Preaching and Position
As we finish this last part noticing the differences and similarities between the pastor’s and evangelist’s ministries, we will examine two other areas.
An evangelist is a preacher of what? He is to preach the gospel. An evangelist has one focus that he can’t get his eyes off of when he preaches. According to Ephesians 4:11-12, both the pastor and the evangelist have the same purpose (the perfecting of the saints, etc….), but they are to go about it differently as is indicated by their titles. The pastor’s preaching will have a broad focus (shepherding), and the evangelist’s preaching should have a specialized focus (the gospel). The pastor is a general practitioner; the evangelist is a specialist. The pastor is the family doctor; the evangelist is more like a surgeon. The pastor is the shepherd. An evangelist has been likened to a sheepdog. (i.e. – “The Shepherd and His Dog” by Evangelist Phil Shuler) Pastors must preach “all the counsel of God.” (Acts 20:27 – This familiar statement is made by the Apostle Paul to the pastors of Ephesus. Apostles apparently considered themselves, in a way, as shepherds of the early church as is evidenced from Peter’s words in I Peter 5:1-4.)
Evangelists are not to preach on everything. Evangelists must “preach the gospel.” That is who they are and what their very title means. It is very important to define God’s word accurately. If you change the meaning of the word “evangelist,” you do not have the word “evangelist” anymore. The same goes for any word. Many religions believe “baptism” is sprinkling or pouring, but “baptize” means “to immerse.” Sprinkling and pouring are not immersion. If you change the definition of “baptism” to sprinkling or pouring, you do not have the word “baptism” anymore. You have another word. Evangelist means “preacher of the gospel,” and we must not change the definition else we change the word. If, for instance, you change the word “evangelist” to mean “missionary” or “church planter” as many are doing, you do not have the word “evangelist” anymore. Man’s words can be changed on a whim, but God’s Word has integrity and endurance (Mt. 5:18; Lk. 16:17). “Evangelist” does not mean “church planter.” Church planting is not the evangelist’s job. “Evangelist” does not mean “missionary.” Evangelist means “preacher of the gospel,” and that is what the evangelist must do if he is to be an “evangelist.”
In preaching the whole counsel of God, pastors would preach all of God’s truths which would include the gospel. However, there are those who contradict Christ’s gift giving and replace the evangelist with pastors. Their thinking is that since a pastor’s message includes the preaching of the gospel then the church doesn’t need evangelists anymore. Yet, neither the church nor pastors have permission from God to eliminate evangelists. The church is Christ’s, and Christ gave the gift of evangelist. Christ is the only One Who has authority to determine what His gifts of pastor and evangelist do. And Christ made clear in His Word in Eph. 4:13 that He is not ending either gift “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” Christ’s church is far from perfect so His gift of evangelist is needed in every single one of His local churches. We need pastors preaching “the whole counsel of God,” and we need evangelists preaching the gospel.
Evangelists and pastors also differ in their ministry position both physically and spiritually. Concerning their physical position, the pastor’s ministry is mainly stationary or fixed.
- “Feed the flock of God which is among you…” – I Peter 5:2
The shepherd has a local flock to whom he is supposed to minister. The evangelist’s ministry is mainly itinerant. The evangelist is often “passing through” preaching the gospel to the unreached masses and also to God’s saints.
- “Philip went down to the city of Samaria…. And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert…. But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea.” – Acts 8:5, 26, 40
Simply put, the pastor “stays” and the evangelist “goes.”
At this point, there are many who defend the modern pastor’s habit of replacing the evangelist and “shepherding” both his church and holding an itinerant ministry preaching in places constantly all over the world. This will be covered throughout these articles, but such a practice holds no scriptural weight. First of all, “shepherding”/pastoring requires a fixed position. This evangelist is well aware that numerous pastors have supposedly “pastored” multiple churches at one time, but no true shepherd can fully and effectively watch over his flock(s) in two completely different places. At that point, you are a “hireling.” You are merely a “preacher” preaching a bunch of messages to each flock, but not a shepherd. Secondly, believers are to do all according to God’s Word, and there is absolutely no scriptural support for itinerant “pastoring.” I humbly asked many, many preachers when I first started out about biblical support for traveling pastors. The only verse I ever received is II Tim. 4:5. (Shockingly, most were/are traveling without any verse or permission passage from God at all! They are just doing what is right in their own eyes! – Pro. 16:2, 21:2) We will cover II Tim. 4:5 throughout these articles, but for now notice:
#1 – Paul exhorts Timothy in II Tim. 4:5 to “do the work of an evangelist.” The work of an evangelist is not traveling. The work of an evangelist is preaching the gospel. Traveling is merely a method of getting out the gospel. If nothing else, pastors definitely should “preach the gospel.” That would be “the work of an evangelist.” However, II Tim. 4:5 is not permission for pastors to travel.
