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A Little Ocean Ambiance
I Guess I'm a Rebel!
Dr. Richard Flanders
Juniata Baptist Church
WHERE IS THE EVANGELIST?
The Bible lists for us in Ephesians 4:11-12 several kinds of preachers
that God has given to the churches for their edification in the New
Testament age. There were "apostles" (sent ones), especially the
witnesses of His resurrection appointed by the Lord Jesus Himself. There
were "prophets" (forth-speakers), and there were "evangelists" (tellers
of good news). Then there were "pastors" (shepherds) and "teachers." Of
course, the Bible-believing churches of our day still have pastors, whom
many think are the same as the teachers according to the Greek in this
passage. The original apostles passed off the scene before the dawn of
the second century, but their ministry remains with us in the scriptures
they wrote by the inspiration of God. The others who wrote the New
Testament scriptures (such as Mark and Luke) were prophets who spoke
God's Word, and their gift has also passed away. Some see aspects of the
apostolic gift in missionary efforts, since the word "apostle" has
essentially the same meaning as "missionary." Some see Spirit-directed
and empowered speech short of divine inspiration as a form of the
prophetic gift, citing verses in I Corinthians 11, 12, 13, and 14. But
basically, Bible students see the apostle and the prophet as
first-century gifts to the churches continuing their ministry only in
scripture, and the evangelist and pastor as present-day instruments of
God among His people.
The office of the evangelist, however, has become controversial among
certain Bible-believers, and even among fundamentalists. Some churches
longer invite evangelists to preach for them or to lead them in revival
campaigns. Some seminaries teach future pastors that the evangelist is a
gift that has passed away. The evangelist is being rejected because of
two different but equally mistaken kinds of voices. One comes from
pastors of good evangelistic churches that see no need for periodic
revival meetings since their soul-winning programs go on year-round.
Sometimes they say that the Bible term "evangelist" means what we call a
missionary today, and that those we have called evangelists actually
no place in the New Testament program. The other voice comes from an
entirely different segment of the fundamentalist movement that has been
overly influenced by Calvinism. They see the modern "evangelist" as what
Dr. Louis Chafer called one of the "false forces" in evangelism, and
they consider his campaigns, style of preaching, and altar calls as
blasphemous insults to the sovereignty of God. These brethren believe
that the New Testament evangelist has ceased as an office in the work of
Although many men still travel and preach under the title "evangelist"
around the world, their calling and work is in serious danger of being
undermined in the minds of future fundamentalists. Already we are
fewer evangelists in places they once were commonly seen: in conferences
as speakers, in churches leading revival campaigns, in the leadership of
the fundamentalist movement. We are also finding evangelists misused and
their office misunderstood and demeaned. The first and most important
place to find the evangelist, however, is in the New Testament, because
if we cannot find him there, then we should all stop looking for and
using him. But we do find him in the New Testament, and our need of him
among the fundamentalist churches is greater than ever!
Philip the Evangelist
The office of the evangelist is introduced to us in scripture through a
man named Philip. In Acts 21, we are told that
"Paul's company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and . . .
the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and
This was not Philip the Apostle, but Philip the Deacon, "one of the
seven" chosen for that responsibility in the church at Jerusalem (Acts
6). It was during the persecution of Saul that this Philip entered into
his evangelistic work. Three times in Acts 8, where his early
evangelistic work is recorded, the Greek word euangelizomai is used.
is the word from which we get our words evangelize, evangelism, and
evangelist. It means to tell good news. It is used in verses 12, 35, and
"But when they believed Philip preaching [evangelizing] the
concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were
baptized, both men and women."
"Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture,
preached [evangelized] unto him Jesus."
"But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached
[evangelized] in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea."
Then in Acts 21 we find Philip in Caesarea where he is called 'the
evangelist." It is obvious that Philip's work typifies the work of an
evangelist since the word in its various forms is so closely associated
with him. And what was his work? He traveled from place to place in
to proclaim the Gospel ("good news") of Jesus Christ. The evangelist's
ministry follows naturally the mandate of our Lord that we preach the
Gospel to everyone in the world. With this command dominating our life
and work, it would be expected that some of us would be gifted to
proclaim the Gospel to the masses in a clear, scriptural, and convincing
way. Philip was one man who had such a gift.
