The gospel

In Christianity, the gospel (Greek: εὐαγγέλιον, translit. euangélion; Old English: gōdspel; Latin: ēvangelium Latin pronunciation: [e.vanˈd͡ʒeː.li.um]), or the Good News, is the news of the coming of the Kingdom of God (Mark 1:14-15). The message of good news is described as a narrative in the four canonical gospels.

The message of good news is described as theology in many of the New Testament letters. It relates to the saving acts of God due to the work of Jesus on the cross and Jesus' resurrection from the dead which bring reconciliation ("atonement") between people and God. The apostle Paul's gospel is of Jesus's death on the cross and resurrection to restore people's relationship with God. It may also include the descent of the Holy Spirit upon believers and the second coming of Jesus. Paul gave the following summary (translated into English) of this good news (gospel) in one of his letters to Christians in the city of Corinth:

Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, (1 Corinthians 15:1-4 NASB)

Christian theology describes the Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ not as a new concept, but one that has been foretold throughout the Old Testament and was prophetically preached even at the time of the fall of man as contained in Genesis 3:14–15,[1] which has been called the "Proto-Evangelion" or "Proto-Gospel".[2][3][4][5]

Etymology

Gospel (/ˈɡɒspəl/) is the Old English translation of Greek εὐαγγέλιον, meaning "good news".[6] This may be seen from analysis of euangélion (εὖ "good" + ἄγγελος ángelos "messenger" + -ιον -ion diminutive suffix). The Greek term was Latinized as evangelium in the Vulgate, and translated into Latin as bona annuntiatio.

In Old English, it was translated as gōdspel (gōd "good" + spel "news"). The Old English term was retained as gospel in Middle English Bible translations and hence remains in use also in Modern English. The written accounts of the life and teaching of Jesus are also generally known as "Gospels".[7]

In Acts

The good news can be summarized in many ways, reflecting various emphases. Cambridge New Testament scholar C.H. Dodd (1964 [1][2]) has summarized the Christian good news as taught by the apostle Peter in the Book of Acts (see Kerygma; Acts 2:14-41; Acts 3:11-4:4; Acts 10:34-43):

  1. The Age of Fulfillment has dawned, the "latter days" foretold by the prophets. Acts 3:18-26
  2. This has taken place through the birth, life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Acts 2:22-31
  3. By virtue of the resurrection, Jesus has been exalted at the right hand of God as Messianic head of the new Israel. Acts 2:32-36
  4. The Holy Spirit in the church is the sign of Christ's present power and glory. Acts 10:44-48
  5. The Messianic Age will reach its consummation in the return of Christ. Acts 3:20-21
  6. An appeal is made for repentance with the offer of forgiveness, the Holy Spirit, and salvation. Acts 2:37-41

Broader biblical background

Bloch-SermonOnTheMount
Depicted is Jesus' famous Sermon on the Mount in which he commented on the Jewish Law. Some scholars consider this event to be a completion or fulfilling ("antitype") of the proclamation by Moses on Mount Sinai of the Ten Commandments and the promises and law of God (the "Mosaic Covenant").

Generally speaking, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, or the message of salvation, justification, and sanctification, is explained by the apostle Paul in his epistle to the Romans, especially in chapters 3 to 8.

Christian writers and teachers often present the Good News set within the context of the storyline of the whole Bible. This discipline, of understanding the Christian message in terms of biblical salvation history, is known as biblical theology. This attempts to posit a connection between Old Testament and the Christian teachings of the good news about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

For example, the Roman Catholic Church promotes the teaching of the good news in the context of biblical salvation history as a "fundamental part of the content" of its instruction.[8] There are numerous exponents of the biblical theology approach to understanding the Good News. Some Christian teachers and biblical theologians who have published descriptions of the Bible authors' message in terms of salvation history include Köstenberger and O'Brien (2001), who have published a biblical theology of mission; and Goldsworthy (1991), who writes from an evangelical Christian perspective. Many Bible scholars and Christian groups have placed similar descriptions on the internet.[9] There is a degree of variation in perspective between such descriptions. However, the main focus is generally the same: the Bible storyline tells of God working throughout history to save a people for himself, and these saving acts are completed through the person and work of Jesus.

In various Christian movements

Luther-Predigt-LC-WB
"The certain mark by which a Christian community can be recognized is the preaching of the gospel in its purity."—Martin Luther[10]

The good news is described in many different ways in the Bible. Each one reflects different emphases, and describes part or all of the Biblical narrative. Christian teaching of the good news — including the preaching of the Apostles in the Book of Acts — generally focuses upon the resurrection of Jesus and its implications. Sometimes in the Bible, the good news is described in other terms, but it still describes God's saving acts. For example, the Apostle Paul taught that the good news was announced to the patriarch Abraham in the words, "All nations will be blessed through you." (Galatians 3:6-9; c.f. Genesis 12:1-3).

