How does Paul understand the “gospel”? We’ve looked at Galatians, where we saw an emphasis on the gospel declaring the inclusion of Gentiles by faith in Christ into the People of God. (Paul says more than this, but this was his emphasis.) Thessalonians has (perhaps rather surprisingly) emphasized the witness that Paul’s own behaviors had in making the gospel more compelling. We turn now to 2 Thessalonians:
2 Thess 2:3-12 reads:
ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because
your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has
for each other is increasing. 4 Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring. 5 All
this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will
be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. 6 God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you 7 and
give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will
happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with
his powerful angels. 8 He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power 10 on
the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled
at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you
believed our testimony to you.
this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you
worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good
purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith. 12 We
pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you,
and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus
Paul’s gospeling involved lots of persecution; Paul explained that persecution as opposition to the gospel and to the God of the gospel. Perhaps most importantly, Paul comforted those who were being persecuted with the coming judgment when everything would be made right.
Jesus is the agent of this judgment. He will judge those who do not know God and who oppose the gospel. That judgment, Paul says, is everlasting.
Gospeling involves warning of judgment for those who opposed and do not obey the gospel.
The next passage, 2 Thess 2, says this:
13 But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. 14 He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15 So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.
What Paul teaches here is this: the gospel Paul preached led to “salvation” and this was accomplished through the holy-making work of the Spirit and belief in the truth of Paul’s gospel. The goal of that gospel preaching is to share in the glory that Jesus Christ has and deserves.