1 Thessalonians 5:14
And we urge you, brothers, to admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, and be patient with everyone.
Helping the WeakC. H. Spurgeon.1 Thessalonians 5:14
Mutual Duties of Church MembersT. Croskery 1 Thessalonians 5:14
PatienceH. W. Beecher.1 Thessalonians 5:14
Patience and Charity NeededDr. Spinning.1 Thessalonians 5:14
Precept and PracticeG. Swinnock, M. A.1 Thessalonians 5:14
PreceptsG. Barlow.1 Thessalonians 5:14
Support the WeakTold in Dr. Bernardo's "Night and Day. "1 Thessalonians 5:14
The Contrast Between Heathenism and Christianity in the Treatment of the WeakC. H. Spurgeon.1 Thessalonians 5:14
The Difficulty of the Strong to Sympathize with the WeakF. Jacox, B. A.1 Thessalonians 5:14
The Feeble MindedBp. Alexander.1 Thessalonians 5:14
WarningsJ. Richardson, M. A.1 Thessalonians 5:14
Closing ExhortationsB.C. Caffin 1 Thessalonians 5:12-22
ExhortationsR. Finlayson 1 Thessalonians 5:12-22

The Church must act as well as its pastors.

I. ADMONITION TO THE DISORDERLY. "Warn them that are unruly."

1. The unruly are, literally, those who break rank, taking exceptional courses, to the injury of the peace or unity of the Church. Probably the apostle refers to the unhinging effect of the error concerning the near approach of the advent, leading individuals to abandon work and loiter about in a sort of meddlesome idleness.

2. Such persons need to be warned, even with sharpness of reproof, yet in love; for "God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, in all the Churches of the saints" (1 Corinthians 14:33). Warn them to "do their own business, and work with their own hands."

II. COMFORT THE FEEBLE-MINDED. "Comfort the feeble-minded."

1. These persons were overburdened with sorrow on account of the dead, under the influence of error respecting their safety. They were not intellectually feeble, but had become dispirited and desponding through their failure to realize the hope of the resurrection at the advent.

2. They were to be comforted; not rebuked or admonished for their sins, but exhorted lovingly in the truth. It is the Lord's way "to raise them that are bowed down," and "to comfort them which be in any trouble" (2 Corinthians 1:4). There is "consolation in Christ."

III. SUPPORT FOR THE WEAK. "Support the weak."

1. The weak in faith, or other Christian graces, who may still feel the lingering influence of Jewish prejudice and pagan delusions. We are to "bear the infirmities of the weak."

2. They must be sustained, not despised for their weakness. "Be eyes to the blind; be feet to the lame." Thus "we fulfill the Law of Christ." We must "lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees" (Hebrews 12:12, 13).

IV. PATIENCE TOWARD ALL MEN. "Be patient toward all men."

1. Patience or long-suffering, in view of the perverseness, or defects, or follies, or sins of men. It points to a temper not easily moved or offended, to a disposition to bear and forbear after the example of that Father who "is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9). This disposition greatly promotes the comfort and usefulness of life.

2. It is to be exercised toward all men. Even to those outside the household of faith who may gainsay or persecute the truth. - T.C.

Now we exhort you, brethren, war them that are unruly
I. WARN THE UNRULY: those who, like disorderly soldiers, break the ranks, and become idle, dissolute and worthless. This was a besetting sin in the primitive Churches. Many entertaining false views about the nearness of Christ's Advent became indifferent to work, and sank into apathy or even worse. The proverb says, "An idle mind is the devil's workshop"; and when a man is not occupied he is apt to become an instrument of evil and a disturber of the Church. It is difficult to pin some people down to do a bit of fair honest work. They are full of schemes for other people, and are forever finding fault that other people do not carry them out. These are the restless gipsies, the pests of every Christian community, the mischief makers and busybodies in other people's matters. Warn such. Admonish gently at first, putting them in mind of their duty. It is the fault of many to limit admonitions to gross and grievous sins, but in these cases warning often comes too late. If admonition is not effectual, then proceed to sharper reproof. If that is unavailing, separate yourselves from their society.