Liberation theology

Liberation theology, articulated in the teachings of Latin American Catholic theologians Leonardo Boff and Gustavo Gutiérrez, emphasizes that Jesus came not only to save humanity, but also to liberate the poor and oppressed. A similar movement among the Latin American evangelical movement is Integral Mission, where the church is seen as an agent for positively transforming the wider world, in response to the good news.[11] This can likewise be seen in black theology of certain African and African American Christians.

Christian Mission

Bodleian Library MS. Arm. d.13. Armenian Gospels-0021-0
The Women at the Sepulchre. From an Armenian gospel manuscript held by the Bodleian Library

The Christian missions movement believes the Christian good news to be a message for all peoples, of all nations, tribes, cultures and languages. This movement teaches that it is through the good news of Jesus that the nations of humanity are restored to relationship with God; and that the destiny of the nations is related to this process. Missiology professor Howard A. Snyder writes, "God has chosen to place the [worldwide] Church with Christ at the very center of His plan to reconcile the world to himself (Ephesians 1:20-23),".[12]

Another perspective described in the writings of the Apostle Paul is that it is through the good news of Jesus' death and resurrection, and the resulting worship of people from all nations, that evil is defeated on a cosmic scale. Reflecting on the third chapter of Paul's letter to the Ephesians [3], Howard A. Snyder writes,

"God's plan for the [worldwide] church extends to the fullest extent of the cosmos. By God's 'manifold wisdom' the [worldwide] Church displays an early fullness of what Christ will accomplish at the conclusion of all the ages. The spectacle is to reach beyond the range of humanity, even to the angelic realms. The [worldwide] church is to be God's display of Christ's reconciling love,".[13]

See also

Footnotes

  1. ^ [3:14-15]
  2. ^ The Proto-Gospel, by R. C. Sproul.Archived 2008-12-03 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Luther and the Christology of the Old Testament Archived 2015-01-20 at the Wayback Machine, by Dr. Raymond F. Surburg, p14, saying: "Messianic prophecy has its origin in Genesis 3:15, which has been called the "protevangelium," the first Gospel promise. It was spoken by the LORD God ( יְהוָה אֱלֹהִם ) to the Serpent, used by Satan, in the hearing of Adam and Eve."
  4. ^ The Lutheran Study Bible, p20, "3:15...This points to Christ and His defeat of Satan on the cross, and for this reason this verse is often called the 'protevangelium' (the first promise of the Gospel)"
  5. ^ Worldwide Mission: The Work of the Triune God Archived 2015-01-20 at the Wayback Machine, by Dr. Paul Peter, p3, saying "After the Fall of man (Gen. 3) and its dire results, the loss of Paradise (3:23f.), death by sin (3:3; Rom. 5:12), and the cursing of the ground (3:17), preceded by the Protevangelium (3:15), the first revelation of the missio Dei, the Scriptures continue with the generations of Adam and the names of all the patriarchs from Adam to Noah..."
  6. ^ Woodhead 2004, p. 4.
  7. ^ Evangelism is the spreading of the evangelium, i.e. Christian proselytization, see also the Great Commission. Evangelicalism is a 20th century branch of Protestantism that emphasizes the reception of the "good news" by the individual (see also Low church), in contrast to the traditional and historical emphasis on the communal aspect of the Church's guardianship of the authentic Gospel (see also High church) as crucial to the salvation of the faithful (Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus).
  8. ^ General Directory for Catechesis 1997, paragraph108
  9. ^ For an example, see 'Biblical Theology' in Bakers Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology
  10. ^ Tappert, T.G., Selected Writings of Martin Luther, Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2007, p.325
  11. ^ Padilla 2004, p. 20
  12. ^ Snyder 1999, p. 139
  13. ^ Snyder 1999, p. 138

