1 Thessalonians 5:19
Quench not the Spirit.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(19) Quench not the Spirit.—The mention of prayer and thanksgiving (eucharistia), by which public as well as private worship is intended, leads St. Paul on to the mention of other parts of the service. The gloom and depression to which an antidote is administered in 1Thessalonians 5:16-18 had been such as almost to extinguish that fire of enthusiasm which ought to have burst out in prayers, praises, thanksgivings, and “prophecies.” The “Spirit” here must not be taken too sharply to mean the Person of the Holy Ghost: the Person of the Holy Ghost maybe grieved (Ephesians 4:30), expelled (Psalm 51:11), neglected (1Timothy 4:14), but (though His working on the individual may be stopped) He can never be extinguished. The word here again (as in 1Thessalonians 1:5) is in that intermediate sense which expresses the effect of the Holy Ghost’s personal working upon our spirits. He kindles in us a fire (Matthew 3:11), that is, a consuming ardour and enthusiasm, of love to God and man; which ardour may be damped, quenched, by not giving it free air and play. Gloom (1Thessalonians 5:16), neglect of prayer (1Thessalonians 5:17) which is the very feeding of the flame, discontentment with the answer which God chooses to give to prayer (1Thessalonians 5:18), will in the end reduce us to the condition in which we were before we were confirmed (Romans 8:9). Comp. Ecce Homo, p. 257 (3rd ed.):—“The Apostles in like manner became sensible that their inspiration was liable to intermissions. They regard it as possible to grieve the Divinity who resided within them, and ever. to quench His influence. But neither they nor Christ even for a moment suppose that, if He should take His flight, it is possible to do without Him . . . Christianity is an enthusiasm, or it is nothing.”

1 Thessalonians 5:19. Quench not the Spirit — Which, wherever it is, burns more or less, yea, flames in holy love, in joy, prayer, thanksgiving: O quench it not, damp it not, in yourself or others, by giving way to any lust or passion, any affection or disposition, contrary to holiness, either by neglecting to do good, or by doing evil. See note on Ephesians 4:30. It is easy to observe that the qualities and effects of the Spirit’s influences are here compared to those of fire. See note on Matthew 3:11. And as fire may be quenched, not only by pouring water upon it, or heaping upon it earth and ashes, but by withholding fuel from it, or even by neglecting to stir it up; so the enlightening, quickening, renewing, purifying, and comforting operations of the Spirit may be quenched, not only by the commission of known and wilful sin, and by immersing our minds too deeply in worldly business, and burdening them with worldly cares, but by omitting to use the private or public means of grace, the fuel provided to nourish this sacred fire, and by neglecting to stir up the gifts and graces which are in us.5:16-22 We are to rejoice in creature-comforts, as if we rejoiced not, and must not expect to live many years, and rejoice in them all; but if we do rejoice in God, we may do that evermore. A truly religious life is a life of constant joy. And we should rejoice more, if we prayed more. Prayer will help forward all lawful business, and every good work. If we pray without ceasing, we shall not want matter for thanksgiving in every thing. We shall see cause to give thanks for sparing and preventing, for common and uncommon, past and present, temporal and spiritual mercies. Not only for prosperous and pleasing, but also for afflicting providences, for chastisements and corrections; for God designs all for our good, though we at present see not how they tend to it. Quench not the Spirit. Christians are said to be baptized with the Holy Ghost and with fire. He worketh as fire, by enlightening, enlivening, and purifying the souls of men. As fire is put out by taking away fuel, and as it is quenched by pouring water, or putting a great deal of earth upon it; so we must be careful not to quench the Holy Spirit, by indulging carnal lusts and affections, minding only earthly things. Believers often hinder their growth in grace, by not giving themselves up to the spiritual affections raised in their hearts by the Holy Spirit. By prophesyings, here understand the preaching of the word, the interpreting and applying the Scriptures. We must not despise preaching, though it is plain, and we are told no more than what we knew before. We must search the Scriptures. And proving all things must be to hold fast that which is good. We should abstain from sin, and whatever looks like sin, leads to it, and borders upon it. He who is not shy of the appearances of sin, who shuns not the occasions of it, and who avoids not the temptations and approaches to it, will not long keep from doing sin.Quench not the Spirit - This language is taken from the way of putting out a fire, and the sense is, we are not to extinguish the influences of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. Possibly there may be an allusion here to fire on an altar, which was to be kept constantly burning. This fire may have been regarded as emblematic of devotion, and as denoting that that devotion was never to become extinct. The Holy Spirit is the source of true devotion, and hence the enkindlings of piety in the heart, by the Spirit, are never to be quenched. Fire may be put out by pouring on water; or by covering it with any incombustible substance; or by neglecting to supply fuel. If it is to be made to burn, it must be nourished with proper care and attention. The Holy Spirit, in his influences on the soul, is here compared with fire that might be made to burn more intensely, or that might be extinguished.

