TBU: The Bible Unpacked: In-Depth Edition

II. Insights

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Chapter 35  Part II

Insights

See also:

This section provides insights on the gospel message itself and on why it is so critical that we tell others the gospel. It also teaches us that in all our efforts to do so, we must bear in mind that the effectiveness of the message comes from God – and that people’s responses to it are in his hands, not ours.

Insights on the Gospel Message

See also:

The gospel is not made up by men – it is true

Gal 1:11-12  For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel.h 12For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. ▤ 

h Greek not according to man

Note that in line with this, in v. 1 Paul points out that he was “not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father”.

1Thes 2:2-3, 13  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. 3For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, ▤ 13And we also thank God constantlyi for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers. ▤ 

i Or without ceasing

The reference to the gospel as “the gospel of God” (v. 2) and “the word of God” (v. 13) asserts that it is not made up by men – and so that it is true, not false in any way (v. 3).

2Pet 1:16  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. ▤ 

Heb 2:3-4  … 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, 4while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will. ▤ 

The gospel message of salvation was first announced by Jesus Christ, and a number who had heard him confirmed what he had said to others (cf. Luke 1:1-4 ) – including to the writer of Hebrews. In saying that they “attested” to it, the writer appears to mean that they attested or confirmed that it was what Jesus had said and so that it was “real and genuine” (AMP). This was also affirmed by the signs that had accompanied it (v. 4).

Luke 1:1-4  Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, 2just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, 3it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught. ▤ 

Although Luke does not specifically say that he used the eyewitness accounts concerning “the word” (v. 2), the gospel message, this is implied. Luke’s Gospel and other such accounts (v. 1) were based largely on what eyewitnesses had passed on – along with careful investigation (v. 3a) – thus adding to the certainty of what they contain (v. 4).

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. ▤ 

John 21:24  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. ▤ 

The last clause speaks of John himself along with others, possibly including his readers, affirming “that his testimony is true” (cf. John 19:35 ).

Acts 26:22-26  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.” 24And as he was saying these things in his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, “Paul, you are out of your mind; your great learning is driving you out of your mind.” 25But Paul said, “I am not out of my mind, most excellent Festus, but I am speaking true and rational words. 26For the king knows about these things, and to him I speak boldly. For I am persuaded that none of these things has escaped his notice, for this has not been done in a corner. ▤ 

The gospel message was not made up by Jesus and/or his followers, for it says “nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass” (v. 22b; cf. Rom 16:25-26 ). Also, it is both “true and rational” (v. 25). Verse 26 makes a further important point attesting to the truth of the gospel. The events it is based on were widely known, familiar to the king, as they did not take place in some obscure setting. Similarly, in Acts 2:22 Peter points out to a crowd that Jesus’ deeds were widely known, referring to his “mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know.”

Eph 1:13  In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, … ▤ 

The phrase “the word of truth” of course affirms the truth of the gospel. It is also used in reference to the gospel in: Colossians 1:5 (“the word of truth, the gospel”); 2Tim 2:15 (“a worker … rightly handling the word of truth”); and James 1:18 (“he brought us forth by the word of truth”).

1Jn 2:21  I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth. ▤ 

The “truth” here is basically a reference to the gospel.

The gospel reveals God’s hidden mystery concerning Jesus Christ

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— ▤ 

The term “the prophetic writings” (v. 26) appears to refer to the writings of the OT prophets. As such this passage speaks of the role of the prophets’ writings in the revelation of the gospel, the previously hidden mystery about Jesus Christ. Previous obscure aspects of their writings have now become clear because of: Jesus Christ’s fulfillment of them; his teachings; and the revelation given to the apostles both during and after Christ’s ministry. As such, the prophets’ writings help reveal and affirm the gospel message.

Eph 1:7-10  In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9making knownj to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. ▤ 

j Or he lavished upon us in all wisdom and insight, making known . . .

Paul has the gospel in view as the means by which God has made known to us the mystery of his will that he would fulfill through Jesus Christ.

Eph 3:3-11  … how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. 4When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. 6This mystery isk that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. 7Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. 8To 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 inl God who created all things, 10so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. 11This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, … ▤ 

k The words This mystery is are inferred from verse 4

l Or by

Verse 10 indicates that the aspect of the gospel mystery concerning the union of the Gentiles with Israel in the one body of the church (v. 6), had even been hidden from the heavenly powers (cf. 1Pet 1:12 ).

Col 1:25-27  … of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, 26the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. 27To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. ▤ 

Col 2:2-3  … that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, 3in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. ▤ 

All the treasures of divine wisdom and spiritual knowledge are stored up in Christ – and now made accessible through the gospel which reveals God’s mystery about him.

1Cor 2:1, 7-10  And I, when I came to you, brothers,m did not come proclaiming to you the testimonyn of God with lofty speech or wisdom. ▤ 7But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. 8None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”— 10these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. ▤ 

m Or brothers and sisters

n Some manuscripts mystery (or secret)

The “testimony of God” (v. 1) and “a secret and hidden wisdom of God” which Paul spoke to others of (v. 7), both probably refer to God’s “mystery” (v. 1 text note), the gospel. This mystery concerns the crucified Christ (v. 8) and involves matters previously not perceived by humankind (vv. 8-9) all of which is revealed to people by the Holy Spirit (v. 10, cf. Eph 3:5 ; 1Pet 1:10-12 ).

