It takes me too long to get around to finishing series I started.
This may be the most important blog I’ve ever written.
If you DO this, it will change your life and the lives of all those with whom you have regular contact.
I’m sorry if the post is boring, or isn’t broke up enough, or is hard to skim. I try to write interesting things that are easy to skim, but this is worth working your way through!
I started on a series on the appearance of the apostle Paul, and I only got through 3 parts before I needed to write on other things. As a result, it’s been over 3 weeks since the last one.
Now I’m skipping part 4 because I like part 5 better. I’ll do part 4 some other time.
You know how we exhorted, consoled, and testified to every one of you, like a father does to his children. (1 Thess. 2:11)
Are you one of God’s workers? Are you one of those that labors among the brethren, takes the lead, and admonishes? (1 Thess. 5:12).
Then this lesson, like the others in this series, is one you’d better learn.
Paul chose some pretty general words in today’s verse. Of the three verbs—exhort, console, and testify to—"exhort" is the most general.
I love the word exhort. I learned what it means the same way all of us learned to speak English. I listened to it being used.
The Greek word for "exhort," in 1 Thess 2:11, is parakaleo. It is used 109 times in the New Testament. It’s two noun forms, parakletos and paraklesis, are also in the New Testament 34 times. I looked up all 143 occurrences.
It’s translated with about 10 different English words, depending on your translation.
It’s used in all kinds of senses. There’s places where he’s clearly talking about comforting someone, and there’s other places where he’s clearly referring to rebuking someone. In other places, it’s clearly asking or pleading.
The noun form is used 4 times of the Holy Spirit, and it is translated "Comforter," but it could just as well be exhorter.
The noun form is also used of Jesus in 1 Jn. 2:1, where it’s translated advocate. I’ve read that parakletos can mean defense lawyer, though it doesn’t in 1 Jn. 2:1. (You don’t need a defense lawyer with God. He already loves you and wishes the best for you.)
Being an Exhorter
I came up with one overriding definition for parakaleo after seeing it used 143 times:
To use words to get someone to do something good
You can do that by comforting, begging, or admonishing, but in the end if you are "parakaleo-ing" someone, then you are trying to get them to do something.
Paul did it all the time, without fail.
Watch, and remember that for 3 years I did not stop warning everyone night and day with tears. (Acts 20:31)
What do you think would happen to you if you were encouraged, warned, admonished, and comforted every day, night and day, with tears?
Don’t you think that would move you? Give you strength? Help you believe?
Let me give you another one. Do you believe that smoking is bad and that people who smoke are foolish?
Very few people believed that in the 60’s. Smoking was manly and sexy both.
What changed is that the US government ran ads for 20 years. They warned us night and day through our fears, and the opinion of over 200 million people was changed.
Exhortation Examples in the Scriptures
It’s not just in Acts 20:31 and 1 Thess. 2:11 that this is said. It’s mentioned repeatedly …
I will not be negligent to always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are established in the present truth. (2 Pet. 1:12)
[Paul and Barnabas] returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, confirming the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith and that through many tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of God. (Acts 14:21-22)
The next word Paul uses, consoling, is also a wide word.
The Strong’s definition of paramutheomai is …
To speak to … whether by way of admonition and incentive or to calm and console.
In other words, no matter how you have to do it, get them to follow God.
You can admonish, give incentive, or console them, but talk to them and get them to walk in the commands of Jesus Christ.
It’s the very commission, Jesus gave the apostles …
Go therefore, and disciple all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. (Matt. 28:19-20)
The last word is translated "charge" by the KJV and "implore" by the NASB, but Strong’s and the note in the NASB say that the word means to testify.
So Paul uses two very general words that can mean admonish, comfort, or beg, and then he adds testimony.
In other words, tell them how it’s worked for you.
It’s the example we were given by the Israelites …
These words, which I command you, shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children. You will talk about them …
- … while you sit in your house
- … when you walk along the way
- … when you lay down
- … and when you get up.
You shall secure them to your hand as a sign, and they shall be hung between your eyes. You shall write them on the posts of your house and on your gates. (Deut. 6:6-9)
Do you think God wanted us to be consumed with his words?
Paul was consumed with them. He talked about them night and day with tears, and he reminded, pleaded, implored, encouraged, consoled, exhorted, and rebuked the disciples so that they would be followers of Jesus Christ, doers of his Word.
Like a Father
It’s not just workers in the house of God who should be doing this.
Paul says this sort of exhorting, consoling, and testifying is what a father does with his children. It’s part of training them and bringing them up in the way they should go.
Or were you confused into thinking that training your children means just spanking them when they do something wrong?
Training involves positive teaching, correction, and encouragement, not just punishment when something wrong is done.
In fact, I think it would be fair to say that punishment is a rather minor part of training, reserved for the uncommitted learner, who needs encouragement and warning at least as much and probably more than discipline.
What About Me?
I was going to title this section "What About Us," but, hey, let’s pick on me, not you.
I’m a father and a worker in the house of God, and this post is horribly convicting to me.
Is this how I father? Is this how I deal with people in the house of God?
Sometimes. I could make excuses for myself. I could talk about Bible studies I’ve led with my children present. I could talk about telling them stories while I drive. I can talk about lectures I’ve given them on how to live life and what their life should be for.
But the fact is, I don’t even come close to "night and day with tears."
I don’t talk about the commands of Christ when I’m sitting down, walking, entering, leaving, getting up, and going to bed. I don’t have them tied on my hands and forehead, nor written on the posts of my house.
I don’t believe we’re supposed to literally write Jesus’ commands on our hands and forehead.
God has something better for us. Live for Christ and exhort, console, and testify so much that every time someone sees you, it might as well be written on your forehead; so that every time someone goes through your door or sees you along the road they think of Christ because that’s what you’re about.
So I have to close now and write a couple of these Scriptures down on Post-It notes so that I can hang them on my mirror and bookshelf at home.
I have a lot of work to do …