Chapter # 5 Paragraph # 3 Study # 4
Thesis: Do not resist the transformational efforts of the Holy Spirit.
Introduction: In our earlier study of 5:15, we noted that Paul put a premium on "pursuing The Good" toward everyone. It's kind of like a "performance bottom line" where what comes out of our bodies is supposed to always have someone's edification in view. He followed this up with three commands that are designed to get, and keep, our attitudes aligned with God by rejoicing, praying, and giving thanks. If this occurs, the most likely outcome will be a daily, legitimate, pursuit of "The Good" toward everyone around us.
Now, as we turn our attention to 5:19, we come face to face with another series of five exhortations that seem to all coalesce around the first of the five. Because I see this structure, I am inclined this evening toward making sure that we understand the first command as the most important one. That means trying to understand what Paul had in mind when he wrote "quench not the Spirit".
April 5, 2015
- I. The Command As A "Negative".
- A. Ephesians 5:18 gives a similar command, "Be filled with the Spirit".
- 1. This thought is more "positive" and is given in the form of a present imperative that carries the notion of continuing to do something that is already being done.
- 2. Robertson says that aoristic imperatives tend to signal a command to begin to do something that is not currently being done and present imperatives tend to signal a command to keep doing something that is already being done.
- 3. The idea seems to be to give the Spirit full latitude to sponsor the deeds done in the body.
- B. But our text says, "Do not quench the Spirit".
- 1. The idea has negative overtones at two levels.
- a. "Quenching" is more of a negative concept in that it denies a fire more fuel.
- b. The present imperative, if Robertson is correct, also indicates a negative factor: stop quenching the Spirit.
- 2. The use of the negative plus the present tense strongly implies a kind of human "default mode" of resistance to the fire of the Spirit.
- a. The Thessalonians are being presented as actually engaging in this problematic behavior (they are not perfect after all).
- b. Paul's exhortation is substantially more difficult, given this default concept.
- II. The Actual Meaning of the Command.
- A. The Spirit is presented in terms of the metaphor of "fire".
- 1. The verb translated "quench" is always used in the New Testament in reference to "fire" unless this one text is the exception.
- 2. This is in complete harmony with the declaration by John the Baptizer that the believers in the Christ would be baptized by the Spirit and fire (Matthew 3:11).
- 3. This is also in harmony with the audio visual of the descent of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost: "tongues as of fire".
- 4. In every case of the use of fire in the New Testament something is getting burned, and many times it is people of evil actions, or the evil actions themselves.
- 5. The most obvious implication is that the Thessalonians have some issues of "evil" within them that need to be "purged by fire".
- a. If "doing The Good" is the performance bottom line, it makes sense that the roots of evil must be cauterized.
- b. The straightforward implication is that the Spirit's task involves the production of the life of Jesus through these bodies by means of the fiery purging of evil intent.
- 6. Add to this the fact that "our God is a consuming fire" and we have the reality that God is very much interested in our edification by means of fiery events.
- B. The command is to stop quenching the impact of those fiery events.
- III. The Implications of the Following Commands.
- A. All of them have to do with "prophetic" voices, most likely external to the hearer.
- 1. This strongly implies that the "fiery event" is going to be the prophetic speech of another person who calls for the eradication of something within the hearers.
- 2. This is not without some form of internal awareness, but Paul is not writing about the Spirit's ministry of internal awareness; he is addressing the situations when someone else confronts (knowingly or unknowingly) a flaw in our commitments and beliefs.
- B. There is a recognition that sometimes those external voices are incorrect and the false challenge needs to be jettisoned.
- IV. Observable Efforts of Believers Who Seek to Quench the Spirit.
- A. The reason for such efforts is not hard to grasp: fire burns.
- B. To keep the fire at bay, there are some observable deflections some use.
- 1. Often the person with the flaw refuses to acknowledge the flaw, even though, as legitimate truth it is substantiated by the God Who makes truth plain enough to be believed.
- 2. Many times there is a kind of immediate deflection of the "criticism" as though it could not possibly be true by means of a "justification" or "clarification" of what is being addressed.
- 3. Often there is a kind of deflection that involves an abrupt change of subject so that no more is said about what needs to be changed.