II. COMFORT THE FEEBLE MINDED. More correctly — encourage the faint hearted. The reference is not to the intellectually weak, but to such as faint in the day of adversity or the prospect of it (1 Thessalonians 2:14), or who are disheartened in consequence of the loss of friends (1 Thessalonians 4:13). It may also include those who are perplexed with doubt as to their spiritual condition, and who through fear are subject to bondage. There are some people so weighed down with a sense of modesty as to incapacitate them from using their abilities. Others, again, are so oppressed with the inveteracy of sin that they despair of gaining the victory and give up all endeavours. These need encouraging with the promises of God, and with the lessons and examples furnished by experience. Heart courage is what the faint hearted require.

III. SUPPORT THE WEAK. A man may be weak in judgment or in practice. There may be lack of information or lack of capacity to understand. Such was the condition of many who, not apprehending the abrogation of the Mosaic law, and thinking they were still bound to observe ordinances, were weak in faith. Some linger for years in the misty borderland between doubt and certainty, ever learning, but never coming to a knowledge of the truth. Defective faith implies defective practice. Support such with the moral influence of sympathy, prayer, counsel, example.

IV. BE PATIENT TOWARDS ALL MEN, even the most wayward and persecuting. Consider the patience of God and imitate it. Lack of present success is no excuse. The triumphs of genius in art, science, and literature are triumphs of patience.

(G. Barlow.)

Littleness is implied. The word occurs here only in the New Testament (see Isaiah 35:4; 70), and is almost unknown in classical Greek. The student of Aristotle will look upon it as implying the contradictory of the "great souled," with his high estimate of himself, "just contempt" for others, and freedom from excessive elation or depression. The whole passage here might well lead us to suppose that, as the Thessalonian Christians had a tender and almost feminine susceptibility about those they had loved and lost, so they would be likely also to have some of the rest of the characteristics which accompany that beautiful weakness. We may perhaps refer to "the chief women not a few" (Acts 17:4). The morbid conscientious ness, the form of self-torment known to spiritual writers as scrupulousness, would be well expressed by the word "little-minded."

(Bp. Alexander.)

St. Paul gives an admirable precept to the Thessalonians, but precept must blossom into practice, and practice will prove the best commentary on precept.

I. THE PRECEPT ILLUSTRATED BY PRACTICE. All the persons in God's great family are not of the same height and strength; though some are old men and fathers, and others are young and strong, yet many are little children, nay, babes in Christ: some can go alone, or with a little help, if you hold them but by their leading strings; but others must be carried in arms, and will require much love and patience to overcome their childish forwardness. Christ winks at their weaknesses, who hath most reason to be moved with them. Though His disciples were raw, and dull, and slow to understand and believe, yet He bears with them; nay, though when He was watching for them, and in His bloody sweat, and they lay sleeping and snoring, and could not watch with Him one hour, He doth not fall fiercely upon them, and afterward excuseth them for their lack of service. Their spirit was willing, but their flesh was weak. It is no wonder that their pace was slow, when, like the snail, they have such a house — such a hindrance — on their backs. Who can think of this infinite grace of the blessed Redeemer in making such an apology for them when He had such cause to be full of fury against them, and not be incited to imitate so admirable a pattern? God's treatment of Jonah was very similar to Christ's treatment of His disciples. Jonah runs from His business: God sends him to Nineveh; he will go to Tarshish. Here was plain rebellion against his Sovereign, which was repeated. But lo! He cannot permit Jonah to perish; He will rather whip him to his work than let him wander to his ruin. But how gentle is the rod! God cannot forget the love of a father though Jonah forget the duty of a child, and will rather work a miracle and make a devourer his saviour than Jonah shall miscarry. Oh, the tenderness of God toward His weak and erring children! Now Christians are to be "imitators of God." If He, so glorious, holy, and infinite, beareth with His creatures thus, what cause have they to bear patiently with their fellows! "We that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak."

II. THIS PRACTICE IS GROUNDED UPON PRINCIPLE. It was love on the part of Christ and on the part of God that led these Divine Persons to act so graciously as They did; and the same love must ever prompt Christians to imitate Them — love to Jesus Himself and love to them for whom He died, but who need practical sympathy and help. There must be no bitterness, no envyings, no heart burnings among the brethren, but they must love each other as each loves himself, and suffer together in all suffering. Oh, how sweet is the music when saints join saints in concert! but how harsh is the sound of jarring strings! A mutual yielding and forbearance is no small help to our own peace and safety. There is a story of two goats which may excellently illustrate this matter. They both met on a narrow bridge, under which a very deep and fierce stream did glide; there was no going blindly back, neither could they press forward for the narrowness of the bridge. Now, had they fought for their passage, they had both been certain to perish; this, therefore, they did — they agreed that one should lie down and the other go over him, and thus both their lives were preserved. While Christians are doing the reverse of this, they are like some small chickens, a prey to kites and other ravenous creatures. "In quietness shall be their strength."

