TBU: The Bible Unpacked: In-Depth Edition

II. Caring for the Body

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Chapter 26  Part II

Caring for the Body

The care that church members ought to show each other should be one of the defining characteristics of every church, evidencing Christian love. This care should include both spiritual and practical care, with the former largely involving prayer and encouragement.

Pray for Each Other (I): General

See also:

Pray earnestly for other Christians

Acts 12:5  So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church. ▤ 

Col 4:12  Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God. ▤ 

1Thes 3:10  … as we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith? ▤ 

Deut 9:18-19, 25-26  Then I lay prostrate before the Lord as before, forty days and forty nights. I neither ate bread nor drank water, because of all the sin that you had committed, in doing what was evil in the sight of the Lord to provoke him to anger. 19For I was afraid of the anger and hot displeasure that the Lord bore against you, so that he was ready to destroy you. But the Lord listened to me that time also. ▤ 25“So I lay prostrate before the Lord for these forty days and forty nights, because the Lord had said he would destroy you. 26And I prayed to the Lord, ‘O Lord God, do not destroy your people and your heritage, whom you have redeemed through your greatness, whom you have brought out of Egypt with a mighty hand. ▤ 

Along with falling prostrate before God for forty days and nights, Moses’ fasting (v. 18) points to the earnestness of his accompanying supplication to God (vv. 19, 26).

Pray constantly for other Christians

See also:

When Paul speaks of always or continually praying for his readers (cf. Always thank God for other Christians because of their faith and love), he is using hyperbole to portray his persistence in prayer for them.

Rom 1:9-10  For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you 10always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. ▤ 

Eph 6:17-18  … and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, … ▤ 

Col 1:9  And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, … ▤ 

2Tim 1:3  I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. ▤ 

Heb 13:18  Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things. ▤ 

The first clause quite possibly has the sense of: “Keep on praying for us.” (GNT; cf. AMP)

1Sam 7:8  And the people of Israel said to Samuel, “Do not cease to cry out to the Lord our God for us, that he may save us from the hand of the Philistines.” ▤ 

Unlike the previous references which mention ongoing, tenacious prayer, this and the following verse from Nehemiah 1:6 refer to instances of concentrated prayer for a particular situation.

Neh 1:6  … let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father’s house have sinned. ▤ 

Pray for those facing persecution

See also:

Acts 12:5  So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church. ▤ 

Rom 15:30-31  I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf, 31that I may be delivered from the unbelievers in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, … ▤ 

2Cor 1:10-11  He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. 11You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many. ▤ 

Paul does not indicate exactly what he is referring to by the phrase “deadly peril” (v. 10), although in v. 8 he speaks of “the affliction we experienced in Asia”. Probably it was some kind of persecution.

Phil 1:18b-19  Yes, and I will rejoice, 19for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, … ▤ 

Paul speaks of the Philippians’ prayers for him while he was imprisoned because of his work for God’s kingdom (cf. v. 17; Col 4:18 ).

Col 4:18  I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you. ▤ 

2Thes 1:4-5, 11  Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring. 5This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering— ▤ 11To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, … ▤ 

The persecution that the Thessalonians were suffering (vv. 4-5) appears to be at least part of the reason for Paul praying for them.

Pray for those spreading the gospel

See also:

Acts 13:2-3  While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off. ▤ 

Presumably the prayer was focused on Barnabas and Saul and the work ahead of them (v. 2) in proclaiming the gospel.

Eph 6:18b-20  To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. ▤ 

Col 4:3-4  At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— 4that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak. ▤ 

1Thes 5:25  Brothers, pray for us. ▤ 

Paul asks the Thessalonians to pray for him and his companions in spreading the word.

2Thes 3:1-2  Finally, brothers,b pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored,c as happened among you, 2and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men. For not all have faith. ▤ 

b Or brothers and sisters; also verses 6, 13

c Or glorified

Always thank God for other Christians because of their faith and love

See also:

Eph 1:15-16  For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your loved toward all the saints, 16I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, … ▤ 

d Some manuscripts omit your love

Philem 1:4-5  I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, 5because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints, … ▤ 

2Thes 1:3  We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers,e as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. ▤ 

e Or brothers and sisters. The plural Greek word adelphoi (translated “brothers”) refers to siblings in a family. In New Testament usage, depending on the context, adelphoi may refer either to men or to both men and women who are siblings (brothers and sisters) in God’s family, the church

Rom 1:8  First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. ▤ 

1Thes 2:13  And we also thank God constantlyf for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers. ▤ 

f Or without ceasing

Paul thanked God continually essentially because of the Thessalonians’ faith – with them having “received” and “accepted” Paul’s message as “the word of God”, as “believers”.

1Thes 3:7-9  … for this reason, brothers,g in all our distress and affliction we have been comforted about you through your faith. 8For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord. 9For what thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God, … ▤ 

g Or brothers and sisters

  • Paul always thanked God for the Thessalonians because God had chosen them:

2Thes 2:13  But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruitsh to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. ▤ 

h Some manuscripts chose you from the beginning

Note that Paul’s reason for thanking God for the Thessalonians involves their coming to faith – their “belief in the truth” – which is line with the theme of this subsection.

Thank and praise God because of the service of other Christians

2Cor 8:16-17  But thanks be to God, who put into the heart of Titus the same earnest care I have for you. 17For he not only accepted our appeal, but being himself very earnest he is goingi to you of his own accord. ▤ 

i Or he went

We should thank God for the care and earnestness shown by others in their ministry.

