Click Here to configure this menu.

Theological Definitions relative to the Great Commission

I would like to define these terms one at a time:

1) Evangelism, evangelist, evangelizing
a) is it an office or are all called to evangelize?

2) Ministry, Minister, ministering
a) sending?
b) Is there a difference between an official sending and non-official?
c) Are there particular characteristics that come w/ the term?

3) Preacher, preaching
a) (P)reaching vs (p)reaching-is there such a thing?
b) Is it a problem for the female gender to ever (p)reach?
c) Teacher vs preacher
d) Parents are called to teach their children-is this a different ‘teaching’?

4) Witnessing/sharing/confessing
a) Are all called to witness and share?
b) Is there a difference between proclaiming Christ in a witness/share and preaching?

5) The Great Commission
a) Is the commission for all and if so, is the term divorced from church polity and hierarchy?

6) The church
a) Local church/visible
b) Universal/invisible church
c) Is one ever independent of their local membership?
d) The keys to the church-who holds them?

7) The Gospel
a) Is it entrusted to all or is it given specifically to the local church?
b) Is the gospel any less affective if a layperson gives witness to it outside of the local church setting?
c) Can a man be saved apart from the local church?
d) Is the bible ever divorced from the local church? Example: A man on an island finds a bible that has washed up on the beach-he reads it and is saved. can it be said that this man was saved outside of the oversight of the church?
1) Evangelism, evangelist, evangelizing

Scripture: ‘Evangelist’, Used only 3 times in the New Testament

Acts 21:8

8 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.

Ephesians 4:11

11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

2 Timothy 4:5

5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

Calvin:

“…those whom, while inferior in rank to the apostles, were next them in office, and even acted as their substitutes” (Institutes, IV.iii.4)”

“Those three functions were not instituted in the church to be perpetual, but only endure so long as churches were to be formed where none previously existed,”

“yet he also says, “although I deny not, that afterward God occasionally raised up apostles, or at least evangelists, in their stead, as has been done in our time” (Ibid.).”

“By Evangelists, I mean those who, while inferior in rank to the apostles, were next them in office, and even acted as their substitutes. Such were Luke, Timothy, Titus, and the like; perhaps, also, the seventy disciples whom our Saviour appointed in the second place to the apostles (Luke 10:1).”

Eph. 4.11: “Next to them [apostles] come the Evangelists, who were closely allied in the nature of their office, but held an inferior rank. To this class belonged Timothy and others; for, while Paul mentions them along with himself in the salutations of his epistles, he does not speak of them as his companions in the apostleship, but claims this name as peculiarly his own. The services in which the Lord employed them were auxiliary to those of the apostles, to whom they were next in rank.”

2 Tim. 4.5: “Do the work of an Evangelist That is, “Do that which belongs to an evangelist.” Whether he denotes generally by this term any ministers of the gospel, or whether this was a special office, is doubtful; but I am more inclined to the second opinion, because from Ephesians 4:11 it is clearly evident that this was an intermediate class between apostles and pastors, so that the evangelists ranked as assistants next to the apostles. It is also more probable that Timothy, whom Paul had associated with himself as his closest companion in all things, surpassed ordinary pastors in rank and dignity of office, than that he was only one of their number. Besides, to mention an honorable title of office tends not only to encourage him, but to recommend his authority to others; and Paul had in view both of these objects.”

 

Matthew Poole:

Eph 4:11 “Evangelists; these were likewise extraordinary officers, for the most part chosen by the apostles, as their companions and assistants in preaching the word, and planting churches in the several places where they travelled.

Matthew Poole, Annotations upon the Holy Bible, vol. 3 (New York: Robert Carter and Brothers, 1853), 672.

The evangelist; whose office and charge it was to publish the gospel, which Timothy is exhorted to do, 2 Tim. 4:5. This office is placed between that of an apostle and of a pastor and teacher, Eph. 4:11, and was not so confined to a certain place or people as the latter of these were.

Matthew Poole, Annotations upon the Holy Bible, vol. 3 (New York: Robert Carter and Brothers, 1853), 454.

 

Matthew Henry:

Acts 21:8 They were entertained by Philip the evangelist, whom we left at Caesarea many years ago, after he had baptized the eunuch (ch. 8:40), and there we now find him again. (1.) He was originally a deacon, one of the seven that were chosen to serve tables, ch. 6:5. (2.) He was now and had long been an evangelist, one that went about to plant and water churches, as the apostles did, and gave himself, as they did, to the word and prayer; thus, having used the office of a deacon well, he purchased to himself a good degree; and, having been faithful in a few things, was made ruler over many things.

Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994), 2160.

 

Eph 4:11 The evangelists were ordained persons (2 Tim. 1:6), whom the apostles took for their companions in travel (Gal. 2:1), and sent them out to settle and establish such churches as the apostles themselves had planted (Acts 19:22), and, not being fixed to any particular place, they were to continue till recalled, 2 Tim. 4:9.

Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994), 2313.

 

2 Tim 4:5 He must remember his office, and discharge its duties: Do the work of an evangelist. The office of the evangelist was, as the apostles’ deputies, to water the churches that they planted. They were not settled pastors, but for some time resided in, and presided over, the churches that the apostles had planted, till they were settled under a standing ministry. This was Timothy’s work.

Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994), 2365.

