Protoevangelium-First Gospel-and the implication for missions


In the Passion of the Christ, my favorite scene is in the Garden of Gethsemene. The scene isn’t actually taken from the Bible accounts in the New Testament, but looks back  to Genesis 3:15 where God tells the Serpent that a descendant of Eve will crush his head while he strikes his heel. So when, in the movie, Jesus stomps on the serpent, there was the joy of triumph, the fulfillment of prophecy, the reminder that God is sovereign and that ALL Jesus will go through is a part of the plan from eternity. Redemption promised and delivered.

So although Genesis 3 is a tragic scene, God’s promise to crush the serpent gives us hope. God will not let his creation go. At the greatest cost he will save it.

Implication for missions?  The conclusion to Romans (16:20 ff) states:  

The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you….Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

Perhaps Paul was still thinking of Isaiah 52:7  “How beautiful are the feet of him who brings good news which he quoted in Romans 10:15.

I stumbled upon this post by Alan at  “The Thinklings”

To whom was the first gospel message preached? The answer took me off guard a bit when I was reading through Genesis recently.

Of course students of the Bible are familiar with the seed of the woman that is promised in Genesis 3. The fancy word for this is the protoevangelium (“first gospel”).

What I never really thought about was this “first gospel” message was not preached to Adam and Eve directly. It was preached to Satan. And it sure wasn’t “good news” to him.

The Lord God said to the serpent,

Because you have done this,
cursed are you above all livestock
and above all beasts of the field;
on your belly you shall go,
and dust you shall eat
all the days of your life.
I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.

It’s fascinating to think about the implications here. Why would God arrange it this way? The Lord did not address Adam and Eve with the promise of redemption. They were given the task of taking dominion over the earth. But in redemption, they would be bystanders, benefiting from the labors of another. Paradise, and Paradise lost, were about them. Paradise regained was not.

The Lord did not hide his plan for redemption from the serpent. It was right out in the open. The usurper will be usurped, and a son of the woman will do it. You’ll try to stop me, but you’ll fail.

But it was no separate monologue, set apart from the punishments for emphasis. Though he didn’t hide it from the serpent, it was almost an afterthought. Or perhaps he’s a God of understatement. God is a loving God, one who takes joy in his creation. It should go without saying that he would redeem the world.