References

  • Dodd, C. H. 1964 The Apostolic Preaching and its Developments Harper and Row.
  • General Directory for Catechesis 1997, Congregation for the Clergy
  • Goldsworthy, G, 1991, According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible Sydney: Lancer Press.
  • Johnstone, P, 2001, Operation World, Carlisle, UK: Paternoster Lifestyle.
  • Köstenberger, A and P. O'Brien, 2001, Salvation to the Ends of the Earth: A Biblical Theology of Mission New Studies in Biblical Theology 11, Leicester: Apollos.
  • Padilla, R, 2004, 'An Ecclesiology for Integral Mission,' in The Local Church, Agent of Transformation: An Ecclesiology for Integral Mission, T. Yamamori and C. R. Padilla, eds, Buenos Aires: Kairos Ediciones.
  • Snyder, H. A., 1999, 'The Church in God's Plan,' in Perspectives on the World Christian Movement, 3rd edn, Pasedena, California: William Carey Library.
  • Jepsen, Bent Kim, 2009 The Origin of Good News[4]

External links

Apostles

In Christian theology and ecclesiology, apostles (Greek: ἀπόστολος, romanized: apóstolos, lit. 'one who is sent away'), particularly the Twelve Apostles (also known as the Twelve Disciples or simply the Twelve), were the primary disciples of Jesus. During the life and ministry of Jesus in the 1st century AD, the apostles were his closest followers and became the primary teachers of the gospel message of Jesus.

In modern usage, missionaries under Pentecostal movements often refer to themselves as apostles, a practice which stems from the Latin equivalent of apostle, i.e. missio, the source of the English word missionary. For example, Saint Patrick (AD 373–463) was the "Apostle of Ireland", Saint Boniface (680–755) was the "Apostle to the Germans", Saint José de Anchieta (1534–1597) was the "Apostle of Brazil" and Saint Peter of Betancur (1626–1667) was the "Apostle of Guatemala".

While Christian tradition often refers to the apostles as being twelve in number, different gospel writers give different names for the same individual, and apostles mentioned in one gospel are not mentioned in others. The commissioning of the Twelve Apostles during the ministry of Jesus is recorded in the Synoptic Gospels. After his resurrection, Jesus sent eleven of them (minus Judas Iscariot, who by then had died) by the Great Commission to spread his teachings to all nations. This event is commonly called the Dispersion of the Apostles. There is also an Eastern Christian tradition derived from the Gospel of Luke of there having been as many as 70 apostles during the time of Jesus' ministry. In early Christianity, Paul, is often referred to as an apostle, because he was directly taught and commissioned by a vision of Christ[Acts 9:4–5] during his journey to Damascus.

The period of early Christianity during the lifetimes of the apostles is called the Apostolic Age. During the 1st century AD, the apostles established churches throughout the territories of the Roman Empire and, according to tradition, through the Middle East, Africa, and India.

Crucifixion of Jesus

The crucifixion of Jesus occurred in 1st-century Judea, most likely between AD 30 and 33. Jesus' crucifixion is described in the four canonical gospels, referred to in the New Testament epistles, attested to by other ancient sources, and is established as a historical event confirmed by non-Christian sources, although there is no consensus among historians on the exact details.According to the canonical gospels, Jesus was arrested and tried by the Sanhedrin, and then sentenced by Pontius Pilate to be scourged, and finally crucified by the Romans. Jesus was stripped of his clothing and offered wine mixed with myrrh or gall to drink after saying I am thirsty. He was then hung between two convicted thieves and, according to the Gospel of Mark, died some six hours later. During this time, the soldiers affixed a sign to the top of the cross stating "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews" which, according to the Gospel of John, was written in three languages. They then divided his garments among themselves and cast lots for his seamless robe, according to the Gospel of John. According to the Gospel of John after Jesus' death, one soldier pierced his side with a spear to be certain that he had died, then blood and water gushed from the wound. The Bible describes seven statements that Jesus made while he was on the cross, as well as several supernatural events that occurred.

Collectively referred to as the Passion, Jesus' suffering and redemptive death by crucifixion are the central aspects of Christian theology concerning the doctrines of salvation and atonement.

Evangelism

In Christianity, evangelism is the commitment to or act of publicly preaching (ministry) of the Gospel with the intention of spreading the message and teachings of Jesus Christ.

Christians who specialize in evangelism are often known as evangelists, whether they are in their home communities or living as missionaries in the field, although some Christian traditions refer to such people as missionaries in either case. Some Christian traditions consider evangelists to be in a leadership position; they may be found preaching to large meetings or in governance roles.

Christian groups who encourage evangelism are sometimes known as evangelistic or evangelist. The scriptures do not use the word evangelism, but evangelist is used in (the translations of) Acts 21:8, Ephesians 4:11, and 2 Timothy 4:5.

