Do the Work of an Evangelist | Themelios

Sometimes the fact that English uses two words where the French (and the Greek!) have only one can trip us up and focus our gaze in a slightly misleading direction. For the purposes of this editorial, one of the most telling examples is one so close to us we sometimes fail to see it. English has two words, “gospel” and “evangel,” where the Greek has only one, εὐαγγέλιον. Themelios is sponsored by an organization called “The Gospel Coalition.” What signals would be hoisted if, instead, we called ourselves “The Evangel Coalition”? We may say, “Evangelicals believe the gospel,” which does not sound entirely tautologous, but to say it as a first-century Greek speaker must, “Evangelicals believe the evangel,” would be passing strange. And then, of course, if we start to reflect on all the related words now used in English—evangelicalism, evangelism, evangelical, evangelist, evangel, evangelization, evangelize, evangelically, evangelicism—we observe that some of them have no Greek counterpart. Interestingly enough, the more-or-less synonymous gospel does not boast the array of cognates that evangel does. Most of us would not translate 2 Tim 4:5, “Do the work of a gospeller” or “Do the work of a gospelist.” To make matters more complicated yet, one or two of the Greek cognates of εὐαγγέλιον are sometimes rendered into English in ways that, on the surface, seem less than direct. For instance, one might have expected εὐαγγελίζομαι to be rendered “to evangelize,” but in most English Bibles, it is more likely to be rendered by “to preach the gospel” or “to preach the good news” or the like, equivalent to τὸ εὐαγγέλιον κηρύσσω. If this were another sort of editorial, it would be worth exploring why this is the case. [Read More]