Paul and Timothy
In his last epistle, Paul told Timothy to "do the work of an evangelist"
(II Timothy 4:5). Although there are other interpretations of this
admonition, the most obvious meaning is that Timothy was an evangelist,
and that Paul his teacher, was an evangelist, too.
The word euangelizomai is used to describe Paul's work many times in the
Book of Acts and in the apostle's own epistles.
"And there they preached the gospel [evangelized]."
"We also are men of like passions with you, and preach
you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God . . ."
"When they had preached the gospel [evangelized] to that city,
taught many, they returned again to Lystra . . ."
"Paul . . . continued in Antioch, teaching and preaching
the word of the Lord . . ."
". . . he preached [evangelized] unto them Jesus, and the
Evangelism is what Paul by divine inspiration called his own work in the
Greek of Romans 1:15, Romans 15:20, I Corinthians 9:16, I Corinthians
15:1-2, II Corinthians 10:16, II Corinthians 11:7, Galatians 1:8-11,
Galatians 1:15-16, Galatians 1:23, Galatians 4:13, and Ephesians 3:8.
verse in Ephesians says,
"Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this
that I should preach [evangelize] among the Gentiles . . ."
What was Paul's work? It was evangelism, traveling from place to place,
publicly proclaiming the Gospel.
There are two Greek words in commonly used by the New Testament writers
to describe preaching. They are kerusso and euangelizo (another form of
which is euangelizomai). The former conveys the general idea of
or proclaiming. The latter means delivering good news or a joyful
message. Of course, the title "evangelist" refers by definition to a man
who delivers good news, which, in the Biblical context, is what we call
the Gospel ("euangelion"). Although believers other than evangelists
preached the Gospel, the use of the verb repeatedly to describe a man's
work is significant in identifying and defining him as an evangelist. In
fact, euangelizo is almost always used in the New Testament to describe
an evangelist's work.
Clearly, Paul was an evangelist. He was a missionary, too, in that he
sent many places to preach the Gospel (the words apostle from Greek and
missionary from Latin both mean one sent), but his work was that of an
evangelist. That work is described in Acts 17:2-3.
"And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three
reasoned with them out of the scriptures, Opening and alleging, that
Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that
this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ."
He went from place to place, proclaiming the Gospel publicly in a
reasonable, scriptural, clear, and decisive way. The results of his work
were converts to Christianity and new local churches.
Twice Paul served churches as their pastor for a period of time, in
Corinth (Acts 18:11) and in Ephesus (Acts 19:10). But most of his life,
Paul was traveling, going from town to town to preach the Gospel. See
he described his work in II Corinthians 11.
"In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of
perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in
city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among
false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in
hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside
things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of
His was the work of an itinerant Gospel preacher, and his product was
Some will say to this that the evangelist is just a church-planting
missionary. But the method of Paul was different from the method of most
missionaries today. Paul did not begin with a home Bible study; he began
with public synagogue services. He did not live for years in one
while nurturing a little flock of young believers into a self-sustaining
independent church. He usually moved from place to place holding
evangelistic meetings. Those meetings generally resulted in Christian
congregations, over which he appointed pastors before he left the area.
"And when they [Barnabas and Paul] had ordained them elders in
church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on
whom they believed."
It was a common practice of the early evangelist to appoint the first
pastors of infant churches. Paul wrote Titus about this responsibility.
"For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in
the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had
appointed thee . . ."
Congregations of young Christians were not ready to appoint their own
elders (bishops, pastors), and they relied upon the evangelist that led
them to Christ to choose who their leaders would be when he left. The
evangelist was a man gifted to preach the Gospel with special
effectiveness. He was an itinerant preacher who held public Gospel
meetings. It was through evangelists that the Gospel saw its greatest
advances, and that nearly all New Testament churches were started.
But is the modern-day "evangelist" what Bible evangelists were? For
example, did Paul hold meetings in already-existing churches? In Acts
15:36, Paul said to Barnabas, his evangelistic co-worker,
"Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we
preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do."
Acts 20 tells about Paul's visit to the church at Troas.
"And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came
break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and
continued his speech until midnight."
