TBU: The Bible Unpacked: In-Depth Edition

I.  Instructions

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Chapter 35  Part I

Instructions

The theme of spreading the gospel, or message about Jesus Christ, pervades the New Testament and should be also one of the main focuses of our lives. This section largely looks at what we need to say and do, in advancing the spread of the gospel.

Tell People the Gospel

Tell people the gospel message . . .

Luke 3:18  So with many other exhortations he preached good news to the people. ▤ 

John the Baptist preached the good news, basically the gospel or aspects of it.

Acts 5:20  “Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life.” ▤ 

One of the key aspects of the gospel message is the new life that God has provided, a life that is spiritual and eternal.

Acts 20:24  But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. ▤ 

Although here Paul is talking about his own special commission to preach the gospel, it is applicable to all Christians, who are called to tell others the gospel. Note that God’s grace is a further key aspect of the gospel message – as is reconciliation with God (cf. 2Cor 5:18-19 ).

2Cor 5:18-19  All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19that is, in Christ God was reconcilingr the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. ▤ 

r Or God was in Christ, reconciling

Phil 2:16  … holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. ▤ 

The Greek translated here as “holding fast” can alternatively be understood as meaning “hold out” (cf. GNT, NCV, NIV). As such Paul would be speaking of telling others the gospel message – “the word of life”.

1Pet 3:15  … but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, … ▤ 

When asked or questioned by others about the gospel we should be ready to tell them about it, giving “a logical defense … to account for the hope” (AMP) and belief that we have.

. . . Tell people the gospel about Jesus Christ

See also:

Mark 1:1  The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.s ▤ 

s Some manuscripts omit the Son of God

Acts 8:35  Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. ▤ 

Rom 1:9  For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you … ▤ 

Paul served God in spreading the gospel “about his Son” (CEV, GNT, NCV, NLT).

Rom 16:25  Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages … ▤ 

Paul speaks here of proclaiming “the Good News … about Jesus Christ” (GNT).

2Cor 1:19  For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not Yes and No, but in him it is always Yes. ▤ 

Gal 1:15-16  But when he who had set me apart before I was born,t and who called me by his grace, 16was pleased to reveal his Son tou me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone;v … ▤ 

t Greek set me apart from my mother’s womb

u Greek in

v Greek with flesh and blood

Eph 3:8-9  To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages inw God who created all things, … ▤ 

w Or by

In regard to the gospel being described as a “mystery” (cf. Rom 16:25 ; Col 4:3 ), see The gospel reveals God’s hidden mystery concerning Jesus Christ.

Col 4:3  At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— ▤ 

Phil 1:15-18a  Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. 16The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17The former proclaim Christ out of rivalry, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. 18What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. ▤ 

This correlates preaching or defending the gospel (v. 16b) with preaching Christ (v. 15, 17, 18a), indicative of the fact that to tell others the gospel is to tell others about Jesus Christ. Note that in v. 18, Paul indicates that he is not unduly concerned about some people preaching Christ out of insincere motives, for the main thing is that Christ is proclaimed.

1Thes 3:2  … and we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s coworkerx in the gospel of Christ, to establish and exhort you in your faith, … ▤ 

x Some manuscripts servant

Timothy helped spread the gospel of Christ.

Rev 19:10  Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servanty with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.” For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. ▤ 

y Greek fellow bondservant

The phrase “the testimony of Jesus” may be speaking of or referring to testifying about Jesus (cf. CEV, NCV, NLT), although it could more generally mean “the truth that Jesus revealed” (GNT). Note that the final sentence quite possibly means that holding to or proclaiming this testimony is the essence of prophecy (cf. AMP), for in the message about Jesus Christ are the fundamentals of God’s will, in regard to both the present and the future.

John 1:31  I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel. ▤ 

Like John, we are to reveal Jesus Christ.

  • Tell relatives and friends about Jesus:

John 1:41, 45-46  He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). ▤ 45Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” ▤ 

Note that these are examples of “one to one” evangelism, with individuals telling a relative (v. 41) or a friend (v. 45) about Jesus.

Tell all people, everywhere

See also:

Mark 16:15, 20  And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. ▤ 20And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs. ▤ 

The phrase “the whole creation” (v. 15) is used to refer to “everyone, everywhere” (NLT; cf. CEV).

Luke 24:47  … and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. ▤ 

Acts 1:8  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. ▤ 

Acts 5:42  And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ. ▤ 

Acts 8:4-5, 25, 40  Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word. 5Philip went down to the cityz of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ. ▤ 25Now when they had testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans. ▤ 40But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he preached the gospel to all the towns until he came to Caesarea. ▤ 

z Some manuscripts a city

Acts 11:20  But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Hellenistsa also, preaching the Lord Jesus. ▤ 

a Or Greeks (that is, Greek-speaking non-Jews)

Acts 13:47  For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, “‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’” ▤ 

Believers are to be a spiritual “light”, taking the message of God’s salvation “to the ends of the earth”.

Acts 22:15  … for you will be a witness for him to everyone of what you have seen and heard. ▤ 

Rom 1:14-15  I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians,b both to the wise and to the foolish. 15So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. ▤ 

b That is, non-Greeks

Here Paul shows his eagerness to carry out the command that Jesus Christ had given to him to testify in Rome: “Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome.” (Acts 23:11b)

Rom 15:19-21  … by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God—so that from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum I have fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ; 20and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation, 21but as it is written, “Those who have never been told of him will see, and those who have never heard will understand.” ▤ 

2Cor 10:15-16  We do not boast beyond limit in the labors of others. But our hope is that as your faith increases, our area of influence among you may be greatly enlarged, 16so that we may preach the gospel in lands beyond you, without boasting of work already done in another’s area of influence. ▤ 

1Thes 1:8  For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. ▤ 

The city of Thessalonica was on a key transport route and was also a busy seaport. Because of this and their vibrant proclamation of the gospel message, the Thessalonians’ faith – and presumably the message that their faith was based on – became known “everywhere”.

Matt 22:9  Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find. ▤ 

This is from a parable of Jesus, applicable to believers being directed by God or Jesus Christ to go to all places and invite “as many as you find” into God’s kingdom.

  • Jesus’ command to “make disciples of all nations”:

Matt 28:19-20  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them inc the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. ▤ 

c Or into

Continue to tell people the gospel despite suffering for doing so

See also:

Matt 10:23  When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes. ▤ 

The spreading of the gospel is largely in view – in particular in “through all the towns of Israel”. Note that there are a number of interpretations of the latter part of this verse, including ones that consider “the Son of Man comes” to refer to something other than Jesus Christ’s second coming – such as Christ coming in judgment on the Jews, possibly in the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. Another possibility is that the verse has the church’s mission to the world ultimately in view, rather than simply the towns of Israel.

Luke 21:12-13  But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. 13This will be your opportunity to bear witness. ▤ 

This illustrates that being persecuted for one’s faith and spreading the gospel can actually lead to further opportunities to witness (cf. Acts 1:19 ; Acts 14:5-7 ). Note that “all this” refers to signs of the end of the age (cf. vv. 8-11).

