Search Bible Outlines and commentaries





Paul has charged church planters and spiritual leaders with some heavy responsibilities in this short epistle. We looked at the type of motives and conduct that leaders must exemplify. We studied various profiles in leadership – what it means to function as a loving Mother, a servant Father, a hard laborer. Now as Paul closes his letter with some final instructions and exhortations, he turns to every member of the local church and puts the responsibility for church health and church peace and church unity and church growth squarely on the shoulders of each member. It all depends on how you treat others. You can’t look to someone else; you must make sure you are responding to others as you should. There is still much in this passage by inference to challenge the leadership – but that is not the thrust of the passage. The burden is the responsibility that each of us must bear to make sure that our church is a loving and harmonious body. How important is it to you to have a healthy and peaceful church – to promote body life and prevent body strife? Here is what you need to do.

In each case we want to examine HOW to fulfill that responsibility and WHY we need to step up to the plate



Cf. “Pastor appreciation month” – rolls around in October every year – searched Google for the background on this day and creative ideas on how to observe this day – assumption is that you are honoring your one senior pastor or your paid clergy —

– inaugurated in 1992 by the non-profit group, Under His Wing Ministries

– Over the years, the national holiday has grown more popular. The demand for gift cards

has led Hallmark to print National Clergy Day cards since 2001.

I always reacted against it because so often it did not properly recognize the contributions of the plurality of leadership

Paul did not target this exhortation at a one day or one special month type of observance

You cannot adequately understand and apply this paragraph without a functioning NT biblical model of plurality of eldership leadership in the local church

That structure is assumed here – “those” plural – not some special deference shown to a senior pastor; it is the consistent example presented in the NT – it is a normative example that we must follow

– If your structure is that of a dictator ruling over the church – this is not the text that Paul would point you to in order to have a healthy and peaceful church … He would point you to the necessity of confronting and exposing the pride and selfish ambition of a Diotrephes as John did in 3 John.

– If the church involved false teachers and false apostles undermining the legitimate authority of his own apostleship and ministry as was the case in 2 Corinthians, Paul would not have used this text; he would have warned these deceptive shepherds to clean up their act before Paul would come in person to expose them and bring down the hammer.

But if your church situation is one where the biblical model is in place and is functioning as God intended, then this passage rightly places the burden on every member to follow through with their responsibility to contribute to the well-being of the assembly.

“But we request of you, brethren” – applies to every believer

Request: beg, urge, request urgently: 1 Thess 4:1; 2 Thess. 2:1

A. HOW? Give Them Their Due

Don’t deflate them with criticism but encourage them with appreciation – 2 Main Verbs used:

1. Know them – acknowledge and recognize them and respond to them as leaders

“ that you appreciate those who . . .”

Know, Acknowledge, appreciate, show proper respect to (1 Thess 4:4)

Know fully and personally by experience – must have some context where they get to know these men – not just listening to them lecture

Implies a clear distinction between the leaders and those who are benefiting from their ministry

Shepherd knows each sheep individually … but sheep are commanded to know their shepherds as well

2. Respect and Value them

“and that you esteem them very highly in love. . .”

Don’t dismiss the significance of their role; be responsive to them; support them with loyalty and affection and appreciation

Alex Strauch: Esteem them very highly in love – 2 terms:

1) “superabundantly” or “most exceedingly” – very deep and warm affection; intensifies the word with two prepositions; the magnitude of the esteem; don’t take leaders for granted; don’t disregard all of the good things they have done

2) “in love” – you cannot lead people if you don’t love them; you will be criticized and treated harshly; a sacrificial giving of yourself; a commitment on your part to give to them; Tell the leaders you love them in return; How can I help you; they will never change if you attack them; you can pick apart any leader; they all have flaws;

B. WHY? Based on their Ongoing Ministry Among You – “because of their work”

1. For Their Hard Work

“diligently labor among you”

Acts 20:35 “In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'”

1 Timothy 5:17 “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching.”

Colossians 1:29 “And for this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.”

