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Mobile Ministries: Evangelists and Teachers
We have been studying together the teaching of the New Testament concerning the church and we have come to study the main ministries of the church as they are listed in Ephesians 4:11. The ministries there listed are apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers. I divided these ministries up under two separate headings: Mobile Ministries which are available to the whole body of Jesus Christ, the church in every place and at any time as the Spirit of God may direct; and Resident Ministries, those which are confined to some particular locality.
I said that the four Mobile Ministries are those of the apostle, the prophet, the evangelist and the teacher. In our previous studies we have dealt with the two ministries of the apostle and the prophet.
In this study we will now turn to the ministry of the evangelist and then to the ministry of the teacher. Let us begin with the evangelist. The word “evangelist” is very familiar in contemporary American Christianity, and yet it has very few occurrences in the New Testament. Basically it is derived from a word which means “good news.” And so we could define an evangelist literally as a proclaimer of good news. This noun “evangelist” is actually used only three times in the New Testament. Ephesians 4:11, the list which we have already considered. And then in Acts 21:8, we have the following statement made about Philip. This is a description of Paul’s return from one of his missionary journeys, coming back to the land of Palestine and the city of Cesarea, he entered into the house of Philip. Luke, who’s recording it, speaks in the plural, he says,
...And we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven; and abode with him.
Philip is there called “the” evangelist, and as far as the New Testament is concerned he is the only man who was specified by name as being an evangelist. It is also said of him that he is one of the seven, that is the seven who were appointed as deacons as recorded in Acts 6. So we see there that Philip at one time or another had two titles; that of a deacon, and that of an evangelist. We will study the relationship between these two things a little later.
Let’s look at the third occurrence and the only other occurrence of the word “evangelist” which is found in 2Timothy 4:5. Paul is writing to Timothy and we have pointed out in earlier studies that Timothy is mentioned as being an apostle. Some people imagine that Timothy had the ministry of a pastor, but he was not actually a pastor, nor was he apparently actually an evangelist. But as we have pointed out included in the ministry of an apostle are all the other ministries potentially. Here in 2 Timothy 4:5 Paul writes to Timothy,
But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.
Timothy was not specifically an evangelist, but Paul told him in the present situation where you find yourself you cannot fulfill your entire ministry as an apostle unless you also do the work of an evangelist, a proclaimer of the good news.
So those are the three occurrences of the noun “evangelist.” However there is a verb directly connected with it in Greek with a very small change of letters which we could render in English “evangelize.” Of course, in the King James version you will not find the verb evangelize. This verb, which is one single word meaning “to proclaim good news” is usually translated in the King James Version, “to preach the gospel” or “to proclaim the good news.” Of course, it carries with it the thought of this ministry and the activities connected with the ministry.
Let’s look at some of the occurrences of this word. It occurs actually about fifty times in the New Testament. Therefore, it has an important part in the New Testament. Let’s look first of all at the ministry of Jesus. I have already said previously that Jesus is the perfect pattern of all these ministries. Jesus is the perfect apostle, the perfect prophet, the perfect evangelist, the perfect shepherd and the perfect teacher. We see here some aspects of the ministry of Jesus as an evangelist. In Luke 4:18 He read out in the synagogue in Nazareth, His own synagogue where He was brought up, that prophecy from the 61st chapter of Isaiah which He then applied to Himself. In the King James Version in Luke 4:18 this is how it reads.
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
What is translated in the King James Version “to preach the gospel” is in Greek the single word to “evangelize.” “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to evangelizethe poor; he has anointed me to bring the good news to the poor...”
And then the other things in that 18th verse are the things that go along with bringing the good news. They are the result of bringing the good news, they are the things that go together with the good news; healing the brokenhearted, delivering the captives, restoring sight to the blind, and set at liberty those that are bruised. Let’s always remember that the word “gospel” which is from the save root, means “good news.” If you ever hear anything that is not good news, remember it isn’t the gospel. Because the gospel is good news.
I’m reminded of a lady that I know and my wife knows, whose husband was at that time a deacon of the Moody Church in Chicago. She became incurably ill with a kidney complaint, went to the best physicians and they all told her it’s incurable, there’s nothing we can do. So in her desperation, and she was herself a trained nurse, she went to the Moody Bible Book Shop to get a book on healing. She herself said, “I got 14 books on how to suffer but not one book on how to be healed.” Well you see, that is not good news. The gospel is good news. Later on this same lady went to an Episcopal church, was anointed with oil by an Episcopal Priest, and instantly healed. When she went back to her Jewish physician who was an unbeliever and an atheist, he was compelled to acknowledge that a miracle had taken place.