Gospel

Gospel originally meant the Christian message itself, but in the 2nd century it came to be used for the books in which the message was set out. The four canonical gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke and John—were probably written between AD 66 and 110, building on older sources and traditions, and each gospel has its own distinctive understanding of Jesus and his divine role. All four are anonymous (the modern names were added in the 2nd century), and it is almost certain that none were written by an eyewitness. They are the main source of information on the life of Jesus as searched for in the quest for the historical Jesus. Modern scholars are cautious of relying on them unquestioningly, but critical study attempts to distinguish the original ideas of Jesus from those of the later authors. Many non-canonical gospels were also written, all later than the four, and all, like them, advocating the particular theological views of their authors.

Gospel Book

The Gospel Book, Evangelion, or Book of the Gospels (Greek: Εὐαγγέλιον, Evangélion) is a codex or bound volume containing one or more of the four Gospels of the Christian New Testament – normally all four – centering on the life of Jesus of Nazareth and the roots of the Christian faith. The term is also used of the liturgical book, also called the Evangeliary, from which are read the portions of the Gospels used in the Mass and other services, arranged according to the order of the liturgical calendar.Liturgical use in churches of a distinct Gospel book remains normal, often compulsory, in Eastern Christianity, and very common in Roman Catholicism and some parts of Anglicanism and Lutheranism. Other Protestant churches normally just use a complete Bible.

Gospel of John

The Gospel of John (Greek: Εὐαγγέλιον κατὰ Ἰωάννην, romanized: Euangélion katà Iōánnēn) is the fourth of the canonical gospels. The work is anonymous, although it identifies an unnamed "disciple whom Jesus loved" as the source of its traditions. It is closely related in style and content to the three Johannine epistles, and most scholars treat the four books, along with the Book of Revelation, as a single corpus of Johannine literature, albeit not from the same author.The discourses contained in this gospel seem to be concerned with issues of the church–synagogue debate at the time of composition. It is notable that in John, the community appears to define itself primarily in contrast to Judaism, rather than as part of a wider Christian community. Though Christianity started as a movement within Judaism, it gradually separated from Judaism because of mutual opposition between the two religions.

Gospel of Judas

The Gospel of Judas is a Gnostic gospel whose content consists of conversations between Jesus of Nazareth and Judas Iscariot. It is thought to have been composed in the second century by Gnostic Christians, not by Judas, since it contains late-2nd-century theology. The only copy of it known to exist is a Coptic language text that has been carbon dated to AD 280, plus or minus 60 years. It has been suggested that the text derives from an earlier Greek version. A translation of the text was first published in early 2006 by the National Geographic Society.

In contrast to the canonical gospels, which paint Judas as a betrayer who delivered Jesus to the authorities for crucifixion in exchange for money, the Gospel of Judas portrays Judas's actions as done in obedience to instructions given to him by Jesus. It does not claim that the other disciples knew about Jesus's true teachings. On the contrary, it asserts that they had not learned the true Gospel, which Jesus taught only to Judas Iscariot, the sole follower belonging to the "holy generation" among the disciples.

Gospel of Luke

The Gospel According to Luke (Greek: Εὐαγγέλιον κατὰ Λουκᾶν, romanized: Euangélion katà Loukân), also called the Gospel of Luke, or simply Luke, is the third of the four canonical Gospels. It tells of the origins, birth, ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ.Luke is the longest of the four gospels and the longest book in the New Testament; together with Acts of the Apostles it makes up a two-volume work from the same author, called Luke–Acts. The cornerstone of Luke–Acts' theology is "salvation history", the author's understanding that God's purpose is seen in the way he has acted, and will continue to act, in history. It divides the history of first-century Christianity into three stages, with the gospel making up the first two of these – the arrival among men of Jesus the Messiah, from his birth to the beginning of his earthly mission in the meeting with John the Baptist followed by his earthly ministry, Passion, death, and resurrection (concluding the gospel story per se). The gospel's sources are the Gospel of Mark (for the narrative of Christ's earthly life), the sayings collection called the Q source (for his teachings), and a collection of material called the L (for Luke) source, which is found only in this gospel.Luke–Acts does not name its author. According to Church tradition this was Luke the Evangelist, the companion of Paul, but while this view is still occasionally put forward the scholarly consensus emphasises the many contradictions between Acts and the authentic Pauline letters. The most probable date for its composition is around AD 80–110, and there is evidence that it was still being revised well into the 2nd century.