Titus 1:1-3  Paul, a servanto of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, 2in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages beganp 3and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior; … ▤ 

o Or slave; Greek bondservant

p Greek before times eternal

At his appointed time God revealed the previously hidden gospel message – concerning the promise of eternal life (v. 2) in Christ – through the preaching of Paul, and others (cf. 1Pet 1:10-12 ).

1Pet 1:10-12  Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12It 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. ▤ 

The prophets were given a limited revelation of the salvation that would come through the sufferings of Jesus Christ (vv. 10-11); as such it was a hidden mystery of God. Now through the preaching of the gospel, by the Holy Spirit, it has been fully revealed (v. 12). The final statement of v. 12 highlights the mystery that surrounds or surrounded what the gospel reveals.

  • This mystery of “godliness” – based on Jesus Christ – is great:

1Tim 3:16  Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: Heq was manifested in the flesh, vindicatedr by the Spirit,s seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory. ▤ 

q Greek Who; some manuscripts God; others Which

r Or justified

s Or vindicated in spirit

The term translated here as “godliness” is also translated as “our religion” (CEV, GNT, NRSV) and similarly “our faith” (NLT). It appears to speak of the mystery that produces godliness. The remainder of the verse suggests that this is the gospel message about Jesus Christ and what he accomplished in his mission, which produces godliness as its significance is applied to one’s life.

The gospel is of God’s grace

The gospel message about Jesus Christ is founded on and manifests God’s grace – as is reflected by the following verses.

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. ▤ 

Acts 20:32  And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. ▤ 

Col 1:5b-6  Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, 6which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, … ▤ 

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. ▤ 

Here “the Lord” probably is Jesus Christ. The gospel illustrates both God’s and Jesus Christ’s grace (cf. Rom 5:15). God’s grace is seen in him providing a way of salvation for undeserving humankind at the cost of his only Son. Jesus Christ’s grace is seen in him willingly foregoing his glory for a time and enduring great suffering for undeserving humankind.

2Cor 4:15  For 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. ▤ 

With his reference to God’s grace, Paul may be referring to the gospel message being based on it and telling of it – as is the case elsewhere in this subsection. Alternatively, or additionally, he may have primarily in view God in his grace bringing people to believe in the message.

Eph 3:1-3  For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles— 2assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, 3how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. ▤ 

There is some doubt as to how “grace” is used in v. 2. Amongst the possibilities are that it refers to God’s grace: in commissioning Paul for this work; in making known the mystery of Christ to Paul (cf. v. 3); in the message itself; and in imparting the message to the Ephesians or the Gentiles in general. If the third possibility is the case, the verse would clearly indicate that the gospel is of God’s grace. The other possibilities also reflect this, to varying degrees.

The gospel is good news

Note that the Greek word translated as “gospel” basically means “good news”.

Luke 2:10  And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. ▤ 

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

Luke 8:1a  Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. ▤ 

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

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. ▤ 

Acts 10:36  As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all), … ▤ 

Acts 13:32-33  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.’ ▤ 

In v. 32, “what God promised to the fathers” refers to messianic promises, fulfilled by God in raising Jesus (v. 33a).

Acts 14:15  Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. ▤ 

Rom 10:15  And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” ▤ 

1Pet 1:25  … but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you. ▤ 

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.” ▤ 

That the terms “gospel” and “good news” are interchangeable is suggested by other translations at times rendering the Greek for “gospel” as “good news” (AMP, CEV, GNT, NCV, NIV, NLT, NRSV).

  • The gospel is “treasure”:

2Cor 4:7  But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. ▤ 

Here Paul likens the message of the gospel being entrusted to him in his human frailty, to treasure being placed in jars of clay. Speaking of the gospel as “treasure” reflects that further to it being good news, it is a wonderful, glorious message.

The message of Jesus Christ is a stumbling block for many people

The gospel’s message of Jesus Christ – with his death and resurrection – is a “stumbling block” for many people. They do not believe it and so, figuratively speaking, on the path to God’s salvation they stumble and fall over Christ – and so fail to obtain salvation and life.

1Pet 2:7-8  So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,”t 8and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. ▤ 

t Greek the head of the corner

Verse 7 speaks of Jesus Christ as the “stone” that was rejected but which has become the cornerstone of God’s kingdom. Those who reject Christ “stumble” (v. 8) because they do not believe and obey the message.

Matt 21:44  And the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.”u ▤ 

u Some manuscripts omit verse 44

This is possibly referring to a Jewish saying of the time, indicating that like a pot that falls on a stone or one on which a stone falls, so everyone who rejects Jesus the “stone” will be doomed (cf. NSB).

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

The gospel of Christ is a stumbling block to Jews, being incompatible with their way of trying to gain righteousness through obedience to the law. It is also a stumbling block to Gentiles, with many seeing it as foolishness.