In a similar manner the apostle gives this direction to Timothy, "I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up ἀναζωπυρεῖν anazōpurein, kindle up, cause to burn) the gift of God;" 2 Timothy 1:6. Anything that will tend to damp the ardor of piety in the soul; to chill our feelings; to render us cold and lifeless in the service of God, may be regarded as "quenching the Spirit." Neglect of cultivating the Christian graces, or of prayer, of the Bible, of the sanctuary, of a careful watchfulness over the heart, will do it. Worldliness, vanity, levity, ambition, pride, the love of dress, or indulgence in an improper train of thought, will do it. It is a great rule in religion that all the piety which there is in the soul is the fair result of culture. A man has no more religion than he intends to have; he has no graces of the Spirit which he does not seek; he has no deadness to the world which is not the object of his sincere desire, and which he does not aim to have. Any one, if he will, may make elevated attainments in the divine life; or he may make his religion merely a religion of form, and know little of its power and its consolations.

19. Quench not—the Spirit being a holy fire: "where the Spirit is, He burns" [Bengel] (Mt 3:11; Ac 2:3; 7:51). Do not throw cold water on those who, under extraordinary inspiration of the Spirit, stand up to speak with tongues, or reveal mysteries, or pray in the congregation. The enthusiastic exhibitions of some (perhaps as to the nearness of Christ's coming, exaggerating Paul's statement, 2Th 2:2, By spirit), led others (probably the presiding ministers, who had not always been treated with due respect by enthusiastic novices, 1Th 5:12), from dread of enthusiasm, to discourage the free utterances of those really inspired, in the Church assembly. On the other hand, the caution (1Th 5:21) was needed, not to receive "all" pretended revelations as divine, without "proving" them. That ye may be enabled to pray and give thanks, as before:

Quench not the Spirit. And, by the figure meiosis, he means, cherish the Spirit. The Spirit is compared to fire, Matthew 3:11; and he came down upon the apostles in the similitude, of tongues of fire, Acts 2:3; but the Spirit himself cannot be quenched; he means it therefore of his gifts and operations; which are either ordinary or extraordinary. Many had extraordinary gifts in the primitive times, of healing, tongues, government, prophecy, &c.; those that had them, without question, should have taken care not, by any fault of their own, to lose them. Especially that of prophecy, which the apostle prefers before all others, 1 Corinthians 14:1, and mentions here in the following verse; and which the apostle exhorted Timothy to stir up in himself, 2 Timothy 1:6, as we stir up the fire to quicken it, so the word anazwpurein imports. The like is required of ministers with respect to their miniserial gifts which are now given. But there are ordinary gifts and operations of the Spirit common to all Christians, as enlightening, quickening, sanctifying, comforting the soul: men by sloth, security, earthy encumbrances, inordinate affections, &c., may abate these operations of the Spirit, which the apostle calls the quenching it: the fire upon the altar was kept always burning by the care of the priests. Fire will go out either by neglecting it, or casting water upon it. By not exercising grace in the duties of religion, or by allowing sin in ourselves, we may quench the Spirit; as appears in David, Psalm 51:10-12. Not that the habits of grace may be totally extinguished in the truly regenerate, yet they may be abated as to degree and lively exercise. Yet those common illuminations and convictions of the Spirit which persons unregenerate, especially such that live under the gospel, do often find, may be totally lost, Hebrews 6:4-6; and we read of God’s Spirit ceasing to strive with the old world, Genesis 6:3, and the scribes and Pharisees resisting the Holy Ghost, Acts 7:51, which were not persons regenerate. He may sometimes strive with men, but not overcome them. And there is a quenching of the Spirit in others its well as ourselves; people may quench it in their ministers by discouraging them, and in one another by bad examples, or reproaching the zeal and forwardness that they see in them. Quench not the spirit. By which is meant, not the person of the Spirit, but either the graces of the spirit, which may be compared to light, and fire, and heat, to which the allusion is in the text; such as faith, which is a light in the soul, a seeing of the Son, and an evidence of things not seen; and love, which gives a vehement flame, which many waters cannot quench; and zeal, which is the boiling up of love, the fervency of it; and spiritual knowledge, which is also light, and of an increasing nature, and are all graces of the spirit: and though these cannot be totally extinguished, and utterly put out and lost, yet they may be greatly damped; the light of faith may become dim; and the flame of love be abated, and that wax cold; the heat of zeal may pass into lukewarmness, and an indifference of spirit; and the light of knowledge seem to decline instead of increasing; and all through indulging some sin or sins, by keeping ill company, and by neglecting the ordinances of God, prayer, preaching, and other institutions of the Gospel; wherefore such an exhortation is necessary to quicken saints, and stir them up to the use of those means, whereby those graces are cherished and preserved in their lively exercise; though rather the gifts of the Spirit are intended. The extraordinary gifts of the Spirit, bestowed on the apostles at the day of Pentecost, are represented under the symbol of fire, to which perhaps the apostle may here have respect; and the more ordinary gifts of the Spirit are such as are to be stirred up, as coals of fire are stirred up, in order that they may burn, and shine the brighter, and give both light and heat, 2 Timothy 1:6 and which may be said to be quenched, when they are neglected, and lie by as useless; when they are wrapped up in a napkin, or hid in the earth; or when men are restrained from the use of them; or when the use of them is not attended to, or is brought into contempt, and the exercise of them rendered useless and unprofitable, as much as in them lies. And even private persons may quench the Spirit of God, his gifts of light and knowledge, when they hold the truth in unrighteousness, imprison it, and conceal it, and do not publicly profess it as they ought. {12} Quench not the Spirit.

