The Evangelist: Part Two
THE EVANGELIST PART TWO: A CLOSER LOOK
It is the purpose of this study to go beyond what we have studied in the first part of our lesson, “OFFICERS OF THE CHURCH: THE EVANGELIST,” and see what else God has said concerning this man referred to as the evangelist. We will be discussing his duties and responsibilities as found in the letters to Timothy and Titus, and will look at some of the reasons that are given for not following their pattern. An attempt will be made to be fair to all, but the reader is asked to put aside any traditions or personal prejudice before this study.
1) In the church today, we often speak of “the minister” or “the preacher.” We denounce those who improperly use the terms “pastor” or “reverend” in reference to the man who fills the role that is scripturally described as the “evangelist.” We are correct in our understanding that the terms “pastor” and “reverend” are unscriptural. And we are also correct in our understanding that this man is “a minister” (not “the minister”) and “a preacher” of the Gospel. But why is it that most of our congregations only use the term “evangelist” in reference to a “visiting speaker?”
I suppose that I have almost given the answer to this question as I presented the question. Although we often `misuse' the terms “minister” or “preacher” in reference to the evangelist, it is not my purpose to be so `dogmatic and legalistic as to condemn those who do so. However it is my purpose to remind all who read this that we have gotten away from calling “Bible things by Bible names.” The evangelist should be recognized as a biblical evangelist. When we do get away from using Bible language, we also find that Bible things are not being done in a Bible way.
For instance, I am convinced that we have many evangelists (since this is our subject) who are doing the work of a “minister,” “preacher,” or even “pastor” because those are the descriptions that are most often used today. We need to consider Bible authority in our words and our actions!
2) How were the letters to Timothy and Titus addressed? To whom were the other epistles addressed? Are the instructions given to Timothy and Titus to be specifically understood in the context as having been delivered to evangelists?
1 Timothy is addressed directly to Timothy (1:2) as is 2 Timothy (1:2). The letter to Titus is directed to Titus (1:4). Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, James, 1 & 2 Peter, 1, 2 & 3 John, Jude and Revelation were addressed to the saints, the church, the brethren, the twelve tribes (spiritual Israel), aliens (Christians), those who have received the faith, to those who are called and to God's bondservants. Philemon was addressed specifically to Philemon, Apphia and Archippus. The book of Hebrews is not `addressed' to anyone but was written to the Hebrew Christians as can be seen by its content.
Thus the letters to Timothy and Titus were written and addressed particularly to these men, who were in fact, evangelists. They were not addressed to the saints, as were most of the other epistles, but to the evangelists. That is not to say that all Christians cannot learn from these epistles, but is to say that they need to be understood in the context within which they were written. In fact, it is likely that these epistles were read to the congregation as well.
3) Explain authority as given to men by God. Consider this in the context of “church leadership.”
Those who have been placed in positions of leadership have been given “authority” from God. The scriptures make reference to even worldly authority as having been given by God (Rom. 13:1f). But this authority is NEVER to exceed the limits or instruction that God has given. To do so is to “usurp” that authority. In most of our work places it would be called “insubordination.”
Whether it be a “worldly leader” or a “church leader,” that disobeys God's instruction, it is still going beyond the authority that has been given by God. Thus, an elder, evangelist or a teacher has authority as given by God only as he remains in the will of God. When a man goes beyond God's instruction (or neglects His instruction), he has usurped the authority of God and the authority that he has been given by God.
Therefore, in answer to our question, authority as given by God (in the church) is the authority of the word of God. No one is to usurp that authority!
4) Some say that the evangelist has no authority, and that only the elders have been given any scriptural authority. Does this view agree with scripture?
A) What `authority' was given (if any) to the evangelist?
Let's look at some of the `duties' or `responsibilities' of the evangelist. Timothy was to instruct in the context of warning (1 Tim. 1:3; 6:17), point out warnings and teachings to the brethren (1 Tim. 4:6), prescribe and teach these things (1 Tim. 4:11), give attention to the public reading of scripture, exhortation ( Advice or encouragement intended to incite hearers to action.) and teaching (1 Tim. 4:13; 2 Tim. 4:2), rebuke (elders) (1 Tim. 5:20), teach the apostolic doctrine to reliable men(2 Tim. 2:2), “Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers” (2 Tim. 2:14), preach the word (2 Tim. 4:2), and reprove and rebuke (2 Tim. 4:2).