I just mention this because the gospel is good news. A lot of people who claim to be preaching the gospel are telling people anything but good news. They are not preaching the gospel. The gospel is good news and the things that go with it are the healing of the brokenhearted, deliverance of the captives, restoration of sight to the blind and setting at liberty them that are bruised. This is the New Testament picture of what the gospel is and what it does.
In Luke 4:43 we have another occurrence of the word.
And Jesus said to the people round about him, I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also: for therefore am I sent.
To preach the “kingdom of God” in the Greek is to “evangelize the kingdom of God” or to carry the good news of the kingdom of God.
Then in Luke 9:6 it says of the first twelve disciples who were sent out as apostles,
And they departed, and went through the towns, preaching the gospel, and healing everywhere.
The phrase translate “preaching the gospel” is this one single word “evangelizing” and healing. Notice, the healing was the evidence that it really was good news. It was the impact and result of the preaching of the gospel.
Then in Luke 20:1 we have again another example of this save verb,
And it came to pass, that on one of those days, as he [Jesus] taught the people in the temple, and preached the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes came upon him...
Where the Kings James Version says “preached the gospel” the Greek says “evangelized.” He taught and evangelized the people.
Then turning on to the book of Acts looking at just three occurrences of the word there in the book of Acts, Acts 8:25, this is speaking about Peter and John who had come down to the city of Samaria to help conserve the results of the evangelistic ministry of Philip. When they had finished their ministry in Samaria, it says in verse 25,
And they, when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, returned to Jerusalem, and preached the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans.
You’ll notice that you have the word “preach” in the King James version twice in that verse. But in Greek it is a completely different word. It says,
When they had testified and “spoken” the word of the Lord, [then it says] on their return they “evangelized” in many villages of the Samaritans.
The first is simply the ordinary word for “to speak”, the second is the specific word for to “evangelize” to bear the good news, they carried the good news to the villages on their way back from Samaria to Jerusalem.
In Acts 14:7 this is part of the first missionary journey of Paul and Barnabas, and they’d arrived at cities of Lycaonia, and there it says in Acts 14:7,
There they preached the gospel.
The Greek says literally, “there they were evangelizing.” They were continuing to preach the gospel. Notice the next incident recorded is the healing of a man who was born lame. I think if you check, you’ll see that in almost every place this word “evangelize” is used you’ll find healing and deliverance are not far away. They are the evidence of the good news.
Then in Acts 16:10, this is the call of Paul and his companions to go to Macedonia and this is their conclusion as stated here in Acts 16:10.
And after he had seen the vision, [which was a vision of a man of Macedonia saying ‘come over into Macedonia and help us,] immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.
Where the King James Version says “preach the gospel” the Greek says one simple verb “to evangelize.” So they were called to carry the good news to people in Macedonia who had never heard and were waiting for it.
Then the word is used quite frequently in Romans. Let’s look at three occurrences in Romans. Romans 1:15 Paul is speaking about his desire to go to Rome, so he says,
So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.
The phrase “to preach the gospel”—Greek “to evangelize.” To bring the good news to you that are in Rome also.
Then in Romans 10:15 it says, and I’m only quoting part of this verse and it’s quoted actually from Isaiah,
...How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
“Preach the gospel”—“evangelize” peace. Carry the good news of peace. Actually you’ll notice that two at least of these quotations about evangelizing are taken from the Old Testament, from the prophet Isaiah. If there was specifically a prophet who was of the evangelistic spirit, it was the prophet Isaiah. He was the prophet above all others that contained the good news of the gospel in the Old Testament.
In Romans 15:20 Paul speaks about his own ministry and his desire to always reach the unreached, not to stay where people had already heard.
Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named...
To preach the gospel to evangelize. Again this is typical of the evangelistic ministry. It’s the desire always to reach the unreached. To bring the message to those that never have yet heard it.
Then in 1Corinthians 1:17, Paul is speaking about people who have been baptized in water, in Corinth, and he says he himself did not baptize many because that was not really his job. He says,
For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel;[to evangelize...
Paul left the actual baptizing of his converts to others, though he saw them baptized. But his main business was not to baptize people, but to evangelize—to bring the good news.
Then in 2Corinthians 10:16, Paul is speaking about his intention after he’d finished the ministry that God had given him in the area of Achaia where Corinth was situated, his aim was,
To preach the gospel in the regions beyond you...
