|What is the "gospel" as mentioned by Paul in Romans 1:1? |
The word gospel in Greek is euagelion and it literally means "good news, message." Paul writes that "he is a servant of Christ, a called/apostle, set apart for the gospel of God." "Of God" can be in Greek grammar a Genitive ("about God") or an Ablative ("from God"). The answer may be found as to how the gospel is used in the OT, especially since most of the references are in the book of Isaiah. In the Hebrew text "gospel" is simply the word as a verb "basar" meaning message with the implication that it is a good message, good tidings, or good news.
The most important verses in the OT refer the "gospel" or the "good tidings" to the actual appearances or the coming of God Himself, and/or the coming of the Messiah. That is specifically what Paul is addressing when He says that he is a "called/apostle" "having been previously set aside (Perfect tense, "appointed") for this gospel that was promised before hand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures (v. 2).
What gospel is Paul referring to then? Isaiah says "Get yourself up on a high mountain (so that one can call throughout the valley), 'O Zion, bearer of good news, ... O Jerusalem, bearer of good news, ... say to the cities of Judah, 'HERE IS YOUR GOD!'" (Isa. 40:9). The good news in this verse is that GOD HAS ARRIVED in the person of the Son of God, or God the Son! The same idea is repeated in 41:27!
This thought is also brought out in 60:1-6 where Isaiah says "The Lord will rise upon you, and His glory will appear upon you. And nations will come to your light" (v. 3). "The wealth of the nations will come to you ... and will bear GOOD NEWS of the praises of the Lord" (60:5-6).
Isaiah 61 is a distinct chapter about the Messiah. Here it says that "the Spirit of the Lord God will be upon Me (the Messiah), because the Lord has anointed (Meshioch, "Messiah") Me 'to bring good news (the gospel) to the afflicted ... to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God" (61:1-2). When God the Son came He brought both blessing and judgment!
The Rabbis get the point. They write in the rabbinical commentary: "A Divine voice requests the prophets to announce from the mountain tops the advent of the Lord of hosts." THE LORD HAS ARRIVED!
The Rabbis come close to being very honest that Isaiah 52:7 is definitely messianic. The verse reads "Say to Zion: 'Your God reigns.'" "The Lord will comfort His people" (v. 9). Then comes that great passage in 52:14 where the Messiah is so beaten (before His crucifixion) that H is unrecognizable. "Many were appalled at You—so marred was His face unlike that of a man, and His form (His body) unlike that of the sons of men." On verse 7 the Rabbis comment: "God reigns! God has become King and has re-established His kingdom in Zion (Israel)."
The first part of verse 7 is so important! It reads: "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger of 'GOOD NEWS (TIDINGS),' that announces peace, the harbinger of GOOD NEWS, that announces salvation."
The Rabbis add: "God's people are comforted, Jerusalem will be redeemed and the power and the salvation of the Lord are made known to the uttermost ends of the earth."
This is what Paul is addressing in Romans 1:1! – Dr. Mal Couch (August 2009)