Barry Newman's Blog

June 22, 2012

The Gospel and its Proclamation (part XII)

Filed under: Proclaiming the gospel,The Gospel — barrynewman @ 10:48 pm

“Euaggelizomai” in the Greek literature external to the New Testament

Using the TLG program I located 55 instances of “euaggelizomai in the Greek literature external to the New Testament up until about the beginning of the 2nd century AD.  17 were in the indicative mood, 3 were in the imperative mood and there was 1 example where the optative mood was involved. 11 were infinitives and 23 were participles.  All participles referred to the person, persons or means by which the “good news was proclaimed”. As for voice, 5 were passive with 50 judged to be of middle voice, while recognising that in many cases, middle and passive voices cannot be distinguished using form alone.  Additionally, there were 2 instances where the active verb, “euaggelizo” was found.  1 occurred as an infinitive, the other as a participle. The sources for both “euaggelizomai” and “euaggelizo” were: the Septuagint (20), Flavius Josephus (13), Philo Judaeus (12), Plutarch (3), Menader (2) and Aristophanes, Demosthenes, Lycurgus of Athens, Theophrastus, Soranus, Vitae Aesopi and Clement of Rome (1 each).  There was no reference to the noun, “euaggelion”, in any of the instances.

In a number of cases, it seems appropriate simply to translate “euaggelizomai” as “announcing” or similar without an explicit reference to “good news”.  Some examples: the announcing that it was the time for reaping a crop, the blossoming of an almond tree indicating that there would be a plentiful supply of fruit, and the declaring to certain Arabs by their women folk that they had so seduced some Hebrews that they had turned from God.

The general rule seems to be 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. Conversely, it seems to be that where there is no direct explicit reference to what is being “announced” or conveyed at that place in the text, something like “good news” may need to be referred to. None the less, depending on the actual text, the omission of any reference to “good news” may sometimes seem appropriate even when there is no direct and explicit mention of what is being announced or conveyed at that point in the text.

If something like, “making the announcement” were used in a translation, then supplying “good news” as part of the translation might be considered unnecessary, even if no direct an explicit reference were made to what that announcement was about at that place in the text.  The same would be true if “preaching”, in one grammatical form or another, could have been used as a translation for the verb. However there were no instances in the Greek literature external to the New Testament were, “preaching” in any grammatical form could have been used as an appropriate translation of “euaggelizomai” in any of its forms.

However, in all instances, whether or not there was a direct and explicit reference to what was being announced or conveyed, what was being announced or conveyed was “good news”, at least from someone’s point of view. Consequently, however the text is translated the underlying sense is that of announcing or conveying in one way or another, “good news”.

Some further examples: husbands eager to send good news to their wives, longing for and expecting them; a person stating he did not exult in the good fortune of foreigners telling glad tidings to anyone, the advice being given that good news being delivered should be carried swiftly, bad news, slowly, the Philistines sending good news to their idols and to their people, the good news that Gaius had made a complete recovery being announced by travellers as they arrived in a city, Joshua announcing the good news of the impending capture of the city, a person bringing good news that a person’s asses are safe. A deserter bringing good news to Vespasian concerning the disposition of a general’s troops. In the first four instances, there being no direct explicit reference to what was being spoken of, the translation probably needs to make a reference to “good news” or something similar, given the actual verbs being used.  In the other examples given, it might be judged that a simple reference to “announcing”, “declaring” or similar is sufficient.  Sometimes the news is of such a nature that one must be careful not to give too grand a sense to the announcing, by using a word such as, “proclaiming’ or even the word “announcing” itself.

For some additional and confirmatory material see, Hauck, F.[1] He provides an extensive survey of the usage of the verb (and related forms) and its meaning both in Biblical and non-Biblical material.

