Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Evangelism Series (Part Four): kerusso euangelion

Note:  This is the fourth in a series of posts on Biblical evangelism.  For this and past posts click the "Evangelism Series" label below.
We are continuing to examine the Biblical language that is used to describe how evangelism is done in the NT.  We have already looked at the verb euangelizo, “to evangelize” or “to preach the gospel.”  Now, we will look at the expression kerusso euangelion with the verb “to preach [kerusso]” and the noun object “gospel [euangelion].”

The expression kerusso euangelion appears eleven times in the NT [eight times in the Gospels and three times in Paul], according to The Exhaustive Concordance of the New Testament [NB:  this resource is based on the modern critical text].    

Survey of uses:

1.      In Matthew 4:23 it says that Jesus “went about all Galilee teaching [didasko] in their synagogues and preaching the gospel [kerusso euangelion] of the kingdom and healing [therapeuo] all manner of sickness….”


2.      In Matthew 9:35 (like Matt 4:23) Jesus is described as “teaching [didasko],” “preaching the gospel [kerusso euangelion],” and “healing [therapeuo].”


3.     In Matthew 24:14 the verb is used in a passive construction, as Jesus states, “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached….”


4.     In Matthew 26:13 (like Matt 24:14) the verb is used in a passive construction, as Jesus states, “Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world.”


5.     In Mark 1:14 Jesus comes into Galilee “preaching the gospel of the kingdom.”


6.     In Mark 13:10 Jesus uses the verb in a passive construction:  “And the gospel must first be published among all nations.”


7.     In Mark 14:9 (like Mark 13:10), Jesus uses the verb in a passive construction, stating, “Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world.”


8.     In Mark 16:15 Jesus commissions the eleven to “preach the gospel to every creature.”


9.     In Galatians 2:2 Paul explains how he went to Jerusalem to communicate “the gospel which I preached among the Gentiles.”


10.   In Colossians 1:23 Paul urges his readers not to be moved from “the hope of the gospel [euangelion], which ye have heard, and which was preached [kerusso]to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister [diakonos].”


11.  In 1 Thessalonians 1:9 Paul urges the Thessalonians to remember how “we preached unto you the gospel of God.”



The expression “to preach the gospel [kerusso euangelion]” is used to describe how the gospel is proclaimed in Biblical evangelism.  In the Gospels it is primarily used in reference to the public preaching of Jesus.  In Mark 16:15 (the only place in the Gospels where the intended preacher is anyone other than Jesus) Jesus commissions the eleven disciples to “preach the gospel” (cf. the commission “to teach [matheteuo] all nations” in Matthew 28:19).  The apostle Paul uses the expression to describe his own ministry (Gal 2:2; 1 Thess 1:9) for which he had a special appointment as a servant or minister (see Col 1:23 where diakonos is not used in reference to the office of “deacon” [cf. 1 Tim 3:8, 12; Phil 1:1] but to the office of “minister”).

Though the references are limited, all the usages of the expression appear to refer to public proclamation or preaching of the gospel (see the usages in the Gospels as typical).  Those described as “preaching the gospel” are Jesus, the eleven apostles, and Paul.   There are no references to “preaching the gospel” by non-officers or any commands of “preaching the gospel” as a general duty of all believers.  There are also no references to “preaching the gospel” as informal or private communication.  This should help illuminate Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 1:21 that “it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.”

It is noteworthy that in modern evangelical life it has become common to use language that is not explicitly Biblical (like “sharing the gospel” or “telling the gospel”) which implies more informal communication rather than explicitly Biblical language (like “preaching the gospel”) to describe evangelism.   

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