Gospel of Mark

The Gospel According to Mark (Greek: Εὐαγγέλιον κατὰ Μᾶρκον, romanized: Euangélion katà Mârkon) is one of the four canonical gospels and one of the three synoptic gospels. It tells of the ministry of Jesus from his baptism by John the Baptist to his death and burial and the discovery of the empty tomb – there is no genealogy of Jesus or birth narrative, nor, in the original ending at chapter 16, any post-resurrection appearances of Jesus. It portrays Jesus as a heroic man of action, an exorcist, a healer, and a miracle worker. Jesus is also the Son of God, but he keeps his identity secret (the Messianic Secret), concealing it in parables so that even most of the disciples fail to understand. All this is in keeping with prophecy, which foretold the fate of the messiah as suffering servant. The gospel ends, in its original version, with the discovery of the empty tomb, a promise to meet again in Galilee, and an unheeded instruction to spread the good news of the resurrection.Mark probably dates from AD 66–70. Most scholars reject the tradition which ascribes it to John Mark, the companion of the apostle Peter, and regard it (and the other gospels) as anonymous, the work of an unknown author working with various sources including collections of miracle stories, controversy stories, parables, and a passion narrative.Mark was traditionally placed second, and sometimes fourth, in the Christian canon, as an inferior abridgement of what was regarded as the most important gospel, Matthew. The Church has consequently derived its view of Jesus primarily from Matthew, secondarily from John, and only distantly from Mark. It was only in the 19th century that Mark came to be seen as the earliest of the four gospels, and as a source used by both Matthew and Luke. The hypothesis of Marcan priority (that Mark was written first) continues to be held by the majority of scholars today, and there is a new recognition of the author as an artist and theologian using a range of literary devices to convey his conception of Jesus as the authoritative yet suffering Son of God.

Gospel of Thomas

The Gospel of Thomas (also known as the Coptic Gospel of Thomas) is a non-canonical sayings gospel. It was discovered near Nag Hammadi, Egypt, in December 1945 among a group of books known as the Nag Hammadi library. Scholars speculate that the works were buried in response to a letter from Bishop Athanasius declaring a strict canon of Christian scripture.The Coptic-language text, the second of seven contained in what modern-day scholars have designated as Codex II, is composed of 114 sayings attributed to Jesus. Almost half of these sayings resemble those found in the Canonical Gospels, while it is speculated that the other sayings were added from Gnostic tradition. Its place of origin may have been Syria, where Thomasine traditions were strong.The introduction states: "These are the hidden words that the living Jesus spoke and Didymos Judas Thomas wrote them down." Didymus (Greek) and Thomas (Aramaic) both mean "twin". Some critical scholars suspect that this reference to the Apostle Thomas is false, and that therefore the true author is unknown.It is possible that the document originated within a school of early Christians, possibly proto-Gnostics. Some critics further state that even the description of Thomas as a "gnostic" gospel is based upon little other than the fact that it was found along with gnostic texts at Nag Hammadi. The name of Thomas was also attached to the Book of Thomas the Contender, which was also in Nag Hammadi Codex II, and the Acts of Thomas. While the Gospel of Thomas does not directly point to Jesus' divinity, it also does not directly contradict it. When asked his identity in the Gospel of Thomas, Jesus usually deflects, ambiguously asking the disciples why they do not see what is right in front of them, similar to some passages in the canonical gospels like John 12:16 and Luke 18:34.

The Gospel of Thomas is very different in tone and structure from other New Testament apocrypha and the four Canonical Gospels. Unlike the canonical Gospels, it is not a narrative account of the life of Jesus; instead, it consists of logia (sayings) attributed to Jesus, sometimes stand-alone, sometimes embedded in short dialogues or parables. The text contains a possible allusion to the death of Jesus in logion 65 (Parable of the Wicked Tenants, paralleled in the Synoptic Gospels), but does not mention his crucifixion, his resurrection, or the final judgment; nor does it mention a messianic understanding of Jesus. Since its discovery, many scholars have seen it as evidence in support of the existence of the so-called Q source, which might have been very similar in its form as a collection of sayings of Jesus without any accounts of his deeds or his life and death, a so-called "sayings gospel".Bishop Eusebius included it among a group of books that he believed to be not only spurious, but "the fictions of heretics". However, it is not clear whether he was referring to this Gospel of Thomas or one of the other texts attributed to Thomas.

