THE PLACE AND WORK OF AN EVANGELIST IN THE CHURCH
IN THE MINISTRY OF THE WORD OF GOD.
Christ's first evangelists (the apostles) said, "It is not fit that we should forsake the word of God and serve tables, ;but we will continue stedfastly in prayer and in the ministry of the word" Acts 6:2,4. They were saying, "We must specifically pray and serve to others the word." They said that serving the word of God was their job, not serving food, and that it is not "fit" or proper in God's sight to allow another good work to cause them to forsake their primary, specific job to which they were called. Many modern day preachers, evangelists, forsake the word of God instead of stedfastly serving it because they are called upon, by the congregation, and allow themselves to be drawn into serving tables. They do that which is not "fit" or "pleasing" to God -- they thereby do not fulfil their ministry. They actually need to be charged by the congregation, as they are charged by the Lord, to do the work of an evangelist and to fulfil their ministry.
AN EVANGELIST IS NOT TO ALLOW HIMSELF TO BE INTIMIDATED AS HE GOES ABOUT HIS DUTIES AS AN EVANGELIST.
In the face of brethren who will turn away their ears from the truth of the gospel unto fables, Timothy was told to be "sober in all things." The KJV says, "watch thou in all things." In 2 Tim. 4:2,3, Timothy is urged to "reprove, rebuke, and exhort with all long-suffering and teaching" those who turn away (instead of being swept away with them). Because, they will "heap to themselves teachers after their own lusts," but Timothy must be a teacher who will not allow himself to be "heaped" by their desires. This applies to every evangelist that stands preaching the word of God. What being "sober" in the face of strong and determined men who err means is to be unintimidated. Paul is saying to a young man whose physical sickness, "thine often infirmities", may have made him timid adn unaggressive, "Do not let them make you afraid, do not let them over-awe you or make you to be cowed down, but rather resist and rebuke them." The context shows this to be Paul's meaning.
AN EVANGELIST IS NOT TO ALLOW HIMSELF TO BE FASHIONED OR CONFORMED TO THE WHIMS AND FANCIES OF THOSE AMONG WHOM HE IS EVANGELIZING.
The Greek word translated "sober" (naypho) is used repeatedly to mean "not to be fashioned or conformed" 1 Pet. 1:13 says to be sober, and then verse 14 explains, "not fashioning yourselves according to your former lusts." 1 Pet. 4:7 says "to be sober," and verses 3 and 4 explain not to "run with them in their rioting." 1 Pet. 5:8 says to be "sober and vigilant," and then verse 9 explains "withstand the enemy by your faith." 1 Thes. 5:6 says not to sleep but to be sober, and verse 3 explains not to be overtaken by the false teachers saying "peace and safety." Titus 2:2 uses "sober minded" to mean not being swept into the gluttony and error on Crete. Therefore, by these other clear-cut uses of "sober" to mean "unintimidated," we know that 2 Tim. 4:5 (because of its context) is telling Timothy not to be intimidated by those who would make him one of their teachers of error and ungodliness. He must resist intimidation.
THE BESETTING SIN OF MANY EVANGELISTS.
By the very nature of a preacher's role, serving under the elders, and being paid by the congregation, he is unduly tempted to conform to what brethren want him to do and be. This intimidation he must stedfastly withstand to the very point of "suffering hardship" so as to "do the work of an evangelist, fulfil thy ministry" (do your job). This need for resistance to intimidation was the exact thing being urged by Paul upon Timothy. It is a prominent theme in the epistles to evangelists. It is a most needed quality among all preachers today. It is the way we preachers are most easily tempted to compromise. It is where our strongest watchfulness is demanded. Because it is an evangelist's besetting sin.
PUT THE BRETHREN IN MIND OF "THESE THINGS".
