The Nature of His Ministry

by Al Maxey

The work of an evangelist is essentially two-fold, or we could say that there are two types of evangelists: He is called to minister unto those who are inside as well as outside of the church of Jesus Christ. In the latter case, he takes the "message of good" (the gospel) to those who have never heard or accepted it. Missionaries are examples of evangelists who engage in this type of ministry. Philip the evangelist (in Acts 8) is seen doing this kind of work. This is what is often referred to as the planting aspect of an evangelist's ministry (I Corinthians 3:5-9). The apostle Paul was a "planter" of churches.

But an evangelist also has responsibilities to those who have already been added to the Lord, and who are members of His One Body. This the watering aspect of evangelistic work (I Corinthians 3:5-9). Apollos was a "waterer" of churches. It is this function of the evangelist that is probably least understood, practiced, or appreciated.

Further, evangelists have been invested with "all authority" (Titus 2:15) to carry out their work, and have been commanded to allow no one to disregard, undermine, or look down upon their ministry (I Timothy 4:12; Titus 2:15).

"These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority." This is the Greek word epitage, which means "to set over; authoritativeness; to place in one's charge; to command."

"Do not let anyone disregard you." Some translations say "despise." This is the Greek word periphroneo, which literally means "to think around." It signifies "to disregard; think lightly of; to circumvent." The evangelist is to allow no one to circumvent or disregard his authority, message, and ministry.

Although evangelists are often thought of more as being "roving preachers of the gospel" --- and a good many were in the early church --- nevertheless the New Covenant documents also speak of evangelists being "located" on occasion. The home of Philip the evangelist was Caesarea, where he undoubtedly performed much of his ministry. Paul at one point spent three years in Ephesus, and various lengths of time in other cities, working as an evangelist. Not only was Paul making new converts, but he was also working with believers. Thus, he engaged in both planting and watering at a single location for a period of several years. Timothy was commanded to "remain on at Ephesus" (I Timothy 1:3), and, according to tradition, he remained in Ephesus as their evangelist, and later as an elder, for the remainder of his life. Many of the apostles (who were also evangelists) spent the remainder of their lives in just one location, working hand-in-hand with, and among, their fellow believers (James in Jerusalem, John in Ephesus, just to name a couple).

Much has been written about the "planting" aspect of evangelism. Indeed, all disciples of Christ are to be engaged in the work of sharing their faith wherever they go, and in whatever circumstances they may find themselves (Acts 8:1, 4). The evangelists are those who take the lead in this effort, set the example for others, and who indeed commit their lives to the proclamation of the gospel. Throughout the NT writings, and in the lives of the apostles and the faithful members of the early church, we see this aspect of evangelism being practiced. But, what is the nature of the watering, or nurturing, ministry of the evangelist? Since relatively little has been taught on this aspect of the evangelist's work, it needs to be examined in more depth. Consider the following 19 areas of responsibility of the evangelist engaged in a nurturing ministry (often called today: "the located preacher" or "the minister of the local church"), as taken from Ephesians 4 and Paul's letters to Timothy and Titus:

#1 --- Equipping of the saints --- Ephesians 4:12. ".....for the perfecting of the saints" (KJV). " prepare God's people" (NIV). " roles of service for the faithful" (NAB, St. Joseph edition). ".....with a view to the readjustment of the holy ones" (NWT). This is the Greek word katartismos. It refers to a process by which one is fitted or fully prepared for something; "to make fit; to completely adjust; completely qualify for a specific purpose."

The evangelist (and also apostles, prophets, and teaching pastors) are to prepare and qualify the saints for their various works of service, which will then allow the Body of Christ (the church) to be built up/edified by the proper functioning of each individual member. They will also insure that each member grows toward the unity of faith, that they strive to attain full knowledge, and that they progress toward spiritual maturity, all of which helps protect them against false teaching and the evil schemings of the enemy.

#2 --- To set in order that which is lacking in a congregation --- Titus 1:5. " amend what was defective" (RSV). " straighten out" (NIV). This is the Greek word epidiorthoo, which means "to restore or set right again what has fallen into disorder" (Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words).

#3 --- Instruction, Teaching, Education, Preaching, and Preparation of Teachers --- I Timothy 1:3, 5; 4:6, 11, 13; 6:2, 17; II Timothy 2:2, 24; 4:2; Titus 2:1, 6, 9, 15; 3:8. Paul writes, in II Timothy 2:24, that the evangelist must be an able teacher. This is the word didaktikos, which is used only twice in the NT: Once as a qualification for an elder (I Timothy 3:2), and once as a qualification for an evangelist. This word means "skillful in teaching; a qualified teacher." It conveys the idea of ability. Such ability is not only a gift of God, but also the result of much study of the Word and a genuine love of proclaiming its Truths. (NOTE: Refer to #10 in A Study of His Personal Qualities.)

