Barry Newman's Blog

July 20, 2012

The Gospel and its Proclamation (Full Series PDF)

Filed under: Proclaiming the gospel,The Gospel — barrynewman @ 12:23 am

Here is the full series

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July 19, 2012

The Gospel and its Proclamation (part XXI)

Filed under: Proclaiming the gospel,The Gospel — barrynewman @ 11:02 pm

Concluding Comments

With respect to the noun, “euaggelion” and the verb, “euaggelizomai” the language of the New Testament and as found in the Greek literature external to the New Testament up until about the time of the New Testament, have much in common.  It is essentially “good news” and the “good news” is announced or proclaimed.

However there are some differences.  In the New Testament, unlike in the other Greek literature, the noun predominantly appears as “the good news” rather than simply “good news”.   It is “the gospel”. In the New Testament, the news, perhaps better understood as the announcement, the proclamation or the declaration, is really very good, very great or even very sombre. Furthermore, in the Greek literature external to the New Testament, the “good news” almost always relates to a specific event, whereas the gospel of the New Testament, in its totality, relates to a large number of interwoven and weighty events or situations.  There is one instance in the New Testament where what is referred to as “a gospel” seems to relate to a very specific gospel being delivered at a specific point in time, rather than “the gospel” which dominates the pages of the New Testament. There are a couple of other occurrences where reference is being made to a false gospel.

In both the New Testament and the Greek literature outside of the New Testament, the verb can often simply be translated without reference to “good news” or similar.  However, depending on the actual verb used in the translation, in some texts something like “good news” also need to be mentioned. And while the verb in the Greek literature external to the New Testament can often be translated as “announcing” or proclaiming”, it lacks the context that would make sense of translating it as, “preaching”.  Sometimes the context displayed in this literature is such that the words, “proclaiming”, “announcing” or “declaring” could be judged to be inappropriate if too much “grandeur” is read into their usage. Not so in almost all instances occurring in the New Testament. Furthermore, while in the Greek literature external to the New Testament, the verb translated as proclaiming or announcing always has the idea of “good news” behind it, in the New Testament, as with the noun, the proclaiming, announcing, or declaring is occasionally more “sombre” rather than “good”.  There is one instance in the New Testament where the verb relates to some “giving of good news” that is simply related to human beings (though it does indeed concern their faith and love).

The message that is so great comes from God and is about his Son.  We in the apostolic tradition have nothing to boast about in ourselves.  Our boasting is in the Lord Jesus Christ, crucified for sinners, raised gloriously by the Father, appointed judge of all men and before whom all shall appear – some for glory some for condemnation.

We have received the message.  We, as his messengers, have a message to tell.  The gospel is the announcement, the declaration, the proclamation that the world must hear.  If we do not declare, if we do not announce, if we do not proclaim, how shall they hear?

And we must live by the gospel, unashamedly demonstrating that in the great mercy of God, according to his great kindness Christ has set us free, free to love, free to serve, free to glorify the one who has done great things for us.  Praise be to God!  Honour and glory to his name!

July 16, 2012

The Gospel and its Proclamation (part XX)

Filed under: Proclaiming the gospel,The Gospel — barrynewman @ 11:29 pm

Euaggelion and Euaggelizomai in Galatians

Before concluding one should not fail to recognise how dominant the words “euaggelion” and “euaggelizomai” are in the letter to the Galatians.  Taken together, the noun and the verb occur 14 times. This absolute frequency of the noun and verb considered together is only exceeded in the book of Acts (17) and only equalled in1 Corinthians (14). The only other book to reach double figures is Romans (12).

Galatians is that letter which offers no thanks to God for his work in the believers to whom the letter is addressed.  It is written to counteract an alternative gospel, a gospel which demanded the observance of certain rituals, particularly circumcision. Having been at pains to establish his own apostolic credentials, Paul declares that “we know that a man is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ” (3: 16).  Yet the Galatian problems went beyond their thoughts about circumcision.  Paul writes: “You observe days and months and seasons and years!  I am afraid I have laboured over you in vain” (4: 10, 11). But he continues: “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (5: 1).  “In Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is of any avail but faith working through love” (5: 6).  “You were called to freedom brethren; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be slaves of one another” (5: 13). “Walk by the Spirit and do not gratify the desires of the flesh” (5:16).  “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit” (5: 25). “Far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.  Neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation (6: 14, 15).

We do well to examine ourselves with regards to the possibility of a false gospel. Circumcision may not constitute a problem for us but what other “under the law” type of practices and beliefs do we have?  What are we to make of our rituals, our observances, our demands on ourselves and others?  Have they become mandatory, part of the requirements, we imagine in our foolishness, God demands of us over and above living by his Spirit, having been justified by faith in his Son, Christ crucified?