Phil 1:3-5  I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, 5because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. ▤ 

1Thes 1:2-3  We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantlyj mentioning you in our prayers, 3remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. ▤ 

j Or without ceasing

Gal 1:22-24  And I was still unknown in person to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. 23They only were hearing it said, “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24And they glorified God because of me. ▤ 

The churches glorified God for Paul not only because of his preaching but also because of the amazing turn around in the life of their former adversary.

Judg 5:2, 9  That the leaders took the lead in Israel, that the people offered themselves willingly, bless the Lord! ▤ 9My heart goes out to the commanders of Israel who offered themselves willingly among the people. Bless the Lord. ▤ 

  • Always thank God for others because of his grace given to them:

1Cor 1:4-5  I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, 5that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— ▤ 

Pray for persecuted Christians

Pray for Each Other (II): What to Ask

Ask that other believers will live as God wants

2Cor 13:7  But we pray to God that you may not do wrong—not that we may appear to have met the test, but that you may do what is right, though we may seem to have failed. ▤ 

Paul was more concerned that the Corinthians live godly lives than about others’ incorrect perceptions of himself.

Col 1:9-10  And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. ▤ 

Paul prays that the Colossians would have knowledge of God’s will (v. 9), so as to live a life worthy of the Lord and be pleasing to him (v. 10).

2Thes 1:11  To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, … ▤ 

Here Paul essentially prays that God would make the Thessalonians worthy of the life to which he had called them to live (cf. GNT, NCV, NLT), with the implication that they would live accordingly.

1Ki 8:36  … then hear in heaven and forgive the sin of your servants, your people Israel, when you teach them the good way in which they should walk, and grant rain upon your land, which you have given to your people as an inheritance. ▤ 

In this rendering Solomon refers to God teaching his people the right way to live rather than actually asking him to do so, but the Hebrew can be interpreted as at least implying a request that God do so (cf. CEV, GNT, NASB, NCV, NIV, NLT).

1Chr 29:18-19  O Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, our fathers, keep forever such purposes and thoughts in the hearts of your people, and direct their hearts toward you. 19Grant to Solomon my son a whole heart that he may keep your commandments, your testimonies, and your statutes, performing all, and that he may build the palace for which I have made provision. ▤ 

The phrase “such purposes and thoughts” (v. 18) probably refers to the desire to serve God, as the people had just exhibited in their generous giving toward the work on the temple.

Ask God to forgive them and show mercy when they do sin

See also:

Num 14:19-20  Please pardon the iniquity of this people, according to the greatness of your steadfast love, just as you have forgiven this people, from Egypt until now.” 20Then the Lord said, “I have pardoned, according to your word. ▤ 

1Ki 8:33-34, 38-40, 49-51  When your people Israel are defeated before the enemy because they have sinned against you, and if they turn again to you and acknowledge your name and pray and plead with you in this house, 34then hear in heaven and forgive the sin of your people Israel and bring them again to the land that you gave to their fathers. ▤ 38whatever prayer, whatever plea is made by any man or by all your people Israel, each knowing the affliction of his own heart and stretching out his hands toward this house, 39then hear in heaven your dwelling place and forgive and act and render to each whose heart you know, according to all his ways (for you, you only, know the hearts of all the children of mankind), 40that they may fear you all the days that they live in the land that you gave to our fathers. ▤ 49then hear in heaven your dwelling place their prayer and their plea, and maintain their cause 50and forgive your people who have sinned against you, and all their transgressions that they have committed against you, and grant them compassion in the sight of those who carried them captive, that they may have compassion on them 51(for they are your people, and your heritage, which you brought out of Egypt, from the midst of the iron furnace). ▤ 

In v. 39, Solomon appears to be asking God to deal mercifully with those whose hearts are truly repentant, while harshly with those who are not.

Dan 9:16-19  “O Lord, according to all your righteous acts, let your anger and your wrath turn away from your city Jerusalem, your holy hill, because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and your people have become a byword among all who are around us. 17Now therefore, O our God, listen to the prayer of your servant and to his pleas for mercy, and for your own sake, O Lord,m make your face to shine upon your sanctuary, which is desolate. 18O my God, incline your ear and hear. Open your eyes and see our desolations, and the city that is called by your name. For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy. 19O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people are called by your name.” ▤ 

m Hebrew for the Lord’s sake

Joel 2:17  Between the vestibule and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep and say, “Spare your people, O Lord, and make not your heritage a reproach, a byword among the nations.n Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’” ▤ 

n Or reproach, that the nations should rule over them

Apparently as a consequence of the people’s sin (cf. vv. 12-13), an awesome plague of locusts had devastated the land. Thus here Joel relates God’s call for the priests to pray for mercy on the people’s behalf.

Amos 7:1-2  This is what the Lord God showed me: behold, he was forming locusts when the latter growth was just beginning to sprout, and behold, it was the latter growth after the king’s mowings. 2When they had finished eating the grass of the land, I said, “O Lord God, please forgive! How can Jacob stand? He is so small!” ▤ 

1Jn 5:16  If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and Godo will give him life—to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that. ▤ 

o Greek he

For comment, see the comment on 1Jn 5:16 – under Restoring a person who has sinned.

Job 42:7-9  After the Lord had spoken these words to Job, the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite: “My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has. 8Now therefore take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and offer up a burnt offering for yourselves. And my servant Job shall pray for you, for I will accept his prayer not to deal with you according to your folly. For you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.” 9So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went and did what the Lord had told them, and the Lord accepted Job’s prayer. ▤ 

  • Paul’s desire or prayer that Jesus Christ would show mercy to Onesiphorus for all his help:

2Tim 1:16, 18  May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains, ▤ 18may the Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord on that Day!—and you well know all the service he rendered at Ephesus. ▤ 

Note that Paul is addressing Timothy here – rather than directly offering a prayer to God.

