Note: This is part three of an ongoing series on Biblical evangelism. This post continues the previous entry offering a survey of the verb euangelizo, "to evangelize" or "to preach the gospel" in Paul, the General Epistles, and Revelation.
A closer look at euangelizo in Paul
Survey of uses:
1. In Romans 1:15 Paul says he is ready “to preach the gospel” to those in Rome.
2. In Romans 10:15, after asking, “And how shall they preach [kerusso] unless they be sent?” Paul states, “How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel [euangelizo] of peace, and bring glad tidings [euangelizo] of good things!” Note: The citation above reflects the traditional text. The modern critical text reads, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news [euangelizo]” (NIV).
3. In Romans 15:20 Paul says he “strived to preach the gospel not where Christ was named.”
4. In 1 Corinthians 1:17 Paul says that Christ sent him not to baptize but “to preach the gospel.”
5. In 1 Corinthians 9:16, Paul states that he has no ground of boasting if “I preach the gospel,” adding, “woe is unto me if I preach not the gospel.”
6. In 1 Corinthians 9:18, Paul declares, “I preach the gospel” without charge.
7. In 1 Corinthians 15:1, Paul says, “I declare [gnorizo] unto you the gospel [euangelion] which I preached [euangelizo] unto you.”
8. In 1 Corinthians 15:2, Paul speaks of “the gospel which I preached unto you.”
9. In 2 Corinthians 10:16, Paul tells the Corinthians of his desire “to preach the gospel in the regions beyond you.”
10. In 2 Corinthians 11:7, Paul says, “I have preached to you the gospel [euangelion] of God freely.”
11. In Galatians 1:8, Paul says, “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel [euangelizo] unto you than that which we have preached [euangelizo] unto you, let him be accursed.
12. In Galatians 1:9 Paul reiterates an anathema on any who “preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received.”
13. In Galatians 1:11, Paul states, “But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel [euangelion] which was preached [euangelizo] of me is not after man.”
14. In Galatians 1:16, Paul describes how the Son was revealed in him “that I might preach him among the heathen.”
15. In Galatians 1:23, Paul reports the reaction of those who discovered that the one who once persecuted believers “now preacheth the faith.”
16. In Galatians 4:13 Paul notes that “though infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel unto you.”
17. In Ephesians 2:17, Paul describes how Jesus came and “preached peace to you.”
18. In Ephesians 3:8 Paul states, “Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace [charis] given, that I should preach [euangelizo] among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;”
19. In 1 Thessalonians 3:6, Paul reports to the Thessalonians that Timothy had “brought us good tidings [euangelizo] of you faith and charity.”
Most of Paul’s references to euangelizo are connected to his own particular apostolic ministry of public “preaching the gospel.” It is associated with preaching [kerusso] (Rom 10:15). In only one instance does it have the sense of simply conveying information, rather than preaching (1 Thess 3:6). In no place does Paul refer to individual gospel preaching (as Philip did in Acts 8:35).
Paul makes reference to Jesus preaching the gospel to the Ephesians, but this was apparently through the means of other men (Eph 3:8). He also makes hypothetical reference to an angel preaching a false gospel to the Galatians (1:8).
The object of gospel preaching is variously described as “the gospel” itself (1 Cor 15:1; Gal 1:11), “the gospel of God” (2 Cor 11:7), “him” (Jesus) (Gal 1:16); “the faith” (Gal 1:23), “peace” (Eph 2:17), and “the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph 3:8).
Again, Paul specifically refers to “preaching the gospel” in reference to his own ministry. His desire is to preach the gospel where Christ is unknown (Rom 15:20). He preaches “among the heathen” (Gal 1:16). He is under compulsion to preach the gospel (1 Cor 9:16) and he preaches it “freely” (2 Cor 11:7; Gal 1:16). Most significant is Paul’s description of his calling in Ephesians 3:8 where he notes that though he is “least of all saints” he has been given the “grace” of preaching the gospel. For Paul the preaching of the gospel is a unique and special calling that he has received as an apostle.
A closer look at euangelizo in the General Epistles
Survey of uses:
1. In Hebrews 4:2, the author declares, “For unto us the gospel was preached.”
2. In Hebrews 4:6, the author states that “they to whom it was first preached entered not in due to unbelief.”
3. In 1 Peter 1:12, Peter makes reference of “them that have preached the gospel unto you.”
4. In 1 Peter 1:25, Peter states, “And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.”
5. In 1 Peter 4:6 Peter make enigmatic reference to the gospel preached “to them that are dead.”
The references to “preaching the gospel” in the general epistles are minimal. The few references are to those who have had the gospel preached to them, whether the recipients of the epistles (Heb 4:2; 1 Peter 1;25), unbelievers (Heb 4:6), or “the dead” (1 Peter 4:6).
A closer look at euangelizo in Revelation
Survey of uses:
1. In Revelation 10:7, John says that God “hath declared [euangelizo] to his servants the prophets.”
2. In Revelation 14:6, John reports that an angel flies, “in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel [euangelion] to preach [euangelizo] unto them that dwell on the earth.”
The usages of euangelizo in the Apocalypse are minimal. On the other hand, there are no usages at all in the Fourth Gospel or in the Johannine epistles. In one usage the sense is more communication of information rather than gospel preaching (Rev 10:7). The subject is God (Rev 10:7) or an angel (Rev 14:6), but no men are described as preaching the gospel.
Overall reflections on euangelizo in the NT
Euangelizo most often refers to the public proclamation of the good news of the gospel. It is often explicitly associated with preaching (kerusso) and teaching (diadakto). Jesus is the primary preacher of the gospel. He then sends the original apostles to be gospel preachers. In Acts, persecution dictates that others be sanctioned to become gospel preachers, including members of the Jerusalem seven and the Antioch seven. Paul sees his distinct apostolic mission as preaching the gospel. In no place is gospel preaching explicitly described as a general duty or responsibility of all believers. On the contrary, Paul can speak of it as a distinct “grace” that has been given to him (Eph 3:8).
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