The Evangelist (Part One)
God's plan for the church was and is perfect. He had a distinct purpose for everything that He did in establishing Christ's Church. One part of that flawless plan was the `setting apart' of “officers” (works). Let's take time to examine each one of these and their roles as described in scripture. They affect each of us!
1) What does the word `evangelize' or `evangelist' mean?
“EVANGELIST: euangelistes NT: 2099, lit., "a messenger of good" (eu, "well," angelos, "a messenger"), denotes a "preacher of the gospel," Acts 21:8; Eph 4:11, which makes clear the distinctiveness of the function in the churches; 2 Tim 4:5. Cf. euangelizo, "to proclaim glad tidings," and euangelion, "good news, gospel." Missionaries are "evangelists," as being essentially preachers of the gospel.” (Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Copyright (c)1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers).
EVANGELIST: (e-van'-jel-ist): This is a form of the word ordinarily translated "gospel" (euaggelion), except that here it designates one who announces that gospel to others (euaggelistes, "a bringer of good tidings"), literally, God Himself is an evangelist, for He "preached the gospel beforehand unto Abraham" (Gal 3:8); Jesus Christ was an evangelist, for He also "preached the gospel" (Luke 20:1); Paul was an evangelist as well as an apostle (Rom 1:15); Philip the deacon was an evangelist (Acts 21:8); and Timothy, the pastor (2 Tim 4:5); and indeed all the early disciples who, on being driven out of Jerusalem, "went everywhere preaching the word" (Acts 8:4 the King James Version).
But Eph 4:11 teaches that one particular order of the ministry, distinguished from every other, is singled out by the Head of the church for this work in a distinctive sense. All may possess the gift of an evangelist in a measure, and be obligated to exercise its privilege and duty, but some are specially endued with it. "He gave some to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers." (International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, Electronic Database Copyright (c)1996 by Biblesoft).
The word `evangelize' merely means “announce or proclaim the gospel.” The term `evangelist' refers to the one who proclaims the gospel. The four gospel writers are often called `evangelists' because they told the gospel story. But as the ISBE states (and I don't by any means agree with all that they claim), and as we'll see in our study, there is the work of `evangelist' as placed in order by God (Eph. 4:11).
2) Who has the responsibility to evangelize?
Acts 8:4, “Therefore, those who had been scattered went about preaching the word” (NASU).
Acts 11:19, “So then those who were scattered because of the persecution that occurred in connection with Stephen made their way to Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except to Jews alone” (NASU).
Matthew 5:13-16, “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. 14 "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 15 nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (NASU).
We all have the responsibility. That includes every Christian! I think it very interesting that the early church was `scattered' by persecution from the beginning and went about “preaching the word.” Maybe we need to do a little scattering today?
3) If we say that ALL Christians are to evangelize, is it then necessary to have an `evangelist' today in the church?
Acts 21:8, “On the next day we left and came to Caesarea, and entering the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, we stayed with him” (NASU).
There are those who argue that this Philip (not the apostle) (Matthew 10:3). was merely referred to as an evangelist because he evangelized, and that he was not “set aside” for this work. This is certainly a possibility, but he is referred to as “the evangelist,” not “an evangelist.”
Ephesians 4:11, “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers” (NASU).
In this passage it speaks of the particular `work' of the evangelist as appointed by God Himself. This was (and is) to help the “building up of the body for the work of Christ.” The work of the evangelist is to remain as long as the church remains upon the earth, as shown here and in the following passage of scripture.
2 Timothy 4:5, “But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (NASU).
Here we have Paul referring to Timothy as an evangelist. This leads us to the next question.
4) How can we know the `duties' of the `evangelist' for today?
The most obvious and easiest answer is to say, “From the Word of God.” That is correct. But more specifically, we must look at the instructions given to evangelists in the New Testament in order to understand the work that God has set before them.
We know from the passage above (2 Tim. 4:5) that Timothy was an evangelist. It is believed by many that Titus was also an evangelist “set apart” for the work. It would appear so even from the nature of the letters written to Timothy and Titus that this would be so.
There are those who argue that the work of evangelist no longer exists. There are at least two problems with that reasoning. (1) The Bible says that the work existed and gave no instruction as to its passing as it does the apostles and prophets (foretellers). And (2) If there are to be no evangelists today, then what authority do we have for the work that has been given to the man that fulfills that role in the church today? We know that “pastor” is unscriptural, as there is never a `single' pastor (They are the elders of the church. But that's another lesson.). If there is no longer an evangelist, then there is no biblical authority for the man that we often call the `minister' or the `preacher.'
Another argument that has arisen is that since the evangelists of the New Testament were apparently “set apart” by the apostles (See 2 Tim. 1:6), the “rules don't apply” so to speak. The only observations that I would make in that area is that (1) In the letters to Timothy he is never given any tasks that demand miraculous gifts, and (2) If we take that view, then the Great Commission would not apply to Christians, as it was originally given to the apostles.
We must take the Word and make every attempt to do the will of our Lord. I don't claim to know everything about God's Word and would suppose that the same is true for you. I apologize if I ever give the impression of arrogance, but it is just that I long to know the will of God the best that I can, and that often starts with taking what He has clearly said and accepting those facts, and then going on from there.
Evangelists today must `glean' from the New Testament directives to the evangelists all that they can do in fulfilling that work for God and His church.
5) How does a man (Notice that we say “man.”) become an evangelist?
(A) 1 Timothy 6:11, “But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness” (NASU).
1 Timothy 4:15-16, “Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress will be evident to all. 16 Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you” (NASU).
