Greek: εὐαγγέλιον (euangelion)
English: good news; gospel
Greek: εὐαγγελίζω (euangelizō)
English: preach (or tell) the good news; preach (or tell) the gospel
by Mark D. Taylor, NLT Bible Translation Committee
The noun euangelion means, quite literally, “good news.” In the Greco-Roman world this term was used to describe or announce an event of significance, like the rise of a new ruler to the throne or a major military victory. The word is used 76 times in the New Testament. Its cognate, the verb euangelizō, means “to preach (or tell) the good news.” The verb occurs 54 times in the New Testament. With only a few exceptions, these terms refer to some aspect of the good news of salvation that is offered by God to those who believe in Jesus as the Son of God.
One exception is found in 1 Thessalonians 3:6, where Timothy has brought good news (euangelizō) to Paul about the faith and love being manifested in the Thessalonian church. Another example appears in Galatians 1:6-9, where Paul sarcastically refers to a “different good news” that is being preached to the Thessalonians. In that context, it is not “good news” at all.
The terms euangelion and euangelizō are often translated as “gospel” and “proclaim/preach the gospel.” Gospel is an English word whose predecessor was “godspel,” a compound word formed from gōd (“good”) + “spel” (“tidings” or “story”), which takes us right back to the meaning of euangelion—“good news.”
Many translations use gospel very frequently for these Greek words. The KJV uses gospel 98 times; the NASB: 96 times; the ESV: 93 times; the NIV: 92 times. But the NLT uses gospel only 5 times.
The NLT usually translates euangelion as “Good News.” And it is capitalized to draw attention to the fact that it is not just any old good news—it is the Good News of salvation. The NLT translation team felt that the word “gospel” is quite familiar to modern readers, but most don’t equate it with the underlying meaning of good news. So to help get the point across, it is translated as “Good News” in most of the passages.
We often refer to the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John as the Gospels, but the earliest Greek manuscripts do not use the word euangelion in the header for those books. They simply start with kata, a term that means “according to”—e.g., “According to Matthew.” The underlying message of all four of these books is the Good News about Jesus, so it is quite understandable why some later Greek manuscripts use an expanded header: euangelion kata—e.g., “Gospel according to Matthew.”
As we read the Gospels and the epistles, may we hear and accept this Good News of salvation that is freely offered by God.