1 Thessalonians 5:14
Now we exhort you, brothers, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(14) Now we exhort you, brethren.—Rather and than now. The writers turn to the presbytery, and explain their duty in the administration of discipline to the flock. The flock will be more apt to receive the discipline when they see with what apostolic authority their pastors are armed. Several special parts of the clerical office are then enumerated.

Warn.—The same Greek word as “admonish” in 1Thessalonians 5:12, and selected for that very reason. The “unruly” or “disorderly” are those who infringe good discipline—said of soldiers who leave their ranks: here notably of those mentioned in 2Thessalonians 3:11.

Feebleminded.—Or, fainthearted, pusillanimous. Such persons, e.g., as were overburdened with sorrow for the dead, or afraid of the persecutions, or the like.

Support the weak.—Or, keep hold of them, to help them on. The “weak” are not quite the same as the “feebleminded,” but rather (judging from Romans 14:1 et seq.) those who have not attained that robust common-sense and breadth of conscience which discriminates between truths and superstitions, necessities and expediencies; or who are not yet ripe enough Christians to be sure of standing in persecution.

Patient toward all men.—Church officers are not to be rendered impatient by the defects, errors, weakness, stupidity, unbelief of any one, catholic, heretic, or heathen.

1 Thessalonians 5:14-15. We exhort you, brethren — Not only you who are pastors and rulers, but you that are private members of the church; warn them that are unruly — Greek, ατακτους, disorderly; them that stand, as it were, out of their ranks in the spiritual warfare: for it is a military term, expressing the character of soldiers who break their ranks, desert their posts, or will not know their colours, and therefore cannot perform their duty as soldiers, especially in battle. It is fitly used to denote those who neglect the proper duty of their office or station. Comfort the feeble- minded — Whose courage and resolution are ready to fail them under the difficulties they meet with. The original expression, ολιγοψυχους, properly means those of little soul, or such as are peculiarly wanting in fortitude and vigour of mind; support the weak — The infirm, whether in soul or body; be patient Μακροθυμειτε, be long-suffering; toward all men — Bearing with the weaknesses of the children of God, and exercising meekness and gentleness even toward the perverse, obstinate, and ungrateful. The beauty of this whole passage is thus illustrated by Mr. Blackwall: (Sac. Class., vol. 1. p. 257:) “It is as admirable for the purity of its moral, and the diffusiveness of its charitable meaning, as for the elegance and force of its words, and the delicate turn of its structure. The union of the words within each comma or stop, and their mutual relation and assistance, is exquisitely proper and natural. The noble period runs on with strength and smoothness, and ends close and full. Both the ear and judgment are satisfied.” See that none, &c. — Watch over both yourselves and each other, and whatever injury any of you may have received, whether from professed friends or from avowed enemies, let no one render evil for evil, but ever follow that which is good — Endeavouring to the utmost to promote the happiness of all about you; and that resolutely and perseveringly; both among yourselves — That is, toward all your fellow- Christians; and to all men — Not exempting your enemies and persecutors.5:12-15 The ministers of the gospel are described by the work of their office, which is to serve and honour the Lord. It is their duty not only to give good counsel, but also to warn the flock of dangers, and reprove for whatever may be amiss. The people should honour and love their ministers, because their business is the welfare of men's souls. And the people should be at peace among themselves, doing all they can to guard against any differences. But love of peace must not make us wink at sin. The fearful and sorrowful spirits, should be encouraged, and a kind word may do much good. We must bear and forbear. We must be long-suffering, and keep down anger, and this to all men. Whatever man do to us, we must do good to others.Now we exhort you, brethren - Margin, "beseech." This earnest entreaty is evidently addressed to the whole church, and not to the ministers of the gospel only. The duties here enjoined are such as pertain to all Christians in their appropriate spheres, and should not be left to be performed by ministers only.

