VIEW OF YOUR
IN THE GOSPEL: epi tei koinoniai humon
eis to euaggelion:
(Php 1:7; 4:14; Acts 16:15; Ro 11:17; 12:13; 15:26; 1Co 1:9; 2Co 8:1;
Eph 2:19, 20, 21, 22; 3:6; Col 1:21, 22, 23 ; Philemon 1:17; Heb 3:14;
2Pe 1:1; 1Jn 1:3, 7)
Because of your help in giving the good news (BBE)
This is because you have taken part
with me in spreading the good news (CEV)
because of the way in which you have
helped me in the work of the Gospel (TEV)
for your cooperation in spreading the
Good News (Weymouth)
because you have been my partners in
spreading the Good News about Christ (NLT)
explains the reason for Paul's thanksgiving in Philippians 1:4.
Believers are joined together into
one body in Christ Jesus, and it is the function of one part of the body
to minister to another member of the body. If one member of the body
does not minister to another member, it is to the detriment of both.
Here Paul commends the saints at the local body in Philippi for
ministering to and with him in the spread of the Gospel. Some of their
"participation" was surely prayer for the apostle but they also gave
funds out of their poverty. In the last chapter Paul commends them
you have done well to share (sugkoinoneo
= share in company with, co-participate) with me in my affliction. And
you yourselves also know, Philippians, that at the first preaching of
the Gospel, after I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me in
the matter of giving and receiving but you alone; for even in
Thessalonica you sent a gift more than once for my needs. Not that I
seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit which increases to your
account. But I have received everything in full, and have an abundance;
I am amply supplied, having received from Epaphroditus what you have
sent, a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God.
They were thus fulfilling the "law of
Christ" as Paul explained (commanded) in Galatians writing...
imperative = command to do
this continually, not naturally possible but only supernaturally
possible as we are filled by and walk by God's Spirit!) one another's burdens, and thus fulfill the law of
Christ. (Gal 6:2)
koinos = that
which is in common, belonging to several or of which several are
partakers) describes the experience (in contrast to koinonia
as an act) of having something in common and/or of sharing things
in common with others. It describes a close association involving mutual
interests and sharing or to
have communion (Which Webster defines as "intimate fellowship") It denotes the active,
joint participation, cooperation and/or sharing in a common interest or
The idea of
koinonia is frequently referred to as fellowship (the state
of sharing mutual interests, experiences, activities, etc.; a relation
in which parties hold something in common;
see excellent article on
Koinonia in this case a very special kind of sharing—entering into
what John and the other apostles experienced with Christ. Believers
have fellowship with the Triune God through His Son Christ Jesus and
this also leads naturally (supernaturally) to fellowship with
In some NT
contexts koinonia refers to a willing contribution or gift (Ro
15:26-note, 2Cor 8:4)
Dictionary succinctly defines fellowship as...
Communion with God, which results in
common participation with other believers in the Spirit of God and God’s
W. A., & Comfort, P. W. Tyndale Bible Dictionary. Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale
Believers have fellowship vertically with the Triune God
through His Son Christ Jesus and horizontally
with other saints. The "vertical fellowship" precedes and makes
possible the "horizontal fellowship' between believers.
Peter Toon notes that in
secular Greek koinonia had several uses...
It was used of a business
partnership, where two or more persons share the same business and are
thus closely connected in work. Also it was used of marriage, of the
shared life of two persons, a man and a woman, together. Further, it
was sometimes used of a perceived relatedness to a god, such as Zeus.
Finally, it was used to refer to the spirit of generous sharing in
contrast to the spirit of selfish acquiring. (Fellowship
in Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology)
Webster says that share
implies that one as the original holder grants to another the partial
use, enjoyment, or possession of a thing though it may merely imply a
mutual use or possession.
When one considers the secular
Greek use of koinonia to describe the marriage bed, one begins
to get a glimmer of the incredible privilege we as finite believers
have to be in communion with the infinitely holy God (as John
describes in 1Jn 1:3)!
Oh Lord, open our eyes to the
breadth and length and height and depth of this incredible truth, that
the unsearchable riches of the truth of our partaking of the life of
the Almighty might motivate us to live holy lives for the glory of the
Lamb in a world which has gone "AWOL" from God!
The Holman Treasury of Key
Bible Words - The Father and Son have enjoyed
communion with each other since before the creation of the world. When
Jesus entered into time, His fellowship with the Father also
entered into time. During the days of His ministry on earth, Jesus was
introducing the Father to the disciples and initiating them into this
fellowship. The unique fellowship between God and Jesus
began in eternity, was manifested in time through the incarnation of
Jesus, was introduced to the apostles, and then introduced to each and
every believer through indwelling of the Holy Spirit (2Cor 13:14; Phil
2:1). (Carpenter, Eugene E.; Comfort, Philip W. - Holman Treasury of
Key Bible Words: Broadman & Holman Publishers)
To reiterate, fellowship
in Scripture does not refer to a social gatherings which is what many
think of today as "fellowship." Koinonia is translated sharing
in 1Cor 10:16 and as partnership in 2Cor 6:14 which helps us discern
the basic meaning is that of a "joint participation in things held in
John Stott explains that
the believer's fellowship is
that common participation in the
grace of God, the salvation of Christ and the indwelling Holy Spirit
which is the spiritual birthright of all Christian believers. It is
their common possession of life -- one with God the Father, Son, and
Holy Spirit, which makes them one.
used 17 times in the NT in the NASB. Study these uses (which are listed
below) and make a list arriving at your own "definition" of koinonia
- this would make a great lesson for a Bible study over several Sunday
Acts 2:42 And they were
continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to
fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
Romans 15:26 (note)
For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make a contribution
for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem.
1 Corinthians 1:9 God is
faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His
Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
1 Corinthians 10:16 Is not the
cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ?
Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ?
2 Corinthians 6:14 Do not be
bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness
and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?
2 Corinthians 8:4 begging us
with much entreaty for the favor of participation in the support
of the saints,
2 Corinthians 9:13 Because of
the proof given by this ministry they will glorify God for your
obedience to your confession of the Gospel of Christ, and for the
liberality of your contribution to them and to all,
2 Corinthians 13:14 The grace
of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship
of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.
