1 Thessalonians 5:12-15

1 Thess 5:12 “And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; 13 And to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. And be at peace among yourselves. 14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men. 15 See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.”

Paul told Timothy and ultimately to us in 2 Tim. 3:16, 17: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” From v. 12 of 1 Thes. Chapter 5 to the completion of the chapter this could be described as “instruction in righteousness.”

“And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you;” It would appear that Paul is speaking concerning the gospel ministers when he said that they “are over you in the Lord.” This is not teaching that the gospel preachers are in a hierarchal position above the rest of the congregation. Peter said in 1 Peter 5:1 “The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: 2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; 3 Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.” Thus the ministers are not to lord it over the congregation as they are God’s heritage. The labor of the ministry is to feed the flock of God and to take the oversight over the flock. They are to reprove, rebuke, exhort, lead by example and to teach, edify, and encourage the Lord’s people in their Christian discipleship. In this way they are over the congregation to which the Holy Ghost has made them overseers. Paul is teaching in the above that the members of the congregation to know those ministers which labor among them. This would include knowing their character, their leadership, their needs both in the ministerial work and in their family responsibilities as often because of their labors in the gospel the family may be lacking in their financial needs.

“And to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake.” The work the Lord has given his God called gospel ministers is indeed an extremely important and beneficial work and therefore our esteem for the gospel ministers should be very high for their work’s sake. Our esteem for them should not be based on whether they have a dynamic personality and are very outgoing. Our esteem should not be based on whether we are related to them or are close friends with them. Our esteem for them should be based on their work’s sake.

“And be at peace among yourselves.” The opposite of peace is conflict. Many churches have been destroyed because of conflict between members. The main reason for most conflicts is pride. To be at peace we have to work at being at peace and striving to avoid conflict wherever possible. The Lord said, “Blessed are the peacemakers…”

“Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly.” The Greek word translated unruly is “ataktos” meaning insubordinate. A person who is unruly is insubordinate and full of pride, and will work against the authority of others. Here that would also apply to them not accepting the authority of God’s word. Paul tells the brethren to warn those that are unruly. An unruly person who will not repent of his insubordination will have to be removed from the membership of the church or the church will greatly suffer because of his or her insubordination.

“Comfort the feebleminded.” There are many conditions that will render a person to be or to become feebleminded. People who are suffering from feeblemindedness often feel themselves to be insecure, inadequate, and worthless. They need the comfort and not the ridicule or avoidance of the Lord’s people. They need to know that we care for them and that we are praying for them and that they are loved by the church.

“Support the weak.” There are many things that can cause a person to become weak. It can be physical, financial, aging process, very adverse circumstances, etc. One thing the weak especially need is the support of the Lord’s people. We who have strength or ability should be willing to support the weak. James said in James 1:27 “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” We were without strength when the Lord’s saved us from our sins: Rom. 5:6 “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” He did this out of His love for us. Now we should follow his example and support the weak.

“Be patient toward all men.” Again the Lord has set the example for us in that he has been patient with all of his children. Now we are to follow his example and be patient towards all.

“See that none render evil for evil unto any man.” This goes completely against our flesh nature. If someone does something against me, my first inclination is to retaliate. However, this is not what the scriptures teach should be our reaction. It is not our place to seek vengeance:

1. Rom. 12:19 “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” If vengeance is needed, the Lord will handle it so we don’t have to avenge ourselves of evil.

2. The Lord gave us this in Matt. 5:43 “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? 48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”

“But ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.” This is teaching that all of us need to take to heart. Following evil only leads to evil. Following evil men will result in evil action on our part. Our companions and friends should be good people and we should seek to follow good both among ourselves and all that we see doing good.