Luke 2:34-35  And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed 35(and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” ▤ 

Simeon’s prophetic word, on being presented with the infant Jesus, was indicative of Jesus Christ becoming a “stumbling block” for many people. Note that “rising” appears to refer to the salvation of the lowly.

  • The message of the cross is offensive to some people:

Gal 5:11  But if I, brothers,v still preachw circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. ▤ 

v Or brothers and sisters; also verse 13

w Greek proclaim

Circumcision signifies one’s adherence to the OT law as the way to righteousness. As the message centered on Jesus Christ’s death on the cross conflicts with this, it causes offense (cf. 1Pet 2:8 ) to those who follow the way of the OT law. The message is also offensive to other people for other reasons.

Those who do not believe and respond to the gospel will be condemned

See also:

Mark 16:15-16  And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. 16Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. ▤ 

John 3:18  Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. ▤ 

Rom 2:8  … but for those who are self-seekingx and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. ▤ 

x Or contentious

2Cor 2:15-16  For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, 16to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficienty for these things? ▤ 

y Or competent

In v. 16, “a fragrance from death to death” means a fragrance “of death that brings death” (NCV™; GNT, NKJV). For further comment see Insights regarding spreading the gospel.

2Thes 1:7b-9  … when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 8in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away fromz the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, … ▤ 

z Or destruction that comes from

2Thes 2:11-12  Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, 12in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. ▤ 

Pray for persecuted Christians

The Need to Spread the Gospel

We have been entrusted with the gospel and the task of telling others . . .

See also:

In most of the references in this and the following subsection, Paul speaks of his commission and responsibility to tell others the gospel. He had a special commission to preach the gospel, and so perhaps a greater responsibility than most Christians. But the principle of being entrusted with the gospel and the associated task of telling it to others – with the corresponding responsibility – is applicable to all Christians.

Gal 2:7  On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised … ▤ 

1Thes 2:4  … but 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. ▤ 

1Tim 1:11  … in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted. ▤ 

1Tim 6:20  O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,” ▤ 

The reference is to the gospel, as in 2 Timothy 1:14 below. Thus in these two references Paul refers to Timothy being entrusted with the gospel. Note that this involves guarding the correctness of its content as well as spreading it to others.

2Tim 1:14  By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you. ▤ 

Titus 1:3  … and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior; … ▤ 

1Cor 4:1  This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. ▤ 

As “stewards” of the mysteries of God, Paul and his co-workers were trustees (cf. AMP) of the gospel.

. . . We are responsible for telling others

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

a That is, non-Greeks

Like Paul, believers have an obligation or responsibility to tell all people – people of all nations and levels of understanding (v. 14).

1Cor 9:16-17  For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! 17For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward, but if not of my own will, I am still entrusted with a stewardship. ▤ 

In v. 17 Paul appears to be saying that if it were that he preached voluntarily he would be rewarded; but as it is, he is simply doing what he has been entrusted to do (cf. GNT, NLT). Paul understood that he had no choice; he had to preach the gospel, the task that had been committed to him.

1Cor 4:2  Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy. ▤ 

Paul is speaking of being entrusted with the gospel (cf. v. 1 ).

Acts 18:5-6  When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was occupied with the word, testifying to the Jews that the Christ was Jesus. 6And when they opposed and reviled him, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” ▤ 

In saying that he was innocent of the blood of the people he had preached the gospel to – here and in Acts 20:25-27 below – Paul indicates that he had a solemn responsibility to do so.

Acts 20:25-27  And now, behold, I know that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will see my face again. 26Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all of you, 27for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. ▤ 

  • Ezekiel’s accountability for warning his fellow Israelites:

Ezek 3:17-21  “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. 18If I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die forb his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. 19But if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, or from his wicked way, he shall die for his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul. 20Again, if a righteous person turns from his righteousness and commits injustice, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die. Because you have not warned him, he shall die for his sin, and his righteous deeds that he has done shall not be remembered, but his blood I will require at your hand. 21But if you warn the righteous person not to sin, and he does not sin, he shall surely live, because he took warning, and you will have delivered your soul.” ▤ 

b Or in; also verses 19, 20

Note that a “watchman” (v. 17) was one who watched out for danger, to give warnings of it.

Through believers spreading the gospel message others come to believe . . .

Rom 10:17  So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. ▤ 

Faith or belief comes from hearing the message, the message of the gospel of Christ.

John 17:20  I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, … ▤ 

Acts 4:1-2, 4  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. ▤ 4But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand. ▤ 

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. ▤ 

Acts 11:20-21  But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Hellenistsc also, preaching the Lord Jesus. 21And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord. ▤ 

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

Acts 14:1, 21  Now at Iconium they entered together into the Jewish synagogue and spoke in such a way that a great number of both Jews and Greeks believed. ▤ 21When they had preached the gospel to that city [Derbe] and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, … ▤ 

Acts 15:7  And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. ▤ 

Acts 18:8b  And many of the Corinthians hearing Paul believed and were baptized. ▤ 

Acts 28:24  And some were convinced by what he said, but others disbelieved. ▤ 

1Cor 15:1, 11  Now I would remind you, brothers,d of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, ▤ 11Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed. ▤ 

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

1Thes 2:13  And we also thank God constantlye for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers. ▤ 

e Or without ceasing

2Thes 1:10  … when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. ▤ 

John 1:6-7  There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. ▤ 

John the Baptist came as a witness to testify to the light of Jesus Christ, so that “all” people could believe in Jesus Christ.

