the weblog of Alan Knox

Admonish One Another

Posted by on Aug 10, 2010 in blog links, edification, gathering, spirit/holy spirit | 9 comments

Admonish One Another

Eric (from “A Prilgrim’s Progress”) wrote a post last week called “Able to Admonish One Another.” He is commenting on the following passage from Romans:

I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another. (Romans 15:14 ESV)

By the way, “admonish” (or “instruct” as the ESV translates it) carries the idea of teaching someone with the goal of changing something about them – primarily their behavior.

Eric concludes his post with this:

The church gathering is not a show. It should not be a ceremony. Rather, the bible describes it as a time when God is glorified through our building one another up in Jesus Christ. This is something Paul tells us that we should do for the good of the body. It is what we all should do.

So, let us actively admonish and be admonished. In doing this, we all grow closer to Christ together.

I agree with Eric’s post. I’ll add just one thing. Paul had never been to Rome. While he knew a few of the Roman Christians, he did not know them all. He had never met the majority of them. But, he knew that they were able to admonish (instruct) one another.

How did Paul know this? Did he know that they were educated or well-trained? Nope. It’s much simpler than that.

Paul knew that the Roman Christians were indwelled by the Holy Spirit.

In the same way and for the same reason, I’m convinced that any Christian is able to admonish (instruct) any other Christian.


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 8-10-2010

    Could you give a specific example of one Christian properly admonishing another?

  2. 8-11-2010


    Yes, I could give many examples of one Christian properly admonishing another Christian. Just recently, a brother admonished me about something that I was not doing.


  3. 8-11-2010


    Would you mind saying exactly what it was you weren’t doing? And did the admonishment happen during the assembly, or did your brother take you aside and speak to you privately?

    Sorry if this sounds nosy, but I’ve never seen such a thing happen between brothers, haven’t had it done to me, and haven’t had the occasion to do it, so I’m finding it hard to imagine what you think we should be doing here.

    I have had to confront people about their behavior on occasion, and have been confronted a few times myself, but it had nothing to do with being brothers, i.e. it wasn’t our bond in Christ that required the confrontation.

  4. 8-11-2010


    You said, “It wasn’t our bond in Christ that required the confrontation.” What do you mean?

    If you’ve confronted someone about their behavior, or someone has confronted you, then you’ve witnessed admonishment.


  5. 8-11-2010


    You said, “It wasn’t our bond in Christ that required the confrontation.” What do you mean?

    Too often we pour Christian sauce over normal human behavior. We talk about “sweet fellowship” as if it were much different from everyday socializing. I once attended a church where there was much talk of how we would “dance before the Lord” at the annual Fall Festival, even though nothing distinguished it from the square dancing that happened all over town every Friday and Saturday night.

    I have admonished and been admonished at work, in school, in grocery stores, during music lessons, at the DMV and public library, by our bookstore customers, at church and outside church. It is something that people do, Spirit-filled or not. Do you think this is the behavior that Paul describes in Romans 15:14?

  6. 8-11-2010


    I understand what you’re asking now… and it’s a very good question. The answer to your question is the same as the difference between a “talented” teacher and a “spiritually gifted” teacher. What is the difference? To be honest… I don’t know exactly. But, it’s something that I’ve been wondering about and talking to others about for a while. What do you think?


  7. 8-11-2010


    I think it is telling that Paul describes his readers as able to admonish, rather than authorized to admonish. They have the necessary knowledge—and so admonishment must be a matter of imparting knowledge to one another, filling in gaps for a brother or reminding him of what he seems to have forgotten. Going beyond that into “exhortation”, i.e. scolding for not meeting the standard, oversteps the bounds.

    I also think that it is the knowledge that is responsible for changing behavior, not the act of imparting the knowledge. If a brother already knows that he should pray, be forbearing, shout praises, or grieve over his sin, there is no reason to exhort him to pray, be forbearing, shout praises, or grieve over his sin—he already knows, and we should not be judging him by implying that he is not doing a good enough job of meeting the standard. Even less should we be pronouncing blanket exhortations to, e.g., grieve over our sin; most of the congregation knows it and many of them have dealt with the matter appropriately, so such an exhortation is at best unnecessary and at worst an offensive scolding of people who for the most part are not guilty of the accusation.

  8. 8-11-2010


    How does Paul know that the Romans are “full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able to admonish (instruct) one another?” This was the initial point of this post. Paul had not met most of the Roman Christians.


  9. 8-11-2010


    How does Paul know that the Romans are “full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able to admonish (instruct) one another?”

    As you point out, Paul had not met most of the Roman Christians, so the only basis for saying this is that he knows them to be brothers. I conclude from this that (a) any brother has the ability to instruct another simply because he is Spirit-filled and based on the bare knowledge needed to be a believer, and (b) any brother ought to be able to take instruction from another on the same basis.

    And from those two things I draw a third conclusion, namely that the knowledge that Paul refers to is not esoteric or refined or anything that needs extensive study to gain. It is the stuff of everyday life, available and easily understandable to the average person. Which explains to me why celebrated teachers are usually no better equipped to live the Christian life than the average brother, and quite often much less so.

    Sharing the hard-won wisdom of everyday life is not usually easy or comfortable. So it doesn’t surprise me that we have forsaken the instruction of one another in everyday knowledge of the Christian life, and turned the job over to an erudite professional—who is then pressured to delve ever more deeply into theories about the Christian life, coming up with material sophisticated and novel enough that we feel he is earning his keep.


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