Warn them - The same word which in 1 Thessalonians 5:12 is rendered "admonish." It is the duty of every church member, as well as of the ministers of the gospel, affectionately to admonish those whom they know to be living contrary to the requirements of the gospel. One reason why there is so little piety in the church, and why so many professors of religion go astray, is, that the great mass of church members feel no responsibility on this subject. They suppose that it is the duty only of the officers of the church to admonish an erring brother, and hence many become careless and cold and worldly, and no one utters a kind word to them to recall them to a holy walk with God.

That are unruly - Margin, "disorderly." The word here used (ἄτακτος ataktos), is one which properly means "not keeping the ranks," as of soldiers; and then irregular, confused, neglectful of duty, disorderly. The reference here is to the members of the church who were irregular in their Christian walk. It is not difficult, in an army, when soldiers get out of the line, or leave their places in the ranks, or are thrown into confusion, to see that little can be accomplished in such a state of irregularity and confusion. As little difficult is it, when the members of a church are out of their places, to see that little can be accomplished in such a state. Many a church is like an army where half the soldiers are out of the line; where there is entire insubordination in the ranks, and where not half of them could be depended on for efficient service in a campaign. Indeed, an army would accomplish little if as large a proportion of it were irregular, idle, remiss, or pursuing their own aims to the neglect of the public interest, as there are members of the church who can never be depended on in accomplishing the great purpose for which it was organized.

Comfort the feeble-minded - The dispirited; the disheartened; the downcast. To do this is also the duty of each church member. There are almost always those who are in this condition, and it is not easy to appreciate the value of a kind word to one in that state. Christians are assailed by temptation; in making efforts to do good they are opposed and become disheartened; in their contests with their spiritual foes they are almost overcome; they walk through shades of spiritual night, and find no comfort. In such circumstances, how consoling is the voice of a friend! How comforting is it to feel that they are not alone! How supporting to be addressed by one who has had the same conflicts, and has triumphed! Every Christian - especially every one who has been long in the service of his Master - has a fund of experience which is the property of the church, and which may be of incalculable value to those who are struggling now amidst many embarrassments along the Christian way. He who has that experience should help a weak and sinking brother; he should make his own experience of the efficacy of religion in his trials and conflicts, the means of sustaining others in their struggles. There is no one who would not reach out his hand to save a child borne down rapid stream; yet how often do experienced and strong men in the Christian faith pass by those who are struggling in the "deep waters, where the proud waves have come over their souls!"

Support the weak - See the notes at Romans 15:1.

Be patient toward all men - See the Greek word here used, explained in the notes on 1 Corinthians 13:4; compare Ephesians 4:2; Galatians 5:22; Colossians 3:12.

14. brethren—This exhortation to "warm (Greek, 'admonish,' as in 1Th 5:12) the unruly (those 'disorderly' persons, 2Th 3:6, 11, who would not work, and yet expected to be maintained, literally, said of soldiers who will not remain in their ranks, compare 1Th 4:11; also those insubordinate as to Church discipline, in relation to those 'over' the Church, 1Th 5:12), comfort the feeble-minded (the faint-hearted, who are ready to sink 'without hope' in afflictions, 1Th 4:13, and temptations)," applies to all clergy and laity alike, though primarily the duty of the clergy (who are meant in 1Th 5:12)."

support—literally, "lay fast hold on so as to support."

the weak—spiritually. Paul practiced what he preached (1Co 9:22).

be patient toward all men—There is no believer who needs not the exercise of patience "toward" him; there is none to whom a believer ought not to show it; many show it more to strangers than to their own families, more to the great than to the humble; but we ought to show it "toward all men" [Bengel]. Compare "the long-suffering of our Lord" (2Co 10:1; 2Pe 3:15).

Now we exhort you, brethren: some think the apostle now turns his speech to their teachers, whom he here calls brethren in a more peculiar sense, and because the duties here enjoined do more properly belong to the ministry. But others more truly judge he continues his discourse to the whole church, and the several members of it. The same duties are to be performed by both, though under a different obligation: as in the civil state all are to seek the good of the commonwealth, though the magistrates and the governors are more specially obliged by office.