  • Jesus prayed that Simon Peter’s faith would not fail:

Luke 22:31-32  “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you,l that he might sift you like wheat, 32but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” ▤ 

l The Greek word for you (twice in this verse) is plural; in verse 32, all four instances are singular

Pray for their spiritual growth and maturity

See also:

Eph 1:16-19  I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might … ▤ 

Spiritual knowledge and insight feature in some of Paul’s prayers for the spiritual growth of his readers (cf. Eph 3:16-19 ; Phil 1:9-11 ; Col 1:9-10 ), as they are key to other aspects of spiritual growth.

Eph 3:14-19  For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15from whom every familyk in heaven and on earth is named, 16that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. ▤ 

k Or fatherhood; the Greek word patria is closely related to the word for Father in verse 14

Phil 1:9-11  And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. ▤ 

The phrase “the fruit of righteousness” (v. 11a) could refer to either good deeds (cf. CEV, NCV) or to righteous qualities (cf. GNT). The concept of being “filled with the fruit” seems to favour the second interpretation.

2Cor 13:9  For we are glad when we are weak and you are strong. Your restoration is what we pray for. ▤ 

Here Paul appears to have in view the Corinthian’s “restoration to maturity” (NLT) – that they would be “made complete” (NASB, NKJV; cf. NCV) and “become perfect” (GNT, NRSV; cf. AMP, NIV).

Col 4:12  Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God. ▤ 

1Thes 3:12-13  … and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, 13so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints. ▤ 

Like the next two references – and a number of other verses in the following subsections – this is, strictly speaking, a blessing (the invoking of God’s favor). In a real sense such blessings are prayers – and certainly can be used as such.

1Thes 5:23  Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. ▤ 

2Thes 3:5  May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ. ▤ 

It is not clear as to whether Paul is referring here to the Thessalonians having a greater appreciation of God’s love and Christ’s perseverance for them, or to their lives increasingly reflecting these – the latter being more relevant to this subsection. However, even if the former is the case, it can be inferred that the latter is implied.

Pray for them in their work for the kingdom, asking God to aid them in the work

See also:

Acts 14:23, 26  And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed. ▤ 26and from there they sailed to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work that they had fulfilled. ▤ 

In committing Christian workers by prayer to the Lord and to the grace of God, we are essentially praying for them in their work and thus also the work itself.

Rom 15:30-31  I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf, 31that I may be delivered from the unbelievers in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, … ▤ 

Col 1:9-10  And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. ▤ 

To be precise Paul is praying indirectly for the Colossians’ work. Paul prays that God would fill them with the knowledge of his will (v. 9), with the result that they would bear fruit for God’s kingdom in their work (v. 10).

2Thes 1:11  To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, … ▤ 

2Thes 2:16-17  Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, 17comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word. ▤ 

Paul prays that they would be comforted and given strength in everything they do and say for the Lord.

Philem 1:6  … and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ.p ▤ 

p Or for Christ’s service

With the expression “every good thing that is in us” Paul may have in view things we have been equipped with for serving Christ (cf. text note). Regarding the meaning of “the sharing of your faith”, see Further reasons.

Deut 33:11  Bless, O Lord, his substance, and accept the work of his hands; crush the loins of his adversaries, of those who hate him, that they rise not again. ▤ 

The request “accept the work of his hands” is in effect asking God to help them (the Levites) to do work which is pleasing to God, in their work as spiritual leaders of their people.

Ask God to help and take care of them

See also:

Deut 33:7  And this he said of Judah: “Hear, O Lord, the voice of Judah, and bring him in to his people. With your hands contendq for him, and be a help against his adversaries.” ▤ 

q Probable reading; Hebrew With his hands he contended

Judah’s leading role in military campaigns appears to be in view. The clause “bring him in to his people” is most likely a request that God would bring the fighting men safely back to the people, in response to his “voice” or prayer.

1Ki 8:52, 59  Let your eyes be open to the plea of your servant and to the plea of your people Israel, giving ear to them whenever they call to you. ▤ 59Let these words of mine, with which I have pleaded before the Lord, be near to the Lord our God day and night, and may he maintain the cause of his servant and the cause of his people Israel, as each day requires, … ▤ 

Verse 52 is from Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the temple (cf. vv. 22-53). Verse v. 59 is from his subsequent address to the people, where he refers to a prime purpose of his prayer, i.e. that God may uphold the cause of his people “as each day requires”.

Ps 5:11  But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you. ▤ 

Ps 25:22  Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles. ▤ 

Ps 28:9  Oh, save your people and bless your heritage! Be their shepherd and carry them forever. ▤ 

Ps 36:10  Oh, continue your steadfast love to those who know you, and your righteousness to the upright of heart! ▤ 

David asks God to manifest his love and righteousness to his people in caring for them (cf. v. 11).

Ps 80:14-15  Turn again, O God of hosts! Look down from heaven, and see; have regard for this vine, 15the stock that your right hand planted, and for the son whom you made strong for yourself. ▤ 

The “vine” (v. 14) – like the “stock” and the “son” (v. 15) – is the people of Israel.

Ps 125:4  Do good, O Lord, to those who are good, and to those who are upright in their hearts! ▤ 

3Jn 1:2  Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul. ▤ 

John prays that all may go well with his friend Gaius – including his health – just as he is doing well spiritually.

  • Commit others to God:

Acts 20:32  And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. ▤ 

Pronounce godly blessings on other believers . . .

See also:

Pronouncing godly blessings on people is in effect asking God to grant the blessings (cf. 2Chr 30:27 ).