And notice again this is to evangelize and notice the thrust is always to get further, to go on, to go where the people haven’t yet heard. This is the essential spirit of the evangelist. He is a man who cannot rest, who cannot settle down, he’s always on the move because he’s always thinking of the people that have not yet heard this message for the first time. Of course, as I’ve already pointed out, Paul was doing the work of an evangelist in his ministry as an apostle. The apostolic ministry included that of the evangelist.
We may then sum up that the primary purpose of the ministry of the evangelist, and I have it there in your outline, to introduce sinners to the Savior, and bring them into salvation and water baptism. You see, the supreme object of the evangelist is to introduce the sinner to the Savior. Having made the introduction he doesn’t stay on to deepen the acquaintance, he goes on to find others who’ve never yet been introduced. His ministry in this sense is essential introductory. However, according to the New Testament pattern, the evangelist does not merely bring people into the experience of salvation, he brings them into salvation and into water baptism. This is very clear in the New Testament. My personal conviction is this, that as the church gets closer and closer to the New Testament standards we will see those who are really called and sent as evangelists ensuring that their converts are baptized in water.
In actual fact, even the Baptists whose name indicates that they stress the importance of water baptism, are completely away from the New Testament standard, because they will habitually hold the water baptismal service say once or twice a month. “If you want to be baptized, come on Sunday night, January the 25th, and we will baptize you.” This completely away from the New Testament practice. If you study the book of Acts you’ll find that every person converted in the book of Acts was normally baptized by immersion in water within a few hours of conversion. It’s hard to find anybody that even waited until the next day. The Philippian jailer, in Acts chapter 16, didn’t even wait for dawn. It says he and his whole household were baptized the same hour of the night.
There was tremendous urgency in the New Testament message about water baptism. Actually, there is no authority in the New Testament ever to separate salvation from water baptism. Jesus said in Mark 16:16,
He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved...
He didn’t say anything about the person who believed but was not baptized.
In Matthew 28:19, when He sent His disciples forth He said, “Go into all the world and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” The first thing after they became disciples was immediately to be baptized. As we study the ministry, the pattern evangelist in the New Testament, that is Philip, we’ll see that he had this emphasis in his ministry.
We have already looked at 2Timothy 4:5, that as an apostle Timothy needed to do the work of an evangelist and we’ve already seen that Scripture in 1Corinthians 1:17, where Paul says that God sent him not to do the baptizing, but to do the evangelizing. So we don’t need to look back at those two Scriptures.
Let’s look now at what the New Testament says about Philip and his ministry. Philip, as I have already pointed out, is presented in two different aspects. First of all he’s introduced to us as a deacon, and later he’s presented to us as an evangelist. This brings out again a fact that most people really don’t grasp—that there’s promotion in ministry. This is particularly true, as I said, in regard to the apostle. People imagine apostles somehow drift down out of heaven fully formed and fully clad, and without any process of trial and error and he just goes off and starts as a perfect apostle. This just doesn’t happen in spiritual things. It doesn’t happen with the gifts of the spirit. It doesn’t happen with the ministries. There is a process of trial and error, learning and making mistakes, and learning from the mistakes. This is how it was with all the people in the New Testament.
Let’s look at the place in Acts where Philip is appointed an evangelist. If we turn to Acts chapter six we read in the first verse at this point in the progress of the church in Jerusalem,
...there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.
That’s the daily administration of money or food or clothing or whatever might be needed by these widows.
Then the twelve apostles called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables.
This isn’t our job. God didn’t send us to do this. So the solution is given in verse 3,
Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.
Now these men entered into the position which we have come to classify as that of a deacon. Notice that in the early church even a deacon had to be full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom and have a good report. Then the apostles said our ministry is prayer and the ministry of the word. Verse 4,
But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.
That’s the essence of the apostolic ministry. Then it says,
And the saying pleased the whole multitude: [and they chose seven men] and they chose Stephen... and Philip...
So Philip was there appointed a deacon. His business was to administer charity to the widows, and so on.
Now the Bible says in 1Timothy 3:13, that if you do the job of a deacon well, you’ve purchased yourself a good degree. Let’s look at that for a moment. Beginning at verse 8 of that 3rd chapter of 1Timothy, Paul is outlining the requirements and the qualifications of a man who is to be a deacon. We don’t need to go into it all, but in verse 12 he says,
Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.
So this is, as it were, the first degree in the spiritual university of the Holy Spirit. If you get your deaconship, and you do it efficiently and effectively, that’s like the first degree at a university, a B.A. degree. With that degree than they are qualified to go on to the next level of spiritual development. Notice they also for purchased themselves great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus. They have lost that sense of shyness and reticence which is common with new converts, and they’ve discovered the validity of the gospel and they discovered that God can begin to use them.
