In Christianity, gospel means "good news". Received opinion holds that the word gospel derives from the Old English word for "good news", a translation of the Greek word ευαγγέλιον, euangelion (from this word comes the term "evangelist" see evangelism). However, the word corresponding to "good" in Old English had a long vowel, and would normally develop into a MnE *goospel, leading some scholars to hold that the Old English term was not a translation of the Greek "good news," but rather a fresh coinage, "message concerning God."
Gospel has generally been used in three ways:
- To denote the proclamation of God's saving activity in Jesus of Nazareth or to denote the message proclaimed by Jesus. This is the original New Testament usage (see Romans 1.1 or Mark 1.1).
- More popularly to refer to the four canonical Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) and sometimes other non-canonical works (eg. Gospel of Thomas), that offer a narrative of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
- Some modern scholars have used the term to denote a hypothetical genre of Early Christian literature (cf. Peter Stuhlmacher, ed., Das Evangelium und die Evangelien, Tübingen 1983, also in English: The Gospel and the Gospels).
The expression "gospel" was used by Paul before the literary Gospels of the New Testament canon had been produced, when he reminded the men of the church at Corinth "of the gospel I preached to you" (1 Corinthians 15.1) through which, Paul averred, they were being saved, and he characterized it in the simplest terms, emphasizing Christ's appearances after the Resurrection (1 Corinthians 15.3–8):
"...that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he
was buried; and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures;
And that he was seen of Cephas; then of the Twelve: After that, he was seen of
above five hundred brethren at once: of whom the greater part remain unto this
present, but some have fallen asleep. After that he was seen of James, then of
all the apostles. Last of all, he was seen of me also, as one born out of due