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The title almost says it all:

  • What's the difference between the Gospel and the Bible? Does one contain the other or what?

  • What does each one include?

  • Where did each one come from (or who authored each, if possible)?

Please forgive my ignorance; if the question is encyclopedic then answering the first item is enough.

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First, the Bible is the entire collection of Jewish scripture (known by Christians as the "Old Testament") and Christian scripture (which also includes the "New Testament") as recognized by modern Christian groups. Most Protestant Christian groups recognize 66 "books" (or individual pieces of literature) as their Bible. Greek Orthodox and Catholics recognize 73. See the Wikipedia entry for Bible for a more in-depth look of what is contained within the Bible, and how various groups have different definitions.

Now, moving on to the term "Gospel." The term "Gospel" has two meanings within Christianity.

  1. One of the books of the Bible which tells the story of Jesus' life. The four gospels are Gospels of (or according to) Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. In this sense, the term "Gospel" serves to designate these four books (and some groups include additional gospels) as distinct from the other types of books contained in the Bible.

    In this sense, the Gospels (plural) are part of the Bible.

  2. "The Gospel" also means simply "The Good News." So when someone says "Jesus preached the Gospel," they don't mean "Jesus told the story of his life," but they mean "Jesus preached the Good News." That "Good News" is essentially that God forgives sins. It can also be considered the entire story of the Bible, including the details of man's rebellion against God, and God's desire and attempt to redeem man.

    In this sense, the Gospel (singular) is either:

    • specifically, the message that Jesus came to redeem man.
    • generally, the entire message of the Bible. In this sense, The Bible is to "The Gospel" as Moby-Dick is to "the story of Captain Ahab's quest for the White Whale." That is, the former is the title of the book, and the latter is a description of the story the book tells.
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From an Evangelical perspective, "The Gospel" means "The Good News". The news, specifically that even though we are sinners, hopelessly separated from God, unable to save ourselves, Christ dies for us, to pay the penalty for our sins.

It is the good news that is revealed to us in the Bible. The Bible is the collection of 66 books (Genesis-Revelations), written over a long period, by different authors, from different backgrounds, yet revealing one unified message, and the Gospel is the message they tell.

I suppose a good analogy would be in standard literature, you have the book (the Bible) and you have the plot (the Gospel).

To muddy the waters, the first four books of the New Testament are called "the Gospels". Each is an account of the life, death, and resurrection of Christ told from the perspective of one of the disciples, who knew Him personally. (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John)

  • "and the Gospel is the message they tell." are you certain of this sentence? it makes me so confused. What I understood (if I omit this sentence) is that a gospel is the story of the life of Christ, and the Bible is everything that we understand from it or so, isn't that right? – Tamer Shlash Aug 11 '12 at 3:43
  • Yes. There's a distinction, at least from an Evangelical understanding between a gospel (one of the four) and the Gospel (the good news message). It's the same root English word with two distinct meanings. Christianity has another with the word "spirit" in which a spirit can mean "a living thing" or "an attitude", etc, but The Spirit always refers to the Holy Spirit - one of the three aspects of God in the Trinity. – David Stratton Aug 11 '12 at 3:59
  • A gospel is the telling of Christ's life. The Gospel is the message. – David Stratton Aug 11 '12 at 5:11
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    Can you provide a reference for your statement that Luke "knew [Jesus] personally?" Calvin, Henry, Clarke -- and many more -- all taught otherwise. See Luke 1:1-4. But maybe you mean "knew" in a "spiritual" sense. – Philip Schaff Aug 13 '12 at 1:10
  • Is that really relevant to this particular question/answer? I really don't want to go off an a side issue if it's not something that is relevant to the question, which is about the distinction of the Bible and the Gospel, not the authorship of one of the gospels. – David Stratton Aug 13 '12 at 1:28
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The Gospel starts at Genesis and ends at Revelation. The bible is dispensational. This is the key to understanding it. God's, word shows us in the shadow of things. (Types and shadows) our need for a Savior. Jesus Christ is mentioned in the first chapter of Genesis, his coming is also foretold in Genesis 3, God's children are the seed of Abraham. The bible in each story points to Jesus. Then as Isaiah the greatest prophet foretells the coming of Jesus through the last of the greatest prophets "John the Baptist" and how John would clear the way for Jesus and the new covenant. "Behold the Kingdom of heaven is at hand" Many of the prophets foretell of Jesus Christ over 300 times in the Old testament. So even though the "words and life" of Jesus is considered the Gospel of Jesus. it can be said that the entire cannon of scripture is indeed "the good news" The apostle Paul is referred to as "The minister of grace". Paul's letters are instrumental to bringing a clear understanding that distinguishes the new covenant from the Old Covenant that Moses received for the nation of Israel. Peter, James perhaps even Helena also wrote a portions of the new testament as well.

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    Saying the whole thing is the Gospel is pretty far outside of the traditional view. – 3961 Jan 10 '15 at 15:59
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    Welcome to the site. We are glad you decided to participate. Please see What this site is about and How this site is different to help you learn how the site works. Also see the help center and take the tour to learn the site functions. I hope to see you post again soon. – 3961 Jan 10 '15 at 16:00
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The Bible is known as ‘the word of God’, but the Son of God is called the Word of God (prior to incarnating as the virgin Mary’s child). The Bible tells us that the gospel IS the Word of God, in his person, and that the gospel is the good news about Jesus Christ (Mark 1:1, 1 Corinthians 9:12, 2 Corinthians 4:4, 2 Thessalonians 1:8). The written biblical scriptures, the word of God, contain this message of good news about Jesus Christ, the start of it being in Genesis, with hints, or clues, about how it would unfold thereafter, leading to the ministry of the incarnate Word of God as detailed in the four gospel accounts, and the last book of the Bible culminates with the final cosmic outcome of this gospel (Revelation 14:6).

