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What does it mean to do the work of an evangelist (2 Timothy 4:5)?

do the work of an evangelist

In Christian ministry, the role of an evangelist is important. For this reason, the apostle Paul exhorts Timothy to “always be sober minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (2 Timothy 4:5, ESV). To understand what it means to “do the work of an evangelist,” let us turn to various passages in the New Testament.

In short, evangelism is the act of proclaiming the gospel. Jesus sent His disciples out as evangelists when He instructed them to “go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation” (Mark 16:15, ESV). An evangelist, then, is someone who shares the life-changing message of Jesus Christ—that is, His life, death, and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1–4). However, evangelists do more than relay information. They also communicate the need to “repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15, ESV).

Evangelism will naturally lead to teaching and discipleship. In Matthew 28:19–20, often referred to as the Great Commission, Jesus commands His disciples to “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (ESV). An evangelist, therefore, helps build up the body of Christ through teaching and discipleship: “He gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 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 fulness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11–13, ESV).

In 2 Corinthians 6:4–10, Paul describes the hardships that he endured, including beatings and imprisonments. Despite these hardships, Paul never gave up: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7). Hence, an evangelist is called to “endure suffering” (2 Timothy 4:5), allowing the Holy Spirit to work in and through him: “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12).

An evangelist should “always be sober minded” (2 Timothy 4:5, ESV). Sober mindedness suggests personal integrity: “Set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). The reason that evangelists should be an example to others is that the credibility of the gospel is often judged by the character of those who proclaim it. Hence, an evangelist must strive for holiness and righteousness: “Let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Philippians 1:27, ESV).

The command to “fulfill your ministry” (2 Timothy 4:5, ESV) is both weighty and rewarding. Evangelism encompasses a range of responsibilities: leadership, pastoral care, and community involvement. In Acts 6:1–4, for example, the apostles highlight the importance of balancing the ministry of the Word with the needs of the community. An evangelist is someone who keeps the balance, aiming to building up the body of Christ and advancing the kingdom of God.

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Questions about 2 Timothy

What does it mean to do the work of an evangelist (2 Timothy 4:5)?
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This page last updated: March 4, 2024