Chapter # 5 Paragraph # 3 Study # 2
March 22, 2015
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:
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 Insistence Upon the Pursuit of "The Good".
- A. The imperative is a verb that has several nuances of meaning.
- 1. It can be a reference to literal, with-the-eyes, "seeing" (1 John 1:1) with an implication of at least some degree of "seeing how things fit together" (a mental activity of some kind of understanding) as in John 4:45.
- 2. It can also skip the actual "with-the-eyes-seeing" step and be used as a reference to having a certain level understanding without that first step (1 John 4:20).
- 3. Then it can move from the "understanding" level to the ability to "do" what that level of understanding promotes.
- 4. And, then as Paul uses it now, it can actually have the meaning of "insisting upon a certain kind of activity that is inherent in the reality that, if it could be seen, it would naturally have".
- B. The actual description of the inherent reality.
- 1. Its setting in this verse: the imposition of "evil".
- a. Matthew uses the term to indicate a level of "evil" that deserves capital punishment (21:41) and deliberately ties this level of "evil" to the reckoning of "hopelessness" so that the denial of Hope leads to "evil" treatment of others (24:48).
- b. The "synoptics" all record Pilate's use of this term to question the demand of the mob that Jesus be subjected to capital punishment (Matthew 27:23; Mark 15:14; and Luke 23:22).
- c. Clearly, though, Paul is not necessarily referring to capital crimes in this text (the word is used of lesser "evils" as in Luke 16:25), though he may be. It would certainly enhance his imperative if the setting was that particularly severe of an experience.
- 2. Its impact is upon the "response" that is to be "given back".
- a. The verb "to give back", or "to render", means to return to someone what belongs to him/her. As such, it is a legal term that claims that one "deserves" a "return" commensurate with what he/she has dished out.
- b. The restriction: NOT "evil against evil".
- c. The exhortation: "always pursue the good".
- 1. First in the family (of God) setting -- one to another.
- 2. Then in the larger setting -- to all men.
- C. At Issue: "The Good".
- 1. The word is used when the focus is upon some contribution that moves a thing toward a beneficial result in the true sense of benefit ("gifts" can be "good" even though given by those who are "evil: Matthew 7:11). "The Good" edifies (Ephesians 4:29). Alternatively, the word is also used when the description indicates a composition that is uncorrupted (a "good" tree that cannot produce "worthless" fruit: Matthew 7:18).
- 2. Always in mind is the final impact (from an eternal perspective), but without the tendency of man to make the end justify the means (Romans 3:8). It can be like a painful surgery that necessarily introduces severe physical pain into the mix, but has an ultimately healthy end result.
- 3. Care must be taken in our understanding by including the reality that sometimes a totally destructive thing to one person is a great good to another and the one who "does the good" is often seen as doing something horrible.