Christian Behavior --Part 2

Christian Behavior
Part 2

James Gunn

A Word Study

It has been proved that in the vocabulary of any people their history is revealed. Furthermore, an individual betrays himself by the language he uses. His misuse of words marks him as either ignorant or careless; while his mastery of words indicates the standard of his education and culture.

The believer, in a similar manner, may demonstrate his knowledge of the Bible by the phrases and terms he employs in Christian conversation. He may even reveal his hope for the future by the habitual practice of using truly prophetical expressions.

Let us consider more of those verbs which indicate the proper behaviour of God’s people in view of the imminent return of the Lord Jesus Christ.

To Wait (1 Thess. 1:9-10)

In English to wait means to remain in readiness, to be alerted and watchful, to continue in expectancy. The verb tense used here means to keep on waiting.

The word here employed by Paul occurs only this once in the New Testament, and intimates to wait for one whose coming is known or foreseen, and also embodies the ideas of patience and trust.

A contrast to this is given in Matthew 24:48, where an evil servant says in his heart, “My Lord delayeth his coming,” and because of this attitude he abuses others and indulges himself.

This is possibly one of the first references in the New Testament Canon to the return of Christ (Chronilogically speaking). It may be that the reference in the Epistle of James antedates it by a few years. At any rate, Thessalonians is the earliest writing of the Apostle Paul. How important it is to notice that from the first days of New Testament revelation, God would have us go on waiting for His Son from Heaven.

The Lord’s supper is not only a commemoration of the death of Christ, but it is an anticipation of the second advent of the Lord.

In the former part of this first chapter to the Thessalonians, the Apostle writes about the three Christian graces in an abstract way, “Your work of faith, labour of love, and patience of hope.” In verses 7-10 he writes of these same virtues in a concrete way; the Thessalonians had turned to God from idols (faith), to serve the living and true God (labour), and to wait for His Son from Heaven (hope).

To Comfort (1 Thess. 4:18).

The Greek word “harpazo” means to rapture, to snatch away. Actually the rapture implies the full act by which the Church will be snatched by divine force from earth to Heaven. In the rapture proper are involved the resurrection of the dead in Christ and the translation of the living, and the uniting of both to meet the Lord in the air. These words of explanation were given by Paul to comfort the people of God.

One can readily appreciate the grief among the saints at Thessalonica. There was the distress of misunderstanding, the sorrow of bereavement, the regret that possibly their deceased friends would not participate in the second advent of Christ, and consequently only a faint hope of any reunion with departed saints. Pawl’s words to them were divine balm to troubled hearts. Not only was his Epistle to comfort them, but they in turn were to repeat his statements among themselves and thus comfort one another.

The word comfort here is the verb form of the noun “parakletos” used in regard to the Holy Spirit, the Comforter. The verb has a threefold meaning: to encourage, to console, and to exhort. It contains the ideas of cheer and support. These we are to do for one another in view of the Lord’s imminent return.

To Look (Titus 2:13).

The Greek verb “prosdchomai” used here primarily means to receive to oneself, and, therefore to anticipate. It seems to imply the receiving of the future now as if it were a fulfilment. The return of our Lord should be so real to our souls that it should be viewed as a certain accomplishment.

There are those who see in this paragraph the two stages of the Lord’s return. These they see in what is considered “the blessed hope” and “the appearing in glory of our great God and Saviour.” That such an understanding is not the intent of the passage may be seen in the absence of the definite Greek article before the second part of the statement. The passage probably should read, “Looking for that blessed hope and glorious appearing of the great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ.”

Christ’s coming should be so certain in our hearts that we should consider it as a factual fulfilment of His promise. We should be daily looking for the confirmation of His advent in His sudden appearance.

To Abide (1 John 2:28).

To abide, in the conception of John, means to dwell continuously in one place. In this passage, John in addressing spiritual infants (Vs. 18-28) warns them of the tendencies of the last times, about the lies of the anti-Christ, and about those who would seduce them. He tells them also of the wisdom of the indwelling Spirit to teach them all necessary things, and how they should abide in Him. Finally, his exhortation implies to keep on abiding in Christ so that when He appears spiritual fathers will not be ashamed of their own spiritual children in the presence of the Lord.

The concept of abiding in Christ was particularly strong in John’s mind and heart. He uses it in both his Gospel and Epistles. The Lord Himself exhorted the disciples to abide in Him for sustenance; here the young are exhorted to abide in Christ for preservation from evil. He who abides in Christ by the Holy Spirit is not seduced by false teachers.

Having looked again into the Perfect Law of Liberty, and having considered some of its interesting terms relative to the second advent of Christ, may we continue therein, and not be forgetful; may we be doers of the Word that we may be blessed in our deeds.