John 19:34-35  But 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. ▤ 

. . . and there are many ready to respond to the gospel – but they need someone to tell them

Matt 9:36-38  When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37Then 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.” ▤ 

There are many ready to respond to the gospel – to be “harvested”. But more workers are needed to proclaim the gospel to them.

John 4:35-36  Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. 36Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. ▤ 

In v. 36 Jesus appears to not be just simply making an observation that there are those now reaping, but also implying that those who are able should join in the harvesting. The ripe harvest needs harvesters now.

Rom 10:14  How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?f And how are they to hear without someone preaching? ▤ 

f Or him whom they have never heard

Rom 15:20-21  … and 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.” ▤ 

Paul implies that in him preaching the gospel to those who had not previously known of Christ, a number of them would see and understand.

Acts 8:30-31, 35-36  So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. ▤ 35Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. 36And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?”g ▤ 

g Some manuscripts add all or most of verse 37: And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he replied, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”

The eunuch responded to the gospel – once it had been explained to him.

  • Teaching people the ways of God leads them to turn to him:

Ps 51:13  Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you. ▤ 

The gospel brings salvation, saving those who respond to it

See also:

The fact that those who hear and respond to the gospel receive salvation and life (cf. the following subsection), underlines the vital need to spread the gospel.

Mark 16:15-16  And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. 16Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. ▤ 

Acts 11:13-14  And he told us how he had seen the angel stand in his house and say, ‘Send to Joppa and bring Simon who is called Peter; 14he will declare to you a message by which you will be saved, you and all your household.’ ▤ 

Acts 13:26  Brothers, sons of the family of Abraham, and those among you who fear God, to us has been sent the message of this salvation. ▤ 

Acts 16:17  She followed Paul and us, crying out, “These men are servantsh of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.” ▤ 

h Greek bondservants

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. ▤ 

1Cor 15:1-2  Now I would remind you, brothers,i of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. ▤ 

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

2Cor 2:15  For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, … ▤ 

Paul and his associates were “the aroma of Christ” in spreading the gospel of Christ amongst those who were being saved by it.

Eph 1:13-14  In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14who is the guaranteej of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it,k to the praise of his glory. ▤ 

j Or down payment

k Or until God redeems his possession

Note the blessings associated with salvation for those who respond – i.e. the Holy Spirit and the inheritance of the afterlife.

2Thes 2:13-14  But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruitsl to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. 14To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. ▤ 

l Some manuscripts chose you from the beginning

The gospel brings life to those who respond

See also:

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

The gospel message – “the words of this Life” – tells of spiritual life that can be gained through Jesus Christ.

2Cor 2:16  … to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficientm for these things? ▤ 

m Or competent

As “the aroma of Christ” (v. 15 ) Paul and his associates signified death to those who rejected their message, but life to those who believed – “the aroma of life leading to life” (NKJV; cf. GNT, NCV).

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 phrase “the word of life” implies that the gospel brings life – spiritual and eternal.

2Tim 1:9-10  … who saved us and called us ton a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,o 10and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, … ▤ 

n Or with

o Greek before times eternal

1Pet 4:6  For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does. ▤ 

There are various interpretations of the first clause. One possibility, given the context, is that it refers to Christians who had received the gospel but had since died. Despite there being various interpretations, as a whole the verse does clearly indicate that those who respond to the gospel will live spiritually.

Further blessings that spreading the gospel brings to those who respond

See also:

Note that the following blessings are associated with the blessings discussed in the previous two subsections – i.e. salvation and life.

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 15:15-16  But on some points I have written to you very boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God 16to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. ▤ 

Eph 3:6  This mystery isp that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. ▤ 

p The words This mystery is are inferred from verse 4

What the “promise in Christ Jesus” (v. 6) refers to is not specified, but it probably relates to an aspect of salvation given in Jesus Christ. Possibly it may encompass, or at least be applicable to, all the blessings promised to those who are in Jesus Christ – “through the gospel”.

Eph 6:15  … and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. ▤ 

The gospel is called “the gospel of peace” as it brings reconciliation and peace with God for those who respond.

Col 1:5b-6  Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, 6which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, … ▤ 

The phrase “bearing fruit” may primarily refer to the gospel being productive, with people responding to it. Alternatively or additionally it may suggest that for those who hear, understand and accept it, the gospel is “bringing blessings” (GNT, NCV) and so is “changing lives” (NLT) – as it had been doing among the Colossians.

2Thes 2:14  To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. ▤ 

Heb 4:1-3  Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. 2For 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.q 3For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said, “As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest,’” although his works were finished from the foundation of the world. ▤ 

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

Those who believe the gospel – and persevere in their belief – will enter into the rest God has promised. For further comment see . . . There will be no more sorrow.