Warn them that are unruly; or admonish, as the same word is rendered in the former verse, here meant of brotherly, there of ministerial, admonition; wherein great prudence is to be used, as to time, place, persons, manner: and the unruly are such as keep not their place, alluding to soldiers that keep not their rank and station, and they are called in the margin disorderly, and that:

1. In civil respects, when men live without a calling, or, being in it, neglect it, or intrude into other men’s business, and perform not the duties of their civil relations.

2. In natural respects, when men follow not the light of nature, and fulfil not the law of natural relations.

3. In spiritual respects, when men neglect or transgress the rules and order of their walking in their church state, either with respect to their teachers or one another. Admonition belongs to such, and is the first step of church censure when regularly performed.

Comfort the feeble-minded; oligofucouv, or the pusillanimous, men of little souls, as the word imports, such as dare not venture upon hazardous duties, or faint under the fears or feeling of afflictions, or are dejected under the sense of sin, and their own unworthiness, or fears of God’s wrath, and assaulted by temptations which endanger their falling.

Support the weak; antecesye an allusion to such as lift at one end of the burden, to help to bear it, answering to the word sunantilambanetai, Romans 8:26: The Spirit helpeth our infirmities: and the weak are either the weak in knowledge, weak in faith, that understand not their own liberty in the gospel, Romans 14:1 1 Corinthians 8:9; and hereupon cannot practise as others do; their conscience is weak, 1 Corinthians 8:12; and so were in bondage to some ceremonial rites, when those that were strong stood fast in their liberty. These are to be supported, dealt tenderly with, and not to be despised, or rigorously used. Or, weak in grace, new converts, babes in Christ, tender plants, not well rooted in the gospel.

Be patient toward all men: this duty is universal; the former concerned only the saints. The word signifies longanimity, or long-suffering, and is often attributed to God, Exodus 34:6 Romans 9:22. It consisteth in the deferring or moderating of anger, to wait without anger when men delay us, and to suffer without undue anger when they deal injuriously with us, whether they be good men or evil, believers or infidels, the strong or the weak, ministers or people. Now we exhort you, brethren,.... This is said either to the ministers of the word that laboured among them, presided over them, and admonished them; and the rather, because some of these things here directed to are pressed upon the members of the church in 1 Thessalonians 5:11 and which otherwise must make a repetition here; or to the members in conjunction with their pastors:

warn them that are unruly; or disorderly, idle persons, working not at all, busying themselves with other men's matters, and living upon the church's stock, reprove them for their sloth, exhort them to work with their own hands, to do their own business, and with quietness eat their own bread; or such who keep not their places in the church, but are like soldiers that go out of their rank, desert their companies, and fly from their colours, or stand aside, rebuke these, and exhort them to fill up their places, to abide by the church, and the ordinances of Christ; or such who are contentious and quarrelsome, turbulent, headstrong, and unruly, that cause and foment animosities and divisions, check them, admonish them, lay them under censure, for such a custom and practice is not to be allowed of in the churches of Christ.

Comfort the feebleminded: such as are not able to bear the loss of near and dear relations; are ready to stagger under the cross, and at the reproaches and persecutions of the world; and are almost overset with the temptations of Satan; and are borne down and discouraged with the corruptions of their hearts, speak a comfortable word to them, encourage them with the doctrines of grace, and the promises of the Gospel.

Support the weak; who are weak in faith and knowledge, strengthen them, hold them up; or as the Syriac version renders it, "take the burden of the weak" and carry it, bear their infirmities, as directed in Romans 15:1,

be patient towards all men; towards the unruly, the feebleminded, and the weak as well as to believers; give place to wrath, and leave vengeance to him to whom it belongs; exercise longsuffering and forbearance with fellow creatures and fellow Christians.

{9} Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are {e} unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.

(9) We must have consideration of every man, and the remedy must be applied according to the disease.