Ps 20:1-5  May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble! May the name of the God of Jacob protect you! 2May he send you help from the sanctuary and give you support from Zion! 3May he remember all your offerings and regard with favor your burnt sacrifices! Selah 4May he grant you your heart’s desire and fulfill all your plans! 5May we shout for joy over your salvation, and in the name of our God set up our banners! May the Lord fulfill all your petitions! ▤ 

Ps 134:3  May the Lord bless you from Zion, he who made heaven and earth! ▤ 

Eph 6:23-24  Peace be to the brothers,r and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 24Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible. ▤ 

r Or brothers and sisters

Jude 1:2  May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you. ▤ 

2Chr 30:27  Then the priests and the Levites arose and blessed the people, and their voice was heard, and their prayer came to his holy habitation in heaven. ▤ 

Note that the blessing of the people by the priests/Levites and the later phrase “their prayer”, equate blessing others with prayer.

Deut 33:13-16  And of Joseph he said, “Blessed by the Lord be his land, with the choicest gifts of heaven above,s and of the deep that crouches beneath, 14with the choicest fruits of the sun and the rich yield of the months, 15with the finest produce of the ancient mountains and the abundance of the everlasting hills, 16with the best gifts of the earth and its fullness and the favor of him who dwells in the bush. May these rest on the head of Joseph, on the pate of him who is prince among his brothers. ▤ 

s Two Hebrew manuscripts and Targum; Hebrew with the dew

2Sam 15:20b  Go back and take your brothers with you, and may the Lord showt steadfast love and faithfulness to you. ▤ 

t Septuagint; Hebrew lacks may the Lord show

Ps 3:8  Salvation belongs to the Lord; your blessing be on your people! Selah ▤ 

Note that here and in Deuteronomy 33:11a below, the speaker actually asks God to bless the people, rather than pronouncing a blessing on them as such.

Deut 33:11  Bless, O Lord, his substance, and accept the work of his hands; crush the loins of his adversaries, of those who hate him, that they rise not again. ▤ 

“Bless, O Lord, his substance” (v. 11) may be a general blessing, to bless the people of the tribe of Levi – making them strong (cf. CEV, GNT, NCV).

. . . Pronouncements of blessings of God’s and Jesus Christ’s presence

Ruth 2:4  And behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem. And he said to the reapers, “The Lord be with you!” And they answered, “The Lord bless you.” ▤ 

“The Lord be with you!” alludes to God’s care and blessing (cf. Num 6:24-26 ), as reflected in the harvesters’ responding greeting.

2Thes 3:16  Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all. ▤ 

Rom 15:33  May the God of peace be with you all. Amen. ▤ 

2Tim 4:22  The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you.u ▤ 

u The Greek for you is plural

Similarly in Galatians 6:18 (cf. Phil 4:23; Philem 1:25) Paul says, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen.”

  • The priestly blessing, involving God’s presence:

Num 6:22-27  The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 23“Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them, 24The Lord bless you and keep you; 25the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; 26the Lord lift up his countenancev upon you and give you peace. 27“So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them.” ▤ 

v Or face

The clauses “the Lord make his face to shine upon you” (v. 25) and “the Lord lift up his countenance upon you” (v. 26) allude to God’s presence accompanied by his kindness and attentive care. Verse 27a is speaking of the preceding blessing either invoking God’s presence amongst the people or designating them as God’s people. For further comment on v. 27, see God’s people are called and identified by his name and Jesus Christ’s name.

Note: Prayer for the blessing and peace of Jerusalem

Ps 51:18  Do good to Zion in your good pleasure; build up the walls of Jerusalem; … ▤ 

Ps 122:6-9  Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! “May they be secure who love you! 7Peace be within your walls and security within your towers!” 8For my brothers and companions’ sake I will say, “Peace be within you!” 9For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your good. ▤ 

Ps 125:5  But those who turn aside to their crooked ways the Lord will lead away with evildoers! Peace be upon Israel! ▤ 

Ps 128:5-6  The Lord bless you from Zion! May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life! 6May you see your children’s children! Peace be upon Israel! ▤ 

The second exclamation in v. 5 is indirectly a prayer for Jerusalem.

Isa 62:1, 6-7  For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a burning torch. ▤ 6On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have set watchmen; all the day and all the night they shall never be silent. You who put the Lord in remembrance, take no rest, 7and give him no rest until he establishes Jerusalem and makes it a praise in the earth. ▤ 

In v. 1, although it could be God or even the Messiah, Isaiah may well be the speaker. As such he would be in view as the one who “will not stop praying for her” (NLT), i.e. for Jerusalem. Quite probably God is the speaker in vv. 6-7, where Jerusalem’s watchmen are exhorted to pray for her (cf. AMP, NCV, NLT).

  • A blessing of peace and mercy upon “the Israel of God”:

Gal 6:16  And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God. ▤ 

Pray for persecuted Christians

Encourage Each Other

See also:

The Hebrew and Greek words translated “encourage” often imply meanings such as “strengthen”, “exhort” and “comfort”.  Believers are to strengthen each other, particularly in regard to faith and work for the kingdom; they are to exhort each other to press on and to live as God wants; and they are to comfort each other in difficult circumstances.

Encourage each other

See also:

1Thes 5:11, 14  Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. ▤ 14And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle,w encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. ▤ 

w Or disorderly, or undisciplined

Heb 3:13  But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. ▤ 

We are to strongly encourage others in the faith, even doing so daily.

Heb 10:24-25  And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. ▤ 

The encouragement spoken of (v. 25) is applicable to – if not at least in part referring to – spurring or encouraging one another on “to love and good works” (v. 24).

