Exhortation

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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [1]

Exhortation (παράκλησις) played an important part in the apostolic ministry. As a technical term for a specific kind of Christian teaching, it first emerges in Acts and in the Epistles. No mention of it (as such) appears in the Gospels. They record the facts and teaching of Christ upon which the later exhortations were founded. Exhortation, or παράκλησις, may be described as a summons to the will, an appeal-urgent, persuasive, and even authoritative-which was based sometimes on Scripture ( Acts 13:15) or apostolic teaching ( 1 Timothy 6:2,  2 Timothy 4:2), but more especially on Christian prophecy ( Acts 15:32,  1 Corinthians 14:3;  1 Corinthians 14:31). It was what we call in modern sermons the ‘application.’ Prophesying and exhorting naturally went together in the proclamation of salvation. Cremer holds that exhortation belongs ‘to the domain of prophecy, and is like this a special charisma ( Romans 12:8), though it does not appear to have manifested itself separately as such’ ( Bibl.-Theol. Lex. of NT Greek 3, p. 337). Generally, no doubt, it was given by the Apostle or prophet himself, e.g. by St. Peter ( Acts 2:40), by Barnabas ( Acts 11:23), by St. Paul ( Acts 13:15 ff.), but at times, so it would appear from  Romans 12:8, the one who did the ‘exhorting’ might be a different speaker from the one who gave the ‘prophecy’ or ‘teaching.’ Frequently, indeed, especially in times of persecution or unrest, it consisted in a mutual exchange of encouragement or warning among believers ( 1 Thessalonians 4:18;  1 Thessalonians 5:11,  Hebrews 3:13;  Hebrews 10:25).

As the word παράκλησις has many shades of meaning, so the ‘exhortations’ referred to in the NT have many tones of emotional stimulus. In fact, the character of the exhortation was determined by the circumstances which called it forth. In times of threatened apostasy it was admonitory; amid persecution and danger it promoted comfort. Often παράκλησις can only mean ‘Comfort’ ( q.v. [Note: quod vide, which see.] ), and in all such instances it is so translated in both Authorized Versionand Revised Version( Acts 9:31,  Romans 15:4,  2 Corinthians 1:3 ff.); but in all cases where the Authorized Versionrenders it ‘exhortation’ the Revised Versiondoes the same (except in  1 Corinthians 14:3, where it might with advantage be retained instead of ‘comfort’). Similarly the verb παρακαλέω is often appropriately translated ‘comfort’ in both versions, but, again, wherever in Authorized Versionthe sense requires ‘exhort’ it so appears in the text of Revised Version(except in  Acts 18:27 ‘encourage’ and  2 Corinthians 9:5 ‘intreat’). To grasp the meaning of ‘exhort’ and ‘exhortation,’ as technical terms, it should be noticed that the verb παρακαλέω is, in many cases, translated ‘pray’ or ‘desire’ in Authorized Version, and ‘beseech’ or ‘intreat’ in Revised Versionwhen, however, the appeal so expressed springs from some personal wish or judgment, whereas the terms ‘exhort’ and ‘exhortation’ are retained for instances where the basis of appeal is some Divinely-given truth or revelation (cf. παρεκάλουν, ‘besought,’  Acts 13:42, and παρακαλοῦντες, ‘exhorting,’  Acts 14:22). Exhortation proper ( i.e. as part of the apostolic ministry), while it contained elements of personal entreaty (‘we beseech and exhort’ [ 1 Thessalonians 4:1]), partook more of the nature of a spiritually authoritative message (‘as though God were intreating, or exhorting [θεοῦ παρακαλοῦντος], by us,’  2 Corinthians 5:20; cf.  1 Thessalonians 2:3 f.), reproving ( Titus 2:15), encouraging ( 1 Thessalonians 2:11), commanding ( 2 Thessalonians 3:12), strengthening ( Acts 14:22;  Acts 15:32), edifying ( 1 Thessalonians 5:11), and, where successful, leading the hearers to a proper state of mind or to right conduct ( Titus 2:6 ff.,  1 Peter 5:1 f.).

It might be given to individuals, e.g. to Titus ( 2 Corinthians 8:17), to Timothy ( 1 Timothy 1:3), to Euodia and Syntyche ( Philippians 4:2); or it was a message addressed to the congregations, generally in their meetings for edification, either verbal ( Acts 13:15;  Acts 20:2,  1 Corinthians 14:3) or epistolary ( Acts 15:31 m.,  Hebrews 13:22,  1 Peter 5:12,  Judges 1:3).

