28 Advent Scriptures
Beginning the Journey (for new Christians).
1, 2, and 3 John
1 & 2 Thessalonians
1 & 2 Timothy
2 Peter, Jude
7 Last Words of Christ
Acts 1-12: The Early Church
Christ Powered Life (Rom 5-8)
Conquering Lamb of Revelation
David, Life of
Glorious Kingdom, The
Early Church: Acts1-12
Holy Spirit, Disciple's Guide
Jesus and the Kingdom
Lamb of God
Listening for God's Voice
Names of God
Names of Jesus
Rebuild & Renew: Post-Exilic Books
Sermon on the Mount
Songs of Ascent (Ps 120-135)
2. The Character of a Disciple-Maker (1 Thessalonians 2:1-16)
by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
If you've ever been falsely criticized you know how hard it is to bear. How personally devastated you feel. And you're concerned that people will actually believe the lies. When Paul and his team were driven out of Thessalonica after only months of ministry, they were hammered with dozens of scurrilous allegations.
The Jews who had rejected Paul's teaching had stirred up the mob to a frenzy. The crowd went en masse to get Paul. When they couldn't find him, they took Jason, a Jew who had embraced the Christian message, and hauled him and other believers before the civil authorities. A riot was in the offing. Completely false charges were made to discredit Paul and the fledgling church. It was a very difficult time.
Our Mission Was Not a Failure (2:1)
As soon as he could, Paul wrote this letter to reassure the Thessalonian believers and help put into perspective what had happened -- to set the record straight regarding his own character. But he also understood the need to ground these new Christians -- most of them fresh from paganism -- in Christian character themselves. He writes,
"You know, brothers, that our visit to you was not a failure." (2:1)
Paul begins with an evaluation of the success of his mission. To the Thessalonians it may have seemed cut short, aborted, a failure. Paul insists that his mission was not in vain. He had come to preach Christ and establish a Christian congregation in the city -- and had succeeded, even though his part in it had been cut short by vicious persecution.
Jesus' last words to his disciples, recorded at the end of Matthew's gospel, outline the centrality of Jesus' mission to make disciples:
"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28:18-20)
Paul had made disciples in Thessalonica. The mission was a success, in so far that he followed the "Prime Directive."
Paul's first task is to help the Thessalonians understand that making disciples must often take place among risks. That's the nature of this spiritual warfare.
I was beat up and imprisoned in Philippi, Paul reminds them, but that didn't stop me from declaring the gospel to you. The first character trait that he hopes them to comprehend -- and emulate -- is courage to speak the gospel, even if people oppose them. "We dared to tell you his gospel," Paul says. "Dared" (NIV), "had courage" (NRSV), "were bold" (KJV) is parrēsiazomai, "speak freely, openly, fearlessly." Here it has the sense, "have the courage, venture." Christian courage and boldness is vital to the success of Christ's kingdom.
Jesus told his disciples many times that preaching the gospel is dangerous -- but necessary.
"Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come." (Matthew 24:12-14)
In our day, many, many believers have been effectively silenced by the "opposition." We're afraid to offend, not wanting to be ostracized from polite society. And so we lack courage and boldness. We are unable to take the risks necessary to propagate the Christian faith, and so the number of new believers dwindles over time.
Courage in the face of opposition is one of the first character traits of effective disciple-makers.
Q1. (1 Thessalonians 2:2) Why is personal courage such an
important character trait for a disciple -- and for a discipler? How does lack of
courage prevent evangelism? How does lack of courage prevent a congregation from
being healthy? What is God calling you to do that will require courage on your
Why does Paul use good parchment to talk about his motives? I can think of two reasons:
- To restore his reputation. Paul's reputation had been attacked, as I discussed above.
- To highlight appropriate motives for the believers. It's easy for us humans to become corrupted and turned from pure motives to self-seeking ones. Paul is trying to help his disciples become more self-aware, to correct tendencies that may be lurking within them that are less than honorable.
So Paul examines sincerity and honesty.
"3 For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you. 4 On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts. 5 You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed -- God is our witness. 6 We were not looking for praise from men, not from you or anyone else." (2:3-6)
Paul considers the various motives that sometimes drive people who advocate a cause, and one by one discards them regarding himself and his gospel team.