 

This Epistle of Paul to Titus is much of the same nature with those to Timothy; both were converts of Paul, and his companions in labours and sufferings; both were in the office of evangelists, whose work was to water the churches planted by the apostles, and to set in order the things that were wanting in them: they were vice-apostles, as it were, working the work of the Lord, as they did, and mostly under their direction, though not despotic and arbitrary, but with the concurring exercise of their own prudence and judgment

Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994), 2366.

David Gordon OPC
“Ephesians 4:11. Perhaps one of the clearest Pauline passages related to the specific question of evangelistic responsibility is Ephesians 4:11. “And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers …” The text treats evangelists as it does prophets, apostles, pastors, and teachers. There is no indication that everyone should be all of these. Further, there is no indication that evangelism is singled out among these other functions as the one function all should have. This passage does contain the difficulty that it may very well be discussing particular offices, some of which may not be perpetual. For those who understand the passage this way, the text is less germane to our discussion than other texts. By any resolution of that question, however, Paul’s principle of differentiated service is affirmed.

The three passages summarized. These texts do not specifically prove the selective view of evangelistic responsibility. They do, however, prove that gifts, services, and functions differ within the church, and one of them does specifically mention evangelists as those who are different from prophets, apostles, pastors, and teachers. Further, they shift the burden of proof to those who would suggest that evangelism is a responsibility incumbent upon us all. They require some reason for saying that everyone must evangelize, without saying as well that everyone should teach, administrate, or pastor. These passages demonstrate that, generally speaking, we are not to expect everyone in the church to have the same gifts, the same functions, the same service. Some additional argument would be necessary in order to prove that the general teaching of these passages is altered when evangelism is the particular responsibility considered.”

The commission itself consists of one imperative and three participles (one of these complemented by an infinitive). The imperative is the predominant idea of the commission, and the participles explain this idea more precisely. While some grammarians have spoken of an “imperatival” participle, those who do so recognize that it is a last ditch effort to describe the function of a participle in a context where there is no main verb, or where the main verb is somewhat distant from the participle.[10] In contexts where there is a main verb, the participle functions dependently, to describe further the main verb, delimiting it in a variety of ways. In our context, the main verb is the imperative μαθητεύσατε (mathēteusate) “Make disciples.” Dependent upon this are the three participles, πορευθέντες (poreuthentes), βαπτίζοντες (baptizontes), and διδάσκοντες (didaskontes) (which is itself complemented by the infinitive τηρεῖν [tērein]). Thus, the “going,” baptizing,” and “teaching” are subordinate to the command to make disciples. A formally equivalent English translation would read, “Going, therefore, make disciples … baptizing them … and teaching.” This matter is not terribly clear in the English translations, many of which translate the first participle as though it were an imperative, “Go.” These translations then insert the word “and” between this and the imperative about disciple-making, leaving the impression that at the most, discipling is parallel in importance with going, and at worst, subordinate to it. Such translations reverse the emphasis of the original text. The original text establishes the priority of discipling, and defines the discipling by the three dependent verbs.

The discipling spoken of in Matthew 28 is specified by the three participles. The first, πορευθέντες (poreuthentes), suggests that the discipling of all the nations is not to be passive, but active.[11] The apostles, and the church, are to go among all the nations, and not to wait for the nations to come to them. The discipling is to be active, aggressive. The second participle, βαπτίζοντες (baptizontes), requires that the discipling include visible association with the church, through the initiatory rite of baptism. Perhaps by synecdoche, this participle includes all of the evangelistic activity that precedes the rite itself, since it is unlikely that this suggests the indiscriminate baptizing of people who know nothing of the gospel. The third participle, διδάσκοντες (didaskontes), is complemented by an infinitive, τηρεῖν (tērein). The discipling includes not only instruction, but instruction eventuating in obedience. Further, the obedience is comprehensive. Those who are discipled are to observe “everything, whatsoever I commanded you.”

Summary of the Commission. Taken as a whole, the commission is far more comprehensive than is normally understood.[12] It consists of the aggressive, worldwide discipling of people who are initiated into the visible communion of Christ, increasingly obedient to everything he commanded. Evangelism is only an aspect of the commission; it is not its distilled essence. Obedience to the commands of Christ is the goal of the commission; not merely initial conversion. Further, this very comprehensiveness excludes the possibility that it can be fulfilled through the efforts of any particular individual. No individual within the church can possibly be responsible for fulfilling the commission, and no individual is without responsibility to contribute in some way or ways to its fulfilling. But this contribution need not consist of active involvement in evangelism. Those who are instructing others in the content of our Lord’s teaching, or who are encouraging (or praying for) others to obey our Lord’s teaching, are no less participants in the commission than are evangelists, whether foreign or domestic. There is nothing in the commission itself to suggest even remotely that evangelism is more important than the other aspects of discipling, and nothing in the commission suggests that each believer must do every aspect.”

More here: http://opc.org/os.html?article_id=155&issue_id=46

George Gillespie
“This question appears to be very perplexed and thorny, yet I am led upon it both by the controversies of the times, concerning the necessity of mission and ordination unto all ministers of holy things, and likewise by occasion of that which is maintained by some men of learning, that there are still, or may be, evangelists in the church. Calvin holds, indeed, that in that age of his, God raised up evangelists to rescue the church from Popery, Institutes, lib. 4, cap. 3, sec. 4.

I say, again, the work of prophets and evangelists was extraordinary; for the distinguishing or characteristic property of a prophet, i.e., the utmost he could do which the ordinary officers could not do, nor any other but an apostle, is the opening of great secrets, or foreshowing things to come, by the special and extraordinary inspiration of the Holy Ghost. Their very names intimate so much, for propheetees and pheeteuo come from propheemi, I foretell.