Acts 5:18-21a  … they arrested the apostles and put them in the public prison. 19But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, 20“Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life.” 21And when they heard this, they entered the temple at daybreak and began to teach. ▤ 

Acts 5:40-42  … and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 41Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. 42And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ. ▤ 

Acts 11:19  Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except Jews. ▤ 

Note that the Jews were the first to be given the opportunity to respond to the gospel.

Acts 14:5-7  When an attempt was made by both Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to mistreat them and to stone them, 6they learned of it and fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and to the surrounding country, 7and there they continued to preach the gospel. ▤ 

Acts 20:22-24  And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained byd the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, 23except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me. 24But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. ▤ 

d Or bound in

1Thes 2:2  But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict. ▤ 

2Tim 2:8-10  Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, 9for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! 10Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. ▤ 

Verse 10 suggests that Paul continued to work for the advancement of the gospel despite suffering for it.

2Cor 4:8-11, 15  We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. ▤ 15For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. ▤ 

In his work of proclaiming the gospel (cf. vv. 1-7), Paul endured much hardship and persecution (vv. 8-11). But for the benefit of others he continued his work, encouraged by the effect of God’s grace and the glory it brought to God (v. 15). For comment on vv. 10-11, see 2Cor 4:8-11 – under . . . and share Jesus Christ’s sufferings.

Rev 12:11  And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. ▤ 

These followers of the Lamb, Jesus Christ, were prepared to testify about him even if it meant death (cf. Rev 6:9 ).

  • Some people lose their lives for testifying to the gospel:

Rev 6:9  When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. ▤ 

Do not be ashamed of the gospel, even despite suffering for it

See also:

Note that most of the passages below contain powerful reasons as to why believers should not be ashamed of the gospel and of testifying to it.

Rom 1:16  For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. ▤ 

2Tim 1:6-8, 11-12  For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, 7for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 8Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, ▤ 11for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, 12which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.e ▤ 

e Or what I have entrusted to him; Greek my deposit

1Pet 4:16-17  Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. 17For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? ▤ 

Suffering for spreading the gospel is a major part of the referred-to suffering (v. 16) that Christians face.

2Tim 1:16  May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains, … ▤ 

In conjunction with not being ashamed of the gospel, we should not be ashamed of other Christians and any punishment being given to them because of their faithfulness to the gospel (cf. 2Tim 1:8 ). We should likewise not be discouraged by this – “So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.” (Eph 3:13)

Ps 119:46-47  I will also speak of your testimonies before kings and shall not be put to shame, 47for I find my delight in your commandments, which I love. ▤ 

The last phrase of v. 46 is sometimes rendered as: “will not be ashamed” (GNT, NCV, NLT). Particularly in view of this, the passage is readily applicable to believers not being shamed or ashamed of the gospel and of testifying to it.

  • Keep a clear conscience so that opponents will be ashamed of their slander:

1Pet 3:15-16  … but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. ▤ 

Sharing the gospel is referred to in v. 15b. Note that similar to v. 16 – but in a different context – Paul tells Titus in his teaching ministry to use “… sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.” (Titus 2:8)

Try to persuade people to believe and respond to the gospel

2Cor 5:9-11, 20  So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 10For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. 11Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience. ▤ 20Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. ▤ 

In v. 11 Paul has at least partly in view his need to please Jesus Christ (v. 9), as like all people he will face Christ’s judgment of what he has done (v. 10). As such his healthy fear of Christ motivated him to please Christ by trying to persuade people to respond to the gospel. Knowing that “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ” should motivate us to try to persuade people to respond also for their own sake.

Acts 17:2-4  And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.” 4And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a great many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women. ▤ 

Acts 18:4  And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and tried to persuade Jews and Greeks. ▤ 

Acts 19:8  And he entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. ▤ 

Acts 26:28-29  And Agrippa said to Paul, “In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian?”f 29And Paul said, “Whether short or long, I would to God that not only you but also all who hear me this day might become such as I am—except for these chains.” ▤ 

f Or In a short time you would persuade me to act like a Christian!

Acts 28:23-24  When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets. 24And some were convinced by what he said, but others disbelieved. ▤ 

Acts 2:36, 40-41  Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” ▤ 40And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. ▤ 

Although not explicitly referring to trying to “persuade” or “convince” people to believe and respond to the gospel, this and the following passages provide examples of or references to it.

Acts 17:17  So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. ▤ 

John 19:35  He who saw it has borne witness—his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth—that you also may believe. ▤ 

Acts 26:17-18  … delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you 18to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me. ▤ 

Rom 16:25-26  Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith ▤ 

One can infer from this that the aim of proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ (v. 25) is that we might bring people to believe and obey (v. 26).

2Cor 10:5  We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, … ▤ 

In line with the first half of the verse, the second part indicates that in spreading the gospel we should aim to bring people with their “every thought” into obedience to Christ.

  • Jesus’ disciples were to be fishers of men:

Matt 4:19  And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” ▤ 

Pray for persecuted Christians

What Things to Explain

See also:

The following subsections are largely composed of verses that contain references to believers having witnessed and/or testifying to particular components of the gospel message. As such they illustrate what things believers today should explain as they spread the gospel message.

That Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God . . .

See also:

Acts 2:36  Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified. ▤ 

Acts 5:42  And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ. ▤ 

Acts 18:5  When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was occupied with the word, testifying to the Jews that the Christ was Jesus. ▤ 

John 1:32-34  And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.” ▤ 

John’s assertion that Jesus “is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit” (v. 33) appears in part to point to Jesus being the Son of God (v. 34) – the climax of John’s testimony to what he had seen (v. 32) and the implications.

Acts 9:20  And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” ▤ 

Rom 1:1-4  Paul, a servantg of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3concerning his Son, who was descended from Davidh according to the flesh 4and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, … ▤ 

g Or slave; Greek bondservant

h Or who came from the offspring of David

Important parts of “the gospel of God … concerning his Son” (vv. 1b, 3a) are spoken of in vv. 3-4. As such they are things which believers ought to bear in mind as they explain who Jesus Christ is. The reference to Jesus being a descendant of David has at least partly in view him being the Christ or Messiah, from the line of David.

. . . Further key things about who Jesus Christ is

Luke 2:11, 17-18  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. ▤ 17And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. ▤ 

The shepherds spread the word of what the angel had told them about who Jesus Christ is – with the angel’s message basically being that Jesus Christ was Savior and Lord (v.11).

2Cor 4:5  For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servantsi for Jesus’ sake. ▤ 

i Greek bondservants

1Jn 4:14  And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. ▤ 

Acts 10:42  And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. ▤ 

Rom 2:15-16  They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them 16on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus. ▤ 

As per Acts 10:42 immediately above, this illustrates that one aspect of the gospel message is that Jesus Christ is the one through whom God will judge all people.

  • John the Baptist testified to Jesus’ surpassing greatness and pre-existence:

John 1:15  (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) ▤ 

In Jewish thought, an older person was considered greater than one younger than themself. Although John the Baptist had been born prior to Jesus, John claimed Jesus was greater than him because Jesus had existed before him. As such John points to the fact that Jesus surpasses all people in greatness.

Jesus Christ’s person and deeds – as witnessed and testified to by NT believers

See also:

Although we are obviously not firsthand witnesses of Jesus’ person (or being) and his deeds, we can still follow the example of NT believers in testifying to what we know about these things, explaining them to non-believers.

