Who Were the “Evangelists”? (II)

I’m reading over the new festschift for I. Howard Marshall and I came across this quote by James Dunn:

“Even with careful discussion, there remains a danger of perpetuating a myth which idealizes the first Christian generation as the perfect church or golden age of the church by assuming that all Christians of that period were enthusiastic and compelling evangelists. No doubt there were many such, and proportionally many more than today. And the impact of such passages as Matt 28:19-20 and Acts 1:8, and evidence such as Acts 11:9 should not be lightly discounted. On the other hand, the commission of Mark 6:7-13 was given to a select band; there were many who stayed at home, like Mary and Martha, as well as those who literally followed Jesus. And the fact that ‘evangelist’ is a specific function given to and exercised by only a few in Eph 4:11 should not be discounted either. In other words, the NT writings do not warrant any guilt-inducing generalization that only those Christians who are active in explicit evangelism are true to the spirit of the NT.

James D. G. Dunn, “Methodology of Evangelism in the New Testament: Some Preliminary Reflections,” in Jon C. Laansma, Grant Osborne, and Ray Van Neste (eds.), New Testament Theology in Light of the Church’s Mission: Essays in Honor of I. Howard Marshall (Eugene, OR: Cascade, 2011), 26-27.

Does the NT expect every Christian to be an “evangelist,” or is it limited to those called to evangelical work? Or is this a false dichtomy with other models available?

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