Paul’s Gospel?

Paul

What is Paul talking about when he speaks of his gospel? Noticing similar Pauline phraseology, namely “the gospel of God”(Rom. 1:1, 15:16), “the gospel of Christ” (Roman 15:19”, “the gospel of his Son” (Rom. 1:19) and “ our gospel” (2 Co 4:3, 1 Thes. 1:5 and 2 Thes. 2:14), I believe “my[Paul’s] gospel” in Galatian 1:11-12 is used to distinguish the true gospel from a false gospel.

A. Boyd Luter Jr. observed that it was “[t]he opposition Paul faced at Galatia led him to state that the distinctive nature of his euangelion was derived from divine revelation (Gal 1:11–12; cf. 1 Tim 1:11)”( Luter 1993: 370). He argued that the good news of the coming reassertion of God’s kings rule, which the theme of Isaiah 40-66, shaped Paul’s usage of the gospel (ibid 369).

N. T. Wright concurred with Luter. For the first-century Jews explained Wright, the gospel “meant the news of YHWH’s long-awaited victory over evil and rescue of his people”(Wright 2004: 150). “For Paul, ‘the gospel’ creates the church […]”, contended Wright. It is the “announcement [that] carries its own power to save people, and to dethrone the idols to which they had been bound.”(Wright 1997: 151). It that that “reveals (the word is apokaluptetai) God’s covenant faithfulness.”(ibid153). Wright went further,

Paul’s gospel must, I believe, be reinstated at the very centre of the church’s preaching. The gospel is not, as I have stressed, a set of techniques for making people Christians. Nor is it a set of systematic theological reflections, however important. The gospel is the announcement that Jesus is Lord – Lord of the world. Lord of the cosmos. Lord of the earth, of the ozone layer, of whales and waterfalls, of trees and tortoises.(ibid 153-4)

According to Wright, “Paul’s gospel is his belief that this ‘age to come’ had already begun in Jesus, and supremely in his death and resurrection.”(Wright 2004: 69)

Agreeing with Donald K. Campbell, Paul talks about the gospel that is not of man’s origin, which “emphasize[d] human merit and the necessity of human works for salvation”,  but that which he “received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.”(Campbell 1985: n.p emphasis removed). Adding to Wrights understanding, I think, the person and works of Christ Jesus is Paul’s gospel.

Question: What is Paul talking about when he speaks of his gospel?

 Bibliography:

Campbell, Donald K. (1985) The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Ga 1:11–12) Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary ed et. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

Luter, A. Boyd Jr (1993) “Gospel” in Dictionary of Paul and his letters.  Hawthorne, G. F., Martin, R. P., & Reid, D. G.  ed et. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Wright, T. (1997) What Saint Paul Really Said; Was Paul of Tarsus the Real Founder of Christianity?  Eerdmans Publishing Company. Grad Rapids: Michigan

______________(2004). Paul for Everyone: Romans, Part 2: Chapters 9-16. Both volumes include glossaries. London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.

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2 thoughts on “Paul’s Gospel?

  1. Good question Prayson! I heartily agree with NT Wright – Paul was referring to the gospel of the kingdom of God that Jesus preached, in combination with what we now call the Salvation gospel. He says as much in Acts 20:25-27 where he equates “preaching the kingdom” with “declaring the whole counsel of God.” Then, the book of Acts ends with with 2 similar statements describing Paul’s message, both to Jews & gentiles: “Preaching the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ…” (Acts 28:23 & 31.) The kingdom is the context of the salvation gospel. It excites me everyday!

  2. The theme of Galatians is God’s grace. Paul was defending the true Gospel of God’s grace against the error of the Judaizers, who were trying to bring Paul’s recent converts at Galatia into Jewish legalism. Paul’s gospel, then, is the gospel of Grace. We are saved by grace, sanctified by Grace, and will be taken up into glory one day, not because we deserve it, because we don’t. It will all be because of God’s grace. The reason Paul defended himself in the first two chapters of Galatians and cited his apostolic credentials is because the Judaizers were telling the Galatian believers that Paul wasn’t a genuine apostle. Their lies forced Paul to first defend himself, before then proceeded to he discussing what the Law was all about as contrasted to God’s grace. Chapters 5 and 6 of Galatians concern the practical working of grace in the believer’s life. In short, grace is walking by God’s Holy Spirit, depending upon His power alone, rather than in our own flesh. \

    The book of Romans has a similar theme, as does Hebrews.

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