But what is the distinguishing work and characteristic property of an evangelist, i.e. that which an ordinary pastor and teacher might not do, and which none else could do but an apostle or prophet? That I may speak to this more clearly, it is to be remembered that the word evangelist is not here taken in that restricted vulgar sense, for a penman of the Holy Ghost writing gospel, for in that sense there were but four evangelists, and two of them apostles. But this is not the Scripture notion of the word, which tells us that Philip and Timothy were evangelists, Acts 21:8; 2 Tim. 4:5; and that Christ has given evangelists to his church for the work of the ministry, Eph. 4:11-12.

Now, if we take the word as the Scripture does, the proper work of an evangelist, i.e., that which none but an evangelist, as an evangelist, or he who was more than an evangelist, could do, I conceive to stand in two things: the first is, to lay foundations of churches, and to preach Christ to an unbelieving people, who have not yet received the gospel, or at least who have not the true doctrine of Christ among them. So Philip the evangelist preached Christ to the city of Samaria, and baptized them before any of the apostles came unto them, Acts 8:5,12. And if the seventy disciples, Luke 10, were evangelists (as many think, and Calvin, Institutes, lib. iv, cap. 3-4, thinks it probable), their proper work as evangelists was to preach the gospel to those cities which had not received it.

Their second work is a travelling and negotiating as messengers and agents upon extraordinary occasions and special emergencies, which is oftimes between one church and another, and so distinct from the first, which is a travelling among them which are yet without. Of this second there are diverse examples in Scripture, as 2 Cor. 8:23; Phil. 2:19, 25; 2 Tim. 4:9; Titus 3:12; Acts 15:22, 25.

Now when I call these works and administrations of prophets and evangelists extraordinary, my meaning is not that they are altogether and every way extraordinary, even as apostleship; for I dare not say that since the days of the apostles there has never been, or that to the end of the world there shall never be, any raised up by God with such gifts, and for such administrations, as I have now described to be proper to prophets and evangelists, i.e., the foretelling of things to come, the travelling among unbelievers to convert them by the preaching of the gospel, and between one church and another, upon extraordinary errands. But I call the work of prophets and evangelists extraordinary in Calvin’s sense (expressed by him in the place before cited), i.e., it is not ordinary like that of pastors and teachers, which has place constantly in the best constituted and settled churches. Shortly, I take the word extraordinary here, not for that which ceased with the first age of the Christian church, but for that which is not, neither needs to be, ordinary; and so much of their work.[3]

The Presbyterians Armoury, Vol 2, pg 39, Miscellany Questions

Charles G. Dennison
“Pressured by such an agenda, the Reformed church has failed to account for the absence of a direct command in Scripture or its confessions, prescribing laity evangelism. Without warrant, it has proceeded to issue the order where our creeds were silent. Such silence, however, is due neither to error nor ignorance. It was because our fathers felt bound to say no more than Scripture, to place the people under no greater obligation than did the Scriptures. Following their wisdom and pursuing our obvious duties, we may again marvel at the tokens of God’s delight in us. In any event, we will learn to cultivate the quiet, peace-filled spirit of humble and loving faithfulness.”

PCA Book of Church Order:
“8-5. When a man is called to labor as a teaching elder, it belongs to his order, in addition to those functions he shares with all other elders, to feed the flock by reading, expounding and preaching the Word of God and to administer the Sacraments. As he is sent to declare the will of God to sinners, and to beseech them to be reconciled to God through Christ, he is termed ambassador. As he bears glad tidings of salvation to the ignorant and perishing, he is termed evangelist. As he stands to proclaim the Gospel, he is termed preacher. As he dispenses the manifold grace of God, and the ordinances instituted by Christ, he is termed steward of the mysteries of God.”

OPC Book of Church Order
“Chapter VI Ministers or Teaching Elders 1. The ministry of the Word is a calling of God to stewardship in the gospel. In this ministry there is a diversity of gifts that are essential to the discharge of evangelistic, pastoral, and teaching functions.

Chapter VII Evangelists 1. Jesus Christ, to whom is given all power in heaven and in earth, has commanded his church to make disciples of all the nations. From the throne of his glory he sent forth the Holy Spirit, the promise of the Father, to empower the witness of the church to the gospel. While it is the calling of every believer to confess Christ before men, and while God gives particular gifts and calling to some to minister the Word, and while every minister of the Word must evangelize in the fulfillment of his calling, there are some who are particularly called by Christ and his church as evangelists. Ordinarily such men shall preach the Word free of pastoral charge in a particular flock in order that they may labor to bring in other sheep. And to those sheep whom Christ has brought in, evangelists shall administer the sacraments until a congregation shall have been regularly organized. Since the gifts and functions of evangelists are necessary until the end of the age, this ministry is permanent and not confined to the apostolic period. 2. The evangelist, in common with other ministers, is ordained to perform all the functions that belong to the sacred office of the minister. Yet distinctive to the function of the evangelist in his ministry of the gospel are the labors of (a) a missionary in a home or foreign mission field; (b) a stated supply or special preacher in churches to which he does not sustain a pastoral relation; (c) a chaplain in institutions or in military forces; (d) an administrator of an agency for preaching the gospel; and (e) an editor or similar ministry through the press and other means of communication.