1Jn 1:3  … that 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. ▤ 

Pray for persecuted Christians

God and the Gospel’s Effectiveness

See also:

The gospel is the power and wisdom of God to save – though it may seem foolish to the world

See also:

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. ▤ 

1Cor 1:18, 21-25, 30  For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. ▤ 21For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. ▤ 30And because of himr you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, … ▤ 

r Greek And from him

Verse 24 is implying that Christ, or the gospel about him, is “the power of God and the wisdom of God” to save “those who are called”. Verse 25 is saying that the apparent “foolishness” and “weakness” of God – particularly that shown in the gospel – is in fact greater than worldly wisdom and strength, for, Paul implies, it is by this “foolishness” and “weakness” of God that we are saved. Verse 30 has a similar thought to v. 24. It is saying that God’s wisdom is shown in Christ, as it is by what God has done through him that we are enabled to have “righteousness and sanctification and redemption” – and so be saved.

1Cor 2:6-8, 14  Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. 7But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. 8None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. ▤ 14The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. ▤ 

The gospel message is of God’s wisdom, not the wisdom of the world (v. 6). God has determined that this wisdom would bring us glory (v. 7), presumably referring to the glorification in the afterlife (cf. AMP, NIrV); as such he saves us through his wisdom. Because this wisdom is not worldly wisdom, the world does not understand it (vv. 8, 14b) or accept it, seeing it as foolish (v. 14a).

The gospel is not dependent on us and our presentation of it – but on the Holy Spirit and God’s power

We are always to present the gospel appropriately, to the best of our ability. But in doing so we need to bear in mind that the gospel’s effectiveness is not dependent on us and our presentation of it – but on the Holy Spirit and God’s power.

1Cor 2:1-5, 13  And I, when I came to you, brothers,s did not come proclaiming to you the testimonyt of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4and 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. ▤ 13And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.u ▤ 

s Or brothers and sisters

t Some manuscripts mystery (or secret)

u Or interpreting spiritual truths in spiritual language, or comparing spiritual things with spiritual

In vv. 1-2, Paul indicates that he did not try to employee great wisdom in conveying the gospel message (v. 1), but simply focused on the basic message, of Jesus Christ and his death (v. 2). In conjunction with this, his message and preaching was based on the Holy Spirit and God’s power (vv. 3-4), working through him and in the minds of his listeners.

1Thes 1:4-5a  For we know, brothersv 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. ▤ 

v 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

This alludes to the effectiveness of the gospel amongst the Thessalonians. In v. 5a Paul indicates that this was because his message of the gospel was not simply words, but empowered with God’s power and the Holy Spirit.

2Cor 4:7  But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. ▤ 

Believers are like jars of clay, holding the treasure of the gospel. The weakness of their humanity and their often-unimpressive appearance serve to show that the “surpassing power” accompanying the message – moving people to respond – is of God and not of themselves.

1Cor 1:17  For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. ▤ 

Using words which are based on human wisdom, rather than speaking in reliance on God, impedes the power and effectiveness of the gospel message. Trying to persuade people primarily with human wisdom is ultimately not going to realize their salvation, despite any apparent initial success.

Acts 10:44  While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. ▤ 

This may be meaning that the Holy Spirit brought these people to faith – pointing to the crucial role of the Holy Spirit in the gospel’s effectiveness. Hence the verse’s inclusion here. However, it may instead be meaning that those “who heard the word” believed it and then subsequently received the Holy Spirit.

Acts 11:20-23  But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Hellenistsw also, preaching the Lord Jesus. 21And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord. 22The report of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose, … ▤ 

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

The great response to the message is not attributed to how it was presented, but to the “the hand of the Lord” being with the evangelists (v. 21) and “the grace of God” (v. 23). As such this illustrates that the gospel is not dependent on human wisdom and power, but on God’s and Jesus Christ’s power.

The Holy Spirit witnesses about Jesus Christ to people, fostering belief

See also:

The Holy Spirit witnesses to non-believers about the reality of Jesus Christ and the truth of the gospel message. He does this often through believers as they tell others the gospel. This work of the Holy Spirit is crucial to the effectiveness of the gospel’s proclamation. The Holy Spirit also witnesses/testifies to believers as well as non-believers, regarding spiritual truths about Jesus Christ.

John 15:26-27  But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. 27And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning. ▤ 

Particularly with v. 27 speaking of the disciples also witnessing about Jesus Christ, v. 26b is arguably primarily speaking of the Holy Spirit witnessing to non-believers. Taken with v. 27a, it is suggestive of the Holy Spirit working in conjunction with believers in witnessing (cf. Acts 5:32 ). An alternative interpretation is that v. 26b is referring to the Holy Spirit witnessing to the disciples about Jesus (cf. CEV, NCV, NLT), who were in turn to witness themselves (v. 27).