Jesus

Jesus (c. 4 BC – c. AD 30 / 33), also referred to as Jesus of Nazareth and Jesus Christ, was a first-century Jewish preacher and religious leader. He is the central figure of Christianity, and is widely described as the most influential person in history. Most Christians believe he is the incarnation of God the Son and the awaited Messiah (Christ) prophesied in the Old Testament.Virtually all modern scholars of antiquity agree that Jesus existed historically, although the quest for the historical Jesus has produced little agreement on the historical reliability of the Gospels and on how closely the Jesus portrayed in the Bible reflects the historical Jesus. Jesus was a Galilean Jew who was baptized by John the Baptist and began his own ministry. He preached orally and was often referred to as "rabbi". Jesus debated with fellow Jews on how to best follow God, engaged in healings, taught in parables and gathered followers. He was arrested and tried by the Jewish authorities, turned over to the Roman government, and crucified on the order of Pontius Pilate, the Roman prefect. After his death, his followers believed he rose from the dead, and the community they formed eventually became the early Church.Christian doctrines include the beliefs that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, was born of a virgin named Mary, performed miracles, founded the Christian Church, died by crucifixion as a sacrifice to achieve atonement for sin, rose from the dead, and ascended into Heaven, from where he will return. Most Christians believe Jesus enables people to be reconciled to God. The Nicene Creed asserts that Jesus will judge the living and the dead either before or after their bodily resurrection, an event tied to the Second Coming of Jesus in Christian eschatology. The great majority of Christians worship Jesus as the incarnation of God the Son, the second of three persons of the Trinity. A minority of Christian denominations reject Trinitarianism, wholly or partly, as non-scriptural. The birth of Jesus is celebrated annually on December 25 (or various dates in January by some eastern churches) as Christmas. His crucifixion is honored on Good Friday and his resurrection on Easter. The widely used calendar era "AD", from the Latin anno Domini ("in the year of the Lord"), and the equivalent alternative "CE", are based on the approximate birthdate of Jesus.Jesus also figures in non-Christian religions. In Islam, Jesus (commonly transliterated as Isa) is considered one of God's important prophets and the Messiah. Muslims believe Jesus was a bringer of scripture and was born of a virgin, but was not the son of God. The Quran states that Jesus never claimed divinity. Most Muslims do not believe that he was crucified, but that he was physically raised into Heaven by God. In contrast, Judaism rejects the belief that Jesus was the awaited Messiah, arguing that he did not fulfill Messianic prophecies, and was neither divine nor resurrected.

John the Apostle

John the Apostle (Aramaic: יוחנן שליחא‎ Yohanān Shliḥā; Hebrew: יוחנן בן זבדי Yohanan ben Zavdi; Koine Greek: Ἰωάννης; Coptic: ⲓⲱⲁⲛⲛⲏⲥ or ⲓⲱ̅ⲁ; Latin: Ioannes; c. AD 6 – c. 100) was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus according to the New Testament, which refers to him as Ἰωάννης. Generally listed as the youngest apostle, he was the son of Zebedee and Salome or Joanna. His brother was James, who was another of the Twelve Apostles. The Church Fathers identify him as John the Evangelist, John of Patmos, John the Elder and the Beloved Disciple, and testify that he outlived the remaining apostles and that he was the only one to die of natural causes. The traditions of most Christian denominations have held that John the Apostle is the author of several books of the New Testament.

Judas Iscariot

Judas Iscariot (; Biblical Hebrew: יהודה‎, romanized: Yehûdâh, lit. 'God is praised'; Greek: Ὶούδας Ὶσκαριώτης) (died c.  30 – c.  33 AD) was a disciple and one of the original Twelve Disciples of Jesus Christ. According to all four canonical gospels, Judas betrayed Jesus to the Sanhedrin in the Garden of Gethsemane by kissing him and addressing him as "rabbi" to reveal his identity to the crowd who had come to arrest him. His name is often used synonymously with betrayal or treason. Judas's epithet Iscariot most likely means he came from the village of Kerioth, but this explanation is not universally accepted and many other possibilities have been suggested.

The Gospel of Mark, the earliest gospel, gives no motive for Judas's betrayal, but does present Jesus predicting it at the Last Supper, an event also described in all the later gospels. The Gospel of Matthew 26:15 states that Judas committed the betrayal in exchange for thirty pieces of silver. The Gospel of Luke 22:3 and the Gospel of John 13:27 suggest that he was possessed by Satan. According to Matthew 27:1–10, after learning that Jesus was to be crucified, Judas attempted to return the money he had been paid for his betrayal to the chief priests and committed suicide by hanging. The priests used the money to buy a field to bury strangers in, which was called the "Field of Blood" because it had been bought with blood money. The Book of Acts 1:18 quotes Peter as saying that Judas used the money to buy the field himself and, he "[fell] headlong... burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out." His place among the Twelve Apostles was later filled by Matthias.

