THE EVANGELIST AND HIS WORK
(2 Timothy 4:1-5)
by Bob Myhan
INTRODUCTION: Much is written in the New Testament about evangelists, and yet, many in the church do not understand what the work of an evangelist is. This is because many Christians come into the church from denominationalism where evangelists are often called “pastors,” and engage in a work that is more in line with that of elders than that of an evangelist. Thus, it becomes necessary, from time to time, to make a study of this subject. There are two other good reasons to preach about the evangelist’s work. (1) It is possible to drift from the NT concept, and (2) we need to encourage young men to become evangelists. Some of the responsibilities usually associated with being an evangelist are actually duties of all Christians (Matthew 25:31-46). Timothy was “to do the work of an evangelist whatever the bad that he must suffer may be, do it effectively, completely.” He was to “fulfill” it, or “carry it out to fullness.” And he was to “let nothing be lacking in [his] service” “at any time in the future.”
I. WHAT AN EVANGELIST IS NOT
A. He is not just an itinerant preacher, who merely goes from place to place preaching for what he can get in special contributions.
B. He is not one who only holds gospel meetings or “revivals.” [While an evangelist may limit his work in such a way, the Bible does not so restrict him.]
C. He is not “the pastor.” He may be appointed a pastor, if he meets those qualifications (1 Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-11); he is not, and should not do the work of, a pastor—or elder—just because he is an evangelist.
II. WHAT AN EVANGELIST IS
A. The term “evangelist” refers to a function, rather than to an office.
B. The word “evangelist” literally means “a messenger of good...denotes a preacher of the gospel, Acts 21:8; Eph. 4:11, which makes clear the distinctiveness of the function in the churches; 2 Tim. 4:5” (Vine, p. 384).
C. He is a “minister” (“one who executes the commands of another”)
D. He is a “bringer or bearer of good tidings; preacher of the gospel” (Webster; see also Acts 8:5,12,35,40; 21:8).
III. WHAT AN EVANGELIST’S WORK IS NOT
A. It is not to get a program of work going even if some members resist [“party whip”]
B. It is not to get the ball rolling for anything and everything [“spark plug”]
C. It is not to “rub elbows” and “hobnob” with government officials and society leaders to get the church “on the map” (“PR man”)
D. It is not to run the show, exercising “evangelistic oversight,” until elders are appointed [denominational “pastor system”].
IV. WHAT AN EVANGELIST’S WORK IS
A. To follow the pattern of sound words (2 Tim. 1:13)
B. To teach faithful men and women (2 Tim. 2:2)
C. To correct opponents of the truth (2 Tim. 2:25)
D. To preach the word of God (2 Tim. 4:1-4) - This is an obligation of every Christian (Acts 8:4). An evangelist is to proclaim the scriptures, for the reason that they alone are profitable for the things necessary for one’s spiritual development (2 Tim. 3:16,17); an evangelist is not to preach his opinion but “the whole body of revealed truth” (Acts 20:27).
E. To “be instant” - “To stand by, be present, be at hand.” “Hold oneself in constant readiness to proclaim the word” (Acts 13:13-16).
1. “In season” - literally, “well-season.” The word is translated “conveniently” in Mark 14:11. The gospel was “in season” in Acts 2:37.
2. “Out of season” - literally, “no season.” As opposite to above, “inconveniently.” The gospel was “out of season” in Acts 7:54.
F. To “reprove” - “To convict, confute, refute, usually with the suggestion of putting the convicted person to shame” (Acts 24:25).
G. To “rebuke” - “To charge one with wrong; implies a sharp, severe rebuke, with a suggestion of impending penalty” (Acts 8:18-23). *NOTE: The difference between reprove and rebuke can be seen in 2 Samuel 12:1-12.
H. To “exhort” - “To admonish...to urge, one to pursue some course of conduct” (Acts 2:37-40).
1. “With all longsuffering” - “Forbearance, patience.” “Patience with regard to antagonistic persons.” “That quality of self-restraint in the face of provocation which does not hastily retaliate or promptly punish…the opposite of anger…is associated with mercy” (Acts 14:19-22).
2. “With…doctrine” - “Sound and reasonable instruction in the truth” (2 Tim. 3:16,17).
I. To “be watchful”
1. “To abstain from wine, is used metaphorically of moral alertness.”
2. “Denotes the clarity of mind and of sound judgment that is not blinded and carried away by follies, fables, and morbid opinions.”
3. Could be translated, “Continue thou to be sober.”
4. “In all things” - Probably means “in the fulfillment of all of your duties.”
J. To “endure afflictions” - “In this coming period there will be much bad to suffer and to endure.” “Such coming suffering is not to becloud Timothy’s soberness.”
VI. THE IMPORTANCE OF HIS WORK
A. “The time will come”
1. “Time” here is “season.” It is the same word, without the prefix, as translated “in season” above. Hence, “there is coming a season” when the Word will not be popular.
2. But if Timothy takes full advantage of every opportunity to preach the word while it is “in season,” He will likely have greater success preaching it when it is “out of season.”
B. “When they will not endure sound doctrine”
1. To “endure” is to “put up with.”
2. That which is “sound” is “healthy, wholesome.”
3. “Doctrine” is “teaching” in the sense of “that which is taught.”
4. The meaning of the entire phrase is “They will not want (and, in fact, will even refuse) what is in their best spiritual interest.”
C. “According to their own desires;” “allowing their own cravings to dominate them”
D. “Because they have itching ears;” “desiring to hear for mere gratification” (Acts 17:21)
E. “They will heap up for themselves teachers;” “accumulate [in piles] teachers” [who will satisfy their tastes].
F. “They will turn their ears away from the truth”
1. They will see that their ears are in such a position that they will never come in contact with the truth (Prov. 28:9).
2. The ears serve as a passage through which the truth may reach the understanding and the heart (Matt. 13:15,19).
3. But if you have no use for the truth, why waste hearing power on it?
G. “And be turned aside to fables”
1. “Muthos is to be contrasted with aletheia, truth, and with logos, a story, a narrative purporting to set forth facts.”
2. No longer having a love of the truth, they will become more interested in legendary tales than in historical accounts.
3. Paul has previously warned Timothy about the dangers of fables (1 Tim. 1:4; 4:7).
4. This is of extreme importance because Christianity is based, not on myths, but on objective, historical fact (see 2 Peter 1:16).
5. It is for this reason that Paul, and other N.T. writers, would often mention one or more of the facts of the gospel (for example, 1 Cor. 2:1,2; 15:1-8; 1 Peter 3:21).
VII. WHAT HE DESERVES IF HE IS DOING HIS WORK
A. Your financial support (1 Cor. 9:7-14)
1. The taught are to communicate with him who teaches (Gal. 6:6).
2. Not only individually, but also collectively (2 Cor. 11:8; Phil. 4:14-16)
3. Evangelist should be willing to support self, if necessary (Acts 18:1-4).
B. Your moral support
1. Encourage him as often as possible
2. Stand behind him when he preaches the truth
C. Your respect (Rom. 10:15)
1. Many think their preacher has a life of ease.
2. Many think their preacher is a lazy bum.
D. Your assistance [“Let the preacher preach!”]
1. Aug. 20, 1957 Life – “Why Ministers Are Breaking Down” - His role as conceived by the average church member cannot be filled!
2. Let all Christians be workers; don’t saddle the preacher with his work and yours, too! (1 Cor. 12:15-20; Eph. 4:11-16)
CONCLUSION: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace; who bring glad tidings of good things” (Rom. 10:16). “The laborer is worthy of his wages” (Luke 10:7). There is no greater work on earth.