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Verse 12. And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you. Who they were is not mentioned. It is evident, however: that the church was not left without appointed persons to minister to it when its founders should be away. We know that there were presbyters ordained over the church at Ephesus, and over the churches in Crete, Ac 20:17; Tit 1:5; and that there were bishops and deacons at Philippi, Php 1:1; and there is every reason to believe that similar officers would be appointed in every newly organized church. The word "know" seems to mean that they were not to make themselves strangers to them—to be cold and distant towards them—to be ignorant of their wants, or to be indifferent to them. While a people are not obtrusively to intermeddle with the business of a minister, any more than they are with that of any other man, yet there are things in regard to him with which they should be acquainted. They should seek to be personally acquainted with him, and make him their confidant and counsellor in their spiritual troubles. They should seek his friendship, and endeavour to maintain all proper intercourse with him. They should not regard him as a distant man, or as a stranger among them. They should so far understand his circumstances as to know what is requisite to make him comfortable, and should be on such terms that they may readily and cheerfully furnish what he needs. And they are to "know" or regard him as their spiritual teacher and ruler; not to be strangers to the place where he preaches the word of life, and not to listen to his admonitions and reproofs as those of a stranger, but as those of a pastor and friend.

Which labour among you. There is no reason to suppose, as many have done, that the apostle here refers to different classes of ministers, he rather refers to different parts of the work which the same ministers perform. The first is, that they "labour"—that is, evidently, in preaching the gospel. For the use of the word, see Joh 4:3, where it occurs twice; 1 Co 15:10; 16:16. The word is one which properly expresses wearisome toil, and implies that the office of preaching is one that demands constant industry.

And are over you in the Lord. That is, by the appointment of the Lord, or under his direction. They are not absolute sovereigns, but are themselves subject to one who is over them—the Lord Jesus. On the word here rendered "are over you," (proistamenouv) See Barnes "Ro 12:8, where it is translated ruleth.

And admonish you. The word here used (nouyetew) is rendered admonish, and admonished, in Rom 15:14; Col 3:16; 1 Th 5:12; 2 Th 3:15. And warn, and warning, 1 Co 4:14; Col 1:28 1 Th 5:14. It does not elsewhere occur in the New Testament. It means, to put in mind; and then to warn, entreat, exhort. It is a part of the duty of a minister to put his people in mind of the truth; to warn them of danger; to exhort them to perform their duty; to admonish them if they go astray.

{a} "know them" Heb 13:7,17


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