Matthew Winzer
“This small “e” evangelism which has been discussed obviously does not include baptism. In the New Testament we see “be baptized” as an essential part of evangelizing. For that reason, I doubt that the work and witness of individuals can properly be called Evangelism or evangelism. It is, at the very least, something to which a person is called by the church and is charged with the moral obligation to fulfill. It is by very nature a specified task. Perhaps most significant of all, there are two distinct groups in the New Testament — teachers and learners, governors and governed (see especially Hebrews 5 for the former and Hebrews 13 for the latter). It is never suggested that the learner or the governed has equal right and responsibility to assume the tasks of the teacher or governor. The categorical distinction of the New Testament requires the theologian to make categorical distinctions in the way he presents the matter.”

“Ver. 5. But there exists in the Church a second kind of Divine manifestations; charges, namely, or ministries, διακονίαι. This word denotes, not like the preceding, inward aptitudes, but external offices, with which certain individuals are put in charge. There are different kinds of them; some may be related to the whole Church, like the apostolate or the office of evangelist (missionary); others to a particular community, and that either with a view to the spiritual life, as the episcopate, or with a view to different kinds of temporal helps, such as the numerous branches of the diaconate; under these offices even there must have existed functions of an inferior order relating to those material services which were called for by the holding of assemblies and of the agapæ, etc. What was the relation of these charges to the gifts? Probably certain of them, the highest, rested on a spiritual gift which the community had recognised and ordained to a regular function; others, the inferior ones, were mere offices committed to individuals by the Church.—As there are gifts which, by their very nature, cannot become the basis of an office (speaking in tongues or prophecy, for example), and others which may easily be transformed into a regular function (the gift of teaching, for example), so there are also offices of a wholly external kind, management of material affairs, for example, which are scarcely related to any gift, while others, like the apostolate, have for their foundation a special gift or a whole combination of gifts.”

Frédéric Louis Godet, “Note,” in Commentary on the First Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians (Chapter 9 through End), trans. A. Cusin, vol. 2 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1957), 190–191.

“Our Lord, when he would arouse Palestine, sent forth seventy evangelists. Not one of these was bidden to settle in any place, or to become a pastor, but to go and preach the gospel from town to town. They were itinerant gospellers. After Pentecost, the disciples being scattered abroad, went everywhere preaching the Word, they broke up new ground, and made the truth known among those who had never heard it before; so far they did the work of evangelists, and the kingdom of Christ came with power. The apostles and others travelled into regions where the name of Jesus had not been known, and everywhere told forth the glad tidings of salvation: whatever else they were, they certainly fulfilled to the full the office of evangelists. We have a few who exercise that office now, but they are rather tolerated than appointed, and certainly their work is not regarded as a part, and a necessary part, of our ecclesiastical action.”

  1. H. Spurgeon, The Sword and Trowel: 1873 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1873), 233.

“As regards the first title of Philip, ‘a deacon’ the inferior title and also the original duties of the office had, in the case of the seven chosen assistants of the ‘Twelve,’ been quickly forgotten, owing doubtless to the important work which rapidly fell to the lot of these favoured men; with Philip the lesser duties had become merged in the higher ones which belonged to the office of evangelist.

The ‘evangelists’ of the early church are thus described by Eusebius (H. E., iii. 37): ‘After laying the foundation of the faith in foreign parts, as the peculiar object of their mission, and after appointing others as shepherds to the flock, and committing to them the care of those that had been recently introduced, they went again to other regions and nations with the grace and co-operation of God.’ They were thus the missionaries of the first days, to use the words of Dr. Westcott (Introduction to the Gospels, chap. iii.): ‘The evangelist was not the compiler of a history, but the missionary who carried the good tidings to fresh countries; the bearer and not the author of the message. Till the end of the first century, and probably till the time of Justin Martyr (about a.d. 140), “the Gospel,” “Evangel,” uniformly signifies the substance and not the records of the life of Christ.’ We can thus trace how, when the story of the life of Christ—at first only told orally by the evangelist or missionary—was written down in the form of narrative, the inspired writers became known as the evangelists: after the four written records became widely known, it is probable that the title ‘Evangelist’ was appropriated only to them.”

Philip Schaff, ed., The Gospel of John and the Acts, vol. 2, A Popular Commentary on the New Testament (New York;Edinburgh: Charles Scribner’s Sons;T. & T. Clark, 1880), 489.

section ii.—offices of prophets and evangelists

“In handling the subject of the office-bearers, extraordinary and ordinary, appointed for the New Testament Church at the outset, there are two passages of Scripture that may be especially referred to as throwing light upon the question. In the fourth chapter of Ephesians, the Apostle Paul, speaking of the provision made for the Church by the ascended Saviour, says: “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.” In this statement by the apostle we have plainly an intimation of the staff of officers, ordinary and extraordinary, appointed by Christ, for the work of establishing, organizing, building up, and ministering to the Christian Church.”

James Bannerman, The Church of Christ: A Treatise on the Nature, Powers, Ordinances, Discipline, and Government of the Christian Church, vol. 2 (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1868), 228–229.

“After these we find mentioned evangelists; and the question that arises is, whether or not the nature of their office and functions constitutes them fixed and standing officers in the ecclesiastical body. There seems to be reason from Scripture to assert that they, like the apostles and prophets, were extraordinary office-bearers in the primitive Church.”

James Bannerman, The Church of Christ: A Treatise on the Nature, Powers, Ordinances, Discipline, and Government of the Christian Church, vol. 2 (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1868), 234–235.

