There has been much recent debate on the nature of the gospel. Did Paul get it right? Or should we look to Jesus to know the gospel? See the panel discussion at the recent TGC Conference: Did Jesus Preach the Gospel?
Taking a biblical-theological approach, the gospel is best understood when we look at all that the Bible has to say about the subject. This includes the proto-gospel preached to Adam (Gen 3:15), the gospel preached beforehand to Abraham (Gal 3:8), the good news which David celebrated in the Psalms (esp. 40:9; 68:11; 96:2), and the good news announced by Isaiah (40:9; 41:27; 52:7; 60:6; 61:1) and the other prophets (Nahum 1:15; Joel 2:32). Likewise, to rightly discern the meaning of the gospel to the early church we must look at its multiple uses in the gospels, letters, and John’s singular use in Revelation 14:6.
In this fabric of gospel theology, it is important to remember that God has given us four inspired accounts of the gospel. These don’t stand out as different gospels; nor do they reclaim the true gospel—as some infer. They are rather four accounts of the one true gospel that all the apostles preached. In conversation with the OT gospel promises and the epistolary explanations of the gospel, the four gospels give us a message of the person and work of Jesus Christ, the one who stands at the center of the gospel.
Starting yesterday, I began to consider the gospel in the gospels, or better the gospel according to the ‘gospelists’–Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. In a two-part message on Matthew’s gospel, I explained the gospel of the kingdom of which he speaks (4:23; 9:35; 24:14). Matthew’s gospel is a royal message, one that traces the life, death, and resurrection of the king. By setting the gospel in this context it helps prevent the message from being a simple four-step process. Yet, as I alluded to a couple of times, the gospel of Matthew is not fundamentally different from Paul’s gospel. Consider a brief comparison from the outline of Paul’s gospel in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8.
- Both explain how Christ’s person and work fulfill the Old Testament Scriptures. (Compare Matthew’s fulfillment formula with Paul’s sermon in Acts 13)
- Both present Christ dying for sins. (Compare Matthew 20:28 to 2 Corinthians 5:21, or see how Matthew in 27:15-23 juxtaposes Christ the righteous dying in the place of Barabbas the criminal).
- Both focus on the resurrection as the power of God unto salvation. (Compare the worship of the disciples to the worshipful desire for Paul to know the power of Christ’s resurrection)
- Both highlight the mission of the early church to announce the kingdom of God, which requires adherents to repent of their sins, believe on Christ, and become disciples of the king.
There is more to say, but that is enough for now. Here is my basic outline. You can listen to the messages below.
The King’s Identity (1:1-2:25)
The King’s Authenticity (3:1-4:17)
The King’s Authority (4:18-9:38)
The King’s Community (10:1-12:50)
The Mystery of the Kingdom (13:1-58)
The King of the Kingdom (14:1-16:20)
The Passion of the Kingdom (16:21-27:66)
The Mission of the Kingdom (28:1-20)
Soli Deo Gloria, dss