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Bible Dictionaries

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary


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Signifies good news, and is that revelation and dispensation which God has made known to guilty man through Jesus Christ our Savior and Redeemer. Scripture speaks of "the gospel of the kingdom," Matthew 24:14 , the gospel "of the grace of God," Acts 20:24 , "of Christ," and "of peace," Romans 1:16 10:15 . It is the "glorious" and the "everlasting" gospel, 1 Timothy 1:11 Revelation 14:6 , and well merits the noblest epithets that can be given it. The declaration of this gospel was made through the life and teaching, the death, resurrection, and ascension of our Lord.

The writings which contain the recital of our Savior's life, miracles, death, resurrection, and doctrine, are called GOSPELS, because they include the best news that could be published to mankind. We have four canonical gospelsthose of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. These have not only been generally received, but they were received very early as the standards of evangelical history, as the depositories of the doctrines and actions of Jesus. They are appealed to under that character both by friends and enemies; and no writer impugning or defending Christianity acknowledges any other gospel as of equal or concurrent authority, although there were many others which purported to be authentic memoirs of the life and actions of Christ. Some of these apocryphal gospels are still extant. They contain many errors and legends, but have some indirect value.

There appears to be valid objection to the idea entertained by many, that the evangelists copied from each other or from an earlier and fuller gospel. Whether Mark wrote with the gospel by Matthew before him, and Luke with Matthew and Mark both, or not, we know that they "spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost," while recounting the works and sayings of Christ which they had seen or knew to be true, using no doubt the most authentic written and oral accounts of the same, current among the disciples. They have not at all confined themselves to the strict order of time and place.

GOSPEL OF MATTHEW. The time when this gospel was written is very uncertain. All ancient testimony, however, goes to show that it was published before the others. It is believed by many to have been written about A. D. 38. It has been much disputed whether this gospel was originally written in Hebrew or Greek. The unanimous testimony of ancient writers is in favor of a Hebrew original, that is, that it was written in the language of Palestine and for the use of the Hebrew Christians. But, on the other hand, the definiteness and accuracy of this testimony is drawn into question; there is no historical notice of a translation into Greek; and the present Greek gospel bears many marks of being an original; the circumstances of the age, too, and the prevalence of the Greek language in Palestine, seem to give weight to the opposite hypothesis. Critics of he greatest name are arranged on both sides of the question; and some who believe it to have been first written in Hebrew, think that the author himself afterwards made a Greek version. Matthew writes as "an Israelite indeed," a guileless converted Jew instructing his brethren. He often quotes from the Old Testament. He represents the Savior as the fulfillment of the hopes of Israel, the promised Messiah, King of the kingdom of God.

GOSPEL OF MARK. Ancient writers agree in the statement that Mark, not himself an apostle, wrote his gospel under the influence and direction of the apostle Peter. The same traditionary authority, though with less unanimity and evidence, makes it to have been written at Rome, and published after the death of Peter and Paul. Mark wrote primarily for the Gentiles, as appears from his frequent explanations of Jewish customs, etc. He exhibits Christ as the divine Prophet, mighty in deed and word. He is a true evangelical historian, relating facts more than discourses, in a concise, simple, rapid style, with occasional minute and graphic details.

GOSPEL OF LUKE. Luke is said to have written his gospel under the direction of Paul, whose companion he was on many journeys. His expanded views and catholic spirit resemble those of the great apostle to the Gentiles; and his gospel represents Christ as the compassionate Friend of sinners, the Savior of the world. It appears to have been written primarily for Theophilus, some noble Greek or Roman, and its date is generally supposed to be about A. D. 63.

GOSPEL OF JOHN. The ancient writers all make this gospel the latest. Some place its publication in the first year of the emperor Nerva, A. D. 96, sixty-seven years after our Savior's death, and when John was now more than eighty years of age. The gospel of John reveals Christ as the divine and divinely appointed Redeemer, the Son of God manifested in flesh. It is a spiritual, rather than historical gospel, omitting many things chronicled by the other evangelists, and containing much more than they do as to the new life in the soul through Christ, union with him, regeneration, the resurrection, and the work of the Holy Spirit. The spirit of the "disciple whom Jesus loved" pervades this precious gospel. It had a special adaptation to refute the Gnostic heresies of that time, but is equally fitted to build up the church of Christ in all generations.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of the topics are from American Tract Society Bible Dictionary published in 1859.

Bibliography Information
Rand, W. W. Entry for 'Gospel'. American Tract Society Bible Dictionary. 1859.

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