Signifies good news, and is that revelation and dispensation which God has made known to guilty man through Jesus Christ our Savior and Redeemer. Scripture speaks of "the gospel of the kingdom," Mt 24:14, the gospel "of the grace of God," Ac 20:24, "of Christ," and "of peace," Ro 1:16; 10:15. It is the "glorious" and the "everlasting" gospel, 1Ti 1:11; Re 14:6, and well merits the noblest epithets that can be given it. The declaration of this gospel was made through the life and teaching, the death, resurrection, and ascension of our Lord.
The writings which contain the recital of our Savior's life, miracles, death, resurrection, and doctrine, are called GOSPELS, because they include the best news that could be published to mankind. We have four canonical gospels-- those of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. These have not only been generally received, but they were received very early as the standards of evangelical history, as the depositories of the doctrines and actions of Jesus. They are appealed to under that character both by friends and enemies; and no writer impugning or defending Christianity acknowledges any other gospel as of equal or concurrent authority, although there were many others which purported to be authentic memoirs of the life and actions of Christ. Some of these apocryphal gospels are still extant. They contain many errors and legends, but have some indirect value.
There appears to be valid objection to the idea entertained by many, that the evangelists copied from each other or from an earlier and fuller gospel. Whether Mark wrote with the gospel by Matthew before him, and Luke with Matthew and Mark both, or not, we know that they "spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost," while recounting the works and sayings of Christ which they had seen or knew to be true, using no doubt the most authentic written and oral accounts of the same, current among the disciples. They have not at all confined themselves to the strict order of time and place.
GOSPEL OF MATTHEW. The time when this gospel was written is very uncertain. All ancient testimony, however, goes to show that it was published before the others. It is believed by many to have been written about A. D. 38. It has been much disputed whether this gospel was originally written in Hebrew or Greek. The unanimous testimony of ancient writers is in favor of a Hebrew original, that is, that it was written in the language of Palestine and for the use of the Hebrew Christians. But, on the other hand, the definiteness and accuracy of this testimony is drawn into question; there is no historical notice of a translation into Greek; and the present Greek gospel bears many marks of being an original; the circumstances of the age, too, and the prevalence of the Greek language in Palestine, seem to give weight to the opposite hypothesis. Critics of he greatest name are arranged on both sides of the question; and some who believe it to have been first written in Hebrew, think that the author himself afterwards made a Greek version. Matthew writes as "an Israelite indeed," a guileless converted Jew instructing his brethren. He often quotes from the Old Testament. He represents the Savior as the fulfillment of the hopes of Israel, the promised Messiah, King of the kingdom of God.
GOSPEL OF MARK. Ancient writers agree in the statement that Mark, not himself an apostle, wrote his gospel under the influence and direction of the apostle Peter. The same traditionary authority, though with less unanimity and evidence, makes it to have been written at Rome, and published after the death of Peter and Paul. Mark wrote primarily for the Gentiles, as appears from his frequent explanations of Jewish customs, etc. He exhibits Christ as the divine Prophet, mighty in deed and word. He is a true evangelical historian, relating facts more than discourses, in a concise, simple, rapid style, with occasional minute and graphic details.
GOSPEL OF LUKE. Luke is said to have written his gospel under the direction of Paul, whose companion he was on many journeys. His expanded views and catholic spirit resemble those of the great apostle to the Gentiles; and his gospel represents Christ as the compassionate Friend of sinners, the Savior of the world. It appears to have been written primarily for Theophilus, some noble Greek or Roman, and its date is generally supposed to be about A. D. 63.
GOSPEL OF JOHN. The ancient writers all make this gospel the latest. Some place its publication in the first year of the emperor Nerva, A. D. 96, sixty-seven years after our Savior's death, and when John was now more than eighty years of age. The gospel of John reveals Christ as the divine and divinely appointed Redeemer, the Son of God manifested in flesh. It is a spiritual, rather than historical gospel, omitting many things chronicled by the other evangelists, and containing much more than they do as to the new life in the soul through Christ, union with him, regeneration, the resurrection, and the work of the Holy Spirit. The spirit of the "disciple whom Jesus loved" pervades this precious gospel. It had a special adaptation to refute the Gnostic heresies of that time, but is equally fitted to build up the church of Christ in all generations.
