Balancing our View Point – Commands Between Believers Do Exist (But…)

Introduction

When we hear the word command/commandment we typically think of someone telling someone else what to do.  This is a valid understanding of this word.  When considering the use of commands/commandments in the interactions between people, we have to keep in mind the source of authority for the command.  Is the authority for the command held by the person giving the command or is the source of the authority someone or something else.

This becomes especially important in the Biblical study of commands/commandments between believers in the Body of Christ.  This includes commands/commandments which are between siblings of fully equal standing and commands between ones leading and ones who are not gifted as leading ones.

This particular study also requires a much more nuanced understanding of the Greek words for command.  There are well over 100 occurrences of the word command/commandment that come from 13 different Greek words.

Abstract

When reading new perspectives and points of view than what I have previously heard or understood, I always look for balance in the presentation.  I look for an author to present balance to their own viewpoint because it helps me to have some sense that they are sober-minded in their approach to scripture and study.

There are very few subjects that are truly black and white.  The ones that are don’t typically have to be written about.  For the subjects that are not black and white (in the gray zone), it is good to find balance.  The subjects of leadership, authority, submission & obedience are definitely in the gray zone and deserving of balance.

In the introduction of this site, it is presented that the material on this site is presenting a point of view that is under represented on these important subjects of leadership, authority, submission & obedience.  In essence, this means there is not a lot of information presented that is from countering viewpoints.

One of the key items studied and presented on this site is the issue of command authority of believers over other believers.  Specifically command authority of ones leading over other believers.  There is information presented that demonstrates that the various Greek words for commanding are rarely used in the text of the Bible between believers.  This article will show that there are two types of cases where Greek words for command that signify ordering someone with the expectation of obedience are used.

The two types of cases to be explored in this writing are:

  1. Commanding those who are not working for their own provision (i.e. food and shelter) to work for their own provision
  2. Commanding those who are disciples to do what the Lord has revealed as His will for their lives.  In other words, commanding in line with the Lord’s specific will expressed to a particular individual.

Word Sense Breakdown

There are many cases where the Greek is much more expressive than English.  For example, in English there is one word for life, but in the Greek there are three words for life (zoe, psuche, bios) which are each translated into a single English word.  Each of the Greek words has additional embedded meaning that may not be apparent in the English.  Command is one of these words that has multiple senses that we need to better understand in order to properly read scripture as it relates to Leadership, Authority, Submission and Obedience.

Conceptual Components of Command

To help the reader in gaining a better understanding, here are the additional factors we need to consider to have a proper understand of the senses of command that Paul uses as it relates to how leadership and congregants are to relate to one another.

  • source of authority – is the authority for the command sourced in the person giving the command or from another person or organization?
  • strength of command – how much power or force is associated with the command?
  • form of command – in writing or verbally communicated

Gradient Scale of Command/Commandment (From Strongest to Weakest)

  • (G2753) keleuo – commanding through verbal orders typically from a superior
  • (G1781) entello/entellomai – to enjoin, used especially of those whose office or position invests them with claims, and points rather to the contents of the command (for example “our instruction”)
  • prostasso
  • parangello/paragellia
    • (G3853) parangello – to charge.  Is used especially of the order of a military commander to his troops, BUT…  The New Testament never uses the form of parangello like military commander ordering his troops.
    • (G3852) paragellia –
  • diatasso
  • epo
  • epitasso

3853 differs from 1781 in denoting fixed and abiding obligations rather than specific or occasional instructions, duties arising from the office rather than coming from the personal will of a superior.

Important Information about Paragello (G3853) / Paragellia (G3852) from TDNT

According to the dictionary the verb παραγγέλλω, and with it the noun παραγγελία, embraces a wealth of meaning and shades of meaning which it would be superfluous to enumerate. On the basis of the original sense “to pass on an announcement” they all have to do with “intimation.”  The only sense to appear in the NT, though with much modification, is simply that of “order” or “direction.” Rather oddly the special use of the verb for the “military order.” which is so common in Hdt., Thuc., Xenoph., and Polyb.,, 7 does not occur at all (though compare Ac. 4:18; 5:28, 40; 16:23).

