The Gospel As Royal Summons

I recently stumbled upon a quote that ties quite nicely into my coming sermon on the Ascension:

It [the Gospel] is a royal summons to submission, to obedience, to allegiance; and the form that this submission and obedient allegiance takes is, of course, faith. — N. T. Wright

The Greek words pistis (a noun) and pisteuo (a verb), translated into English as faith and believe, would often better be translated as allegiance. This ties into the meaning of “gospel” in the time of Jesus and Paul as the announcement of the reign of a new Emperor. Understanding the word “gospel” in the way it was used in Roman times makes it clear that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not primarily good advice we might want to follow, or an opportunity for a wonderful religious experience, or even a proffer of salvation, but rather a proclamation of the news that Jesus Christ reigns. Understanding “gospel” this way makes it easier to grasp the nature of the required pistis and pisteuo as an allegiance that subsumes belief and trust.


N. T. Wright, “New Perspectives on Paul” in Pauline Perspectives: Essays on Paul, 1978-2013 (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2013), 278.

The nature of the gospel as news is discussed in at length in Wright, N. T. Simply Good News: Why the Gospel Is News and What Makes It Good. New York: HarperOne, an Imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, 2017.