“But the narrative of the Acts and the Epistles of Paul afford sufficient materials, in the references we find there to Timothy and Titus, for judging of the order of evangelist, separated as it was from the extraordinary offices of apostles and prophets on the one side, and from the permanent and standing office of pastor on the other. It is hardly necessary to say that by evangelists, in the sense of ecclesiastical office-bearers, is not meant the inspired historians of our Lord’s life in the Gospels. They are exhibited to us in the Scripture narrative rather as the attendants upon the Apostles in their journeys, and their assistants in planting and establishing the Churches, acting under them as their delegates, and carrying out their instructions. If the contributions of one Church were to be carried to another to supply its more urgent need, it was an evangelist that was selected as the messenger of the Church.”

James Bannerman, The Church of Christ: A Treatise on the Nature, Powers, Ordinances, Discipline, and Government of the Christian Church, vol. 2 (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1868), 235.

“Fourth, In the case of Timothy we have another illustration of the distinction between the choice or election of a minister to the office, and the ordination or setting him apart to it. He was elected or chosen by God, for his appointment to the office was intimated “by prophecy;” and he was ordained or set apart “by laying on of the hands of the presbytery.” The office of evangelist, to which he was ordained, may be accounted indeed an extraordinary one; but the principle on which his election and his ordination to the office were kept distinct and separate, seems to have nothing extraordinary in it, but, on the contrary, is parallel to the other Scripture examples of appointment to the ministry.”

James Bannerman, The Church of Christ: A Treatise on the Nature, Powers, Ordinances, Discipline, and Government of the Christian Church, vol. 1 (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1868), 462–463.

“A third office is that of evangelists. This designation is easily misunderstood. Biblical evangelists were essentially distinguished from ours. They are connected with the apostles. They were their associates, traveling companions, fellow workers. Philip, Timothy, Titus, Mark, Silas belonged to this group. The seventy disciples whom the Lord sent out are also to be noted here. Their work consisted in preaching and baptizing. To that extent they corresponded to ordinary pastors, except that these served in a set place. But at the same time, they appear to have had special power. Titus appointed elders (Titus 1:5) and exercised discipline (3:10). Timothy laid on hands (1 Tim 5:22). From all this it appears that there was something extraordinary in the office of evangelist. Jerome already said, “Every apostle was an evangelist, not every evangelist an apostle.” The popular notion that an evangelist stands a little lower than a pastor is, in any case, unbiblical. If this office of evangelist can still exist, there is much more reason to place them higher (cf. also “helps,” 1 Cor 12:28).”

Geerhardus Vos, Reformed Dogmatics, ed. Richard B. Gaffin, trans. Annemie Godbehere et al., vol. 5 (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012–2016), 54–55.

a) is it an office or are all called to evangelize?

answer: The promulgation of the gospel message to every tribe, tongue and nation; It is an office. All are not called to the office. Some denominations still acknowledge the title/office (PCA/OPC). Most believe the office has passed with the passing of Apostleship. All are *involved* in the local church’s evangelistic effort; the body is one. All laypersons work under the ordained person who is the central figure in evangelism. He is the evangelist, they are the infrastructure that makes the commission, whole. Evangelism is a team effort that all believers take part in.

The term ‘evangelism’ must be seen in two senses; It is important to understand that in the narrow sense, it is the evangelist/ordained man
who is evangelizing and in the wider sense, all are involved in the effort.

Here is a link to D. A. Carson’s paper entitled: ‘Do the Work of an Evangelist’ that addresses some of the original language and intent:

http://themelios.thegospelcoalition.org/article/do-the-work-of-an-evangelist

2) Ministry, Minister, ministering
a) sending?
b) Is there a difference between an official sending and non-official?
c) Are there particular characteristics that come w/ the term?

Minister: Sometimes rendered as ‘slave’, ‘servant’; ‘the waiter at a meal’, underrower.

C.         The New Testament.

 

  1. Usage Generally.
  2. The word group is comparatively rare in the NT, unlike words in δουλ- and διακον-. Furthermore the common Gk. ὑπηρεσία does not occur at all, let alone other terms. The distribution puts Luke (Lk. and Ac.) and John (Gospel only) in first place with nine instances each, while Mt. and Mk. have only two each. There is only one example in Paul. The verb occurs only three times in Ac.
  3. The noun ὑπηρέτης is always used in a general sense similar to that of classical and Hellenistic Greek (→ 530, 13 ff.) including Philo (→ 535, 8 ff.) and Josephus (→ 536, 30 ff.): “assistant to another as the instrument of his will,” possibly in a system of integrated functions in which account is taken of specific needs. Connected with this is the fact that the specific function of a ὑπηρέτης is to be gleaned from the context in which he appears. This is true at any rate in most of the NT instances.

 

Karl Heinrich Rengstorf, “Ὑπηρέτης, Ὑπηρετέω,” ed. Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, and Gerhard Friedrich, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964–), 539.

  1. The Early Church.

In their use of the noun the post-apost. fathers have nothing new compared with the NT With ἄγγελος and ἄρχων it means “official” in the sense of “servant” Dg., 7, 2; cf. Barn., 16, 4, or with οἰκονόμος ( 542, 11 ff.) and πάρεδρος it has the sense of “functionary” Ign. Pol., 6, 1. The diaconate is ἐκκλησίας θεοῦ ὑπηρέται in Ign. Tr., 2, 3; possibly this follows Jewish usage 537, 35 ff. Ign. Phld., 11, 1 has the verb for the ministry of a deacon associated with him, and the meaning is much the same in Herm. m., 8, 10; χήραις ὑπηρετεῖν, s., 9, 10, 2 and Barn., 1, 5 “to help,” “to assist,” the will of God being always in the background.