In addition to the above `commands,' we can determine from the instruction to Timothy that he was to expose false teaching (1 Tim. 1:3-7), encourage prayer (1 Tim. 2:1-8), instruct women in their roles (2 Tim. 2:9-15), see to it that no unqualified men were put into leadership (1 Tim. 3:1-13; 1 Tim. 5:22), see that the widows are taken care of (1 Tim. 5:1-16), watch over the eldership (1 Tim. 5:17-22), able teachers (2 Tim. 2:2), avoid arguments and division over unimportant matters (2 Tim. 2:14-26), beware of imposters (2 Tim. 3:13), teach, reprove, correct and train (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
Titus was to “set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city” (1:5), silence rebellious men (1:10-16), urge men and women to behave appropriate in their role (2:1-10), speak, exhort and reprove with authority (2:15), remind the hearers concerning their relationships to all men (3:1-2), and avoid foolish controversies (3:9-11).
Evangelists are also to help equip the church (Eph. 4:11-16),
Can a man with this kind of responsibility claim no authority? He has the command of God to obey these things, and they involve the instruction, warning, rebuking, correcting and overseeing of the saints. Yes, this man has authority from God!
B) What `authority' has been given to the elders?
The elders are to be on guard for themselves and for all of the flock (Acts 20:28-30), visit the sick (James 5:14-15), equip the church (Eph. 4:11-16), rule (more appropriately translated “lead”) well, preach and teach (1 Tim. 5:17), shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock (1 Peter 5:2-3).
C) Describe the relationship and work of the evangelist and elders as they reflect upon one another.
The evangelist and the elders both have been given authority from God as it relates to His church. God wants His saints to be protected from false teaching, Satan, division, becoming weak and inactive, and from missing heaven! No one could understand anything on the subject of “church leadership” without seeing that it is to better “equip the saints” for the strengthening of the church (Eph. 4:11-16; 2 Tim. 3:16-17).
However there are many that claim “all authority” for the elders. Others demand “authority” for the evangelist. The scriptures do not reveal any such hierarchy (chain of command). The elders are to work together for the care and equipping of the saints. If an elder becomes caught up in sin, other elders (Gal. 6:1) or the evangelist (1 Tim. 5:20) are to correct him, seeking his repentance. If the evangelist becomes caught up in sin, the elders, as the shepherds of the church (of which the evangelist is certainly a part) are called upon to correct him, again seeking his repentance. The elders do not work for the evangelist, and neither does the evangelist work for the elders. They both work for God!
5) Timothy is instructed to “entrust to reliable men” the apostolic teaching, that “they may be qualified to teach others” (2 Tim. 2:2). In 1 Tim. 4:11 Timothy is told to “command and teach” these things. What role does the evangelist have in training teachers and leaders (if any)?
“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” (2 Tim. 2:2, NAS). Paul instructs Timothy to teach “faithful” or “reliable” (NIV) men. William L. Self defines “faithful” in this way; “Steadfast, dedicated, dependable, and worthy of trust. It is derived from the Hebrew root having the basic meaning “to trust (a person),” or “to believe (a statement).” This is the same root that gives us the word “amen.” The derived meaning is that the one so described is trustworthy, dependable, trusting, or loyal. Moses was faithful in all God's household (Num. 12:7). “Faithful” is used to describe the relation of God and Israel (Deut. 7:9). The faithful God keeps His covenant, and the faithful people keep His commandments.”( Holman Bible Dictionary Copyright © 1991 Holman Bible Publishers. All rights reserved. International copyright secured.)
Obviously the evangelists were to teach all concerning the word of God. They would not withhold from some and instruct others would they? However we read here a specific instruction for Timothy to instruct trustworthy men in the way of the apostolic teaching (“The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses”) so that they may be able to teach others also. It is at the least, an instruction that would result in the preparing of teachers of the word. It also would no doubt result in men becoming spiritual leaders (i.e. elders) if they indeed heeded these commands and teaching.
No, Timothy was not told, “Teach men to be teachers and elders.” But the result of apostolic teaching would be the same.
6) In Acts 6, men were chosen to serve so that the apostles could “give” themselves to the word.” When we see the importance of those who preach and teach in the church today, will we not also find that they should have time and opportunity to “devote themselves to the word?” Might this understanding change things in many congregations?