Acts 16:40  So they went out of the prison and visited Lydia. And when they had seen the brothers, they encouraged them and departed. ▤ 

Acts 20:1-2  After the uproar ceased, Paul sent for the disciples, and after encouraging them, he said farewell and departed for Macedonia. 2When he had gone through those regions and had given them much encouragement, he came to Greece. ▤ 

Col 4:8  I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are and that he may encourage your hearts, … ▤ 

1Cor 16:17-18  I rejoice at the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus, because they have made up for your absence, 18for they refreshed my spirit as well as yours. Give recognition to such men. ▤ 

Rom 12:6-8  Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads,x with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. ▤ 

x Or gives aid

All Christians are to exhort one another, but this reference indicates that some are especially equipped to do so with a spiritual gift.

  • Exhort others daily so none may be hardened by sin:

Heb 3:12-13  Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. ▤ 

Strengthen each other  

See also:

1Sam 23:16  And Jonathan, Saul’s son, rose and went to David at Horesh, and strengthened his hand in God. ▤ 

Job 4:3-4  Behold, you have instructed many, and you have strengthened the weak hands. 4Your words have upheld him who was stumbling, and you have made firm the feeble knees. ▤ 

Job had strengthened many who had been weakened and discouraged (cf. Isa 35:3-4 ).

Luke 22:32  … but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers. ▤ 

Acts 14:21-22  When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, 22strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. ▤ 

Acts 18:23  After spending some time there, he departed and went from one place to the next through the region of Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples. ▤ 

Acts 11:23  When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose, … ▤ 

1Cor 14:26  What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up. ▤ 

1Thes 3:2-3  … and we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s coworkery in the gospel of Christ, to establish and exhort you in your faith, 3that no one be moved by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this. ▤ 

y Some manuscripts servant

  • Love builds up others:

1Cor 8:1  Now concerningz food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. ▤ 

z The expression Now concerning introduces a reply to a question in the Corinthians’ letter; see 7:1

The phrase “builds up” here refers to building up others in the church.

Encourage and strengthen each other by what you say . . .

See also:

2Chr 32:6-8  And he set combat commanders over the people and gathered them together to him in the square at the gate of the city and spoke encouragingly to them, saying, 7“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or dismayed before the king of Assyria and all the horde that is with him, for there are more with us than with him. 8With him is an arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God, to help us and to fight our battles.” And the people took confidence from the words of Hezekiah king of Judah. ▤ 

Job 16:5  I could strengthen you with my mouth, and the solace of my lips would assuage your pain. ▤ 

Isa 35:3-4  Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. 4Say to those who have an anxious heart, “Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.” ▤ 

Acts 13:15-16  After the reading from the Law and the Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent a message to them, saying, “Brothers, if you have any word of encouragement for the people, say it.” 16So Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand said: “Men of Israel and you who fear God, listen. ▤ 

Paul responded to the invitation to speak a message of encouragement with a message featuring an exposition regarding Jesus’ fulfillment of OT messianic prophecies (cf. vv. 26-41).

Acts 15:30-32  So when they were sent off, they went down to Antioch, and having gathered the congregation together, they delivered the letter. 31And when they had read it, they rejoiced because of its encouragement. 32And Judas and Silas, who were themselves prophets, encouraged and strengthened the brothers with many words. ▤ 

The letter had been sent by the Apostles and elders in Jerusalem in response to wrong teaching that had disturbed and troubled the believers at Antioch.

Acts 27:22, 25, 36  Yet now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. ▤ 25So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. ▤ 36Then they all were encouraged and ate some food themselves. ▤ 

The bulk of those to whom these words were directed were not believers; nevertheless this is a great example of encouraging others by what one says.

2Cor 12:19  Have you been thinking all along that we have been defending ourselves to you? It is in the sight of God that we have been speaking in Christ, and all for your upbuilding, beloved. ▤ 

Eph 4:29  Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. ▤ 

Talk that will “give grace” is talk that will benefit and be a blessing to those who hear.

1Thes 4:18  Therefore encourage one another with these words. ▤ 

The reference here is to “words” about Jesus Christ’s return (vv. 13-17).

Prov 12:25  Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad. ▤ 

1Cor 14:3-4  On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. 4The one who speaks in a tongue builds up himself, but the one who prophesies builds up the church. ▤ 

Those who prophesy build up and encourage others by what they say. In regard to the term “prophesies”, see The various spiritual gifts . . .; . . . Examples of the Holy Spirit enabling believers to speak in other languages and to prophesy

. . . Exhort others to continue in God’s grace

See also:

Acts 13:43  And after the meeting of the synagogue broke up, many Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who, as they spoke with them, urged them to continue in the grace of God. ▤ 

Continuing in God’s grace primarily involves remaining true to God and holding to the faith. As such one remains under God’s grace, staying right with him (just as one received God’s grace in originally being made right with him). It also encompasses relying on God’s grace for God to meet one’s needs, notably spiritual needs.

1Pet 5:12  By Silvanus, a faithful brother as I regard him, I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it. ▤ 

The word “this” may be referring to their Christian faith, or in particular to the teaching in Peter’s letter. In any case, the final statement is an exhortation to stand firm in God’s grace, in accordance with the “exhorting” Peter had done throughout his letter.

2Cor 6:1  Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. ▤ 

By urging the Corinthians “not to receive the grace of God in vain” (v. 1), Paul appears to be appealing to the Corinthians not to forfeit the salvation (cf. v. 2) that God’s grace has provided (cf. Heb 12:15 ). However, note that a number of commentators have a somewhat different interpretation.

Heb 12:15-16  See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; 16that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. ▤ 

  • Exhort and encourage others to live lives worthy of God:

1Thes 2:11-12  For you know how, like a father with his children, 12we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory. ▤ 

Encourage and strengthen each other by what you do . . .

