Saturday, October 23, 2004

Is soulwinning different from evangelism? Let's look at the words behind our English translation:

32 aggelos - messenger, KJV translation "angel"
2095 eu - good, KJV primary translation "well"

leads to...
2097 euaggelizo - messenger of good, KJV primary translation "preach"
2099 euaggelistes - one who is a messenger of good, KJV translation "evangelist"

compare with...
2784 kerusso - to herald, KJV primary translation "preach"
2783 kerux - one who heralds, KJV primary translation "preacher"

It seems that a "preacher" would be synonymous with an "evangelist". However, "kerusso" and "kerux" pertain more to the giving of the message (heralding or proclaiming) while "euaggelizo" and "euaggelistes" pertain more to the "message of good" being given. It is a difference of emphasis as far as the Biblical usage is concerned.

In other words, you can preach many things but an evangelist specifically denotes one who preaches the gospel, or good news. However preaching in the Biblical NT sense is _always_ giving the gospel, as opposed to teaching, which has to do with the discipleship and continuing instruction of believers.

It should be abundantly clear that the definition of "evangelism" as merely inviting people to church instead of giving them the gospel is without merit. This idea has it's roots in the aggressive soulwinning teachings of Hyles and his followers.

If evangelism is proclaiming the good news, then are all evangelists? This is an interesting thought because of what Paul says concerning gifts:

Eph 4:7-8 ESV But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ's gift. (8) Therefore it says, "When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men."
[verses 9-10 are a parenthetical statement]
Eph 4:11-14 ESV And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, (12) to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, (13) until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, (14) so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.

Verse 8 refers back to Psa 68:18, which prophesies Christ's resurrection. After rising from the dead, He gave the Holy Spirit on Pentecost (Acts 2) as He had promised (Jhn 16:7) and through the Spirit gave the gifts (I Cor 12:8-11) listed here in Eph 4.
In the KJV each gift listed is proceeded by the word "some", further clarifying that these gifts are not universal, placing them in the same category as the gifts listed in I Cor 12 where Paul asks:

1Co 12:28-30 ESV And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. (29) Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? (30) Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?

The question is rhetorical because the answer is obviously, "no". So then we have "some, evangelists" (Eph 4:11 KJV) which seems to make it pretty clear that not everybody is intended to engage in evangelism, which we have previously defined as preaching the gospel.

Is this the case? Does the NT assign special tasks the evangelist that sets him apart from your average "soulwinner"? What is "the work of an evangelist" (II Tim 4:5)? Timothy was not a pastor, but evidently traveled (I Tim 1:3). He taught Christians (II Tim 2:2). I Tim 4:13-15 indicates that Timothy's gift was teaching, and certainly Paul's main encouragement to him in both letters was in this matter. Near the end of his second letter to Timothy, Paul tells him to do "the work of an evangelist". Paul did not call him an evangelist, because Timothy's gift was teaching; but Paul told him to do the work of preaching the gospel anyway.

I think this admonishment of Paul, in telling Timothy to perform evangelism despite the fact that his gift was teaching, should remind us all that at different stages of our life we will have to do things that we are not particularly gifted at. A parent may not have an aptitude for teaching- so while they may not pursue teaching, they still have to teach their children. So it is with evangelism. The gospel has been committed unto us. II Cor 5:18-19 settle the fact that we are to be active in attempting being the world in reconciliation to Christ. We may not be evangelists gifted in preaching to the unsaved, so we won't all pursue a ministry emphasis in this direction. However, we all must, like Timothy, do the work of evangelist on a regular basis.

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