John 1:14  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. ▤ 

In saying that they had “seen his glory” (v. 14b), John probably means that he and others had seen Jesus’ glory exhibited in his life through such things as his miracles, his transfiguration (cf. 2Pet 1:16-18 ), and his death and resurrection. The final phrase is probably implying that God’s grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

1Jn 1:1-2  That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— ▤ 

“That which was from the beginning” (v. 1a) and the references to the “life” – including “the word of life” (v. 1b) and “the eternal life” (v. 2b) – all refer to Jesus Christ. Here John is primarily speaking of Jesus Christ as having appeared – in a tangible, human form. In doing so he makes reference to Jesus Christ’s eternal existence, even alluding to him being the source of eternal life.

2Pet 1:16-18  For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son,j with whom I am well pleased,” 18we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. ▤ 

j Or my Son, my (or the) Beloved

Peter is speaking of James, John and himself being “eyewitnesses” of Christ’s transfiguration (cf. Matt 17:1-9), in which Christ was visibly glorified.

John 4:39  Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” ▤ 

This and the following verses speak of testifying to things that Jesus did.

Acts 2:22  Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— ▤ 

Here Peter testifies to God testifying to Jesus in Jesus’ deeds.

Acts 10:39a  And we are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. ▤ 

John 20:30-31  Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. ▤ 

John recorded Jesus’ miracles as a testimony to not only what he did, but primarily to who he was.

  • Believers also attested to what Jesus had said:

Heb 2:3  … how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, … ▤ 

Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection . . .

See also:

Acts 2:23-24  … this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. ▤ 

Acts 10:39b-40  They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, 40but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, … ▤ 

Peter is witnessing (cf. v. 39a ) to Gentiles.

Acts 13:26-30  Brothers, sons of the family of Abraham, and those among you who fear God, to us has been sent the message of this salvation. 27For those who live in Jerusalem and their rulers, because they did not recognize him nor understand the utterances of the prophets, which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled them by condemning him. 28And though they found in him no guilt worthy of death, they asked Pilate to have him executed. 29And when they had carried out all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. 30But God raised him from the dead, … ▤ 

This exemplifies that Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection (vv. 27b-30) are key aspects of “the message of this salvation” (v. 26).

1Cor 1:23  … but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, … ▤ 

Paul and his associates preached that Christ was crucified.

1Cor 2:1-2  And I, when I came to you, brothers,k did not come proclaiming to you the testimonyl of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. ▤ 

k Or brothers and sisters

l Some manuscripts mystery (or secret)

In v. 2, Paul says that he had decided that while he was with the Corinthians he would effectively forget about everything else and proclaim only Jesus Christ and his death.

1Cor 15:1, 3-5  Now I would remind you, brothers,m of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, ▤ 3For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. ▤ 

m Or brothers and sisters; also verses 6, 31, 50, 58

2Tim 2:8  Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, … ▤ 

. . . NT believers testified to Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection having witnessed them

See also:

John 19:33-37  But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. 35He who saw it has borne witness—his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth—that you also may believe. 36For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken.” 37And again another Scripture says, “They will look on him whom they have pierced.” ▤ 

Verses 36-37 explain the significance of what John testified to in vv. 33-35 – i.e. it was a fulfillment of Scripture that was understood to be messianic, thus indicative of Jesus being the Messiah.

Luke 24:33-35  And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 34saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” 35Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread. ▤ 

John 20:18  Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her. ▤ 

Acts 2:32  This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. ▤ 

Acts 4:33  And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. ▤ 

Acts 5:30-32  The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. 31God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him. ▤ 

In conjunction with their testimony of God raising Jesus from death (v. 30), Peter and the other apostles here also testify to God’s exaltation of Jesus as “Leader and Savior” (v. 31). They were witnesses to this (v. 32a) in that they witnessed his ascension and both his teachings about this and the confirmation of his teachings by the wonders that had taken place following his exaltation.

Acts 10:40-41  … but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, 41not not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. ▤ 

Here Peter is in effect testifying to a large gathering of Gentiles about what he had witnessed.

Acts 13:30-31  But God raised him from the dead, 31and for many days he appeared to those who had come up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now his witnesses to the people. ▤ 

1Pet 5:1  So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: … ▤ 

  • Jesus’ exhortation to his disciples to witness:

Luke 24:46-48  … and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48You are witnesses of these things. ▤ 

Jesus’ statement in v. 48 implies not only that the disciples did witness these things, but that they were to witness to others about these things.

The outcomes of Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection

See also:

Note that the passages cross-referenced above (that are in the previous subsection) both indicate that an outcome of Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection is that people can now repent and be forgiven.

2Cor 5:18-19, 21  All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19that is, in Christ God was reconcilingn the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. ▤ 21For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. ▤ 

n Or God was in Christ, reconciling

We are to tell others of how people can be reconciled to God, through Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection. In v. 21, “become the righteousness of God” means either: to be made “right with God” (NCV™, NLT) or to “share the righteousness of God” (GNT). In any case, each alternative entails the other and they are both outcomes of God having Jesus take on our sins for us (v. 21a) in his death.

Acts 10:36, 43  As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all), ▤ 43To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name. ▤ 

Acts 13:32-33, 37-39  And we bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers, 33this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus, as also it is written in the second Psalm, “‘You are my Son, today I have begotten you.’ ▤ 37but he whom God raised up did not see corruption. 38Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, 39and by him everyone who believes is freedo from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses. ▤ 

o Greek justified; twice in this verse

In v. 32, “what God promised to the fathers” refers to messianic promises, fulfilled by God in raising Jesus (v. 33a). In v. 38, “Let it be known to you therefore” appears to indicate that forgiveness (v. 38) and freedom from sin (v. 39) are based on or confirmed by Jesus’ resurrection (v. 37), it being affirmation that he was the promised Messiah (cf. vv. 30-36) who was to effect such things.

Acts 4:1-2  And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, 2greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. ▤ 

Jesus Christ’s own resurrection makes possible “resurrection from the dead” (cf. Acts 17:18b ). Our resurrection is based on Jesus’ resurrection – in conjunction with his death and its significance – and confirmed by it. The raising of believers to eternal life is primarily in view.

Acts 17:18  Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him. And some said, “What does this babbler wish to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities”—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. ▤ 

Note that “the resurrection” may be speaking of the resurrection of the dead, i.e. the resurrection of people (cf. CEV); hence the verse’s inclusion here. However it may be referring instead to Jesus’ own resurrection (cf. NCV, NIrV, NLT).

Acts 26:22-23  To this day I have had the help that comes from God, and so I stand here testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass: 23that the Christ must suffer and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles. ▤ 

As a result of Jesus’ resurrection, people have been given the “light of salvation” (GNT). This involves the promise of their own resurrection, as alluded to in v. 23 by the reference to Jesus Christ being “the first” to rise from the dead.

  • Tell of the unsearchable riches of Christ:

Eph 3:8  To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, … ▤ 

Paul preached to the Gentiles about “the endless treasures available to them in Christ” (NLT; cf. CEV, NIrV).

