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What does it mean to abstain every form of evil?



      

1 Thessalonians 5:22

ESV - 22 Abstain from every form of evil.

Clarify Share Report Asked October 27 2019 Mini Anonymous

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Mini Tim Maas Retired Quality Assurance Specialist with the U.S. Army
In the verse immediately prior to the verse cited in the question, Paul had admonished the Thessalonians not to reject any form of prophecy or preaching outright, but to test or examine it, and then to retain what was good.

By contrast, as he then noted in the verse cited in the question, whatever failed that examination was to be rejected (or abstained from) -- not just with respect to clearly evil actions, but to any conduct that might even give the appearance (an alternate meaning of the word translated as "form" in the ESV, as noted in the question) of being evil to other people.

The thought expressed is similar to Romans 12:9 (Abhor that which is evil; cleave [that is, cling] to that which is good), except that there Paul reversed the order of his commands, placing the negative first, and the positive second.

Also, to me, this advice goes along with Paul's counsel to Christians to avoid any action where -- even if the Christians knew that they were free in Christ to do it -- their conduct might cause weaker believers (who still personally considered the action to be wrong) to sin against their own consciences (1 Corinthians 8:7-13).

October 28 2019 1 response Vote Up Share Report


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