You see two of these men, in fact the first two listed in Acts 6:5, both developed into evangelists. Stephen was, of course, an evangelist though he’s not actually called that, and he became the first martyr. And Philip also developed into an evangelist. It proves that the early church had a pretty good discernment in the men whom they chose and I think we must also recognize the fact that something happened when the apostles prayed and laid their hands on them. It says in Acts 6:6,
Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.
Laying hands on is not just a formality. Things happen when people lay their hands on if they are doing it by the leading of the Holy Spirit.
So as a result of this appointment Philip stepped out, first of all into his ministry as a deacon.
Now let’s look at the nature of his evangelistic ministry. The greater part of the 8th chapter of Acts which is quite a lengthy chapter is devoted to the ministry of Philip as an evangelist. In other words, this eighth chapter of Acts contains the New Testament description of the evangelistic ministry. It’s the only one that we have and it is, I believe, a sufficient guide of the basic principles. First of all there was great persecution due to Saul of Tarsus. The early church, for the most part with the exception of the apostles, were scattered abroad from Jerusalem. They had to flee to save their lives.
In verse 4 of Acts 8 it says,
Therefore they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word.
Actually the word there is “evangelize.” Evangelizing the word. Bringing the good news that’s in the word of God.
Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.
Now without reading this chapter through, though I recommend that you do that at your leisure, let’s just notice the main features of Philip as an evangelist as they are portrayed in this chapter. First of all let’s notice his message. His message was wonderfully simple. In each case it’s summed up in one word. In verse 5 it says,
Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ unto them.
He just had just one message: it was Christ. And when he met the eunuch on the road to Gaza in verse 35 it says,
Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.
So his message was tremendously simple: it was Christ Jesus. He wasn’t presenting elaborate doctrine. He was presenting a person. This person was Jesus Christ. He was introducing the people that did not know Jesus Christ, to Jesus Christ.
The marvelous thing about a real God-anointed evangelist is that you can hear him preach the same sermon twenty times and still enjoy it. Now if a teacher taught the same thing twenty times, you’d probably lose interest. But it’s because the anointing of the Holy Spirit is upon him.
I’ve heard Billy Graham preach some of his sermons and I could almost preach them for him, but I wouldn’t get the same results. But I still enjoy them because that’s what the Holy Spirit wants him to do. He is proclaiming Jesus Christ. This is the essential nature of the evangelistic ministry. I don’t wish to suggest that Billy Graham’s ministry ends there, but this is certainly the basis of his ministry. It is that of an evangelist and as a evangelist his one aim and purpose is to present Jesus Christ.
Now let’s look at the attestation of Philip. This again, is basically very simple. Here is where present time the church for the most part is far from the New Testament pattern. Philip went down into the city of Samaria and he is one of the few creatures in the New Testament that apparently went alone. The apostles went in twos. The prophets went in groups. But here’s this one man, Philip, a Jew, by nature disliked by the people of Samaria. You know what the Samaritan woman said to Jesus, “The Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.”
He went down to this quite large city of Samaria and started to preach Christ. Now why did the people listen? Because God bore supernatural testimony to the truth of his message. The people knew he’d got something. How did they know it? Well, it’s stated very clearly in verses 6 and 7.
And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.
What attracted the peoples’ attention? You can say it one simple word: miracles. What kind of miracles? Miracles of deliverance and miracles of healing. The miracles of deliverance are stated in this way,
For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of the many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies [that’s paralyzed], and that were lame, were healed.
When the people of Samaria saw the evidence of the power that there was in the message of Philip, they listened carefully to what he had to say.
I was in a situation once with my good friend Don Basham, who is known to most of you I am sure, and we conducted a deliverance service. Exactly these things took place, “unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many...” There was a third preacher there who is a good friend of mine, but altogether sympathetic to this ministry of deliverance, and he became quite indignant and said afterwards, “Where do you ever see in the New Testament a service like that?” So I looked at Don and Don looked at me, and Don said, “Well, you will find it in Acts chapter 8:7, “unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them...” And we eventually cleared the misunderstanding up I think quite satisfactorily. That man is still a very good friend of mine.
So that much of what we consider normal by New Testament standards, is abnormal and much of what most Christians would call abnormal by New Testament standards, is normal. The attestation of the gospel, the good news, is supernatural. It’s the proof that it’s good news. The possessed are delivered, the lame and the sick are healed. When people see that they know it’s good news. They aren’t so much interested in theology, they want results.