The kingdom of God

See also:

Matt 4:23  And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people. ▤ 

Mark 1:14-15  Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” ▤ 

Matt 10:7  And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ ▤ 

Luke 9:2  … and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. ▤ 

Matt 24:14  And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. ▤ 

Acts 8:12  But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. ▤ 

Note that this mentions telling others about both the kingdom of God and Jesus Christ (cf. Acts 28:23, 30-31 ), reflecting the fact that they are interrelated.

Acts 19:8  And he entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. ▤ 

Acts 28:23, 30-31  When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets. ▤ 30He lived there two whole years at his own expense,p and welcomed all who came to him, 31proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance. ▤ 

p Or in his own hired dwelling

What God is like and what he has done . . .

See also:

Ps 9:1  I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds. ▤ 

When God is praised in the Psalms it is usually in a public context, at the temple, with the psalmist telling others about God and what he has done. Often it includes a call to others to join in and acknowledge God’s attributes and deeds. As such there are parallels and applications to NT evangelism.

Ps 68:34  Ascribe power to God, whose majesty is over Israel, and whose power is in the skies. ▤ 

The first clause may well suggest that we should proclaim God’s power to others (cf. CEV, GNT, NCV, NIV, NLT).

Ps 71:15-16  My mouth will tell of your righteous acts, of your deeds of salvation all the day, for their number is past my knowledge. 16With the mighty deeds of the Lord God I will come; I will remind them of your righteousness, yours alone. ▤ 

Ps 96:2-3  Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. 3Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples! ▤ 

This illustrates that we should proclaim God’s salvation, glory and marvelous deeds to all people and nations – as is also clearly reflected in the following OT passages.

Ps 105:1-2  Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples! 2Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works! ▤ 

Ps 145:4-6, 11-12  One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts. 5On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate. 6They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds, and I will declare your greatness. ▤ 11They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom and tell of your power, 12to make known to the children of man yourq mighty deeds, and the glorious splendor of your kingdom. ▤ 

q Hebrew his; also next line

Isa 12:4-5  And you will say in that day: “Give thanks to the Lord, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the peoples, proclaim that his name is exalted. 5“Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously; let this be made knownr in all the earth. ▤ 

r Or this is made known

Proclaiming that “his name is exalted” (v. 4b), is akin to proclaiming that God is “great” (CEV, GNT) or “glorious” (NCV™).

Isa 66:19b  And from them I will send survivors to the nations, to Tarshish, Pul, and Lud, who draw the bow, to Tubal and Javan, to the coastlands far away, that have not heard my fame or seen my glory. And they shall declare my glory among the nations. ▤ 

Acts 2:11b  … we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God. ▤ 

Here Jews “from every nation” are referring to the believers telling, in various languages, of mighty things God has done.

Acts 17:23-27  For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man,s 25nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 26And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, … ▤ 

s Greek made by hands

. . . including what God has done for you

Ps 66:16  Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for my soul. ▤ 

Dan 4:2  It has seemed good to me to show the signs and wonders that the Most High God has done for me. ▤ 

Here Nebuchadnezzar begins his testimony to what God had done for him.

Ps 18:48b-49  … yes, you exalted me above those who rose against me; you rescued me from the man of violence. 49For this I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations, and sing to your name. ▤ 

Ps 71:24  And my tongue will talk of your righteous help all the day long, for they have been put to shame and disappointed who sought to do me hurt. ▤ 

Ps 102:18-20  Let this be recorded for a generation to come, so that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord: 19that he looked down from his holy height; from heaven the Lord looked at the earth, 20to hear the groans of the prisoners, to set free those who were doomed to die, … ▤ 

The psalmist has his own anticipated deliverance partially in view.

Ps 118:17  I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the Lord. ▤ 

To “recount” something involves giving an account of it to another or others.

Isa 63:7  I will recount the steadfast love of the Lord, the praises of the Lord, according to all that the Lord has granted us, and the great goodness to the house of Israel that he has granted them according to his compassion, according to the abundance of his steadfast love. ▤ 

Jer 51:10  The Lord has brought about our vindication; come, let us declare in Zion the work of the Lord our God. ▤ 

This prophecy tells of former exiles in Babylon declaring what God had done for them in securing their release.

Luke 8:39  “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him. ▤ 

1Pet 2:9  But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. ▤ 

This indicates that one of the prime reasons why God has chosen us to belong to him – making us a priesthood and a holy people – is for us to proclaim his praises to other people (cf. CEV, GNT, NLT), including what he has done for us.

  • The formerly blind man’s testimony of what Jesus had done for him:

John 9:15, 25  So the Pharisees again asked him how he had received his sight. And he said to them, “He put mud on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.” ▤ 25He answered, “Whether he is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” ▤ 

What else you have seen and heard (of God and Jesus Christ)

Acts 22:14-15  And he said, ‘The God of our fathers appointed you to know his will, to see the Righteous One and to hear a voice from his mouth; 15for you will be a witness for him to everyone of what you have seen and heard. ▤ 

1Jn 1:1-3  That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— 3that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. ▤ 

Acts 4:18-20  So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, 20for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” ▤ 

Acts 26:16  But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, … ▤ 

John 3:11  Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but yout do not receive our testimony. ▤ 

t The Greek for you is plural here; also four times in verse 12

Jesus is speaking here. His use of “we” shows that what he says is inclusive of his disciples. His words are applicable to all believers.

John 15:27  And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning. ▤ 

Having been with Jesus “from the beginning”, the disciples had been witness to much of Jesus’ earthly ministry, seeing what he had done and hearing his teachings. As such they were to testify of such things.

John 21:24-25  This is the disciple who is bearing witness about these things, and who has written these things, and we know that his testimony is true. 25Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. ▤ 

The “things” (v. 24) that John testified to and wrote down in his gospel, presumably were: events of Jesus’ life; things he taught; and in particular things that he did (v. 25; cf. 20:30-31).

How people should respond

See also:

Note that faith and repentance are the two main responses spoken of.

Mark 1:15  … and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” ▤ 

Acts 20:20-21  … how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, 21testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. ▤ 

Acts 26:20  … but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance. ▤ 

Acts 2:37-38  Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. ▤ 

Acts 24:24-25  After some days Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, and he sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus. 25And as he reasoned about righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment, Felix was alarmed and said, “Go away for the present. When I get an opportunity I will summon you.” ▤ 

This appears to indicate that Paul was saying that people need to respond with faith in Jesus Christ (v. 24b) and with repentant lives as characterized by righteousness and self-control (v. 25a) – the importance of which is underscored by “the coming judgment,” (v. 25a), a further aspect of the gospel, supplementary to the basic gospel message.

Rom 10:8-9  But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. ▤ 

Rom 16:25-26  Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith ▤ 

2Cor 5:20  Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. ▤ 

People must reconcile themselves to God, which as indicated above is done primarily through faith and repentance.

  • Hearing the gospel is useless without faith:

Heb 4:2  For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened.u ▤ 

u Some manuscripts it did not meet with faith in the hearers

This points to the assertion that hearing the gospel is of no use if one does not respond to it in faith.

