A viewer asks, “If the gospel means good news, what good news did Jesus Christ bring that was not salvation through Him?”
This question cuts to the heart of Muslim and Christian discourse. Our Christian friends might be wondering why we say that Jesus came with the Injil, which in Arabic seems to correspond to the Greek Euangelion from which we get the word gospel. The Greek Euangelion means good news. Thus, from a Christian point of view, Jesus came to preach the good news that He is going to die for the sins of humankind, and everyone is saved through His atoning work. So, that is great news. Yet, Muslims don’t believe that. So if we take it away, then what is the Muslim version of the good news?
Looking more broadly at this question, there are some Christians who do not believe that the good news from Jesus was about Jesus dying for the sins of humankind. For example, Stephen Patterson in his book, “The Lost Way”, shows that there was faith before this faith overshadowed it, the new faith being that Jesus died for the sins of the world. The older faith can now be reconstructed to a certain extent by looking at older documents that were written before the gospels, as we have them now. I am using gospels in the plural and I will have to explain why that is so. The Q Gospel is a collection of sayings of Jesus from about the middle of the first century, written sometime before the gospels as we have them now. In this collection of sayings, there is no mention that Jesus will die for the sins of the world and that is the good news. He was simply preaching good teachings, many of which are collected within the four gospels as we have them now.
How is the word gospel used in this variety of ways that we can still refer to gospels in the plural? The gospel, according to Mark, begins by saying, “This is the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ.” The gospel here is a reference to the entire life story of Jesus since that is what the gospel essentially is. One can interpret that to mean that this is the beginning of the good news, but it looks like Mark intended to use it to mean this document itself. Within the gospel itself, it is in Mark’s gospel in chapter 10, verse number 29, that Jesus sends out his disciples to preach. He says, “Whoever sacrifices for me and my gospel, they will receive a hundredfold reward.” So, the gospel here was not the idea that He died for the sins of the world, because historians now, even looking at the documents within the New Testament, would maintain that the idea that Jesus died for the sins of the world was not preached by Jesus himself. It looks like this is a conclusion that was reached after the death of Jesus, and people said that His death must have had some good cause or purpose. Paul came up with the solution and said that Jesus died for our sins. Thus, it is largely a Pauline idea. Some may want to credit it back to Jesus, especially during the Last Supper, but others think that the narratives about the Last Supper themselves evolved and the initial story was about Jesus simply sharing a Jewish meal with His disciples – nothing about Him dying for the sins of humankind.
In the Quranic perspective, the good news that Jesus brought is the good news that prophets before Him brought. The good news is that if you are sincere towards God, God is going to forgive you for your sins and admit you into paradise. Also, the message is that after the great prophet, another prophet will come. Jesus is shown giving that message in Surah 61, verse 6, where he states, “I’m giving you good news about a messenger who is going to come after me, whose name is the praised one”.