- Misguided belief. "Error" (NIV), "deceit" (NRSV, KJV) is planē, "wandering from the path of truth, error, delusion, deceit, deception." The English word "planet" comes from this word, since planets used to be considered as "wandering stars." Sometimes people get some harebrained idea that is off the track, and then try to persuade everyone else that this misguided doctrine is correct.
- Impure motives, sometimes as a way to seduce women. Sometimes the desire for money, sex, or power lie behind a person's advocacy. It's important to examine and know ourselves, so we can find freedom from motives that drive us that may be hidden from even us.
- Trickery, intentional deceit. Some pastors, I am sorry to say, and some televangelists, use gimmicks and tricks to manipulate their followers. Christ requires openness and honesty of us.
- Men-pleasers, telling people what they want to hear. If Christian workers act like politicians, then they deserve the level of trust that politicians have earned for themselves.
- Flattery, appealing to people's vanity. Some people are very skilled at manipulating people by massaging the ego. We need to be aware of people's vanity, but be careful not to stoop to manipulation rather than true disciple-making.
- Greed, exploiting religion in order to gain wealth. Sadly, many outside the church believe that "all the church wants is money" -- and sometimes their assessment is correct. We must make sure that greed doesn't drive us.
- Reputation or fame. Many is the preacher and Christian worker who needs the approval of people to feel good about himself or herself. Thus approval and acclaim is courted and sought. Decisions are made on the basis of how people will respond. It can be a serious weakness. Pride and personal career advancement get in the way of doing the work of the Lord for its own sake.
Christian workers are not immune from character flaws. But having examined the common character flaws -- things he has surely been accused of -- Paul tells the Thessalonians that he has been tested and approved by God. He explains that bearing the message of the gospel is a sacred trust, not some means of advancing his own agenda. Too often professional Christian leaders get confused. They may begin by wanting to serve God and do his will, but later on they come to see ministry as a job, a profession, and a way of earning a living, enjoying status, and exercising power. They have become corrupted. It's an all-too-common tale. Dear friend, what are your motives for ministry -- really? Deep down?
For example, let's look at the motivations that drive believers to tell others about Jesus.
- Love, actual deep concern for their lives and futures. Hopefully! But often, motives are mixed. Sometimes Christians witness out of:
- Guilt and duty. They feel bad that they haven't shared their faith, and are "grinding it out" because it makes them feel better about themselves.
- Pride. Sometimes Christians like to brag about how many people they have won to Christ, as if they are displaying scalps as trophies of their spiritual prowess.
- Self-righteousness. I've heard believers "witness" by condemning people for their sins (rightly being perceived as "holier than thou"), rather than pointing to what Jesus has done for them. There can be a certain perverse pleasure in telling people they're going to hell -- especially if you don't really love them! What it comes down to is pride -- I'm better than you!
Dear friends, our hidden motives have a lot to do with the quality of our ministry for Christ. We need to grow up in Christ, rather than remain children! And Paul was trying to raise a crop of healthy disciples. That's what this letter is about.
Q2. (1 Thessalonians 2:3-6) Which of the character flaws
mentioned in these verses is the greatest problem in the church? Why do you say
that? How can you prevent one of these character flaws from overtaking you?
Paul is still trying to help the believers understand the purity of his motives -- that he took no financial help from them at all (as he spells out in verse 9).
"As apostles of Christ we could have been a
burden to you...." (2:6b)
"Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you." (2:9)
As in his ministry to the Corinthians, later on this Second Missionary Journey, Paul asserts his right as an apostle to receive support from the believers. But then he specifically renounces that privilege so that he wouldn't impose a financial burden on them.
"4 Don't we have the right to food and drink? 5 Don't we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord's brothers and Cephas? ... 12b But we did not use this right.... 18 What then is my reward? Just this: that in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge, and so not make use of my rights in preaching it." (1 Corinthians 9:4-5, 12b, 18)
It's important -- especially in Thessalonica -- that he explain his policy of earning his own keep (probably as a tent-maker as in Corinth, Acts 18:2-3), because, as we'll see, there were some in the church who were free-loading off of the others. Later in the letter, he instructs them:
"Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody." (4:11-12)
But they didn't seem to get it. So in 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15 he is very clear and direct that any freeloading must stop.