Now this is the way that Jesus ordained it. In Mark 16, the closing verses there you’ll find that this is the program that Jesus laid down. In verse 15 He said,
And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel [carry the good news] to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. [The He said,] And these signs shall follow them that believe [five supernatural signs. The first one is the evidence of deliverance] In my name shall they cast out demons [the evidence of deliverance]; they shall speak with new tongues [the evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit]; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
And then the ministries of the first apostles is summed up in these words,
So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following.
This is the New Testament pattern. God confirms His word with signs following. In actual fact, if I were to be challenged by God to go forth again as a missionary to what we call mission fields and that’s not a scriptural term anyhow, I would not be willing to leave my own country and preach anywhere if I did not have the assurance that God would bear supernatural testimony to the message that He gave me. I’d rather stay at home and send ______________________. It would do more good. But I do believe and I have proved in my own experience that if you go and you present the good news, and you trust the Holy Spirit, He will confirm this word. That’s the way it should be.
Hebrews chapter 2:3–4 the same principle is brought out that when the early preachers went out, God bore witness with signs and wonders and miracles and distributions of the Holy Spirit.
I remember in Africa a young man came to me once, a young African. He had no great education. He dropped out of school at grade five, but then the Lord had saved him and he’d been present in a campaign conducted by Brother T. L Osborn in Mombasa, and he’d seen what God did. He was simple minded enough to believe if God did it for Brother Osborn, He’d do it for him. He started on this principle and it worked wonders. Eventually he came up to our area which was about four or five hundred miles from Mombasa, and we turned him loose in our college and he had tremendous response from the students who were far better educated that he was.
He said to me one day, “Brother Prince, there’s no problem about evangelizing Africa. I just walk into a village. I ask if there are any sick people there. There’s always somebody sick in an African village. I pray for him. He gets healed, and I have my congregation.” That’s the New Testament pattern. You don’t need the committees, the bands, the choirs, or all these things. God bless them if they are there, but we can probably do better without them. Because if we have them we tend to depend upon them. And the only thing that really matters is the supernatural attestation of the Holy Spirit.
Going on in Acts chapter 8, Philip’s direction was also supernatural to say the least. He knew where to go and when to go by supernatural directions. Verse 26,
And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south [that’s the Negev] unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza...
Verse 29, when he was on the way,
The Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.
And then even better in verse 39, after the eunuch had been baptized, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip. He didn’t even have to decide where to go. The Spirit of God just took him.
I would liken the evangelist to the kind of “blitzkrieg” if we could use that word, of the gospel forces. He’s on the move. He’s unpredictable. Even the devil doesn’t know where he will turn up next. In that way, He’s continually keeping the devil on the defensive. You see, the trouble with the church by and large at the present time is the church is on the defensive, the devil is on the offensive. But the true evangelist is on the offensive and it puts the devil on the defensive.
As I hear Charles Simpson say once, all the demons in the average church know they’ve got to be on hand at eleven o’clock on Sunday morning because that’s when the pastor’s going to be preaching the sermon. They’ve all ganged up on everybody that’s going. They’ve put in their work beforehand and there’s no element of surprise.
But, believe me, when Philip was moving around the demons just didn’t know where to go next or when he would be there. This is what I long to see. The initiative restored to the church.
Notice again this very important fact about Philip, that all his converts were baptized in water. In Acts 8:12 about the people in Samaria it says,
But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the man of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.
Notice, the Scripture said he preached Christ, but included in the preaching of Christ was baptism because they all knew they had to be baptized. To the eunuch he preached Jesus. But it says in verse 36,
And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?
Philip didn’t press the eunuch. The eunuch knew he had to be baptized, yet all that Philip had preached to him was Jesus. So you see that in the preaching of Jesus Christ as presented by the New Testament, water baptism was included. “What must I do to be saved? Believe and be baptized. What shall we do? Repent and be baptized.” This was the New Testament message. They did not take away from the commission that Jesus had given them.
Notice too, that Philip, as we have already seen, was continually on the move. He did not rest long anywhere. We have those Scriptures there by reference to Luke chapters 4 and 8 which we have already looked at in connection with use of the word evangelize. We find that Jesus, like Philip, was continually on the move. He did not rest in one place and build up a static congregation. He was always reaching out to those who had not heard.
Notice one final fact about the evangelist in 1Corinthians 12:28 we have this statement,
And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healing, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.
You’ll notice that the evangelist is not listed. Why? To me the answer is clear. Paul is speaking about the local church. The congregation of believers that meet. He’s speaking about the ministries that function within the local church. Of course the ministry of evangelist is not listed, because he has no ministry as an evangelist within he local church because his ministry is to the unconverted. In the local church there are already believers. To me this is clear evidence that in this passage Paul is considering the local church.