Later usage is along the same lines in Just. Apol., I, 14, 1; II, 2, 7, where ὑπηρέτης occurs along with “slave,” but is a “free servant” receiving and carrying out orders as such.

 

Karl Heinrich Rengstorf, “Ὑπηρέτης, Ὑπηρετέω,” ed. Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, and Gerhard Friedrich, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964–), 543–544.

answer: Yes, ordained men are sent for a specific purpose and task; The promulgation of the gospel message to every tribe, tongue and nation is the primary reason behind the sending; It is a ‘official’ calling and sending of the local church to the ordained man alone-they are called Ministers. There is no such thing as an ‘unofficial’ call and sending; Their jobs are to ‘minister’. They are ministering. All are *involved* in the local church’s ministerial effort; this is called ‘ministry’. Since the body is one, even the laypersons work under the ordained person who is the central figure in ministry, is a support system, assisting in the success of this ministry. He is the minister, they are the infrastructure that makes the ministry, whole. Ministry is a team effort that all believers take part in.

The term ‘ministry’ must be seen in two senses; It is important to understand that in the narrow sense, it is the ministry/ordained man who is ministering and in the wider sense, all are involved in the ministerial effort, but the actual title belongs to the church officer alone. In the wider sense, it could be said that the infrastructure is assisting in fulfilling the whole of the ministerial effort.

 

3) Preacher, preaching
a) (P)reaching vs (p)reaching-is there such a thing?
b) Is it a problem for the female gender to ever (p)reach?
c) Teacher vs preacher
d) Parents are called to teach their children-is this a different ‘teaching’?

XXIII. Of Ministering in the Congregation.

It is not lawful for any man to take upon him the office of public preaching, or ministering the Sacraments in the Congregation, before he be lawfully called, and sent to execute the same. And those we ought to judge lawfully called and sent, which be chosen and called to this work by men who have public authority given unto them in the Congregation, to call and send Ministers into the Lord’s vineyard.

~Book of Common Prayer (39 Articles).

The word ‘preach, preacher, preaching, proclaim, herald, publish, must be seen in the same context as the previous distinctions. The commission command is given to the leaders of the church, the ordained men to pursue the promulgation of the gospel message to all tribes, tongues and nations through the means of preaching; Since preaching is a means of grace, there are never times where preaching is distributed by a layperson. Preaching is never divorced from the church-it is always an extension of the church and the man called, sent and ordained to the office. Hence, there is no such thing as (p)reaching, unless of course the ordained man who was called and sent is giving testimony in a setting where he cannot comfortably give the whole of the gospel message, secondary to space and time. It could be then said that the message he conveyed was (p)reaching vs (P)reaching.

There are examples in scripture where a layperson is said to be ‘proclaiming’ or ‘publishing’ information; this proclamation is not official in the sense that the person doing this type of proclamation ordained to the official proclaiming of said information. In many instances, the person proclaiming or publishing may not be ordained. In these cases, it must be seen as an extension of the local church and its officers and can be seen as a witness, testimony, reasons for the hope that resides within themselves. It would be beneficial, when reading things of this nature, to jettison systematically from a biblical church polity to assist in coming to a correct conclusion on the matter.

Woman preachers: Since preaching is a means of grace, the gender associated with the office is always male. Woman are not called to the office; hence, whatever women do as an extension of the local church’s ministry, can ever be said that they are preaching.

Teacher: For the sake of this sections, we will use the terms (T)eacher to distinguish between an officer who is called to (T)each and a layperson who (t)eaches:

*Given that I take a 4-office view on church government, that being, Elder-Teaching/Ruling and Deacon, my assessment of the following section will reflect that.

Pastors are called to the office; Many (T)eachers are not pastors; however, both pastors and (T)eachers must be able to teach the flock. The (T)eacher, generally is an elder-it could also be a deacon. The pastor is called to preach, the (T)eacher is not. The way the information is given in the preaching, is different in form. (T)eaching is more academic and preaching must be seen in a spiritual realm where God is actually speaking through the pastor as his message is given. Preaching, at its core is to disseminate the gospel message. (T)eaching is more elaborate and meticulous; it also has the gospel message in the details, but it is not being disseminated via the means of grace as when the pastor does it. Preaching targets the heart. (T)eaching, the mind.

It could be said that there are strains of teachers; parents are called to (t)each their children; believers are to (t)each each other; the older woman is called to (t)each the younger.

John Gill helps here on the distinction:

“But I suffer not a woman to teach, They may teach in private, in their own houses and families; they are to be teachers of good things, Titus 2:3. They are to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; nor is the law or doctrine of a mother to be forsaken, any more than the instruction of a father; see Proverbs 1:8. Timothy, no doubt, received much advantage, from the private teachings and instructions of his mother Eunice, and grandmother Lois; but then women are not to teach in the church; for that is an act of power and authority, and supposes the persons that teach to be of a superior degree, and in a superior office, and to have superior abilities to those who are taught by them: nor to usurp authority over the man; as not in civil and political things, or in things relating to civil government; and in things domestic, or the affairs of the family; so not in things ecclesiastical, or what relate to the church and government of it; for one part of rule is to feed the church with knowledge and understanding; and for a woman to take upon her to do this, is to usurp an authority over the man: this therefore she ought not to do, but to be in silence; to sit and hear quietly and silently, and learn, and not teach, as in 1 Timothy 2:11.”

