Topical Studies

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What the Bible says about Evangelist
(From Forerunner Commentary)

The term evangelist is a very interesting word. We tend to think of it as somebody who goes out into the world and "preaches the gospel to the world," much as an apostle does. However, there is only one example in the Bible of an evangelist doing that? Philip did this, and many commentators believe that he later was an apostle. The general conclusion regarding an evangelist is that their evangelizing was to the church. One commentator says, "Except for Philip, called 'the evangelist', no other evangelist is shown in the Bible preaching to the public." The same commentator also says, "The evangelist preaching the gospel was within the church."

The term evangelist begins in the Bible as a function (for example, Philip's preaching), but it ends as an office (for instance, Timothy's position). It began as a function of preaching to the public, but somehow, during the course of the first century, "evangelist" became the title of a man who was a "supervisor" over other ministers.

So should an evangelist go to the world preaching the gospel? As we have seen, there is no definitive, biblical answer. Nevertheless, the evidence seems to indicate the answer should be, generally, "No," or "Not as a matter of course."

John W. Ritenbaugh
Avoiding Superficiality

Related Topics: Evangelist


1 Corinthians 3:9-10

If God places us within an office in the church—as an elder or a deacon—it must be looked upon as a blessing that is a responsibility, not a reward! It is given for God's purposes. Paul even had his office as apostle because it was given to him. It is implied that all the powers to perform it were also given. He used them to lay the foundation.

Everybody else is the same way. The important thing is that each one of us must use our gifts to build. Paul says, "Be careful how you build." The foundation that was laid is Jesus Christ. When we begin to expand on it, it consists of the apostles and the prophets as well—the things that they wrote and the examples that they set. Everybody is to build on the same foundation! God gives everybody the gifts to enable them to do so.

To some, God gives gifts to be apostles; to others, He gives gifts to be an evangelist, pastor, teacher, or whatever. They are given, though, and every time God gives an office, He gives all that is needed for the person to fulfill that office—including overcoming sin.

The Bible consistently teaches that an office is not a place from which to exercise power, but a position from which to exercise service. The authority is certainly there, since God gives it. He always gives the authority to go with the office, but having it means that the elder or deacon must also have the right perspective on how to use the office God has given him. The office is given, not earned.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Grace Upon Grace


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