Now the evangelist might have a ministry if he was the worker of miracles who had the gifts of healings. In that capacity he would have a ministry. But as an evangelist he would have nothing to do because all those in that congregation would already have been introduced to Jesus Christ as Saviour which is the basic outreach of the evangelic ministry.
Now I want to go on in this same study and just deal with teachers. That’s the fourth of the mobile ministries. I would define a teacher as essentially an interpreter of Scripture. Now there are, as I see it, two levels of teaching. There’s the level spoken of in Ephesians 4:11 where it says, we’ve already quoted this verse many, many times,
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, teachers;
Now that ministry is to the whole body of the church of Jesus Christ, the Universal Church. But on the other hand there’s a different type of teaching which is specifically to the local congregation and we will deal with this much more fully when we come to the theme of elders. But let’s look at this one Scripture in 1Timothy 5:17 speaking about the ordering of a local church, Paul says this,
Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.
“Doctrine” is simply a noun that means “teaching.” So here are elders who do teaching. But their ministry, as I understand Scripture, is not to the Universal church. It’s to a small group of believers committed to their care in the local congregation. Their responsibility is the teaching of that small local group. So we have this difference. The teacher who is a minister to the whole body has essentially a public ministry similar to that maybe of an evangelist, or may of an apostle. It’s mobile and it’s what you could call on a fairly large scale. But within the local body there are men who do not have this ministry in the universal body, but they still are responsible for teaching on a small scale to individuals and small groups. So there are these two levels of teaching.
Now in looking for an example of a teacher in the New Testament it seemed to me that Apollos was the clearest example of a man who had a teaching ministry and apparently did not have any of the other ministries. There are many other men that did teaching, but they had another ministry combined with it as we will see before we close this study. But in looking for a man who had specifically a teaching ministry I felt that I was directed to Apollos. Let’s read two passages in the New Testament that deal with the ministry of this man Apollos. In Acts chapter 18 first, and then in 1 Corinthians chapter 3. Acts 18:24–28, speaking about events that took place in the city of Ephesus.
And a certain Jew named Apollos, born in Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly. And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace: For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publickly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ [that Jesus was the Messiah].
Now with that compare the other passage there in 1Corinthians 3:5–6. Apollos first appears on the scene in the city of Ephesus which is the capital of Asia, in the extreme west of Asia Minor as we understand it today. Then he moved from Ephesus to Achaia. The main city of Achaia was Corinth. Achaia is the northern part of the Greek Peloponnese. In Achaia he ministered to people who had been brought to the Lord previously by the ministry of Paul. It happened, apparently, in this church in Corinth there became a kind of rival faction. Each faction going off to the particular preacher whom they fancied the most. Paul rebukes them for this. He says, “You’re still carnal.” Reading in 1Corinthians 3:4,
For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?
This hanging on to human ministers through whom they had been blessed was a mark of carnality. I have to remark that this always amuses me because quite a number of theologians and Bible commentators will latch on to this statement that the Corinthian church was carnal. And they will then try to show you they were carnal because they spoke so much in tongues. But of course this is completely unscriptural conclusion. It wasn’t the speaking in tongues that was the evidence that they were carnal. What was the evidence of their carnality? It was that they were following human leaders, which is exactly how we find it in the church today. Some say I am of Luther, and other say I am of Calvin, and other say I am of Wesley. In actual the word of God says, “While you speak like that you are all babies.” The mark of carnality is not speaking in tongues, praise the Lord. The mark of carnality is hanging on to human leaders and ministers whom God blessed and whom God used, just as He used Paul, Apollos and Peter. But when they identified themselves within the body by the name of the particular preacher whom they were following, then Paul said, “Please! There’s enough of that. Stop that and grow up and stop being babies!”
It’s so often the very people that want to prove the Corinthians were carnal because they spoke in tongues are themselves guilty of this very thing which is the mark of carnality.
Notice then what Paul says,
For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?
The Lord gave one ministry to Paul, another ministry to Apollos. And then he sums it up in the 6th verse,
I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.
I think there in that little simple figure from agriculture we have a good example. The planting was the evangelizing. The initial planting of the seed of the word of God, the gospel. But the seed would never have grown and been fruitful as it should without subsequent watering as we know too well here in Florida. And so the next ministry that came along was the watering ministry, and that was the ministry of Apollos, the teacher. So the evangelist essentially plants the seed. The teacher follows behind him and waters the seed that has been planted by the evangelist. I think this is a pretty clear picture of the teaching ministry.