(e) That keep not their rank or standing.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1 Thessalonians 5:14. Ἄτακτος] is especially said of the soldier who does not remain in his rank and file (so inordinatus in Livy); then of people who will not conform to civil regulations; then generally disorderly. Here the apostle alludes to those members of the Thessalonian church who, instead of applying themselves to the duties of their calling, had given themselves up to an unregulated and unsteady nature and to idleness, comp. 1 Thessalonians 4:11; 2 Thessalonians 3:6; 2 Thessalonians 3:11. We are not to understand, with Chrysostom, Oecumenius, Theophylact, Estius, Fromond., Turretin, Benson, Bolten, Bloomfield, and others, the presbyters as the subject of νουθετεῖτε, but, as is already evident from the addition of ἀδελφοί, and generally from the similarity of the introductory words of 1 Thessalonians 5:14 with those of 1 Thessalonians 5:12, the members of the church in their totality. Paul thus here puts it out of the question that the church as such had fallen into ἀταξία (see on 1 Thessalonians 4:11). But it also follows from these words that the apostle was far removed from all hierarchical notions in regard to rulers (Olshausen).

Further, they were to comfort, to calm τοὺς ὀλιγοψύχους] the faint-hearted, the desponding. Paul here thinks particularly on those who, according to 1 Thessalonians 4:13 ff., were painfully agitated concerning their deceased friends. Yet this does not prevent us from extending the expression also to such who failed in endurance in persecution, or who, conscious of some great sin, despaired of the attainment of divine grace, etc.

The ἀσθενεῖς] the weak, whom the church is to assist, are not the bodily sick, but fellow-Christians who still cling to prejudices, and were more imperfect than others in faith, in knowledge, or in reference to a Christian life; comp. Romans 14:1-2; 1 Corinthians 8:7; 1 Corinthians 8:11-12.

μακροθυμεῖν] to be long-suffering, denotes the disposition by which we do not fly into a passion at injuries inflicted, but bear them with patience and forbearance, comp. 1 Corinthians 13:4; Ephesians 4:2; Colossians 3:12.

πρὸς πάντας] to all, is not to be limited to ἄτακτοι, ὀλιγόψυχοι, and ἀσθενεῖς (Koppe), nor to fellow-Christians (Riggenbach), but is to be understood of all men generally; comp. εἰς ἀλλήλους καὶ εἰς πάντας, 1 Thessalonians 5:15.1 Thessalonians 5:14. The particular form of insubordination at Thessalonica was idleness (for the contemporary use of ἀτ. in this sense, see Oxyrh. Papyri, ii. 1901, p. 275). Similarly, in Olynth. iii. 11, Demosthenes denounces all efforts made to shield from punishment τοὺς ἀτακτοῦντας, i.e., those citizens who shirk active service and evade the State’s call for troops.—ὀλιγοψύχους = “faint-hearted” (under trial, 1 Thessalonians 1:6, see references), ἀντέχεσθε (cleave to, put your arm round), ἀσθενῶν (i.e., not in health only but in faith or position, Acts 20:35), μακ. π. πάντας = do not lose temper or patience with any (of the foregoing classes) however unreasonable and exacting they may be (cf. Proverbs 18:14, LXX). The mutual services of the community are evidently not to be left to the προϊστάμενοι, for Paul here urges on the rank and file the same kind of social duties as he implies were incumbent upon their leaders (cf. νουθετ. 12, 14). If ἀδελφοί here meant the προϊστάμενοι, it would have been more specificially defined. An antithesis between 12 and 14 would be credible in a speech, not in a letter.14. Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly] More strictly, But we exhort, &c. The Apostle is not passing to a new topic. His exhortation to “peace” needs to be qualified. “The unruly” must not for the sake of peace be left unreproved. It is a false and cowardly peace that leaves disorder to range unchecked.

Read admonish for warn—same verb as in 1 Thessalonians 5:12. The Church at large must second its presiding eiders in such admonishing. In every well-ordered community, whether church or school or nation, needful discipline claims the support of public opinion. The disorder that required this general censure was doubtless that hinted at in ch. 1 Thessalonians 4:11 (see note), and which had grown more pronounced when St Paul wrote 2 Thessalonians 2:6-15; it was a common injury and discredit.