(G. Swinnock, M. A.)

Warnings are given in love (1 Corinthians 4:14). Warnings are given in mercy. Warnings are given in duty (Ezekiel 3:20).

I. THE WARNING OF EXAMPLE. Fallen angels (Jude 1:6). Ungodly men (Jude 1:7). Untrue professors (Jude 1:17-19).

II. THE WARNINGS OF INSTRUCTION. God has given us warning in His Holy Word that life is uncertain (James 4:13, 14); that it is an evil thing to offend God (Romans 2:8, 9); that it is a foolish thing to forsake Christ (Hebrews 2:8); that it must be foolish to run such risk (Acts 4:12); that it must therefore be foolish to turn away from this only hope.

III. THE WARNINGS OF EXPERIENCE. The experiences of sin are bitter (Romans 7:24). The enjoyments of salvation are sweet (2 Thessalonians 2:16, 17). If warnings are to do us good they must be heard (2 Timothy 4:3, 4), believed (Genesis 19:14), obeyed (Matthew 21:28-31). This is our lesson — Proverbs 29:1.

(J. Richardson, M. A.)

Support the weak, be patient towards all men
Heathen philosophy, even Plato's, was systematically hard on the weakly. It anticipated modern theories and practice in such matters as the struggle for existence, survival of the fittest, and happy dispatch. In the exercise of the art of medicine Plato held that it might serve to cure the occasional distempers of men whose constitutions are good; but as to those who have bad constitutions, let them die; and the sooner the better: such men are unfit for war, for magistracy, for domestic affairs, for severe study; and the best thing for such is to have done with life at once. In contrast with this Bacon vindicated the art of healing by appealing to the exampleor Christ, and reminded men that the great Physician of the soul did not disdain to be the Physician of the body. Hawthorne asserts that most men have a natural indifference, if not hostility, towards those whom disease, or weakness, or calamity of any kind causes to falter and faint amid the rude jostle of our selfish existence. The education of Christianity, he owned, the sympathy of a like experience, and the example of women, may soften and possibly subvert this ugly characteristic; but it is originally there, and has its analogy in the practice of our brute brethren, who hunt the sick or disabled member of the herd from among them as an enemy. Faithful to which code of action, says Balzac, the world at large is lavish of hard words and harsh conduct to the wretched who dare spoil the gaiety of its fetes and to cast a gloom over its pleasures: whoever is a sufferer in mind or body, or is destitute of money or power is a pariah. The weakly or deformed child of a Spartan was thrown, by order, into the cavern called apothetae, in the belief that its life could be no advantage either to itself or to the state. The worst of charity is, complains Emerson, that the lives you are asked to preserve are not worth preserving.

(F. Jacox, B. A.)

A disposition to despise weakness, observed Mr. Fonblanque, seems to be a law of nature which humanity prevails against with effort, by urging the sympathies and stimulating them by the imagination. Poor Boswell again and again makes piteous record of Johnson's unimaginative contempt for the sufferings of frailer constitutions; and he philosophizes on the fact that in full health men can scarcely believe that their ailing neighbours suffer much, "so faint is the image of pain upon our imagination." "At your age, sir, I had no headache," snapped the doctor at Sir William Scott once when the future Lord Stowell ventured to complain of one. When Fanny Burney fell ill at court, she wrote, "Illness here, till of late, has been so unknown that it is commonly supposed that it must be wilful, and therefore meets little notice till accompanied by danger. This is by no means from hardness, but from prejudice and want of personal experience." John Stuart Mill reckoned it as one of the disadvantages of Bentham that from his childhood he had never had a day's illness; his unbroken health helped to incapacitate him for sympathy with his fellows, and weakened his power of insight into other minds.

(F. Jacox, B. A.)