Due to his notorious role in all the gospel narratives, Judas remains a controversial figure in Christian history. For instance, Judas's betrayal is seen as setting in motion the events that led to Jesus's crucifixion and resurrection, which, according to traditional Christian theology, brought salvation to humanity. The Gnostic Gospel of Judas – rejected by the mainstream Church as heretical – praises Judas for his role in triggering humanity's salvation and exalts Judas as the best of the apostles. Since the Middle Ages, Judas has sometimes been portrayed as a personification of the Jewish people and his betrayal has been used to justify Christian antisemitism.

Last Supper

The Last Supper is the final meal that, in the Gospel accounts, Jesus shared with his Apostles in Jerusalem before his crucifixion. The Last Supper is commemorated by Christians especially on Maundy Thursday. The Last Supper provides the scriptural basis for the Eucharist, also known as "Holy Communion" or "The Lord's Supper".The First Epistle to the Corinthians contains the earliest known mention of the Last Supper. The four canonical Gospels all state that the Last Supper took place towards the end of the week, after Jesus's triumphal entry into Jerusalem and that Jesus and his Apostles shared a meal shortly before Jesus was crucified at the end of that week. During the meal Jesus predicts his betrayal by one of the Apostles present, and foretells that before the next morning, Peter will deny knowing him.The three Synoptic Gospels and the First Epistle to the Corinthians include the account of the institution of the Eucharist in which Jesus takes bread, breaks it and gives it to the Apostles, saying "This is my body given to you" (though the apostles are not explicitly mentioned in the account in First Corinthians). The Gospel of John does not include this episode, but tells of Jesus washing the feet of the Apostles, giving the new commandment "to love one another as I have loved you", and has a detailed farewell discourse by Jesus, calling the Apostles who follow his teachings "friends and not servants", as he prepares them for his departure.Scholars have looked to the Last Supper as the source of early Christian Eucharist traditions. Others see the account of the Last Supper as derived from 1st-century eucharistic practice as described by Paul in the mid-50s.

Mary Magdalene

Mary Magdalene, sometimes called simply the Magdalene or the Madeleine, was a Jewish woman who, according to the four canonical gospels, traveled with Jesus as one of his followers and was a witness to his crucifixion, burial, and resurrection. She is mentioned by name twelve times in the canonical gospels, more than most of the apostles. Mary's epithet Magdalene most likely means that she came from the town of Magdala, a fishing town on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee.

The Gospel of Luke 8:2–3 lists Mary as one of the women who traveled with Jesus and helped support his ministry "out of their resources", indicating that she was probably relatively wealthy. The same passage also states that seven demons had been driven out of her, a statement which is repeated in the longer ending of Mark. In all four canonical gospels, she is a witness to the crucifixion of Jesus and, in the Synoptic Gospels, she is also present at his burial. All four gospels identify her, either alone or as a member of a larger group of women, as the first witness to the empty tomb, and the first to testify to Jesus's resurrection. For these reasons, she is known in many Christian traditions as the "apostle to the apostles". Mary is a central figure in later apocryphal Gnostic Christian writings, including the Dialogue of the Savior, the Pistis Sophia, the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Philip, and the Gospel of Mary. These texts, which scholars do not regard as containing accurate historical information, portray her as Jesus's closest disciple and the only one who truly understood his teachings. In the Gnostic gospels, Mary Magdalene's closeness to Jesus results in tension with the other disciples, particularly Simon Peter.

During the Middle Ages, Mary Magdalene was conflated in western tradition with Mary of Bethany and the unnamed "sinful woman" who anoints Jesus's feet in Luke 7:36–50, resulting in a widespread but inaccurate belief that she was a repentant prostitute or promiscuous woman. Elaborate medieval legends from western Europe tell exaggerated tales of Mary Magdalene's wealth and beauty, as well as her alleged journey to southern France. The identification of Mary Magdalene with Mary of Bethany and the unnamed "sinful woman" was a major controversy in the years leading up to the Reformation and some Protestant leaders rejected it. During the Counter-Reformation, the Catholic Church used Mary Magdalene as a symbol of penance.

In 1969, the identification of Mary Magdalene with Mary of Bethany and the "sinful woman" was removed from the General Roman Calendar, but the view of her as a former prostitute has persisted in popular culture. Mary Magdalene is considered to be a saint by the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, and Lutheran churches—with a feast day of July 22. Other Protestant churches honor her as a heroine of the faith. The Eastern Orthodox churches also commemorate her on the Sunday of the Myrrhbearers, the Orthodox equivalent of one of the Western Three Marys traditions. Speculations that Mary Magdalene was Jesus's wife or that she had a sexual relationship with him are regarded by most historians as highly dubious.

