4.8 The law and the gospel

Strict adherence to the Mosaic Law and the study of its content were of central importance in the old covenant (see 4.7.1→).


The term "gospel" means "good tidings". However, this is not the only way the New Testament understands the term. The term is already referenced in the Old Testament, for example in Isaiah 61: 1: "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor" (Luke 4: 18).


In the New Testament, "gospel" is understood as the saving activity of God in Jesus Christ, from His birth to His death on the cross, to His resurrection, and ultimately His return. Significant elements of the gospel are described by Apostle Paul: "For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the Twelve" (1 Corinthians 15: 3-5).


Thus the gospel brings to expression Jesus Christ's deed of salvation, which nothing can ever relativise or diminish. The gospel proclaims that Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation.


While there is a certain tension between the law and the gospel, they both reveal God's will to save. The Mosaic Law, however, was oriented to the elect of that time, namely the people of Israel, whereas the gospel is universally valid.


Nevertheless, one cannot exclusively equate the law with the Old Testament and the gospel with the New Testament. Both parts of Holy Scripture contain elements of the law and of the gospel. However, the essence of law and gospel in the Old Testament can only be unlocked with the key of the New Testament's understanding. The gospel, which permeates Holy Scripture, is the "message of the cross" (1 Corinthians 1: 18), the "word of reconciliation" (2 Corinthians 5: 19).