The epistles of Paul record his plans for preaching visits to the
churches in Rome (Romans 1:10), Corinth (I Corinthians 16:5), and
Thessalonica (I Thessalonians 2:17). Visits like his brought rebuke and
exhortation of the saints by the evangelist, as well as help in winning
"Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I
to come unto you, (but was let hitherto,) that I might have some fruit
among you also, even as among other Gentiles."
"For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my
and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my
which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church. Now some are
puffed up, as though I would not come to you. But I will come to you
shortly, if the Lord will, and will know, not the speech of them which
are puffed up, but the power."
"For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I
and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: lest there be
debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbiting, whisperings, swellings,
tumults: And lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you,
and that I shall bewail many which have sinned already, and have not
repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which
These return visits were revival meetings, and Paul was an evangelist of
the sort Americans knew for many years. Whitefield, Nettleton, Finney,
Knapp, and Moody were classic Biblical evangelists. Their calling and
gift was to preach the Gospel. Their fruit was saved souls and new
The Great Evangelist
All evangelists have a perfect Model to follow. The original evangelist
was the Lord Jesus Christ. Of Him, Isaiah prophesied,
"How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that
tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that
publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!"
The Greek word for evangelizing is used of Jesus in the book of Luke
"And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it
written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me
to preach the gospel [evangelize] to the poor . . ."
"And he said unto them, I must preach [evangelize] the kingdom
of God to
other cities also: for therefore am I sent."
"Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John
things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk,
lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the
gospel is preached."
"And they departed, and went through the towns, preaching the
[evangelizing], and healing every where."
"And it came to pass, that on one of those days, as he taught
in the temple, and preached the gospel [evangelized], the chief priests
and the scribes came upon him with the elders . . ."
Think of it. What did Jesus do? He traveled about preaching the Gospel.
That is the work of an evangelist!
Evangelists and Pastors
It wasn't many years ago that modern-day evangelists operated more
according to the pattern of their ancient counterparts. They would come
into a community and arrange to hold public Gospel meetings. Often they
had the cooperation and help of local pastors, but not always. Night
after night, the evangelist would preach to whatever crowd he could
gather under a tent, in a big tabernacle, at a rented school building,
a public auditorium, or at a local church. Sometimes he would preach
repeatedly for several weeks. Sometimes he would stay for a shorter
period. If the Lord blessed as he hoped, there would be a good group of
new converts in that community when he left, which could be organized
into a new church, or channeled into existing orthodox churches in the
Few evangelists operate this way now, partly because they do not know
they should, and partly because fundamentalists no longer support this
kind of evangelism. We all have an idea about what happened to old-time
evangelism. First, the number of Spirit-filled men of integrity doing
this kind of work diminished, with the gap being filled to some degree
men of lesser character operating in the flesh instead of under the
of God. Then new ideas about how to evangelize the lost arose to replace
the old ideas. Next Billy Graham introduced the concept of ecumenical
evangelism, and offended thousands of fundamentalists who saw
with and endorsement of liberals as a terrible defection from the truth.
Many good men became disgusted with mass evangelism. A few evangelists
promised to maintain a separatist stand in area-wide crusades, but their
efforts and the direction of their ministries eventually disappointed
most of their early supporters. The time came when an evangelist became,
in many fundamentalist minds, merely a "special speaker" for
events or for summer camp. Revival campaigns were shortened
with their emphasis sidetracked from preaching the Gospel and the
of the lost. The vision of the evangelist has been short-circuited so
that he now comes to a town, not to reach the masses, but to assist a
pastor in strengthening the program of the local church. No wonder some
have come to see no need for the evangelist or for evangelistic
local-church or area-wide! No wonder some fail to see any Biblical
in the trimmed-down role of what we now consider to be evangelists! The
Biblical pattern has been abandoned.
In the New Testament, the evangelist had some prominence above local
pastors. This is why he is listed in Ephesians 4 before the "pastors and
teachers" (verse 11). He certainly exercised a measure of freedom in his
ministry from the control and direction of local pastors. He was subject
to his local church in the same sense that any member is, submitting to
its discipline, adhering to its doctrine, and reporting to its people.
