1 Thessalonians 5:12

Saturday, 26 August 2017

And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you,
1 Thessalonians 5:12

Paul has now completed the main thoughts of the epistle. The last main thought was the information about the coming of the Lord at the rapture and what will occur after that has come to pass. With that behind him, he now gives various exhortations which are intended to keep the church strong and properly aligned with what is expected of them. To begin that thought, he starts with honoring the leadership. Without respect for those who carry the load within the church, nothing else will run efficiently.

To begin then, he says, “And we urge you, brethren.” He is addressing the church which is comprised of believers. Though non-believers may have been present, and though many have read his words since then, his words are directed to those who are a part of the fellowship. In this, he prompts them strongly using a word translated here as “urge.” It is a word which indicates special consideration should be given because of the intimate relationship which is involved between them.

His urging is then defined with the words, “to recognize those who labor among you.” The word indicates having an appreciation for them and their labors based on their nature and position. The various churches at the time of Paul were not set, organized structures. Unlike Israel which had a set standard of worship, set priests, set times for various occurrences, and so on, this was not the case (nor is it the case today). Each church (and each denomination) today has its own structure and hierarchy.

Paul’s words are to each and any church. Those within this hierarchy, and who conduct the ministerial tasks of the church, are to be recognized for their efforts. The word translated as “labor” gives the sense of laboring until worn out. Thus it is “wearisome toil.” If the elder, pastor, preacher (or whatever other designation is given in any particular church) is sincere about his duties, he will expend himself tirelessly in them. This is what Paul actually anticipates in his choice of words.

To further define this, he continues with, “and are over you in the Lord and admonish you.” The words “over you” indicate one who provides the needed example to direct others. This is through positively impacting them by example. They are those who are set before the church, and to whom the church then looks to for their spiritual instruction and guidance. The words “admonish you” indicate the exerting of positive pressure on someone’s logic or reasoning. In other words, such a person is one who urges others to choose God’s best for themselves.

Paul acknowledges that such leaders are to be appreciated for their labors because they have chosen the weighty task of training and instructing others in the most important issues that any person could face. They are issues which deal with family, work, death, marriage, salvation, condemnation, holiness, morality, and on and on. Most of these issues are highly personal, and therefore they are sensitive and truly a source of wearing out the leader.

Live application: One person unloading on a minister might not seem like much, but when there is an entire church full of people, many of whom need to unload at any given time, it becomes a great burden on him. Time is precious, and so each person that the minister attends to should realize this and appreciate the effort that he makes.

Lord God, there aren’t enough hours in the day! And so help us to prioritize our labors according to those things which are most important to You, and those things which are right and proper for our daily lives. Help us not to get distracted by the vanity of this world, but instead to train ourselves to seek out and apply to our lives that which is noble, honorable, and pure. We have eternity set before us, and so help us to make what we do now count towards that time. Amen.

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