Pray for persecuted Christians

How to Spread the Message

See also:

Present the gospel accurately and plainly

See also:

Acts 18:25  He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in spirit,v he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John. ▤ 

v Or in the Spirit

2Cor 4:2  But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. ▤ 

In the second part of the verse, Paul speaks of how by openly stating the truth he sought to enable everyone to sense his sincerity.

Col 4:3-4  At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— 4that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak. ▤ 

  • Verify that your account of the gospel is correct:

Gal 2:2  I went up because of a revelation and set before them (though privately before those who seemed influential) the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure I was not running or had not run in vain. ▤ 

Paul checked his version of the gospel with the church leaders in case his preaching was incorrect – and so “in vain”.

The manner in which to present the gospel message

See also:

Col 4:6  Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. ▤ 

The expression “seasoned with salt” most likely means either interesting (CEV, GNT) or pure.

1Pet 3:15  … but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, … ▤ 

Acts 18:25  He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in spirit,w he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John. ▤ 

w Or in the Spirit

The phrase “fervent in spirit” appears to refer to Apollos’s great “enthusiasm” (GNT, NLT, NRSV) and/or “excitement” (CEV, NCV) in spreading the gospel. Such enthusiasm makes the gospel message more interesting and attractive. Note that it supplements spreading the gospel with a “deep conviction” (1Thes 1:5 ) of its truth.

1Thes 2:3-5  For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, 4but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. 5For we never came with words of flattery,x as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness. ▤ 

x Or with a flattering speech

Much of this points to the need to be sincere in spreading the gospel (cf. 2Cor 4:2 ).

Spread the gospel by the Holy Spirit

See also:

In spreading the gospel, we need to rely on the Holy Spirit – who brings God’s power (cf. 1Cor 2:5 ; 1Thes 1:5a ). In doing so we need to be alert to the Holy Spirit’s promptings and guidance.

1Pet 1:12  It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look. ▤ 

1Cor 2:4-5  … and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. ▤ 

In v. 4 Paul acknowledges the Spirit’s power being behind the effectiveness of his preaching. While he does not expressly say that he looked to the Holy Spirit’s help in his preaching, his acknowledgement points to this as likely being the case. The same can be said of 1 Thessalonians 1:4-5 below.

1Thes 1:4-5  For we know, brothersy loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. ▤ 

y Or brothers and sisters. The plural Greek word adelphoi (translated “brothers”) refers to siblings in a family. In New Testament usage, depending on the context, adelphoi may refer either to men or to both men and women who are siblings (brothers and sisters) in God’s family, the church

  • Filled with the Holy Spirit, John the Baptist would bring many of his people back to God:

Luke 1:15-16  … for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. 16And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, … ▤ 

Spread the gospel boldly . . .

Matt 10:26-28  So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 27What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. 28And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.z ▤ 

z Greek Gehenna

The disciples were not to be afraid of those who would hate and persecute them (cf. vv. 21-23). Rather they were to fearlessly declare publicly what Jesus had told them in private, fearing instead “him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (v. 28b). Regarding v. 26b, in speaking of the inevitability of hidden things being made known, in this context Jesus appears most likely to be referring to the revelation and proclamation of the gospel – which the disciples were to help facilitate.

Acts 4:12-13, 18-20  [Peter:] And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” 13Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. ▤ 18So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, 20for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” ▤ 

In v. 12, Peter courageously declares the gospel before the antagonistic rulers, elders and teachers of the law (cf. vv. 5-11). Peter’s and John’s bold determination to continue preaching the gospel publicly despite the authorities’ continued opposition (vv. 18-20) is further illustrated and expressed immediately below in 5:27-29.

Acts 5:27-29  And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, 28saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” 29But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. ▤ 

Acts 9:27-28  But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus. 28So he went in and out among them at Jerusalem, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord. ▤ 

Acts 19:8  And he entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. ▤ 

Acts 23:11  The following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome.” ▤ 

Acts 28:30-31  He lived there two whole years at his own expense,a and welcomed all who came to him, 31proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance. ▤ 

a Or in his own hired dwelling

Phil 1:14  And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the wordb without fear. ▤ 

b Some manuscripts add of God

Phil 1:27-28  Only let your manner of life be worthyc of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, 28and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. ▤ 

c Greek Only behave as citizens worthy

In v. 27, “striving side by side for the faith of the gospel” refers to the struggle to spread – and possibly also to guard – the body of truth of which the gospel consists.

. . . Spread the gospel boldly with God’s help

See also:

In spreading the gospel boldly, we should seek God’s help through prayer prior to telling others the gospel, and rely on God’s help while we are telling them.

1Thes 2:2  But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict. ▤ 

Acts 4:29-31  And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servantsd to continue to speak your word with all boldness, 30while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 31And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness. ▤ 

d Greek bondservants

Acts 14:3  So they remained for a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord, who bore witness to the word of his grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands. ▤ 

Acts 18:9-11  And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, 10for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.” 11And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them. ▤ 

Undoubtedly Paul would have continued to teach the word of God (v. 11), without fear (v. 9), in reliance on God’s promised help (v. 10).

Eph 6:18b-20  To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. ▤ 

In his request to the Ephesians to pray for him in his work, Paul showed that he looked to God’s help in order to boldly proclaim the gospel.

  • In difficult circumstances, Jesus Christ strengthened Paul so that he could proclaim the gospel:

2Tim 4:16-17  At my first [court] defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! 17But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. ▤ 

Work hard at spreading the gospel message

1Cor 15:10-11  But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed. ▤ 

With the reference to his preaching (v. 11), Paul presumably has his work in spreading the gospel primarily in mind when speaking of his hard work (v. 10b).

Col 1:28-29  Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me. ▤ 

Here Paul is probably referring to his evangelistic work in spreading the gospel as well as to his pastoral work amongst Christians.

Phil 2:22  But you know Timothy’se proven worth, how as a sonf with a father he has served with me in the gospel. ▤ 

e Greek his

f Greek child

The fact that Timothy worked hard in furthering the gospel is suggested by him being said to have “served” in the work, a term which some commentators suggest could be taken as meaning slaved or labored – “toiled with me zealously” (AMP). The simile “as a son with a father” may also in part speak of Timothy’s dedication to the work.

Phil 4:3  Yes, I ask you also, true companion,g help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life. ▤ 

g Or loyal Syzygus; Greek true yokefellow

These women had “worked hard” (GNT, NLT) in spreading the gospel.

1Thes 2:9  For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. ▤ 

Here Paul appears to be referring primarily at least to working hard to support himself (cf. Acts 18:2-4) while preaching the gospel to the Thessalonians. We often need to work hard not only in actually telling others the message, but in enabling ourselves to be in a position to do so.

1Tim 4:9-10  The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. 10For to this end we toil and strive,h because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe. ▤ 

h Some manuscripts and suffer reproach

Spreading the gospel of God’s salvation for all people appears to be largely in view as that for which Paul and his associates would “toil and strive”.

  • Paul served with his spirit in preaching the gospel:

Rom 1:9  For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you … ▤ 

This implies that Paul served wholeheartedly (cf. CEV, GNT, NCV, NIV, NLT) in spreading the gospel.