Now let’s turn back to Acts 18 for a moment and notice a little bit more about Apollos, which I think helps us to fill in this picture. It says in verse 24 of Acts 18,
And a certain Jew named apollos, born at Alexandria [Alexandria was one of the great cities of learning of the ancient world. It had the most famous library of the ancient world, and the suggestion is that Apollos was a man of some educational background.], an eloquent man [he was a very powerful speaker], and mighty in the scriptures [he had a very thorough knowledge of scripture], came to Ephesus. [Then it says in the 28th verse] For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publickly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.
Here is a very clear picture of the public teaching ministry. He was an eloquent man. He was something of a pulpit personality, if we can use that phrase. He had a very thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. He had a powerful presentation and he could prove the opponents of the gospel wrong in public. He was not the kind of person that needed to withdraw. He didn’t become embarrassed. He had a clear forceful method of presentation. He knew the Scriptures well and if others argued and opposed, he could out argue them. So he was a man with a forceful public ministry. You see, I’m trying to compare this or contrast it with the elder who is a teacher in his group, but may not have anything of a pulpit personality, and may operate only on a rather restricted level and yet do tremendously valuable and necessary work on that level. I say this because I’ve discovered that some people when they discover that an elder has to be able to teach, picture themselves as having to stand behind a pulpit and give a tremendous sermon. This is not, I believe, relevant. It’s relevant to the man who is a teacher to the whole body. But there’s another type of teaching which is different and which is just as valuable though it’s on a smaller scale.
Notice also, a remarkable statement there in Acts 18:27.
And when he was disposed to pass in Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him...
Notice, the early church did not receive preachers who were not recommended from where they had previously been ministering. This is vitally important. That the Christians in the charismatic movement in America would do this it would cut off immediately a whole lot of people who are travelling around without any fruit, without any backing, without any evidence that their ministry has produced anything, simply making merchandise of God’s people.
You’ll find this principle all through the New Testament. Any preacher that came from Asia to Achaia, he had to have the endorsement of the brethren in Asia or the brethren in Achaia wouldn’t receive him. And so Apollos coming from Asia to Achaia had a letter of recommendation so the brethren in Achaia opened to him.
Now, it says there in the second part of verse 27,
...who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace: For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publickly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ.
That’s rather a remarkable phrase isn’t it. The ones that had believed by grace, because in actual fact we are all taught, and it’s perfectly correct, that we all believe by grace. Ephesians 2:8, “By grace are ye saved through faith...” But I believe that the picture is that of people who had a very wonderful supernatural conversion. Maybe they were people who were illiterate. They couldn’t read or write, and they didn’t have any background knowledge of the Old Testament Scriptures. Remember that most of the church in Corinth we of Gentile background. It was a seaport. It was a place of outstanding wickedness and immorality and impurity. Here Paul arrived, and in the course of apparently of about 18 months he left a flourishing congregation of believers.
Now this was not done by the slow plodding method of systematically teaching a few people. This was done by a mighty impact of the Holy Spirit bearing supernatural testimony to Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world. Many of these people must have been swept into the kingdom of God by an experience that was supernatural. This we find it happened in many parts of the world where you find people who have a similar need. They have no background knowledge of the Scriptures. They have no education. They can’t read or write, and yet God loves them and He wants to save them.
In Africa we have seen cases like that. In fact, I think of one man who was an old man and had never been to church in his life. God, one night, gave him a dream. In this dream he saw himself going to the local, thatched, mud walled church and getting saved. He didn’t know anything whatever about the gospel. He’d never really heard it in his life. He didn’t have any clothes to go to church. He had to go round and borrow an old overcoat from somebody and made his way to the church, and got saved. Now that was really supernatural grace of God.
A missionary that I met somewhere shared this story with me from one of the South American countries. A lady who was a Catholic, and just a nominal Catholic without ever having opened the Bible, had a very vivid dream. In this dream she saw herself going to a certain church. She noticed that when she got inside the walls of the church were green. I have this story first-hand. So next Sunday she thought, “I must go to this church.” She went out, hired a taxi, and told the man what the type of building she had seen and he knew where it was and she said, “Take me there.” But unfortunately the taxi broke down and she couldn’t get there. So she returned home not having been.
Next Sunday she did the same thing but this time the taxi got there. She went into the church and Christ supernaturally revealed Himself to her. She found the Lord, she went and spoke to the minister of the congregation afterwards and told him about this dream. She said, “You know I saw this building and I tried to get here a week ago, but I couldn’t. This time the taxi got me here.” She said, “You know, I came inside and I saw these green walls.”