Naturally exhortation was prominent at a time when a speedy Second Coming of Christ was expected (‘exhorting … so much the more as ye see the day drawing nigh,’  Hebrews 10:25; cf.  1 Thessalonians 4:18). The power of exhortation was regarded as one of the charismata , or ‘gifts’ bestowed by the Holy Spirit, for the edification of believers ( Romans 12:8,  1 Corinthians 14:3). Barnabas, or ‘son of exhortation,’ was so surnamed by the apostles ( Acts 4:36 Revised Version margin) because he was endowed with a large measure of this gift ( Acts 11:23). But it was a gift that could be cultivated. Its intensity and power could be increased by proper attention, and so St. Paul urged Timothy to ‘give heed to exhortation’ as well as to reading and teaching ( 1 Timothy 4:13).

Literature.-H. Cremer, Bibl.-Theol. Lex. of NT Greek 3, 1880, s.v. παράκλησις; O. Pfleiderer, Paulinism 2, Eng. translation, 1891, vol. i. ch. vi. p. 236; see also Literature under articleComfort.

M. Scott Fletcher.

Charles Buck Theological Dictionary [2]

The act of laying such motives before a person as may excite him to the performance of any duty. It differs only from suasion in that the latter principally endeavours to convince the understanding, and the former to work of the affections. It is considered as a great branch of preaching, though not confined to that, as a man may exhort, though he do not preach; though a man can hardly be said to preach if he do not exhort. It seems, however, that there are some, who, believing the inability of man to do any thing good, cannot reconcile the idea of exhorting men to duty, being, as they suppose, a contradiction to address men who have no power to act of themselves. But they forget,

1. That the Great Author of our being has appointed this as a mean for inclining the will to himself, Is. 55: 6, 7.  Luke 14:17;  Luke 23:1-56 :

2. That they who thus address do not suppose that there is any virtue in the exhortation itself, but that its energy depends on God alone,  1 Corinthians 15:10 .

3. That the Scripture enjoins ministers to exhort men, that is, to rouse them to duty, by proposing suitable motives, Is. 58: 1.  1 Timothy 6:2 .  Hebrews 3:13 .  Romans 12:8 .

4. That it was the constant practice of prophets, apostles, and Christ himself, Is. 1: 17.  Jeremiah 4:14 . Ez.xxxvii.  Luke 12:3 .  Luke 3:18 .  Acts 11:23 . "The express words, " says a good divine, "of scriptural invitations, exhortations, and promises, prove more effectual to encourage those who are ready to give up their hopes, than all the consolatory topics that can possibly be substituted in their place. It is, therefore, much to be lamented that pious men, by adhering to a supposed systematical exactness of expression, should clog their addresses to sinners with exception and limitations, which the Spirit of God did not see good to insert. They well not say that the omission was an oversight in the inspired writers; or admit the thought for a moment, that they can improve on their plan: why then cannot they be satisfied to "speak according to the oracles of God, without affecting a more entire consistency? Great mischief has thus been done by very different descriptions of men, who undesignedly concur in giving Satan an occasion of suggesting to the trembling enquirer that perhaps he may persevere in asking, seeking, and knocking, with the greatest earnestness and importunity, and yet finally be cast away."

Holman Bible Dictionary [3]

 Acts 2:40 Romans 12:8 Acts 15:32 1 Corinthians 14:3 Romans 1:12 1 Thessalonians 5:14 Hebrews 3:13 Hebrews 10:24-25 Romans 15:14 Hebrews 12:5-6 Acts 13:15 1 Corinthians 14:31 2 Samuel 11:25 Ephesians 6:22 Colossians 4:8 1 Peter 5:12 Hebrews 13:22 Acts 15:21

Webster's Dictionary [4]

(1): ( n.) The act of practice of exhorting; the act of inciting to laudable deeds; incitement to that which is good or commendable.

(2): ( n.) Language intended to incite and encourage; advice; counsel; admonition.

King James Dictionary [5]

EXHORTA'TION, n. The act or practice of exhorting the act of inciting to laudable deeds incitement to that which is good or commendable.

1. The form of words intended to incite and encourage. 2. Advice counsel.

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [6]

( Παράκλησις , strictly a Calling Near, invitation, and so " Entreaty,"  2 Corinthians 8:4; hence admonition, special hortatory instruction in public, Luke in, 18;  Acts 13:15;  1 Timothy 4:13; also "Consolation" or comfort,  Romans 15:4, etc.) seems to have been recognized in the Apostolic Church as a distinct supernatural or prophetic office or function ( Χάρισμα , "gift") bestowed by the Holy Spirit ( Romans 12:8). As such, it was doubtless a subordinate exercise of the general faculty of teaching ( 1 Corinthians 14:31). Olshausen (Conmment. in loc.) thinks that Paul does not distinguish it as a special Charism, but rather regards it as coordinate with eldership. (See Gift (Spiritual)).