Galatians 2:9 and recognizing
the grace that had been given to me, James and Cephas and John, who were
reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of
fellowship, that we might go to the Gentiles, and they to the
Ephesians 3:9 (note)
and to bring to light what is the administration (= oikonomia from
Nestle-Aland used by the NASB - KJV has "fellowship" from the Textus
Receptus) of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God, who
created all things;
Philippians 1:5 (note)
in view of your participation in the Gospel from the first day
(note) If therefore there is any encouragement in Christ, if
there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of
the Spirit, if any affection and compassion,
Philippians 3:10 (note)
that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the
fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;
Philemon 1:6 and I pray that
the fellowship of your faith may become effective through the
knowledge of every good thing which is in you for Christ's sake.
Hebrews 13:16 (note)
And do not neglect doing good and sharing; for with such
sacrifices God is pleased.
1 John 1:3
(note) what we have seen
and heard we proclaim to you also, that you also may have fellowship
with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with
His Son Jesus Christ.
1 John 1:6
If we say that we have fellowship with Him and
yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth;
1 John 1:7
but if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the
light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of
Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.
Koinonia is one of the great words of the
and the highest expression of a personal relationship and sharing
the things of Christ, for as Marvin Vincent writes
"The true life in
man, which comes through the acceptance of Jesus as the Son of God,
consists in fellowship with God and with man." (Vincent, M.
R. Word studies in the New Testament)
with Christ and with all other believers means more than just enjoying
each one another's company but includes a mutual sharing of all aspects
of our live, a sharing which is permanent, because our shared eternal
life is forever. Believers belong to each other in a mutual
partnership, produced by their faith in Christ.
Not only does
koinonia include our common fellowship in Christ (Gal 2:9) but also our sharing in the sufferings of Christ, Paul's
desire being "that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection
and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His
death in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead"
(Php 3:10-note) a thought echoed by Peter who wrote
degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on
rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice
with exultation." (1Pe 4:13-note)
John emphasizes that
fellowship with God exhibits and proves itself by fellowship with Christians for
"If we say that we have
fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not
practice the truth but if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the
light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of
Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin." (1Jn1:6, 7)
Men fall into two classes, those who are in fellowship with God,
and therefore walk in light and love and those who are not in
fellowship with God and therefore walk in darkness and hatred.
sometimes refers to the act of fellowship -- e.g., giving
a contribution or collection of money in behalf of poorer churches is an
act of fellowship. (Ro 15:26, cf 2Cor 8:4, 2Cor 9:13). This spirit of
sharing was immediately evident in the early church, as believers after
“were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’
teaching and to fellowship (koinonia), to the
breaking of bread and prayer.… And all those who had believed were
together, and had all things in common (koinós)”
(Acts 2:42, 44).
In (1Co 10:16)
koinonia is used in connection with Communion, an
act of fellowship.
The writer of Hebrews tells us to act
out our fellowship, exhorting believers to
"not neglect doing
good and sharing (koinonia) for with such
sacrifices God is pleased." (Heb 13:16)
Marvin Vincent writes
that koinonia describes a "relation between individuals
which involves a common interest and a mutual, active participation in
that interest and in each other." (Vincent, M. R. Word studies in
the New Testament)
Vincent goes on to write that koinonia parallels
"the Latin communio,
from communis, common. Hence, koinonia is sometimes rendered communion." Koinonia
was also used in secular Greek as a commercial term for a joint-partnership in a business venture in which
all parties actively participate to ensure the success of the business.
Moulton and Milligan lists two instances of the use of koinonia
in secular Greek writings (papyri) -- “belonging in common to,
with whom I have no partnership.”
- "the word "fellowship" in the original means, "a
joint-participation in a common interest and activity." This was the meaning
of the word "fellowship" when the Authorized Version was made. The English
word has largely lost its original meaning in religious circles, although it
has retained it in academic phraseology. The word "fellowship" today usually
means "companionship, intercourse between individuals." (Wuest,
K. S. Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Studies in the
Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament: Grand Rapids: Eerdmans)
Wuest goes on to add that koinonia
was used in secular Greek "in a marriage contract where the
husband and wife agree to a joint-participation in the necessaries of
life. The key idea in the word is that of a partnership, a possessing
things in common, a belonging in common to."
The idea in koinonia is that of one person having a joint-participation with
another in something possessed in common by both. A very touching use of
the verbal form of this word was found in a fourth century inscription;
a doctor of medicine had put up an inscription to his wife who had also
studied medicine, and who had died. It read, “as with you alone I
shared my life.” How beautiful it is when a sinner saved by grace
comes to the sunset of life and can say to the Lord Jesus, “as with
you alone I have shared by life.”
the Christian community, koinonia expresses intimacy with
Christ (1Co 1:9), the Father (1Jn 1:3), the Holy Spirit (2Co 13:14) and
(2Co 8:4, 1Jn 1:7). Koinonia
was used for everything that believers could share -- Christ, the Word,
prayer, the Lord’s Supper, and material gifts. Koinonia or fellowship is
not just patting somebody on the back, but for a believer, koinonia is
sharing the things of Christ.
Koinonia in Php 1:5 signifies
joint participation and co-operation in
the Gospel, not only in financial support (Php 4:14,1 5, 16-note) but also includes
prayer support and an eager, wholehearted devotion to the spread of the good
news (Acts 16:12-40) Koinonia
in this verse does not refer to fellowship primarily with Paul or
with each other, but fellowship in the furtherance of the Gospel
by their living, loyalty, love, and liberality. The Philippians were
fellow laborers or co-laborers with Paul to take the whole Word to the
whole world. Immediately upon becoming Christians and
continually thereafter, the Philippians had dedicated themselves to living
and proclaiming the truth about Jesus Christ, and specifically to helping
Paul in his ministry. (cf Lydia Acts 16:15).
- "This was
the Philippians' joint-participation with Paul in a common interest and
activity, that of preaching the Gospel. The preposition "in"
is a preposition of motion. This common interest and activity was in the
progress of the Gospel. The Philippians supported Paul with their
prayers and finances while he went about his missionary labors. This is
what he is thanking God for. And this is part of that "whole
remembrance" of them for which he is grateful. This joint-participation
in the work of propagating the Gospel had gone on from the first day
when Lydia had opened her home to the preaching of the Word (Acts
16:15), until the moment when Paul was writing this letter."
