The dictionary defines the word “tract” as: “a piece of writing expressing a strong belief, usually about religion or politics.”1 Therefore, a gospel tract is a piece of writing expressing the gospel of Jesus Christ.
One source dates the use of gospel tracts as far back as the 13th century.
“The distribution of tracts predates the development of the printing press, with the term being applied by scholars to religious and political works at least as early as the 13th century. They were used to disseminate the teachings of John Wycliffe in the 14th century. As a political tool, they proliferated throughout Europe during the 17th century. They were printed as persuasive religious material from the time of Gutenberg's invention.”2
Gospel tracts come in various shapes3 and sizes.4 The content of gospel tracts varies based on the author’s or publishing organization’s theological perspectives. By and large, a good gospel tract contains a succinct presentation of the law and the gospel with a call for the reader to repent and receive Jesus Christ (John 1:12) as his or her Lord and Savior.