4) Witnessing/sharing/confessing/proclaiming/publishing
a) Are all called to witness and share?
b) Is there a difference between proclaiming Christ in a witness/share and preaching?

 

See # 3

 

5) The Great Commission
a) Is the commission for all and if so, is the term divorced from church polity and hierarchy?

In the previous sections, most of this is already addressed. However, I will devote some time to the specifics of the Great Commission. I wrote a paper on the subject a while back and I will cite some examples from my paper here:

The commission was given to the Apostles alone. They were to become the first officers of the New Testament expression of Christ’s church.

16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. 17 And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

The Holy Bible: King James Version, Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version. (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009), Mt 28:16–20.

This is essentially the laying on of Christ’s hands and ordaining the eleven. It is an ordination ceremony; one never to be repeated!

Let’s look at the definition of the word commission:

to give a commission to: to commission a graduate of a military academy.

16.to authorize; send on a mission.

17.to give the order that places a warship, military command, etc., in a state of complete readiness for active duty.

If we consider our military, the officers are commissioned in a similar manner like our church officers. The enlisted people are not commissioned, in fact they are called ‘non commissioned officers. There is a big difference between the polity of the non com’s and the commissioned. Both camps have a specific designation and an official job classification. The officers, lead and the enlisted ranks submit to that leadership. If this level of hierarchy is aborted, the campaign suffers greatly and generally, as history has proved, the side that has a weak leadership, generally falls under destruction. The officers are set apart from the enlisted ranks. In fact, the military has a fraternization rule dividing the camps so as not to create a false unity for the sake of the safety of the troops. The same can be said of the officers of the church and their commissioning.

Dabney writes:
“With these preparatory truths, we wish to remind our readers of a few admitted Scripture facts. Christ, though Head of the church, has himself ordained the mode in which he wills his gospel shall be preached to mankind. He has instituted in the world a visible church, and appointed it to be “the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15). He has given it, at least in outline, its form, laws and officers, and has enjoined upon it though species of didactic and disciplinary functions it is to perform. He has taught this church that her public organic functions are all to be performed through these officers, whose names and places he has himself assigned. When he was pleased to ordain that “by the foolishness of preaching” those who believe are saved, he provided expressly how the preachers were to be selected and appointed.”

Calvin adds:
“19. Go out, therefore, and teach all nations. Though Mark, after having related that Christ appeared to the eleven disciples, immediately subjoins the command to preach the gospel, he does not speak of these as an unbroken series of events, for we learn from the enumeration of them which is given by Matthew, that the latter event did not take place before they had gone into Galilee. The meaning amounts to this, that by proclaiming the gospel everywhere, they should bring all nations to the obedience of the faith, and next, that they should seal and ratify their doctrine by the sign of the gospel. In Matthew, they are first taught simply to teach; but Mark expresses the kind of doctrine, that they should preach the gospel; and shortly afterwards Matthew himself adds this limitation, to teach them to observe all things whatsoever the Lord hath commanded.
Let us learn from this passage, that the apostleship is not an empty title, but a laborious office; and that, consequently, nothing is more absurd or intolerable than that this honor should be claimed by hypocrites, who live like kings at their ease, and disdainfully throw away from themselves the office of teaching. “

“In short, whoever does not fulfill the duties of a teacher acts wickedly and falsely by assuming the name of an apostle; and what is more—the priesthood of the New Testament consists in slaying men, as a sacrifice to God, by the spiritual sword of the word. Hence it follows, that all are but pretended and spurious priests who are not devoted to the office of teaching.”

These examples should delineate how the commission is to function in the church; there is something to be said of that which I have already illuminated in the earlier sections, that being, the commission is a body function; even though there is a hierarchy, no functioning part of the body is less important. For the process to work optimally, all gifts must be involved.

So, in short, the answer to the question is that the commission is for all. All have specific, particular jobs to do. However, the term is never divorced from a biblical hierarchy. To ignore this biblical polity is to ignore Christ’s command.

 

6) The church
a) Local church/visible
b) Universal/invisible church
c) Is one ever independent of their local membership?
d) The keys to the church-who holds them?
I have written a bit about question #6, a&b, so I will just refer you to my webpage on that portion:
http://www.semperreformanda.com/ecclesia-2/the-church-index/is-the-church-a-new-testament-phenomenon/

WCF ch 25

OF THE CHURCH

  1. The catholic or universal church, which is invisible, consists of the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ the Head thereof; and is the spouse, the body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all.
  2. The visible church, which is also catholic or universal under the gospel (not confined to one nation, as before under the law), consists of all those throughout the world that profess the true religion; and of their children: and is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, the house and family of God, out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation.
  3. Unto this catholic visible church Christ hath given the ministry, oracles, and ordinances of God, for the gathering and perfecting of the saints, in this life, to the end of the world: and doth, by his own presence and Spirit, according to his promise, make them effectual thereunto.
  4. This catholic church hath been sometimes more, sometimes less visible. And particular churches, which are members thereof, are more or less pure, according as the doctrine of the gospel is taught and embraced, ordinances administered, and public worship performed more or less purely in them.
  5. The purest churches under heaven are subject both to mixture and error; and some have so degenerated, as to become no churches of Christ, but synagogues of Satan. Nevertheless, there shall be always a church on earth, to worship God according to his will.
  6. There is no other head of the church but the Lord Jesus Christ. Nor can the pope of Rome, in any sense, be head thereof.