(12) The sparks of the Spirit of God that are kindled in us, are nourished by daily hearing the word of God: but true doctrine must be diligently distinguished from false.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1 Thessalonians 5:19. Comp. Noesselt, in locum P. ap. 1 Thess. v. 19–22, disputatio (Exercit. p. 255 ff.).

Lasch, de sententia atque ratione verborum Pauli, πάντα δὲ δοκιμ., τὸ καλὸν κατ., 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22, Lips. 1834.

The prayer of the Christian is an outflow of the Holy Spirit dwelling and working in him; comp. Romans 8:16; Romans 8:26. Accordingly the new admonition, 1 Thessalonians 5:19, is united in a natural manner to the exhortations, 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18. Schrader’s view requires no contradiction. He, indeed, finds in this admonition a genuine Pauline reminiscence; but also an objection against the composition of this Epistle by Paul, because “if such an admonition had been necessary for the Thessalonians, it is not elsewhere noticed in the whole Epistle.”

τὸ πνεῦμα] is the Holy Spirit, and that as the source of extraordinary gifts—speaking with tongues, prophecy, etc., as they are more fully described in 1 Corinthians 12:7 ff. Chrysostom, Theophylact, and Oecumenius will have τὸ πνεῦμα to indicate either spiritual illumination which fits us for the exercise of Christian virtues, but may be lost by immoral living,[65] or specially prophecy (so also Michaelis and others). Both are erroneous on account of 1 Thessalonians 5:20.

ΜῊ ΣΒΈΝΝΥΤΕ] extinguish not, quench not. The πνεῦμα is conceived as a flame, whilst there is particular reference to the strained and inspired speech in which those who were seized by the Spirit expressed themselves. On the figurative expression, comp. Galen. ad Pison. de Ther. i. 17 (Opp. T. xiii. p. 956, Lut. Par. 1639 fol.): ἐπὶ δὲ τῶν παιδίων παντάπασι δεῖ φυλάττεσθαι τὸ φάρμακον· μεῖζον γάρ ἐστιν αὐτῆς τῆς δυνάμεως τὸ μέγεθος τοῦ φαρμάκου καὶ διαλύει ῥαδίως τὸ σῶμα καὶ τὸ ἔμφυτον πνεῦμα ταχέως σβέννυσιν, ὥσπερ δὴ καὶ τὴν λυχναίαν φλόγα τὸ ἔλαιον, τοῦ τυρὸς πλέον γενόμενον, εὐκόλως ἀποσβέννυσιν.

