10 Reasons to Stop Calling the Gospel ‘Scandalous’
but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. – I Corinthians 1:23, 24
To those religious Jews in the days surrounding the crucifixion of Christ Jesus, anyone put to death in that manner was cursed forever. Even to speak of such a person would be considered extremely offensive. To call a crucified person the Messiah? the Christ? the Chosen One of God? Well, that was the ultimate in outrageously offensive talk – to the unbelieving Jew.
In fact, the Apostle Paul stresses this point by using the term skandalon, a word that refers to a sort of “trap stick” used in trapping animals for example, or, in this case, tripping up unbelieving Jews who were expecting an earthly, militaristic Messiah who would bring a worldwide empire, not a Messiah condemned and crucified. It is the term from which we derive the modern day word scandal.
Notice how the word is applied: to a person, specifically, to Jesus Christ. It’s used the same way in Romans 9:33, again referring to Christ.
So to unbelieving, religious Jews, the message of a crucified Messiah was a scandal indeed.
Note something else here: to all saints, that is, all those divinely selected and appointed unto salvation by way of the Gospel message (Ephes. 1:4), Christ is not skandalon, a scandalous message, but rather Christ and the message of a crucified and condemned Messiah is good news! Paul calls Christ – and the message – the power of God and the wisdom of God.
It’s important to make these distinctions. While there may be some reading this who were once unbelieving, religious Jews now brought to salvation through the Gospel message, I venture to say that is not the case of the majority of readers. We are not unbelieving, religious Jews!
Having said that, and in reference to the passage quoted above, I’m going to give you 10 reasons why all true Christians should reconsider and, indeed, stop calling the Gospel a scandalous message altogether:
- Scripture never calls Christ Jesus or the Gospel skandalon, or scandal, except when referring to unbelieving, religious Jews.
- You, most likely, are not an unbelieving, religious Jew!
- When you speak of the Gospel as scandalous to other believers, you are, unintentionally, but by implication, speaking of the Gospel in the same way an unbelieving Jew would – as something outrageously offensive to you!
- When you call the Gospel of Jesus Christ scandalous, you are saying Christ is a scandal, a stumbling-block, offensive – to you!
- Scripture explicitly says Christ Jesus and the Gospel message is good news, not scandalous, to believers. It is called the dunamis – the miraculous power, strength and ability of God to save. To call the Gospel scandalous is to take the position of an unbelieving Jew – rejecting God’s power, strength and ability to save through a message of a condemned, crucified Messiah. It is blasphemy!
- Scripture says Christ and the Gospel message is the wisdom, sophia, of God. Messiah and the good news of the Gospel is God’s answer to all mankind, both Jew and Greek, in regards to man’s problem of legal and real guilt before Him. To call the Gospel scandalous is again, to take the position of an unbelieving Jew – the message of a crucified, condemned Messiah is not God’s answer, is not God’s wisdom, and neither is Christ! It is a verbal rejection –unintentional when the believer says it - of God’s wisdom, power and His Son.
- Calling the Gospel scandalous opposes how Scripture describes it in relationship to believers.
- Calling the Gospel scandalous when speaking to or teaching other believers leads to, and is, a misunderstanding of Scripture.
- Calling the Gospel scandalous is, by implication, taking the position of the unbelieving Jew and a rejection of God’s grace and His doctrine of salvation by Him.
- Because calling the Gospel scandalous is to take the position of an unbelieving Jew, it is a rejection of the beauty, glory, loveliness, excellency of Messiah Jesus, of His kingdom which He has indeed established, and to remain in darkness and unbelief.
There are many implications being made when Christians refer to the Gospel as ‘scandalous’ brethren. If we are to remain faithful to the Scriptures, let us not speak of holy things so loosely without careful examination. Words have meaning and we need to be careful how we use them in regards to the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ. Unless you are, indeed, greatly offended by Christ and the Gospel message, please cease and desist this misleading use of the term scandalous while referencing the Gospel.