Schmitz, O. (1964–). παραγγέλλω, παραγγελία. G. Kittel, G. W. Bromiley, & G. Friedrich (Eds.), Theological dictionary of the New Testament (electronic ed., Vol. 5, pp. 761–762). Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

Information about Paragellia (G3852) from Vine’s

Greek Words for Command

Noun / Verb Pairs

  • παραγγελία paraggelia (G3852) / παραγγέλλω paraggello (G3853) – see below for details

Noun

  • (66 occurrences) ἐντολή entole (G1785) – noun – commandment/precept
    • an authoritative direction or instruction to do something; through speech or writing
      • Matthew 22:36, 22:38, 22:40
      • Mark 7:8
      • Luke 15:29
      • John 10:18, 11:57, 12:49-50, 13:34, 14:15, 14:21, 15:10, 15:12
      • Acts 17:15
      • 1 Corinthians 7:19
      • Colossians 4:10
      • Titus 1:14
      • Hebrews 7:5, 7:18, 9:19
      • 2 Peter 3:2
      • 1 John 2:3-4, 2:7-8, 3:22-24, 4:21, 5:2-3
      • 2 John 4-6
      • Revelation 12:17, 14:12
    • a commandment specifically from the Mosaic Law; especially from the Ten Commandments
      • Matthew 5:19, 15:3, 19:17
      • Mark 7:9, 10:5, 10:19, 12:28, 12:31
      • Luke 1:6, 18:20, 23:56
      • Romans 7:8-9, 7:11-12, 13:9
      • Ephesians 2:15, 6:2
      • Hebrews 7:16
    • the Christian ethical system understood as if a single commandment; perhaps related to the two greatest commandments summarizing the moral law of the decalogue
      • 1 Timothy 6:14
      • 2 Peter 2:21
    • the Mosaic law system; understood as if a single Mosaic commandment representing the entire system
      • Romans 7:10, 7:13
  • (6 occurrences) ἐπιταγή epitage (G2003 – noun feminine – commandment/authority)
    • the power or right to give orders or make decisions
      • Titus 2:15
    • an authoritative direction or instruction to do something; through speech or writing
      • 1 Corinthians 7:6, 7:25
      • 2 Corinthians 8:8
      • 1 Timothy 1:1
      • Titus 1:3
  • (5 occurrences) παραγγελία paraggelia (G3852 – noun feminine – commandment/charge)
    • a formal statement of a command or injunction to do something
      • Acts 5:28, 16:24
      • 1 Thessalonians 4:2
      • 1 Timothy 1:5, 1:18
  • (3 occurrences) ἔνταλμα entalma (G1778 – noun neuter – precept)
    • an authoritative direction or instruction to do something; through speech or writing
      • Matthew 15:9
      • Mark 7:7
      • Colossians 2:22
  • (1 occurrence) κέλευσμα keleuma (G2752 – noun – shout)
    • an order, command specifically a stimulating cry, either that by which animals are roused and urged on by man, or by horses by charioteers, hounds by hunters, etc, or that by which a signal is given to men, e.g. rowers by the master of a ship, to soldiers by a commander (with a loud summons, a trumpet call)
      • 1 Thessalonians 4:16