Here is what Martin Luther (1483-1546) said about the Bible as one channel of self-disclosure which God has ordained for man. It tells us about Jesus, the Word, yet the Word is not to be equated with Scripture. The ‘Word’ is not the Bible as a written book because:

“The gospel is really not that which is contained in books and composed in letters, but rather an oral preaching and a living word, a voice which resounds throughout the whole world and is publicly proclaimed.”

This Word must be heard. This Word must be pondered:

“Not through thought, wisdom, and will does the faith of Christ arise in us, but through an incomprehensible and hidden operation of the Spirit, which is given by faith in Christ only at the hearing of the Word and without any other work of ours.”

More, too, than mere reading about Christ and the gospel message is required:

“No one is taught through much reading and thinking. There is a much higher school where one learns God’s Word. One must go into the wilderness. Then Christ comes and one becomes able to judge the world.” ‘Here I Stand’ Roland Bainton, pp224-5 (Lion 1988 reprint, Britain)

So, there is the written message of the gospel (some 40 men wrote about it in virtually all of the Bible books). This is the good news about Jesus Christ who is, in his person, the good news of grace. A merely academic grasp of the written gospel message will avail nothing if the person of Jesus Christ is not apprehended and grasped, by faith. It is possible for individuals to do that without ever having seen a copy of the Bible, but a declaration of the gospel about Christ is necessary. Once a person has believed the good news about Christ, a study of the Bible will vastly enhance their appreciation and understanding of Christ. Finally, there is no discrepancy between the written gospel and the person of Jesus Christ.

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Here's another way to distinguish the GOSPEL from the BIBLE without repeating too much of David Stratton's answer and Flimzy's answer.

What's the difference between the Gospel and the Bible? Does one contain the other or what?

What does each one include?

The whole BIBLE is the written record of God's self disclosure to human beings. This self disclosure is

  • progressive (becoming clearer with time), as God revealed himself intermittently for more than 2000 years to Israel)
  • historical (empirically verifiable), as the recipient of the revelation are real people instead of mythological characters

because the Bible's God

  • acts in history through his mighty works of deliverance like the exodus from Egypt (instead of aloof like Plato's god) and
  • speaks through His prophets

showing God's intense love for the rebellious humans and provides a way for them to come back to their Creator: John 3:13-21.

So if the BIBLE is the parchment and ink, the GOSPEL is the long love letter written on the parchment, composed over more than 2000 year history:

  • To those who repent they will recognize and respond to the GOSPEL message (the love letter) embedded in the BIBLE. They are like the seeds that fell on the good soil in the parable of the sower, Luke 8:4-15).
  • But to those whose hearts are hardened to God's love, the BIBLE becomes merely human words on paper, since they will not see the GOSPEL there. It is to people like them that Jesus quoted Isa 6:9-10 in Luke 8:10 above.

Where did each one come from (or who authored each, if possible)?

Do not confuse the above meaning of the GOSPEL with the title of the 4 gospel books in the BIBLE such as the Gospel according to Matthew. Like the rest of the Bible, the 4 gospels are also written record of God's dealings with us. But it's in the 4 gospels that we have the record of the clearest and most developed self-disclosure of God, which culminated in the sending of his Son Jesus Christ to defeat DEATH, the death caused by the curse described in Genesis 3. Since Jesus needed to show how God now is ready to give humans the opportunity to reverse their cursed death-laden existence, it is no wonder that the human writers of the 4 gospels purposefully included several miracles of how Jesus raised people from death and how Jesus himself was raised from death by God.

Therefore, those who repent and be baptized will also be resurrected to eternal life after their earthly death just like Jesus. Isn't that good news? That is why the church gave the books the title gospel, from the Greek word euaggelion, which was also used by Isaiah about 500 years earlier to announce God's promise to bring about deliverance as in Isa 52:7-10 which God fulfilled in Jesus who demonstrated God's VICTORY over death before the eyes of the nations (i.e. the nations conquered by the 1st century Roman Empire).

    7 How beautiful on the mountains  
        are the feet of the messenger who brings good news,  
      the good news of peace and salvation,  
        the news that the God of Israel reigns!  
    8 The watchmen shout and sing with joy,  
        for before their very eyes  
        they see the LORD returning to Jerusalem.  
    9 Let the ruins of Jerusalem break into joyful song,  
        for the LORD has comforted his people.  
        He has redeemed Jerusalem.  
   10 The LORD has demonstrated his holy power  
        before the eyes of all the nations.  
      All the ends of the earth will see  
        the victory of our God.  

The 4 human authors of the 4 gospels are:

  • Matthew (one of the 12 apostles), writing between 70-80 A.D. (shortly after the temple's destruction)
  • Mark (disciple of Peter, one of the 12 apostles), writing mid to late 50s A.D. (about 20 years after the resurrection of Jesus)
  • Luke (Paul's missionary companion), writing a little before 65 A.D. (a little before Nero)
  • John (one of the 12 apostles), writing sometime after 70 A.D. but before 100 A.D. (his natural death)

Each of the four wrote their own human perspective of Jesus, who embodies the GOSPEL because Jesus himself is God who disclosed Himself as 100% human person. It's like the love letter writer HIMSELF had now come in person to deliver the message ! Isn't that grand?

Therefore, to answer your question, the GOSPEL came from God (because it's God's self disclosure) but the BIBLE (including the 4 gospels) came from the pen of several dozen human beings (mostly prophets, scribes, and apostles) who responded to God's self disclosure and wrote them down so we too can respond to God's love.

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The Gospel is the good news "We have a new identity in christ which is the sinless man/god". The Bible is simply a package containing: { the gospel<- and ->the reason for the gospel }. (and not in that order)

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