The word “gospel” means “good news.” The gospel may take different forms (as we shall see), but the gospel is ALWAYS focused on the Lord Jesus Christ. This is confirmed in Romans 1:1-3, “Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ…separated to the GOSPEL of God which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, CONCERNING HIS SON JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD” (NKJV). With that in mind, we will now look at the gospel that Jesus and Paul preached.

In Mark 1:14-15 we read, “Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, PREACHING THE GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe the gospel’.” Jesus preached “the gospel of the kingdom of God.” What does that mean? Throughout the Old Testament the prophets had foretold that Israel’s Messiah, the Son of David, would come to set up His kingdom on earth. When Jesus spoke these words He was presenting Himself to the nation of Israel as their Messiah. He states clearly, “the time is fulfilled,” meaning the prophecies related to His appearing were now being fulfilled, for He was the King and thus “the kingdom of God was at hand.” But they needed to REPENT and BELIEVE the gospel; that is, they needed to “repent of their sins” and “believe that He was their Messiah.” If they did, He would establish His kingdom. Did they repent and believe the gospel? No! Instead they rejected Him and His offer of the kingdom, and ultimately they delivered Him over to Pontius Pilate to be crucified. How solemn are the words recorded in John 1:11, “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.”

Now let’s look at 1st Corinthians 15:1-3, “Moreover, brethren, I declare to you THE GOSPEL WHICH I PREACHED TO YOU, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved…for I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that CHRIST DIED FOR OUR SINS ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURE, and that HE WAS BURIED, and that HE ROSE AGAIN THE THIRD DAY ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURES.” Here is the gospel that Paul preached. He preached the good news of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, which the Corinthians HAD BELIEVED and by which they WERE SAVED. This is not the same message that Jesus preached, yet the gospel in both cases was all about Jesus Christ, God’s Son. One had to do with Jesus Christ coming to set up His kingdom so He could bring peace and righteousness to the earth; the other had to do with His death, burial and resurrection so sinners could be saved from the penalty of their sins.

This does not mean that Jesus never spoke of His impending death and resurrection, for on at least three occasions He told His disciples that this would happen. In Matthew 16:21 we read, “From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.” Yet the main message that Jesus proclaimed was the “gospel of the kingdom.” It was only after it became evident that the nation was rejecting Him that He began to speak of His being crucified, buried and raised from the dead.

This does not mean that Paul never spoke of Christ as the Messiah and of the good news that He will one day return to earth to set up His kingdom. We had quoted earlier from 1st Corinthians 15 to show the gospel that Paul preached and in that same chapter Paul speaks of Christ’s reigning in His kingdom, “Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet” (verses 24-25). But in the main, Paul’s message had to do with the good news that Christ died for our sins on the cross, was buried, and rose victorious over sin, death and the grave three days later so that believing sinners could be saved. (274.5) (DO)