EVANGELIST (Gr. euangelistēs, one who announces good news). Used in a general sense of anyone who proclaims the gospel of Jesus Christ. Sometimes in the NT, however, it designates a particular class of ministry, as in Eph.4.11: Christ “gave some to be apostles...prophets... evangelists...pastors and teachers.” The evangelist founded the church; the pastor-teacher built it up in the faith. The evangelist was not confined in service to one spot but moved about in different localities, preaching the Good News concerning Jesus Christ to those who had not heard the message before. Once such had put their trust in the Lord, then the work of the pastor-teacher began. He would remain with them, training them further in the things pertaining to Christ and building them up in the faith. Apostles (Acts.8.25; Acts.14.7; 1Cor.1.17) did the work of an evangelist, as did also bishops (2Tim.4.2-2Tim.4.5). Philip, who had been set apart as one of the seven deacons (Acts.6.5), was also called “the evangelist” (Acts.21.8). The word refers to a work rather than to an order. Evangelist in the sense of “inspired writer of one of the four Gospels” was a later usage.——BP
One who proclaims the Gospel (“good news”) or Evangel. The task of proclamation was committed by Christ to the apostles as representatives of the church throughout the entire Christian era (Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15). The NT references to evangelists (Acts 21:8; Eph. 4:11; 2 Tim. 4:5) are therefore to be understood of those who are divinely gifted specialists in the work to which the entire church is called. The term has perhaps wrongly been employed sometimes of those who do virtually the work of a pastor but with a lower status, usually on educational grounds. In fact, in the NT the roles of evangelist and pastor seem to be distinct but related, one being a “fisher of men,” the other a shepherd of Christ's flock. The use of the term in reference to the gospel writers dates from the close of the second century. Modern emphasis on the Gospel or kerygma
as basic to the whole NT and on the four gospels as detailed expansions of this Gospel has served to show the appropriateness of this derivative use of the term.
EVANGELIST ē văn’ jə lĭst
, one who announces good news
). The twin words euaggélion
, “gospel,” and euaggelistēs
, “evangelist,” came into Biblical use with the advent of Jesus. “Good news” merited “a messenger of good news.” The word “evangelist” appears three times in the NT, with reference to the person, the work, and the calling.
Philip is the typical example of an evangelist. Paul and his party, after returning from his third missionary tour, “entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him” (Acts 21:8). Earlier, Philip had conducted a successful evangelistic campaign in Samaria, and converted and baptized the Ethiopian official, sending him back home with the Gospel (Acts 8:4-40). Philip was the first of “the Seven” (deacons) elected by the Church to serve the widows, and was not an apostle or ordained minister. But he was an evangelist, for “he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ” (8:12). So, whoever is “a bringer of good tidings” is an evangelist. Therefore God Himself is an evangelist, for “he preached beforehand to Abraham” (Gal 3:8). And so were the announcing angel (Luke 2:10), Jesus Himself (20:1), and the apostles and early converts in general (Acts 8:4).
Paul admonished Timothy to “do the work of an evangelist, fulfil your ministry” (2 Tim 4:5). Primarily, the work of the evangelist is to “proclaim good tidings” in new areas. It is the vanguard of Christianity, announcing the good news of the kingdom and of Christ where it has not been heard before. Paul, like Philip, did this kind of work, as did Timothy and other traveling Christians. They planted Christianity (1 Cor 3:6), then moved on to other virgin soil. The preacher-pastor and teacher were to shepherd and teach the flock, while the evangelist went from place to place enlisting new converts. Later, the authors of the four gospels were called “evangelists,” because they were the first to proclaim the good news through writing.
The vocation of the evangelist is distinct. Paul said that Christ’s “gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, for the equipment of the saints, for the work of ministry” (Eph 4:11). Divine wisdom foresaw the growth of the Church and consequent need for workers of diversified gifts (1 Cor 12:28). Special talent is needed for pioneer proclamation of the Gospel, founding new missions, and building new churches. The evangelist is endowed with appropriate spiritual gifts to unlock pagan, heathen, and sinful doors and admit the saving Christ. See Ministry.
W. Walker, “A History of the Christian Church” (1959), 454-472, 495, 507; D. Moody, “God Is Really Among You” in “Professor in the Pulpit” (1963), 67-75.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
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" (Ga 3:8); Jesus Christ was an evangelist, for He also "preached the gospel" (Lu 20:1); Paul was an evangelist as well as an apostle (Ro 1:15); Philip the deacon was an evangelist (Ac 21:8); and Timothy, the pastor (2Ti 4:5); and indeed all the early disciples who, on being driven out of Jerusalem, "went everywhere preaching the word" (Ac 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." It will be seen that as an order in the ministry, the evangelist precedes that of the pastor and teacher, a fact which harmonizes with the character of the work each is still recognized as doing. The evangelist has no fixed place of residence, but moves about in different localities, preaching the gospel to those ignorant of it before. As these are converted and united to Jesus Christ by faith, the work of the pastor and teacher begins, to instruct them further in the things of Christ and build them up in the faith.
At a later time, the name of "evangelist" was given the writers of the four Gospels because they tell the story of the gospel and because the effect of their promulgation at the beginning was very much like the work of the preaching evangelist. In character, the Gospels bear something of the same relation to the Epistles as evangelists bear to pastors and teachers.
James M. Gray