What Was the “Good News”
or Gospel Message
the Apostles proclaimed?

Was it a message about:

The wickedness of mankind
A future world ruling political kingdom
Jesus: life, death, resurrection
Repentance and forgiveness of sins
Something else entirely

We could take a survey and ask 20 or 100 ministers to give us their opinion. We could listen to the radio or watch TV to find out what still others say. But, we would still only have opinions.

The best thing to do is to read what was actually preached as recorded in the book of Acts. This way we will be looking at the most authoritative evidence and can really answer this important question.

Below are the actual messages the Apostles preached to unbelievers. Along the side I have attempted to summarize the key points of each message.

What Actually Was Preached to Unbelievers?

Pentecost Message, Peter Acts 2

"Listen, Israelites, to what I say. Jesus, the Nazarene, a man accredited to you from God by miracles and marvels and signs which God did among you through Him, as you yourselves know, Him— delivered up through God’s settled purpose and foreknowledge—you by the hands of Gentiles have nailed to a cross and have put to death. But God has raised Him to life, having terminated the throes of death, for in fact it was not possible for Him to be held fast by death.

"As to the patriarch David, I need hardly remind you, brethren, that he died and was buried, and that we still have his tomb among us. Being a Prophet, however, and knowing that God had solemnly sworn to him to seat a descendant of his upon his throne, with prophetic foresight he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, to the effect that He was not left forsaken in the Unseen World, nor did His body undergo decay. This Jesus, God has raised to life— a fact to which all of us testify.

"Therefore let the whole House of Israel know beyond all doubt that God has made Him both LORD and CHRIST—this Jesus whom you crucified."

Stung to the heart by these words, they said to Peter and the rest of the Apostles, "Brethren, what are we to do?“

"Repent," replied Peter, "and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, with a view to the remission of your sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For to you belongs the promise, and to your children, and to all who are far off, whoever the Lord our God may call."

Summary:
  • Jesus performed miracles
  • Jesus was crucified and slain
  • God raised Jesus up
  • Jesus is now Lord and Christ (Messiah)
  • Repent, be baptized for the forgiveness of sins
  • To you belongs the promise, to all whom God may call
Peter, healed the lame man in the temple, and spoke to the crowd Acts 3

Peter, seeing this, spoke to the people. "Israelites," he said, "why do you wonder at this man? Or why gaze at us, as though by any power or piety of our own we had enabled him to walk? The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our forefathers, has conferred this honor on His Servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and disowned in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to let Him go.

"Yes, you disowned the holy and righteous One, and asked as a favor the release of a murderer. The Prince of Life you put to death; but God has raised Him from the dead, and we are witnesses as to that. It is His name— faith in that name being the condition—which has strengthened this man whom you behold and know; and the faith which He has given has made this man sound and strong again, as you can all see.

"And now, brethren, I know that it was in ignorance that you did it, as was the case with your rulers also. But in this way God has fulfilled the declarations He made through all the Prophets, that His Christ would suffer. Repent, therefore, and reform your lives, so that the record of your sins may be cancelled, and that there may come seasons of revival from the Lord, and that He may send the Christ appointed beforehand for you—even Jesus.

"Heaven must receive Him until those times of which God has spoken from the earliest ages through the lips of His holy Prophets—the times of the reconstitution of all things. Moses declared,

'The Lord your God will raise up a Prophet for you from among your brethren as He has raised me. In all that He says to you, you must listen to Him. And every one, without exception, who refuses to listen to that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the People.'

It is to you first that God, after raising His Servant from the grave, has sent Him to bless you, by causing every one of you to turn from your wickedness.

(At this point the religious leader intervened and apprehended the apostles.)

Summary:
  • Miracle was done is Jesus’ name
  • Jesus was crucified and slain
  • Jesus is the one the prophet's described
  • Will return for the final restoration and purging of evil
  • Repent, reform, for the canceling out of sins
  • To the Jews first, God sent his servant to turn everyone from wickedness
Acts 4 After being questioned about the miracle:

Then Peter, because he was filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, "Leaders and elders of the people, if it is for a good deed to a helpless man, or to learn how he was cured, that we are today being tried, you and all the people of Israel must know that it is by the authority of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead––yes, I repeat it, it is by His authority that this man stands here before you well. He is the stone that was thrown away by you builders, which has become the cornerstone. There is no salvation by anyone else, for no one else in all the wide world has been appointed among men as our only medium by which to be saved."

The religious leaders render their decision:

So they called them (the apostles) in and ordered them not to speak or teach at all about the name of Jesus.

But Peter and John answered them, "You must decide whether it is right in the sight of God to obey you instead of Him, for we cannot keep from telling what we have seen and heard."

