Romans 1:1-7 The Essence of the Gospel

I, Paul, am a devoted slave of Jesus Christ on assignment, authorized as an apostle to proclaim God’s words and acts. I write this letter to all the believers in Rome, God’s friends.

2-7 The sacred writings contain preliminary reports by the prophets on God’s Son. His descent from David roots him in history; his unique identity as Son of God was shown by the Spirit when Jesus was raised from the dead, setting him apart as the Messiah, our Master. Through him we received both the generous gift of his life and the urgent task of passing it on to others who receive it by entering into obedient trust in Jesus. You are who you are through this gift and call of Jesus Christ! And I greet you now with all the generosity of God our Father and our Master Jesus, the Messiah.

The Essence of the Gospel

Paul is ‘set apart for the gospel of God’.  The Message, above, translates that as ‘proclaiming God’s work and acts.’  The word ‘gospel’ may have seemed to have lost its meaning to Eugene Petersen (author of The Message), and I think he may have a point.  When the gospel is talked about in some circles it has been reduced to a simple formula of Accept, Believe, Confess!   Accept that Jesus Christ is your Saviour.  Believe in your heart that God the Father raised his Son from the dead.  Confess that Jesus is Lord.

The gospel is the entirety of the good news that Jesus brings.  It is a story that goes beyond our limited expectations.


May I broaden my understanding of what ‘gospel’ means.


  1. What does gospel mean?
  2. Why do you think Eugene Petersen chose to leave out that word from his translation?
  3. How does Paul’s introduction give a summary of the gospel?
  4. How do you define ‘gospel’?
  5. What gospel do you communicate with others?


About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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15 Responses to Romans 1:1-7 The Essence of the Gospel

  1. Kimberly W. says:

    “Gospel” can have such a variety of meanings. It is used in a song in the movie “Hercules”, used to describe books of the Bible, used to describe the truth of Scripture, and used in several other ways. Because it is no longer reserved solely for the good news of the Scripture, the word “gospel” can seem to have lost some of its power. I can easily understand why Eugene Peterson chose to leave that word out of his translation. Too easily it can become just another Christianese word. I hope that we, the Church, can redeem this word in our culture.

  2. Andrew Moore says:

    Perhaps Peterson took the word gospel out of the Bible because he feels like it has been overused and has lost some of it’s importance or effectiveness. However, I think it is very important to discard words or terms that seem overused. The word gospel, and especially its concept, is incredibly important and it is one that the church has to be ready to defend and fight for.

  3. Christa says:

    1. What does gospel mean? Good news
    2. Why do you think Eugene Petersen chose to leave out that word from his translation? People often use it without knowing what it truly means
    3. How does Paul’s introduction give a summary of the gospel? He briefly, in a sentence or so, states Christ’s deity, resurrection by the Spirit and role as Messiah
    4. How do you define ‘gospel’? the good news that Christ has come
    5. What gospel do you communicate with others? That Christ lived, died, was raised, and now intercedes on our behalf as our Savior (and so much more!)

  4. 1. It means “Good News”. A gospel was also a proclamation from some authority figure.
    2. I think he chose to leave it out because gospel has become overused and is divided from its original meaning, separating the term from its richness.
    3. It summarizes by saying God’s words and acts.
    4. I think the above it to broad. Gospel I think is the good news, the legal proclamation, that Christ has come to set us free and has conquered the grave for us. Our role in that proclamation is to accept Him as our Savior.
    5. Humans are totally deprived yet our God is perfectly holy. As such we need a spotless sacrifice who is Christ to fulfill God’s justice and display His grace. Jesus lived, died, and rose again to accomplish this for us. All we need to do, all we can do, is give ourselves to Him in faith.

  5. Nate Silvieus says:

    I do believe the Message writer has a point. The gospel is not just a formula for Salvation but a complete understanding of who Jesus is, what he did, what he did for us, and what he is doing for all people. I believe this is why all 4 books which give us the story of Jesus’ life are called gospels. Everything that Jesus is, said, and did are good news. The gospel is a deep, intimate understanding and relationship with Jesus. It’s sometimes routine to just think of the gospel as our ‘get out of jail’ free card and nothing more, but the gospel is that which provokes us to grow deeper into Jesus.

