The earliest example of the Gospel message by the first disciples of Jesus is found in I Corinthians 15:1-4:
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures…
For other examples of how the Gospel was preached by the first followers of Jesus you can also read Acts 10:36-43 and Acts 13:16-41.
In I Corinthians 15, Paul distills the core of the Gospel message to be the announcement about certain events concerning Jesus: Jesus died for our sins, Jesus was buried, and Jesus was raised from the dead on the third day.
What Makes An Event “Good News?”
Events in and of themselves are not really “news,” good or bad. The significance of an event is found in the story that surrounds it and the story determines whether the event is ”good news” or “bad news” or “no news.”
The way facts and events change their meaning based on the story surrounding them is regularly used by mystery writers to misdirect their readers and set up exciting plot twists.
A seemingly innocent event will emerge in the narrative. Then, at the climax of the story, the main character will dramatically reveal all was not what it seemed and the incident no longer appears quite so innocent.
Changing the story surrounding the event is where the author’s magic is worked. The wrong ”story” and the event was innocent. The right ”story” and it was a nefarious act, indeed.
Are the Jesus-Events in Paul’s Gospel Good News, Bad News or No News?
You might be surprised to know not everyone would agree with Paul that these Jesus-Events were good news. For some, these events are bad news and for others, they are no news.
For the Jewish Rabbis who wrote and taught after the time of Jesus, these Jesus-Events were “Bad News” because the believed they were part of a story of lies and fabrications made up by those who were trying to mislead Israel from the true worship of God. (The Koran and Islamic scholars make similar judgments about Jesus-events described in the New Testament.)
For many people in our culture, these things are “No News.” They assume these Jesus-Events to be the fantasies and delusions of people who were unaware of the true realities of science which the modern world has now discovered. Modern people know things like “resurrection from the dead” don’t really happen and must have been made up by the early Christians.
But Paul had a different story in mind. If it is true, then it completely changes our perspective on these Jesus-Events, and the world has been turned upside down.