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  1. The largest general number is "thousands of millions." Rebekah's family blessed her by saying, " thou the mother of thousands of millions" (Genesis 24:60).
  2. The largest specific number is the army of 200 million horsemen mentioned in Revelation 9:16.
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Previous: Paul's One Another Passages parts I, II, and III


Part IV - Paul's Negative One "One Another" Passages

November 23, 2014

L. John Bost
L. John Bost
In Paul's One Another Passages Parts I, II, and III, we discussed a number of Paul's "one another" passages. In this installment we will look at a few more. However, in this one we will be discussing Paul's negative "one another" passages. Many people do not believe that writers and speakers should be negative in our presentations. They urge us to always be positive. But Jesus often employed negative teaching. For example, Matthew records fifteen different "woes" pronounced by Jesus, seven of them against the scribes and Pharisees! (Matthew 23:13-29). So, negative teaching is good as long as it is done constructively. James rebuked his readers who had become partial to the rich, calling them "respecters of persons," "judges of evil thoughts," and "transgressors of the law" (James 2:1-11). Paul likewise employs negative teaching. In fact, he wrote to Timothy telling him to "Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine" (2 Timothy 4:2). With that in mind, let us consider some of Paul's negative "one another" passages.
Paul writes in Romans 14:13, "Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way." Judge is from a Greek word meaning, "Properly to distinguish, that is, decide (mentally or judicially); by implication to try, condemn, punish:-avenge, conclude, condemn, damn, decree, determine, esteem, judge..." according to Strong. Jesus warned, "Judge not, that ye be not judged" (Matthew 7:1). Paul points out that we condemn ourselves if we judge those who do things that we ourselves do (Romans 2:1). He says that we should leave the judgment of others to God (Romans 2:2). But God will also judge us if we judge others when we are guilty ourselves! (Romans 2:3).
This is not to say that all kinds of judging is wrong. In the same context in which Jesus said, "Judge not" (Matthew 7:1), He also said that we would know false prophets by their "fruits" (Matthew 7:15-20). Further, He explained in John 7:24, Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment." To merely recognize faults in others, is not forbidden. What is forbidden is to judge others, as if we are sinless ourselves, and to condemn others. That belongs to God, and no one is sinless!
Paul writes in Galatians 5:15, "But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another." He had exhorted the Galatian brethren to serve one another, and reminded them, as did our Lord, to love their neighbors as they loved themselves (Galatians 5:13-14; Mark 13:31-32; Leviticus 19:18). Now he warns them what would happen if they "bite and devour one another." Writing figuratively, Paul warns them that their constant bickering would eventually destroy them. In other words, he exhorts them to honor, serve, and love one another as they loved themselves, thus building one another up, rather than tearing one other down. How sorely this advice is needed in our day!
Paul writes in Galatians 5:26. "Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another." Here Paul uses three negative "one anothers." Vainglorious is from a Greek word meaning, "Glorying without reason, conceited, vain glorious, eager for empty glory," and is variously translated, "boastful," "conceited," and "vainglorious." Provoking is from a Greek word meaning, "To call forth," as to a contest, hence 'to stir up what is evil in another.'" This must not be confused with provoke in Hebrews 10:24, which is from a word meaning, "'To provoke," lit., 'unto a stimulation (of love).'" The Greek word translated, "envying is derived from a Greek word meaning, "Ill will (as detraction), that is, jealousy (spite)." Remember the very first "one another" passage that we studied? "Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another" (Romans 12:10). Would you not agree that the traits that Paul urges us to exhibit in Romans 12:10 are exact opposites of the ones he warns against here in Galatians 5:26?
The motto, "Let us restore New Testament Christianity," at the top of the Strasburg church of Christ web page is the plea of the churches of Christ world-wide. That includes many things, and it certainly includes restoring the many aspects of how we, as Christians, interact with one another, as taught by Paul in his "One Another" passages!
*Meredith, J.L. Meredith's Book Of Bible Lists. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Bethany House Publishers, 1980. Print.

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