Though not explicitly referred to in Hauck’s work, the verb may have sometimes carried with it the sense of a messenger delivering his news with considerable flourish or gravitas.  The “good” aspect of his delivery was the considerable style in which the announcement was made. If my memory is correct, some years ago D. Robinson argued for something along these lines.  This would give weight to the idea that sometimes, the verb could simply be translated using “announcing”, “declaring”, “proclaiming” or similar, with the understanding that this was done with flourish, gravitas, grandeur or even exuberance.

[1] Hauck, F. , “euaggelizomai, euaggelion, proeuaggelizomai, euaggelistes” in Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, volume II, (trans. Bromiley, G.W.), Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI, 1964, 707-737



June 17, 2012

The Gospel and its Proclamation (part X)

Filed under: Proclaiming the gospel,The Gospel — barrynewman @ 10:55 pm

“Euaggelion” – “good news”?

In all instances found in the Greek literature external to the New Testament (including where the female noun was involved), the concept involved was one of “good news”.  Often the good news was with respect to a battle having been won, or an enemy having died.  Sometimes it was in terms of a person being appointed again to a prestige office. By way of some other specific examples, on one occasion it was with respect to having heard that a brother was safe, on another occasion there was a request for a reward for bringing good news, and in another there was a general comment about good news coming in quick succession by letter and messenger. Very commonly, and associated with a military victory, reference was made to offering a good tidings sacrifice.

In the New Testament, the gospel certainly reflects a “good news” character in almost all instances.  The concept of “good news” being present in all known instances outside of the New Testament up until around New Testament times would seem to suggest that one should so understand the gospel in all New Testament examples.  However, the text of Romans 2: 16 and perhaps that of Revelation 14: 6 seem to argue against reaching such a conclusion.  In Romans 2: 16 Paul identifies as one element of the gospel that one day God will judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.  Though there is a focus on the fact that Christ Jesus will be the judge, that judgement will occur, is the ultimate context.  The text in Revelation is also concerned with judgement.  It is not good news for some.   God is about to execute judgement.  Righteousness will be upheld, wickedness will be punished and justice will be the outcome.

Consequently translating “euaggelion” as “good news” or something similar, throughout the New Testament, would seem to be inappropriate particularly when judgment is the context.  However, that may partly be because we are not seeing things from God’s perspective.  Yet even when judgement is the context, “good news” even seen as such from God’s point of view, as a translation, may convey too light hearted an understanding.  A translation referring to “great news”, which can carry with it a sense of solemnity, may sometimes better express the intended meaning. In fact “solemn news” may be an even better rendering in some instances.  Furthermore, the idea of “news” does not automatically carry with it the grandeur that belongs to the “gospel”.  It is not “news” so much as an important announcement, a proclamation from a king, a declaration from a ruler over all.  So while “good news” will continue to be a common translation, we do well to remember the greatness, the grandeur, the wonder and the surpassing goodness of the “gospel” as well as in some respects, its very sober and sombre character.

June 14, 2012

The Gospel and its Proclamation (part IX)

Filed under: Proclaiming the gospel,The Gospel — barrynewman @ 10:27 pm

“Euaggelion” in the Greek literature outside of the New Testament compared with “Euaggelion” in the New Testament

Using the TLG (Thesaurus Linguae Graeca) program I located 45 instances of the neuter noun “euaggelion” and its female equivalent “euaggelia” in the Greek literature external to the New Testament up until the beginning of the 2nd century AD.  Of course, “euaggelion” and “euaggelia” were found in various forms. There were 25 instances where the actual word, “euaggelia” occurred. Although it is not possible to be absolutely definitive as to whether a plural neuter form or a single feminine form was involved, the judgement as to whether or not a feminine or neuter form was in use was made, with some confidence,on the basis of the existence of other forms used in the particular source where the actual form, “euaggelia” was found.  As a result it was determined that there were 34 instances of the neuter noun “euaggelion” and 11 instances of the female equivalent “euaggelia”.

With respect to “euaggelion”, Plutarch supplied the bulk of the references (20) with a few multiple examples from Aristophanes (3), Appianus (3), Homer (2), Xenophon (2) and Isocrates, Aeschines, Diodorusus Siculus and Achilles Tatius (1 each).

