The Agora
Bible Articles and Lessons: G

Previous Index Next


"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander" (1Pe 3:15,16).
Christians should respond with care. "Gentleness" (or "meekness") is the quality that trusts God to do the work of changing attitudes (2Ti 2:24-25; cf also Pro 15:1: "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger").

"And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth" (2Ti 2:24,25).

In its use in Scripture, "prautes" (gentleness) has a fuller, deeper significance than in nonscriptural Greek writings; it consists not in a person's "outward behavior only; nor yet in his relations to his fellow-men; as little in his mere natural disposition. Rather it is an inwrought grace of the soul and the exercises of it are first and chiefly towards God. It is that temper of spirit in which we accept His dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting; it is closely linked with the word 'tapeinophrosune' (humility), and follows directly upon it, in Eph 4:2; Col 3:12; cf the adjectives in the LXX of Zep 3:12, 'meek and lowly';... it is only the humble heart which is also the meek, and which, as such, does not fight against God and more or less struggle and contend with Him. This meekness, however, being first of all a meekness before God, is also such in the face of men, even of evil men, out of a sense that these, with the insults and injuries which they may inflict, are permitted and employed by Him for the chastening and purifying of His elect" (Trench). In Gal 5:23 it is associated with "enkrateia", translated "self-control."

The meaning of "prautes" "is not readily expressed in English, for the terms meekness, mildness, commonly used, suggest weakness and pusillanimity [timidity, or cowardice] to a greater or less extent, whereas 'prautes' does nothing of the kind. Nevertheless, it is difficult to find a rendering less open to objection than 'meekness'; 'gentleness' has been suggested, but as 'prautes' describes a condition of mind and heart, and as 'gentleness' is appropriate rather to actions, this word is no better than that used in both English Versions [ie, AV and RV]. It must be clearly understood, therefore, that the meekness manifested by the Lord and commended to the believer is the fruit of power. The common assumption is that when a man is meek it is because he cannot help himself; but the Lord was 'meek' because he had the infinite resources of God at His command. Described negatively, meekness is the opposite to self-assertiveness and self-interest; it is equanimity of spirit that is neither elated nor cast down, simply because it is not occupied with self at all.

"In 2Co 10:1 the apostle appeals to the 'meekness... of Christ.' Christians are charged to show 'all meekness toward all men' (Tit 3:2), for meekness becomes 'God's elect' (Col 3:12). To this virtue the 'man of God' is urged; he is to 'follow after meekness' for his own sake (1Ti 6:11), and in his service, and more especially in his dealings with the 'ignorant and erring,' he is to exhibit 'a spirit of meekness' (1Co 4:21; Gal 6:1); even 'they that oppose themselves' are to be corrected in meekness (2Ti 2:25). James exhorts his 'beloved brethren' to 'receive with meekness the implanted word' (Jam 1:21). Peter enjoins 'meekness' in setting forth the grounds of the Christian hope (Jam 3:15)" [From "Notes on Galatians", by Hogg and Vine 294, 295].

(From Vine's Dictionary of the New Testament)


"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law" (Gal 5:22,23).

"Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted" (Gal 6:1).

"As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love" (Eph 4:1,2).

"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful" (Col 3:12-15).

"Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness" (1Ti 6:11).

"Remind the people... to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men" (Tit 3:1,2).

"My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says" (Jam 1:19-22).
It is worth pointing out, I think, that many of the above exhortations (some very specifically) were written by the apostles to believers whose lives were in danger from the authorities, or from other men. The first-century believers were commanded to turn the other cheek, to be gentle, peaceable, respectful, and kind and humble and longsuffering and considerate... toward those who might one day chop off their heads, or throw them to the lions, or burn them alive!

If we cannot be gentle and respectful and kind toward other brothers and sisters for whom Christ died, during a period of peace and prosperity, then what hope do we have of obeying Christ's commands with regard to our enemies if and when real persecutions come?

Previous Index Next