The unruly: better, the disorderly (R. V.), as in 2 Thessalonians 3:11.

comfort the feebleminded, support the weak] Rather, the faint-hearted (R. V.). The former verb was used in ch. 1 Thessalonians 2:11 (see note), where the Apostle reminds his readers how he had “exhorted, and comforted (or consoled)” them, “as a father his own children.” The second of these directions also St Paul enforces by his example, in Acts 20:35 : “In all things I have shown you how that so labouring you ought to help the weak.” Comp. Ephesians 4:28, for the same sentiment.

“The weak” and “fainthearted” stand in contrast with “the disorderly.” The latter are overbold, and need to be checked: the former are despondent, and need stimulus and help. Fainthearted men think themselves weak, but perhaps are not so; and encouragement may make them bold. The mourners whom St Paul consoled in ch. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, would be amongst “the fainthearted” at Thessalonica.

be patient toward all men] longsuffering toward all (R. V.)—“whether weak or strong, whether they try you by their presumption or timidity, by rude aggressiveness or by feebleness and incapacity.” Longsuffering is one of the special marks of Christian grace: “Charity suffereth long” (1 Corinthians 13:4); it was a chief quality of Jesus Christ, and is an attribute of God Himself (1 Peter 3:20; 1 Timothy 1:16; &c.).1 Thessalonians 5:14. Τοὺς ἀτάκτους, the disorderly [unruly]) Such persons were not wanting, how flourishing soever that church might be. And ἀταξία, disorder, presently increased, 2 Thessalonians 3:6; 2 Thessalonians 3:11.—ἀντέχεσθε) pay attention to, שמר, ἀντέχεσθαι, to have regard to, Proverbs 4:6.—πρὸς πάντας, to all) There is no believer to whom long-suffering (μακροθυμία, implied in μακροθυμεῖτε) may not be shown; none, to whom a believer ought not to show it. Many show it more to strangers than to their own families, more to the powerful than to the more humble; but it should be shown towards all.Verse 14. - Now we exhort you, brethren; an exhortation also addressed to all. Warn them that are unruly; or, as in the margin, disorderly (R.V.). Different modes of treatment have to be adapted to different classes; the unruly have to be warned. The word here rendered "unruly" or "disorderly" was originally a military term expressing the character of those soldiers who would not keep their ranks - out of the ranks. It would seem from this and other intimations that disorders existed among the Thessalonians; and that, especially being impressed by a belief in the near approach of the advent, several of them neglected the common duties of life, and abstained from working. Comfort the feebleminded. By "the feeble-minded" are meant the desponding or faint-hearted; those who were agitated about the fate of their deceased friends, or those who despaired of the grace of God by reason of their sins. These were not to be reprimanded, but comforted and exhorted. Support the weak. By "the weak" are not meant those who are physically weak - the sick; but those who are spiritually weak, whose faith was feeble - those who were afraid of persecution, or were troubled with vain scruples. These were to be supported - confirmed in the faith, be patient toward all men; all men in general, whether believers or unbelievers; toward them patience and forbearance were to be exercised. Them that are unruly (τοὺς ἀτάκτους)

N.T.o The A.V. is more vigorous and less stilted than Rev. disorderly. From ἀ not and τάσσειν draw up or arrange. Those who are out of line. Comp. the adverb ἀγαθός disorderly, 2 Thessalonians 3:6, 2 Thessalonians 3:11. Probably referring to the idlers and busybodies described there.

Feeble-minded (ὀλιγοψύχους)

N.T.o. Better fainthearted. Ὁλίγος little and ψυχὴ soul. Those of little heart. oClass. In lxx see Proverbs 14:29; Isaiah 25:5; Isaiah 54:6; Isaiah 57:15. Ὁλιγοψυχία faint-heartedness, oN.T. lxx, Exodus 6:9; Psalm 54:8. Comp. Ps. of Sol. 16:11.

Support (ἀντέχεσθε)

Comp. Matthew 6:24; Titus 1:9. Ἁντὶ against and ἔχεσθαι to hold one's self. The primary sense is, keeping one's self directly opposite to another so as to sustain him.

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