The word “evangelist” (euangelistes) appears only three times in the New Testament, but the nature of his work is to preach the gospel message found in the Bible. Part of the work of an Evangelist is to preach the gospel, so that men and women may turn to God and become Christians. But another important aspect of the Evangelist’s work is to establish and grow a congregation of Christians to maturity through the preaching of the gospel.
We are observing, then, that the full spectrum of an Evangelist’s work includes mission work (local or abroad), and the building up of the local work through the teaching ministry of the word. Moreover, the work includes the developing of local saints so that they may fullfill their own service to the Lord. Thus we have:
What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building. (1 Cor. 3.5-9 ESV)
The Evangelist must plant and water, but God gives the increase. Let us consider the following thoughts.
Philip the Evangelist
In Acts 21.8,* it is noted that Paul and his mission team stayed in the home of “the evangelist Philip”. Initially, Philip was called to serve among the widows in Jerusalem (Acts 6.1-7), but quickly emerged as a proclaimer of the Good News. Aside from his noteworthy work of establishing the church in Samaria (Acts 8.4-25), he also contributed to the expansion of the faith into Ethiopia (Acts 8.26-39).
Luke points out that Philip’s evangelistic work remained in the vicinity of Caesarea (Acts 8.40). Philip the Evangelist: “proclaimed” Christ (Acts 8.5), and “he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ”, connecting this message with baptism (Acts 8.12, 36-38). Not only did his message include Jesus Christ, but it also included the prophetic messages of the Old Testament (Acts 8.30-33; Isa. 53.7-8).
Timothy the Evangelist
Paul told Timothy, “do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (2 Tim. 4.5 ESV). This ministry includes the demand to “preach the word” at any time, and for a variety of purposes (2 Tim. 4.2). Contextually, Paul warns that Timothy needs to be vigilant (“be ready in season and out of season”) with his message, because opposition to the Gospel will be arriving soon (Rev. 2.2, 4-5). In this warning, Paul provides a fuller description of the nature of “ministry”:
reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. (2 Tim. 4.2)
The ministry of the Evangelist is described in three broad terms. Each term is vital to understanding the framework of his tasks.
(1) Reprove (elengcho)
The force of this word is essentially to convincingly show the truth of thing (habit, choice, person, etc.), and then to persuasively press the case of one’s “fault or error”; to empirically condemn sinful behavior.
(2) Rebuke (epitimao)
Conceptually, epitimao and elengcho have some overlap; however, “rebuke” is a broad term suggesting a scolding issued out with a warning. It may even be expressed as a censorship regarding sinful behavior.
(3) Exhort (parakaleo)
The word provides a range of meanings; from speaking words of encouragement to begging, from making requests to summoning, from begging to cheering up, and also offering invitations.
These broad words describe the bulk of the ministry of the Evangelist. They are part of the everyday work, and they are not optional. They are to be practiced in a patient teaching atmosphere (2 Tim. 4.2). It is any wonder that the Evangelist is “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (Eph. 4.11).
The Everyday Work
Since coming to Livingston, we have been striving to do the work of an Evangelist. We have been focusing on reinforcing the teaching program of the congregation. And we have. We have been studying with non-members in the community just about every week since for the last 10 months.
Unfortunately, one of our friends we studied with died before obeying the gospel. It was truly a tragic moment. We beg for prayers as we continue our studies with three other members of the community, for baptism is a topic on the table at this time in our studies. We have been increasing our visitors, many have become regular visitors. We are thankful for them.
Our children are learning about Jesus. In our youth classes, we are studying Christian Evidences and The Pentateuch. Our Adult classes are focused on Matthew and Esther, and will be concluding shortly. I am surveying the Prophets on Sunday mornings, and in the afternoon we are going through a series on the fundamentals of worship called, We Shall Assemble.
* All enboldend Scripture references are the three uses of the noun form euangelistes, “Evangelist”.