The word “gospel” comes from the Greek “euangelion” and referred to a messenger bringing “good tidings” or “good news.”
One of the most well-known terms from Christianity is the word “gospel,” but what does it actually mean? What does “gospel” refer to?While it is true that gospel can be loosely defined as “good news,” it also has a rich history behind it.
According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, “[The English word gospel] is very likely derived from the Anglo-Saxon god (good) and spell (to tell), and is generally treated as the exact equivalent of the Greek euangelion (eu well, aggello, I bear a message), and the Latin Evangelium, which has passed into French, German, Italian, and other modern languages. The Greek euangelion originally signified the ‘reward of good tidings’ given to the messenger, and subsequently ‘good tidings.’”
This meaning is confirmed by 19th-century scholar Frederic William Farrar in his commentary on the Gospel of Luke.
The word Gospel is the Saxon translation of the Greek Euangelion. In early Greek (e.g. in Homer) this word meant the reward given to one who brought good tidings…In later Greek, as in Plutarch and Lucian, euangelion meant the good news actually delivered. Among all Greek-speaking Christians the word was naturally adopted to describe the best and gladdest tidings ever delivered to the human race, the good news of the Kingdom of God.
The Greek word euangelion is even used in the Gospel of Luke when describing the “glad tidings” given to the shepherds that Jesus, the Messiah, was born (cf. Luke 4:18).
Subsequently, “gospel” refers to the “good news” of the incarnation. Most commonly it is used to designate the four “gospels” of the New Testament, within which the story of Jesus is related.
Above all else, it is meant to refer to the truly “good news” that the gospel of Jesus Christ gives to us and should be a source of great joy.