The man looked at her and he said, “You sure you saw them green?” She said, “Yes.” He said, “No wonder you didn’t get here last week because we repainted the walls this week and last week they weren’t green.”
So that was a supernatural revelation granted by the Holy Spirit. But that woman didn’t know a thing about the gospel. I tell you, as a matter of fact, this is not sense to make fun of any group, but I during the second World War was a patient in hospital. They admitted to the same hospital and put in the next bed to me a Free French Sailor. I was the only person in the hospital that spoke French apparently. He spoke no English, so he was either tied up to speak to me or to nobody. I was sitting there studying my Bible which I had plenty of time to do and after a while he asked me, “What’s that book you read every day?” I said, “That’s the Bible.”
He didn’t seem very interested, so he would go on talking to me about this book. One day I said to him, “Would you like me to get you a New Testament in French?” And I have to tell you, this is exactly the truth. He had never heard of the New Testament. He didn’t know what it was. But he was a good Catholic. So I got a New Testament from the British Foreign Bible Society in Cairo and gave it to him. The results were dramatic. I have never seen anything like it. In less than two weeks he had read the whole New Testament except the Book of Revelation and was converted. He said, “Why didn’t they ever tell me this?”
When I last saw him sometime later, he bought the biggest Bible he could find in French, and armed with this Bible he was going around talking to everybody about the Lord.
But here is an example of God dealing with people who just don’t have any background, they have no way of access. Either there’s going to be a supernatural intervention of God in their life of they are not going to find the Lord. I am sure that this is the kind of person that the writer of Acts had in mind when he said that these people in Corinth had “believed through grace.” That’s all. They knew Jesus. They knew He’d saved them. They knew He’d healed them maybe. They knew they were baptized in the Holy Spirit. But as for knowing the Scripture or knowing what grace was, or knowing any of the basic truths of the gospel, they knew nothing about all that. So God sent them a teacher in the person of Apollos who mightily helped them because he helped to straighten out their knowledge of the Scripture and know where to find the books of the Bible.
I remember our own son-in-law, an Englishman, a good, you know with a good old English background, when he first came to our meetings—this is George. He is known to some of you. He didn’t know a thing about God. He’d never heard the gospel in his life. I started to give a reference to Hebrews and he began to look in the Old Testament for the book of Hebrews. The world is full of people like this. God has got to reach them and He can’t reach them all by systematic exposition, so He reaches them by supernatural revelation. But then they have to have the systematic exposition subsequently, otherwise they’ll never stay in the faith. They’ll lose their experience.
So this is I believe the essential nature of the teaching ministry that sums it up there. It’s the systematic, public, exposition of the Scripture. For people that are already believers in Jesus Christ but don’t know what they believe or why they believe it or how to relate it one thing to another.
Now let me just conclude briefly by pointing out a few general facts. We found on the mission field that an evangelistic ministry will often come forth rapidly after conversion. In fact, the person can be converted one week and start out to act like an evangelist the next week. But the ministry of a teacher usually takes much longer to develop. In most of the countries that you might describe as somewhat primitive, one of the great needs is the teaching ministry. It isn’t difficult to get these people out as evangelists, but there are lamentably few teachers. And the great need on many of these mission fields today is people that can teach.
Then let me point out that teaching is frequently linked with some of the other main mobile ministries. Let me just briefly point this out and we’ll close this study. 2 Timothy 1:11 Paul says about the gospel of Jesus Christ,
Whereunto I am appointed a preacher,and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.
The word “preacher” in Greek is “herald.” This is not the word that is connected with good news. This is the act of being a herald. “I am a herald, a proclaimer, and an apostle and a teacher.” Apostle and teacher go very, very closely together.
Then in Acts 13:1 we find there,
Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers...
They had the double ministry of being prophets and teachers.
And in Acts 15:32 we read about Judas and Silas who had come down from Jerusalem to Antioch,
And Judas and Silas, being prophets also themselves, exhorted the brethren with many words...
They had a message of exhortation and teaching that went along with their ministry as prophets.
And then in Luke 20:1, the passage that we did look at before but we will just look at it briefly in closing,
And it came to pass, that on one of those days, as he taught the people in the temple, and preached the gospel...
This is Jesus. He taught and evangelized. So that teaching is very, very frequently a ministry that’s joined in with another ministry and these examples you have apostle and teacher, prophet and teacher, and evangelizing and teaching. I think of the early church, it was comparatively rare to find a man who was a teacher without having any of the other ministries. But apparently Apollos was such a man.