a word of Anglo-Saxon origin, and meaning "God's spell", i.e., word of God, or rather, according to others, "good spell", i.e., good news. It is the rendering of the Greek evangelion, i.e., "good message." It denotes (1) "the welcome intelligence of salvation to man as preached by our Lord and his followers. (2.) It was afterwards transitively applied to each of the four histories of our Lord's life, published by those who are therefore called 'Evangelists', writers of the history of the gospel (the evangelion). (3.) The term is often used to express collectively the gospel doctrines; and 'preaching the gospel' is often used to include not only the proclaiming of the good tidings, but the teaching men how to avail themselves of the offer of salvation, the declaring of all the truths, precepts, promises, and threatenings of Christianity." It is termed "the gospel of the grace of God" (Ac 20:24), "the gospel of the kingdom" (Mt 4:23), "the gospel of Christ" (Ro 1:16), "the gospel of peace (Eph 6:15), "the glorious gospel," "the everlasting gospel," "the gospel of salvation" (Eph 1:13).
This word (lit. 'God-story') represents Greek euangelion, which reappears in one form or another in ecclesiastical Latin and in most modern languages. In classical Greek the word means the reward given to a bearer of good tidings (so 2Sa 4:10 Septuagint in pl.), but afterwards it came to mean the message itself, and so in 2Sa 18:20,22,25 Septuaginta derived word is used in this sense. In NT the word means 'good tidings' about the salvation of the world by the coming of Jesus Christ. It is not there used of the written record. A genitive case or a possessive pronoun accompanying it denotes: (a) the person or the thing preached (the gospel of Christ, or of peace, or of salvation, or of the grace of God, or of God, or of the Kingdom, Mt 4:23; 9:35; 24:14; Mr 1:14; Ac 20:24; Ro 15:19; Eph 1:13; 6:15 etc.); or sometimes (b) the preacher (Mr 1:1 (?), Ro 2:16; 16:25; 2Co 4:3 etc.); or rarely (c) the persons preached to (Ga 2:7). 'The gospel' is often used in NT absolutely, as in Mr 1:15; 8:35; 14:9 RV, Mr 16:15; Ac 15:7; Ro 11:28; 2Co 8:16 (where the idea must not be entertained that the reference is to Luke as an Evangelist), and so 'this gospel,' Mt 26:13; but English readers should bear in mind that usually (though not in Mr 16:15) the English Version phrase 'to preach the gospel' represents a simple verb of the Greek. The noun is not found in Lk., Heb., or the Catholic Epistles, and only once in the Johannine writings ('/Revelation/14/6'>Re 14:6, 'an eternal gospel'
GOSPEL, a history of the life, actions, death, resurrection, ascension, and doctrine of Jesus Christ. The word is Saxon, and of the same import with the Latin term evangelium, or the Greek ??????????, which signifies "glad tidings," or "good news;" the history of our Saviour being the best history ever published to mankind. The history is contained in the writings of St. Matthew, St. Mark, St. Luke, and St. John, who from thence are called evangelists. The Christian church never acknowledged any more than these four Gospels as canonical: notwithstanding which, several apocryphal gospels are handed down to us, and others are entirely lost. The four Gospels contain each of them the history of our Saviour's life and ministry; but we must remember, that no one of the evangelists undertook to give an account of all the miracles which Christ performed, or of all the instructions which he delivered. They are written with different degrees of conciseness; but every one of them is sufficiently full to prove that Jesus was the promised Messiah, the Saviour of the world, who had been predicted by a long succession of prophets, and whose advent was expected at the time of his appearance, both by Jews and Gentiles.