John 16:8-11  And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. ▤ 

This speaks of the Holy Spirit convicting or convincing people that they are wrong about matters largely regarding Jesus Christ, thus in a real sense witnessing about him. Verse 9 speaks of the world either: languishing in its guilt of sin by not believing in the only one who can provide it with forgiveness; or being guilty of sin in not believing in Jesus Christ. Verse 10 quite possibly is speaking of the world’s guilt in lacking righteousness, which is only obtainable through Jesus Christ as affirmed or consummated by his ascension. Alternatively some claim it has in view Jesus Christ’s own righteousness, with it having been not acknowledged by the world but validated by his ascension. Verse 1 may be speaking of the world’s guilt in the face of impending judgment, as affirmed by the judgment and condemnation of its prince, Satan. Alternatively the “judgment” (v. 11) may more precisely be the judgment of Satan – which in turn points to judgment subsequently befalling his subjects. The Holy Spirit convicts and convinces people of the reality of these things.

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. ▤ 

1Jn 5:5-8  Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? 6This is he who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. 7For there are three that testify: 8the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree. ▤ 

This speaks of the Holy Spirit testifying to the man Jesus – the truly human person who was baptized and crucified – being the Son of God. For more detailed comments on this passage see The Holy Spirit testifies to Jesus Christ being the Son of God.

1Cor 12:3  Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit. ▤ 

No one can acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord except by the Holy Spirit (cf. 1Jn 4:2 ), with his enlightenment and conviction about Jesus Christ.

1Jn 4:2  By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, … ▤ 

Here “spirit” refers to a spirit influencing a person to either acknowledge Jesus Christ or not – indicative of whether the spirit is the Holy Spirit or an evil one. As such it speaks of the Holy Spirit witnessing to one about Jesus Christ.

Heb 10:12-18  But when Christx had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. 15And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying, 16“This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,” 17then he adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.” 18Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin. ▤ 

x Greek this one

This passage attributes the OT quotation (vv. 16-17) to the Holy Spirit, indicating that by it the Holy Spirit testifies to the significance of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice (vv. 14-15), elaborated on in v. 18.

God and Jesus Christ at times confirm the gospel message by miracles . . .

See also:

Mark 16:20  And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs. ▤ 

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. ▤ 

Heb 2:3-4  … 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, 4while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will. ▤ 

Note that the distribution of “gifts of the Holy Spirit” (v. 4b) – which include gifts to heal and to perform miracles – was further testimony or confirmation by God of the validity of the gospel message.

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,y cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay. ▤ 

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

The message that the kingdom of heaven “has come near” (NRSV) – or “has come” or “is coming soon” (cf. NLT text note) – would be confirmed by the miraculous signs that would accompany the message (cf. Luke 9:6 ).

Luke 9:6  And they departed and went through the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere. ▤ 

Acts 4:29-30  And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servantsz 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. ▤ 

z Greek bondservants

As with the verses from Matthew and Luke immediately above, reference is made to proclaiming God’s word (v. 29) and then to performing accompanying miraculous signs (v. 30), suggesting that the former would be confirmed by the latter.

Acts 8:6-7  And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip when they heard him and saw the signs that he did. 7For unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice, came out of many who had them, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. ▤ 

. . . Miracles lead people to believe the message and turn to God

See also:

Rom 15:18-19  For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience—by word and deed, 19by 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; … ▤ 

The reference in the last clause to him having “fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ” clearly indicates that earlier Paul is speaking of leading the Gentiles to obey the gospel of God by what he had said in proclaiming the gospel and by the accompanying miracles.

Acts 9:32-35, 40-42  Now as Peter went here and there among them all, he came down also to the saints who lived at Lydda. 33There he found a man named Aeneas, bedridden for eight years, who was paralyzed. 34And Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; rise and make your bed.” And immediately he rose. 35And all the residents of Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord. ▤ 40But Peter put them all outside, and knelt down and prayed; and turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. 41And he gave her his hand and raised her up. Then calling the saints and widows, he presented her alive. 42And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. ▤ 

Although not specifically stated, undoubtedly spreading the gospel was Peter’s main focus as he traveled about the country (v. 32). Thus such miracles done in the name of Jesus Christ (v. 34), the subject of Peter’s message, compelled many people to believe in and turn to the Lord (vv. 35, 42).

Acts 13:8-12  But Elymas the magician (for that is the meaning of his name) opposed them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. 9But Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him 10and said, “You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? 11And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and unable to see the sun for a time.” Immediately mist and darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking people to lead him by the hand. 12Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had occurred, for he was astonished at the teaching of the Lord. ▤ 

Seeing the miraculous sign performed by Paul, done in association with Paul’s teaching, led the proconsul to believe (v. 12).

Acts 16:25-30  About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, 26and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened. 27When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. 28But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” 29And the jailera called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. 30Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” ▤ 

a Greek he

Unlike the previous references, the earthquake (and its effects) was not a sign or miracle performed through believers. However it appears to be an awesome wonder performed by God to vindicate his workers and their message – leading a person to respond (v. 30).

Ex 4:29-31  Then Moses and Aaron went and gathered together all the elders of the people of Israel. 30Aaron spoke all the words that the Lord had spoken to Moses and did the signs in the sight of the people. 31And the people believed; and when they heard that the Lord had visited the people of Israel and that he had seen their affliction, they bowed their heads and worshiped. ▤ 

Obviously this and the following reference are not speaking of the gospel, but they are excellent examples of miracles validating the word of God’s messengers and leading people to believe their message.

