Vs. 12, 13. Paul speaks of faithful pastors and preachers. He exhorts the believers "to know them."
1. "Recognize, acknowledge, appreciate and respect them for what they are the ministers of God!"
2. "Make yourselves known to them, converse freely with them, that they may know the state of your souls and speak a word in season."
3. "Esteem or hold them in high and affectionate regard in appreciation of the work among you."
4. "Be at peace among yourselves in regard to the ministry; do not find fault, disagree and take offence over trivial matters." This makes the pastor's work more difficult and hinders the growth and unity of the church.
a. "They labour among you." No honour or respect is due to the lazy, idle preachers who neglect prayer, study and the ministry of the Word.
b. "They preside over you in the Lord." They are not lords, but leaders and overseers of the church by the authority of Christ.
c. "They admonish you. They teach, warn, reprove and exhort you in the things of the Lord," and it is in this respect that they are to be obeyed and followed (Heb. 13:7, 17).
Vs. 14, 15. "I earnestly beseech you, according to our responsibility to the gospel, to the Lord, to one another and to the testimony of the gospel:
1. "Warn and seriously advise them that are out of line in spirit and deed." Unruly conduct and attitude are not permitted to continue without warning and admonition.
2. "Encourage the weak." Comfort those of a broken and afflicted spirit. They have need of consolation and strength, not rebuke!
3. Be patient with everyone (even the unruly), always keeping your temper, remembering your own infirmities and afflictions (Gal. 6:1). Be patient with everybody, even the men of the world. It is only by God's grace that we walk in the light!
4. Evil for evil is not the way of Christ. Getting even, retaliating, seeking revenge is not for the believer. Rather, endure injuries and misunderstandings with patience, showing kindness towards all, and seeking the good of all, both in the church and out.Vs. 16-18. I like to connect these three things:
This is the will of God that we rejoice always, pray continually and give thanks. What we are, what we have, where we are and all that happens in the life of a believer are the will of God for us (Rom. 8:28). We should rejoice and give thanks! Rejoice in prosperity or adversity. Pray always; live in an attitude of prayer, even when you have no particular need or request! Let your praise, prayer and thanksgiving constantly rise to God. Very ungrateful is the man who does not set so high a value on the righteousness of Christ and the hope of eternal life that he allows anything in this life to overshadow that gift of grace. How can I complain when I am an heir of God and joint-heir with Christ?
Vs. 19. Paul does not mean the person of the Holy Spirit, who works effectually as he will John 3:8; 1 Cor. 12:11). He refers to the graces of the Spirit, such as faith, love, joy, peace, etc. He speaks of the gifts of the Spirit when they are neglected and not put to use for the glory of God. To quench the Spirit is to suppress or subdue his graces and gifts.
Vs.20. Do not despise, make light of or be indifferent to the message of those who preach and interpret the Word of God (I Cor. 14:3).
Vs.21. Many in our day feel almost disgusted with the very word "preaching" because there are so many foolish and ignorant persons giving out worthless sermons from the pulpit. Therefore we must prove all words by the Scriptures and hold fast to that which is good. Some people are critical of everything; some embrace anything. The wise weigh all things by the Word (1 John 4:1-3).
Vs. 22. I know that many interpret this as suggesting that we avoid any conduct, behaviour, and actions that, while they may not be wrong for us, yet they give the appearance of wrongdoing. This is good advice, but not what the apostle is talking about. He is speaking, as in the preceding verse, of doctrinal evil! For example, when there is preaching, teaching and interpretation of Scripture which, when tried by the Word, does not appear to be false or wrong, but there is an unhappy suspicion in the mind, a doubt or fear entertained, a concern that there is poison somewhere, then avoid it! The truth of God is clear and gives glory to his name!
Vs. 24. Paul proceeds to pray for these believers. He prays the Lord God would, in a progressive manner, sanctify in spirit, soul and body. Calvin said, "Our thoughts pure holy, our affections right and properly regulated and our dedicated to good work." He prays that God would them from falling away. He adds in verse 24, "He will it." None of the sheep of Christ shall perish! (John 10:27-29).
Vs. 25-28. "Pray for us." Let every believer, especially God's ministers, be the objects of our prayers. "Greet one another a holy kiss." Be affectionate towards one another. "Read this epistle in the church. God be with you!"