Paul's example of working a secular job while preaching the gospel is relevant to our own day, when many pastors, perhaps most -- looking at it from a worldwide perspective -- are "bi-vocational." They earn their living in a secular job and then preach the gospel because God has called them to it. Our phrase "full-time Christian service" presupposes Western wealth, and does not represent Bible teaching. Of course, if a church is able to support a pastor, that is a wonderful thing -- it helps the congregation and enables the leader to put more time into the work. Don't stop paying your pastor! But for Paul it was a hindrance in missionary work, with the "burden" it imposed on the new flock.
Since the Thessalonian church had a problem with some overly-dependent members, Paul teaches them by his own example of self-sufficiency. To work is a godly and good thing. Notice the words that Paul uses to describe his secular work:
"Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day...." (2:9a)
He emphasizes the tiresome, grueling aspect of work -- then glories in it! We'll consider this further in Lesson 9, where this phrase is repeated nearly word-for-word in 2 Thessalonians 3:8.
Rather than expecting his spiritual children to support their parent, Paul pours out himself for them.
"6b As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you, 7 but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. 8 We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us." (2:6b-8)
I look at the qualities mentioned in this chapter as qualities of a disciple-maker, who doesn't seek to further his own interests, but the interests of those to whom God sends him or her. You may have a ministry as one of those disciple-makers -- to one or two individuals, or even to a whole congregation.
Paul talks about the nurturing qualities that are especially found in mothers.
- Gentleness. The Greek word "gentle" is ēpios. It has the root idea of "affable," then, "mild, gentle." When it's used of persons it has the idea of "gentle, kind," as well as "soothing, assuaging."
- Caring. "Caring" (NIV), "tenderly caring" (NRSV), "cherisheth" (KJV) is thalpō. In Greek literature often in the sense, "make warm." Here it is figurative: "cherish, comfort."
- Sharing one's life. In our day, ministers are sometimes taught to keep a "professional distance" from parishioners. Don't get too close, they are warned. Of course, there are dangers and vulnerabilities in getting close. But Paul reminds the Thessalonians of his own ministry style -- "sharing ... our own lives" (2:8b). Disciples are not best made through arms-length teaching, but by sharing life-to-life. That's how Jesus did it, and so did Paul. And that's how mothers raise their sons and daughters.
Q3. (1 Thessalonians 2:6b-8) Why are "motherly" nurturing
qualities so important to growing disciples? How effectively can male disciplers
adopt some of these traits?
In contrast to accusations they have heard, Paul asks the Thessalonians to consider what they have seen in his conduct and lifestyle.
"You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed." (2:10)
- "Holy" or "pure" means that we live lives that will be pleasing to God. If we're making disciples -- or raising children -- they'll surely see the inconsistencies in us if we're not seeking to do this. "Do as I say, not as I do," does not work!
- "Righteous" is similar, but it emphasizes our uprightness according to God's standard.
- "Blameless" suggests that we give no one any just cause to accuse us.
Isn't this an impossibly high standard for a disciple-maker? After all, "We're not perfect," we mutter as a kind of excuse. But this is Christ's standard. We are his men and women, not our own. "We have been bought with a price!" (1 Corinthians 6:20).
Of course, we'll sin now and again. The difference is that we are sincerely seeking for our lives to be pleasing to God, not just mouthing the words. In a job setting, a worker who strives to do a difficult task accurately may make some mistakes as he or she is learning, but eventually the job becomes second nature. Yes, there are occasional mistakes. But the mistakes don't characterize the performance. That's the way we should look at sin. Not as defeated Christians, but as Christians who believe in Christ's victory over our lives.
When we do sin -- before our disciples or before our children -- then we acknowledge the sin (confess) and ask forgiveness of those we have sinned against or disappointed. If we just bluster on through as if we had never sinned, people will see us as hypocrites. If we are honest and transparent about it, people will see us as sincere, but imperfect, servants of Christ. And that will be enough to be effective disciple-makers.
