by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 5 Paragraph # 3 Study # 2 March 22, 2015 Dayton, Texas (Download Audio)
(123)Thesis:The Church's oversight includes the individual's "responses" and "pursuits".
Introduction:In our last study we saw that Paul laid out the Church's basic agenda: oversee all three areas of "the brethren's" lives. This includes confronting those whose "spirits" are pressing a false agenda; exposing the "myths" that are involved when a person is "small of soul"; and empowering those who are ill to respond to the decay of their bodies without letting the illness blur the lines of relationship between them and God. All of this is to be done with "longsuffering".
This evening we are going to turn to the next of Paul's "summonses". This is also a call for the Church to be responsible, but it has a very specific focus: the person's true interests and the tendency to lose sight of those interests when subjected to a true "evil".
I. The Basic Command: See To It.
A. The verb is one that is used across a spectrum that starts with physical sight and ends with an actual application of whatever is supposed to have been "seen".
1. John used the verb to begin his first letter with "that which we have seen with our eyes" and then repeats himself twice more (1 John 1:1-3).
a. He is clearly putting his message into the realm of physical phenomena.
b. He is just as clearly arguing that the physical phenomena have certain specific implications that are fundamentally indisputable as to their truth.
2. Then, in 3:6 and 4:20 he deliberately casts the issue into the realm of clear understanding ratherthan physical sight because he knows that physical sight is of no value if it is not attended by legitimate reasoning to a proper conclusion.
3. Paul falls right in with John in his use of this word because he uses it to refer to physical sight (1 Corinthians 9:1) and then, in our current text, insists upon certain rational conclusions from truths established, though not necessarily seen.
B. This use by Paul is actually a command that those "conclusions" be enforced by the community.
II. The Specifics (In Reverse Order).
A. The bottom line in Paul's command is that "elect brethren" are supposed to be inalterably committed to the pursuit of "The Good".
1. The "inalterable" aspect is seen by three terms.
b. Unto one another.
c. Unto all men.
2. The issue of "commitment" is seen by the use of "pursue" (the AV's "follow"; the NASB's "seek after").
a. The word's typical use in the New Testament is a description of a behavior called "persecution".
b. It has the idea of "hounding someone" because they are not doing what you want them to do (Paul used his "persecution" of the Church as a demonstration of his "zeal" in Galatians1:13-14).
c. Paul turns this idea inward toward one's own commitment to act a certain way.
3. "The Good" is articular and has a contextually established meaning: being sanctified to the end.
a. Paul is saying that "elect brethren" are supposed to be fundamentally committed to the edification of all others with whom they have to do.
b. This requires several factors to be "up and running" (personal progress, personal use of one's giftedness, etc.), but the overriding issue is "pursuit" of "The Good".
B. The automatic corollary is a commitment to never use "evil" as a tool of accomplishment.
1. Obviously, "the good" erases "the evil", but the setting is specific: when "evil" has been done to someone and they are in a "reaction" mode.
2. The issue of "evil" is, in multiple texts in the New Testament, the active pursuit of the destruction of another.
a. It is the word found in Pilate's question in the synoptics "what evil has he done?".
b. The implication is that of a capital crime, though there are lesser forms of "evil" to be noted in the New Testament.
3. When a believer is subjected to the intent to do serious harm by another, his/her reaction is to be "pursue the good".
a. This gets to be a sticky wicket if we do not draw some firm lines around the settings.
b. "Love" often destroys one in order to preserve another: this is not "evil".
c. But the issue of "evil" is often a function of established authority and it is not to be the reaction to "return evil"; indeed it is not to even be resisted.