Further notes on spreading the gospel message

Matt 7:6  Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you. ▤ 

There is no point trying to give things that are “holy” (GNT, NCV, NLT) or of God (cf. CEV) to people who cannot – or will not – appreciate or understand them. While one needs to be very careful in applying this to telling (or not telling) the gospel message to someone, there certainly are times when doing so would obviously be of no benefit, even detrimental.

Matt 10:16-17  Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. 17Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, … ▤ 

In sending his disciples out into a hostile world to preach the kingdom, Jesus warned them in v. 16 to be wise (cf. Col 4:5 ) and pure, the latter possibly referring to their methods as well as their general behavior.

Col 4:5  Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. ▤ 

Acts 18:28  … for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus. ▤ 

This points to the importance of the Scriptures for spreading the gospel.

2Cor 4:1  Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God,i we do not lose heart. ▤ 

i Greek as we have received mercy

Paul draws encouragement from the fact that he had been given his ministry by God in his mercy – in spite of Paul’s past. In doing so, Paul does not lose heart in his work of spreading the gospel (v. 1b). We likewise should bear in mind God’s mercy to us as we spread God’s word, so not to become disheartened.

Phil 1:7, 16  It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace,j both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. ▤ 16The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. ▤ 

j Or you all have fellowship with me in grace

This points to the fact that in spreading the gospel we must be prepared to defend the credibility of the gospel message (cf. 1Pet 3:15 ).

1Pet 3:15  … but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, … ▤ 

  • Jesus’ instructions to the disciples regarding staying at a home, when taking the gospel to a town:

Matt 10:11-13  And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it and stay there until you depart. 12As you enter the house, greet it. 13And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. ▤ 

The references to “greet” (v. 12) and “peace” (v. 13) appear to have in view the middle-eastern customary greeting of peace (“Peace be to this house!” – Luke 10:5). Here it possibly alludes to, or is inclusive of, peace from that which sin causes (cf. AMP). A home being “worthy” (v. 13a) is most likely a reference to the occupants accepting the disciples’ message; rejection of their message would of course usually result in them being unwelcome. On encountering rejection they were to rescind their greeting or blessing of peace (v. 13b).

Note: Spreading the gospel is not to be done for profit; take measures not to be a financial burden

See also:

2Cor 2:17  For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ. ▤ 

Matt 10:7-8  And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ 8Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers,k cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay. ▤ 

k Leprosy was a term for several skin diseases; see Leviticus 13

1Cor 9:18  What then is my reward? That in my preaching I may present the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel. ▤ 

Paul considered the “satisfaction” (NLT) or “privilege” (GNT) of preaching the gospel free of charge as being a reward in itself.

Acts 20:33-34  I coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. 34You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me. ▤ 

2Cor 11:7, 9  Or did I commit a sin in humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because I preached God’s gospel to you free of charge? ▤ 9And when I was with you and was in need, I did not burden anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied my need. So I refrained and will refrain from burdening you in any way. ▤ 

Paul obtained support from other churches rather than from the people he was preaching the gospel to.

2Cor 12:14-18  Here for the third time I am ready to come to you. And I will not be a burden, for I seek not what is yours but you. For children are not obligated to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. 15I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls. If I love you more, am I to be loved less? 16But granting that I myself did not burden you, I was crafty, you say, and got the better of you by deceit. 17Did I take advantage of you through any of those whom I sent to you? 18I urged Titus to go, and sent the brother with him. Did Titus take advantage of you? Did we not act in the same spirit? Did we not take the same steps? ▤ 

In v. 14b Paul indicated that he saw himself as a parent in the faith to the Corinthians; as such he did not think it appropriate for them to have to support him.

1Thes 2:5, 9  For we never came with words of flattery,l as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness. ▤ 9For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. ▤ 

l Or with a flattering speech

2Thes 3:7-8  For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, 8nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. ▤ 

  • Elisha’s rejection of profit from Naaman’s healing – in contrast to his servant’s response:

2Ki 5:14-16, 19-20, 26-27  So he [Naaman] went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God, and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean. 15Then he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and he came and stood before him. And he said, “Behold, I know that there is no God in all the earth but in Israel; so accept now a present from your servant.” 16But he said, “As the Lord lives, before whom I stand, I will receive none.” And he urged him to take it, but he refused. ▤ 19He said to him, “Go in peace.” But when Naaman had gone from him a short distance, 20Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said, “See, my master has spared this Naaman the Syrian, in not accepting from his hand what he brought. As the Lord lives, I will run after him and get something from him.” ▤ 26But he [Elisha] said to him, “Did not my heart go when the man turned from his chariot to meet you? Was it a time to accept money and garments, olive orchards and vineyards, sheep and oxen, male servants and female servants? 27Therefore the leprosy of Naaman shall cling to you and to your descendants forever.” So he went out from his presence a leper, like snow. ▤ 

Pray for persecuted Christians

Supplementary Actions

Pray for the proclamation of the gospel, including others who proclaim it

See also:

Matt 9:37-38  Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” ▤ 

Ask God to enable and move more people to commit themselves and their time to reaching others with the gospel.

Acts 4:29-31  And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servantsm to continue to speak your word with all boldness, 30while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 31And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness. ▤ 

m Greek bondservants

Here the believers pray for their own efforts to proclaim the gospel. Similarly in 6:4 below, the disciples own efforts would have been at least partially in view. The remaining passages largely concern prayer for others spreading the word.

Acts 6:4  But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word. ▤ 

The prayer that the disciples determined to give more attention to, would have at least in part concerned the “ministry of the word”. This would have involved spreading the gospel, as well as teaching believers.

Acts 13:2-3  While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off. ▤ 

Presumably the prayer was focused on Barnabas and Saul and the work ahead of them (v. 2) in proclaiming the gospel.

Eph 6:18b-20  To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. ▤ 

Col 4:3-4  At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— 4that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak. ▤ 

2Thes 3:1-2  Finally, brothers,n pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored,o as happened among you, 2and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men. For not all have faith. ▤ 

n Or brothers and sisters; also verses 6, 13

o Or glorified

  • Pray that God’s kingdom would come:

Matt 6:9-10  Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.r 10Your kingdom come, your will be done,s on earth as it is in heaven. ▤ 

r Or Let your name be kept holy, or Let your name be treated with reverence

s Or Let your kingdom come, let your will be done

“Your kingdom come” (v. 10) appears primarily to be a request for the full manifestation of the kingdom (cf. CEV, NLT). But some commentators interpret it to also refer to the further extension of the kingdom in its present form – in which the spreading of the gospel obviously is a vital part.

Pray for the salvation of unbelievers

Acts 26:28-29  And Agrippa said to Paul, “In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian?”p 29And Paul said, “Whether short or long, I would to God that not only you but also all who hear me this day might become such as I am—except for these chains.” ▤ 

p Or In a short time you would persuade me to act like a Christian!

“I would to God” is indicative of a prayerful wish (cf. CEV, NASB; Rom 10:1 ), comparable to a prayer – “I pray to God” (NCV™, NLT, NRSV; cf. GNT, NIV).

Rom 10:1  Brothers,q my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. ▤ 

q Or Brothers and sisters

1Tim 2:1-4  First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. ▤ 

Verses 3-4 suggest that our prayers for other people (v. 1) should include prayer for their salvation.

