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Evangelist

by R. Douglas Phillips

The sixth article of faith names Evangelists together with apostles, prophets, and teachers among the essential offices in the organization of the Church (cf. Eph. 4:11; Acts 21:8).

In an address on June 27, 1839, the Prophet Joseph Smith identified the office of evangelist as a patriarch, who as "the oldest man of the blood of Joseph or of the seed of Abraham" was to bless "the posterity of the Saints" as Jacob blessed his sons (TPJS, p. 151). This was the office of Patriarch to the Church. Evangelists, as Patriarchs, had been ordained beginning in 1833, although not mentioned in revelation until 1835 (D&C 107:39-40).

Scholars have been unable to define precisely the role or office of the evangelist (Greek, euaggelistes, "one bringing good tidings") in the New Testament. Apparently it was an office or activity that could be combined with the calling of bishop (2 Tim. 4:5). The sense of evangelist as an author of one of the canonical Gospels is late. The earliest known pagan and pre-Christian use of the term refers to a person who pronounced oracular statements (Kittel, 2:736).

Whatever the exact nature of the office, the early Christian evangelist was closely linked with apostles and prophets. He was viewed as one who carried on the work of the apostles, but always in a charismatic or prophetic office. One New Testament reference hints that Philip was an evangelist, and mentions his four daughters, who "did prophesy" (Acts 21:8-9).

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Bibliography

Kittel, R. Theological Dictionary of The New Testament. Grand Rapids, Mich., 1964.

Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol. 1, Evangelists

Copyright 1992 by Macmillan Publishing Company

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