A poor bee had fallen into the pond, and was struggling as well as her failing strength would allow. We seized a pole, and placed the end of it just under her. She took firm hold, and we lifted the pole and the bee. A little while was spent in drying herself and pluming her wings, and then our worker made a straight line for the hive, and doubtless was soon at her daily task rewarding us with honey. May not many a human worker be found in a sinking condition? A little sensible help might save him. Who will give it? He who does so shall receive the blessing of him that is ready to perish. Poor hearts are often in deep despondency, sinking for lack of a sympathetic word. Do not withhold it. Rescue the perishing. Be on the watch for despairing minds; if no other good comes of it, you will, at least, be more grateful for your own cheerful ness. But good will come of it in unexpected instances, and it will be heaven's music in your ears to hear sighs turned into songs.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

In the town of Leeds I was waiting one wet wintry night outside the railway station, when a ragged, dirty boy, selling papers, came up to me and said: "Buy an evening paper, sir. Please do. Only seven left, and they's all my profit." The boy's eagerness to sell arrested my attention, and on looking down I saw a bright, intelligent face with a look of honesty in it. So I questioned him, and found his parents were, he supposed, "drinking at a public house in Briggate." "Had he no cap to wear that rainy night?" "Yes," but he had lent it to his sister, who was waiting for him in an old doorway across the road till he "sold out." The cap wasn't on her head because she had "no boots and stockings, so I told her to put her feet inside my cap to keep 'em warm and prevent her ketchin' cold." Surely this was "a self-sacrificing chivalry worthy of the knights of old, for a boy who thus cared for his sister exhibited the true spirit of bravery."

(Told in Dr. Bernardo's "Night and Day. ")

is a Divine attribute, and is repeatedly mentioned as a fruit of God's Spirit in the soul. In the text this grace as made a universal duty. It is not to be a tribute paid to the virtuous, but to all. And the man who enjoined it exercised it.


1. In respect to personal trial patience is exercised in its lower form. Patience in labour, fatigue, pain, etc., is not easy, but it is the easiest kind of patience. When, however, we are called to have patience with others, we enter a higher and more difficult sphere of duty. Men may endure their own trials from pride, hope, native firmness, duty, etc.; but when we are required to be patient towards bad dispositions, evil conduct, etc., this is a nobler achievement and proceeds from nobler motives.

1. Patience does not imply approval of men's conduct or character, nor indifference to them. On the contrary, we must see things as they are before God; and if we refrain from attacking it must not be, construed into approbation.

2. This patience implies such benevolence and pity as shall make us tolerant, and which can only spring from that regenerated love that God works in the soul.

II. THE CONDITIONS OF ITS EXERCISE AND ITS OBJECTS. It must be exercised towards all men. To be patient with those we love is natural; but we must not stop there; nor with our own set: nor with the good even when they stumble; nor with those who hold our opinions; but also with —

1. The dull and foolish, who are very trying, especially if you are nervous and they are not; if you are mercurial and they are phlegmatic. They are in your way, and make your tasks troublesome. Nevertheless, you must be patient with them.

2. The conceited; a very hard work indeed, to submit to haughty looks and arrogant conduct.

3. The selfish and cunning, patience with whom places you at a disadvantage.

4. The rude.

5. The passionate, etc. Wherever you find a man that has the brand of God's creation upon him, and immortality for his destiny, there you find the object of this command. Do you find this hard, impossible? Then consider —


1. It is only by having patience with men that you can retain any hold upon them. The man who is outside your pity is outside your diocese. You cannot do anything for a man you dislike, and one of the worst things that can befall a benevolent nature is to be incapacitated to do good.

2. Only in this way can we imitate Christ. "I say unto you, love your enemies," etc.

3. It is by this very patience on God's part that we ourselves are saved.

(H. W. Beecher.)

"Lord, I can't make these sticks perfectly straight; I have lost all my strength. Send me to another field." But what is the answer of the Holy Spirit? "You were not sent to that field to take every crook out of those sticks; you can't perfect human nature; that is My work." Now there is something in every man — ministers included — that is a little gnarly. It is peculiar to the individual — a streak of the old Adam inwrought in his individuality. In one it is stubbornness, in another it is suspiciousness, in another reserve, in another a disposition to be critical, or fault finding, or censorious. By whatever name it may be known, it is, in fact, a little twist of depravity, and no human influence, no preacher, can untwist it and straighten it out. It is a peculiar twist of self, inborn, inbred, inwrought. So when I discover what a man's peculiar twist is, I say, "The Lord only can take that out of him, and I won't touch it if I can help it." I tried my hand at this once on a good Scotch brother, and I will never try it again. He was a most uncompromising subject, and I am quite convinced that if I had had a little more charity for his peculiarities he would have been a very useful man.

(Dr. Spinning.)

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