Concerning “euaggelia”, 8 instances were found in the Septuagint and 3 in writings by Flavius Josephus.  In one of the instances in the Septuagint, the sense is probably something like a “reward” but its usage appears to involve a pun based on the sense of “good news”.  The messenger had brought what he thought was good news so he would have like to have received good news himself.

In what follows, given that there are no instances of the female noun in the New Testament, the focus is on the neuter noun, “euaggelion”.

June 13, 2012

The Gospel and its Proclamation (part VIII)

Filed under: Proclaiming the gospel,The Gospel — barrynewman @ 11:08 pm

In summary

The gospel has a primary focus on the death and resurrection of Jesus but has a breadth and depth to it not to be captured by some simple definition. Nor is it to be understood simply by referring to the word “euaggelion” alone. However the word occurs 75 times in the New Testament in a large variety of contexts and reference only to that word makes it clear that the gospel is about Jesus, comes from God and is about him, has been proclaimed and announced, is true and glorious, relates to the great judgement day, when lived by results in both suffering and blessing, and was the substance of Paul’s preaching.  There is one instance where “euaggelion” may be a reference to a particular gospel (Rev 14: 6) rather than the gospel that so dominates the passages of the New Testament (see below).

The New Testament books in which the word occurs and its frequency in those books are as follows:

Matthew (4), Mark (7), Acts (2), Romans (9), 1 Corinthians (8), 2 Corinthians (8), Galatians (7), Ephesians (4), Philippians (9), Colossians (2), 1 Thessalonians (6), 2 Thessalonians (2), 1 Timothy (1), 2 Timothy (3), Philemon (1), 1 Peter (1), Revelation (1).  The books with the greatest relative frequency are: Galatians and Philippians.  In the case of Galatians this is probably to be explained by recognising its overriding concern that the believers in Galatia not be wooed away from the gospel. In Philippians the bulk of the instances relate to the fellowship that Paul had with the believers in Philippi in the promotion of the gospel.

June 11, 2012

The Gospel and its Proclmation (part VII)

Filed under: Proclaiming the gospel,The Gospel — barrynewman @ 10:41 pm

Judgement and the gospel

Paul states that according to his gospel, on the day of judgement, the secrets of men will be judged and the judgment will be carried out by Christ Jesus (Rom 2: 16).  In a passage that most of have some difficulty in understanding, Paul speaks of Israel, that though with respect to election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers, as regards the gospel, they are enemies of God (Rom 11: 28).  Shall those who remain the enemies of God, whatever their heritage, escape judgement? The coming judgement is an aspect of the gospel. In a solemn text in Revelation there is a reference to an angel with an eternal gospel to proclaim (euaggelizomai) to all earth dwellers, but when he speaks with a loud voice, it is, “Fear God and give glory to him for the hour of his judgment has come; worship him” (Rev 14: 6).  The gospel that this angel has to proclaim may be a particular gospel (see later) but it too concerns judgment.

Life under the gospel

Living under the gospel can be and should be expected to be very difficult and yet not without blessings beyond compare. Those who leave house or brothers or sister or mother or father or children or lands for the sake of Jesus and for the gospel receive extraordinarily much together with persecutions and in the coming age eternal life (Mark 10: 29).  Indeed living under the gospel can cost a person his life but it means his life will be saved. Jesus said he who loses his life for my sake and the gospel will save it (Mark 8: 35). Paul himself suffered much and was shamefully treated at Philippi but with courage in God he spoke (laleo) to the Thessalonians the gospel of God in the face of much opposition (1 Thess 2: 2).  Paul had been imprisoned for the gospel (Philemon 13) and not only once. He could write to Timothy in his last days exhorting Timothy not to be ashamed of testifying to the Lord but sharing in suffering for the gospel in the power of God (2 Timothy 1: 8). Yet in spite of his suffering for the gospel, Paul lived his life in a way that promoted the gospel. To the weak he become weak that he might win the weak and become all things to all men that he might by all means save some, doing it all for the sake of the gospel that he might share in its blessings (1 Cor 9: 22, 23).  Living as God would have us to live we must not lose heart (2 Cor 4: 1, 21).

