Sunday, July 02, 2006

Full Assurance

Tonight's sermon was presented by a scholar of "dead languages" who brought to life a word not well translated by modern English translations, at least not in his text in 1 Thessalonians 1:5. The word, plerophoria is translated in the Colossians 2:2, Hebrews 6:11 and 10:22, as "full assurance." However, in the translations available, Paul's use of the term with "much" seems to have influenced them to "downgrade" the term to simply "assurance." The only other place where the word "assurance" appears in the N.T. (KJV) is at Acts 17:31 where the translators translate pistis, or "faith."

This word is primarily one of "fullness" rather than "assurance" as we usually think of the word. Plerophoria is a compound word derived from Plero "full" and Phoreo "I bear" -- that is, "to bear fully." In the text of 1 Thes. 1:5 this word is the third way in which the gospel is to be preached.

First, "in power" with the "dynamics" that come with the Word of God as your authority. Then, "in the Holy Spirit," by Whom we have the power of God behind the message. And finally, "in much full assurance," admittedly an awkward translation, which means the preacher can know without a doubt that his message is effective.

From the New Testament texts we can see a four-fold Plerophoria:

  1. A full assurance of understanding - acknowledging the "mystery of God." (Col. 2:2)
  2. A full assurance of the power of the Gospel (1 Thes. 1:5)
  3. A full assurance of hope - diligently following Christ to the end. (Heb. 6:11)
  4. A full assurance of faith - being cleansed by the effectiveness of the Holy Spirit by whom we are "baptised." (Heb. 10:22)

My many thanks to Dr. Benjamin Shaw, professor at Greenville Theological Seminary for his excellent sermon.

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