1 Thessalonians 5:22
Abstain from all appearance of evil.
Jump to: AlfordBarnesBengelBensonBICalvinCambridgeChrysostomClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctExp GrkGaebeleinGSBGillGrayHaydockHastingsHomileticsICCJFBKellyKJTLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWMeyerParkerPNTPoolePulpitSermonSCOTTBVWSWESTSK
(22) Abstain from all appearance of evil.—This translation cannot stand. Possibly it might be rendered “every form of evil,” but the most natural version would be, “Hold yourselves aloof from every evil kind”—i.e., evil kind of whatever you may be testing. The word “evil” is here used in the moral sense, and does not constitute an exact antithesis to the “good” of the preceding verse.

5:16-22 We are to rejoice in creature-comforts, as if we rejoiced not, and must not expect to live many years, and rejoice in them all; but if we do rejoice in God, we may do that evermore. A truly religious life is a life of constant joy. And we should rejoice more, if we prayed more. Prayer will help forward all lawful business, and every good work. If we pray without ceasing, we shall not want matter for thanksgiving in every thing. We shall see cause to give thanks for sparing and preventing, for common and uncommon, past and present, temporal and spiritual mercies. Not only for prosperous and pleasing, but also for afflicting providences, for chastisements and corrections; for God designs all for our good, though we at present see not how they tend to it. Quench not the Spirit. Christians are said to be baptized with the Holy Ghost and with fire. He worketh as fire, by enlightening, enlivening, and purifying the souls of men. As fire is put out by taking away fuel, and as it is quenched by pouring water, or putting a great deal of earth upon it; so we must be careful not to quench the Holy Spirit, by indulging carnal lusts and affections, minding only earthly things. Believers often hinder their growth in grace, by not giving themselves up to the spiritual affections raised in their hearts by the Holy Spirit. By prophesyings, here understand the preaching of the word, the interpreting and applying the Scriptures. We must not despise preaching, though it is plain, and we are told no more than what we knew before. We must search the Scriptures. And proving all things must be to hold fast that which is good. We should abstain from sin, and whatever looks like sin, leads to it, and borders upon it. He who is not shy of the appearances of sin, who shuns not the occasions of it, and who avoids not the temptations and approaches to it, will not long keep from doing sin.Abstain from all appearance of evil - Not only from evil itself, but from that which seems to be wrong. There are many things which are known to be wrong. They are positively forbidden by the laws of heaven, and the world concurs in the sentiment that they are wicked. But there are also many things about which there may be some reasonable doubt. It is not quite easy to determine in the case what is right or wrong. The subject has not been fully examined, or the question of its morality may be so difficult to settle, that the mind may be nearly or quite balanced in regard to it. There are many things which, in themselves, may not appear to us to be positively wrong, but which are so considered by large and respectable portions of the community; and for us to do them would be regarded as inconsistent and improper. There are many things, also, in respect to which there is great variety of sentiment among mankind - where one portion would regard them as proper, and another as improper.

There are things, also, where, whatever may be our motive, we may be certain that our conduct will be regarded as improper. A great variety of subjects, such as those pertaining to dress, amusements, the opera, the ball-room, games of chance and hazard, and various practices in the transaction of business, come under this general class; which, though on the supposition that they cannot be proved to be in themselves positively wrong or forbidden, have much the "appearance" of evil, and will be so interpreted by others. The safe and proper rule is to lean always to the side of virtue. In these instances it may be certain that there will be no sin committed by abstaining; there may be by indulgence. No command of God, or of propriety, will be violated if we decline complying with these customs; but on the other hand we may wound the cause of religion by yielding to what possibly is a mere temptation. No one ever does injury or wrong by abstaining from the pleasures of the ball-room, the theater, or a glass of wine; who can indulge in them without, in the view of large and respectable portions of the community, doing that which has the "appearance" at least of "evil?"

