research to answer it." I'm really liking your quality overall, so this may almost be a little beneath you :) –  Affable Geek Jun 19 '13 at 17:47
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Thanks to the Internet and the libraries to which I belong, I have had roughly a year worth of research in Christianity and other world religions, but mostly, Christianity. I am not religious at all, though the Christian worldview is starting to tickle me a bit. During that time, I have asked specific questions to various Christians, read Christian books, and read the Bible (NRSV) all in my spare recreational time. –  Anonymous Jun 19 '13 at 19:19
    
possible duplicate of Difference between Gospel and Bible –  David Stratton Jun 19 '13 at 22:55

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The word "gospel" is the Old English word for "good news" or "glad tidings" and has several different uses. It comes from the Greek word εὐαγγέλιον, euangelion (eu- "good", -angelion "message"). As an adjective, it is used in gospel choir or gospel music, perhaps to refer to the African American spiritual Christian hymn. As a noun, it is used in the phrase "to preach the gospel" or "to share the gospel", which means to evangelise. Evangelism is interpreted by many Christians to be a good thing, because they may say:

  • The purpose of the gospel is to win souls to Christ.
  • The purpose of the gospel is to enter the kingdom of God in God's plan or make life on earth as if it were the kingdom of God when it would be fully realized.
  • The gospel is to help human beings become the most fully alive that they can be.
  • The gospel books is to describe what Jesus has done on earth and how his works are significant to Christians, giving Christians a new identity apart from Judaism, and emphasizing especially on the significance of the resurrection.

To outsiders of the faith, it just means to convert to Christianity.

Upon conversion to Christianity, it is expected that the person would be baptized. The means of baptism, however, varies from denomination to denomination. Refer to the conversation between Nicodemus and Jesus about baptism in John 3:1-10.

In short, there are two ways that gospel may refer to: (1) the act of converting to Christianity or (2) the life of the ideal Christian. Plus, the life of the ideal Christian may be a method to evangelism, an attempt to convert non-Christians into the Christian faith by making the Christian faith sound very attractive. Refer to "lifestyle evangelism".

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ܐܘܢܓܠܝܘܢ is a Greek loan word, so "Gospel" would not be ultimately derived from Aramaic/ Syriac, but Greek. –  H3br3wHamm3r81 Jun 19 '13 at 20:07
    
"Gospel"'s roots go back even further than this. It is actually a Greek translation of the Hebrew word basar which typically means good news of a military victory. This helps to explain why many were expecting the Messiah to come and overthrow the Romans. hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/5440/… –  James Shewey Oct 13 at 22:52

The word gospel was actually in use prior to the birth of Jesus, and that context is crucial to understanding its meaning. The word gospel /euaggelion/ does literally mean "good news". It was employed by the Romans in the proclamation that Caesar was Lord. The fact that Caesar was "Lord" or emperor was asserted to be good news in that there would be no wars inside of the empire. However, those who were conquered by Caesar probably did not see such news as "good", but those in Rome likely did as they saw the expansion of their own influence. Indeed, to be a Roman citizen had significant privileges that went with it.

The assertion of the gospel of Jesus Christ, then, is that Jesus is Lord, not of a physical kingdom but of a spiritual kingdom. He is Lord of this Kingdom because of what He accomplished through His death and resurrection. Jesus has, indeed, conquered, but He didn't conquer mankind. He conquered mankind's greatest enemies--sin and death.

Thus, the gospel of Jesus Christ is the good news that Jesus has conquered our greatest enemies--sin and death--and that we can be freed from slavery in the kingdom of darkness and enter into the Kingdom of God as sons and daughters of the King Himself.

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Very interesting. Do you have some sources? –  fredsbend Jun 20 '13 at 0:03
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@fredsbend Here's one article: stephencairnsjr.wordpress.com/2013/05/06/… –  Narnian Jun 20 '13 at 12:14

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