Note that while the following references to encouraging and strengthening all refer to or are at least applicable to actions, they are not all confined to actions (as opposed to words).

Rom 14:19  So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. ▤ 

Rom 15:2  Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. ▤ 

Phil 1:14  And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the worda without fear. ▤ 

a Some manuscripts add of God

Paul’s faithful and courageous example in prison had encouraged others to likewise courageously promote the gospel.

Col 2:1-2  For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, 2that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, … ▤ 

Paul’s “struggle” (v. 1) may have been largely in prayer, as at the time of writing he was confined in chains. As such, one of the main purposes of his prayers for them was that they would be encouraged (v. 2).

Acts 4:36-37  Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, 37sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet. ▤ 

The name given to Joseph by the apostles would have reflected his character. As such its meaning (v. 36b) indicated that he was an encouragement to others – as demonstrated by his notable act of generosity (v. 37).

Rom 1:11-12  For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— 12that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. ▤ 

In v. 12 Paul qualifies what he has just said in v. 11, indicating that he hoped that there would be mutual encouragement between the believers in Rome and himself. Partly in light of this, a number of commentators interpret “impart to you some spiritual gift” (v. 11) as not referring to Paul bestowing on them a spiritual gift. Rather they think Paul means either that he intended to use a spiritual gift of his own to strengthen them or that he would confer on them a spiritual blessing.

. . . Do not do anything that will cause another to “stumble”

Rom 14:13-15, 20-23; 15:1  Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. 14I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. 15For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died. ▤ 20Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats. 21It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble.b 22The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves. 23But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.c ▤  15:1 We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. ▤ 

b Some manuscripts add or be hindered or be weakened

c Some manuscripts insert here 16:25-27

We should not do things (here consuming particular kinds of food or drink) that even though they may be acceptable biblically, other “weak” Christians consider wrong. For by so doing we can influence these Christians to act accordingly, which would for them be going against their conscience and beliefs. Hence they would be acting out of step with their faith (v. 23) – or stumbling – which is sin. Regarding “destroy” (vv. 15, 20; cf. 1Cor 8:11 ), though it often denotes eternal destruction, here it may be used with a transient connotation or to indicate serious spiritual harm. Verse 22b, in view of what precedes it, may be speaking of a “strong” Christian not condemning himself by offending others. However, v. 23 suggests that it is talking about a “weak” Christian not condemning himself through his actions by approving something that is inconsistent with his beliefs.

1Cor 8:4, 7-13  Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “an idol has no real existence,” and that “there is no God but one.” ▤ 7However, not all possess this knowledge. But some, through former association with idols, eat food as really offered to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. 8Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. 9But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. 10For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eatingd in an idol’s temple, will he not be encouraged,e if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? 11And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. 12Thus, sinning against your brothersf and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. 13Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble. ▤ 

d Greek reclining at table

e Or fortified; Greek built up

f Or brothers and sisters

Note that in speaking of “eating in an idol’s temple” (v. 10) Paul may be referring to feasting in part of such a temple in a context which did not involve worship of idols. Alternatively Paul may be figuratively referring to eating food that had previously been sacrificed to idols in a temple.

1Cor 10:27-29a, 31-33  If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. 28But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience— 29I do not mean your conscience, but his. ▤ 31So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 32Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, 33just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved. ▤ 

2Cor 6:3  We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, … ▤ 

Note that here Paul may not necessarily be speaking about an obstacle or “stumbling block” (NIV®) to a fellow believer” in their faith. He may more generally be referring to not causing a person – believer or non-believer – to be offended by some action of his so as to become closed to him and his ministry.

Heb 12:13  … and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. ▤ 

The first clause is quoting Proverbs 4:26. Paul uses it to urge the readers to make straight, righteous paths – so that not only would they not stumble spiritually, but that the spiritually weak among them would not be further weakened or disabled through the influence of their sin. Making such “paths” would in fact help the weak, bringing spiritual healing.

2Cor 7:2  Make room in your heartsg for us. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have taken advantage of no one. ▤ 

g Greek lacks in your hearts

Deut 1:26-28  “Yet you would not go up, but rebelled against the command of the Lord your God. 27And you murmured in your tents and said, ‘Because the Lord hated us he has brought us out of the land of Egypt, to give us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us. 28Where are we going up? Our brothers have made our hearts melt, saying, “The people are greater and taller than we. The cities are great and fortified up to heaven. And besides, we have seen the sons of the Anakim there.”’ ▤ 

The Israelite spies, lacking faith in God, indicated that they did not think the people could conquer the inhabitants of the promised land (v. 28), thereby discouraging the people (v. 28a) and causing them to stumble (vv. 26-27).

  • A grave warning against causing a believer to sin:

Matt 18:5-7  Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, 6but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin,h it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. 7“Woe to the world for temptations to sin!i For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes! ▤ 

h Greek causes . . . to stumble; also verses 8, 9

i Greek stumbling blocks

Comfort each other

2Cor 1:3-7  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.j 6If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. 7Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort. ▤ 

j Or For as the sufferings of Christ abound for us, so also our comfort abounds through Christ

The comfort God gives to believers in their sufferings for Christ, prepares them to give comfort to other believers who suffer. So Paul could say in v. 6 that both his affliction and the subsequent comfort from God were for the comfort of his readers.

2Cor 7:5-7  For even when we came into Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were afflicted at every turn—fighting without and fear within. 6But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, 7and not only by his coming but also by the comfort with which he was comforted by you, as he told us of your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced still more. ▤ 

Titus and the Corinthians both brought comfort to Paul, comfort which Paul attributed ultimately to God.