John MacArthur - "Paul’s beautiful benediction in 2 Corinthians perhaps best
summarizes the full depth and breadth of Christian koinonia: “The
grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship
[koinonia] of the Holy Spirit, be with you all” (2Cor 13:14). The justifying grace of the Son, the electing
love of the Father, and the sanctifying fellowship of the Holy Spirit
are inextricably coalesced in the partnership of the saints, a vast
spiritual brotherhood that includes every person who has saving faith in
Jesus Christ. Such fellowship was a great source of joy for Paul, as it
is for all Christians who find strength, encouragement, support,
comfort, and help through their fellowship with other believers." (MacArthur,
J. Philippians. Chicago: Moody Press)
J Vernon McGee adds this note on "fellowship" in Php 1:5, writing that "We do
not want to pass over this word fellowship. This word is used
widely in the church and outside the church. I don’t think that most
people really know what the word means, and therefore they don’t use it
properly. Years ago I was invited down to Huntington Beach about once a
year to give a message at a Rotary Club luncheon. A Christian doctor was
chairman of the program committee down there, and he would invite me to
come at Christmas time or Easter time and give them the Gospel—both
barrels, which is what I always tried to do. Over the speaker’s table
they had a slogan: “Food, Fun, Fellowship.” Those three things
belonged to the early church, and I didn’t feel that the Rotary Club
should have bragged about having any one of the three. For food there
would be embalmed chicken with peas as hard as bullets. For fun they had
corny jokes. The fellowship consisted of patting someone on the
back and saying, “Hello, Bill. How’s business?” Now that is not
fellowship in the biblical sense of the word...Well, the Christian
idea of fellowship is not much different. When you hear an
announcement of a church banquet, it is almost certain that you will be
urged to come for food and fellowship. What do they mean by fellowship?
They mean meeting around the table and talking to each other about
everything under the sun except the one thing that would give them true
fellowship, the person of Christ...koinonia...means that which
believers can share of the things of Christ. There are three elements
that must enter into it: spiritual communication, sympathetic
cooperation, and sweet communion. (1) Spiritual communication is sharing
the things of Christ. This would be sharing the great truths concerning
Christ. (2) Sympathetic cooperation means working together for Christ.
That is why, when Paul used the word fellowship, he could be talking
about Bible reading or Bible study together or prayer or celebrating the
Lord’s Supper or taking up an offering. Paul called all of these
koinonia—fellowship. The result would be (3) sweet communion. It makes
us partners with Christ. This is true koinonia. Paul wrote that
this church was having fellowship with him. He had communicated to them
the Gospel. They had shared with Paul in a sympathetic cooperation. They
had sent a gift to him and had ministered to his physical needs again
and again. Then when they were together, they had sweet communion."
McGee adds in a separate note "The only place you can have real
Christian fellowship (koinonia) is around the Word of God. It is
the Word of God which brings you to the person of Christ and enables you
to see Him in all His glory. It is then that you will have fellowship
and a good time with other believers. Our Lord is wonderful, my
friend—it is terrible to pass Him by." (McGee,
J V: Thru the Bible Commentary: Nashville: Thomas Nelson)
John MacArthur has a nice
summary of koinonia based on the commentary by William
W., & Kistemaker, S. J. Exposition of the Gospel According to
Matthew Grand Rapids: Baker Book House)
MacArthur writes that
Hendricksen has "an exceptional section on the
fellowship of believers in his commentary on Philippians.
Hendriksen's analysis gives
koinonia, the partnership of believers, a pithy and practical
1. A fellowship of grace
It is a fellowship of grace--not a natural, platonic, or man-made
partnership. The church is a divine fellowship effected by God in
Christ through the Spirit by grace. Apart from the work of the
triune God the fellowship of believers would be non-existent. It
would be impossible to form on a human level because it transcends
time and space, and will endure forever.
2. A fellowship of life
The partnership of believers is a fellowship of life. We all share
the same common eternal life that was made ours in Christ. We are
one with the Lord Jesus Christ, the Father, the Spirit, and with
3. A fellowship of faith
Believers share a fellowship of faith. Just as the Father draws
the sinner near to Christ (John 6:44), the sinner draws near to
God in living faith. We participate in a fellowship of faith in
that we have believed in the same God and agree with the same
truths found in His Word.
4. A fellowship of prayer
Believers belong to a fellowship of prayer because we all come
before God on each other's behalf.
5. A fellowship of praise, thanksgiving, and love
We participate in a fellowship of praise, thanksgiving, and love.
It is natural for us to enshrine other Christians in our hearts
and desire the best for them out of love.
6. A fellowship of service
Christians share a fellowship of service. We together shoulder the
work of the ministry, and contribute to each other's needs.
7. A fellowship of evangelism
Christians share in spreading the Gospel through preaching,
teaching, and witnessing.
8. A fellowship of separation
Our separation from the world and attachment to Christ marks our
special fellowship with each other.
9. A fellowship of warfare
Ours is a fellowship of warfare and conflict. We wage spiritual
war side by side against a common enemy.
A person filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit rejoices in
Christian fellowship. In fact, there is nothing in the world as
wonderful as Christian fellowship. Those in the church who spend
their time looking for what isn't perfect demonstrate an absence
of spiritual joy. They need to consider the partnership they
have--the people who pray for them, enable them to serve Christ,
care for them, meet their needs, work with their children and
family, nurture them in spiritual truth, and who are available for
them to minister to by the use of their own spiritual gifts. If a
Christian can't rejoice in that, the problem is not on the
When Saul was made king, "the valiant men whose hearts God had
touched went with him" (1
Sam. 10:26). When Nahash the Ammonite came to injure
the people of Jabesh-gilead, the Holy Spirit came mightily on
Saul. In response to Saul's strong message to join him in the
fight, "the dread of the Lord fell on the people, and they came
out as one man" (1Sa
The Philippians and Paul had
that same unity of spirit. God had touched their hearts from the
first day, and through the years they had become like one man in
heart. (Bolding added. Source:
John MacArthur: Elements of Joy -- Part 1)
from eú = good
+ aggéllo = proclaim, tell) is literally
good news or glad tidings. In the NT euaggelion
is used only of God's message of salvation in three senses (1) act of
proclamation (preaching the gospel) (1Cor 4:15), (2) the work of
evangelization (spread of the gospel) (Phil 4:3), (3) the content of the
message as an offer of salvation (good news) (Ro 1:16) (Adapted from
Friberg - Analytical Lexicon).
BDAG (summarized) - (1) God’s
good news to humans, good news as proclamation (2) details relating to
the life and ministry of Jesus = good news of Jesus (Mk 1:1) (3) details
relating to the life and ministry of Jesus = good news of Jesus (Mt 1:1)
In secular Greek it originally
referred to a reward for good news and later became the good news
itself. The word euaggelion was commonly used in
the first century as our words "good news" today. The idea then
and now is something like this - “Have you any good
news (euaggelion) for me today?” This was a common question in the
ancient world. In ancient secular Greek euaggelion described good news of any kind
and prior to the writing of the New Testament, had no definite religious
connotation in the ancient world until it was taken over by the "Cult of
Caesar" which was the state religion and in which the emperor was
worshipped as a god (see more discussion of this use below).