#4 --- Appoints qualified men to serve as elders --- Titus 1:5.

#5 --- Receives and thoroughly investigates accusations against elders, and rebukes those elders who continue in sin --- I Timothy 5:19-20, 22.

#6 --- Rebuking --- II Timothy 4:2. Epitimao. This Greek word means "to censure, rebuke, reprimand; to admonish strongly; to assess a penalty against, to punish."

#7 --- Reproving --- II Timothy 4:2; Titus 1:13; 2:15. Elegcho. This word means "to refute something; lay it bare & expose it for what it really is." W.E. Vine defines it this way: "To convict, confute, refute, usually with the suggestion of putting the convicted person to shame" (Expository Dictionary of NT Words).

#8 --- Silencing those who are upsetting the church by their teaching --- Titus 1:11. The Greek word employed here is epistomizo, which means "to stop the mouth; to put a muzzle on; to prevent from speaking; to put to silence." It appears only here in the entire NT Scriptures.

#9 --- He must insure that people conduct themselves properly in the household of God; not just in the public assembly, but also in their daily lives --- I Timothy 3:15.

#10 --- He must warn those who are divisive, and reject them if they refuse to repent --- Titus 3:10. Who is the divisive person? This is the Greek word hairetikos, from which we get our English word "heretic." It means "one who creates or fosters discord, factions, contention, and divisiveness based upon personal choices or opinions."

#11 --- He must avoid, reject, and plead against an argumentative spirit, "false knowledge," speculations, controversies, and theological disputes --- I Timothy 6:20; II Timothy 2:16, 23; Titus 3:9. These passages speak of both attitude and action.

"O Timothy.....turn away from....." (I Timothy 6:20). This is the Greek word ektrepo, which means "to turn away from; twist or turn out of." It signifies the complete avoidance, or an escape from the clutches, of something.

"But avoid....." (II Timothy 2:16; Titus 3:9). This is the Greek word periistemi, which means "to stand with one's back to; shun; avoid."

"But refuse....." (II Timothy 2:23). The Greek word utilized here is paraiteomai, which means "to refuse to receive; reject; to feel & express disapproval of; plead against." The NIV reads: "Don't have anything to do with....."

#12 --- Guardians of that which has been entrusted to them --- I Timothy 6:20; II Timothy 1:13-14 (I Timothy 1:18a).

#13 --- Soldiers of Christ who fight the good fight of faith --- I Timothy 1:18; 6:12; II Timothy 2:3 (II Timothy 4:7).

#14 --- Correcting his opponents with gentleness --- II Timothy 2:25.

#15 --- Continually reminding God's people of that which they must know and practice in order to be pleasing in His sight, and ultimately to achieve eternal salvation --- II Timothy 2:14; Titus 3:1 (see II Peter 1:12-15).

#16 --- He must solemnly protest, or earnestly speak out against, or warn against, those things which may lead to the ruin of the people of God --- II Timothy 2:14. "Warn them before God against....." (NIV). This is the Greek word diamarturomai, which means "to testify or protest solemnly and intensely; a solemn charge or warning."

#17 --- Exhortation --- I Timothy 4:13; 5:1; II Timothy 4:2; Titus 2:15. The Greek word employed here is parakaleo, which literally means "to call alongside." It means "to encourage, comfort, console; persuade, entreat, implore, beseech."

#18 --- Command or Prescribe --- I Timothy 4:11; 5:7. This is the Greek word parangello, which means "to give orders, command, instruct, direct; used of all kinds of persons in authority" (Arndt & Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the NT and Other Early Christian Literature, p. 613). NOTE: This is also the word used in I Timothy 1:3 and 6:17 (see #3) which is translated "instruct" or "charge."

#19 --- The public reading of Scripture --- I Timothy 4:13. Tertullian (160 - 220 A.D.) referred to this as the evangelist reading from the Scriptures in a public assembly and then expounding upon what was read. "The early church followed the example of the Jewish synagogue in publicly reading the Scriptures at every service" (The Expositor's Bible Commentary, Volume 11, p. 374).

Others, like R.C.H. Lenski in his commentary, feel that the charge to Timothy is that he is to oversee the things read publicly and the comments made afterward, so that no improper texts were read and no improper comments were made to the congregation.

Still others, like Adam Clarke in his commentary, suggest the intent here may be that Timothy was to read the Scriptures from the original language texts and then explain the meaning of the original Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic to his listeners.

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