St. Paul had a handy verb at his disposal: euangellizo 

The noun form is the word “good news,” usually translated like so or as “gospel” in our English translations.

We would therefore translate the verb euangellizo with something like “preach/proclaim/announce the good news.”

We don’t have an English word to correspond to the idea of “doing” good news. So we have to add some word to denote the act of relaying whatever good news someone has to report.

We have to do this, for example, in Romans 1:15. Paul has just been expressing in his letter to the church in Rome how much he longs to be with them, and as he lays out all his reasons he says, “This is why I’m so eager to [preachthegospel] to you also in Rome.”

Paul is writing to believers in the good news. These people have heard the message before. But Paul is chomping at the bit to be in their presence so that he can share that message.

I’ll just go ahead and state the problem blatantly: Sharing the good news, doing the gospel message, or “preachingthegospel,” is far too often held as something that comes on the front end alone, or that is only for the people who haven’t heard it. And having to bring in a word like “preach” or “proclaim” so that we can understand a foreign word like euangellizo irritates the problem because these extra words tend to bring in this shade of meaning that gives the impression that we’re referring to that one time, initial announcement that is done for the people who “need to hear.”

But, I’ll also point out along with the problem the opportunity for how our language can be shaped for the better: When we read, say, and think of “preaching the gospel,” we should understand it as a lesson, a pledge, a reminder, statement–an exclamation, even–that sticks around longer than breaking news and actually goes deeper than hearing, and into doing.

We should take into proper account that the message is utterly repeatable and cannot be worn out on anyone, because a faithful response to the good news is not just something that has been discovered or a belief that has been accepted–a faithful response to the good news is rather more like obediential hearing–what Paul calls the “obedience of faith” at a couple of points (Romans 1:5; 16:26).

Those who “need to hear” are not just those who have not heard. Paul expresses his longing, not to be with a group of those “who have not heard,” but to be with a group of believers–and, not so that he can pass on to them the latest church-growth techniques or because he’s the highly sought after keynote speaker for this year’s conference, but because he anticipates participating with them in the reality of Jesus’s lordship and what it means for the world.

Action items: Remembering to preach the gospel to those who have heard, and continuing to hear the gospel even with those who haven’t.


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