What is the difference between evangelists, ministers, and pastors?

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The Bible tells us that God gave His children gifts, “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” (Ephesians 4:11-12). Let’s look closely at the role of each person in these offices:


The Greek word for evangelist is “euaggelistai” meaning a “preacher of the gospel” (Acts 8:4). Evangelists were apparently not attached to any specific locality, but gave their testimony as they traveled from place to place. Evangelists are the ones that take the good tidings of the gospel to people. In the early church, they probably did not exercise the full authority of apostles (Acts 21:8; 2 Timothy 4:5). The ministry of evangelists appears to have been directed chiefly to the heathen, whereas the pastors and teachers served the local congregations. Philip was an “evangelist” (Acts 21:8). Paul instructed Timothy, “Do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry” (2 Timothy 4:5).


This term is taken from the Latin word “minister” which means “servant” or “attendant. In Christianity, a minister is a person authorized by a church, or other religious organization, to perform duties such as teaching of doctrines; leading services such as weddings, baptisms or funerals; or giving spiritual guidance to the community. We have Bible examples of men who were called minsters such as Moses (Exodus 24:13), Joshua (Joshua 1:1), Aaron (Exodus 28:1,3,4), the priests (Deuteronomy 21:5; Joel 1:9,13; Joel 2:17), and the Levites (Numbers 8:23-26; 2 Chronicles 13:10-12; Jeremiah 33:21-22). And in the NT, Jesus (Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45), John Mark (Acts 13:5) and Paul (Acts 26:16) were known as minsters of the truth.


The Greek word for pastor is “poimen” which means a shepherd. A pastor is the spiritual leader over a group of people or congregation. He furthers the work of the church while leading others into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. A pastor can serve within a specific group of people, such as working with children, overseeing a ministry or serving as a senior pastor. In the NT, the pastoral function of the ministry is presented in John 21:16; Acts 20:28, 29; 1 Peter 5:2, 3; etc., and the teaching aspect in Acts 13:1; Romans 12:7; 1 Timothy 3:2…etc. The Master Himself was the great pastor-teacher, shepherding the flock.

Check out our Bible Answers page for more information on a variety of topics.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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