Apostles and evangelists

The 12 disciples were the first apostles and were given the commission to go and tell the gospel to the whole world. They did tell the good news, and signs and wonders followed them, just as promised (Marc 16:15-20, Acts 2:43; 4: 33; 19:11,12)

Phillips does exactly the same and he is called an evangelist.


  • Apostles are touring church planters

  • Evangelists are touring preachers of the gospel

  • Apostles only existed in he early church

  • The apostolic is restored now as a sign of a coming big revival

  • Evangelists are the writers of the gospels

How you can also look at it

Sometimes you hear the quote “Not everybody has the ministry of an evangelist but we all are called to do the work of an evangelist. This is not the only time In church you see a function and a title being separated. You function as an evangelist, but you are not called an evangelist. You function as a deacon, but you aren’t called one, you function as an overseer, but you aren’t called one. Titles are reserved for the people who are officially ordained in the ministry, not per se for the people who naturally function in a role.

Why should titles be important in church? Of course it is very practical if you can get a picture of someone’s position in a group with only one word. But is that very ‘Christ like’? Doing so, didn’t we start making an unwanted distinction between important and less important? We are all equal in Christ, but didn’t some of us become a little bit more equal than others by this?

We all received our gifts and talents. One has the gift to educate, an other has the gift of hospitality. The one isn’t worth more (honour) than the other. But because the one gets a title and the other doesn’t, you can get the impression that hospitality is less important than education. Bur everybody knows a warm welcome is at least as important as a good sermon to bring home the message of the gospel.

By emphasizing a title like we do, they got a lot of weight. We now see an apostle as more or less the highest achievable position. If only you were a church planter and you would lead multiple churches, then you really would be someone. Or an evangelist who brings stadiums full of people to Christ because of his special charisma. Then you really are an evangelist…

Apostle just means being sent. Being sent to deliver a message. Evangelist means bringer of good news. If you take that literal, it means everybody is an apostle and everybody should be an evangelist.

In the bible you see individuals or groups of people travelling around planting churches. Lucas follows Paul and writes down his adventures, but that doesn’t mean nothing else happened. Of most of the 12 disciples we don’t know what they did exactly. Lucas only writes about these 12 apostles and doesn’t write they went outside Jerusalem, except for a short break from Peter and John. After Acts 16 he doesn’t mention any apostle any more.

Paul called himself and others apostles. And even warns for phoney apostles (2 Corinth 11:13). The title apostle wasn’t limited to the 12 whom Jesus called apostle and certainly didn’t had the weight we are putting on it. The apostle Paul called himself the least of all believers (Ephesians 3:8).

On the other hand evangelists are seldom mentioned in the bible. Because Philip brings the good news in Samaria and he is called an evangelist later on, we have drawn the conclusion that his work in Samaria made him to be an evangelist. But the writers of the gospels very early in church history are called evangelists, so maybe the work of an evangelist is writing about the good news.

The one doesn’t exclude the other of course, but because of the weight we have put on the ministry of an Evangelist, a lot of people began to think too small about themselves. “I am no evangelist, so I don;t know how to tell my neighbour something about Jesus.” “I don’t dare to tell something about Jesus to a total stranger, that’s why I feel guilty about not doing the work of an evangelist.” “I do tell my colleagues sometimes about my believes, but they still didn’t come to Christ. So I am no evangelist.”

Because of the image of an apostle as a sort of super human, a lot of people don’t feel like they are being sent to tell the good news and they forget sometimes that they don’t have to do it on their own, but that Jesus goes with them. The same Jesus who said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matthew 28:18)

Titles can be useful, but lets watch out they aren’t going to limit us. That we don’t think a title is important or that someone with a title is more valuable, or that you aren’t able because you don’t have a title. Everybody’s contribution to the church counts. Together we are the body of Christ.

Everybody is sent to spread the good news in the world. As a church planter, of as a writer, by hospitality or by teaching, everybody is needed.