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?
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.