All three times it is used, it is translated from the Greek word, “euaggelistes”…
1. A close relative of this word is “euaggelion” which means “the gospel (good news) of Christ”
2. Therefore “euaggelistes” means “one that declares, proclaims or hands over, the gospel of Christ”
The idea is this…
1. The gospel message (Jesus’ death, burial, resurrection and the witnesses of His resurrection – 1 Cor 15:1-8 ) is the message that will secure salvation from the penalty, power, and presence of sin (Rom 1:16).
2. This same gospel message is to be proclaimed to the world, thereby giving the world access to this wonderful salvation through faith. (Mark 16:15)
3. An “evangelist” is one that fulfills this calling of the Lord to proclaim the gospel. This can be understood in two different ways:
a. In a general sense, anyone who shares the gospel with lost mankind can be described as an “evangelist”…
“But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an EVANGELIST, make full proof of thy ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:5)
Here, Paul is speaking to Timothy, who held the office of Pastor, to proclaim the gospel to the lost as a part of the responsibilities of being a Pastor. Although Timothy did not hold the office of evangelist, he was encouraged to “do the work of an evangelist”.
b. In a strict sense, there are men who are called specifically to the office of evangelist….
“And the next [day] we that were of Paul’s company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the EVANGELIST, which was [one] of the seven; and abode with him.” (Acts 21:8)
“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, EVANGELISTS; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:” (Ephesians 4:11-12)
In today’s time the “missionary” is the common title that we give to the men who are specifically called to this office. They go into an area that does not have access to the gospel message and they go specifically to proclaim the gospel, win souls for Christ and help them to form local assemblies.
Please note…another type of “evangelist” that we see in existence today is a minister of the Word that speaks at various churches holding special meetings that reach out to the lost of the community. Since this type of ministry is not found in the New Testament, there is some debate about whether these men actually hold the office of evangelist or whether they are evangelists in the general sense.