#2 – No believer should ever build doctrine and practice when only one verse can be found to support your view. That is how cults and false religions are started. (Eccl. 4:12 – Have, at least, “a threefold cord” of Scripture for any doctrine and practice.)
#3 – Timothy was never called a “pastor” in the Bible. The book of Acts makes it very clear that Paul’s compatriots like Timothy and Titus traveled and ministered similarly to the gift of the evangelist.
#4 – Paul’s last command about Timothy’s ministry was that of “evangelist” not pastor. Paul referred to “the work of an evangelist” as Timothy’s “ministry” that Timothy was commanded to “make full proof of.” If Timothy became a pastor after Paul’s death as many claim, Timothy would have disobeyed Paul’s clear command in God’s inspired Word thus disobeying God as well.
#5 – Timothy’s being “the first bishop of Ephesus” is based on tradition. Many Bibles add this uninspired footnote at the end of the letters to Timothy. Again, I repeat, this note is not a part of the original Holy Spirit-inspired text. This tradition of Timothy as first bishop does not mention Timothy as “pastor” of a local church in Ephesus, but rather “bishop” of all of Ephesus. Tradition also teaches that Titus was “first bishop of Crete.” The reason for this errant teaching started first with the Catholics which strayed from the early churches’ teachings, and then the Protestants which retained many Catholic practices and teachings. As a result, many of these branches of supposed “Christianity” have bishops that rule over entire regions or countries. God did not place Timothy over all of Ephesus. God did not place Titus over all of Crete. Believers have once again rejected God’s Word for man’s tradition, and made God’s Word of none effect. (Mk. 7:9, 13)
#6 – The tradition also says Timothy was the “first bishop of Ephesus” and Titus was the “first bishop of Crete.” This is also not true. Timothy was not the first pastor in Ephesus. All the way back in Acts 14:23, we learn that it was always Paul’s practice to ordain “elders in every church” that he started and planted. Paul never left new-born babes shepherdless if he could help it. If new believers in an area had no pastor and Paul could not immediately go, Paul would send one of his fellow-helpers to choose the right man for the job. Concerning Ephesus, we see from Acts 20:17 how Paul called “the elders” of the churches located in Ephesus. Paul wanted to speak to the heads and leaders of the Christian churches in Ephesus. This very well indicates multiple churches in Ephesus with a pastor. We also have the mention of Aquila’s church in I Cor. 16:19 (“Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.) who Timothy was requested to greet for Paul along with Onesiphorus’ household when he was in Ephesus (II Tim. 1:16-18) in II Tim. 4:19 .
#7 – The letters of I and II Timothy and Titus are erroneously called “The Pastoral Epistles” when, in fact, Timothy and Titus were sent to the various churches as itinerant evangelists in Paul’s stead. The 3 letters, if anything, should be called “The Evangelist Epistles.” Not only do we have Paul’s direct command to Timothy to “do the work of an evangelist,” but we also have their responsibilities and reasons laid out by Paul in their individual letters. I Timothy 3 was a reminder to Timothy of how “to behave” in God’s house in choosing the right pastor and deacons for each local church in Ephesus, not how to hold down the office of pastor and deacon at the same time. Paul commanded Timothy in II Tim. 2:2 to “commit… to faithful men” who were capable of passing on to other believers what he had learned from Paul. From Titus 1:5, we have the strongest evidence of what was going on:
- Titus 1:5 “For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:”
If the reader wasn’t aware, Tit. 1:5-8 is a direct parallel to Paul’s instruction to Timothy about pastoral qualifications in I Tim. 3. Both men were sent from Paul to various areas to right the wrongs in churches, to strengthen and educate the believers, and, if needed, choose the pastors and deacons for a local congregation.