July 13, 2012

The Gospel and its Proclamation (part XIX)

Filed under: Proclaiming the gospel,The Gospel — barrynewman @ 10:13 pm

The proclaimers as messengers

What is clear both within the New Testament and in the Greek literature external to the New Testament is that a messenger (an “aggelos”) proclaims, announces or declares something of moment, something of importance.  And in the Greek literature outside of the New Testament it appears to be always a reference to “good news”.  The same is nearly always true in the New Testament. However, in the case of the New Testament, except say with respect to Timothy bringing the good news of the faith and love of the Thessalonians, it is God’s message that is being proclaimed and it fundamentally concerns his son.  And those who announce it, declare it or proclaim it, do so simply as his messengers.

Again, in case we need reminding, we are not announcing what emanates from us.  We are the messengers.  We are not the message.  We carry it with sincerity, with sobriety, with jubilance and with dignity on behalf of another – the one who sends us, God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

“Good News”, “Great News”, “Sober News”, “Gospel”?

I have suggested that sometimes “good news” may be better replaced with “great news” or even “sober news”. Why not often replace it with the one word, “gospel”?  There is some sense to that suggestion and many a translation will use the word, “gospel” freely as though it were a technical word.  I have chosen to use it from time to time.  Yet it needs to be recognised that “gospel” is simply an old English word, meaning “good news”.

None the less it seems that, “euaggelion” in the New Testament often seems to carry with it a technical connotation.  It is the content of the message that is being proclaimed and this message is unique.  As the New Testament emphasises, it is “the Good news”.  And it is the dominant use of the definite article alongside of the noun that undoubtedly contributes to its technical character.  Understandably therefore, “the gospel” which now by common usage has taken on technical overtones, conveys what the New Testament sees in some places as, that special that specific message, “the word” that comes from God and is about God (1 Thess 2: 13).

I have chosen largely to use the words, “good news” or “great news” even when dealing with the verb, in order to convey that essentially this message is indeed “good news” or perhaps even better, “great news” and even sometimes “sober news”.  But “the gospel” is a very appropriate rendering, provided we understand what is being conveyed by that term in its varied contexts.  Overall, it is “awesome news” to appeal to a modern idiomatic expression, an expression which captures both the wonderful and the very sober aspects of its nature.

July 11, 2012

The Gospel and its Proclamation (part XVIII)

Filed under: Proclaiming the gospel,The Gospel — barrynewman @ 8:04 am

Frequency of “euaggelizomai” in the New Testament books

Of the 52 instances of “euaggelizomai” and the 2 instances of “euaggelizo” in the New Testament, 15 occur in the book of Acts, 10 in Luke, 7 in Galatians, 6 in 1 Corinthians, 3 each in Romans and 1 Peter, 2 each in 2 Corinthians , Ephesians, Hebrews and Revelation, and  1 each in Matthew and 1 Thessalonians.

The book with the greatest relative frequency is Galatians.

Euaggelizomai as proclaiming, announcing, declaring, preaching

As discussed earlier, “euaggelizomai” in the New Testament carries with it the sense of conveying information in a grand or sober manner.  Words such as, “proclaiming”, announcing”, “declaring” or even “preaching” seem admirably suited for conveying such sense. Which one of those words is more suitable could be determined by a consideration of context though often there is little available for deciding between one word and the other.  Whether or not one should also refer to “good news”, “great news”, “solemn news” or something similar, is however another matter.

When considering how “euaggelizomai” is used in the Greek literature external to the New Testament the suggestion was made that there appears to be a general rule that when what is being announced or conveyed in some way or another is directly and explicitly referred to at that point in the text, a translation that refers simply to “announcing” or similar seems permissible. This general rule seems to apply to New Testament usage as well.  This is most obvious when the direct object is “euaggelion” (1 Cor 15: 1; 2 Cor 11: 7; Gal 1: 11; Rev 14: 6).

