Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Samaritan Evangelist

“As Cottrell points out, the woman’s [Samaritan] ministry of evangelism is regularly interpreted by feminists as Jesus having ‘commissioned this woman as his special messenger.’ However, it is going beyond the contextual meaning of the passage to elevate the woman as a prototype of modern women preachers, if, for no other reason, than that this passage is located in the narrative genre of Scripture” (“Jesus and the Feminists: Who Do They Say That He Is?”, pp. 189-190).

In chapter 14 of her book, Margaret Kostenberger looks at Jesus’ treatment of women in the Gospels. One of Kostenberger’s noteworthy examples is that of the Samaritan woman of John 4:

“Upon the disciples’ return, they are surprised to find Jesus ‘talking with a woman’ (v.27). Since no reference is made to the woman’s ethnic identity, the disciples’ comment likely reflects the cultural stereotype: MEN LOOKED DOWN ON OTHER MEN WHO ENGAGED IN CONVERSATION WITH WOMEN” (188).

This is an example of what the gospel would do—it would cross all barriers, REGARDLESS of gender or ethnicity. The Samaritan woman had a double strike in her case: she had a strike because she was SAMARITAN; the other because she was a WOMAN. In addition, she had an immoral strike—she had been married five times and was with a man at the moment who was not her husband.

But look at the first quote I wrote above. Kostenberger, while acknowledging Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman, turns around and says that we can’t look at this narrative to see anything of a “woman” preacher in it.

Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that the woman isn’t a preacher. But read what Kostenberger DOES call her: “In what follows, the woman turns into an EVANGELIST” (189).

Let’s look at the nature of the woman’s response to her discussion with Christ:

28So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, 29"Come, see a man(AJ) who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?" (John 4:28-29, ESV)

After Christ reveals that He is the Messiah, she is so excited that she goes into the town and invites everyone to come see this Christ. This is what evangelists do when they seek to win souls for Christ—they INVITE them to come to Jesus. May I also add that this is what pastors do every Sunday when they extend “the INVITATION to discipleship.”

The result of the Samaritan woman's invitation is that people come, investigate Christ, and come to faith in Him. After spending time with the Lord, the converts reply:

42They said to the woman, "It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves,(BA) and we know that this is indeed(BB) the Savior(BC) of the world." (John 4: 42, ESV)

Let’s read what Romans has to say about believing the gospel:

13For(S) "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."
14How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him(T) of whom they have never heard?[c] And how are they to hear(U) without someone preaching? 15And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written,(V) "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!" (Romans 10:13-15, ESV)

The passage tells us that those who call on the Lord must BELIEVE in Him; and in order to believe in Him, they have to HEAR of Him. In order to hear the Gospel, someone must preach. Once the preacher preaches, the person hears the Gospel, believes on the name of the Lord, and calls upon Him (and is saved).
What do we notice about the Samaritan woman of John 4? She invites them to come see the Christ. Fellow Samaritans (those who are of Jewish and Gentile blood) hear this plea, believe on the Lord, and are saved as a result. The results of Romans 10 happen in such a fashion that the Samaritan woman serves as the “someone preaching” of Romans 10:14. The Samaritan woman is someone who is preaching the good news to those in the town.

Let’s look at Kostenberger’s words again regarding the Samaritan woman:

“In what follows, the woman turns into an EVANGELIST” (189).

I decided to look up the word “evangelist” in the Greek to see a literal definition of the word. The Greek word for “evangelist” is “euanggelistes.” The word translated literally means “good messenger,” or “messenger of good news.” According to Thayer’s Lexicon, the word means “a bringer of good tidings, an evangelist.” Another definition involves those who serve as “heralds” of the message of salvation (who are not apostles). Strong defines the Greek word “euanggelistes” in his lexicon as “a preacher of the gospel, an evangelist.” For those who wanna view this information, go to the following site:εὐαγγελιστής

When the word “evangelist” is used in the Scriptures, it is recorded three times in all of Scripture (Acts 21:8, Ephesians 4:11, 2 Timothy 4:5) and whenever it is used, its context is preaching: in Acts 21:8, Phillip is called “one of the seven” who is also an evangelist; in Ephesians 4:11, to be an evangelist is to be a preacher using the gift of preaching which the Lord gave the church; in 2 Timothy 4, Paul tells Timothy to

2preach the word; be ready in season and out of season;(D) reprove, rebuke, and(E) exhort, with complete patience and teaching. (2 Tim. 4:2, ESV)

As you can see from the work above, the word evangelist carries with it the idea of preaching—for an evangelist preaches the “euanggelion,” the good news. And, as we see in the case of 2 Timothy, doing the work of an evangelist requires “preaching” the Word.

I want you to see one more thing. Go back to Ephesians 4—

4There is(I) one body and(J) one Spirit—just as you were called to the one(K) hope that belongs to your call— 5(L) one Lord,(M) one faith,(N) one baptism, 6(O) one God and Father of all,(P) who is over all and through all and in all. 7But(Q) grace was given(R) to each one of us(S) according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8Therefore it says,

(T) "When he ascended on high(U) he led a host of captives,
and he gave gifts to men."
9((V) In saying, "He ascended," what does it mean but that he had also descended into(W) the lower regions, the earth?[a] 10He who descended is the one who also(X) ascended(Y) far above all the heavens, that he might(Z) fill all things.) 11And(AA) he gave the(AB) apostles, the prophets, the(AC) evangelists, the(AD) shepherds[b] and teachers,[c] (Eph. 4:4-11, ESV).

Look at verse 8. The reference is to the Old Testament, but it shows us that when Christ ascended, He gave the gifts He received from the principalities He defeated (Satan and his demons and rulers) to men (referring to believers). When He ascended, what gifts did He give? “apostles…prophets…evangelists…shepherds and teachers.”
And this brings me back to a statement Christ made in Matthew 28 as He was giving the Great Commission:

16Now the eleven disciples(T) went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17And when they saw him they(U) worshiped him, but some doubted. 18And Jesus came and said to them, (V) "All authority(W) in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19(X) Go therefore and(Y) make disciples of(Z) all nations,(AA) baptizing them(AB) in[b] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them(AC) to observe all that(AD) I have commanded you. And behold,(AE) I am with you always, to(AF) the end of the age." (Matt. 28:16-20, ESV)

Before Jesus gives the Great Commission, He says, “All AUTHORITY in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” What did Jesus mean by this? This meant exactly what Ephesians 4 tells us—that Christ’s authority that He gives to the church RESTS IN THE SPIRITUAL GIFTS! And what does this mean? That, IF the authority of Christ lay in the gifts, and women can serve as evangelists, then this means that WOMEN HAVE SPIRITUAL AUTHORITY.

If complementarians are gonna continue to affirm that women have no spiritual authority in the churches, then they are gonna have to deal with labeling the Samaritan woman of John 4 as an “evangelist.” In the placement of the gifts in Ephesians 4, “evangelists” come before “pastors and teachers,” which means that evangelists have greater spiritual authority. If women can serve as evangelists (that being greater than pastors and teachers), then why can they NOT serve as pastors and teachers?



    Amen! Preach it sister!
    I really enjoy your blog.
    Don't ever forget that YOU have spiritual authority, Diedre!

  2. Gem,

    Thanks so much for reading the blog. Your encouragement lifts me and keeps me going even when I feel as if sometimes, the truth is not going out fast enough...

    Continue to pray for the blog...we're on our way to 100 posts...and many more to go!


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