As a Father with His Children (2:11-12)
Paul has explored some of the nurturing qualities often associated with mothers. Now he moves to some of the qualities commonly associated with fathers.
"11 For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, 12 encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory." (2:11-12)
Good fathers help their children strive to be the very best they can be. They accomplish this in several ways:
- Exhorting. The word Paul uses here, parakaleō, can carry a variety of nuances, depending upon the context -- "to urge strongly, appeal to, urge, exhort, encourage." With the other words in this sentence it probably carries the idea of "to exhort or urge." Whatever the exact sense here, it pictures a father who is actively engaged in molding his children's lives.
- Encouraging or comforting is paramytheomai, "console, cheer up someone," especially in connection with death or other tragic events. If exhorting is a more forceful word, then encouraging or comforting is the other side. I can imagine a father (or mother) putting his arms around a small child who is hurt and confused, and comforting him or her.
- Urging or pleading. The third word is martyromai, "bear witness," here with the sense, "to urge something as a matter of great importance, affirm, insist, implore." It has the idea of to speak with all seriousness and urgency to a child.
The purpose of these disciple-making behaviors is to mold men and women into consistent followers of Jesus Christ, so that they live lives that are worthy or suitable to God's own kingdom and glory -- a high calling indeed.
The NIV leaves out an important word in verse 12 -- "own" -- which is included in the Greek text and is important to the sense. You are called to God's own kingdom and glory. It is a privilege. It is incumbent upon you to conform to God's standards, not to your own or to those of the world. Your lives need to reflect his value system. We are called to a much higher standard than our neighbors -- God's own character and holiness.
Q4. (1 Thessalonians 2:11-12) Why are "fatherly" roles so
important to making disciples? How effectively do you think women can adopt
Paul was amazed at the Thessalonians' incredible receptivity (which we discussed in Lesson 1, at 1:4-5a).
"And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe." (2:13)
Paul had seen a lot of rejection of the gospel in his ministry. So have we. Unbelievers perceive the gospel and the Bible as a man-made religion, not as the actual "word of God" -- or they would respond to it differently. The Thessalonians, to their great credit, took Paul's words as the "gospel truth," and so were saved.
To see this degree of receptivity takes an act of God. C. Peter Wagner recalls the city of Resistencia in northern Argentina that was resistant to the revival that was sweeping Argentina at that time. Of the 400,000 population, fewer than 6,000 were evangelical believers. But receptivity came when the believers were taught intercessory prayer, what Wager calls "strategic-level spiritual warfare." The evangelical population grew to 100,000. Dear friends, if we want a revival characterized by great receptivity among unbelievers, we must learn to pray that the demonic forces that blind them (2 Corinthians 4:4) will be defeated.
Look at verse 13 one more time:
"... You received the word of God, which you heard from us ... the word of God, which is at work in you who believe." (2:13)
Notice that the Word, once received, "is at work in you who believe." Like yeast in dough, it is changing and transforming the dough over time. The word doesn't just mean to work, but to work and product an effect, which the KJV brings out in its translation, "effectually worketh." Consider the power of God's word in these verses:
"You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you." (John 15:3)
"Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth." (John 17:17)
"But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness." (Romans 6:17-18)
"Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ." (Romans 10:17)
"... The word of truth, the gospel.... All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing." (Colossians 1:5b-6a)
"Our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction." (1 Thessalonians 1:5)
"For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." (Hebrews 4:12)
"He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created." (James 1:18)
"You have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God." (1 Peter 1:23)
Because of the power of God's word, the role of teacher in a congregation is a very powerful agent for change, growth, and discipleship.
Q5. (1 Thessalonians 2:13) What is the role of the Word
of God in molding disciples' lives? Does it have a power of its own? How does
that seem to operate? What are the implications for disciplers of this powerful
action of the Word?
Persecution from Countrymen (2:14-16)
Paul concludes this section on character with a sad commentary on the character of the Thessalonian church's opponents.
