There is first question of what is the gospel, gospel which had a specific meaning in the first century, the good news of the rule and reign of Caesar, of Caesar as Lord of the world, as it’s saviour, of the gospel of his peace (the peace of the sword, and it was in reference to Caesar that Paul makes his reference to people crying ‘peace, peace, when there is no peace’, and even Tacitus puts in the mouth of a Briton the words, ‘they (the Romans) make a desert and call it peace’ , the Caesar had it’s own cult, to which other gods bowed (the fact Christians refused to worship Caesar was a political issue just as it was religious, there was no division between religion and politics for a 1st century person and they would not understand our Western definition of and attempts to segregate out those terms, though of course our politics is just as religious, philosophically and ideological driven as their days, we just don’t see it as much until you take step back). He was called the son of God, which was equally a title for the Jews for their Messiah.
Gospel is not just general meaning of good news, but is the good news of the rule and reign of someone, of Ceasar in those days, and therefore when Jesus announces the gospel of the Kingdom of God, that is how is heard, the announcement of the rule and reign of God has come and began, and began in and through Him. And in Him and His teaching, His actions, throughout the Gospel He is explaining and teaching just how the Kingdom of God comes, how it works, just how God’s sovereignty and reign looks like, particularly when people were expecting something very different, they heard His announcement and expected a military leader, of a David and followers in the tradition of the Maccabees, for a Jewish Ceasar and Israel to replace Rome (more a few Christians still think in these lines, expecting a ‘real’ Jesus to show up, and start bringing peace by the sword, massacring whoever are they favourite target groups to hate Muslims, liberals - whatever that means to them, conservatives - whatever that means to them, people that fall within LGBT orientations - as if this were a monolithic group or defined them as persons - and of course this defining people as ‘them’ is itself a deadly thing, once you start thinking of anyone as ‘them’ or ‘those people’, and this is just as true for some Christians who have the same attitude for those the see as to conservative or fundamentalist and look at their brothers and sisters as ‘those people’ and don’t try and enter in and understand them in love), instead the Lord’s teaching and HIs parables and so are constantly trying to slowly teach them what the Kingdom of God and the Life of the new creation is actually like and how it works. In Jesus people are healed, set free, reconciliation and life from death comes about, love is brought to hate, and people’s humanity personally, communally and globally is restored, a breaking of slavery and of truth and blessing for cursing. This is what God’s reign looks like, this is how His sovereignty works and what it looks like, you want to know how it works, look at Jesus, what does He look like, look at Jesus, and at the self-emptying and giving love of Christ, how He confronts evil, with love and truth witnessing to that truth and blessing those who hate and curse Him, not either being bound by that evil and death, or dominated by, nor using or allowing it’s use in His life. He witnesses to the Sanhedrin, to Herod and Pilate (and this to Ceasar) how human authority should, it comes from above, as God would always work through humans and even in their disorder He doesn’t rescind that authority, and Jesus witnesses, He martyrs even to His death to the Truth, and confronts death and evil at all levels, bring healing, and love into the dark places. He constantly teaches the Apostles and disciples when they don’t understand what is happening, expecting something very different (their whole lives and the generations before them had lead them to expect something very different) and reminds them with John and James through Mark 10:35-44 that the Kingdom is not to be lived as those of the Gentiles, not lording or dominating over others, and not hate and violence, but in self-giving love and self-sacrificial service to all, this is life of the Kingdom, of the very Life and Presence of God and the engagement of that Life in Christ itself, and of witnessing to that life and love in all things, and growing in it, bringing by action healing, reconciliation and love into the dark and hurting places of the world, and standing for reconciliation, justice, life and love before abuses and systems of death, as Christ did and the Apostles and Church after Him, not in violent revolution but in continuing to work, do and witness to His love, healing and the new life and authority in this world, reminding leaders at all levels that the new way and management is now in charge and they are to use their human authority to heal not harm, and to bring about freedom and reconciliation not slavery, abuse, dehumanisation and the marring and damaging of those in the image of God. Jesus is the true Lord of the world, not Ceasar or any other king or government, His not any other system is both the truth and reality of the world, death doesn’t reign or hold humanity captive anymore, and humanity should neither live like it does, nor should they collaborate with it and place themselves and others under it’s effects, it is the announcement and enacting of Jubilee everywhere (and therefore forgiving as we are forgiving, releasing and bring reconciliation and to see God’s will done in the sphere of earth as it is in the sphere of heaven). It is important to remember when reading Romans to understand the whole argument in it places demotes and denies the idol of Ceasar, and the titles attributed then to the imperial cult (or any other king) of Lord of the World, Saviour and the gospel of peace (which in Thessalonians he plays on, saying they cry peace, peace when there is no peace, it was and still a charade which we get sucked into) belong only to Jesus, He is now Lord of the world (being sat the right hand of God isn’t going away, it the act of assuming authority over the world and it’s empires, referencing the Danielic figure of the ‘one like a son of man’ as the human figure returning to the intended purpose of humanity over the defeated monsters that came out of the sea which represents evil and chaos, and He is the one who has now all power in heaven and earth, and He works that through us, through Christians as those the human call is being renewed in, only in the way He rules, of selfless and self-giving love and of service to the other), not Ceasar. The idols are removed, even from the idols the governments give themselves, but paradoxically human authority is thereby freed, enobled and set free, to be what it should be, and therefore we respect the authorities for what they are, the expression of the human authority into creation given by God, but are witness the authority of Christ when it acts against that authority or misuses it (and so acts outside and below that authority, indeed gives it to the power of death) by witnessing to the truth of one who is Lord, and the true nature of life and humanity, witnessing in love always respecting the God-given human calling and the expression of that as well as the person’s personal humanity even as they abdicate that authority and misuse it, even to death if need be (as Christ supremely does, forgiving and asking and praying for forgiveness even as they crucify Him, in the very act in which He comes into His Kingdom, in Peter and John and then Stephen before the Sanhedrin where Stephen prays for the forgiveness and release, to so many Christian’s martyrdoms including Peter and Paul before Nero and many others) to work to bring liberty reconciliation and healing even while death and tyrannical systems at all levels rage, meeting love for hate, life for death, blessing for cursing, healing for wounding.