Col 4:11  … and Jesus who is called Justus. These are the only men of the circumcision among my fellow workers for the kingdom of God, and they have been a comfort to me. ▤ 

Note that the phrase “men of the circumcision” indicates that these men were Jews.

1Thes 3:6-7  But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us the good news of your faith and love and reported that you always remember us kindly and long to see us, as we long to see you— 7for this reason, brothers,k in all our distress and affliction we have been comforted about you through your faith. ▤ 

k Or brothers and sisters

Philem 1:7  For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you. ▤ 

Paul had been comforted by what Philemon had done for other believers, which had also encouraged or cheered them (cf. AMP, CEV, GNT). Later in v. 20 Paul similarly asks Philemon: “Refresh my heart in Christ” – by complying with a request (cf. vv. 17-21).

Ruth 2:8-9, 13  Then Boaz said to Ruth, “Now, listen, my daughter, do not go to glean in another field or leave this one, but keep close to my young women. 9Let your eyes be on the field that they are reaping, and go after them. Have I not charged the young men not to touch you? And when you are thirsty, go to the vessels and drink what the young men have drawn.” ▤ 13Then she said, “I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, for you have comforted me and spoken kindly to your servant, though I am not one of your servants.” ▤ 

1Cor 14:3  On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. ▤ 

  • Forgive and comfort those sorrow over their sin:

2Cor 2:5-7  Now if anyone has caused pain, he has caused it not to me, but in some measure—not to put it too severely—to all of you. 6For such a one, this punishment by the majority is enough, 7so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. ▤ 

Comfort those in need by visiting them

See also:

1Chr 7:22  And Ephraim their father mourned many days, and his brothers came to comfort him. ▤ 

Job 2:11  Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that had come upon him, they came each from his own place, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. They made an appointment together to come to show him sympathy and comfort him. ▤ 

Job 42:11  Then came to him all his brothers and sisters and all who had known him before, and ate bread with him in his house. And they showed him sympathy and comforted him for all the evill that the Lord had brought upon him. And each of them gave him a piece of moneym and a ring of gold. ▤ 

l Or disaster

m Hebrew a qesitah; a unit of money of unknown value

John 11:19  … and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. ▤ 

2Tim 1:16-17  May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains, 17but when he arrived in Rome he searched for me earnestly and found me ▤ 

Onesiphorus went to some lengths to visit Paul, so as to refresh him – “comforting and reviving and bracing me like fresh air” (AMP).

  • Visit those who are imprisoned:

Matt 25:36, 39-40  I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ ▤ 39And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,n you did it to me.’ ▤ 

n Or brothers and sisters

Pray for persecuted Christians

Help Each Other

See also:

Care about and be concerned for each other

1Cor 12:25  … that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. ▤ 

2Cor 8:16  But thanks be to God, who put into the heart of Titus the same earnest care I have for you. ▤ 

2Cor 11:28-29  And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. 29Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant? ▤ 

Such was Paul’s concern for the churches (v. 28) that he strongly identified with them in their weaknesses and trials (v. 29), effectively sharing in them. The final phrase may be speaking of “intense concern” (NASB), “distress” (GNT, cf. NCV), or even “anger” (NLT, cf. CEV).

Phil 2:20  For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. ▤ 

Phil 4:10  I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. ▤ 

  • Look out for each other’s interests:

Phil 2:4  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. ▤ 

Consequently, help each other

See also:

We should help fellow believers in whatever way we can, as a consequence of the care and concern we should have towards each other (as spoken of in the previous subsection). Such help of course includes helping those who are in need of material or physical assistance (which is prominent in this and the following two subsections). It also includes helping others in a spiritual sense (cf. Acts 18:27 ; 1Thes 5:14 ; Col 2:19 ).

Acts 18:27  And when he wished to cross to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him. When he arrived, he greatly helped those who through grace had believed, … ▤ 

Acts 20:35  In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ▤ 

Particularly with the reference in the preceding verses to providing his own material needs (cf. vv. 33-34), here “the weak” probably refers to the poor (cf. NLT).

1Cor 12:28  And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. ▤ 

Church members with a gift of helping are especially equipped and responsible for helping others.

Gal 6:2  Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. ▤ 

1Thes 5:14  And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle,o encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. ▤ 

o Or disorderly, or undisciplined

As in Acts 20:35 above, here Paul also urges his readers to “help the weak”. While it could refer to the poor, here it may instead have in view those who are weak in the faith – i.e. spiritually immature or morally weak.

Heb 6:10  For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do. ▤ 

Serving other believers (as per the above cross reference) is of course indicative of helping them (cf. CEV, GNT, NCV, NIV).

Col 2:18-19  Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions,p puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, 19and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God. ▤ 

p Or about the things he has seen

Presumably the “joints and ligaments” are members of the church, the “body”. As such one can infer from this that church members are to be channels of nourishment and support – and so help one another.

1Chr 12:33  Of Zebulun 50,000 seasoned troops, equipped for battle with all the weapons of war, to help Davidq with singleness of purpose. ▤ 

q Septuagint; Hebrew lacks David

1Thes 5:15  See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. ▤ 

  • We should do good especially to other Christians:

Gal 6:10  So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. ▤ 

Meet each other’s needs . . .

Rom 16:2  … that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patron of many and of myself as well. ▤ 

2Cor 9:12  For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. ▤ 

2Cor 11:9  And when I was with you and was in need, I did not burden anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied my need. So I refrained and will refrain from burdening you in any way. ▤ 

Phil 2:25  I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need, … ▤ 

Phil 4:16  Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. ▤ 

Titus 3:13  Do your best to speed Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way; see that they lack nothing. ▤ 

James 2:15-16  If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what goodr is that? ▤ 

r Or benefit

Matt 10:41-42  The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. 42And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward. ▤ 

This speaks of rewards for providing for the needs of God’s people.

