a "publisher of glad tidings;" a missionary preacher of the gospel ( Ephesians 4:11 ). This title is applied to Philip ( Acts 21:8 ), who appears to have gone from city to city preaching the word ( Acts 8:4 Acts 8:40 ). Judging from the case of Philip, evangelists had neither the authority of an apostle, nor the gift of prophecy, nor the responsibility of pastoral supervision over a portion of the flock. They were itinerant preachers, having it as their special function to carry the gospel to places where it was previously unknown. The writers of the four Gospels are known as the Evangelists.
Messenger of good tidings.
(publisher of glad tidings ). In the New Testament the "evangelists" appear on the one hand after the "apostles" and "prophets;" on the other before the "pastors" and "teachers." They probably stood between the two. ( Acts 21:8 ; Ephesians 4:11 ) The work of the evangelist is the proclamation of the glad tidings to those who have not known them, rather than the instruction and pastoral care of those who have believed and been baptized. It follows also that the name denotes a work rather than an order . Its use is nearly like our word missionary. The evangelist might or might not be a bishop-elder or a deacon. The apostles, so far as they evangelized, ( Acts 8:25 ; 14:7 ; 1 Corinthians 1:17 ) might claim the title, though there were many evangelists who were not apostles. If the gospel were a written book, and the office of the evangelists was to read or distribute it, then the writers of such books were pre-eminently THE evangelists. In later liturgical language the word was applied to the reader of the gospel for the day. [E] indicates this entry was also found in Easton's Bible Dictionary
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" (Galatians 3:8); Jesus Christ was an evangelist, for He also "preached the gospel" (Luke 20:1); Paul was an evangelist as well as an apostle (Romans 1:15); Philip the deacon was an evangelist (Acts 21:8); and Timothy, the pastor (2 Timothy 4:5); and indeed all the early disciples who, on being driven out of Jerusalem, "went everywhere preaching the word" (Acts 8:4 the King James Version).
But Ephesians 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
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