Adapted from “Crossing the Barriers”, Truth For Life Ministries
If we are to arrive at an answer to the question ‘What is Evangelism?’ we probably should begin by defining terms.
1. To evangelize (euangelizomai)
This verb is used fifty-two times in the New Testament, including twenty-five by Luke and twenty-one by Paul. Its essential meaning is simply to announce or proclaim good news. Some examples of its use are listed below.
Luk 4:18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
Luk 8:1 Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him,
Act 8:12 But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.
Act 10:36 As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all),
2. The gospel (euangelion)
The noun form, which means simply ‘good news” occurs seventy-two times in the New Testament, fifty-four of which come in Paul’s writings. By examining passages where the word ‘gospel’ is used, we learn some important things about the gospel.
It is the gospel of the Kingdom .
Mat 4:23 And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people.
Mat 9:35 And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction.
It is the gospel of God.
Mark 1:14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God,
1Th 2:2 But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict.
1Th 2:8 So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.
1Th 2:9 For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God.
The gospel of God is the Good News about God, who He is, how He came, and what He’s done, as well as the Good News from God – God has revealed Himself and it is His Good News.
It is the gospel of Christ.
Mark 1:1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
2Co 9:13 By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission flowing from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others,
Not only did Jesus bring the Gospel, he also embodied it.
It is a gospel that people, by nature, cannot see or understand.
2Co 4:4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
It is a gospel for all nations.
Mar 13:10 And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations.
Mar 16:15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.
Rom 10:11-13 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
It is a gospel that must be personally received.
1Co 15:1-2 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you–unless you believed in vain.
Mar 1:14-15 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
The notion that since Jesus died upon the cross all men are automatically forgiven cannot be squared with the biblical insistence upon a wholehearted personal response to the gospel.
Rom 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
Having looked at a number of biblical words let us set down a working definition as to what it means to evangelize.
To evangelize is to present Christ Jesus to sinful people in order that, through the power of the Holy Spirit, they may come to put their trust in God through Him.
Finally, let us consider a number of statements alongside this definition in seeking to answer our original question.
1. Evangelism is the normal life of the healthy church and can never been regarded as an optional extra.
2. Evangelism is the privilege and responsibility of every member of Christ’s body.
3. While the gift of evangelism is unique to some, the responsibility of witnessing falls to all without exception
4. Evangelism is supremely God’s work in people, in which he enlists human cooperation
5. Evangelism is essentially a process rather than a program.