So then, this is the Gospel, the announcement and acting of Kingdom of God, that Christ is now Lord of the world and the ransom and freedom from death has come, of the new life and creation that has even now come upon the world, and affirming in all our acts the love and immortal Life of God and the defeat and humanity’s freedom from death in all things. The Gospel is the new creation life, the Life of God in action, so who should you evangelise is by being a martyr, and witness with your life personally and with others, bring the love of God into others, into the dark places and the hurting places, help to bring reconciliation and restoration, every act of love will not be lost, each act of blessing, of true compassion, and interacting with the other, the needy and the hurting, every act of liberty with and for Christ is the Gospel, it both shows it and brings it, and announces and demonstrates the reign of God in Jesus who is Lord of the world, and shows the defeat of death already here, and to be complete at His appearing.
We evangelise in this way, evangelion means gospel, so to evangelise simple is to manifest, show and bring the Kingdom of God, the new life of the age and the freedom from the power and ways of death into people’s lives, of witnessing (as an action) of being martyrs in that original sense to the Love and Life of God in Christ, and the freedom of humanity and bringing this to people. And with our universalist understanding of the restoration of all humanity we should be freed completely to focus back to this original purpose, to be evangelical in the truest sense of the world, there is no need to bother people in coffee shops or obsessive over ‘saving souls’ (incidentally demoting and forgetting their bodies, or that human beings are not dualistic, but rather a holistic whole now and always of which what soul and body are aspects) but work instead on showing love and working and engaging in saving the whole person, and of communities around you, and of those hurting and in need. The Kingdom of God is here and among you, help people to see it, and bring it to them, and thereby engage that Kingdom and life yourself .
Instead we follow and live by Jesus Christ, already as we see exhibited in the catacombs of Rome by the end of the first century as the first, faithful, and true Martyr—the true Man or Adam, reversing the curse of death of the first. Jesus Christ as the true Adam has reversed the curse through his victory over both death and Hades, a victory won in his resurrection and ascension. By following Christ in witnessing to the Kingdom, bringing God’s love and light and freedom from death into others life, of forgiving and meeting hate with blessing, love for hate and life for death, even to suffering and death if need be, the early martyrs were partaking of the true life, death, and resurrection of the Lord, the showed the defeat of death, as we are reminded by Paul in Romans (6:4) ‘buried together with him by baptism into death; that as Christ is risen from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we also may walk in newness of life’, we are called to show and bring Christ’s victory by the Spirit, from the beginning God determined to manifest HIs rule, love and nature into creation by humanity as those in His image and likeness, and He will not rescind this ever, and Christians as ones to who this call is being renewed are to show it and manifest it, the new life and freedom now here, to show more and more Christ and an humans truly alive who are the glory of God, and to come fully in the completion of the resurrection, death is defeated, let us show this, and Christ is Lord of the world, let us show this.
In being this martyr in however this plays out in each of our lives, we are showing our renewal following the truly Human One (of whom in His moment of glory and entering His Kingdom Pilate in John’s Gospel declares ‘behold the man’ at last God has completed through the One by Whom all things were made, the human being, the One who is the image and likeness of God, by He who is the Image of the Invisible God, there is what it means to be human, so don’t let yourselves or any human live beneath their dignity or treat them as such, it’s idolatrous to do so). We show we are in the life of Christ the true man, in which the curse of death is broken and reversed and being reversed. As when St Polycarp of Smyrna in the early second century AD faced his death and the completion of his witness, his martyrdom he heard a voice from realm of heaven, ‘Be strong, and show yourself a man’, through his life Polycarp showed the life of Christ, and reign of God and showed himself to be a true human being after the ultimate and true Adam, not it arrogance, controlling or dominating, but rather in quiet and courageous humility and in showing and testifying to love and living in the freedom from death.
This is how we witness, and this is how we evangelise, and being thus true and faithful witnesses, live the life and bring that life to the needy, the hurt, be ministers of peacemaking and reconciliation at all levels, and so citizens of heaven (to be heard not as we are citizens waiting to go someone, but rather as Roman citizens were, they were in the first century settled in coloniae, colonial cities to bring imperial culture and life and the rule of Ceasar out to the provinces, they were never intended to live in Rome, which was overcrowded and didn’t want so violent ex-soldiers coming in to cause more trouble, no Paul is meaning that as imperial citizens bring imperial culture and wait for the emperor to come and restore things so that is what Christians are, they are to bring the culture of heaven to those around them) wherever we are. And so we are to witnesses in humility, self-giving love, self-sacrificial service and in entering and sharing the suffering of others, and to live and show the freedom humanity now has from death.