Paul and the gospel

Paul saw himself as serving God in the gospel (Rom 1: 9), the gospel that God had entrusted to him (Gal 2: 7; 1 Thess 2: 4; 1 Tim 1: 11).  This was the gospel he proclaimed (kerusso) (Gal 2: 2) and announced (euaggelizomai) (1 Cor 9: 18; 15: 1; 2 Cor 11: 7; Gal 1: 11).  But he did not want to abuse his authority in the gospel (1 Cor 9: 18). He became the father of the believing Corinthians through the gospel (1 Cor 4: 15) and acknowledged others who were fellow workers with him in the gospel (Phil 1: 5, 27; 2: 22; 4: 3, 15; 1 Thess 3: 2).  His proclaiming and announcing was so associated with the gospel that he could speak of “my gospel” (Rom 2: 16; 16: 25; 2 Tim 2: 8) and when referring also to those who worked with him, “our gospel” (2 Cor 4: 3; 1 Thess 1; 5; 2 Thess 2: 14).

Paul was absolutely aware that the gospel came from God and not himself and was about God and his Son and was not about him. When he wrote of “my gospel” and “our gospel” he was merely identifying himself as a preacher of that gospel, the gospel that had been entrusted to him.

June 8, 2012

The Gospel and its Proclamation (part VI)

Filed under: Proclaiming the gospel,The Gospel — barrynewman @ 10:18 pm

The truth of the gospel

Of course the gospel is the truth.  It comes from God and is about him and his Son.  But Paul sometimes found it necessary to refer to the gospel in connection with the notion of truth presumably to remind his hearers that the gospel is indeed true.  The gospel deals with reality. Paul did not want them to be drawn towards a false gospel.  His warnings still apply today.

To the Thessalonians he writes of the truth to which they were called through the gospel (2 Thess 2: 1), to the Ephesians of the word of truth, the gospel of their salvation, and to the Galatians of the need to preserve the truth of the gospel (Gal 2: 5). But he also speaks of those who do not walk uprightly according to the truth of the gospel (Gal 2: 14), those who pervert the gospel of (the) Christ (Gal 1: 7) and the possibility of a different gospel and people turning to such a gospel (2 Cor 11: 4; Gal 1: 6).

The glorious gospel

Paul speaks to the Ephesian elders of the gospel of the grace, the great kindness of God (Acts 20: 24) and writes to the Galatians about turning to a different gospel, so quickly deserting him who called them in the grace of Christ (Gal 1: 6).  Life and immortality are brought to light through the gospel (2 Tim 1: 10) and there is light to be seen in the glory of the gospel of (the) Christ (2 Cor 4: 4). The gospel is the gospel of peace (Eph 6: 15) and one can speak confidently of the hope of the gospel (Col 1: 23). For Paul it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith (Rom 1: 16) and in accordance with the mercy of God, we gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel (Eph 3: 6).  The blessings of the gospel are to be experienced by those who promote the gospel ( 1 Cor 9: 23).

How good is this gospel!  To experience the grace of God which comes through Christ is to have light shine in one’s heart and to know and experience now and in the world to come all that flows from God’s merciful bounty.  Why would anyone turn to a different gospel or have their hope in any philosophy, any religious belief, any endeavour, any achievement, anything constructed, thought of, by man?