Acts 11:29  So the disciples determined, everyone according to his ability, to send relief to the brotherss living in Judea. ▤ 

s Or brothers and sisters

1Tim 5:10  … and having a reputation for good works: if she has brought up children, has shown hospitality, has washed the feet of the saints, has cared for the afflicted, and has devoted herself to every good work. ▤ 

1Tim 5:16  If any believing woman has relatives who are widows, let her care for them. Let the church not be burdened, so that it may care for those who are truly widows. ▤ 

. . . Share what you have with those in need

See also:

Note that most of the verses in the previous subsection are also pertinent to the theme of this subsection and vice versa.

Acts 2:44-45  And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. ▤ 

Acts 4:32, 34-35  Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. ▤ 34There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold 35and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. ▤ 

Note that the provision in the early Jerusalem church for the needy amongst them is further illustrated with the reference to a “daily distribution” of food (6:1) amongst needy widows.

Rom 12:13  Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. ▤ 

Rom 15:26-27  For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make some contribution for the poor among the saints at Jerusalem. 27For they were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have come to share in their spiritual blessings, they ought also to be of service to them in material blessings. ▤ 

1Cor 16:1-2  Now concerningt the collection for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. 2On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come. ▤ 

t The expression Now concerning introduces a reply to a question in the Corinthians’ letter; see 7:1; also verse 12

2Cor 8:3-4  For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, 4begging us earnestly for the favoru of taking part in the relief of the saints ▤ 

u The Greek word charis can mean favor or grace or thanks, depending on the context

2Cor 8:13-15  For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of fairness 14your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness. 15As it is written, “Whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack.” ▤ 

Paul speaks of the concept of “fairness” or equality, through whoever having plenty at a particular time supplying the needs of those who do not (v. 14). He reinforces it by referring to the giving of manna by God to the Israelites in the desert (v. 15); although some gathered much and others gathered little, all had enough. Paul is quite possibly using the quotation to imply that similarly now some have much and some have little, and steps should be taken to ensure that all have enough.

2Cor 9:13  By their approval of this service, theyv will glorify God because of your submission flowing from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, … ▤ 

v Or you

Eph 4:28  Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. ▤ 

Philem 1:6  … and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ.w ▤ 

w Or for Christ’s service

The phrase “the sharing of your faith” may be speaking of the sharing that is part of our faith, i.e. sharing of our possessions or ourselves with others (cf. NLT). Hence the verse’s inclusion here. Alternatively, it could be speaking of either: the sharing in our faith with fellow believers, including the participation in and fellowship of our faith (cf. AMP, GNT, NASB); or sharing what we believe with non-believers (cf. NIrV).

  • The love of God is not in one who does not share with a needy fellow believer:

1Jn 3:17  But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? ▤ 

Help others who are doing God’s work

See also:

Rom 16:1-2  I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servantx of the church at Cenchreae, 2that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patron of many and of myself as well. ▤ 

x Or deaconess

2Cor 1:11  You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many. ▤ 

Phil 4:3  Yes, I ask you also, true companion,y help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life. ▤ 

y Or loyal Syzygus; Greek true yokefellow

2Tim 1:16-18  May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains, 17but when he arrived in Rome he searched for me earnestly and found me— 18may the Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord on that Day!—and you well know all the service he rendered at Ephesus. ▤ 

The last clause likely refers to earlier help that Onesiphorus had given to Paul (cf. CEV, GNT, NCV, NIV, NLT).

2Tim 4:11  Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry. ▤ 

Philem 1:13  I would have been glad to keep him with me, in order that he might serve me on your behalf during my imprisonment for the gospel, … ▤ 

  • The other Levites were to help the priests in their ministry:

Num 18:2  And with you bring your brothers also, the tribe of Levi, the tribe of your father, that they may join you and minister to you while you and your sons with you are before the tent of the testimony. ▤ 

Note: What one does for another Christian, one does for Jesus Christ

See also:

Matt 25:31-46  “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,z you did it to me.’ 41“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” ▤ 

z Or brothers and sisters

Most interpret “these brothers of mine” to be referring to Christians. It has also been interpreted to refer to the poor and even to the Jews in particular.

Matt 10:40  Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. ▤ 

Matt 18:5  Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, … ▤ 

Here Jesus seems to be referring primarily to his followers, who should humble themselves like little children (cf. vv. 3-4). In speaking of welcoming such a “child” in his name, Jesus appears to be speaking of welcoming a believer either: as being of him (cf. Luke 9:48); for his sake (cf. AMP); or on his behalf (cf. NLT). The alternatives are to some extent interrelated. To welcome a believer as such, Jesus states, is in effect to welcome Jesus himself.

Gal 4:14  … and though my condition was a trial to you, you did not scorn or despise me, but received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus. ▤ 

This is not actually implying that what one does for another Christian, one does for Jesus Christ. But it is an excellent example of believers acting in accordance with this teaching.

  • By the same token, sinning against a fellow Christian is sinning against Christ:

1Cor 8:9-12  But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. 10For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eatinga in an idol’s temple, will he not be encouraged,b if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? 11And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. 12Thus, sinning against your brothersc and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. ▤ 

a Greek reclining at table

b Or fortified; Greek built up

c Or brothers and sisters

“Thus” (v. 12) suggests that the reason why sinning against a fellow Christian is sinning against Christ is that: because Christ died for them (v. 11) by sinning against them we are in a sense being disrespectful of Christ’s death. Alternatively Paul may be using the reference to Christ’s death to underline their association with Christ, because of which sinning against them is sinning against Christ.

Pray for persecuted Christians