Brad, you asked if there is such a title or role of “Evangelist” in Orthodoxy anymore. You also quoted Ephesians 4:11 that says, “It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists…” In the Orthodox Church, as Fr. David and others pointed out, we do not use the titles of “evangelist” or even “prophet” to refer to people alive today, but I think it would be correct to say that people within the Orthodox Church still fulfill the roles of “evangelist,” “prophet”, “apostle”, etc… Only the Gospel writers have the title of “Evangelist”, the title of “Prophet” is reserved for those having this title prior to Christ (though the term was still utilized during the time of the Apostles and there is at least one exception of a saint after the Apostolic era who was referred to as a prophet for his clairvoyance), and the title “Apostle” is reserved for the 12 and the 70 whom Christ appointed as apostles in the Gospels. However, there are still those who do the work of evangelists, prophets, and apostles in the Orthodox Church today. We have saints who, after their repose, were given the title “Equal to the Apostle” to recognize the apostolic quality of their missionary activity among non-Orthodox people (like St. Nina). A few years ago there was a book written about Fr. Cosmas, a monk from Mt. Athos who was sent as a missionary to Zaire. His book is titled “Apostle to Zaire” to describe the nature of his work and ministry. While nobody in the Orthodox Church has the title of “Evangelist”, in a certain sense we all may fulfill the role of the “evangelists” any time we speak to others about the gospel, whether we are a priest explaining the words of the gospels in an homily or sermon, or a layperson speaking about the gospel to a non-Orthodox person, or if we are leading a missionary effort in a non-Orthodox land. Monks and nuns are often seen as fulfilling the role of the prophet in the life of the Church, as emulating the way of life of the Prophet Elijah and the Forerunner and Baptist John. Some monks, because of their holy life and their profound humility, may be given the grace by God to see things which might occur in the future and to discern the hearts of others (the Elders of Optina and countless ascetics on Mt. Athos and throughout the world). Monastics with the gift of clairvoyance fulfill a prophetic role in a very particular sense. So, again, the Orthodox Church does not use these titles which are reverently reserved for those referred to as such in the Holy Scriptures. Nevertheless, being the Church which has received the grace of the Holy Spirit poured out at Pentecost, the Spirit which “spoke by the prophets”, the same gifts and same roles can be found in the Orthodoxy Church today as in the time of the Apostles.
Edited by Herman Blaydoe, 03 May 2011 - 08:34 PM.
Extraneous formatting removed