What does 1 Thessalonians 5:14 mean?
ESV: And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.
NIV: And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.
NASB: We urge you, brothers and sisters, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone.
CSB: And we exhort you, brothers and sisters: warn those who are idle, comfort the discouraged, help the weak, be patient with everyone.
NLT: Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone.
KJV: Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.
Church members should not leave the work of ministering entirely to their spiritual leaders. In this verse Paul directs his readers to accept several responsibilities. He charges them with the responsibility to warn loafers about their slothful attitude. He tells his readers to cheer up the fainthearted. Instead of being discouraged, the fainthearted need to be encouraged to progress in the Christian life with confidence.
Paul also calls on the Thessalonian Christians to assist weaker believers to trust the Lord in every situation. It is easy to give up on the idle, the fainthearted, and the weak, so Paul exhorts his readers to exercise patience with them all. Granted, God has bestowed upon some believers the gifts of service, exhortation, and showing mercy, but every believer should minister with love and patience on behalf of the idle, the fainthearted, and the weak among them. Galatians 6:1 instructs those who are spiritual to restore a fellow believer who is "caught in any transgression" but do so gently and humbly. Galatians 6:2 instructs believers to bear one another's burdens. These instructions are in harmony with Paul's comments in this verse.
First Thessalonians 5:12–22 gives the Thessalonian believers a series of exhortations. As children of the day, who were anticipating the Lord's return, they needed to live righteously. As a church, they needed to relate well to their leadership. Paul calls upon them to treat all their fellow believers kindly and patiently and to do good to one another. Paul admonishes the believers to be joyful at all times and to keep on praying. Constant thanksgiving was to mark their lives. Further, Paul tells his readers not to quench the Holy Spirit or to have a negative attitude toward prophetic ministries. However, they were supposed to keep a firm grasp on teachings that they tested and found to be true. Lastly, Paul directs his readers to avoid every kind of evil.
First Thessalonians chapter 5 reiterates that the rapture will occur quickly, catching the unbelieving world unprepared. In contrast, Paul presents faithful Christians as those who are aware and ready for this event. This passage uses the contrast of day versus night to highlight those differences. Paul also completes his letter by offering various practical instructions. These include the need to be peaceful, hardworking, and forgiving. He also commends constant prayer and an attitude of joyfulness, before closing his letter with a command for this letter to be read aloud.
The end of chapter 4 discussed the nature of the rapture: a sudden, physical ''taking away'' of believers from the earth. Here, Paul continues to refer to this event's sudden and dramatic nature. A key analogy used in this passage is that of daytime versus darkness, and the concept of being awake and alert. As with many of Paul's letters, practical instructions make up the bulk of his closing statements. In particular, Paul adds a command that this letter be read aloud among all of the people of the Thessalonian church.
The apostle Paul's second missionary journey included a visit to the prominent Greek city of Thessalonica. This stood alongside a major land route and boasted a busy seaport. A number of individuals believed Paul's message (Acts 17:1–4), but an angry mob forced Paul to leave the city after his brief stay. Later, while in Athens, Paul received a glowing report: the believers at Thessalonica were growing spiritually and serving God fervently. However, they had questions about the Lord's return, including what happens to a believer who dies before that day. And, as all churches do, they had some areas in which they were falling short. In Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians, written about AD 51, he addresses these developments. Paul expresses gratitude for the Thessalonian believers' spiritual progress, and frequently makes references to Christ's impending return.
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