June 6, 2012

The Gospel and its Proclamation (part V)

Filed under: Proclaiming the gospel,The Gospel — barrynewman @ 9:10 am

The gospel is proclaimed, announced, preached, declared

In the New Testament the gospel is written about as being proclaimed (kerusso) about 10 times.  Jesus proclaims the gospel of the kingdom (Matt 4: 23; 9: 35, Mark 1: 14) and speaks of the gospel being proclaimed (Matt 24: 14; 26: 13, Mark 13: 10; 14: 9). Paul writes of his proclamation of the gospel of God to the Thessalonians (1 Thess 2: 9) and to the nations (Gal 2: 2) and how a certain brother’s proclamation of the gospel has become well known among all the churches (2 Cor 8: 18). He also writes of how God is able to strengthen the believers in Rome established according to his gospel and the proclamation (kerugma) of Jesus Christ (Rom 16: 25).  To the same believers he writes of given a full account of (pleroo – “making full”) the gospel of Christ (Rom 15: 19).

There are 4 references in the New Testament to “the”, or “a” gospel being proclaimed, preached or announced (euaggelizomai).  The use of “proclaim”, “preach” or “announce” here for “euaggelizomai” will be referred to later. Paul refers to the terms in which he proclaimed the gospel to the Corinthians, (1 Cor 15: 1), and speaks of the gospel of God which he preached (2 Cor 11: 7, Gal 1: 11). An angel announces an eternal gospel to all those who dwell on the earth (Rev 14: 6).

On one occasion Paul refers to those who declare (kataggello) the gospel.

Paul also writes that as a consequence of having been entrusted with the gospel so he speaks (1 Thess 2: 4), that the gospel did not come to the Thessalonians by word only (1 Thess 1: 5) and prays that in opening his mouth he may boldly make known (gnorizo) the mystery of the gospel (Eph 6: 19).  And the gospel having been spoken, people hear the word (message) of the gospel, the word (message) of truth of the gospel, the gospel which brings hope (Acts 15: 7; Col 1: 5, 23).  And having heard, some are called by the gospel (2 Thess 2: 14) though it is hidden to others (2 Cor 4: 3).  Paul also speaks of his defence (apologia) and confirmation (bebaiosis) of the gospel (Phil 1: 7) or simply of the defence of the gospel (Phil 1: 16).   He even writes of his chains leading to the advancement of the gospel (Phil 1: 12).

The gospel must be proclaimed, announced, preached, declared or spoken of.  It has been so proclaimed.  We have heard and obeyed but woe to us if we do not continue in the proclamation of  the glorious gospel.

June 4, 2012

The Gospel and its Proclamation (part IV)

Filed under: Proclaiming the gospel,The Gospel — barrynewman @ 9:34 pm

The gospel comes from God and is about Him

In one way or another, the New Testament refers to the gospel of God at least 10 times. “The kingdom of God draws near.  Repent and believe the gospel” (Mark 1: 15). It is “the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20: 24). Paul is “set apart for the gospel of God which he promised beforehand” (Rom 1: 1) and it is God’s grace given to Paul that he should be “a minister of Jesus Christ in priestly serving the gospel of God” (Rom 15: 16). Paul announced (euaggelizomai) “the gospel of God” to the Corinthians without cost (2 Cor 11: 7), “was bold to speak to the Thessalonians of “the gospel of God in much conflict” (1 Thess 2: 2) and worked night and day, so as not to burden them while he “proclaimed (kerusso) the gospel of God” (1 Thess 2: 9).  Indeed he and his group were willing to impart not only the gospel of God but also themselves (1 Thess 2: 8). Paul writes to Timothy of the glorious gospel of the blessed God with which he had been entrusted” (1 Tim 1: 11).  Peter writes of those who disobey the gospel of God (1 Peter 4: 17).  In similar vein Paul writes about those who do not obey the gospel (Rom 10: 16; 2 Thess 1: 8) in contrast with those who demonstrate obedience in acknowledging the gospel of Christ (2 Cor 9: 13).

Because the word of God is both a message about God and a message from God (1 Thess 2: 13), so we understand that the gospel is about God and comes from God just as it is about his Son.  That it comes from God is a stark reminder of the fact that the gospel is not the creation of mankind.  It does not arise out of some philosophical reflection on perceived emotional or other needs.  It is the message which comes from God.  Some may not like it.  Others may disagree with it.  Some may belligerently disobey it while others may simply refuse to acknowledge it.  It makes no difference.  It is a word which comes from the Creator, Lord over all, the source of all wisdom, the giver of all good things. The gospel comes from God. It is the gospel of the kingdom of God (Matt 24: 14, Mark 1: 14).  It is about his rule and woe betide those who one way or another ignore his rule.

