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Why Foreign Missions? 20c. The Gospel According to Paul—Word Studies: Introduction



Why Foreign Missions? 20c. The Gospel According to Paul—Word Studies: Introduction

The previous two studies have explored three ways to identify the content of the Gospel preached by the early Church—by Paul in particular.  In the next few studies,[1] I will undertake my own study of the content of the Gospel.  My approach overlaps at points with the earlier studies; and it will corroborate them while also expanding our understanding of the Gospel.

My approach to studying the content of Paul’s Gospel is to examine passages where Paul uses particular words: euangelion (‘gospel,’ ‘good news’); kerygma (‘preaching’); mysterion (‘mystery’); logos (‘word’); martyrion (‘witness’), and alētheia (‘truth’).  The following list presents what word studies will be presented and the number of times that the words appear in Paul and in the New Testament overall.[2]  These will not be word studies in the sense of trying to find out the meaning of the words (their meanings are not at issue).  Rather, they will be word studies to see what is said where these words are used in order to see what the Gospel is in Paul’s writings.

First Word Study: Euangelizomai and Euangelion (‘Gospel,’ ‘good news’)
euangel* 112 times in 71 verses in Paul, 119 times in 112 verses in the New Testament.

Second Word Study: Kērusso and Kērygma (‘proclamation’)
*kērus* 11 times in 11 verses in Paul, 33 times in 33 verses in the New Testament.
kērygm* 6 times in 6 verses in Paul, 8 times in 8 verses in the New Testament.[3]

Third Word Study: marturion (‘witness’)
*martur* 31 times in 30 verses in Paul, 195 times in 170 verses in the New Testament.

Fourth Word Study: Logos (‘word’)
logou 20 times in 20 verses in Paul, 27 times in 27 verses in the New Testament.
logō 19 times in 19 verses in Paul, 45 times in 45 verses in the New Testament.
logos 23 times in 23 verses in Paul, 68 times in 65 verses in the New Testament.
logon 21 times in 19 verses in Paul, 130 times in 127 verses in the New Testament.

Fifth Word Study: mysterion (‘mystery’)
mystēr* 7 times in 7 verses in Paul, 56 times in 52 verses in the New Testament.

Sixth Word Study: alētheia (‘truth’)
alēthei* 48 times in 45 verses in Paul, 110 times in 99 verses in the New Testament.

After these words studies, some other studies can be done to explore the evidence further.  First, I will summarize the results of the word studies.  Second, I will compare the content of the Gospel to the Old Testament, since the Gospel is seen to be related to the Scriptures of the early Church.  Third, I will compare Paul’s self-understanding as a minister of the Gospel to the Gospel content, followed by a study exploring the Church’s relationship to the Gospel.  These last two studies emphasise that the Gospel is a lived ‘story;’ Paul lives the story in his own person and ministry, and he expects the churches to do so in a similar way.  The Gospel story is also a missionary story.  It is the story of God’s saving mission in Jesus Christ, Paul’s mission, and the redeemed community’s (the Church’s) role in the mission.




[1] Peter T. O'Brien, Gospel and Mission in the Writings of Paul: An Exegetical and Theological Analysis (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1995), has a surprisingly brief discussion of the content of the Gospel for a book devoted to the subject.  His way of capturing its content involves a focus on Rom. 1.3-4, which brings to the fore the designations 'Son of David' and 'Son of God'.  The former title speaks of Jesus' continuity with Old Testament messianic expectations.  The latter title has to do with Jesus' resurrection, exaltation, inauguration of the new age, rule over the nations, life-giving power, and bringer of salvation (pp. 68f).  Various studies of the Gospel’s content overlap rather than contradict one another, and detailed studies such as is offered here reveal a number of interesting points about the Gospel.
[2] The asterisk (*) indicates that the various prefixes or suffixes to the root of the Greek word are included in the word counts.
[3] A textual variant in Mk. 16.8 includes the word, but this instance has not been counted.