First and Second Timothy and Titus are the "things" an evangelist must charge the congregation to do because of the entrusted gospel. But because certain strong leaders would "depart from the faith" and try to intimidate young Timothy to go along with them, 1 Tim. 4:6-16, clearly reminds Timothy of his unchangeable role as God's evangelist. The expression "these things" is found here four times referring to the "things" Timothy must do and teach as an unintimidated evangelist. He must: (1) continually put the brethren in mind of these things, v. 6, (2) He must "command and teach these things", v. 11, (3) He must "be diligent in these things", vs. 15, and (4) He must "continue in these things", vs. 16, in order to be a "good minister" of Christ Jesus. If we can know precisely what "these things" were, we will know precisely the aspects of the evangelist's role about which Timothy was warned not to be intimidated.
THREE ASPECTS OF "THESE THINGS".
From what we have said concerning the meaning of "these things" it is obvious that Timothy must:
(1) not be intimidated to compromise the gospel (but must hold to the only "good doctrine" and refuse a perverted gospel);;
(2) not be intimidated to compromise his boldness (but must "command and teach" with courage and exampleship, despite his youth); and
(3) he must not be intimidated to neglect to do well the public and private teaching (but must be "diligent" and "take heed" to the things of his evangelistic teaching impelled by the saving gospel). He must not "give in" to compromise, to cowardice, nor to neglect.
"These things", therefore, are the aspects of an evangelist's charge which must not be surrendered. They are the basics of "the work of an evangelist" by which he "saves himself and them that hear him." To be intimidated away from these basics is to sacrifice the work of an evangelist. A Bible evangelist gives himself wholly to "these things" and refuses to be pressured away from them.
A WARNING GIVEN TO A YOUNG EVANGELIST.
1 Tim. 4:6-16. In this passage of scripture, Paul warns the young preacher against departures from the work of an evangelist which result from the departures from "the faith" predicted by the Spirit. Timothy's job was to "keep on putting the brethren in mind of these things" (continuous action Greek tense). The core error which Timothy must resist was a departure from the basic gospel message called "the faith, the words of faith," or "the good doctrine." The departure described in the epistles to evangelists is a Judaistic-Gnostic error which is first mentioned in 1 Tim. 1:3-11. Vs. 11 summarizes the error's practices as "any other thing contrary to the sound doctrine according to the gospel of the glory of the blessed God which was committed to my trust."
DEPARTURE FROM THE GOSPEL OF GRACE.
1 Tim. 1:12-17. To explain God's wholesome teaching of the glorious good news entrusted to Paul this paragraph, 12-17, stresses God's abounding grace which saved a persecutor like Saul of Tarsus. Jesus mercifully saved Saul by grace for an example of His long-suffering to all sinners who would believe on Him thereafter. This gospel of grace, then, is the gospel entrusted to Paul and which was being departed from in Ephesus. The departure took the form of mystical Judaistic-Gnosticism which denied the fundamental atonement message of Christ crucified. Such a false gospel would have no saving power and thus have no power to impel Timothy to give himself wholly to preaching it to the lost. Timothy must not be intimidated by a legalistic or mystical gospel which gives him no good news to tell and no motivation to tell it to all men.
EVANGELISTS ARE TO LABOR AND STRIVE TO SAVE "ALL MEN".
1 Tim. 4:10 shows that evangelists "labor and strive" because their hope is set on the living God as the Savior of "all men". Any Gnostic or Jewish gospel narrower than "all men" will kill a preacher's incentive to reach "all men". Since the gospel of grace is for "all men", then laboring and striving to reach "all men" necessarily follows. Acts 20:31 shows that Paul in Ephesus had ceased not to warn "every one" night and day with tears. Paul's charge to Timothy (backed by Paul's "all men" example) was, therefore, to labor and strive to reach "all men," and the reason was that God wanted all men saved. This "all men" emphasis has been widely departed from in the work of many modern preachers and evangelists. They do not warn every one night and day with tears as Paul did, but rather, they spend most of their time with brethren. Their labors do not fit the "all men" breadth of the gospel which they espouse, for the gospel is God's good news to all men. The role of an evangelist of that "all men" gospel is to take it to all men.
