Good news, Godspell, Glad Tidings, these are all translations of the Greek word used to describe the four books of the New Testament. This word had some special meaning to those who heard it. They did not read it. If anything, it was read to them. And it was not in the form of a book with 27 items in it. It probably came alone. Greeted with enthusiasm and listened to intently because it may have to be passed along to another gathering of believers.
Not unlike Russia during the Communist regime or China, people thrilled at having a piece of the bible. In those cases, they often, upon having a bible given, they would tear it into sections and pieces and hand it out to everyone. Then as days passed, they would trade their precious piece to another for their reading. We are so blessed to have the Bible around for us. We have numerous copies, different translations, commentaries, and ones we have not opened for years as we find a favorite for this period. I know I have a shelf of bibles that are not being used; some fragile from a lot of use and others collection pieces.
But the early church got the good news from people who were eyewitnesses or knew an eye witness or studied with someone who was taught be someone who was with Jesus. It reminds me of two of my professors who were discussing and debating an issue of theology. The one made a quote or attempted one of a German theologian, possibly Karl Barth, and the other said that was not accurate. The first thought it was so, but the latter said, no, I was in class in Germany sitting under his teaching and this is what he said. You could have heard a pin drop for the one who was there and heard the teaching had the experience and knowledge of the famous theologian. The eye witness trumped the observation of the other.
The Gospels were great news, but the good news preceded the writing of the good news. There was good news as the believers shared their powerful life stories. Somehow the good news was transmitted without a written document. The documents came 30 to 50 years after the resurrection. For the Jews, the believers could take some prophecies of the Jewish scriptures and make a case, but the overwhelming power was not the pulling of prophecies, but the power of the resurrection. Why do you think the Jewish leaders tried to spread rumors? The resurrection was such good news that they had to try to destroy it or muddle the belief in it. Yet, there were over 500 witnesses to the resurrection. IN a court of law, that would be such overwhelming evidence that it would be irrefutable.
The power of the new covenant is the resurrection. The power is Jesus. When he said that he IS the resurrection and the life, we can take him at his word since he proved it and had so many witnesses that the good news remains powerful to this moment!
- Pastor Bill