June 2, 2012

The Gospel and its Proclamation (part III)

Filed under: Proclaiming the gospel,The Gospel — barrynewman @ 9:53 pm

The gospel is about Jesus

At least 10 times the New Testament refers directly to the gospel of (the) Christ or the gospel of Jesus Christ or the gospel of the Lord Jesus.

Paul writes that he wants to fully proclaim (pleroo) the gospel of (the) Christ (Rom 15: 19), that he wants to put no obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ (1 Cor 9: 12), that when he came to Troas with respect to (eis) the gospel of Christ a door was opened for him (2 Cor 2: 12), that the Corinthians need to be obedient in acknowledging the gospel of Christ; (2 Cor 9: 13), that he and his group had come to them with the gospel of Christ (2 Cor 10: 14), that there were some in Galatia who wanted to pervert the gospel of Christ (Gal 1: 7), that the life and manner of the Philippians should be worthy of the gospel of Christ (Phil 1: 27) and that Timothy was God’s servant in the gospel of Christ (1 Thess 3: 2). And Mark writes of the gospel of Jesus Christ (Mark 1: 1).  And Paul speaks of those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus (2 Thess 1: 8).

Reference is also made to the gospel of God’s Son (Rom 1: 9) and the gospel of the glory of (the) Christ (2 Cor 4: 4). Indeed it is difficult to know when to stop, as passage after passage, such as the 1 Cor 15 text, and 2 Tim 2: 8, which speaks of Jesus Christ his resurrection and his descent from David according to Paul’s gospel, clearly indicate that the gospel is about Jesus, whatever designation he is actually given.

We are not the focus of the gospel, neither the circumstances when we first believed nor the way God’s grace has been shown to us throughout our journey.  He, the Lord Jesus Christ is what the gospel is all about.  To him be the glory, majesty and praise forever and ever.

I was once asked to speak to a men’s group as part of an evangelistic outreach.  Just before I spoke I was asked what I was going to speak on.  I replied that I would be referring to some of the extraordinary things Jesus said and some of his mighty works, with a conclusion focussing on his death and resurrection. At once I was advised that the men really needed to hear what God was doing in my life and that I needed to focus on that.  Gently I indicated that that would not be the case.  I was there to speak about Jesus.  I am really glad I stuck to my original intention.  The attention given by the men to what Jesus said and did was unwavering.  Even if the gospel had received a hostile reception it was imperative that I speak about Jesus.

May 30, 2012

The Gospel and its Proclamation (part II)

Filed under: Proclaiming the gospel,The Gospel — barrynewman @ 10:37 pm

The Gospel – “Euaggelion in the New Testament

It can be a temptation to give a once and for all, neat and concise definition of the gospel according to the New Testament but that is to be at odds with the New Testament itself.

This is of course not to dismiss Paul’s statement in 1 Cor 15: 1, 3 ff, “I would remind you in what terms I made known (gnorizo)to you the gospel I proclaimed (euaggelizomai) to you … For I delivered to you as of first importance … that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures and that he appeared …  It is a relatively brief statement but of course not a definition of the gospel . However, it certainly indicates those features of the gospel Paul considered as “of first importance.” or what he considered were conveyed “at first” or “at the beginning”.  For Paul, the gospel he proclaimed had the death and resurrection of Jesus at the forefront.

A much broader reference to the gospel is found in Mark’s Gospel in his preface with the headline: “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”  Seeing both these statements alongside of one another should serve as a good reminder of the breadth and the depth of the gospel, its focus and its expanse, how rich it is, how simple it is, and how profound and extraordinary it is.  Indeed the gospel is spoken of throughout the pages of the New Testament in many ways and in many places without the word “gospel” even being mentioned.

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