Summary: What is an evangelist? He is a preacher of the Gospel, a proclaimer of the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ. He will speak to crowds and he will share the message with single individuals. He has a relentless desire to present Jesus Christ to anyone who will listen. And he will be glad to teach you to do the same. The Christian churches need this ministry!
Luke 4:18, KJV [Jesus said] The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor…
• Strong’s concordance defines “evangelist” as “a preacher of the Gospel.” The verb form of the word is “to announce good news (‘evangelize’), esp. the gospel.”
• Jesus was the supreme evangelist! He Himself is good news. And He was anointed by the Holy Spirit on earth to preach the good news. He did it with great success and won multitudes to faith in Him.
The word “evangelist” occurs three times in the New Testament:
1) 2 Timothy 4:5 But you [Timothy], keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.
2) Ephesians 4:11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers.
3) Acts 21:8-9 Leaving the next day, we reached Caesarea and stayed at the house of Philip the evangelist, one of the Seven. He had four unmarried daughters who prophesied.
• Ephesians 4:11 lists what are commonly called the “fivefold ministry” — apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and bible teachers.
• Timothy is generally believed to have been pastoring the large church in Ephesus. Paul’s encouragement to him to “do the work of an evangelist” could mean either (1) Timothy was a pastor-evangelist, called and ordained in two of the fivefold ministries; or (2) he was primarily a pastor, but was also exhorted to do the work that evangelists do in order to help grow the church that he was pastoring.
• Philip was specifically called an evangelist (Acts 21:8). He was a married man with four spiritually-gifted daughters and was living in Caesarea (vs. 9). He had previously been one of the original seven deacons in the Jerusalem church. Let’s take a closer look at Philip to see what we can learn about the evangelist’s ministry.
Acts 6:1-5 In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.” This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism.
• Philip had earlier been a deacon in the church in Jerusalem.
• He was said to be a man “known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom,” strongly suggesting that he was a man of solid Christian character who was respected as such by those who knew him.
• He had evidently proven himself to be faithful and effective in his deacon ministry, thus gaining for himself an impeccable reputation and much boldness in his Christian faith, as promised in 1 Timothy 3:13 (KJV): 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. These qualities would be assets to him in his later ministry as an evangelist.
Philip in Public Evangelism —
Acts 8:5-16Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there. When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said. For with shrieks, impure spirits came out of many, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. So there was great joy in that city…  when they believed Philip as he proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women… [16 and they were] baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
• “Philip went…[to] Samaria.” He was obedient to Jesus’ Acts 1:8 commission to His followers to “be [Jesus’] witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” It is good for an evangelist (and all of us!) to have a specific church “home.” For Philip this seems to have been originally in Jerusalem, then later in Caesarea (Acts 21:8). But the nature of this soulwinning calling seems to involve a certain amount of traveling ministry away from the home church.
• Philip stayed on message as a preacher of the Gospel — “He proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ” (vs. 12). He “preached Christ unto them” (vs. 5, KJV).
• Evangelists today, like Philip then, should expect their preaching to be confirmed with miracles and signs, healings, deliverance from demons, and other supernatural manifestations to validate the word being preached (vss. 6,7,13).
Acts 8:26-40 Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road — the desert road — that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of the Kandake (which means “queen of the Ethiopians”). This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah the prophet. The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.” Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked. “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him…  Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus. As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?” And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing. Philip, however, appeared at Azotus and traveled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea.
• Philip was spiritually led to one individual, the Ethiopian eunuch. An angel of the Lord (26) told him precisely where to go. Philip obeyed, then was further led when “the Spirit told Philip, ‘ Go to that chariot and stay near it.’” The Holy Spirit can lead us to people whose hearts are open to hear the Gospel's salvation message.
• I find it interesting that God took Philip away from successful ministry to the multitudes (vss. 5-6,12) to share the Gospel with one solitary individual (vss. 26-39). So we see that God intends to use the evangelist to win both the multitudes and single individuals to Christ.
• As with the crowds in Samaria, Philip likewise told the Ethiopian eunuch “the good news about Jesus” (35). That is the evangelist’s message and ours: Jesus Christ the Lord and Savior.
Moving on from this successful one-on-one witnessing encounter, Philip continued “preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea” (40). Later we find Philip apparently established and living with his family in Caesarea. It is reasonable to conclude that he and his family were committed participants in a local church there, which would be the likely place for his four daughters to be used in their spiritual gift of prophecy (Acts 21:8-9).
In Sum, the Evangelist —
1. Is qualified in his character and his ministry.
2. He may, like Philip, be both a “translocal” soulwinner (in Samaria, the desert, and other towns) and a local, church-based minister (“Philip the evangelist” seen as settled in Caesarea).
3. Very importantly, like the other fivefold ministers, the evangelist will “perfect the saints for the work of the ministry” (Ephesians 4:11-12). He will impart to others a fervor to win souls and the training needed to help them do that.
4. He himself will evangelize (a) publicly, preaching Jesus Christ, His name, and the kingdom of God, having his ministry confirmed with supernatural signs, and seeing people saved and baptized; and (b) privately, balancing his public ministry with Spirit-led personal evangelism, as always with a view to winning souls to Christ.
5. So what is an evangelist? In brief, he is is a preacher of the Good News of the Gospel, he is a Spirit-empowered soulwinner (public and private), and he is an equipper of others to win souls, too.