1Ki 17:22-24  And the Lord listened to the voice of Elijah. And the life of the child came into him again, and he revived. 23And Elijah took the child and brought him down from the upper chamber into the house and delivered him to his mother. And Elijah said, “See, your son lives.” 24And the woman said to Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth.” ▤ 

  • Paul’s testimony about Christ was confirmed in the Corinthians:

1Cor 1:4-7  I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, 5that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— 6even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you7so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, … ▤ 

The Corinthians had been “enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge” (v. 5) – which probably refers in particular to the spiritual gifts from God (v. 7). The bestowal and manifestation of spiritual gifts are in essence miracles. As such they confirmed in the Corinthians Paul’s testimony about Christ (cf. Heb 2:3b-4 ).

Pray for persecuted Christians

Further Insights regarding the Gospel

Believers are to be light for the world

See also:

Christians are to be light for the world, showing the way of God by their character and actions, and by spreading the gospel.

Matt 5:14-16  You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. ▤ 

Luke 8:16-18  “No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a jar or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. 17For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light. 18Take care then how you hear, for to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away.” ▤ 

One common interpretation of vv. 16-17 is that Jesus is saying that just as one who lights a lamp puts it on a stand to give light to others (cf. Matt 5:15 ), the disciples were to make known Jesus’ teachings, giving “light” to others (v. 16). For all of this “light” that was previously hidden or concealed is to be made known (v. 17). A somewhat different interpretation is that in view of v. 18 Jesus is meaning that: just as a lamp is not covered but instead gives light to others (v. 16), so those whose take Jesus’ teaching to heart will inevitably bring a manifestation of his spiritual light to others (v. 17).

John 5:35  He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. ▤ 

Jesus is speaking of John the Baptist.

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.’” ▤ 

Phil 2:14-16  Do all things without grumbling or questioning, 15that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16holding 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. ▤ 

Rom 2:19  … and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, … ▤ 

This is part of a warning or admonishment for Jews who considered themselves with their teaching to be a light for others – but whose actions found them wanting. Nevertheless, it is indicative that God’s people should be “a light to those who are in darkness”.

Eph 5:8-9  … for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9(for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), … ▤ 

As “children of light” (v. 8) God’s people should produce “every kind of” (GNT, NCV; cf. AMP) goodness, righteousness and truth. In saying this, Paul may have had in mind that living as such is enlightening to others who are still in spiritual darkness (cf. vv. 13-16).

  • We are also to be “the salt of the earth”:

Matt 5:13  You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. ▤ 

As a result of this illustration, various uses of salt have been applied to believers. These include: adding flavor and fullness to people’s lives; acting as a preservative of society; creating a thirst for matters of the kingdom; and aiding spiritual healing.

Insights regarding spreading the gospel

See also:

John 4:36-38  Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. 37For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor. ▤ 

Here Jesus refers to the disciples harvesting souls for eternal life. “Others” (v. 38) may refer to the prophets including John the Baptist and possibly Jesus himself. These others had done the preparatory work for the kingdom and the gospel, and the time was now right – and still is today – to harvest the benefits of their work. Jesus’ words may also enunciate a principle which is often seen with the spread of the gospel: some people sow or tell the message, often without any apparent response – while later others, following on from this previous work, lead many to respond.

Rom 10:15  And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” ▤ 

Here Paul applies part of Isaiah 52:7 to the spreading of the gospel. One implication of this application is that spreading the good news is a beautiful thing to do.

2Cor 2:14-16  But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, 16to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficientb for these things? ▤ 

b Or competent

The “triumphal procession” (v. 14) alludes to Roman triumphs, where a victorious general would lead his soldiers and captives in a parade, accompanied by the fragrance of incenses. Similarly, God triumphantly leads believers in Christ, and through them spreads the fragrance of the message of Christ (v. 14). By spreading the gospel they are pleasing to God as the aroma of Christ (v. 15), an allusion to burnt offerings which were “a pleasing aroma to the Lord” (Lev 1:9 et al.). Also by spreading the gospel, they signify either death or life to people (v. 16) – depending on each hearer’s response. This passage ends with Paul implying what an awesome task spreading the gospel is, by asking who is “capable of such a task?” (GNT) The suggestion is that no one is in themselves, with Paul saying soon afterwards that his competency comes from God (cf. 3:5-6).

2Cor 4:13-14  Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, 14knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. ▤ 

Paul’s faith and belief in God – including his confidence that God would raise himself and others from death (v. 14) – motivated Paul to pursue his work of telling others the gospel. Note that Paul’s strong faith may also be evident as motivating him to spread the gospel in 1 Thessalonians 1:5, where Paul refers to how he told the gospel “with full conviction”.

1Thes 1:4-5  For we know, brothersc 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. ▤ 

c 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

Eph 3:7  Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. ▤ 

This points out that it is only by grace that believers have the privilege of being ministers of the gospel message.

Those who spread the gospel will be blessed

Mark 8:35  For whoever would save his lifed will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. ▤ 

d The same Greek word can mean either soul or life, depending on the context; twice in this verse and once in verse 36 and once in verse 37

The phrase “loses his life” probably does not refer specifically to dying physically – although that is encompassed – but rather to no longer living one’s life for oneself (cf. v. 34). Those who effectively forgo their lives, living primarily for Jesus Christ and the gospel, will save their lives for eternity.