Our English word Gospel
is from the Old English or Saxon word gōdspell
(gōd = good + spell = message) which is literally
"good tale, message". When I was a young man Godspell was
actually the name of a popular musical play (See
wonder if they really understood the meaning of this word which is the
very foundation stone of Christianity.
In modern secular use Gospel
has an interesting meaning of something accepted as infallible truth or
as a guiding principle (e.g., such and such is "the Gospel truth"). This
is not a bad Biblical definition either!
writers of the New Testament adapted the term as God's message of
salvation for lost sinners. Euaggelion is found in several
combination phrases, each describing the Gospel like a multifaceted
jewel in various terms from a different viewpoint (from the
the Gospel of the kingdom (Mt 4:23)
the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God (Mk
- it centers in Christ
the Gospel of God (Mk 1:14)
- it originates with God and was not invented by man
the Gospel of the kingdom of God (Lk
the Gospel of the grace of God
the Gospel of His Son
the Gospel of Christ (Ro 15:19-note)
the Gospel of the glory of Christ (2Co
the Gospel of your salvation (Ep
the Gospel of peace (Ep 6:15-note)
the Gospel of our Lord Jesus (2Th 1:8)
the glorious Gospel of the blessed God (1Ti
In Ro 16:25, 26 (note) Paul called it “my
Gospel” indicating that the special emphasis he gave
the Gospel in his ministry.
For a rewarding study, study the
preceding references in context (or all the uses below) making notation of the
truth you observe about the Gospel. If
you would like a special blessing, take an afternoon to go through all 76 uses of
euaggelion in context making a
list of what you learn about the Gospel. The Spirit of God will
enlighten your heart and encourage your spirit in a very special
way...and you'll want to share the "good news" with someone because
of your "discoveries"!
Wiersbe - The Gospel is called "the Gospel of God"
(Mark 1:14) because it comes from God and brings us to God. It is "the
Gospel of the kingdom" (Mark 4:23, Mt 9:35, Mt 24:14, Lk 16:16) because
faith in the Saviour brings you into His kingdom. It is the "Gospel of Jesus
Christ" (Mark 1:1) because He is the heart of it; without His life, death,
and resurrection, there would be no Good News. Paul called it "the Gospel of
the grace of God" (Acts 20:24) because there can be no salvation apart from
grace (Eph. 2:8-9). There is only one Gospel (Gal. 1:1-9), and it centers in
what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross (1 Cor. 15:1-11).
W: Bible Exposition Commentary - New Testament)
William Barclay - It was
preeminently good news that Jesus came to bring to men. If we follow the
word euaggelion, good news, gospel through the New Testament we can
see at least something of its content.
(a) It is good news of truth (Galatians 2:5; Colossians 1:5). Until
Jesus came, men could only guess and grope after God. "O that I knew where I
might find him," cried Job (Job 23:3). Marcus Aurelius said that the soul
can see but dimly, and the word he uses is the Greek word for seeing things
through water. But with the coming of Jesus men see clearly what God is
like. No longer do they need to guess and grope; they know.
(b) It is good news of hope (Colossians 1:23). The ancient world was
a pessimistic world. Seneca talked of "our helplessness in necessary
things." In their struggle for goodness men were defeated. The coming of
Jesus brings hope to the hopeless heart.
(c) It is good news of peace (Ephesians 6:15). The penalty of being a
man is to have a split personality. In human nature the beast and the angel
are strangely intermingled. It is told that once Schopenhauer, the gloomy
philosopher, was found wandering. He was asked, "Who are you?" "I wish you
could tell me," he answered. Robert Burns said of himself, "My life reminded
me of a ruined temple. What strength, what proportion in some parts! What
unsightly gaps, what prostrate ruins in others!" Man's trouble has always
been that he is haunted both by sin and by goodness. The coming of Jesus
unifies that disintegrated personality into one. He finds victory over his
warring self by being conquered by Jesus Christ.
(d) It is good news of God's promise (Ephesians 3:6). It is true to
say that men had always thought rather of a God of threats than a God of
promises. All non-Christian religions think of a demanding God; only
Christianity tells of a God who is more ready to give than we are to ask.
(e) It is good news of immortality (2 Timothy 1:10). To the pagan,
life was the road to death; man was characteristically a dying man; but
Jesus came with the good news that we are on the way to life rather than
(f) It is good news of salvation (Ephesians 1:13). That salvation is
not merely a negative thing; it is also positive. It is not simply
liberation from penalty and escape from past sin; it is the power to live
life victoriously and to conquer sin. The message of Jesus is good news
1 - William Barclay's Daily Study Bible)
- 76 times in 73v - Matt 4:23; 9:35; 24:14; 26:13; Mark 1:1, 14f; 8:35;
10:29; 13:10; 14:9; 16:15; Acts 15:7; 20:24; Rom 1:1, 9, 16; 2:16;
10:16; 11:28; 15:16, 19; 16:25; 1 Cor 4:15; 9:12, 14, 18, 23; 15:1; 2
Cor 2:12; 4:3f; 8:18; 9:13; 10:14; 11:4, 7; Gal 1:6f, 11; 2:2, 5, 7, 14;
Eph 1:13; 3:6; 6:15, 19; Phil 1:5, 7, 12, 16, 27; 2:22; 4:3, 15; Col
1:5, 23; 1 Thess 1:5; 2:2, 4, 8f; 3:2; 2 Thess 1:8; 2:14; 1 Tim 1:11; 2
Tim 1:8, 10; 2:8; Phlm 1:13; 1 Pet 4:17; Rev 14:6. Translated in the
NAS : good news(1), gospel(73), gospel's(2).
Matthew 4:23 Jesus was going
throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the
gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind
of sickness among the people.
Matthew 9:35 Jesus was going through all the cities and villages,
teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom,
and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.
Matthew 24:14 "This gospel of the
kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the
nations, and then the end will come.
Matthew 26:13 "Truly I say to you,
wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has
done will also be spoken of in memory of her."
Mark 1:1 The beginning of the gospel
of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
14 Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee,
preaching the gospel of God,
15 and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at
hand; repent and believe in the gospel."
Mark 8:35 "For whoever wishes to save
his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the
gospel's will save it.
