Chapter # 5 Paragraph # 3 Study # 1
March 15, 2015
14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all [men].
15 See that none render evil for evil unto any [man]; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all [men].
16 Rejoice evermore.
17 Pray without ceasing.
18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
19 Quench not the Spirit.
20 Despise not prophesyings.
21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.
1901 ASV Translation:
14 And we exhort you, brethren, admonish the disorderly, encourage the fainthearted, support the weak, be longsuffering toward all.
15 See that none render unto any one evil for evil; but always follow after that which is good, one toward another, and toward all.
16 Rejoice always;
17 pray without ceasing;
18 in everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus to you-ward.
19 Quench not the Spirit;
20 despise not prophesyings;
21 prove all things; hold fast that which is good;
22 abstain from every form of evil.
- I. Paul's "Exhortation".
- A. The verb is "parakaleo" and signifies "do whatever is necessary to get the task accomplished". The noun form is used in 1 Thessalonians 2:3 to capture the essence of "The Gospel" and its meaning will always eventually boil down to a "summons" to those at a distance to "come alongside of God".
- B. Thus, this "summons" is addressed specifically to "brethren" as those who have responded to the original "summons" (The Gospel) and been born into the family of God, with "The God" as "The Father".
- 1. Paul refers to "brethren" 18 times in this short letter.
- 2. The first reference is 1:4 and declares the apostle's "knowledge" of the "election" of the "brethren". There are three more references to "brethren" in this letter after our current text (5:25, 26, and 27) and those three bring us to the end of this communication. The entire letter is addressed as a "family" matter for the express purpose of establishing the "hope" that is fundamental to effective living as a child of God in an oppositional setting.
- C. The scope of this "summons" is relatively large as indicated by a host of rapid fire imperatives.
- 1. In 5:11 Paul had used "parakaleo" to insist that the Thessalonians address one another as fellow members of the Body of Christ in terms of their needs for love and faith.
- 2. Now he takes upon himself the same responsibility by addressing a number of necessary factors in "edification".
- a. The first of these factors is what he called the "ataktos", an adjective used as a noun that is only found here in the New Testament.
- 1) It is a combination word that has the negative alpha attached as a prefix to the main adjectival form (like our "a" in "atheist": a prefix that negates the main word's meaning).
- 2) The main adjective is used in eight contexts of the New Testament and carries the idea that some one/thing has been decided upon so that it is set in a specific order. The negative alpha prefix turns it into the idea that some are rejecting that specific order. Luke is the majority user (five of the eight contexts are in Luke/Acts).
- 3) The basic idea is that there are some in Thessalonica, or there will be shortly, who do not believe certain truths and, therefore, are what the Authorized Version calls "unruly" or what the ASV calls "disorderly". The concept is that of someone who refuses to yield to the pattern that Paul set before them early (1:3).
- 4) Paul's answer to this problem is bound up in the verb "noutheteo". This is the same verb found in 5:12 (just two verses prior to our text). Its meaning is wrapped up in the idea of confrontation with solid, biblical content so that the person is re-directed back to a walk in the light. An excellent example of "nouthetic confrontation" is the New Testament letter written by James; a rebuking confrontation, typically seen as hard-hitting and without sympathy for those living in unbelieving hypocrisy.
- 5) It appears that this "first" factor has the human "spirit" in mind according to Paul's promise in 5:23: it is the "spirit" of man that withholds "agenda" matters from God and creates the "unruliness" factor.
- b. The second of these factors is what he called the "oligopsukos", another adjective used as a noun and, again, only used in this text of the New Testament.
- 1) The Authorized Version translators' choice ("feebleminded") is seriously suspect for a 21st century user of the English language; it smacks of mental deficiency.
- 2) The NASB goes with "fainthearted" as if the problem is one of a lack of courage.
- 3) The root concept from the etymology is that of a person who has a "small soul". If, and this is certainly not a given, the ancients had a biblical grasp of the "soul" and its place in the description of a person's makeup, their meaning would be "one whose ability to keep relationships in their proper place is very small". Biblically, the "soul" is all about relationships and one who is "of a small soul" is simply someone who cannot be loyal to the proper "others" because improper "others" are too important to him/her. Jesus' declaration of how important proper relationships are should not be overlooked (Matthew 10:37; John 12:43).
- 4) Paul's answer to this problem is found in the verb "paramutheomai", a word Paul used in this letter in 2:11 to describe the activities of a good father toward his children. The only other New Testament uses are John 11:19 and 31 where John uses it to describe the intent of those visiting Mary and Martha upon the death of Lazarus. It is not the word Paul used in chapter four when dealing with those who lost beloved brethren to death. Interestingly it is a compound verb made of a preposition "para" and a derivative of the noun "fable". The implication of the etymology is that someone needed some help in the form of getting rid of some seriously erroneous "fables". John's use is instructive because it is located in a text where both sisters are seriously out of line emotionally because of their misguided loyalty to Lazarus and their willingness to blame Jesus for not caring enough for him to come before he died. Liddell and Scott Greek-English Lexicon says that the idea is to be tender toward someone in a bad situation. Bottom line: those of a "small soul" need someone to come alongside and debunk their confidence in cleverly devised fables in order to be released from the bondage of false relational loyalties.
- 5) This "summons" is clearly directed at that element of man called his "soul" and, again according to 5:23, this is Paul laying out the framework for the fulfillment of the divine commitment to "sanctify you fully".
- c. The third of these factors is what he called the "asthenes", the third adjective used as a noun.
- 1) The word is used across the spectrum of human experience to indicate a lack of potency; its main illustrative use being "sickness" because the body lacks the strength to fight off the disease to which it has been subjected. At the level of one's soul, the lack of strength results in the condition addressed above as "oligopsucos". And at the level of one's spirit, the lack of strength results in the domination of the body by the Law of Sin in the members. This particular context seems to focus upon the weakness of the body, i.e., "those who are ill".
- 2) Paul's solution is a verb in the imperative that is used to indicate "taking a firm grip upon" someone or something. It is only used in four New Testament contexts, but the uses are illustrative of this "taking a firm grip" thesis. The implication is that the "ill" need someone to take their needs upon themselves in order to meet them and provide what those who are ill cannot provide for themselves.
- 3) This "factor" is the third of the three elements of man's need for "full sanctification" as, again, 5:23 indicates.
- d. And the fourth of these factors is a comprehensive lack of full maturity.
- 1) The verb is an imperative that characteristically means "deal patiently with all of the 'wrongs' you perceive" because people are broken and cannot be fixed easily or quickly. This implies the 'factor': a lack of maturity that allows flawed thinking and behavior.
- 2) The solution is also in the verb: expect your efforts to take time to take effect.
- 3) It is ultimately reasonable that men are broken in spirit, soul, and body and "fixing" the problems this brokenness produces takes a lot of time.