I declare unto you the gospel … that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, and that he was buried; and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: and that he appeared … (1 Corinthians 15:1, 3–5).

There are some words in the vocabulary of the Christian Church which are like old coins. They still are passed for their value, but through constant usage they have become so worn that their original stamp has become hard to ascertain. One of these words is “gospel.” It is applied to everything nowadays from theology to politics. Men talk of the “gospel of this” and the “gospel of that.” It has become a synonym for propaganda of every kind. Properly speaking, one can apply it only to the good news that God offers salvation to sinners through Jesus Christ, for the New Testament uses it exclusively in this sense.

The fullest statement of the meaning of this Gospel is found in the fifteenth chapter of Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians. The church at Corinth was confronted by an active paganism which took nothing for granted, and which demanded a practical answer to its questions. Corinth was one city of the Roman world that prided itself most on being “modern.” When Paul preached there it had barely celebrated its first “Century of Progress” after its destruction and rebuilding since the wars of Roman conquest. Its shrines, stores, markets, taverns, its public water supply, and its very pavements were the most improved that the times could afford. Art, commerce, and social life flourished in this cosmopolitan junction point between imperial Rome in the West and luxurious Antioch of the East. The Corinthians wanted ...

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