- the teachings of Jesus and the apostles; the Christian revelation.
- the story of Christ’s life and teachings, especially as contained in the first four books of the New Testament, namely Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
- (usually initial capital letter) any of these four books.
- something regarded as true and implicitly believed: to take his report for gospel.
- a doctrine regarded as of prime importance: political gospel.
- glad tidings, especially concerning salvation and the kingdom of God as announced to the world by Christ.
- (often initial capital letter) Ecclesiastical. anextract from one of the four Gospels, forming part of the Eucharistic service in certain churches.
- gospel music.
- of, relating to, or proclaiming the gospel or its teachings: a gospel preacher.
- in accordance with the gospel; evangelical.
- of or relating to gospel music: a gospel singer.
Origin: before 950; Middle English go(d)spell, Old English gōdspell (see good, spell2); translation of Greek euangélion good news; see evangel1
As you can see, depending upon whether the word is singular, plural, or different context, the meaning of the term seems to vary.
The term by itself means as you see in the origins section – good news. The good news of the Scriptures would be the first 4 books of the New Testament (NT) which include Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
Each of these books is named after their writers. Each tells the story of Christ. Matthew and Mark are the most alike. Luke has much in common with the first two, but it includes the perspective of a physician as Luke was what we call today a doctor.
These first 3 books of the Gospels are often called the Synoptic Gospels because of their commonalities.
John is unique. This becomes immediately obvious upon reading just the first few verses of John 1. You see an immediate emphasis on the deity of Christ and this continues throughout the book. As such, the story of Christ as God is what you read in John resulting in not all of the same events as in the first 3 being told.
Stepping away from the “study of” terms we’ve had up to now, we get to the next term in the series – justification.
1. a reason, fact, circumstance, or explanation that justifies or defends:
His insulting you was ample justification for you to leave the party.
2. an act of justifying : The painter’s justification of his failure to finish on time didn’t impress me.
4. Also called justification by faith. Theology. the act of God whereby humankind is made or accounted just, or free from guilt or penalty of sin.
5. Printing. the spacing of words and letters within a line of type so that all full lines in a column have even margins both on the left and on the right.
late 14c., “administration of justice,” from Late Latin iustificationem (nominative iustificatio), noun of action from past participle stem of iustificare “act justly toward; make just” (see justify). Meaning “action of justifying, showing something to be just or right” is from late 15c. Theological sense “act by which the soul is reconciled to God” is from 1520s. Meaning “act of adjusting or making exact” in typography is from 1670s.
Why would such a legal sounding term be involved with Christianity and the Bible?
To answer this we need to look no further than the books of Genesis and Romans. In Genesis, we have the record of the fall of man where the first humans committed the first sin against God. This cursed mankind with the corruption of sin which impacts us to this day. We stood condemned (in a legal sense) before a just God.
Justification is an important element. God is so holy that our good actions, thoughts, etc. are mere rags by comparison. God is so holy (set-apart) that many early followers feared they would die when in just a fraction of His presence. Our sinfulness has made us imperfect, corrupted beings and it is only through His light and truth that we know to be otherwise.
Christ’s work on the cross brought us salvation from our sin. Any who truly believe in Him can be saved from their sin and no longer face condemnation, thereby becoming justified before God – accounted just. This status is brought to us by Christ alone.
Two chapters come to mind from Romans that specifically talk about justification. These are Romans 4 and 5. Three particular verses would be Romans 4:25 ; 5:16 & 18. These would be a good place to start for further reading and study.
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Theology is commonly defined as the study of God.
[mid-14c., “the science of religion, study of God and his relationship to humanity,” from Old French theologie “philosophical study of Christian doctrine; Scripture” (14c.), from Latin theologia, from Greek theologia “an account of the gods,” from theologos “one discoursing on the gods,” from theos “god” (from PIE root *dhes-, forming words for religious concepts) + -logos “treating of” (see -logy). Meaning “a particular system of theology” is from 1660s.] https://www.etymonline.com/word/theology
Why do we (particularly as Christians) study God?
- We study Him to approve ourselves to God (2 Timothy 2:15). This includes coming to know more about God. This action reflects a valuing of Him in our lives and is another way we bring God glory.
- We study God to stand for our faith. We cannot live our faith or even point others to it without first studying to understand Him and the basis of our faith more. We study to become more transformed into the likeness of His son, Jesus Christ.
- We study for the ultimate reason – to point others to God. This is all the more clear when reading in the Gospels, the Great Commission. (Matthew 28:16-20) It is God’s intent to spread His truth to those who would follow Him.
Some writers of the faith may add more to this list, but to me, this is a good start as many of the things we will be looking at going forward (including the follow-up to this post) will effectively be looking at subcategories within the realm of theology.
(Click here to continue to part 2)
Note: this is the first in a series – “-ologies & Key Terms“. The first post was broken into two pieces – the first laying the groundwork and the next digging a little deeper into a key question regarding division.
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