Consider also the following:

“I was sent to announce these things to you” (Luke 1: 19), “I declare to you, “great joy” (Luke 2: 10) , “(Jesus) preaching and proclaiming the kingdom of God” (Luke 8: 1), “From that time the kingdom of God is announced” (Luke 16: 16), “They did not cease teaching and proclaiming Jesus the Christ” (Acts 5: 42), “they went everywhere, proclaiming the message” (Acts 8: 4), “They believed Philip as he proclaimed the things concerning the kingdom of God” (Acts 8: 12), “(Philip) proclaimed to him Jesus” (Acts 8: 35), “ certain of them spoke to the Hellenists proclaiming the Lord Jesus” (acts 11: 20), “we declare to you the promise made to the fathers” (Acts 13: 32), “because he proclaimed to them Jesus and the resurrection” (Acts 17: 18), “how beautiful are the feet of those announcing peace” (Rom 10: 15), “the message I proclaimed to you if you hold fast” (1 Cor 15: 2), “if we or an angel from heaven proclaimed to you contrary to what we proclaimed to you” (Gal 1: 8); “I should proclaim him among the nations” (Gal 1: 16), “He who once persecuted us now proclaims the faith” (Gal 1: 23), “(Christ) proclaimed peace” (Eph 2: 17), “I should proclaim among the gentiles the unsearchable riches of the Christ” (Eph 3: 8), “Timothy having declared to us your faith and love” (1 Thess 3: 6), “This is the message that was declared to you” (1 Peter 1: 25), “the mystery of God as announced to his servants the prophets” (Rev 10: 7).

In each case, one may judge it sufficient to refer to “proclaiming”, “announcing”, “declaring” or even “preaching” without also adding “good news” or the like as indicated in the translations provided. Alternatively, in a number of cases, the translator may sense that the addition of “good news” or similar is appropriate.  This may be particularly so when it is very obvious that what is being proclaimed etc is indeed “good news”.

There are also other instances, where no direct and explicit reference is being made to what is being announced, and contrary to the few examples cited from the literature external to the New Testament, no reference to “good news” or similar seems to be necessary.  For example, Jesus referred to the requirement for him to preach in other towns beyond Capernaum (Luke 4: 43) and Paul in his letter to the Galatians writes of his preaching to them in the weakness of the flesh (Gal 4: 13).  The word, “preaching” delivers the translator from having to automatically refer to “good news”.

July 7, 2012

The Gospel and its Proclamation (part XVII)

Filed under: Proclaiming the gospel,The Gospel — barrynewman @ 4:39 am

              In the Pauline letters

Mention has already been made of the occasions when Paul uses “euaggelizomai” in close association with “euaggelion” [he proclaims the gospel (1 Cor 15: 1; 2 Cor 11; 7 and Gal 1: 11] and where “euaggelizomai” is used by him in relatively close association with “euaggelion” [Rom 10: 15, 16, Gal 1: 6-8 (2x) and 1 Cor 9: 18].

Paul’s desire to preach the good news is evident in his letter to the believers at Rome (“I am ready to proclaim to you at Rome also” [Rom 1: 15] and “It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ has not already been named [Rom 15: 20]) as well as in his second letter to the believers in Corinth (“so that we may preach the gospel in lands beyond you” [2 Cor 10: 16]).

Paul writes against either himself or an angel proclaiming a gospel contrary to the one received (Gal 1: 8, 9). In perhaps the only use of “euaggelizomai” in the New Testament that is not directly related to gospel proclamation, Paul writes of Timothy declaring the faith and love of the Thessalonian believers (1 Thess 3: 6).  He quotes from Isaiah 52: 7 in referring to “how beautiful are the feet of those who proclaim peace” while referring to the necessity of the preacher and the preacher being sent (Rom 10: 15). And he writes of Christ who proclaimed peace to the gentiles who were far off and peace to the Jew who was near (Eph 2: 17).

But in the vast majority of occasions when he refers to the proclaiming the gospel – it is with reference to himself, the proclaimer – Rom 1: 15, 15: 20; 2 Cor 10: 16 and Gal 1: 8 have already been referred to. There are another 12 instances where the reference is to himself: “Christ did not send me to baptise but to proclaim the gospel” (1 Cor 1: 17), “For though I preach the great news I have nothing of which to glory (1 Cor 9: 16), “Woe to me if I do not preach the great news” (1 Cor 9: 16), his reward is that in preaching the gospel he makes it free of charge (1 Cor 9: 18), he reminds the Corinthians the gospel which he had proclaimed to them (1 Cor 15: 1) by means of which preaching of the gospel they are saved (1 Cor 15: 2), it was the gospel of God that he had proclaimed to them (2 Cor 11: 7), the gospel which Paul had preached to the Galatians did not have its origin in man (Gal 1: 11), God’s Son had been revealed to Paul so that he could proclaim him among the gentiles (Gal 1: 16), he could refer to others who reported of him in earlier days as, the one who had persecuted believers but then proclaimed the faith (Gal 1: 23), he writes to the Galatian believers of how when he first proclaimed the great news to them it was while he was in the weakness of the flesh (Gal 4: 13), but explains to the believers in Ephesus how grace had been given to him to proclaim among the gentiles the unsearchable riches of the Christ (Eph 3: 8).