  6. Maria T. says:

    I think it is very interesting that Petersen chose to say “to proclaim God’s words and acts” rather than “gospel.” This summer, a friend and I were listening to a girl talk about the theology of her church, and she kept using the word “gospel.” We finally asked her what she meant by the gospel, but she could not articulate it. It made me start thinking about the questions you raised. What is the gospel? How do we communicate it to others? We have to communicate it with words and our lives.
    I really appreciate that Petersen used both words and acts in the proclamation, because that is how we are supposed to proclaim the gospel! We are supposed to both speak it and live it out. The gospel is proven to be true by the way that our lives match up with the words that we say. I was reading in Philippians this morning, and was struck by the statement, “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Phil. 1:27). As we broaden our understanding of what the gospel means, our lives will be continually changed and transformed in light of God’s words and acts toward us.

  7. Emmy R says:

    We must be careful to not limit or water down the power and entirety of the Gospel. The Gospel is simple enough to be understood by a child, although it is also complex enough to keep us constantly engaged and learning for the rest of our lives. May God continue to reveal the power of the Gospel to us as we grow to be more like Him.

  8. Megumi says:

    1. good news
    2. he thought the word ‘gospel’ had lost its meaning through over-use
    3. Paul talks about Jesus as the Messiah who gives us life.
    4. good news of salvation by faith through grace because of the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus Christ
    5. *see above*

  9. Maelynn says:

    The gospel is The Good News of God. It is the essence of what Jesus did by living his life here on earth and ultimately dying for us. It is what we as Christians must spread to the uttermost parts of the earth.

  10. Michael McCardle says:

    The Gospel is what we are here to proclaim. God has revealed himself to us and now it is our turn to serve him by proclaiming his good news as faithful heralds.

  11. Jung Kim says:

    To me, Gospel is the only ultimate good news of hope and truth that we as Christ-followers have the privilege to share it with one another. Also, Gospel is all about who God is and what He has done to us. It’s nothing about us but Him alone. Through this, God can transform our lives and bring us more in-depth understanding of who God is, who we are, and why we are here.

  12. Olyn says:

    What does gospel mean?
    It is used in a wide variety of contexts, sometimes meaning absolute truth, other times meaning the story of Christ.
    Why do you think Eugene Petersen chose to leave out that word from his translation?
    To avoid conjuring up the presuppositions that come with it.
    How do you define ‘gospel’?
    The Good News of Christ and how we can have a personal, saving relationship with him.

  13. The Gospel, simply stated means “good news”. I think it was left out by Peterson to avoid any assumptions the reader might have about the meaning. Paul’s introduction includes Jesus’ resurrection and diety. I define gospel as the good news we have in Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for us. I probably don’t always communicate the gospel of Jesus and want to live more Spirit-led so that people can see the gospel in the way I live out my life.

  14. I would personally define Gospel as a hopeful reassurance. It means this to me because the Gospel is my reassurance in this current life and even in death. I try to give people hopeful reassurance in and through Jesus Christ because I believe that is the only reassurance we will ever have in this world. Nothing else in this world can give life like He does. Nothing in this world is eternal like Him. If I am offering anything else to unsaved people, it cannot be defined as Gospel because it simply isn’t so.

  15. Christina W. says:

    1) The gospel is the whole of the message of the good news of Jesus.
    2) Eugene Petersen may have left out the word in his translation because he felt like it was used so often that people had forgotten its meaning.
    3) He states the Christ was God and Messiah, that he was raised from the dead, and that we have received the gift of his life.
    4) Simply, I define gospel as the message of the good news of Jesus Christ.
    5) The gospel that I communicate to others is that Jesus, the Son of God, came, died for our sins, and rose again so that we may have new life in Him. (This is just the brief version.)

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