Gospel This word, "conformably to its etymological meaning of Good-tidings, is used to signify,
(1.) The welcome intelligence of salvation to man, as preached by our Lord and his followers.
(2.) It was afterwards transitively applied to each of the four histories of our Lord's life, published by those who are" therefore called "Evangelists," writers of the history of the Gospel (εὐαγγἐλιον).
(3.) "The term is often used to express collectively, the Gospel-doctrines; and 'preaching the Gospel' is accordingly often used to include not only the 'proclaiming' of the good tidings, but the 'teaching' men how to avail themselves of the offer of salvation;" the declaring of all the truths, precepts, promises, and threatenings of Christianity. It is termed "the Gospel of the grace of God," because it flows from God's free love and goodness (Ac 20:24); and, when truly and faithfully preached, is accompanied with the influences of the divine Spirit. It is called "the Gospel of the kingdom," because it treats of the kingdom of grace, and shows the way to the kingdom of glory. It is styled "the Gospel of Christ" because he is the author and great subject of it (Ro 1:16); and "the Gospel of peace and salvation," because it publishes peace with God to the penitent and believing, gives, to such, peace of conscience and tranquillity of mind, and is the means of their salvation, present and eternal. As it displays the glory of God and of Christ, and ensures to his true followers eternal glory, it is entitled "the glorious Gospel" and "the everlasting Gospel," because it commenced from the fall of man, is permanent throughout all time, and produces effects which are everlasting. This use of the word "gospel" has led some to suppose that Gospel-truth is to be found exclusively or chiefly in the "Gospels," to the neglect of the other sacred writings; and others, to conclude that the discourses of our Lord and the apostolic epistles must exactly coincide, and that in case of any apparent difference, the former must be the standard and the latter must be taken to bear no other sense than what is implied by the other. Whereas, it is very conceivable, that though both might be, in a certain sense, "good tidings," yet one may contain a much more full development of the Christian scheme than the other (Eden; Watson). It has been disputed whether the Gospel consists merely of promises, or whether it can in any sense be called a law. The answer plainly depends upon adjusting, the meaning of the words gospel and law. If the gospel be taken for the declaration God has made to men by Christ, concerning the manner in which he will treat them, and the conduct he expects from them, it in plain that this includes commands, and even threatenings, as well as promisesa; but to define the Gospel so as only to express the favorable part of that declaration, is indeed taking the question for granted, and confining the word to a sense much less extensive than it often has in Scripture (comp. Ro 2:16; 2Th 1:8; 1Ti 1:9-11); and it is certain that, if the Gospel be put for all the parts of the dispensation taken, in connection one with another, it may well be called, on the whole, a good message. In like manner the question, whether the Gospel be a law or not, is to be determined by the definition of the law and of the Gospel, as above. If law signifies, as it generally does, the discovery of the will of a superior, teaching what he requires of those under his government, with the intimation of his intention of dispensing rewards and punishments, as this rule of their conduct is observed or neglected; in this latitude of expression it is plain, from the proposition, that the Gospel, taken for the declaration made to men by Christ, is a law, as in Scripture it is sometimes called (Jas 1:25; Ro 4:15; Ro 8:2). But if law be taken, in the greatest rigor of the expression, for such a discovery of the will of God and our duty, as to contain in it no intimation of our obtaining the divine favor otherwise' than by' a perfect and universal conformity to it, in that sense the Gospel is not a law. See Witsilus, On the Covenants, volume 3, chapter 1; Doddridge, Lectures, lect. 172; Watts, Orthodoxy and Charity, Essay 2.