Fear not, for I bring you good tidings of great joy …
The word good tidings/good news in the N.T. is euaggelion in Greek. The eu prefix means good (as in eulogy, euphoria) and aggel means message/messenger (angel in English). The English word gospel comes from the Old English gōd- spell meaning “good story/news.”
We are all quite familiar with the word gospel in the N.T., but it has its roots in the Hebrew Bible. The Hebrew word is besorah from the root basar, to bear/proclaim good news. Because Israel’s sin caused the glory of God to leave Zion (Ez.10:18) and the people were scattered among the nations, Isaiah and the other prophets tell the besorah of the return of God and His people to Zion. “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of one bringing news, proclaiming peace, bringing good news ... announcing salvation, saying to Zion ... “Your God reigns! Your watchmen ... sing for joy for they see the return of Yaweh to Zion.” (Is.52:7,8). “The redeemed of the Lord shall return and come with singing to Zion.” (Is 51:11) But following chapters 51-52 is a description of the suffering Messiah, chapter 53. “He was despised and rejected ...wounded for our transgressions ... makes himself an offering for sin...” Just as Israel’s sins led to the destruction of the nation and exile, so their return is connected to being cleansed from sin.
When Jesus read from Isaiah 61, he was pointing to himself as the One who would bring this good news “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me ... to preach the gospel to the afflicted ...” and the gospel that Isaiah envisions continues, “They shall build up the ancient ruins... repair ruined cities ... in your land you shall possess a double portion...”
In their book Besorah, the Resurrection of Jerusalem and the Healing of a Fractured Gospel, messianic Jewish theologians Kinzer and Resnik suggest that both Christians and Jews have understood the prophetic gospel message only partially. Generally, Jews focus on the good news of God restoring Zion, and Christians, on the forgiveness of sins. When Jesus began his ministry preaching, “The time is fulfilled ... repent and believe the gospel”(Mark1:15), the people understood that Jesus referred to the good news outlined by the prophets and included the forgiveness of sins, a future restoration for Israel, and God’s reign over the whole earth.
… which shall be for all people. (Luke 2:10)