22. Tittmann supports English Version, "from every evil appearance" or "semblance." The context, however, does not refer to evil appearances IN OURSELVES which we ought to abstain from, but to holding ourselves aloof from every evil appearance IN OTHERS; as for instance, in the pretenders to spirit-inspired prophesyings. In many cases the Christian should not abstain from what has the semblance ("appearance") of evil, though really good. Jesus healed on the sabbath, and ate with publicans and sinners, acts which wore the appearance of evil, but which were not to be abstained from on that account, being really good. I agree with Tittmann rather than with Bengel, whom Alford follows. The context favors this sense: However specious be the form or outward appearance of such would-be prophets and their prophesyings, hold yourselves aloof from every such form when it is evil, literally, "Hold yourselves aloof from every evil appearance" or "form." To make this verse have its connection with the former, some expositors understand it of doctrines and opinions only; to take heed of opinions that seem erroneous, and not rashly to receive them without due examination. Though this sense is not to be excluded, yet the verse need not be confined to it, but to extend to practice also; as in worship to abstain from the show of idolatry; as to eat meat in an idol’s temple was not always gross idolatry, but had some appearance of it, and therefore the apostle forbids it, 1 Corinthians 10:14. And so in civil conversation, not only to abstain from vice, but the appearance of it; as of pride, covetousness, drunkenness, whoredom, &c.; and that both with respect to ourselves, lest by venturing upon that which hath some show of evil, we step into the evil itself; and with respect to others, that we may not occasion the taking offence though not justly given, or do that which may any way encourage a real evil in them by that appearance of it which they see in ourselves; yet we ought not upon this account to forbear the discharge of any necessary duty. Some read the words: Abstain from all kind of evil, ’ Apo pantov iedouv ponhrou, and the Greek word is so used by logicians: but here to insist on particulars is infinite. And thus the apostle concludes all these positive duties with a general precept which he leaves with them at the close of his Epistle; having dehorted them from many evils, now he exhorts them to abstain from the appearance of them. Abstain from all appearance of evil. Of doctrinal evil. Not only open error and heresy are to be avoided, but what has any show of it, or looks like it, or carries in it a suspicion of it, or may be an occasion thereof, or lead unto it; wherefore all new words and phrases of this kind should be shunned, and the form of sound words held fast; and so of all practical evil, not only from sin itself, and all sorts of sin, lesser or greater, as the (w) Jews have a saying,

"take care of a light as of a heavy commandment,''

that is, take care of committing a lesser, as a greater sin, and from the first motions of sin; but from every occasion of it, and what leads unto it, and has the appearance of it, or may be suspected of others to be sin, and so give offence, and be a matter of scandal. The Jews have a saying very agreeable to this (x),

"remove thyself afar off (or abstain) from filthiness, and from everything, , "that is like unto it".''

(w) Pirke Abot, c. 2. sect. 1.((x) Apud Drusium in loc.

{13} Abstain from all {h} appearance of evil.

(13) A general conclusion, that we waiting for the coming of Christ, do give ourselves to pureness in mind, will, and body, through the grace and strength of the Spirit of God.

(h) Whatever has but the very show of evil, abstain from it.

1 Thessalonians 5:22. With 1 Thessalonians 5:22 the discourse again reverts to what is general, whilst the requirement to hold fast that which is good in the discourses of the inspired very naturally required the transition to the further requirement to keep at a distance from every kind of evil, accordingly also from that which was perhaps intermixed in these discourses. Usually 1 Thessalonians 5:22 is referred exclusively to the discourses of the inspired, so that πάντα δὲ δοκιμάζετε contains the chief point which is then unfolded according to its two sides, first positively (τὸ καλὸν κατέχετε), and then negatively (1 Thessalonians 5:22). But ἀπὸ παντὸς εἴδους πονηροῦ is against this view: ἀπὸ τοῦ πονηροῦ would require to have been written. Erasmus, Luther, Calvin, Drusius, Piscator, Grotius, Calixt, Calovius, Seb. Schmid, Michaelis, and others find in 1 Thessalonians 5:22 the meaning: avoid all evil appearance. But (1) εἶδος never signifies appearance. (2) A distorted thought would arise. For as the apostle has required the holding fast not that which has the appearance of good, but that which is actually good; so also in 1 Thessalonians 5:22, on account of the close reference of πονηροῦ to the preceding καλόν, the discourse must also be of an abstinence from that which is actually evil. (3) To preserve oneself from all appearance of evil is not within the power of man.

Εἶδος denotes very often the particular kind of a class (the species of a genus). Comp. Porphyry, isagoge de quinque vocibus 1 Thessalonians 2 : λέγεται δὲ εἶδος καὶ τὸ ὑπὸ τὸ ἀποδοθὲν γένος· καθʼ ὃ εἰώθαμεν λέγειν τὸν μὲν ἄνθρωπον εἶδος τοῦ ζώου, γένους ὄντος τοῦ ζώου· τὸ δὲ λευκὸν τοῦ χρώματος εἶδος· τὸ δὲ τρίγωνον τοῦ σχήματος εἶδος.