Miracles of Jesus

The miracles of Jesus are the supernatural deeds attributed to Jesus in Christian and Islamic texts. The majority are faith healings, exorcisms, resurrection, control over nature and forgiveness of sins.In the Synoptic Gospels (Mark, Matthew, and Luke), Jesus refuses to give a miraculous sign to prove his authority. In the Gospel of John, Jesus is said to have performed seven miraculous signs that characterize his ministry, from changing water into wine at the start of his ministry to raising Lazarus from the dead at the end.For many Christians and Muslims, the miracles are actual historical events. Others, including many liberal Christians, consider these stories to be figurative. Since the Enlightenment, scholars have taken a highly skeptical approach to claims about miracles.

New Testament

The New Testament (Ancient Greek: Ἡ Καινὴ Διαθήκη, transl. Hē Kainḕ Diathḗkē; Latin: Novum Testamentum) is the second part of the Christian biblical canon, the first part being the Old Testament, based on the Hebrew Bible. The New Testament discusses the teachings and person of Jesus, as well as events in first-century Christianity. Christians regard both the Old and New Testaments together as sacred scripture. The New Testament (in whole or in part) has frequently accompanied the spread of Christianity around the world. It reflects and serves as a source for Christian theology and morality. Extended readings and phrases directly from the New Testament are incorporated (along with readings from the Old Testament) into the various Christian liturgies. The New Testament has influenced religious, philosophical, and political movements in Christendom and left an indelible mark on literature, art, and music.

The New Testament is a collection of Christian works written in the common (Koine) Greek language of the 1st century AD, at different times by various writers, and the modern consensus is that it provides important evidence regarding Judaism in the 1st century. In almost all Christian traditions today, the New Testament consists of 27 books: the four gospels, The Acts of the Apostles, twenty-one epistles, and Revelation.

The united Catholic Church defined the 27-book canon. The earliest known complete list of the 27 books is by the 4th-century eastern Catholic bishop Athanasius. The first time that church councils approved this list was with the councils of Hippo (393) and Carthage (397) in North Africa and Pope Innocent I ratified the same canon in 405, but it is probable that a Council in Rome in 382 under pope Damasus gave the same list first. These councils also provided the canon of the Old Testament, which included the apocryphal books.The original texts were written in the first century of the Christian Era, in Greek, which was the common language of the Eastern Mediterranean from the conquests of Alexander the Great (335–323 BC) until the Muslim conquests in the 7th century AD. All the works that eventually became incorporated into the New Testament are believed to have been written no later than around 120 AD. John A. T. Robinson, Dan Wallace, and William F. Albright dated all the books of the New Testament before 70 AD. Others give a final date of 80 AD or of 96 AD.Collections of related texts such as letters of the Apostle Paul (a major collection of which must have been made already by the early 2nd century) and the Canonical Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (asserted by Irenaeus of Lyon in the late-2nd century as the Four Gospels) gradually were joined to other collections and single works in different combinations to form various Christian canons of Scripture. Over time, some disputed books, such as the Book of Revelation and the Minor Catholic (General) Epistles were introduced into canons in which they were originally absent. Other works earlier held to be Scripture, such as 1 Clement, the Shepherd of Hermas, and the Diatessaron, were excluded from the New Testament. The Old Testament canon is not completely uniform among all major Christian groups including Roman Catholics, Protestants, the Greek Orthodox Church, the Slavic Orthodox Churches, and the Armenian Orthodox Church. However, the twenty-seven-book canon of the New Testament, at least since Late Antiquity, has been almost universally recognized within Christianity (see Development of the New Testament canon).

United Society Partners in the Gospel

United Society Partners in the Gospel (USPG) is a United Kingdom-based charitable organization (registered no. 234518).First incorporated under Royal Charter in 1701 as the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPG) as a high church missionary organization of the Church of England. The group was renamed in 1965 as the United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (USPG) after incorporating the activities of the Universities' Mission to Central Africa (UMCA). In 1968 the Cambridge Mission to Delhi also joined the organization. From November 2012 until 2016, the name was United Society or Us. In 2016, it was announced that the Society would return to the name USPG, this time standing for United Society Partners in the Gospel, from 25 August 2016.With over three hundred years of history, the Society has supported more than 15,000 men and women in mission roles within the worldwide Anglican Communion. Working through local partner churches, the charity's current focus is in the support of emergency relief, longer-term development and Christian leadership training projects. The charity encourages parishes in United Kingdom and Ireland to participate in Christian mission work through fundraising, prayer and by setting up links with its projects around the world.

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