Summary:
  • Miracles done by the authority of Jesus
  • Religious leaders crucified Jesus
  • God raised Jesus from the dead
  • Is the cornerstone; only medium for salvation
  • We will continue to spread the message
Acts 5 In and Out of Jail

Now the high priest took a stand, and all his friends, the party of the Sadducees; and being filled with jealousy, they had the apostles arrested and put into the common jail.

But in the night the angel of the Lord threw open the jail doors and let them out, and said to them, "Go and take your stand in the temple square and continue to tell the people the message of this new life."

"Did we not positively forbid you to teach any more on this authority, and yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and now want to bring on us the people’s vengeance for this man’s death!“

Peter and the apostles answered, "We must obey God rather than men. The God of our forefathers raised Jesus to life after you had hanged Him on a cross and killed Him. God has exalted to His right hand this very One as our Leader and Savior, in order to give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel. We and the Holy Spirit that God has given to those who practice obedience to Him are witnesses to these things."

Summary:
  • Religious leaders killed Jesus, hanging him on a cross
  • God raised Jesus back to life
  • Jesus exalted to right hand of God
  • To give repentance and forgiveness to Israel
  • Holy Spirit given to those who practice obedience
Acts 10 Peter to Cornelius and family:

You know the story yourselves that spread all over Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John preached, how God consecrated Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and then He went about doing good and curing all who were overpowered by the devil, because God was with Him. We are witnesses of everything that He did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. Yet they murdered Him by hanging Him upon a tree.

But God raised Him to life on the third day, and permitted Him to be clearly seen, not by all the people but by witnesses whom God had beforehand appointed, namely, by us who ate and drank with Him after His resurrection from the dead. He also ordered us to proclaim to the people and solemnly to testify that this is the One whom God has appointed to be the Judge of the living and the dead. To this very One all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in Him is to receive the forgiveness of sins through His name.

Summary:
  • God consecrated Jesus
  • Jesus cured those overpowered by Satan
  • Religious leaders murdered Jesus
  • God raised Jesus to life
  • We were ordered to proclaim that Jesus will judge the living and dead
  • Prophets bear witness of Jesus
  • Those who believe will have forgiveness of sins
Acts 13 Paul in the synagogue:

"As John was closing his career, he said, ‘What do you take me to be? I am not the Christ; no, but He is coming after me, and I am not fit to untie the shoes on His feet.’

"Brothers, descendants of the race of Abraham, and all among you who reverence God, it is to us that the message of this salvation has been sent.

For the people of Jerusalem and their leaders, because they were ignorant of Him, by condemning Him have actually fulfilled the utterances of the prophets which are read every Sabbath, and although they could not find Him guilty of a capital offense, they begged Pilate to have Him put to death. When they had carried out everything that had been written in the Scriptures about Him, they took Him down from the cross and laid Him in a tomb.

"But God raised Him from the dead, and for many days He appeared to those who had come up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, and they are now witnesses for Him to the people.

"So now we are bringing you the good news about the promise that was made to our forefathers, that God has fulfilled it to us their children, by raising Jesus to life, just as the Scripture says in the Second Psalm, ‘You are my Son, today I have become your Father.’

"So, my brothers, you must understand that through Him the forgiveness of your sins is now proclaimed to you, and that through union with Him every one of you who believes is given right standing with God and freed from every charge from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses. So take care that what is said in the prophets does not come upon you: ‘Look, you scoffers, be astounded and perish; for I am doing a work in your days, a work that you will not believe, even if one tells it to you.’

Summary:
  • God brought a savior to Israel
  • The message of salvation is first to us
  • Leaders had Jesus killed
  • God raised him from the dead
  • Promises now fulfilled
  • Forgiveness of sins proclaimed for those who believe
  • Scoffers will be astounded and perish
Acts 17 Paul to the Athenians:

So Paul stood up in the center of the auditorium and said: "Men of Athens, at every turn I make I see that you are very religious. For as I was going here and there and looking at the things you worship, I even found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’

"So it is about the Being whom you are in ignorance already worshiping that I am telling you. The God who made the world and all that it contains, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made by human hands, nor is He served by human hands as though He were in need of anything, for He Himself gives all men life and breath and everything else.

"From one forefather He made every nation of mankind, for living all over the face of the earth, fixing their appointed times and the limits of their lands, so that they might search for God, possibly they might grope for Him, and find Him, though He is really not far from any of us. For it is through union with Him that we live and move and exist, as some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are His offspring too.’ Since then we are God’s offspring, we ought not to suppose that His nature is like gold or silver or stone or anything carved by man’s art and thought.

"Though God overlooked those times of ignorance, He now commands all men everywhere to repent, since He has set a day on which He will justly judge the world through a man whom He has appointed. He has made this credible to all by raising Him from the dead."

(The Athenians stopped Paul here to discuss among themselves the concept of raising from the dead.)