It seems that the Thessalonians' primary enemies weren't the Jews at all, but their own countrymen, who persecuted them, probably because they neglected the local deities and worshipped what was perceived to be a foreign deity. Paul compares the persecution the Thessalonians were experiencing to the persecution being suffered by the believers in Judea -- except that in Judea the enemies were their Jewish countrymen.
"14 For you, brothers, became imitators of God's churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own countrymen the same things those churches suffered from the Jews, 15 who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out. They displease God and are hostile to all men 16 in their effort to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. In this way they always heap up their sins to the limit. The wrath of God has come upon them at last." (2:14-16)
You must understand! Paul, the Jew, is not anti-Semitic. To the Romans he wrote:
"I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel." (Romans 9:2-4a)
"Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved." (Romans 10:1)
But Paul is angry that his fellow Jews have placed themselves in opposition first to Jesus, and then to prevent the propagation of the gospel that is able to save all who believe. Those who prevent people from hearing the gospel incur tremendous guilt. Jesus spoke a similar indictment on Jewish religious leaders:
"Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering." (Luke 11:52)
Notice how important preaching the gospel is in our passage:
"[The Jews] keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved" (2:16a).
The Word of God, the preaching of the gospel is essential for salvation. To the Romans, Paul wrote:
"How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, 'How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!'" (Romans 10:14-15)
How very selfish we are if we have grown tired of preaching the gospel to the lost -- whether in our own community, or homeland, or abroad. Christianity is at its root a "pass it on" faith that cannot be stifled. When we neglect evangelism, we both displease God and show our lack of love for those who need salvation.
In this lesson we've examined the importance of character for the apostle and disciple-maker. Character is essential for credibility of the discipler. It is also essential so that the new disciples can model their own character on a life that is solid in Christ.
Friend, how is your character? What are your character flaws? I encourage you to bring them to Christ. You might also ask a Christian you trust to pray with you about these character flaws, so that prayer and accountability might help you mature in Christ. You can't be a good representative of Christ in your world or be an effective discipler unless Christ grows his character in you. Give yourself to this work of the Spirit!
Father, we fall so short sometimes. And then we excuse our sins and weaknesses, rather than allowing you to change us. Forgive us, we pray. Work in us. Cleanse us of our sins, and make us strong in you, that we might be servants of whom you are proud. In Jesus'name, we pray. Amen.
"We speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts." (1 Thessalonians 2:4)
"We were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children." (1 Thessalonians 2:7)
"We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us." (1 Thessalonians 2:8)
"We also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe." (1 Thessalonians 2:13)
 "Failure" (NIV), "in vain" (NRSV, KJV) is two words, "not" andkenos, "empty," here, "pertaining to being without purpose or result, in vain" (BDAG 539, 3).
 "Previously suffered" (NIV) is propaschō, "suffer previously" (BDAG 873).
 "Insulted" (NIV), "shamefully (en)treated" (NRSV, KJV) is hybrizō, "to treat in an insolent or spiteful manner, mistreat, scoff at, insult" (BDAG 1022).
 "Opposition" (NIV, NRSV), "contention" (KJV) is agōn, "a struggle against opposition, struggle, fight" (BDAG 17, 2).
 Parrēsiazomai, BDAG 782, 2.
 "Appeal" (NIV, NRSV), "exhortation" (KJV) is paraklēsis, "act of emboldening another in belief or course of action, encouragement, exhortation" (BDAG 760, 1).
 Planē, BDAG 822.
 "Impure motives" (NIV, NRSV), "uncleanness" (KJV) is akatharsia, "uncleanness," here, "a state of moral corruption, immorality, vileness" (BDAG 34, 2).
 "Trickery" (NRSV, cf. NIV), "guile" (KJV) is dolos, "taking advantage through craft and underhanded methods, deceit, cunning, treachery" (BDAG 250).
 "Flattery" (NIV), "flattering words" (NRSV, KJV) is kolakeia, "flattery," from a derivative of kolax (a fawner) (BDAG 555).
 "Greed" (NIV, NRSV), "covetousness" (KJV) is pleonexia, "the state of desiring to have more than one's due, greediness, insatiableness, avarice, covetousness" (BDAG 824).
