What Is The Difference Between An Evangelist And A Pastor?

What Is The Difference Between

And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers. (Ephesians 4:11)

What Is The Difference Between An Evangelist And A Pastor?

The pattern of the New Testament organization of the church was simplistic in its design. While modern religion has created a vast array of offices with confusing titles, the Holy Spirit originally set forth a clear blueprint of how God wanted the church of Christ to be designed. The apostle Paul reminds the saints in the church at Ephesus of the divine pattern when he writes that God gave some men to serve as apostles (Peter, Barnabas, Paul), some prophets (Agabus), some evangelists (Philip), and some pastors (Peter) and teachers. These were men who would equip the saints for the work of ministry and the building up of the local congregations. Each one had a peculiar work to accomplish according to their placement and the purpose of their calling. In the modern school of religion, there is the frequent use of the term pastor to refer to a preacher or a minister in charge of a Christian church or congregation. Another term attached to the idea of a pastor is where they are ordained or not but in many cases does not suggest an ordination. In the Roman Catholic Church, the man called a pastor is an ordained priest. Actually, the English word ‘pastor’ appears once in the Bible in the text of Ephesians 4:11.

What is the difference between a pastor and an evangelist? In the minds of many people, there is no difference but the Bible makes a distinction and a clarification between a pastor and an evangelist that has been lost in religious circles today. The term pastor in the original language of the Bible is the Greek word ‘Poimaino’ meaning “to feed” or “to shepherd.”  A pastor was also called an ‘elder,’ or ‘bishop’ or ‘shepherd.’ The role of a pastor was to feed the flock, guide the flock and to shepherd the people of God. Paul explained to Timothy and Titus that an elder or pastor had to have specific qualifications to fulfill the role of being a pastor. To serve as a pastor the man (excludes women) must be blameless, the husband of one wife, believing children, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; with a number of other qualities that distinguish him as a spiritual leader including not being a novice. An evangelist is a man (excludes women) who are not required to be married or have children but must take heed to himself and to his teaching in his work of spreading the gospel. His work is preaching and teaching the word of God. The scriptures make a clear distinction between a man who is a pastor and a man who is an evangelist who is a proclaimer of good news as a preacher and minister of the gospel of Christ. The Bible never refers to an evangelist with the title of pastor or “Reverend.” Nowhere in the New Testament church did any disciple call another by the term of Reverend. The only place it is found in scripture is when the term is used of God Himself. No preacher is called Father or Clergyman.

It is startling to the religious mind to see how easy the Bible is to understand when taken for the face value of Biblical proof. If a man calls himself a pastor, where is the scripture that gives him that right? If he is serving as an elder or bishop or overseer, he can be called an elder. When a preacher calls himself a pastor or when people refer to the preacher (young or old) as a pastor they are not calling things by Bible terms. John would suggest in the final chapter of the book of the Revelation that this would be adding to the word of God. The distinctions of a pastor and an evangelist are defined by their qualities and their work. Not everyone can be a pastor as strict guidelines are given in scripture concerning their qualifications. When a man takes on the role of preaching the gospel of Christ as a proclaimer of truth, he may be called an evangelist or preacher as seen in his role. The denominational use of the pastor is not a Biblical approach to the word of God. As the saying of old reminds the Bible student, “Let the Bible speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where the Bible is silent.”

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7 Responses to What Is The Difference Between An Evangelist And A Pastor?

  1. Vangie says:

    So you are saying women can not be Evangelist?


  2. Emmanuel Tetteh Korle says:

    God bless you great insight


  3. kenb38 says:

    I am confused. Is the person who stands in your pulpit an Elder or an Evangelist?

    Who are the people who should be on the church “payroll”?

    1 Timothy 5

    :3 Honor widows who are really widows.

    :16 If any believing man or woman has widows, let them relieve them, and do not let the church be burdened, that it may relieve those who are really widows.

    :17 Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor,
    especially those who labor in the word and doctrine.

    :18 For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox
    while it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer is worthy of his wages.”

    :19 Do not receive an accusation against an elder
    except from two or three witnesses.

    :20 Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all,
    that the rest also may fear.

    Ox and Laborer are “book ended” by the term Elder.

    In my view; every church that let’s a man who stands in the pulpit, to allow himself to call himself an evangelist; has effectively voided out the definition and responsibility of elders and usurped their authority.


    • heatonkent says:

      Good question. The “payroll” as you mention is not restricted but it is limited. As you point out from 1 Timothy 5, widows (certain qualifications) can be “enrolled in the number” and cared for financially by the church. Men who serve in the capacity of shepherds (also called bishops, elders, and overseers) can be financially supported by the church. The evangelist (preacher) can be supported by the local congregation from the “payroll.” The church at Philippi supported the apostle Paul – Philippians 1:5; 4:15-17. Other churches supported Paul at different times – 2 Corinthians 11:8-9. Paul preached all over the Roman world and he was never a pastor (shepherd, bishop, and overseer). Peter, on the other hand, was not only an apostle but he was also a preacher who served as an elder – 1 Peter 5:1-4. The common use of “pastor” to reflect any man who stands in the pulpit to preach is not found in the Bible. Paul was never a pastor or elder (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:6) but he was an outstanding preacher. Peter was a preacher who served as a pastor (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:6). Thanks for the question and for being part of the blog.


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