Gospel Definitions: Jonathan Pennington

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“Consistently throughout the New Testament Epistles the ‘gospel’ refers to the oral proclamation about Jesus the Christ (meaning the anointed Davidic King) – who he was; what he accomplished through his life, death, and resurrection; the promise of his future return to establish God’s reign; and the concomitant call to repent and have faith. This is not a message of moralism or a call to greater religious obedience but rather is a proclamation of God’s grace and the invitation to hope. This is why it is rightly called ‘good news.'”

“The New Testament authors, building especially on the Isaianic vision, define the ‘gospel’ as Jesus’ effecting the long-awaited return of God himself as King, in the power of the Spirit bringing his people back from exile and into the true promised land of a new creation, forgiving their sins, and fulfilling all the promises of God and the hopes of his people. This Isaianic vision is itself based on God’s work at the exodus, which the prophets take up and reappropriate to describe God’s future work. Because of this vision, described as the proclamation of good news, the apostles call their kerygma ‘gospel,’ and it is why the evangelists likewise describe the work of Jesus and the narratives about him as euangelion. In this there is univocality; Paul and the Gospel writers all understand their message to be one of God’s reign coming in the person of Jesus through the power of the Spirit. The ‘gospel,’ whether in oral or written form, is the message of God’s comprehensively restorative kingdom.”

– Jonathan Pennington, Reading the Gospels Wisely: A Narrative and Theological Introduction, 5, 16-17.

Check out more posts in the Gospel Definitions series here.

Also check out my review of Pennington’s new book and an interview I conducted with him.

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