            In Hebrews, 1 Peter and Revelation

Reference has already been made to the angel with an everlasting gospel to proclaim (Rev 14: 6) and the use of the active voice in the reference to the mystery of God, announced to his servants the prophets in times past, about to come to its fulfilment (Rev 10: 7).  The two instances in Hebrews, each occurring in the passive voice, have already been referred to: “For we also have had the good [great?] news announced to us just as to them” (Heb 4: 2) and “Those who formerly had the good [great?] news announced (to them) failed to enter because of disobedience” (Heb 4: 6).  Two of the three instances in which “euaggelizomai” occurs in 1 Peter, both being in the passive voice have also been mentioned above: “The word of the Lord abides forever and this is the word, the good news announced to you” (1: 25) and “For this is also why the good [great?] news was announced to the dead” (4: 6).  The third instance found in 1 Peter is where he writes of the prophets of times past and their involvement in the things which have now been announced (anaggello) to his readers by those who preached the good news to them through the Holy Spirit (1 Peter 1: 12).  All but the first of these seven texts have some reference to the past.  As suggested earlier, the only exception, (Rev 14: 6), is probably not a reference to the proclaiming of the great news which so dominates the pages of the New Testament.

July 2, 2012

The Gospel and its Proclamation (part XVI)

Filed under: Proclaiming the gospel,The Gospel — barrynewman @ 11:14 pm

Instances of “euaggelizomai” in general

              In the Gospels

Jesus at his birth is the subject of the good news of great joy brought by an angel of the Lord to shepherds (Luke 2: 10). Jesus proclaims the great news.  He proclaims the great news of the kingdom of God (Luke 4: 43; 8: 1) and he declares that from the time of John the great news of the kingdom of God is being proclaimed (Luke 16: 16).  He preaches good news to the poor (Matt 11: 5; Luke 4: 18; 7: 22). He declares that he must proclaim the great news to towns other than Capernaum (Luke 4: 43) and he preaches the good news in the temple (Luke 20: 1). His disciples proclaimed the great news (Luke 9: 6).

Zechariah is informed by an angel of the Lord of the good news of the coming birth of John, the “immerser” to be (Luke 1: 19), and of John himself it is written that having spoken of the coming Messiah and his judgement “with many other exhortations he preached great news to the people” (Luke 3: 18).  Given how closely this latter text of proclamation follows upon the reference to that judgement to be carried out by Jesus, it is difficult to simply translate “euaggelizomai” as proclaiming “good” news.  The news is actually awesome.  Perhaps translations should simply refer to “preaching” or similar.

It is of some interest to note that when Jesus instructs the disciples of John to tell him that good news is preached to the poor, it literally reads, “the poor are proclaimed/preached/announced” (Matt 11: 5, Luke 7: 22).

              In Acts

Understandably, the word “euaggelizomai” occurs a number of times in the Acts of the Apostles.

The apostles proclaim Jesus the Christ (5: 42). Peter and John preach the great news to many Samaritan villages (8: 25). Peter speaks of the proclaiming of the great news of peace by Jesus Christ (10: 36). Those who were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria preach the word (8:4).  Some who were scattered preach the Lord Jesus to some Greeks (11: 20). Philip preaches the good news of the kingdom of God (8: 12), proclaims the great news about Jesus to the Ethiopian Eunuch (8: 35) and preaches the good news in many towns (8: 40).  Paul proclaims the great news to the Jews at Antioch concerning what God had promised (13: 32) and later both he and Barnabas proclaim the word of the Lord at that same city (15: 35). Paul and Barnabas proclaim the great news at Iconium (14: 7), Lystra (14: 15) and Derbe (14: 21).  Paul recognises that God had called his group to proclaim the great news to the Macedonians (16: 10) and at Athens proclaims Jesus and the resurrection (17: 18).

June 28, 2012

The Gospel and its Proclamation (part XV)

Filed under: Proclaiming the gospel,The Gospel — barrynewman @ 11:10 pm

The active forms

A brief comment should be made on the two active forms derived from “euaggelizo”. One text has already been referred to above – Rev 14: 6.  The other (Rev 10: 7) occurs in a reference to the mystery of God that he had proclaimed to his servants the prophets. Like the usage in Rev 14: 16, translations simply refer to “proclaiming” rather than “proclaiming the good news”.  The reference to “proclaiming” alone is deemed to be sufficient. In one case, the presence of the noun “euaggelion” is sufficient for the notion of “good news” to be evident.  In the other case, “the mystery of God” is what is being announced.  That the active voice is used in both instances may be partly a reflection of there being no need to refer to any other object of the verb, or it may simply reflect an idiosyncratic choice by the author.