Mark 10:29 Jesus said, "Truly I say
to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or
mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel's
Mark 13:10 "The gospel must first be
preached to all the nations.
Mark 14:9 "Truly I say to you,
wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has
done will also be spoken of in memory of her."
Mark 16:15 And He said to them, "Go
into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.
Acts 15:7 After there had been much
debate, Peter stood up and said to them, "Brethren, you know that in the
early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles
would hear the word of the gospel and believe.
Acts 20:24 "But I do not consider my
life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course
and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify
solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.
Romans 1:1 Paul, a bond-servant of
Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,
9 For God, whom I serve in my spirit in the preaching of the gospel of
His Son, is my witness as to how unceasingly I make mention of you,
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for
salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the
Romans 2:16 on the day when,
according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ
Romans 10:16 However, they did not
all heed the good news; for Isaiah says, "LORD, WHO HAS BELIEVED OUR
Romans 11:28 From the standpoint of
the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of
God's choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers;
Romans 15:16 to be a minister of
Christ Jesus to the Gentiles, ministering as a priest the gospel of God,
so that my offering of the Gentiles may become acceptable, sanctified by
the Holy Spirit.
19 in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Spirit; so
that from Jerusalem and round about as far as Illyricum I have fully
preached the gospel of Christ.
Romans 16:25 Now to Him who is able
to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus
Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept
secret for long ages past,
1 Corinthians 4:15 For if you were to
have countless tutors in Christ, yet you would not have many fathers,
for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel.
1 Corinthians 9:12 If others share
the right over you, do we not more? Nevertheless, we did not use this
right, but we endure all things so that we will cause no hindrance to
the gospel of Christ.
14 So also the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their
living from the gospel.
18 What then is my reward? That, when I preach the gospel, I may offer
the gospel without charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the
23 I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a
fellow partaker of it.
1 Corinthians 15:1 Now I make known
to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you
received, in which also you stand,
2 Corinthians 2:12 Now when I came
to Troas for the gospel of Christ and when a door was opened for me in
2 Corinthians 4:3 And even if our
gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing,
4 in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the
unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the
glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
2 Corinthians 8:18 We have sent along
with him the brother whose fame in the things of the gospel has spread
through all the churches;
2 Corinthians 9:13 Because of the
proof given by this ministry, they will glorify God for your obedience
to your confession of the gospel of Christ and for the liberality of
your contribution to them and to all,
2 Corinthians 10:14 For we are not
overextending ourselves, as if we did not reach to you, for we were the
first to come even as far as you in the gospel of Christ;
2 Corinthians 11:4 For if one comes
and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a
different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel
which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully.
7 Or did I commit a sin in humbling myself so that you might be
exalted, because I preached the gospel of God to you without charge?
Galatians 1:6 I am amazed that you
are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for
a different gospel;
7 which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing
you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.
11 For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was
preached by me is not according to man.
Galatians 2:2 It was because of a
revelation that I went up; and I submitted to them the gospel which I
preach among the Gentiles, but I did so in private to those who were of
reputation, for fear that I might be running, or had run, in vain.
5 But we did not yield in subjection to them for even an hour, so that
the truth of the gospel would remain with you.
7 But on the contrary, seeing that I had been entrusted with the gospel
to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been to the circumcised
14 But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of
the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, "If you, being a
Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you
compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?
Ephesians 1:13 In Him, you also,
after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation--
having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of
Ephesians 3:6 to be specific, that
the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow
partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel,
Ephesians 6:15 and having shod YOUR
FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE;
19 and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the
opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the
Philippians 1:5 in view of your
participation in the gospel from the first day until now.
7 For it is only right for me to feel this way about you all, because I
have you in my heart, since both in my imprisonment and in the defense
and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers of grace with me.
12 Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned
out for the greater progress of the gospel,
16 the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the
defense of the gospel;
27 Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ,
so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you
that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving
together for the faith of the gospel;
Philippians 2:22 But you know of his
proven worth, that he served with me in the furtherance of the gospel
like a child serving his father.
Philippians 4:3 Indeed, true
companion, I ask you also to help these women who have shared my
struggle in the cause of the gospel, together with Clement also and the
rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.
15 You yourselves also know, Philippians, that at the first preaching of
the gospel, after I left Macedonia, no church shared with me in the
matter of giving and receiving but you alone;
Colossians 1:5 because of the hope
laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of
truth, the gospel
23 if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast,
and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard,
which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul,
was made a minister.
1 Thessalonians 1:5 for our gospel
did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy
Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we
proved to be among you for your sake.
1 Thessalonians 2:2 but after we had
already suffered and been mistreated in Philippi, as you know, we had
the boldness in our God to speak to you the gospel of God amid much
4 but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the
gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who examines our
8 Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to
you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had
become very dear to us.
9 For you recall, brethren, our labor and hardship, how working night
and day so as not to be a burden to any of you, we proclaimed to you the
gospel of God.
1 Thessalonians 3:2 and we sent
Timothy, our brother and God's fellow worker in the gospel of Christ, to
strengthen and encourage you as to your faith,
2 Thessalonians 1:8 dealing out
retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey
the gospel of our Lord Jesus.
2 Thessalonians 2:14 It was for this
He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our
Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Timothy 1:11 according to the
glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.
2 Timothy 1:8 Therefore do not be
ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join
with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God,
10 but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ
Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light
through the gospel,
2 Timothy 2:8 Remember Jesus Christ,
risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel,
Philemon 1:13 whom I wished to keep
with me, so that on your behalf he might minister to me in my
imprisonment for the gospel;
1 Peter 4:17 For it is time for
judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us
first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of
Revelation 14:6 And I saw another
angel flying in midheaven, having an eternal gospel to preach to those
who live on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and
The only use of euaggelion in
is in Second Samuel...
