Prince William and Dutchess Kate have had a son, an heir to the throne. A new king has been born. The announcement was officially made by the town crier, Tony Appleton (pictured right).
In the days of the New Testament, when an emperor had a son, a crier made the announcement and the announcement was followed by a celebration. Do you know what the word was that described the announcement of the birth of a new king? The Greek word was gospel and meant, good news!
All the hoopla and fan fare about the birth of a new British king, got me thinking about something I had written in an upcoming book on evangelism. The section of a chapter I want to share with you is a word study on the word gospel. I hope you enjoy.
The word “evangelism” is actually a transliteration of the New Testament Greek word, euaggelizo. The first use of euggelizo in the New Testament is in Matthew 4:23, “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.” The phrase, “good news” (translated “gospel” in the King James Version) is the word euaggelizo, or “evangelism.” The most literal meaning of this word is “a proclamation of good news.” The good news of the gospel is that in and through Jesus Christ, God’s Kingdom has entered humankind, making people whole spiritually, physically, and emotionally.
Evangelism is proclaiming the good news that the kingdom of God enters our reality in Jesus Christ. Jesus prayed, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed by your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:9). Evangelism is the fulfillment of that prayer. As followers of Jesus, the message we are to proclaim is that through faith in Christ we become kingdom citizens with the task of bringing the good news of that kingdom into our homes, our neighborhoods, our work places, our churches, and our world.
The message – proclaiming the good news of kingdom reality through faith in Jesus – has not changed. Society has changed, but the gospel has not. Culture has changed, but the gospel has not. Governments have changed, but the gospel has not. Churches have changed, but the gospel has not. People have changed, but the gospel has not changed nor will it ever change.
Proclaiming Good News
In Jesus’ day, in secular usage, the word “evangelism” (euaggelizo) meant “joyful tidings” and was used to announce birthdays of emperors. The birth of a new emperor was seen as festival occasions for the whole world. The person proclaiming the good news was called an “evangelist” (euangelizo). Look in the middle of the word and you will see the word “angel.” The literally meaning of “angel” is “messenger.” An “evangelist” is a person with a message.
In Luke chapter two, the angel Gabriel announced the birth of Jesus to Mary saying, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end” (Luke 2:30-33). No doubt the announcement of the birth of the Emperor of emperors was reason to celebrate. No doubt the announcement made by Gabriel changed the world.
The word was also used to announce the victory an emperor had over his enemies. In a time of war, if the emperor had left his kingdom, people nervously waited for news. If the emperor had conquered his foes, before he returned to the city, a messenger, or “evangelist,” would ride on horseback into the town proclaiming victory. The proclamation was good news and great cause for rejoicing!
Near the end of His life on earth, Jesus rides into Jerusalem on a young colt. As He enters town people “began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: ‘Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ‘Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!’” (Luke 19:37-38). The people saw Jesus as the conquering king returning to establish the political throne of David. Jesus, however, rode into Jerusalem as a sacrificial lamb, who would soon conquer death, hell, and the grave. Through faith in Him, people are set free from sins and empowered to live full and abundant lives. The Apostle Paul understanding this, wrote, “In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires…offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life…for sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace” (Romans 6:11-14).
A third usage of the word “evangelism” in first century Rome was the announcement of a new oracle, or law. The announcement of a new law was meant to be celebrated because it was believed the emperor knew what was best. Obedience to the emperor was equal with obedience to the gods.
In one of his visions while exiled on the island of Patmos, John saw three angels (“messengers”). Concerning the first angel, John said, “He had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on earth – to every nation, tribe, language and people. He said in a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water’” (Revelation 14:6-7). Life is better when we honor and worship Almighty God.
In the Old Testament, the idea of gospel or good news had to do with the announcement of future salvation. The best example is seen in Isaiah 52:7, “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’” What Isaiah prophesied, Jesus fulfilled.
When we put all this together we learn evangelism is joyfully proclaiming that the good news of salvation prophesied in the Old Testament has come to pass in Jesus the Messiah. Evangelism is joyfully proclaiming the good news that the King of kings has been born. He has defeated the enemy and set us free from our bondage to sin. Evangelism is good news that will last forever. No wonder the Apostle Paul declared, “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen” (Romans 11:33-36).
 A “transliteration” is when a word in one language is spelled with the alphabet of another language, creating a new word in the second language.
 The bold italic indicates the Greek word, euaggelizo. The King James Version translates Matthew 4:23, “And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.”
 Like the word “evangelism,” the word “angel” is a transliteration of the Greek word aggelos.
 The Greek word used is euaggelion; the same word used in Matthew 4:23.
 In the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Old Testament) the Hebrew word, most often translated euaggelizo, is bissar.
 Paul quotes from Isaiah when he says, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news” (Romans 10:15). The phrase “good news” is euaggelizo.