2. That all the books which convey to us the history of events under the New Testament were written and immediately published by persons contemporary with the events, is most fully proved by the testimony of an unbroken series of authors, reaching from the days of the evangelists to the present times; by the concurrent belief of Christians of all denominations; and by the unreserved confession of avowed enemies to the Gospel. In this point of view the writings of the ancient fathers of the Christian church are invaluable. They contain not only frequent references and allusions to the books of the New Testament, but also such numerous professed quotations from them, that it is demonstratively certain that these books existed in their present state a few years after the conclusion of Christ's ministry upon earth. No unbeliever in the apostolic age, in the age immediately subsequent to it, or, indeed, in any age whatever, was ever able to disprove the facts recorded in these books; and it does not appear that in the early times any such attempt was made. The facts, therefore, related in the New Testament, must be admitted to have really happened. But if all the circumstances of the history of Jesus, that is, his miraculous conception in the womb of the virgin, the time at which he was born, the place where he was born, the family from which he was descended, the nature of the doctrines which he preached, the meanness of his condition, his rejection, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension, with many other minute particulars; if all these various circumstances in the history of Jesus exactly accord with the predictions of the Old Testament relative to the promised Messiah, in whom all the nations of the earth were to be blessed, it follows that Jesus was that Messiah. And again: if Jesus really performed the miracles as related in the Gospels, and was perfectly acquainted with the thoughts and designs of men, his divine mission cannot be doubted. Lastly: if he really foretold his own death and resurrection, the descent of the Holy Ghost, its miraculous effects, the sufferings of the Apostles, the call of the Gentiles, and the destruction of Jerusalem, it necessarily follows that he spake by the authority of God himself. These, and many other arguments, founded in the more than human character of Jesus, in the rapid propagation of the Gospel, in the excellence of its precepts and doctrines, and in the constancy, intrepidity, and fortitude of its early professors, incontrovertibly establish the truth and divine origin of the Christian religion, and afford to us, who live in these latter times, the most positive confirmation of the promise of our Lord, that "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."
3. The Gospels recount those wonderful and important events with which the Christian religion and its divine Author were introduced into the world, and which have produced so great a change in the principles, the manners, the morals, and the temporal as well as spiritual condition of mankind. They relate the first appearance of Christ upon earth, his extraordinary and miraculous birth, the testimony borne to him by his forerunner, John the Baptist, the temptation in the wilderness, the opening of his divine commission, the pure, the perfect, and sublime morality which he taught, especially in his inimitable sermon on the mount, the infinite superiority which he showed to every other moral teacher, both in the matter and manner of his discourses, more particularly by crushing vice in its very cradle, in the first risings of wicked desires and propensities in the heart, by giving a decided preference to the mild, gentle, passive, conciliating virtues, before that violent, vindictive, high-spirited, unforgiving temper, which has been always too much the favourite character of the world; by requiring us to forgive our very enemies, and to do good to them that hate us; by excluding from our devotions, our alms, and all our virtues, all regard to fame, reputation, and applause; by laying down two great general principles of morality, love to God, and love to mankind, and deducing from thence every other human duty; by conveying his instructions under the easy, familiar, and impressive form of parables; by expressing himself in a tone of dignity and authority unknown before; by exemplifying every virtue that he taught in his own unblemished and perfect life and conversation; and, above all, by adding those awful sanctions, which he alone, of all moral instructers, had the power to hold out, eternal rewards to the virtuous, and eternal punishments to the wicked. The sacred narratives then represent to us the high character that he assumed; the claim he made to a divine original; the wonderful miracles he wrought in proof of his divinity; the various prophecies which plainly marked him out as the Messiah, the great Deliverer of the Jews; the declarations he made that he came to offer himself a sacrifice for the sins of all mankind; the cruel indignities, sufferings, and persecutions to which, in consequence of this great design, he was exposed; the accomplishment or it, by the painful and ignominious death to which he submitted, by his resurrection after three days from the grave, by his ascension into heaven, by his sitting there at the right hand of God, and performing the office of a Mediator and Intercessor for the sinful sons of men, till he shall come a second time in his glory to sit in judgment on all mankind, and decide their final doom of happiness or misery for ever. These are the momentous, the interesting, truths on which the Gospels principally dwell.
4. We find in the ancient records a twofold order, in which the evangelists are arranged. They stand either thus, Matthew, John, Luke, Mark; or thus, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John. The first is made with reference to the character and the rank of the persons, according to which the Apostles precede their assistants and attendants (??????????, comitibus.) It is observed in the oldest Latin translations and in the Gothic; sometimes also in the works of Latin teachers; but among all the Greek MSS. only in that at Cambridge. But the other, namely, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, is, in all the old translations of Asia and Africa, in all catalogues of the canonical books, and in Greek MSS. in general, the customary and established one as it regarded not personal circumstances, but as it had respect to chronological; which is to us a plain indication what accounts concerning the succession of the evangelists, the Asiatic and Greek churches, and also those of Africa, had before them, when the Christian books were arranged in collections. It is a considerable advantage, says Michaelis, that a history of such importance as that of Jesus Christ has been recorded by the pens of separate and independent writers, who, from the variations which are visible in these accounts, have incontestably proved that they did not unite with