[65] Similarly Noesselt: πνεῦμα denotes “vim divinam, Christianis propriam, h. e. quidquid rerum divinarum, deo ita providente, cognovissent.”1 Thessalonians 5:19. τοῦτο κ.τ.λ. The primary reference is to εὐχαριστεῖτε, but the preceding imperatives are so closely bound up with this, that it is needless to exclude them from the scope of the θέλημα.—ἐν Χ. . This glad acceptance of life’s rain and sunshine alike as from the hand of God, Jesus not only exemplified (cf. context of μιμηταὶτοῦ Κυρίου, 1 Thessalonians 1:6) but also enabled all who keep in touch with him to realise. The basis of it is the Christian revelation and experience; apart from the living Lord it is neither conceivable nor practicable (cf. R. H. Hutton’s Modern Guides of English Thought, pp. 122 f.).19, 20. Quench not the Spirit. Despise not prophesyings] The R. V. properly reduces to a semi-colon the full stop between these sentences.

What is revelation on God’s part, is prophecy in its human instrument. “Prophecy” bears to “revelation” the same relation as “teaching” to “knowledge” (1 Corinthians 12:6), the former being the utterance and outcome of the latter. Prediction, to which we limit the term in common speech, is but a part—and not an essential part—of Prophecy, in its Biblical sense. It is, etymologically, the forth-speaking of what was otherwise unknown and hidden in the mind of God.

This power of declaring by direct inspiration the mind of God was widely diffused amongst the first Christians; see 1 Corinthians 12:10; 1 Corinthians 14:1-5, Romans 3:6, where it is spoken of as an ordinary and familiar thing. This gift manifested in the highest and most effective way the power of God’s Spirit in man; but it was liable to be abused (see 1 Corinthians 14:26-31), and to he simulated (1 John 4:1). The expression “through Spirit” in 2 Thessalonians 2:2 probably refers to some spurious prophetic manifestation. A fanatical element appears to have mingled with the prophesyings of the Thessalonian Church; and this had doubtless given offence to sober minds, and created distrust in regard to prophecy itself. Hence the double caution. Contempt for this great gift of His must of necessity grieve the Holy Spirit, and limit His action in the Church. Nothing is more chilling to religious life than a cold rationalism which suspects the supernatural beforehand, and is ready to confound the manifestations of the Spirit of God with morbid excitement or insincere pretension.

But the command, “Quench not the Spirit,” is universal. Whatever obstructs or disparages His work in the souls of men—whether in others, or in ourselves—is thus forbidden. It is a strange and awful, but very real power that we have to “resist the Holy Spirit” (Acts 7:51).

Since He may be “quenched,” He is a fire, as appeared on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:3). This emblem sets forth the sudden and vehement activities of the Holy Spirit, with His gifts of warmth for the heart and light for the mind and His power to kindle the human spirit. Prophecy exhibited His presence under this aspect, in its intensity and ardour. On the other hand, He appears in gentler form under the emblem of the dove, in whose guise the Spirit descended on Jesus at His baptism.1 Thessalonians 5:19. Τὸ πνεῦμα) the Spirit, i.e. spiritual gifts. A Metonymy.—μὴ σβέννυτε, quench not) Where the Spirit is, He burns; therefore He ought not to be quenched, either in ourselves or in the case of others.Verse 19. - Quench not the Spirit. The Spirit is here considered as a flame which may be extinguished (Matthew 3:11). The descent of the Spirit at Pentecost was in the form of cloven tongues like as of fire (Acts 2:3). By the Spirit here is usually understood the miraculous gifts of the Spirit - speaking with tongues or prophesyings; and it is supposed that the apostle here forbids the exercise of these gifts being hindered or checked. In the next verse the gift of prophesying is mentioned. But there is no reason to exclude the ordinary and still more valuable gifts of the Spirit, such as pure thoughts, holy actions, devout affections, which may be effectually quenched by a careless or immoral life. "Quench not the Spirit." Do not those things which are opposed to his influences. Be on your guard against sin, as opposed to the work of the Spirit in the soul. In this sense the admonition is similar to that given by Paul in his Epistle to the Ephesians: "Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God" (Ephesians 4:30). Quench not the Spirit

Since he is the inspirer of prayer, and the bestower of all gifts of grace on the Church. Comp. Ephesians 4:30. The operation of the Spirit is set forth under the image of fire in Matthew 3:11; Luke 12:49; Acts 2:3, Acts 2:4. The reference here is to the work of the Spirit generally, and not specially to his inspiration of prayer or prophecy.

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