What is the gospel? Ask many people in our churches and they’ll tell you it’s about how you get saved, by asking God to forgive your sins. Would it surprise you to know that that’s not what the gospel means in the Bible?
The word gospel (or good news) is used a lot in the New Testament — 125 times in the NIV translation. They’re all listed below so you can scan it and see. As you scan, ask:
- What is the good news about (its content)?
- Who is it good news for (its audience)?
Now, this is a very basic survey. It ignores synonyms. It doesn’t check context. In many cases the verse is not even a complete sentence. Nevertheless, this quick overview can help us check whether our gospel is anything like the good news of the NT.
So please, scan and compare.
What’s it good news of? In the NT, the gospel is the announcement of God’s reign (the kingdom of God). It’s a call to recognize our earth’s true leader — son of our heavenly ruler, anointed to implement his reign on earth (Christ Jesus our Lord).
Who is it good news for? It’s good news for the poor. It’s good news for the nation intended to be under God’s reign, and it’s good news for the nations who never had God’s reign. It’s good news for God’s world.
In the NT, the gospel is not good news about sin, and it isn’t good news for sinners. We’ve interpolated that. The words gospel and sin don’t even turn up in the same verse anywhere in the NT. (There’s one exception; see if you can find it.)
This is as important for us as it is for the world. We don’t move on from the gospel to deeper things once we’re “saved.” The gospel is our identity. The gospel of Jesus’ kingship defines us as the community that lives with allegiance to King Jesus, the people who reveal in practical terms on the world stage what our king wants in his kingdom.
Just like Jesus, we are our message. Heaven help us, but we are the gospel people, the good news of his reign.
Every occurrence of “gospel” in the New International Version (New Testament):
Mt 4:23 Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.
Mt 9:35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.
Mt 11:5 The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.
Mt 24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
Mt 26:13 Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”
Mk 1:1 The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God,
Mk 1:14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God.
Mk 1:15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
Mk 8:35 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.
Mk 10:29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel
Mk 13:10 And the gospel must first be preached to all nations.
Mk 14:9 Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”
Mk 16:15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.
Lk 1:19 The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news.
Lk 2:10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.
Lk 3:18 And with many other words John exhorted the people and proclaimed the good news to them.
Lk 4:18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free,
Lk 4:43 But he said, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.”
Lk 7:22 So he replied to the messengers, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.
Lk 8:1 After this, Jesus travelled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him,
Lk 9:6 So they set out and went from village to village, proclaiming the good news and healing people everywhere.
Lk 16:16 “The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing their way into it.
Lk 20:1 One day as Jesus was teaching the people in the temple courts and proclaiming the good news, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, together with the elders, came up to him.
Ac 5:42 Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.
Ac 8:12 But when they believed Philip as he proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.
Ac 8:25 After they had further proclaimed the word of the Lord and testified about Jesus, Peter and John returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel in many Samaritan villages.
Ac 8:35 Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.
Ac 8:40 Philip, however, appeared at Azotus and travelled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea.
Ac 10:36 You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.
Ac 11:20 Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus.
Ac 13:32 “We tell you the good news: What God promised our ancestors
Ac 14:7 where they continued to preach the gospel.
Ac 14:15 “Friends, why are you doing this? We too are only human, like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heavens and the earth and the sea and everything in them.
Ac 14:21 They preached the gospel in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch,
Ac 15:7 After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe.
Ac 16:10 After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.
Ac 17:18 A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to debate with him. Some of them asked, “What is this babbler trying to say?” Others remarked, “He seems to be advocating foreign gods.” They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection.
Ac 20:24 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.
Ro 1:1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God
Ro 1:2 the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures
Ro 1:9 God, whom I serve in my spirit in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you
Ro 1:15 That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are in Rome.
Ro 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.
Ro 1:17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
Ro 2:16 This will take place on the day when God judges people’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.
Ro 10:15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
Ro 10:16 But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?”
Ro 11:28 As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies for your sake; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs,
Ro 15:16 to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles. He gave me the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.
Ro 15:19 by the power of signs and wonders, through the power of the Spirit of God. So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ.
Ro 15:20 It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation.
Ro 16:25 Now to him who is able to establish you in accordance with my gospel, the message I proclaim about Jesus Christ, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past,
1 Co 1:17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
1 Co 4:15 Even if you had ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel.
1 Co 9:12 If others have this right of support from you, shouldn’t we have it all the more? But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ.
1 Co 9:14 In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.
1 Co 9:16 For when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, since I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!
1 Co 9:18 What then is my reward? Just this: that in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge, and so not make full use of my rights as a preacher of the gospel.
1 Co 9:23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.
1 Co 15:1 Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand.
1 Co 15:2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
2 Co 2:12 Now when I went to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ and found that the Lord had opened a door for me,
2 Co 4:3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing.
2 Co 4:4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
2 Co 8:18 And we are sending along with him the brother who is praised by all the churches for his service to the gospel.
2 Co 9:13 Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.
2 Co 10:14 We are not going too far in our boasting, as would be the case if we had not come to you, for we did get as far as you with the gospel of Christ.
2 Co 10:16 so that we can preach the gospel in the regions beyond you. For we do not want to boast about work already done in someone else’s territory.
2 Co 11:4 For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.
2 Co 11:7 Was it a sin for me to lower myself in order to elevate you by preaching the gospel of God to you free of charge?
Ga 1:6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel
Ga 1:7 which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.
Ga 1:8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse!
Ga 1:9 As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!
Ga 1:11 I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin.
Ga 2:2 I went in response to a revelation and, meeting privately with those esteemed as leaders, I presented to them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. I wanted to be sure I was not running and had not been running my race in vain.
Ga 2:5 We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you.
Ga 2:7 On the contrary, they recognized that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been to the circumcised.
Ga 2:14 When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?
Ga 3:8 Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.”
Ga 4:13 As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you,
Eph 1:13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,
Eph 3:6 This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.
Eph 3:7 I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power.
Eph 6:15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
Eph 6:19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel,
Php 1:5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now,
Php 1:7 It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me.
Php 1:12 Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel.
Php 1:14 And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.
Php 1:16 The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defence of the gospel.
Php 1:27 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel
Php 2:22 But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel.
Php 4:3 Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.
Php 4:15 Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only;
Col 1:5 the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel
Col 1:6 that has come to you. In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world—just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace.
Col 1:23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.
1 Th 1:5 because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake.
1 Th 2:2We had previously suffered and been treated outrageously in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in the face of strong opposition.