πονηροῦ] is not to be taken, with Bengel, Pelt, Schott, and others, as an adjective (ab omni mala specie), but as a substantive (ab omni specie mali). What Bengel and Schott object against this meaning, that the article τοῦ would be required before πονηροῦ, would be correct if the discourse were specially of the πονηρόν contained in the πάντα, 1 Thessalonians 5:21; but is erroneous, as πονηροῦ is taken in abstract generality. See Kühner, II. pp. 129, 141. Comp. Hebrews 5:14; Joseph. Ant. vii. 4. 1 Thessalonians 2 : πᾶν εἶδος μέλους; ibid. x. 3. 1 Thessalonians 1 : πᾶν εἶδος πονηρίας.—1 Thessalonians 5:22, as well as 1 Thessalonians 5:21, is peculiarly interpreted by Hänsel (Theol. Stud. u. Krit. 1836, Part 1, p. 170 ff.).[66] 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 are repeatedly cited by Cyril Alexandrinus as an expression of the Apostle Paul, in such a manner that with this citation, and indeed as its contents, the words ΓΊΝΕΣΘΕ ΔΌΚΙΜΟΙ ΤΡΑΠΕΖῖΤΑΙ are united. Also these words are elsewhere frequently by the Fathers united with our passage, being quoted sometimes as a saying of Christ, sometimes generally as a saying of Scripture, and sometimes specially as a saying of the Apostle Paul. See Suicer, Thesaurus, II. p. 1281 ff. (Sacr. Observ. p. 140 ff.); Fabricius, Cod. Apocr. N. T. I. p. 330 ff., III. p. 524. On this Hänsel supports his opinion. He regards the words γίνεσθε δόκιμοι τραπεζῖται as a saying of Christ, and thinks that this dictum ἌΓΡΑΦΟΝ of the Lord was in the mind of the Apostle Paul, and in consequence of this the expressions in 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 were selected by him, which were usual in the money terms employed by antiquity. So that the sense would be: “Act as experienced exchangers; everything which is presented to you as good coin, that test; preserve the good coin (what actually is divine truth), but guard against every false coin (reject all false doctrine).” But evidently only the expression ΔΟΚΙΜΆΖΕΤΕ was the occasion for the Fathers uniting the dictum ἌΓΡΑΦΟΝ of Christ, handed down by tradition, with our passage. Paul, on the contrary, could not have thought of it, even supposing it to have been known to him. For although the verb ΔΟΚΙΜΆΖΕΙΝ would well suit, if otherwise the reference was to the figure of exchangers, yet in an actual reference to the same the words τὸ καλὸν εἶδος κατέχετε, ἀπὸ δὲ τοῦ πονηροῦ ἀπέχεσθε would have been written. Lastly, add to this that ΕἾΔΟς cannot import in itself a coin, νομίσματος must be added, or money must have been spoken of in what goes before.

[66] Baumgarten-Crusius accedes to the interpretation of Hänsel; Koch strangely rejects it for ver. 22, but adopts it for ver. 23.1 Thessalonians 5:22. A further general precept, added to bring out the negative side of κατέχετε, κ.τ.λ.—πονηροῦ neut. abstract = “of wickedness,” as Genesis 2:9 (τοῦ εἰδέναι γνωστὸν καλοῦ καὶ πονηροῦ).—παντὸς κ.τ.λ., perhaps an allusion to the manifold ways of going wrong (Arist., Nik. Eth., ii. 6 14, τὸ μὲν ἁμαρτάνειν πολλαχῶς ἐστίντὸ δὲ κατορθοῦν μοναχῶς).22. Abstain from all appearance of evil] from every form of evil (R. V.). The Apostle does not advise the Thessalonians to avoid what looks like evil; the command thus understood encourages the studying of appearances, and tends to the “doing of our works to be seen of men” which our Lord condemns (Matthew 23:5). But in completing on the negative side the previous command, “hold fast the good (in prophesyings),” he gives to it the widest possible extension: “Keep yourselves not only from this, but from every sort of evil.” It is difficult, however, for the Greek scholar to justify the reading of evil in this sentence as a substantive, and the rendering of the governing noun by kind instead of appearance (rendered form, fashion, shape, in Luke 3:22; Luke 9:29, John 5:37). This noun St Paul uses once besides, in 2 Corinthians 5:7 : “We walk by faith, not by sight”—i.e. with no visible form, or appearance, to walk by. His meaning here may be similar: Abstain from every evil sight (or show)—from all that is evil in the outward show of things about you: ab omni specie mala (Vulgate).

