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Recently, I was asked to do a series defining some basic terms in Scripture. As we all know, even if we all speak the same language, we tend to define terms differently, and this is an impediment to communication. What one person says is not necessarily what another person hears.
Today we will define the Gospel.
To most Christians, the gospel is the good news that Jesus died on the cross to pay for the sins of those who accept Him as their Savior. While this is certainly true, it is not the complete picture, nor does this definition encompass the full scope of the gospel.
Many Christians have learned that the word means “good news.” But just how good is this news? Is it the good news that Christ will save perhaps two percent of humanity—or less, considering how many generations never heard the gospel until just the past 200 years?
The Hebrew word for gospel is basar. The word has a double meaning: “flesh” and “good news.” It’s Greek equivalent, used in the New Testament, is evangelion. We should understand that the New Testament writers were thinking in Hebrew, even though the words have come to us in Greek. In other words, the Greek words need to be defined according to their Hebrew equivalents. For this reason, we must look at the Hebrew word basar to define the gospel.
It is often very helpful to find the first usage of a key word in Scripture. In this case, the first time the Bible uses the word basar is in Genesis 2:21, 23,
21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh [basar] at that place… 23 The man said, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh [basar] of my flesh [basar]; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”
This is an accurate translation describing the origin of the woman who “was taken out of man” (Genesis 2:22). But on a deeper level, we could translate this to say, “He took one of his ribs and closed up the gospel at that place.” In other words, it was through the gospel that the woman became “bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.”
This prophesies of the bride of Christ, who is called “the last Adam” (1 Corinthians 15:45). It is through the gospel of Christ’s flesh that His bride comes forth. Jesus’ own interpretation of this is found in John 6:53-55,
53 So Jesus said to them, “truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. 54 He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink.
We are what we eat. If we eat His flesh [gospel] and drink His blood, He acknowledges us as being “bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.” This is true unity—becoming “one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). It is also about being “one gospel” (basar), which is to have a unified message, believing the same truth, speaking the same things, and doing the same things. It is being an Amen people. The Amen company are those who bear witness to what God says and does. They do not demand that God bear witness of their own views of what God ought to do.
To eat Christ’s flesh is to believe (assimilate) the gospel that He taught. To drink His blood is to share in His death on the cross by crucifying the “old self” of flesh (Romans 6:6), so that we may change our identity to the “new self” that is begotten by the Spirit. This, of course, is represented by Communion (Matthew 26:26-29).
The word basar is also used in Isaiah 61:1, “the Lord has anointed me to bring good news [basar] to the afflicted.” The word basar is rendered “gospel” in Luke 4:18.
If we examine basar more closely, we note that a “b” (beth) in front of a word often means “in, into.” The word sar means “prince.” Hence, basar can be seen as “into the prince.” By eating the flesh of the Prince of Peace, we enter His body.
Again, the letter beth is also a house/household, and basar, then, is “the household of the Prince.” By eating His flesh, we become part of “the household of the faith” (Galatians 6:10). There we sit at His table so that we may have fellowship (Communion) with Him daily, discussing and assimilating truth and being transformed into His image, until we fully become “bone of His bones and flesh of His flesh.”
This is the Gospel of the Kingdom. It is far more than what men call the gospel of salvation—unless, of course, one has a fuller grasp of the meaning of Salvation.