2. It is defined as "the act of laying such motives before a person as may excite him to the performance of any duty. It differs only from Suasion in that the latter principally endeavors to convince the understanding, and the former to work on the affections. It is considered as a great branch of preaching, though not confined to that, as a man may exhort, though he do not preach; though a man can hardly be said to preach if lie do not exhort. (See Exhorters). The Scriptures enjoin ministers to exhort men, that is, to rouse them to duty by proposing suitable motives ( Isaiah 58:1;  1 Timothy 6:2;  Hebrews 3:13;  Romans 12:8); it was likewise the constant practice of prophets, apostles, and Christ himself ( Isaiah 1:17;  Jeremiah 4:14; Ezekiel 37;  Luke 3:18;  Luke 12:3;  Acts 11:23)" (Buck, Theological Dictionary, s.v.). "The above, and numerous other passages of Scripture, indicate several important particulars: 1. That it was not beneath the dignity, or foreign to the office of the inspired apostles, frequently to Exhort. 2. That they enjoined a similar practice and the duty of exhortation upon young ministers of their day. 3. That exhortation, as separate from preaching, was the special office of a certain class of religious teachers in the New-Testament Church. 4. That mutual exhortation for their own profit and edification was enjoined by the apostles upon Christians generally" (Kidder, Homiletics, page 105). (See Exhorters).

3. In the book of Common Prayer, the short addresses of the minister to the people in the daily service, in the communion office, and in the office for the visitation of the sick, are called Exhortations. The first of these, beginning "Dearly beloved brethren, the Scripture moveth us," etc., was introduced into the English formulary at the Reformation. Palmer (Orig. Liturg. 1:211) compares it to a passage in a sermon of Avitus of Vienne, fifth century. Procter (Common Prayer, page 206) remarks that "it was constructed partly from the preceding sentences, and partly by adaptations from previously existing forms." But, in fact, this exhortation, with the other opening portions of morning prayer, is chiefly due to a ritual drawn up by Calvin, for the church at Strasburg, entitled La Forme Des Prieres Et Chantes Ecclesiasiques (Strasburg, 1545). See Baird, Eutaxia (N. York, 1855, page 191). The exhortations to the communion were also introduced at the Reformation. "The ancient Church, indeed, had no such exhortations, for their daily, or at least weekly communions made it known that there was then no solemn assembly of Christians without it, and every one (not under censure) was expected to communicate. But now, when the time is somewhat uncertain, and our long omissions have made some of us ignorant, and others forgetful of this duty; most of us unwilling, and all of us more or less indisposed for it, it was thought both prudent and necessary to provide these exhortations, to be read when the minister gives warning of the communion, which he is always to do upon the Sunday or some holy day immediately preceding" (Wheatly, On Common Prayer, page 284). The second exhortation was compiled apparently by Peter Martyr at the instance of Bucer (Procter, On Common Prayer, page 344).

Exhorters, a class of lay persons licensed in the Methodist Episcopal Church to exhort, not to preach. The leaders meeting (q.v.), or class (q.v.), recommend such persons, and the preacher issues the license. The duties of an exhorter are "to hold meetings for prayer and exhortation wherever opportunity is afforded, subject to the direction of the preacher in charge; to attend all the sessions of the Quarterly Conference; be subject to an annual examination of character in the Quarterly Conference, and renewal of license annually by the presiding elder, or preacher having the charge, if approved by the Quarterly Conference." This office has been found very useful, both in the edification of the Church, and in developing the talent of persons likely to be called to the ministry. Discipline of the Methodist Episcopal Church, 1868, pages 113, 114.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [7]

ek - sor - tā´shun ( παράκλησις , paráklēsis ): The Greek word translated "exhortation" ( paraklēsis ) signifies, originally, "a calling near or for" (as an advocate or helper who should appeal on one's behalf), and carries the twofold sense of "exhortation" and "consolation" (which see). In the Septuagint of the Old Testament it is used in the sense of "consolation"; but in 2 Macc 7:24, it is translated "exhort," the Revised Version (British and American) "appeal." The verb parakaléō is also translated "exhortation" (1 Macc 13:3 the King James Version) and "exhort" (2 Macc 9:26).

In the New Testament paraklēsis is translated "exhortation" ( Acts 13:15;  Romans 12:8 , the Revised Version (British and American) "exhorting";  1 Corinthians 14:3 , the English Revised Version "comfort," the American Revised Version, margin "or comfort";  2 Corinthians 8:17;  1 Thessalonians 2:3;  1 Timothy 4:13;  Hebrews 12:5;  Hebrews 13:22 ). the American Standard Revised Version has also "exhortation," instead of "consolation" in  Philippians 2:1 . In  Luke 3:18 , parakaléō , "to call near or for," is translated exhortation," "and many other things in his exhortation," the Revised Version (British and American) "with many other exhortations," and in  Acts 20:2 , parakaléō lógō pollṓ is rendered (the King James Version and the Revised Version (British and American)), "had given them much exhortation."

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