1 Thessalonians 5:19-22
What it Means
Quench not the Spirit. Despise not prophesyings.
- Despise – Count for nothing.
- Prophesy – Say something by the inspiration of God.
Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil.
Don’t just accept whatever is said. Examine, scrutinize, or test it.
- If it is good. Hold it fast.
- If it is wrong. Abstain from it no matter what form it takes.
Appearance is used like…
- Makes an appearance (shows up).
- Not has an appearance (looks like).
A Common Misconception
Abstain from all appearance of evil.
If taken out of context, this seems to say: Don’t just avoid evil, but avoid anything that even looks evil. This is not the correct meaning.
Be suspect of sweeping generalizations made from a single verse with no context.
What is the Harm?
Considering the outward appearance in some cases is wise (1 Corinthians 8:13, Romans 14:16). However, focusing too much on the outward appearance will lead you astray of a very solid biblical principle: Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7
Jesus taught that it is what is in the heart that matters, not the outward appearance. (Matthew 15:7-8)
In Context: Matthew 15:1-20.
Jesus taught that judging by appearance is not righteous. (John 7:24)
In Context: John 7:19-24.
It is wrong to judge our brothers and sisters (presumably by the outward appearance, which is all we can see).
Appearance is subjective. The apostles taught to please God (not men) and focus on the heart.
Galatians 1:10, 2 Corinthians 5:12, 2 Corinthians 10:7, 1 Peter 3:3-4
Avoid the prison of other peoples’ expectations.
1 Corinthians 4:3-5