There are two words for “evil” in Greek—that used here, signifying harmful, mischievous (so designating “the Evil One,” see note on 2 Thessalonians 3:3); and that employed in 1 Thessalonians 5:15, denoting bad, base, malicious.

With this emphatic word, keep yourselves, the Apostle concludes his directions to the Thessalonians, extending from 1 Thessalonians 5:12-22, as to what they must do in order to preserve and sustain the life of grace in themselves. The prayer of the next verse invokes the power of God to accomplish for them that which mere human effort can never attain. Comp. the transition of ch. 1 Thessalonians 3:11, expressed in similar language (see note), and of 2 Thessalonians 2:16; 2 Thessalonians 3:3. All that the Christian can do for his own safe-keeping, or for the service of his fellows, is merged in the greatness and completeness of that which God will do for them.1 Thessalonians 5:22. Ἀπὸ παντὸς εἴδους πονηροῦ, from every bad species or kind of thought, act, or word) Species, in the sense, “appearance of evil” [as Engl. Vers.], would be εἶδος ΤΟΥ πονηροῦ, with the article, which TO καλὸν, that which is good, has, 1 Thessalonians 5:21. But εἶδος πονηρὸν is a bad kind or species: εἶδος, species, Germ. Gattung; LXX., Jeremiah 15:3 [“I will appoint over them four kinds—the sword—the dogs—the fowls—the beasts”]; Sir 23:21 (16), 25:(2) 3. We ought to abstain from every species of evil [evil species of thing], lest we be deceived. The whole genus of good is simple, belonging to the “spirit, soul, and body,” [1 Thessalonians 5:23]; the species or kinds of evil are many, 2 Corinthians 7:1; comp. the antithesis in the following verse.Verse 22. - Abstain from all appearance of evil. This verse is connected with the last, and states negatively what is there stated positively. Test the declarations of the prophets; retain the good, and reject the evil. The word translated "appearance" has been differently rendered; it denotes form, figure, species, kind; so that the clause is to be rendered, "Abstain from all form of evil" (R.V.), or, "of the evil," the word being an abstract substantive. The whole exhortation is similar to that given in Romans 12:9, only there the negative statement is put first: "Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good." Some suppose that the metaphor employed is from the practice of money-changers who tested the money offered to them, rejecting what was base and retaining what was genuine. Among the Fathers we meet with the phrase, "Be ye experienced money-changers," as a traditionary saying of our Lord; and some suppose that the apostle refers to this saying, and give the following paraphrase: "The good money keep; with every sort of bad money have nothing to do; act as experienced money-changers: all the money presented to you as good, test." Such a supposition is fanciful and far-fetched. Appearance (εἴδους)

As commonly explained, abstain from everything that even looks like evil. But the word signifies form or kind. Comp. Luke 3:22; John 5:37, and see nearly the same phrase in Joseph. Ant. 10:3, 1. It never has the sense of semblance. Moreover, it is impossible to abstain from everything that looks like evil.

Of evil (πονηροῦ)

To be taken as a noun; not as an adjective agreeing with εἴδους form (from every evil form). The meaning of πονηρός in N.T. cannot be limited to active evil, mischief, though it often has that sense. The same is true in lxx, where it sometimes means grudging or niggardly. See Sir. 14:4, 5; 34:23.

1 Thessalonians 5:22 Interlinear
1 Thessalonians 5:22 Parallel Texts

1 Thessalonians 5:22 NIV
1 Thessalonians 5:22 NLT
1 Thessalonians 5:22 ESV
1 Thessalonians 5:22 NASB
1 Thessalonians 5:22 KJV

1 Thessalonians 5:22 Bible Apps
1 Thessalonians 5:22 Parallel
1 Thessalonians 5:22 Biblia Paralela
1 Thessalonians 5:22 Chinese Bible
1 Thessalonians 5:22 French Bible
1 Thessalonians 5:22 German Bible

Bible Hub

1 Thessalonians 5:21
Top of Page
Top of Page