Rather than insist on your own rights, act in the interests of others for the sake of the gospel

1Cor 9:12-15, 18  If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more? Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ. 13Do you not know that those who are employed in the temple service get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in the sacrificial offerings? 14In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel. 15But I have made no use of any of these rights, nor am I writing these things to secure any such provision. For I would rather die than have anyone deprive me of my ground for boasting. ▤ 18What then is my reward? That in my preaching I may present the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel. ▤ 

Paul forsook his right of being supported in his work of spreading the gospel, enduring “anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ” (v. 12). In v. 13, to illustrate that he has this right, Paul is referring to the OT law’s stipulations that those who work in the temple have the right to take from certain offerings for their own food.

1Cor 9:19-23  For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. 20To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. 21To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. 22To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. 23I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings. ▤ 

Further to foregoing his rights regarding being supported (cf. vv. 12-15, 18 ), in vv. 19-22 Paul tells of how he was even prepared to make himself a slave to others and to take measures so that they could identify with him (cf. Gal 4:12 – “I also have become as you are”). He would “fit in with them” (NLT) and “find common ground” (NLT). All this he would do for the sake of the gospel (v. 23). Note that in v. 22 Paul is speaking of forgoing freedoms that he had in Christ for the sake of Christians with weak consciences.

1Cor 10:33  … just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved. ▤ 

Note that here – and possibly in other references in this and previous subsections – the sanctification of believers is as much in view as the saving of non-believers.

1Thes 1:5  … because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. ▤ 

When bringing the gospel to the Thessalonians (v. 5a), Paul (and his associates) lived among them in a way that was for their good (v. 5b; cf. 1Thes 2:6-9 ).

1Thes 2:6-9  Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ. 7But we were gentlet among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. 8So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us. 9For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. ▤ 

t Some manuscripts infants

In addition to foregoing their rights so as not to be a burden to the Thessalonians (vv. 6-7, 9), such was their love for them that Paul and his co-workers even shared their lives with them (v. 8). This would have involved further expending of themselves.

  • Jesus’ example of forgoing his right so as not to cause offense:

Matt 17:24-27  When they came to Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax went up to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the tax?” 25He said, “Yes.” And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tax? From their sons or from others?” 26And when he said, “From others,” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free. 27However, not to give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook and take the first fish that comes up, and when you open its mouth you will find a shekel.u Take that and give it to them for me and for yourself.” ▤ 

u Greek stater, a silver coin worth four drachmas or approximately one shekel

In vv. 25-26 Jesus points out that the sons of the kingdom, of God’s family, have the right to not have to pay such taxes – they are in a sense above or apart from such things. But then in v. 27 he shows that believers should forgo such rights so as to not unnecessarily cause offence to others.

Live and act in a way that is consistent with the gospel

Living and acting in a way that is consistent with the gospel involves following biblical teachings regarding how we should live, which accompany and complement the teachings of the basic gospel message.

1Cor 4:17  That is why I sentv you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ,w as I teach them everywhere in every church. ▤ 

v Or am sending

w Some manuscripts add Jesus

Paul effectively claims that his way of life, that he lived in Christ, was what he taught – i.e. his actions were in agreement with his teachings (cf. CEV, NIV).

2Cor 9:13  By their approval of this service, theyx will glorify God because of your submission flowing from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, … ▤ 

x Or you

The Corinthians – at least in the matter being discussed – submitted in obedience to the gospel.

2Cor 13:8  For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. ▤ 

There are a number of ideas as to precisely what Paul means here. Quite possibly he is saying he would not or could not do anything that is incompatible or contradictory to the gospel and its moral implications. (cf. NBC)

Eph 4:1  I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, … ▤ 

Phil 1:27  Only let your manner of life be worthyy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, … ▤ 

y Greek Only behave as citizens worthy

Living a life “worthy of the gospel” is an important aspect of “striving … for the faith of the gospel”.

1Thes 2:9-10  For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. 10You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers. ▤ 

The “holy and righteous and blameless” conduct of Paul and those ministering with him (v. 10), showed that they lived in a way that was consistent with and worthy of the gospel that they preached (v. 9).

3Jn 1:12  Demetrius has received a good testimony from everyone, and from the truth itself. We also add our testimony, and you know that our testimony is true. ▤ 

John indicates that Demetrius’ life is shown in a good light by the gospel (as well as by the testimony of others). His conduct was in accordance with “the true message that he teaches” (CEV).

  • Our actions should not contradict any particular aspects of the gospel message:

Gal 2:14  But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?” ▤ 

Here Paul rightly rebukes Peter for not acting in a way that is consistent with the gospel message (cf. vv. 11-14). Peter’s actions had implied that Gentiles needed to follow Jewish regulations, contrary to the gospel’s teaching that Christians have been freed from the OT law.

In acting consistently with the gospel, you and the faith will not be discredited . . .

See also:

The following verses show that it is essential that our lives be consistent with our faith so as not to discredit ourselves and things related to our faith – including our ministry, God’s word, God’s name and other believers.

2Cor 6:3  We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, … ▤ 

Paul asserts that he and companions did nothing that would discredit their ministry and so be an obstacle to anyone’s response.

2Cor 8:20-21  We take this course so that no one should blame us about this generous gift that is being administered by us, 21for we aim at what is honorable not only in the Lord’s sight but also in the sight of man. ▤ 

Paul realized that it was critical for his ministry that his actions not only be right but that they also be seen to be so (v. 21), in order to avoid any blame or criticism (v. 20).

1Tim 5:13-14  Besides that, they learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not. 14So I would have younger widows marry, bear children, manage their households, and give the adversary no occasion for slander. ▤ 

In a society where presumably there was minimal opportunity for women to be employed, Paul addresses his concerns regarding the prospect of idleness resulting in the whole church and the gospel being slandered.

1Tim 6:1  Let all who are under a yoke as slavesz regard their own masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be reviled. ▤ 

z Greek bondservants

Titus 2:4-5, 7-8  … and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. ▤ 7Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, 8and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. ▤ 

1Pet 2:15  For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. ▤ 

The “ignorance of foolish people” refers to or at least encompasses “foolish accusations” (NLT) against believers.

1Pet 3:14b-16  Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. ▤ 

2Pet 2:2  And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. ▤ 

Peter here refers to the godless practices of false teachers corrupting others in the church, leading to the gospel being maligned.

Neh 5:9  So I said, “The thing that you are doing is not good. Ought you not to walk in the fear of our God to prevent the taunts of the nations our enemies? ▤ 

. . . You will have credibility, attracting people to the gospel

2Cor 6:4-7  … but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, 5beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; 6by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; 7by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; … ▤ 

Rather than discrediting their ministry (cf. v. 3 ), Paul claims that everything he and his companions did – persevering in hardship (vv. 4b-5) and acting in godly ways (vv. 6-7) – had shown them to be true servants of God (v. 4a).

1Thes 4:11-12  … and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, 12so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one. ▤ 

In v. 11 Paul urges the Thessalonians to live quietly and peacefully, to mind their own business and to earn their own living (cf. GNT). A key goal of this was so that their behavior be seen to be proper by outsiders (v. 12), earning their respect (cf. AMP, CEV, GNT, NCV, NIV, NLT) and so having credibility.