when one told me, saying, 'Behold,
Saul is dead,' and thought he was bringing good news (Lxx =
euaggelion), I seized him and killed him in Ziklag, which was the reward
I gave him for his news. (2 Samuel 4:10) (As an aside the verb form
euaggelizo is found more often - here are the uses of the verb in
- 1Sa 31:9; 2Sa 1:20; 4:10;
18:19f, 26, 31; 1Kings 1:42; 1Chr 10:9; Ps 40:9; 68:11; 96:2; Isa
40:9; 52:7; 60:6; 61:1; Jer 20:15; Joel 2:32; Nah 1:15)
CONCISE DEFINITION OF
1 Now I make known to you
[since it seems to have escaped you], brethren, the
Gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in
which also you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold
fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain (does not teach that true believers are in danger of losing
their salvation, but it is a warning against non–saving faith --
could be translated "unless your faith is worthless" -- holding
fast was the result and evidence of genuine salvation). 3 For I
delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that
Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that
He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according
to the Scriptures, 5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the
twelve. (See notes
was commonly used
in the Greco-Roman culture as "a technical term for "news of victory." The
messenger appears, raises his right hand in greeting and calls out with a
loud voice: "rejoice …we are victorious". By his appearance it is known
already that he brings good news. His face shines, his spear is decked with
laurel, his head is crowned, he swings a branch of palms, joy fills the
city, euaggelia are offered, the temples are garlanded, an agon (race) is
held, crowns are put on for the sacrifices and the one to whom the message
is owed is honored with a wreath...[thus] euaggelion is closely
linked with the thought of victory in battle. " (Theological Dictionary
of the New Testament)
This is a convicting definition - here a pagan messenger radiantly
announces good news of an earthly victory. How much more radiant should
we be who are the bearers of the great news of Christ's eternal triumph
over sin, Satan, and death!
was used in secular Greek chiefly in connection with oracles (i.e. the
promise of some future event) and in the imperial cult that euaggelion
acquires a religious meaning. In the latter sphere news of the "divine"
ruler’s birth, coming of age or enthronement and also his speeches,
decrees and acts are glad tidings which bring long hoped-for fulfillment to
the longings of the world for happiness and peace (albeit a counterfeit hope
and peace). An instance of this is
the decree of the Greeks of the province of Asia c. 9 B.C. marking the
birthday of Augustus (23 September) the beginning of the civil year (this is
worth reading as an example of thinking that has become darkened) --
“It is a
day which we may justly count as equivalent to the beginning of
everything—if not in itself and in its own nature, at any rate in the
benefits it brings—inasmuch as it has restored the shape of everything that
was failing and turning into misfortune, and has given a new look to the
Universe at a time when it would gladly have welcomed destruction if Caesar
had not been born to be the common blessing of all men...Whereas the
Providence which has ordered the whole of our life, showing
concern and zeal, has ordained the most perfect consummation for human life
by giving to it Augustus, by filling him with virtue for doing the work of a
benefactor among men, and by sending in him, as it were, a savior for us
and those who come after us, to make war to cease, to create order
everywhere...and whereas the birthday of the God [Augustus] was the
beginning for the world of the glad tidings that have
come to men through him...Paulus Fabius Maximus, the proconsul of the
province . . . has devised a way of honoring Augustus hitherto unknown to
the Greeks, which is, that the reckoning of time for the course of human
life should begin with his birth” (compare our use of BC to AD because
of the birth of Christ!) (E. Barker: From
Alexander to Constantine: Passages and Documents Illustrating the History of
Social and Political Ideas 336 B.C.-A.D. p337, 1956)
In contrast to the
counterfeit Gospel, the human proclamation of the Gospel (euaggelion) does not merely herald a new era,
but in fact actually brings it
about because the euaggelion has within it the inherent power
to germinate and generate salvation in those who hear it proclaimed. If
this is true (and it is), then why are so many saints shy about speaking
forth the good news of the greatest story ever told?!
The new testament evangelists
appropriated euaggelion in reference to the good news of salvation by grace through
faith in Jesus Christ. "Gospel" in fact was Paul’s favorite term for
his message and occurs nine times in Philippians (more proportionately than
in any other letter). In the NT in Paul’s letters the
meaning of euaggelion narrows down to the specific sense of the "good news"
that God has acted to save people from their sins and to reconcile them
to Himself in or through Jesus Christ (cf Mt 1:21; 1Co 15:1, 2, 3; 2Co
For Paul, the Gospel is not merely good news in the sense of words
spoken and heard, i.e. a good story, but is itself "the
believes, to the
also to the
Greek" (Ro 1:16, 17-note). The
Gospel then possesses
the inherent power to deliver (rescue and preserve) otherwise eternally lost sinners "from the domain
(the power = right and the might) of darkness" and transfer them "to
the kingdom of His beloved Son" (Col 1:11, 12, 13-note).
Paul reiterated the truth
of the living, dynamic aspect of the Gospel in his epistle to the
Colossians writing that because they were saved, the saints now had a
laid up (reserved, laid away for preservation, waiting, in store)
for (them) in heaven, of which (they) previously heard in
the word of truth, the Gospel, which has come to you, just
as in all the world also it (the Gospel) is constantly bearing
fruit and increasing, even as it (Gospel) has been doing
in you also since the day you heard of it (Gospel) and
understood the grace of God in truth just as you learned it
(Gospel) from Epaphras...." (Col 1:5, 6, 7-see note
The Gospel is not a stagnant system of ethics but is the Word of
Truth which is living, moving, growing, bearing fruit and spreading.
The Gospel possesses a divine energy that causes it to spread
like a mustard seed growing into a tree (Mt 13:31,32).
The Gospel produces fruit both in the internal transformation of
individuals, and also in the external growth of the church. The
living Gospel is the power that transforms lives. As it does so, the
witness of those transformed lives produces fruit, including new
converts. So as the Gospel produces fruit in individual lives, its
Finally, note that although the
Gospel reaches its
consummation in the NT with the truth of the birth, death, burial,
resurrection and soon, sure return of Jesus Christ, the Gospel was also
proclaimed in the Old Testament.
Paul teaches us that "the Scripture (in context the Old Testament), foreseeing that God would justify
the Gentiles by faith, preached the Gospel beforehand to Abraham,
saying, "ALL THE NATIONS SHALL BE BLESSED IN YOU." (Gal 3:8)
In other words, Old Testament saints were saved by faith in the
Gospel, just as are
NT saints. In fact even in the face of man's first sin, God promised the
Gospel declaring to Satan "And I will put enmity between you and the
woman, and between your seed and her seed. He shall bruise you (Satan)
on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.” (Ge 3:15) The salvation we enjoy today was promised by the
prophets, though they did not fully understand all that they were
preaching and writing (1Pe 1:10, 11, 12-note).
William Tyndale, Christian
martyr in the 1500's said ''Euaggelion (which we call
Gospel) is a Greek
word, and signifies good, merry, glad, and joyful tidings, that makes a mans
heart glad, and makes him sing, dance, and leap for joy.''