John 4:36  Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. ▤ 

The phrase “receiving wages” may be a general reference to blessings given to those who reap souls for eternal life, blessings shared in by those who sow. Alternatively it could refer in particular to: the subsequently mentioned harvesting (“gathering fruit for eternal life”) itself as a reward; and/or the harvesting rewarding him and the sower with the joy referred to later in the verse.

1Cor 9:23  I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings. ▤ 

Philem 1:6  … and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ.e ▤ 

e Or for Christ’s service

If the phrase “the sharing of your faith” is speaking of sharing the gospel with non-believers (cf. NIrV), then this verse indicates that doing so hones our understanding of all the blessings we have in Christ and leads us into a deeper experience of many of them. For further comment on the meaning of “the sharing of your faith”, see Further reasons.

Dan 12:3  And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above;f and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever. ▤ 

f Hebrew the expanse; compare Genesis 1:6-8

Although spreading the gospel is not being specifically referred to here, it is comparable to leading others to righteousness, and so the promise of such everlasting glory is applicable.

  • Whoever who wins souls is wise:

Prov 11:30  The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and whoever captures souls is wise. ▤ 

This is speaking more of leading others “to do what is right” (NIrV®; cf. CEV, NCV) rather than “winning souls” with the gospel message; in fact the Hebrew itself is not clear, and some translations give a very different rendering. Nevertheless, with the sense given here in the ESV and by some other translations, it can be applied to the spreading of the gospel (cf. AMP).

The gospel has spread far and wide

Acts 11:19-20  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. 20But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Hellenistsg also, preaching the Lord Jesus. ▤ 

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

Acts 12:24  But the word of God increased and multiplied. ▤ 

The phrase “increased and multiplied” refers to the notable spread of the gospel (cf. AMP, CEV, GNT, NCV, NIV, NLT).

Acts 13:49  And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region. ▤ 

Acts 19:9-10  But when some became stubborn and continued in unbelief, speaking evil of the Way before the congregation, he withdrew from them and took the disciples with him, reasoning daily in the hall of Tyrannus.h 10This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks. ▤ 

h Some manuscripts add from the fifth hour to the tenth (that is, from 11 A.M. to 4 P. M.)

Acts 19:20  So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily. ▤ 

The use of “increase” likely refers to the spread and increasing influence of the gospel. The phrase “prevail mightily” would appear to refer to the gospel overcoming forces – human and spiritual – that opposed it as it spread.

Rom 10:18  But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have, for “Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.” ▤ 

The quotation from Psalm 19:4, originally referring to the heavens and the skies, is applied to those spreading the gospel. It is used here to illustrate that the Jewish people had indeed heard the gospel.

2Cor 4:15  For 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. ▤ 

Col 1:5b-6  Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, 6which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, … ▤ 

The “whole world” is either hyperbole or referring to the world Paul knew, in which the gospel was spreading throughout. However today, two thousand years later, the phrase is very much applicable in a literal sense.

Col 1:23  … if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creationi under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister. ▤ 

i Or to every creature

The phrase “all creation under heaven” would appear to be hyperbole, but indicative of the great spread of the gospel.

1Tim 3:16  Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: Hej was manifested in the flesh, vindicatedk by the Spirit,l seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory. ▤ 

j Greek Who; some manuscripts God; others Which

k Or justified

l Or vindicated in spirit

The gospel will be preached to all nations before the end

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. ▤ 

Mark 13:10  And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations. ▤ 

Note that this is from the parallel passage in Mark to that which Matthew 24:14 above comes, in which Jesus speaks of the signs or events that will precede the end of the age.

Matt 28:19-20  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them inm 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. ▤ 

m Or into

This indicates that believers are to “make disciples of all nations” (v. 19), teaching them to obey all Jesus taught (v. 20a). It suggests that this will occur – or at least that they are expected to accomplish this – before “the end of the age” (v. 20b).

Luke 3:6  … and all flesh shall see the salvation of God. ▤ 

Quite possibly this is saying that God’s message of salvation will be made known to all peoples/nations.

Acts 1:7-8  He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8But 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.” ▤ 

Believers are not to be concerned about the times and dates of events of the end of the age (v. 7; cf. v. 6). They should instead concern themselves with their witness to all nations – “to the ends of the earth” (v. 8) – which is to be undertaken in the lead up to the events of the end.

Rev 14:6-7  Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people. 7And he said with a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.” ▤ 

The gospel message proclaimed here offers hope of being spared from God’s judgment (v. 7) – the final judgment and/or judgments preceding the end of the age. As such these verses reflect that the gospel will be proclaimed to all nations (v. 6) before the end.

  • God’s glory proclaimed among the nations in the end times:

Isa 66:19  … and I will set a sign among them. 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. ▤ 

A number of commentators think that “survivors” refers to a remnant of faithful Jews who survive God’s judgment in the end times (cf. vv. 15-18), although arguably survivors from the Gentile nations are in view.

Pray for persecuted Christians