Titus 2:9-10  Slavesa are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, 10not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior. ▤ 

a Or servants; Greek bondservants

The last clause implies that such behavior (vv. 9-10a) makes the gospel “attractive” (NCV™, NIV®, NLT).

1Pet 2:12  Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. ▤ 

Living honorable lives with “good deeds” will not only give believers credibility in the eyes of non-Christians, eventually it will be cause for them to glorify God “on the day of visitation”. This last phrase is probably a reference to judgment day (cf. NLT, NRSV) or Christ’s return (cf. NCV). However, some think it may refer to God granting salvation to such people, thereby implying that the good deeds of Christians can be a factor in the conversion of opponents (cf. Titus 2:9-10 ; 1Pet 3:1-2 ).

1Pet 3:1-2  Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, 2when they see your respectful and pure conduct. ▤ 

2Tim 3:14-15  But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whomb you learned it 15and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. ▤ 

b The Greek for whom is plural

Particularly in view of v. 15, those “from whom you learned it” (v. 14) appears to be a reference to Timothy’s mother and grandmother (cf. 1:5) – and possibly also to Paul himself. The character and lives of these people who had taught Timothy had been a significant factor in him accepting their teaching, as reflected by Paul’s appeal to this in encouraging Timothy to continue in his faith.

  • The unity of believers promotes belief in others:

John 17:20-23  I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. ▤ 

The phrase “be in us” (v. 21b) is correlated with the unity of believers (cf. CEV, NCV), as is suggested by the surrounding statements and by some ancient authorities having “be one in us” (cf. NRSV text note).

Support others spreading the gospel . . .

See also:

3Jn 1:7-8  For they have gone out for the sake of the name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. 8Therefore we ought to support people like these, that we may be fellow workers for the truth. ▤ 

1Cor 9:14, 18  In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel. ▤ 18What then is my reward? That in my preaching I may present the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel. ▤ 

In the last clause in v. 18 Paul refers to his right to support in his work of preaching the gospel. As such, in accordance with the Lord’s command (v. 14), v. 18 suggests that while spreading the gospel should not be done for profit, others still have the responsibility to support preachers.

2Cor 11:7-9  Or did I commit a sin in humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because I preached God’s gospel to you free of charge? 8I robbed other churches by accepting support from them in order to serve you. 9And when I was with you and was in need, I did not burden anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied my need. So I refrained and will refrain from burdening you in any way. ▤ 

Various churches supported Paul in his work of preaching the gospel, allowing him to preach it free of charge.

Phil 2:25  I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need, … ▤ 

Epaphroditus was sent by the Philippians to bring their gifts of aid to Paul (cf. Phil 4:18 ) and apparently also to assist him in other ways in his work of spreading the gospel.

Phil 4:14-19  Yet it was kind of you to sharec my trouble. 15And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. 16Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. 17Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit.d 18I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. 19And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. ▤ 

c Or have fellowship in

d Or I seek the profit that accrues to your account

In v. 15, “giving and receiving” refers to what might be termed “transactions” between the Philippians and Paul. They gave him aid (vv. 16, 18) and in return spiritual blessings were credited to their account (v. 17; cf. v. 19).

. . . Give hospitality and aid to visiting preachers and workers

Rom 15:24  I hope to see you in passing as I go to Spain, and to be helped on my journey there by you, once I have enjoyed your company for a while. ▤ 

Rom 16:2  … that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patron of many and of myself as well. ▤ 

1Cor 16:5-6  I will visit you after passing through Macedonia, for I intend to pass through Macedonia, 6and perhaps I will stay with you or even spend the winter, so that you may help me on my journey, wherever I go. ▤ 

Philem 1:22  At the same time, prepare a guest room for me, for I am hoping that through your prayers I will be graciously given to you. ▤ 

Titus 3:13  Do your best to speed Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way; see that they lack nothing. ▤ 

3Jn 1:5-6  Beloved, it is a faithful thing you do in all your efforts for these brothers, strangers as they are, 6who testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God. ▤ 

Acts 16:15  And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us. ▤ 

Acts 21:8, 10  On the next day we departed and came to Caesarea, and we entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him. ▤ 10While we were staying for many days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. ▤ 

Philip, himself an evangelist, gave hospitality to Paul and his associates.

Luke 10:7-8, 38  And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house. 8Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. ▤ 38Now as they went on their way, Jesuse entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. ▤ 

e Greek he

The instructions given in vv. 7-8 to the itinerant workers themselves, obviously imply that such hospitality should be given to them, as Martha later exemplifies (v. 38). Note that the exhortations to stay in the one house (v. 7) may be admonishing against looking for a better offer.

2Ki 4:8-10  One day Elisha went on to Shunem, where a wealthy woman lived, who urged him to eat some food. So whenever he passed that way, he would turn in there to eat food. 9And she said to her husband, “Behold now, I know that this is a holy man of God who is continually passing our way. 10Let us make a small room on the roof with walls and put there for him a bed, a table, a chair, and a lamp, so that whenever he comes to us, he can go in there.” ▤ 

  • Some implications and results of receiving gospel workers (and other people of God):

Matt 10:40-42  “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. 41The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. 42And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.” ▤ 

Note that other implications and results of receiving – or welcoming and assisting – itinerant workers are given above in 3 John 1:8 and in Philippians 4:14-19 in the previous subsection.

Note: Guard the gospel message

We are to guard the gospel message from being distorted. As such we need to guard: our own understanding and version of the gospel (which is partially in view in the references below from 1 and 2 Timothy and also Galatians 2:3); and the gospel message from being distorted by others (which is what is largely in view in the other references).

1Tim 6:20-21  O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,” 21for by professing it some have swerved from the faith. Grace be with you.f ▤ 

f The Greek for you is plural

The phrase “the deposit entrusted to you” is referring to the gospel (as is “the good deposit” in 2 Timothy 1:14 immediately below). In v. 20b, Paul urges Timothy to turn away from matters that would corrupt his message.

2Tim 1:13-14  Follow the pattern of the soundg words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 14By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you. ▤ 

g Or healthy

Gal 2:1-5  Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. 2I went up because of a revelation and set before them (though privately before those who seemed influential) the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure I was not running or had not run in vain. 3But even Titus, who was with me, was not forced to be circumcised, though he was a Greek. 4Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery— 5to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. ▤ 

As commented earlier, in v. 2 Paul tells of how he checked his version of the gospel with the church leaders in case his preaching was incorrect – and so “in vain”. In v. 5 Paul speaks of how he fought to maintain “the truth of the gospel” against corruption by supposed believers, who advocated circumcision and adherence to the law (vv. 3-4), apparently wanting to tie these in with the gospel message.

Jude 1:3-4  Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. 4For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. ▤ 

Here “the faith” refers to the “sum of Christian belief” (AMP) – notably the gospel message, “the Good News” (GNT).

Gal 1:6-9  I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. ▤ 

Here Paul vehemently speaks out for the gospel message – defending or guarding it – condemning the teaching of a distorted adaptation of the gospel.

Pray for persecuted Christians