A. B. Simpson is
reported to have said that the Gospel "
Tells rebellious men that
God is reconciled, that justice is satisfied, that sin has been atoned
for, that the judgment of the guilty may be revoked, the condemnation of
the sinner canceled, the curse of the Law blotted out, the gates of hell
closed, the portals of heaven opened wide, the power of sin subdued, the
guilty conscience healed, the broken heart comforted, the sorrow and
misery of the Fall undone. (10,000 Sermon Illustrations. Dallas:
Biblical Studies Press)
Christ commands believers
to share this Good News with the rest of the world. This Good News is
Christ’s life-giving message to a dying world "Go into all the world
and preach the Gospel to all creation." (Mk 16:15)
Spurgeon's Sermons on
1 Timothy 1:15 The Glorious Gospel
Proverbs 25:25 Good News
Acts 13:49 Gospel Missions
1Corinthians 9:16 Preach the Gospel
1Thessalonians 1:5 Degrees of Power
Attending the Gospel
Philippians 1:27 The Gospel's Power
in a Christian's Life
2 Corinthians 2:15-16 The Two Effects
of the Gospel
2 Corinthians 5:20-21 The Heart Of
Lamentations 4:22 A Message From God
Acts 20:21 Two Essential Things
Proverbs 31:6-7 The Gospel Cordial
Psalm 51:7 The Wordless Book
Related Resources on the Gospel:
Gospel - Bridgeway Bible Dictionary
Gospel - Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical
Gospel - Holman Bible Dictionary
Gospel - Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible
Gospel - Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament
Gospel (2) - Hastings' Dictionary of the New
Gospel - International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
Gospel - Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words
Gospel - Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary
Gospel - Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblical
Gospel - Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and
FROM THE FIRST DAY UNTIL NOW: apo tes prots hemeras achri tou nun:
from the first
day you heard about it. (CEV)
from the time it first came to
you even until now (Weymouth)
from the time you first heard it
until now (NLT)
for your fellowship (your sympathetic cooperation and contributions and
partnership) in advancing the good news (the Gospel) (Amp)
regarding the phrase "From
the first day until now"
those who sincerely receive and
embrace the Gospel have fellowship in it from the very first day: a
new-born Christian, if he is true-born, is interested in all the
promises and privileges of the Gospel from the first day of his becoming
such....It is a great comfort to ministers when those who begin well
hold on and persevere.
><> ><> ><>
Five-Finger Prayers (Read: James 5:13-18)
Pray for one another. --James 5:16
Prayer is a conversation with God, not a formula. Yet sometimes we might
need to use a "method" to freshen up our prayer time. We can pray the
Psalms or other Scriptures (such as The Lord's Prayer), or use the ACTS
method (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication). I recently
came across this "Five-Finger Prayer" to use as a guide when praying for
* When you fold your hands, the thumb is nearest you. So begin by praying
for those closest to you--your loved ones (Php 1:3, 4, 5).
* The index finger is the pointer. Pray for those who teach--Bible
teachers and preachers, and those who teach children (1Th 5:25-note).
* The next finger is the tallest. It reminds you to pray for those in
authority over you--national and local leaders, and your supervisor at
work (1 Timothy 2:1-2).
* The fourth finger is usually the weakest. Pray for those who are in
trouble or who are suffering (James 5:13, 14, 15, 16).
* Then comes your little finger. It reminds you of your smallness in
relation to God's greatness. Ask Him to supply your needs (Php 4:6, 19-see notes
Whatever method you use, just talk with your Father. He wants to hear
what's on your heart. --Anne Cetas (Copyright
RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights
Our prayers ascend to heaven's throne
Regardless of the form we use;
Our Father always hears His own
Regardless of the words we choose. --D. De Haan
It's not the words we pray that matter, it's the condition of our heart.
F B Meyer...
PRAYER AND INTERCESSION
The Prayers of St. Paul. The Epistles of St. Paul are full of allusions
to his prayers. We might almost call them his prayer-book. Let us verify
that assertion by turning to the Epistles as they come on the pages of
Ro. 1:9: "God is my witness, whom I serve in my spirit in the Gospel of
His Son, how unceasingly I make mention of you, always in my prayers
making request," etc.
1Cor. 1:4: "I thank my God always concerning you, for the grace of God
which was given you in Christ."
Eph. 1:16: "I cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in
Eph. 3:14: "For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father."
Col. 1:3: "We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
praying always for you."
Col. 2:1: "I would have you know how greatly I strive for you, and for
them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the
1Thess. 1:2: "We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention
of you in our prayers."
2Thess. 1:11: "To which end we also pray always for you."
2Tim. 1:3: "I thank God,... how unceasing is my remembrance of thee."
Philemon 1:4: "I thank my God always, making mention of thee in my
These texts are sufficient to substantiate the assertion that the
Epistles of St. Paul abound in allusions to his prayers on behalf of his
converts; and just as our Lord Jesus Christ ever lives to intercede, so
the true pastor, Sunday School teacher, or Christian friend, should day
and night, without ceasing, remember the saved and unsaved of his charge
Prayer: with Tears and with Joy. But there was a special liberty
in the Apostle's prayer, for in Phil. 4:6 he says: "Always in every
supplication of mine, making my supplication with joy." Those of us who
know what it is to pray, are familiar with the alternations that come
over the soul when it waits before God. There are some tracts and
passages in our daily prayer-life which we tread with difficulty and
tears. For those who seem so obdurate; for those who appear to have
turned their backs determinedly upon God; for certain Churches that
appear hopelessly desolate and barren, we plead with strong crying and
tears. We tread these acres of our prayer-life, with weeping, sowing
seed destined to bear an abundance of harvest fruit.
There are other parts of our daily prayer-life that are illumined with
joy. When we come to pray for a beloved child, for some kindred spirit,
for some blessed work of God which enjoys the perpetual dew of His
favour, then it is easy to pray, and we make our supplication and
request with joy. We know exactly what St. Paul meant, when he said that
there was a liberty, a freedom, a gladness in prayer which suffused his
heart as he prayed for the Philippians.
Our Private Prayers. Nothing would be better for most of us than
a great revival in our habits of private prayer. We cannot do as Luther,
who was accustomed to say, "I have so much work to do to-day that I
cannot get through it with less than three hours of prayer"; or as
Bishop Andrewes, who regularly set apart five hours each day for private
devotion; or as Law, the author of the Serious Call, who was accustomed,
as the clock rang out each third hour, to turn to prolonged prayer,
allocating to each occasion some special subject. Our habits of life,
and perhaps our methods of thought, forbid our adopting anything quite
so absorbing and prolonged; but that we should pray more, that we should
labour in prayer as Epaphras did, that we should cultivate the art of
prayer, is clear.
Cultivate the Habit. Habits of prayer need careful cultivation.