The passive forms

The occurrence in Gal 1: 11 has already been mentioned – “the good news announced by me”. The two instances in 1 Peter translate: “The word of the Lord abides forever and this is the word, the good news announced to you” (1: 25) and “For this is also why the good news was announced to the dead” (4: 6). The other two cases are found in Hebrews: “For we also have had the good news announced to us just as to them” (Heb 4: 2) and “Those who formerly had the good news announced (to them) failed to enter because of disobedience” (Heb 4: 6).  From the point of view of the English language, each of these instances is indeed in the passive voice.  In the last three instances “good news” is probably not the most appropriate rendering.  Something like, “great news” or even “great declaration” may be more suitable.

June 26, 2012

The Gospel and its Proclamation (part XIV)

Filed under: Proclaiming the gospel,The Gospel — barrynewman @ 10:25 pm

“Euaggelizomai” in close association with “euaggelion”

There are 4 instances where “euaggelizomai” is mentioned in close association with “euaggelion” and on each of these occasions “euaggelion” is delivered by  “euaggelizomai” (1 Cor 15: 1, 2 Cor 11: 7, Gal 1: 11, Rev 14: 6).

Given that what is being announced is “good news”, the verb itself does not need to be translated in such a way as to refer again to “good news”.  Indeed it would be quite strange to do so. In each case, the verb is commonly translated simply by such as, “preach”, “proclaim” or “announce”.  The words, “preach”, “proclaim”, “announce” and even “declare” tend to convey the idea of something “sober” or “grand” being brought to notice.  Besides, the general rule referred to earlier, that “when what is being announced or conveyed in some way or another is directly and explicitly referred to at that point in the text, a translation that refers simply to ‘announcing’ or similar seems permissible” certainly applies in these cases.  Explicit and direct reference is being made to what is being “announced”.  Referring to “good news” as “great news”, Paul had proclaimed “the great news” (1 Cor 15: 1, 2 Cor 11: 7), “the great news” had been preached by Paul (Gal 1: 11) [passive voice]) and an angel announces “great news” (Rev 14: 6).

Instances of “euaggelizomai” in relatively close association with “euaggelion”

There are 4 instances where the verb is in relatively close association with the noun “euaggelion”.  The references are to “how beautiful are the feet of those who announce good news … but not all the Israelites accepted the good news” (Rom 10: 15, 16), “in proclaiming the good news I make the gospel free of charge not making use of my right in the gospel” (1 Cor 9: 18) (note the two references to “gospel”), “I am astonished that … you are turning to a different gospel … some want to pervert the gospel of Christ but if we or an angel should proclaim good news to you contrary to the good news we proclaimed to you  let him be eternally condemned” (Gal 1: 6-8) (note the two references to “proclaiming good news” and the two references to “good news”).

June 24, 2012

The Gospel and its Proclamation (part XIII)

Filed under: Proclaiming the gospel,The Gospel — barrynewman @ 10:15 pm

“Euaggelizomai” in the New Testament

Euaggelizomai” is found 52 times in the New Testament.  Five times it occurs in the passive voice (Gal 1: 11, 1 Pet 1: 25; 4: 6, Heb 4: 2, 6) and on the other occasions it is judge to be in the middle voice, though many forms are common to both middle and passive voice.  Additionally, the verb in active voice, “euaggelizo”, occurs twice (Rev 10: 7:14: 6).  Combining all voices, the moods represented are indicative (20), and subjunctive (4), and it occurs as an infinitive on 10 occasions and as a participle 20 times.  All participles referred to the person, persons or means by which the “good news” was proclaimed.

Even though the number of New Testament instances of “euaggelizomai” and “euaggelizo” and the number of those external to the New Testament that were examined were relatively small, the distribution of voices, moods and the number of instances of the verb forms occurring as infinitives or participles were quite similar.  See Tables 1 and 2

Voice/Source

Passive

Middle

Active

Total

New Testament

5

47

2

54

External to the New Testament

5

50

2

57

Table 1

Distribution of the passive, middle and active voice for the verb forms “euaggelizomai” and “euaggelizo” in the New Testament and external to the New Testament

Mood, Infinitive, participle/ Source

Indicative

Imperative

Subjunctive

Optative

Infinitive

Participle

Total

New Testament

20

4

10

20

54

External to the New Testament

17

3

1

12

24

57

Table 2

Distribution of the indicative, imperative and subjunctive moods, and occurrences as an infinitive or as a participle for the verb forms “euaggelizomai” and  “euaggelizo” in  the New Testament and external to the New Testament

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