EVANGELISTS ARE TO BE AN EXAMPLE TO THE BELIEVERS.
Verses 11 and 12 show that Timothy must "command and teach" these "all men" things about the gospel, evangelism, and Christian living. His life and his evangelism will be an "example to them that believe." Verse 15 shows that Timothy's evangelistic progress will be manifest unto all, when the believers see him "diligent in these things," and as he gives himself wholly to these things. By such evangelistic example-setting Timothy would imitate Jesus and Paul, who first gave themselves to save all men and then charged others to imitate their evangelism. But a preacher whose evangelistic example is not manifested before all cannot effectively produce evangelism in all, because he has failed in his primary role. He must be an example of that which he commands and teaches that the saving gospel is for all. Timothy was to be an example of evangelism to all.
TAKE HEED TO THYSELF AND TO THY TEACHING.
Verse 16 charges, "Take heed to thyself and to they teaching" (ASV) or "to thy doctrine" (KJV). This translation difference is very significant, since Paul is either telling Timothy:
(1) to take heed to his "doctrine" so as not to change its CONTENT, or
(2) to take heed to his "teaching" as an ACTIVITY not to be neglected.
Of course, both ideas are taught in these letters, but what is the primary emphasis here, which if Timothy did, he would save himself and his hearers? The answer is supplied in the paragraph context which stresses:
"GIVE HEED" IS THE SAME AS "TAKE HEED".
Verse 13 clarifies verse 16, since to "give heed" to reading, to exhorting and to teaching is surely the same as to "take heed" to one's teaching (since they are in the same context). Since all three things vs. 13 says to give heed to are ACTS of reading, exhorting, and teaching (rather than CONTENTS), this weighs heavily that vs. l6, then, means to take heed to one's teaching as an ACTIVITY in the sense of doing the activity of teaching, rather than to take heed to one's doctrine or the CONTENTS in one's teaching. This is further shown by the fact that the Greek words for "the teaching" in both verses are identical so as to parallel this precise meaning. Timothy was to "take heed" to the DOING of the teaching in vs. 16 in the same sense that he was to give heed to the DOING of the reading, exhorting, and teaching in vs. 13. Both verses emphasize the ACTION part of the teaching, though the content meaning is not excluded.
"DOCTRINE" IN THE SENSE OF "INDOCTRINATE".
The Old English sense of the KJ word DOCTRINE was here the idea of "indoctrinate", as is found in 2 Tim. 4:2: "Preach the word, be instant in season, out of season, reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine" (meaning "teaching" or "INDOCTRINATION," not CONTENT). In 2 Tim. 4 and in 1 Tim. 4, Timothy is being told to do the preaching of the word in season and out of season. He is being warned not to neglect to do the reproving, rebuking, and exhorting, which he obviously was being intimidated by some to neglect. Timothy, therefore, must do the work of an evangelist and fulfill his ministry by not being intimidated away from either:
(1) the teaching (as to its PRACTICE) or from
(2) the teaching (as to its CONTENT).
Just to take heed to preserving the right doctrine did not fulfill his ministry unless he also took heed to indoctrinating the gospel to the church and to all the lost. Taking heed to TEACHING the gospel to the lost is not essentially different from taking heed to the CONTENTS of the saving gospel.
DO THE JOB OF AN EVANGELIST.
Both 1 Tim. 4 and 2 Tim. 4 are charging Timothy to "fulfill his ministry" by doing the job of an evangelist. This is like saying to a nurse, "Do your job as a nurse." Since the work of a nurse, is to nurse, therefore, to do the work of a nurse is to do her job of nursing. Since the work of an evangelist is to evangelize, therefore, to do the work of an evangelist is to evangelize. There are many more things that can be said about the place and work of an evangelist in the church, but these should make every evangelist realize that he has a specific and special place and work in the church. That work is to evangelize, to teach and preach the gospel to "all men". and not to be turned aside from that work to do the work of elders or deacons or other Christians. The work of an evangelist is to indoctrinate the congregation and all men with the good news, the gospel.
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