The Gospel of God–THEN and NOW

It is so easy for us to become so consumed with our own situations, difficulties, and circumstances that we tend to forget the very essence of what the word “gospel” really means. The word gospel (εὐαγγέλιον) has become one of those “church words” that somehow has become ‘lost in transition’ in the reality of what we experience in our daily life.  One writer observed:

The gospel of God’s salvation is universal; it is equally available and effective for all people irrespective of ethnic origin or race. It can change both the relationship between people and the foundational value system that shapes how they relate, e.g., the honor-shame code. God judges the sin of all people impartially and saves impartially whether Jew or Gentile. This salvation of both Jewish and Gentile peoples does not invalidate the prior election of Israel… both Jews and Gentiles to constitute a new people of God. [1]

The “gospel” is God’s message — one that had as its central focus, the unfolding of God’s character and the progressive nature of His purpose.

The apostle Paul refers to both the “gospel of God” (Rom. 1:1) and the “gospel of Christ” (Rom. 1:16) as two characteristics of one united message. The “gospel of Christ” (Rom. 1:16) is seen, through the eyes of the inspired apostle as the “power of God for salvation for everyone who believes” (Rom. 1:16). The mitigation of the “everyone who believes” is seen within the context of “the Jew first and also for the Greek” because the progressive nature of how this “good news” was being spread “among all nations” (Rom. 1:5), to the “whole world” (Rom. 1:8) of the Roman empire (Acts 1:8). It was the time for God to bring His people back home and to fulfill all His promises (Isa. 55:11).

God’s “purpose of the ages” (Eph. 3:11) was that of bringing about the reconciliation of the world (II Cor. 5:19) as the “word of reconciliation” (II Cor. 5:19) was being proclaimed to “every creature under heaven” (Col. 1:23), during the “last days” (Acts 2:17) between the Cross and 70 CE. It was the “gospel of the kingdom” (Matt. 24:14) — a message that was the ‘calling out’ of a “remnant” (Rom. 11:5; Joel 2:32) to be a “people for His name” (Acts 15:14).  This ‘calling out’ of the “remnant” also opened the way for the “great multitude” inclusion of Gentiles “of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands” (Rev. 7:9).

The picture of the “church” as the “body of Christ” (I Cor. 12:27; Eph. 4:12) was seen as betrothal (II Cor. 11:2) that of being “prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Rev. 21:1) in eager anticipation of the “marriage supper of the lamb” (Rev. 19:7-9). Jesus, as the bridegroom had gone to “prepare a place” (John 14:1-3) that upon his return, He would receive her to himself. This beautiful picture of the greatest love story of all time was consummated with the presentation of the “church” as the “bride” — “that He [Christ] might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:27). The receiving of the “church” to himself was cause for celebration and rejoicing as the union between Christ and His bride was consummated at the “ends of the ages” (I Cor. 10:11; Heb. 9:26).

The time between the Cross and 70 CE was an expression of God’s “grace” and the time when a “chosen generation” (I Pet. 2:9) was emerging from a “wicked and perverse generation” (Phil. 2:15; Acts 2:40), as “His own special people” (I Pet. 2:9), “out of darkness into His marvelous light” (I Pet. 2:9). The “gospel of God” was His loving nature (I John 4:8) being manifested through the “gospel of Christ” (Rom. 1:16) as the “power of God for salvation” — the deliverance of “all Israel” (Rom. 11:26). It was the separation of the “wheat” from the “tares” (Matt. 13:24-30) and the “sheep” from the “goats” (Matt. 25:31-46).

The things of the Old Covenant were “passing away” (II Cor. 3:7-11; Heb. 8:13), while the provision of New Covenant was being “established” (Heb. 10:9). The purpose of this ‘calling out’ of the “remnant” (Rom. 11:5; Joel 2:32) was fulfilled with the arrival of the New Covenant, “when He took away their sins” (Rom. 11:27; Jer. 31:31-34). The regathering of those of the “house of Israel” and the “house of Judah” (Jer. 31:31; Ezek. 11:17; 28:25) into a New Covenant, was to bring together into “one body” (Eph. 4:4) those being “prepared” as the “bride adorned for her husband” (Rev. 21:1). This was the fulfillment of God’s “purpose of the ages” (Eph. 3:11), as the “mystery” that had been “hidden in God” (Eph. 3:1-21; Col. 1:26, 27), the “mystery of the gospel” (Eph. 6:19) of whom Paul writes, “This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church” (Eph. 5:32).

The “gospel of God” (Rom. 1:1) manifested through the “power” of the “gospel of Christ” (Rom. 1:16) is the greatest love story never told! To stand in awe of the magnitude of the outworking of His “purpose of the ages” (Eph. 3:11) brings peace and assurance for those living beyond the time of fulfillment. “God is love” (I John 4:8) and His nature and character do not change (Mal. 3:6). The expressions of His love are seen within the pages of His fulfilled revelation — a testimony of who God is and what He has done!

God effects salvation in Messiah Jesus by creating a new people, baptized into Christ, who live by the eschatological Spirit. God’s salvation knows no favorite people, but it also keeps faith with the prior promises of God to Israel. God effects salvation so that people shall live differently now in the context of the church. [2]


[1] John E. Toews, Romans, Believers Church Bible Commentary (Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 2004), 366.

Ibid. 367.

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