The infinitive appreciate is literally to know. This involves acquain- tance and understanding. Leaders are to be known and appreciat- ed. It is important to note that this is not a matter of personality but a responsibility. The three-fold description of the function of the leaders has nothing to do with their personality. It is an under- standing of these duties and an appreciation of the true value of good leaders that will beget an appropriate relationship to leaders.
TheDuty of Labor
The word translated labordoes not focus merely on the effort put forth but upon the exhaustion that results therefrom. Laziness disqualifies one for leadership. This is a clear rebuke to those in Thessalonica who refused to work (4:11).
TheDuty of Guidance
This and the following participle give the details of how the leaders labor. Admonition is part of leadership The words in the Lord show that this is not a cold authoritarian and external leadership but one of warm family relationship.
TheDuty of Teaching
The tone of this participle is not merely brotherly but big-brotherly. The word used here is frequently used where there is a special tie between the teacher and the one taught.
WE ARE TO ESTEEM THEM 5:13
“…and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another.”
The word translated esteem means to consider,to regard, to think. Deliberate and objective consideration is to be given to the leaders and the functions they are to perform. Veryhighlyis a strong double compound superlative adverb and means out of all bounds,beyond allmeasure. In lovepoints beyond duty and describes the nature of the esteem given.
Some interpreters attach the exhortation to live in peaceto the verses that follow rather than verses 12 and 13. If this be the case, the command is general and one anotherdescribes all other believers.
On the other hand, it seems that the context argues that one anoth- er refers to the believer and the leadership. Believers are to love their leaders, and those who lead are to love the ones led.
OUR RELATIONSHIP TO DEFICIENT BELIEVERS 5:14-15
STATED POSITIVELY 5:14
“And we urge you, brethren,admonish the unruly,encourage the faint- hearted,help the weak,be patient with all men.”
Some have taken these exhortations to be directed to the leadership only. It seems best, however, to keep in mind that while dealing with deficient members is in a special way the duty of leadership, it goes too far to say this duty is confined to them. This being true, the exhortations are to both leaders and members of the Thessalonian congregation.
The first class of deficient believers is the unruly. The word means to be out of order. Neglect of one’s duty lies at the heart of the word. The adverbial form of the word unruly is found in II Thessalonians 3:6 (unruly) and 3:11 (undisciplined).
The second class is termed fainthearted. The Greek word is holigap- suchos and means little souled. The reference is to those who are easily discouraged, despondent, and timid. The King James transla- tion of feebleminded is misleading in that it implies mental deficien- cy, which is not the case.
The third class is the weak. Paul is not speaking of physical weak- ness, but rather of those who are morally weak and deficient. The verb translated help means to hold oneself against and connotes the support of another by keeping oneself opposite the weak one so as to hold them up.
These three types of deficient believers may be identified with the undisciplined believers of 4:11-12, the fainthearted with the one’s concerned about their departed loved ones in 4:13-18, and the weak with those warned of lapsing into immorality in 4:2-8.
The final command to be patientrefers to a quality needed for dealing with all three classes of deficient believers. Ability to be patient toward those who try us is an ingredient of Christian love (I Corinthians 13:4).
STATED NEGATIVELY 5:15
“See that no one repays another with evil for evil,but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all men.”
The imperative verb see anticipates the watchfulness that is neces- sary to prevent a retaliatory spirit from working its way into the church. No vice is more ingrained in the human heart than desire for retaliation—we often call it “sweet revenge.” Romans 12:17-21 and I Peter 3:9 teach the same concept.
The strong adversative but introduces the action required when wronged. Not only are we to forego revenge, but we are to admin- ister blessing. The command to seek this end assumes that such a pursuit will not be easy.
OUR RELATIONSHIP TO THE WILL OF GOD 5:16-22
ATTITUDES TO MAINTAIN 5:16-18
“Rejoice always;17praywithout ceasing; 18ineverything give thanks;for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Though these terse commands are not tied together by any con- necting words, they do exhibit the theme of mental attitude. Each of the three imperatives is preceded by modifying words. Continuity and completeness are conveyed by each of them. The source of joy is always independent of one’s circumstances. The command was appropriate even though Paul’s readers were in the midst of great persecution (I Thessalonians 1:6, 2:14,3:7). The adverb of time, always,occurs frequently in this letter (2:16, 3:6, 4:17, and 5:15).
The command to pray lays stress on a reverential attitude rather than on the length of time petitions are made. Paul is not saying, “Say prayers all of the time,” but rather, “Maintain a reverential and prayerful attitude in the midst of all of your activities.” The adverb without ceasing does not refer to uninterrupted prayer but to constantly recurring prayer.
In the command to give thanks in everything, Paul is saying that a thankful attitude is not dependent upon pleasing or gratifying circumstances. Things that happen to us, pleasant or unpleasant, are not to interrupt an attitude of thanksgiving.
The connective for introduces the justification for these commands. We are to obey them because it is the will of God that we do so. The word will is without the definite article the, showing that this is not an exhaustive statement of the will of God.
RELATIONSHIPS TO SUSTAIN 5:19-21
InRegard to the Holy Spirit 5:19-20 “Do not quench the Spirit;20donot despise prophetic utterances.”
The negative is used in such a way as to prohibit the continuation of an ongoing action. Stop quenching and stop despising is the meaning. The first command is general; the second is specific. The Holy Spirit was being quenched by their refusal of His word in the form of prophetic utterances. InRegard to All Things 5:21-22 “But examine everything carefully, hold fast to that which is good; abstainfrom every form of evil.”
This verse balances the preceding. They should not despise prophe- cy on one hand; and yet on the other, they should not be credulous, accepting every claim to have a message from God. Older transla- tions have rendered the word form as appearance. This is misleading because the evil spoken of here is real, not apparent, as the word appearanceimplies. The ideas of examining and holding fast affirm the importance of Christian judgment guided by Christian truth.
Study Index for 1 THESSALONIANS by Chester McCalley
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