The instinct and impulse are with us by the grace of the Holy Spirit,
but we need to cultivate the gracious inward movements until they become
solidified into an unbending practice.
As far as possible, we should set apart one period in each day for
prayer, and there can be no question that the morning hour is best. When
the body is fresh from sleep, and before the rush of daily thought,
care, and activity invades the mind, ere we hold intercourse with our
nearest and dearest, then the bells ring for matins, and it is wise to
heed their call.
Give Him thy first thoughts
So shalt thou keep
Him company all day
And in Him sleep.
Use an Oratory. It is good,
also to have an oratory. There should be, as far as possible, one room
and one spot in the room, or one garden path, or a walk over the moor or
beside the sea, where our seasons of private devotion are spent, and our
prayers are wont to be made. The posture is a secondary matter. Many a
heaven-moving prayer has been uttered whilst the feet have been plodding
along the road, or the hands plying their toils, or when weakness has
chained the body to the couch. Whilst Paul was floating for a night and
a day in the deep, his soul was as much wrapt in the spirit of prayer as
when he was in a trance in the temple.
A rich man, visited by his pastor, was in sore distress because when
praying during the night he had not removed his nightcap. His scruples
were, however, allayed by the wise and skilful reply, "Some people pray,
as Christians mostly do, with their shoes on and their heads uncovered;
others, like the Jews and Mohammedans, pray with their heads covered and
their shoes off. Now, I daresay, my friend, when you prayed, you had not
your shoes on?" "No, sir, I hadn't," was the eager answer, and the
troubled soul was comforted. But it would have been better far if it had
never been troubled. It is of real service to have the fixed closet, and
the habitual attitude there; but it is a great mistake to magnify any of
these accidents and circumstances as though they were essential.
Seek a Spirit of Prayer. The main point for each of us is to have a
spirit of prayer, so that the exercise be not irksome and tedious, but
that the spirit may spring to it with delight. We must not, however,
wait for the high tide to rise before we launch forth on the voyage. If
there is not deep water, we must make what use we can of the shallows.
If we cannot step off to the big ship, we must make for it in the little
boat which draws only a foot or two of water. If the gale is not blowing
to fill our flagging sails, we must make what use we can of the light
breezes that dimple the calm and lethargic ocean. Good is it when the
soul leaps towards the prayer-hour, as a child to mother, or wife to
husband; but failing this eager desire, let us pray because we ought,
and because the supreme Lover of Souls will be disappointed if we do not
appear at the trysting-place to keep our appointment.
The ways by which the sluggish soul can be incited to pray are various,
and hints may be jotted down here which will be useful.
When the hour for prayer arrives, allow time for staying on the
threshold of the temple, to remember how great God is, how greatly He is
to be praised, how great your needs are. Remember the distance between
you and Him, and be sure that it is filled with love. Recall the
promises that bid you to approach. Consider all the holy souls that have
entered and are entering those same portals; and do not forget the many
occasions in which the lowering skies have cleared, the dark clouds have
parted, and weakness has become power during one brief spell of prayer.
A Still Greater Need. We specially need the aid of the Holy
Spirit, who helps our infirmities in prayer. He kindled the spark of
devotion at the first, and knows well how to fan it into a flame. It is
good to confide in Him, to confess that you would but cannot pray, that
your desires are languid and your love cool, that the lips which should
be touched with fire are frost-bitten, that the wings which ought to
have borne you to Heaven are clipped. He understands and loves to be
appealed to, and will assuredly quicken the flagging soul until it shall
mount up as on eagle wings, running without wearying, and walking
without faintness. One look to the Spirit of Prayer will find Him in the
heart. As our Teacher He begins to repeat the words of petition, which
we lisp after Him. As our Comforter and Paraclete He stands beside us,
showing us where to aim our petitions, and steadying our trembling
hands. As the Spirit of Life, he makes us free from the law of sin and
Felt art Thou, and relieving tears
Fall, nourishing our young resolves;
Felt art Thou, and our icy fears
The sunny smile of love dissolves.
Helps to Prayer. It is
advisable to use the Bible specially, and afterwards some
spirit-stirring book, be it memoir or spiritual treatise, to stir up the
black hot coals and compel them to break into a heaven-ascending flame.
The story of George Muller, of James Gilmour, or of David Brainerd, the
writings of Samuel Rutherford, Andrew Murray and Frances Ridley
Havergal, the poetry of Horatius Bonar and John Keble, are of perennial
use in this direction.
Sometimes it will be the confession of recent backsliding and
inconsistency, which have drawn a veil over the face of Christ;
sometimes the overflowing of thanksgiving, as you count over your
blessings, one by one; sometimes the urgency of need to intercede for
some beloved friend or friends; but always, if you look for it, you may
discover some wave of blessed helpfulness, which, flowing up on the
shore of your life, will, as it recedes, afford you an opportunity of
passing out with it from the high and dry stones to the bosom of the
A Condition of Successful Prayer. One condition of successful prayer
must never be forgotten. We must believe that God is, and that He is the
rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. The Father is the object of
our prayer, through the mediation of our Lord Jesus, and by the aid of
the Holy Spirit; but however we conceive of it, whether the Father, or
the Son, or the Holy Spirit, is the prominent object before our thought,
we must believe that there is an eye that witnesses our poor endeavours,
an ear that listens, a mind that can be impressed and affected by our
requests. But further, we need a living faith which reckons on the
faithfulness of God, and believes that it has already received its
petitions, when they are founded on specific promises and evidently
prompted by the Holy Spirit. When we pray, it is not enough merely to
speak a long list of requests into the ear of God, it becomes us to wait
after each one, and to receive by an appropriating act of the soul. It
is as though we saw God take from the shelves of His storehouse the boon
on which we had set our heart, label it with our name, and put it aside
until the precise moment arrived in which He could bestow it on us
without hurt. But whether it is in our hands or not is of small matter,
because "we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him."
Well may George Herbert sing:
"Oh, what an easy, quick access,
My blessed Lord, art Thou! how suddenly
May our requests Thine ear invade!
To show that state dislikes not easiness.
If I but lift mine eyes, my suit is made:
Thou canst no more not hear, than Thou canst die.
"Since then these three wait on Thy throne,
Ease, power, and love; I value prayer so,
That, were I to leave all but one,
Wealth, fame, endowments, virtues, all should go:
I and dear prayer would together dwell,
And quickly gain, for each inch lost, an ell."
B. Meyer. The Epistle to the Philippians - A Devotional Commentary)