Posted by: Jonathan Stepp | May 19, 2008


The gospel is first and foremost an announcement, and only secondarily an invitation.

We can see this clearly if we look at the Greek word “evangelion”, which is translated “gospel” or “good news” in English. It originally referred to the good news of an announcement of victory.

Imagine yourself living in a Roman city on the frontier of the empire in the first century. Word arrives that barbarians have crossed the border and are headed straight for your city, your home, and your family. But you’re in luck! The Emperor, with his army, is in the vicinity, and he leads his men out to battle.

In an era before TV, radio, and newspapers, you wait for days on end to hear news of what has happened. Has the imperial army been slaughtered? Have the barbarians been defeated? What will your fate be? Will you be safe or will you be killed, your family enslaved, and your city burnt to the ground?

At long last a messenger arrives, speeding into town on horseback and heading straight for the imperial headquarters in the center of town. Soon a crowd gathers, and you are there too, waiting to hear what the word is. Finally a herald steps out into the crowd, standing on a small platform, to announce the evangelion, the good news: the Emperor has won a great victory! He has routed the enemy, captured the barbarian kings, and will soon be returning in triumph, leading his captives in his triumphal procession.

You are saved! Your family, your friends, your entire city – all safe. Since you are not an emperor and you have no army you have done nothing to win this victory for yourself. And since the victory is already won there is nothing you can do to complete it. It is finished. At the moment you hear the evangelion of the Emperor’s victory and of your salvation there is only one thing for you to do: either believe it is true or doubt it.

If you believe the truth, that you and everyone you know and love is safe, then your whole life will change. You are no longer afraid that barbarians are coming to kill you. You run through the streets shouting the good news to everyone you know. You tell your wife, kids, and friends: “We’re safe! The Emperor has won! We will not die!” You might even throw a huge party, celebrate all night, and finally start making plans for the future and all the great things you want to do that you had been putting off while you waited in fear to learn your fate.

Of course, if you don’t believe that the Emperor exists or that he won the victory – or if you still think it’s up to you to save yourself – then you will go on being miserable and afraid, living in a hell of doubt and darkness.

The gospel is an announcement: Christ has won the victory and humanity is safe from sin and death! Implicit in that announcement is the invitation to believe the Truth.

Romans, 5:18, Colossians 1:19-20, Colossians 2:15, Ephesians 4:8, Hebrews 2:14-15



  1. Excellent story to make the point of our salvation in Jesus the Christ, Who defeated our enemies from within our midst, and how the proclamation of the Good News works!! That’s what I’m talkin about!!

    Written in the spirit of Saint Athanasius, this story of yours made his statements about this even more clear to me! Thanks, and keep on proclaiming the Good News!

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