1 Corinthians 4:12 “and we toil, working with our own hands; when we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure;”

2 Timothy 2:6 “The hard-working farmer ought to be the first to receive his share of the crops.”

Some people desire recognition as a leader but shrink back from the hard work that is involved … that is why we don’t start with a position or a title and call someone to perform that; instead we start with the work of the ministry and then recognize those who step up and perform in sacrificial and servant ways to build up the body

2. For Their Responsible Oversight – heavy responsibility

“and have charge over you in the Lord” not in every detail of your personal and

family lives; you don’t need to check with the elders for permission about what type of car or home to purchase or what school to attend or what job to pursue – although there might be some biblical principles that would be helpful in those decisions

Lit. “to stand before” – MacArthur: Pastors stand in the place of the Chief Shepherd as His delegated undershepherds exercising oversight and authority in His name (cf. 1 Peter 5:1-4).


  • Guidance

  • Correction

  • Accountability

  • Discipline

This is a helpful, servant-oriented type of oversight; not an overbearing, intrusive, overly authoritative sense of control; the goal is to get you to live a life that is pleasing to the Lord and to be a faithful disciple of Him

3. For Their Helpful Teaching

“and give you instruction”

Look at the dominant role that instruction plays in spiritual ministry; doctrine is important – not something that we no longer need in this stage of 21st century Christianity

Word from which we get nouthetic – teaching that is applied to the life in a practical sense to accomplish productive change of character and conformity to the character and purposes of God; The goal of our instruction is love … not storing up knowledge; we have been called to a life of holiness and of conformity to Jesus Christ



“Live in peace with one another.”

MacArthur takes this phrase to apply very specifically to the relationship between the sheep and their shepherds. So the application would be to submit to our leaders, to obey them so that there would not be conflict or strife in the church. But it is also possible that this separate sentence has a more general application in terms of how all of us need to live in peace with everyone else within the body. Because that would serve as a nice transition to the next verse which speaks to our mutual responsibilities to one another in the body.

We sinners have a tendency to fight; to insist on our rights; to think that we are always right; to cause division; to want to go our own way

Psalm 34:14 “Depart from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.”

Mark 9:50 “Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.” By means of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God and Christian character, serve as a preservative in a wicked world. Then Jesus takes up the matter of the permanence of marriage in chap. 10

Rom. 14:19-20 “So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another. Do not tear down the work of God for the sake of food.”

Rom. 12:3-21 context is the exercise of spiritual gifts; be humble; be aggressive in using your gift for the good of the body; let love be without hypocrisy; If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.

2 Cor. 13:11 “live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.”

A. HOW? can we live in peace with one another

At the heart of the passage! Not just an afterthought … short sentence … but says a lot

Hendriksen: Stop your carping. Instead of continually criticizing the leaders, follow their directions, so that peace (here: absence of dissension) results.

If there is not peace, there is a problem that needs to be addressed.

Don’t make a big deal out of something that shouldn’t be a big deal …

Love should cover a multitude of sins … we don’t need to address every issue and be overly confrontational … but we do need to address certain issues – requires discernment and sensitivity and the leading of the Holy Spirit – no formula that we can rely on

Our motivation is key – must be to build up rather than to tear down

B. WHY? do we need to live in peace with one another?

– impacts the enjoyment of our fellowship – contrast a home where the prevailing tone is one of peace vs one of turmoil

– impacts the health and growth of our body – Does it make sense for the eye to be at war with the hand?

– impacts the effectiveness of our ministry and testimony

– pleases our Lord who is Head over His Body

Psalm 133 “Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity”

Somewhat of a transition from looking at how we relate to leaders in the church to looking at how we relate to everyone in the church.



HOW can we help those who are struggling and WHY do we need to help them?

A. 3 Different Approaches for 3 Different Groups

1. Correct – They need Discipline, Self-control, Accountability

“admonish the unruly”

Military connotation of soldiers who are out of shape; in general, disorderly, possibly rebellious

Especially the loafers, the slackers, the ones not pulling their weight

2. Encourage – They need Courage, Boldness, Hope

“encourage the fainthearted” — (“small-souled”)

Morris: exercising tenderness towards the discouraged … a tender concern, quite in the spirit of “a bruised reed will he not break” (Isa. 42:3). There are those who are not naturally bold, or who are temporarily overwhelmed by the stress of things. Such should not be condemned by their more robust brethren, but consoled and encouraged, so that they may be fitted for the battle once more.