Undoubtedly this would change things in many congregations. There are so many congregations in which the evangelist is expected to do almost everything. After all, he is the “paid help.” But it was never intended to be this way. Saints, we need to wake up and pitch in, and see to it that the evangelist is able to do the work of the evangelist.
I cannot help but also mention that there are some evangelists who rather enjoy doing these other tasks. Some accept that role because it leads to less interruption in their routine. In other words, they get to do things their way.
There are other evangelists that will `fight' you to keep you from printing their bulletin, or mailing the newsletter, or other `maintenance related' tasks. Why? Perhaps this makes things just a little more comfortable? The (often more `uncomfortable') tasks that the evangelist is `ordained' to do can be set aside. In other words, it's easier!
Whether you are an evangelist, an elder, or “a minister” serving in some other capacity, you need to help to see that the evangelist has time and opportunity to “give himself to the word” and “do the work of an evangelist.”
One more point in this area. If the evangelist becomes so burdened with the duties such as those mentioned above that he does not have ample time to do his work, he is often burdened even further by attempting to still do his work. Often this burden has resulted in many a man of God being left without time of spiritual refreshment himself. Sometimes the results are eternal. We must not allow our evangelists (or other leaders for that matter) do be undernourished when it comes to the word, prayer and family. There is much more that could be said here, but the point has been made.
7) In doing “the work of an evangelist,” how is this work affected (both in a positive way and in a negative way) by this man's relationship with the members of his congregation (i.e. hospital calls, home calls, in-home teaching, fellowship, etc.)? (Again note Acts 6. Could there have been some of the ladies who were later displeased because: “the apostles didn't come . . . . ?”)
We have already began to discuss the negative affect that some of these tasks has upon the work of the evangelist (Question #6). Many times, doing the work of the other saints (not that the evangelist doesn't help out in many of these areas) results in the duties of the evangelist being left undone. Perhaps he becomes “out of touch” with the members of the congregation and does not see the needs that must be met. Perhaps sin has crept into the church unnoticed by the evangelist, because he has been so “busy” with other things.
However, if the evangelist is a part of a scriptural congregation in which every member is an active minister, he will often find time (and should) to visit the sick, and be involved in “fun” and “fellowship” activities in the church, which will make him a more “in the know” evangelist. It will allow him to be more aware of people's (spiritual) needs and will also allow him the opportunity to enjoy the “encouragement” of the saints. Many an evangelist never gets to “tap” this fountain of blessing!
He may also find more opportunity to approach the “new” member that has just moved into the area, or the “new convert” to do some teaching. But don't forget that he is not the only one to be involved in this teaching. The elders and teachers of the church should be most active in this ministry!
And of course there is the opportunity to teach those that do not know Jesus. The evangelist will have the opportunity to get into homes to teach people the word of God and eventually lead them to a decision!
8) Read the books of 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy and Titus. Make a `list' of the responsibilities that the evangelist has been given. Most of us know evangelists who publish and print the church newsletter and bulletin, mow the grass, make every effort to se all of the members who are in the hospital, clean the baptistery, and do any other work that must be done. How can a man perform all of these tasks and do the work of an evangelist as well?
We have already answered this previously in questions #4 (A), #5, #6 and #7. But the bottom line is, “He can't!” And this has often resulted in the `weak' congregations that we have today.
9) Must an evangelist have a “located ministry?”
Timothy was in Ephesus when he received this letter from Paul (1 Tim. 1:3). In fact, many of the instructions given by Paul in this epistle were directed toward the problem of false teachers, who were abundant in the idolatrous city of Ephesus. Paul was working in a church, which likely had elders, deacons and teachers. He was not old to “set the church in order” as was Titus.
Titus was at work in the church at Crete. The Crete church was not, as can be determined from reading these three epistles, completely established (“set in order”), as Paul instructs Titus to continue to “set the church in order” as he has instructed.
So we that at the time that they received these letters, both Timothy and Titus had what we might call a “located ministry.” Thus we see that an evangelist can have a located ministry and is not always to be a “traveling evangelist.”
I suppose that the next line of question is whether a man may “travel” (from church to church) and still scripturally be called an evangelist. Well, there is nothing in 1 or 2 Timothy, Titus, or any other part of the New Testament that would prohibit a man from doing this work as he goes to congregation after congregation. In fact, as we look at the duties of the evangelist [Again see 4(A)], we see that a man can perform these duties of teaching and instruction in any congregation. The only `work' that he cannot perform as he travels is to “appoint elders.”