An important thought must be added here. It probably seems a small matter to most to erroneously call the letters to Timothy and Titus “the pastoral epistles.” No addition, subtraction, or diminishing of God’s Word is ever a small matter. So much has been lost, and so much could be learned when the letters are rightly seen as written to evangelists. So much truth is wrested and twisted around about pastors and evangelists when the letters are reversed. We will learn much more from these crucial letters later.
#8 – If the tradition is wrong about Timothy being the “first” and also wrong about Timothy being “bishop” of all of Ephesus, a position which is contrary to Scripture, then it is extremely likely that modern believers are also wrong about Timothy being a pastor at Ephesus.
In conclusion to their physical position, there is no Scriptural weight or evidence to pastors having an itinerant ministry, otherwise they are no more shepherds in the truest sense. Christ knew an itinerant ministry was needed for the gospel so He gave the gift of the evangelist.
In regards to their spiritual position, pastor means “shepherd.” A pastor is the leader of his sheep. He is the “bishop” (I Timothy 3:1) and “overseer” (Acts 20:28) which means superintendent. The pastor is the human agent in charge of the local church. An evangelist’s focus is the gospel. At first glance, preaching the gospel may not seem to give the evangelist any authority, but it does. Both pastors and evangelists are commanded to “preach the word” and with the Scriptures “reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” (II Timothy 4:2) By simply preaching the authoritative Word of God, the evangelist is given authority by God for his message of the gospel. The gospel should be heeded by the pastor and his people alike. As has already been established, Paul’s traveling co-laborers, Timothy and Titus, were evangelists. And throughout their letters, God emphasizes the evangelist’s authority. In fact, God commands through Paul to Titus in Titus 2:15, “These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.” Of course, this “authority” comes from preaching the Word that was commanded in II Tim. 4:2. Preachers must always remember that we are merely God’s messengers. It is not our message, it is God’s. Our authority must come through specific quotations and references to God’s Word just as this evangelist does throughout his messages including these articles on the evangelist. Even the order of the gifts in Eph. 4:11 are listed in order of authority with “apostles” first and “teachers” the lowest. Evangelists have authority as seen by the position in the middle behind “prophets” and before “pastors.” Of course, the letters to Timothy and Titus reveal the various levels and areas of authority the evangelist has as well. As an added thought, there doesn’t appear to be any scripture that removes authority from evangelists which is important since all things must be done only according to God’s Word.
Both the evangelist and the pastor have spiritual realms of authority. Neither should overstep their realms of authority. For instance, it would not be right for an evangelist to come into a pastor’s church and command him to start doing things differently. An evangelist may give suggestions as to some concerns he can see. At the same time, a pastor would not be right in telling an evangelist what facet of the gospel he could or could not preach to his church. Of course, a pastor can give suggestions as to some needs he is aware of in his flock. We will never experience revival if pastors and believers continue to dictate the few messages they are willing to listen to. In my younger days especially, I had pastors constantly dictating to me exactly what they wanted preached behind their pulpit. Paul warned about these itching ears in II Tim. 4:3. As a result, I quickly noticed that only a few topics were accepted, and the local churches were not experiencing revival. We can’t have revival if we keep doing the very things that hinder revival. We must have preaching that convicts, rebukes, reproves, corrects, and instructs us from sin to Christ.
We must remember that the pastor is simply the human leader of Christ’s church and the evangelist is simply the human preacher of Christ’s gospel. Men must beware lest they overstep their spiritual positions concerning Christ, His church, and His gospel. Both gifts, as with all believers, must be humble and submissive to each other.
- “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.” – Ephesians 5:21
- “Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility:” – I Peter 5:5
We must remember that both pastors and evangelists are gifts. (Eph. 4:11) They are both given by Christ. (Eph. 4:8) Both gifts must endeavor “to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:3) Both gifts must work together for the same purpose “till we all come in the unity of the faith.” (Ephesians 4:13) There must be peaceful unity between both gifts which requires continual submission.
Pastors and evangelists have the same purpose. They are “for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” Both gifts also protect and direct Christ’s church. The two gifts differ, though, in their ministry priorities, their preaching, and their physical and spiritual positions.