Local church/visible/universal/catholic:
Believers and unbelievers

Only living people

Many local churches that make up the whole

Many denominations

Differing types of government

 

Invisible/Universal/catholic
Only elect

Living and deceased

One church-not many

No single denomination-we will finally see truth.

http://www.semperreformanda.com/2015/12/the-local-church/

 

  1. c) Is one ever independent of their local membership?

 

It is of my personal opinion that church membership comprises all of the believer’s life; for example, If I am caught stealing something at work, is it not important that my church be informed of this sin? Yes, my job will deal with the issue in their civil ways of dealing with things, but this punishment does not release me from the sin; my church needs to know. I need to confess this sin to my elders and submit to them in the matter. Is my family life divorced from my church life and membership? Again, imo, nothing is separate. One may say, “Scott, my sex-life is personal and the church has no right to know about the quality or problems in my personal life”. There are arguments, biblically speaking to quash this attitude which I won’t go into. Does the church have a right to know how much money you make in your profession or how much tax you paid? There are arguments on both sides of the fence; I believe this all boils down to devotion. If you are submitting and you have nothing to hide, why is this an issue?

The local church does not force itself into one’s personal life unless it is reported as one of the realms of said personal life is sinful and needs over sight. The Book of Church order of the PCA states:

CHAPTER 3

The Nature and Extent of Church Power

3-1. The power which Christ has committed to His Church vests in the whole body, the rulers and those ruled, constituting it a spiritual commonwealth. This power, as exercised by the people, extends to the choice of those officers whom He has appointed in His Church.

3-2. Ecclesiastical power, which is wholly spiritual, is twofold. The officers exercise it sometimes severally, as in preaching the Gospel, administering the Sacraments, reproving the erring, visiting the sick, and comforting the afflicted, which is the power of order; and they exercise it sometimes jointly in Church courts, after the form of judgment, which is the power of jurisdiction.

3-3. The sole functions of the Church, as a kingdom and government distinct from the civil commonwealth, are to proclaim, to administer, and to enforce the law of Christ revealed in the Scriptures.

3-4. The power of the Church is exclusively spiritual; that of the State includes the exercise of force. The constitution of the Church derives from divine revelation; the constitution of the State must be determined by human reason and the course of providential events. The Church has no right to construct or modify a government for the State, and the State has no right to frame a creed or polity for the Church. They are as planets moving in concentric orbits: “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21).

3-5. The Church, with its ordinances, officers and courts, is the agency which Christ has ordained for the edification and government of His people, for the propagation of the faith, and for the evangelization of the world.

3-6. The exercise of ecclesiastical power, whether joint or several, has the divine sanction when in conformity with the statutes enacted by Christ, the Lawgiver, and when put forth by courts or by officers appointed thereunto in His Word.

 

d) The keys to the church-who holds them?

 

Matthew chapter 16 and 18 are pretty clear and conclusive in reference to who the keys are held by. The passage in chapter 16 is about leadership; 18 has to do with sin and discipline:

17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. 18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

The Holy Bible: King James Version, Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version. (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009), Mt 16:17–19.

15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. 16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. 17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. 18 Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19 Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

The Holy Bible: King James Version, Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version. (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009), Mt 18:15–20.

Since the gospel is a means of grace and as previously discussed, office holders are the only ones called to ‘preach’ the gospel message, it would follow then that the majority of men are only saved by the dissemination of this gospel message. Hence, the keys are held, primarily by the ordained and the church local. As well, since keys open and close doors, the gospel works in such a manner. It opens doors to the elect and closes or locks the door to Heaven to those who remain rebellious to its message. In church discipline, those rebellious to the discipline of the church, who refuse to repent, those doors are closed shut on those resistant.

 

7) The Gospel
a) Is it entrusted to all or is it given specifically to the local church?
b) Is the gospel any less affective if a layperson gives witness to it outside of the local church setting?
c) Can a man be saved apart from the local church?
d) Is the bible ever divorced from the local church? Example: A man on an island finds a bible that has washed up on the beach-he reads it and is saved. can it be said that this man was saved outside of the oversight of the church?

  1. a) As described above, the gospel is entrusted to the local church via the commission; as previously mentioned, it is a team effort. All are involved, in one way or another is making the commission, whole. There are the central players in the ordained and the supportive infrastructure in the laypeople involved.

 

  1. b) The gospel is never ineffective; man cannot destroy the works of God. God’s word will never return void and will accomplish all that it is intended to accomplish.

 

  1. c) A man can be saved apart from the local church; however, as previously discussed, especially here in America, most everyone has either been in a church at one time or another or knows who and what Christ represents. So, in essence, even these people can be said that the gospel they had heard at one time or another, ruminated form a local church setting. God can use a witnessing layperson to finalize that which had begun elsewhere. These regenerated people will attach themselves to the local church as the Holy Spirit bears witness to the truths of the bride, in time. No man can be said to be a true believer who rejects the local church and the things attached to it. To reject the bride is to reject the son.

 

  1. d) Since the scriptures are proclaimed in a local church, (this doesn’t necessarily mean there must be actual walls), it would seem that the scriptures are never apart from the bride in an absolute way. It is always part and parcel with the church; a man can be saved as I described, ‘on an island’ and if never break the doorway of a church, given the circumstance, even reaching glory, however, the scriptures are never divorced from the local church setting in one way or another as they were left for the church. Hence, that man is actually part of the visible church, even while marooned on an island. Consider all the doctrine on the local church that is between its pages as an example.
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!