But he was not confined in his work to meeting the needs and satisfying
the interests of the churches. The pastors' work centered more around
these concerns. The evangelist was a Gospel preacher, sent to spread the
Good News in a public way to the masses, and especially gifted to do so.
The pastors (often chosen from among the congregations of the new
churches spawned by the evangelists' ministry) acted as shepherds of the
flocks after the evangelist left. Every pastor was to be evangelistic in
his personal life and in the emphasis of his ministry, and each
congregation was to be an evangelistic church, reaching its whole area
with the Gospel. We see this at Ephesus (where Paul served as a pastor
for a while) in Acts 19:10. We see it also in Thessalonica, where the
work became a model for evangelistic churches.
"And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received
word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost: So that ye were
ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia. For from you
sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but
also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we
need not to speak any thing."
Every pastor and every church should be evangelistic, but special
leadership in this all-important matter of spreading the Gospel should
given to the evangelist.
There is a parallel to the evangelist-pastor relationship in the realm
politics. Every political party or movement has "big voices" that
articulate especially well the views of the movement, and also "local
leaders" that organize and direct the work of the faithful in particular
districts. Some big Republican voices today are George W. Bush (of
course), William Bennett, Steve Forbes, and maybe Trent Lott. Big
Democrat voices are Hillary Clinton, Bill Bradley, Dick Gephart, and Ted
Kennedy. These people are persuasive, and are invited to address rallies
around the country to motivate party-members and to win people over to
the movement. The local leadership of political movements are state and
county office-holders as well as party chairman and precinct captains.
The party could not succeed without both the big voices and the local
leaders. The Christian movement finds its big voices in the evangelists,
and its local leaders in the pastors. They need each other, and the
needs them both functioning exactly as the Lord ordained.
Ephesians 4:11-12 also teaches that the work of the evangelist and that
of the pastor overlap somewhat. Both strive for "the perfecting of the
saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of
Christ . . ." This wonderful progression is vital to the health and
growth of the churches and to the advancement of the Gospel: perfecting
the saints, the work of the ministry, and the edifying of the body.
Perfecting saints is the business of revival. It results in Christians
doing the work of ministry. When perfected saints do ministry work, the
result is the edifying (building up) of the local church (the body). The
promotion of this process is the work both of the pastor and of the
evangelist. And both will be needed if the work is to be done right.
The Return of the Evangelist
When the evangelist is recognized in the New Testament, he should be
given his appointed role in the carrying out of God's program.
Fundamentalists logically are the people that would first be expected to
do this, but sadly, in some of our camps and circles, the Biblical
evangelist is an endangered species. The charismatics and even the
ecumenists seem to be giving evangelists due prominence, while
fundamentalists seem to be losing their understanding of their office.
Here is what Bible-believers should do about the evangelist as a result
of finding him in scripture:
1. The New Testament office of evangelist should be studied,
and supported in fundamentalist training institutions.
2. Every church should invite sound and spiritual evangelists to
for them, and to lead them in revival campaigns.
3. Pastors should lead the churches to help evangelists launch out
aggressive efforts in places where the Gospel is little known.
4. Evangelists should seek from the scriptures for a new vision of
own ministry that will compel them to attempt great things for God.
5. The fundamentalist movement should give evangelists of proven
integrity, humility, and enduement the leadership we need to keep our
emphasis on the fulfillment of our Lord's Great Commission.
by Dr. Rick Flanders
currently Pastor of
Juniata Baptist Church
Juniata Baptist Church|
5656 Washburn Road
Vassar, MI 48768
Dr. Rick Flanders Biographical Data
Converted in 1963 through a radio ministry.
Earned B.A. and M.A. degrees from Bob Jones University.
Honorary D.D. from Pensacola Christian College.
Pastor at Juniata Baptist Church since 1973.
On BCPM Board, (Baptist Church Planting Ministry)
and also MACS. (Michigan Association of Christian School)
- Articles published in the;
- Sword of the Lord
- Baptist Preacher,
- Christian View of the News,
- Pulpit Helps,
- Maranatha Watchman
- Church Bus News,
- and other national periodicals.
His Majesty's Service
In His Service,
Teaching the Word
To Glorify Our Lord
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