Summary:
  • God made the world, does not dwell in temples
  • God gives men life
  • Every nation came from one forefather
  • God limits mankind and nations
  • God is not like gold; not far from us and can be found
  • Commands all men to repent
  • God will judge the world by a man he raised from the dead
Acts 22 Paul to the mob as Jerusalem:

"But on my way, just before I reached Damascus, suddenly about noon a blaze of light from heaven flashed around me, and I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?’

I answered, ‘Who are you, Sir?’

He said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth whom you are persecuting.’

The men who were with me saw the light, but they did not hear the voice of Him who was speaking to me.

Then I asked, ‘What am I to do, Lord?’ And the Lord answered, ‘Get up and go into Damascus, and there it will be told you what you are destined to do.’

"Since I could not see because of the dazzling sheen of that light, I was led by the hand by my companions and in this way I reached Damascus. There a man named Ananias, a man devout in strict accordance with the law, of good reputation among all the Jews who lived there, came to see me, and standing by my side said to me, ‘Saul, my brother, recover your sight!’ Then instantly I did recover it and looked at him, and he said, ‘The God of our forefathers has appointed you to learn His will and to see the Righteous One and to hear Him speak, because you are to be His witness to all men of what you have seen and heard.

"And now, why are you waiting? Get up and be baptized and wash your sins away by calling on His name.’

Summary:
  • Saul in persecuting Jesus' followers was persecuting Jesus himself
  • Saul was chosen to learn God's will and be a witness to all men
  • Be baptized and wash away your sins by calling on His name
Acts 26 Paul to King Agrippa and Bernice:

"And now it is for the hope of the promise made by God to our forefathers that I stand here on trial, which promise our twelve tribes, by devotedly worshiping day and night, hope to see fulfilled for them. It is for this hope, your Majesty, that I am accused by some Jews. Why is it considered incredible by all of you that God should raise the dead? I myself, indeed, once thought it my duty to take extreme measures in hostility to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.

"While in this business I once was on my way to Damascus with authority based on a commission from the high priests, and on the road at noon, your Majesty, I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, flash around me and my fellow–travelers.

"We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice say to me in Hebrew, ‘Saul! Saul! Why do you continue to persecute me? It is hurting you to keep on kicking against the goad.’

"Who are you, Sir?’ said I. ‘I am Jesus,’ the Lord said, ‘whom you are persecuting. But get up and stand on your feet, for I have appeared to you for the very purpose of appointing you my servant and a witness to me of the things which you have seen and those which I shall yet enable you to see. I will continue to rescue you from the Jewish people and from the heathen to whom I am going to send you, to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light and from Satan’s power to God, so as to have their sins forgiven and have a possession among those that are consecrated by faith in me.'

"Therefore, King Agrippa, I could not disobey that heavenly vision, but I began to preach first to the people of Damascus and Jerusalem, and all over Judea, and then to the heathen, to repent and turn to God, and to live lives consistent with such repentance.

:For these very things the Jews arrested me in the temple and kept on trying to kill me.

As I have gotten help from God clear down to this very day, I stand here to testify to high and low alike, without adding a syllable to what Moses and the prophets said should take place, if the Christ should suffer, and by being the first to rise from the dead was to proclaim the light to the Jewish people and to the heathen.

Summary:
  • Jesus is the hope of Israel
  • Jesus is the first to rise from the dead
  • Jesus talked to Paul
  • Paul preaches to repent and turn to God and live lives consistent with repentance
  • Paul preaches people to turn from darkness to light and have their sins forgiven
  • Paul preaches to Jews and Gentiles

What is the Common Message?

What thoughts do these messages have in common? The gospel the apostles and others preached was a message about the New Covenant. It was the good news that Jesus lived, died, and was brought back to life. It was a message the indicated that through repentance everyone would gain forgiveness of their sins and be reconciled to God.

The wickedness of mankind
A future world ruling political kingdom
Jesus: life, death, resurrection
Repentance and forgiveness of sins
Something else entirely

And there is a very good reason why this was the message that the disciples (students) of Jesus preached.

Jesus said what he Wanted Preached

Luke 24:25-27 Jesus, after eating fish with the apostles:

Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and He said, "Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise again from among the dead; and that proclamation would be made, in His name, of repentance and forgiveness of sins to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem.”

Jesus told the disciples to preach this message to the world.

That is still the message his disciples preach to the world today. If you are hearing a different message, then you are not hearing the gospel Jesus commanded his disciples to preach.

The Apostle Paul was amazed that people would so soon pervert that message and preach another message. Paul indicated that those who heard such a message should not encourage or suport it. Rather, they should condemn it.

Galatians 1:6-9

I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.

But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.

As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

So, there you have the good news of the Bible. You can now distinguish the true good news from false messages. And, you know how to handle false messages.

May God grant you wisdom and grace to accept the true good news.


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