Stedman: Then, second, “encourage the faint-hearted”; literally the “small-souled” person, one who feels inadequate and ungifted. We would call them the introverts among us. “Help them find their place,” says the apostle. This is addressed to everybody. People who feel out of it, who think they do not belong and cannot contribute anything, must be helped to find their place because they do have a place. In the wonderful picture of the body at work, in First Corinthians 12, the apostle says, “The ear cannot say, ‘Because I am not an eye I am not part of the body.’ No,” says Paul, “even if it says that, it does not make it any less a part of the body,” {cf, 1 Cor 12:16}. There are people who feel that way. They think, “I cannot do anything. I do not have any gifts.” That is wrong thinking. God has equipped all his people with gifts. We are to help each other find our place, give them something to do and encourage them in the work that they are doing.

3. Support – They need Strength, Support, Fellowship

“help the weak”

Life Application Bible Commentary: Paul’s advice is simply to use the right medicine. For example:

1) It would not work to “take tender care” of a “lazy” person; that person would not appreciate it and would remain unchanged.

2) It would not work to “warn” a “timid” person; that person is of fragile self-esteem anyway, and a warning would only scare him or her away.

3) It would not work to “encourage” a truly “weak” person to press on to greater things; that would show callousness to the person’s real need. The one trying to encourage may be doing so because it takes far less effort and involvement than taking “tender care” of that person as Paul prescribed. . .

Don’t loaf around with the idle; warn them. Don’t yell at the timid and weak; encourage and help them. At times it’s difficult to distinguish between idleness and timidity. Two people may be doing nothing – one out of laziness and the other out of shyness or fear of doing something wrong. The key to ministry is sensitivity; sensing the condition of each person and offering the appropriate remedy for each situation. You can’t effectively help until you know the problem. You can’t apply the medicine until you know what is causing the pain.

B. 1 Universal Approach for Dealing with All

“be patient with all men”

these people may annoy you; may be slow to change; may be resisting of the ministry;

Hiebert: Longsuffering is that admirable quality which refuses readily to yield to anger and retaliation in the face of provocation or irritation.

Remember that God is patient with each one of us every day ….



A. Negatively – Avoid a spirit of Retaliation – of Vengeance or Revenge

“See that no one repays another with evil for evil”

Look at how little children naturally respond – He hit me .. so I hit him; he said this about me … so I said that about him

Our natural tendency is to lash out; to extract our pound of flesh; to make them pay for how they have hurt us; but we are called to live a supernatural life under the power of the Holy Spirit –

Very difficult

Do we long to see them suffer? To see bad things happen to them?

Love even your enemies was the clear teaching of Christ

Very important advice in a context where the early church faced significant persecution.

But probably harder to obey within the context of believers where we hurt one another …

Mayhue: Same lesson taught by Jesus (Matt 5:38-39), Peter (1 Pet 3:9) . . . This is an absolute statement with no loopholes as Paul says no one . . . to anyone.

B. Positively – Love them and actively seek their good

“ but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all men.”

Seek after; pursue – very aggressive term; not being passive or just ignoring these folks and not wishing them harm or doing them harm

Paul has covered HOW we should aggressively love even those who have hurt us …

but WHY do we need to act in this way?

The Lord knows all things and has reserved all Vengeance for Himself; don’t try to play God and be Judge and Executioner … we have been called to love even our enemies

Must have an eternal perspective

Even Christ Himself came the first time to seek and to save the lost … He will come the second time for judgment.

Rom. 5:6-8 “For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us”


This picture of a harmonious local church might sound too good to be true … but that is what we have been called to in the body of Jesus Christ. Make sure you are stepping up to the plate to fulfill your four areas of responsibility:

– to Appreciate your Spiritual Leaders

– to Abide in Peace with one another

– to Approach One Another in Love and Sensitivity

– and to Aggressively Love even those who have hurt you