 "Praise" (NIV, NRSV), "glory" (KJV) is doxa, "glory," here, "honor as enhancement or recognition of status or performance, fame, recognition, renown, honor, prestige" (BDAG 257, 3).
 "Approved" (NIV, NRSV), "allowed" (KJV) is dokimazō, "to draw a conclusion about worth on the basis of testing, prove, approve," here, "accept as proved, approve ... found worthy" (BDAG 256, 2b).
 "Entrusted" (NIV, NRSV), "put in trust" (KJV) is pisteuō, "believe," here transitive, "entrust something to someone" (BDAG 818, 3).
 "Apostles" is the plural of the Greek noun apostolos, which probably originally means "sending out." Here it refers to "a messenger with extraordinary status, especially of God's messenger, envoy, delegate, ambassador" (BDAG 122, 2c).
 "Be a burden" (NIV), "made demands" (NRSV), "be burdensome" (KJV) is two words, en, "with," and baros, "weight, burden," here figuratively, perhaps "experience of something that is particularly oppressive, burden" (BDAG 167, 2).
 "Be a burden" (NIV, NRSV), "be chargeable" (KJV) is epibareō, "to be a burden to, weigh down, burden" (BDAG 368).
 "Mother" (NIV), "nurse" (NRSV, KJV) is trophos, "nurse," possibly, "mother" (BDAG 1017).
 Ēpios, Thayer, 279.
 Ēpios, Liddell-Scott.
 Thalpō, BDAG 442.
 "Sharing" (NIV, NRSV), "to have imparted" (KJV) is metadidōmi, "to give (a part of), impart, share" (BDAG 638). This compound verb comes from meta-, "association, fellowship, participation with"+ didōmi, "to give." (Thayer, meta-, III,1).
 "Holy" (NIV), "pure" (NRSV), "holily" (KJV) is hosiōs, "pertaining to a manner pleasing to God, devoutly." Used only here in the New Testament (BDAG 728).
 "Righteous" (NIV), "upright" (NRSV), "justly" (KJV) is dikaiōs, is from the realm of law, "just or right in a juridical sense." Here it pertains to quality of character, thought, or behavior, "correctly, justly, uprightly" (BDAG 256, 2).
 "Blameless" (NIV, NRSV), "unblameably" (KJV) is amemptōs, used especially in the Greco-Roman world of people of extraordinary civic consciousness, "blamelessly," so there is no cause for censure (BDAG 52; Thayer, 32), literally, "without blame."
 "Dealt with" (NIV, NRSV) is added to make the sentence smoother in English. It isn't in the Greek text, though is implied.
 Parakaleō, BDAG 765, 2.
 Paramytheomai, BDAG 769.
 Martyromai, BDAG 619, 2.
 "To live lives" (NIV), "lead a life" (NRSV), "walk" (KJV) is peripateō, "walk," here, figuratively, "to conduct one's life, comport oneself, behave, live as habit of conduct" (BDAG 803, 2aα).
 "Worthy"is axiōs, "worthily, in a manner worthy of, suitably" (BDAG 94).
 "Received" is paralambanō, "to gain control of or receive jurisdiction over, take over, receive," here referring to receiving and accepting a spiritual heritage (BDAG 768, 2bγ). "To receive something transmitted" with the mind (Thayer, 484, 2b). This compound has such senses as "to take over," for example, to take over an intellectual position, and "to inherit," especially intellectual things, such as a student from a teacher. "It is important in philosophy, for most knowledge is handed down orally, and since it is practical, the teacher is an authoritative leader whose goal is the formation of character and who will still be respected even should the students strike out on their own (cf. Socrates)" (Gerhard Delling, lambanō, ktl., TDNT 4:5-15).
 Discussed several of Wagner's books, including C. Peter Wagner, Wrestling with Alligators, Prophets, and Theologians (Regal, 2010), pp. 180-182.
 "Is at work" (NIV, NRSV), "effectually worketh" (KJV) is energeō, "to put one's capabilities into operation, work, be at work, be active, operate, be effective," (here, in the middle voice with an impersonal subject) (BDAG 335, 1b). Milligan sees the word as passive, meaning here "to set in operation" (cited in Robertson, Word Pictures).
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