Chapter 5:12-13a, Concerning Duties

J. Deering,

Chapter 5, Verses 12-13a, "Concerning Duties"

5:12 Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who labor among you and preside over you in the Lord and admonish you, 5:13a and to esteem them most highly in love because of their work.


Here is one of those places where we must ask the question, "Why bring this up?" As we backwards engineer this sentence we must come to the conclusion that this early church was having some difficulties with the process of developing respected leadership. Paul's statement is both an exhortation as to how the body was to respond to the leadership God brought to light and it is a statement of the responsibilities of the leadership of the local church.


First note that the three qualifications listed here are not assigned to three individuals. They are not individual tasks that need a leader to fulfill each qualification. Each leader, as God provides, is to Labor, Preside, and Admonish. AND YOU are to lovingly acknowledge them (that they are right in doing so.).


1.     Labor among the members of the body. The word for labor here indicates hard work, energy spent at a hard task, and work that makes you weary. Those who labor in the body of Christ are to be AMONG THE PEOPLE and LABORING WITH THEM in their trials and difficulties. It is not the place of the leader to stand along the sidelines and shout encouragements. Get into the game, get dirty, use good technique, help by running with them to win the race.


2.     Preside - It is God's plan that He raise up those who can LEAD. Preside does not mean to sit idle at the top and dictate commands. Presiding is an active role not a passive role. Leadership requires plans and preparation as well as being able to communicate. God's method is never to raise up a man to be god over others, His method is always to lead by showing and doing with His people.


3.     Last in this list is Admonish - Yes, it is in God's plan to raise up those who can encourage righteousness. This often means corrective language and actions - but always with the Love of God as both MOTIVE and TECHNIQUE. Paul writes in Ephesians (often missed by those who only want to hear what is said in 5:22-25 about submission, husband to wife) "AND BE SUBJECT TO ONE ANOTHER IN THE FEAR OF CHRIST" (Ephesians 5:21). That's the role of both those who are called to admonish, and those who need admonishment.


Charles Ryrie thought that there was an element in the Thessalonian church that decided they no longer had to work and provide for their families (or the church) because the Lord was about to come anyway - "why bother?"[1]


In any event, the church at Thessalonica was much like any church. There are those who labor and those who are along for the ride. Paul says that God is in the business of raising up “leadership saints” whose special ability is in the area of admonishment - but in doing to they must exhibit the characteristics of Galatians 5:22-23.


But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.


[1] Ryrie, Charles Caldwell, "First and Second Thessalians," Everyman's Bible Commentary, Moody Press, Chicago, Il, 1959