2 Timothy 4:1-5
1 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;
2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.
3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.
The word reprove is the Greek word "elegcho" (Strong's #1651) which means: "to correct, to admonish, to expose, to show ones fault, to call to account, to bring to light." The teacher is required to exercise great patience and careful instruction. It implies great sensitivity.
The word rebuke has a stronger application. Rebuke is the Greek word "epitimao” (Strong's #2008) which means: "to reprove, to admonish severely, to censure sharply, or to charge sharply." Rebuking, though not easy, is required in the Church to expose false doctrines and beliefs. It is particularly necessary when the offender is deliberating misleading people with false information in spite of warnings and providing the offender with accurate biblical instruction.
The word exhort is the Greek word "parakaleo" (Strong's #3870) which means: "to admonish, to beseech, to comfort, to give encouragement, to entreat”. It implies urgency, but is a gentle, appealing, and strengthening word. The church badly needs encouragement. We are familiar with the noun ‘paraclete’ (comforter) used of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament.
The practicalities of refuting error
It’s one thing to know what needs doing and another to know how to do it! The best practical examples (as always), are gleaned from scripture itself. Here are some examples of how the apostles handled it,
- By reasoning with – i.e., ‘forming or trying to reach conclusions by connected thought silent or expressed (from premises: about, of, upon, a subject ’) - see Acts17:2
- By disputing g– i.e., ‘arguing about a subject by calling into question a statement or belief, or position’. (See Acts 17:17)
- By teaching – i.e., ‘enabling or causing someone to do by instruction and training’. (See Acts 18:13
- By being resolved in purpose – to be committed. (See Acts 18:11
- By convincing – i.e., ‘producing in a person a moral conviction (of sin, for example)’ Note that this conviction can have the result of turning a hearer away! (See Acts 19:9)
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