2 Timothy 2:15, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth” (NASU).
First of all, a man must seek to please God in his life. It seems reasonable that one would have the same first qualification as the work of the elder, “desire the work.” He would be a man who would be diligent in handling the Word, fleeing unrighteousness and “absorbed” in the teachings of God.
(B) Acts 13:1-3, “Now there were at Antioch, in the church that was there, prophets and teachers: Barnabas, and Simeon who was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 2 While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." 3 Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away” (NASU).
2 Timothy 1:6, “For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands” (NASU).
The evangelist (as in 2 Tim. 1:6) should be “set apart” for the work. This is what we usually call the “ordination.” When a man chooses to commit his life to the work of evangelist, he is “set apart” (dedicated) for the work that he has chosen to do. I am not suggesting that those in Acts 13 were `evangelists,' but desire to show that a great task includes a great commitment!
6) Who “employees” the evangelist? (Who does he work for?)
Ultimately he works for the Lord. He is not in any way “employed” by the congregation. He does have a responsibility to serve the congregation within which he serves, but not as their “servant.” He is a servant of the congregation only as we are “servants” of one another. The evangelist is indeed a leader in the church. As we see the work that he has undertaken, we also see the leadership that he has as “a servant of the Almighty God.”
Our churches have a tremendous misunderstanding in this area. There is no scriptural hierarchy by which the evangelist falls “under” the elders or the elders “under” the evangelist. However, both `works' are to be carried out, while accountable to one another, the congregation, and most of all to God!
7) What are some of the examples of the evangelist and his work as revealed in the New Testament?
(A) Acts 21:8, “On the next day we left and came to Caesarea, and entering the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, we stayed with him” (NASU).
Acts 8:4-5, “Therefore, those who had been scattered went about preaching the word.
5 Philip went down to the city of Samaria and began proclaiming Christ to them” (NASU).
Acts 8:26-30, “But an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip saying, "Get up and go south to the road that descends from Jerusalem to Gaza." (This is a desert road.) 27 So he got up and went; and there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure; and he had come to Jerusalem to worship, 28 and he was returning and sitting in his chariot, and was reading the prophet Isaiah. 29 Then the Spirit said to Philip, "Go up and join this chariot." 30 Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, "Do you understand what you are reading?” (NASU).
2 Timothy 4:2, “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction” (NASU).
Preach the word. Preach the word. Preach the word. Preach the word.
(B) Titus 1:5, “For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you” (NASU).
“Set in order what remains and appoint elders.” Here we have a directive to Titus. Notice that the instructions are to “appoint elders in every city.” (See question #4.) This is where we see a difference in the duties of today's evangelist and Timothy and Titus. Today's evangelist could not go to other cities and appoint elders. He would hardly know someone well enough from the closest congregation up the road well enough to make such an important decision. But he does know the men of his congregation well enough to know whether they can fulfill the qualifications and responsibilities.
Again, there are those who select elders in other ways. The most common method of selecting elders is “congregational voting.” This is a method that is not found in scripture either by precept or precedent. Perhaps this process of “electing” elders is a product of a democratic society. In any event, I would ask the reader to investigate the scriptures and decide which method is appropriate. I believe after careful “open-minded” study you will agree that the ONLY manner mentioned in scripture is the “appointing” by the evangelist.
This would also apply to the “setting in order” of the congregation. He can only “set in order” to the degree of the ability that he has been given. But he is STILL to set the congregation in order. This would come by doing the following.
1 Timothy 4:12, “Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe” (NASU).
The evangelist is to first of all be an example to other believers. An example in his “speech, conduct, love, faith and purity.” That describes Christ-like behavior. That describes the fruit of the Spirit.
2 Timothy 2:2, “The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (NASU).
The evangelist is to “pass on” in the way of teaching, what he has learned to other “faithful men.” Perhaps Paul is even saying that Timothy is to raise up other “Timothys?”
2 Timothy 2:25, “With gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth” (NASU).
The evangelist is to “correct” those in error (We will address the issue of `correction' further as we study the eldership.). Notice that 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (written to an evangelist) says that, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (NASU). This would also be the outcome of following the instruction of 2 Timothy 4:2, “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction” (NASU). This was and is unpopular preaching among most church members.
8) What is the evangelist to preach?
2 Timothy 4:2, “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction” (NASU).
Although we have already covered this passage, I would like to point out that the evangelist is to preach THE WORD. That includes all of it, not just what people want to hear. Another unpopular subject.
Acts 8:5, “Philip went down to the city of Samaria and began proclaiming Christ to them” (NASU).
1 Corinthians 15:1-4, “Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (NASU).
Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (NASU).
He is to preach the gospel. “It is the power of God for salvation. . . . .” But then, aren't we all to preach the gospel?
9) From the scriptures that we have already read, to whom did the New Testament evangelist preach?
All. He preached to the lost and to the church. Most of the directives in the letters to Timothy and Titus deal with the building up of the body (as is supported by Eph. 4:11). It seems that this is certainly the primary responsibility of the evangelist, but preaching the Gospel is equally as important.
10) The job of the evangelist is not an easy one. He has as the primary task the teaching and preparing of the congregation for the task that God has set before them (us). The `body' has an obligation to make his work `enjoyable' and profitable. See Galatians 6:6.
Galatians 6:6, “The one who is taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches him” (NASU).
I would ask that the reader not spend so much time contemplating upon the problems of the congregation down the road as he thinks about the subject that we have just studied. Certainly that is a part of our thinking process. But more importantly, how is the congregation that you serve doing in this area?
While a great amount of responsibility to make scriptural corrections falls to the evangelist himself, it is also the responsibility of the leaders and congregation to see these things through as well.