Verb

  • (32 occurrences) παραγγέλλω paraggello (G3853) verb – commmand/charge/give commandment
    • to transmit a message along from one to another, to declare, announce 
    • to command, order, charge
    • References
      • Matthew 10:5, 15:35
      • Mark 6:8, 8:6, 16:8
      • Luke 5:14, 8:29, 8:56, 9:21
      • Acts 1:4, 4:18, 5:28, 5:40, 10:42, 15:5, 16:18, 16:23, 17:30, 23:22, 23:30
      • 1 Corinthians 7:10, 11:17
      • 1 Thessalonians 4:11
      • 2 Thessalonians 3:4, 3:6, 3:10, 3:12
      • 1 Timothy 1:3, 4:11, 5:7, 6:13, 6:17
  • (25 occurrences) κελεύω keleuo (G2753 – verb – command)
    • to give instructions to or direct somebody to do something with authority
      • Matthew 8:18, 14:9, 14:19, 14:28, 18:25, 27:58, 27:64
      • Luke 18:40
      • Acts 4:15, 5:34, 8:38, 12:19, 16:22, 21:33, 21:34, 22:24, 22:30, 23:3, 23:10, 23:35, 25:6, 25:17, 25:21, 25:23, 27:43
  • (16 occurrences) διατάσσω diatasso (G1299) – verb – command/appoint/ordain/set in order
    • to authoritatively give someone detailed instructions on what to do
      • Matthew 11:1
      • Luke 8:55
      • Acts 7:44, 18:2, 24:23
      • 1 Corinthians 7:17, 9:14, 11:34, 16:1
      • Titus 1:5
  • (15 occurrences) ἐντέλλω entellomai (G1781 – verb – command/give commandment/charge)
    • to give instructions to or direct somebody to do something with authority
      • Matthew 4:6, 17:9, 19:7, 28:20
      • Mark 10:3, 13:34
      • Luke 4:10
      • John 8:5, 14:31, 15:14, 15:17
      • Acts 1:2, 13:47
      • Hebrews 9:20, 11:22
  • (10 occurrences) ἐπιτάσσω epitasso (G2004 – verb – command/charge/enjoin)
    • to give instructions to or direct somebody to do something with authority
      • Mark 1:27, 6:27, 6:39, 9:25
      • Luke 4:36, 8:25, 8:31, 14:22
      • Acts 23:2
      • Philemon 8
  • (7 occurrences) προστάσσω prostasso (G4367 – verb – command/bid)
    • to order with official authorization
      • Matthew 1:24, 8:4
      • Mark 1:44
      • Luke 5:14
      • Acts 10:48
    • to be ordered with official authorization
      • Acts 10:33
      • Acts 17:26
  • (7 occurrences) διαστέλλω diastellomai (G1291 – verb – charge/give commandment)
    • to order precisely and clearly expressed or readily observable; leaving nothing to implication
      • Matthew 16:20
      • Mark 5:43, 7:36, 8:15, 9:9
      • Acts 15:24
      • Hebrews 12:20

References

Vines Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words

1. diatasso (διατάσσω, 1299) signifies “to set in order, appoint, command,” Matt. 11:1; Luke 8:55; 17:9–10; Acts 18:2; 23:31; “gave order,” 1 Cor. 16:1, rv. So in Acts 24:23, where it is in the middle voice. See appoint, No. 6.

2. epo (ἔπω, 2036) denotes “to speak” (connected with eipon, “to say”); hence, among various renderings, “to bid, command,” Matt. 4:3; Mark 5:43; 8:7; Luke 4:3; 19:15. See bid.

Note: In 2 Cor. 4:6, the rv rightly has “said,” followed by the quotation “Light shall shine out of darkness.”

3. entello (ἐντέλλομαι, 1781) signifies “to enjoin upon, to charge with”; it is used in the Middle Voice in the sense of commanding, Matt. 19:7; 28:20; Mark 10:3; 13:34; John 8:5; 15:14, 17; Acts 13:47; Heb. 9:20; 11:22, “gave commandment.” See charge, enjoin.

4. epitasso (ἐπιτάσσω, 2004) signifies to appoint over, put in charge (epi, “over,” tasso, “to appoint”); then, “to put upon one as a duty, to enjoin,” Mark 1:27; 6:27, 39; 9:25; Luke 4:36; 8:25, 31; 14:22; Acts 23:2; Philem. 8. See charge, enjoin.¶

5. keleuo (κελεύω, 2753), “to urge, incite, order,” suggests a stronger injunction than No. 6, Matt. 14:9, 19; 15:35; 18:25; 27:58, 64; Luke 18:40; Acts 4:15 (frequently in Acts, not subsequently in the NT). See bid.

6. parangello (παραγγέλλω, 3853), “to announce beside” (para, “beside,” angello, “to announce”), “to pass on an announcement,” hence denotes “to give the word, order, give a charge, command”, e.g., Mark 6:8; Luke 8:29; 9:21; Acts 5:28; 2 Thess. 3:4, 6, 10, 12. See charge, B, No. 8.

7. prostasso (προστάσσω, 4367) denotes “to arrange or set in order towards” (pros, “towards,” tasso, “to arrange”); hence “to prescribe, give command,” Matt. 1:24; 8:4; Mark 1:44; Luke 5:14; Acts 10:33, 48. For Matt. 21:6 see Note (3) below. See bid.¶

Notes: (1) In Rev. 9:4, rheo, “to speak,” is translated “said” in the rv (kjv, “commanded”). (2) in Heb. 12:20 diastellomai, “to charge, enjoin” (so in the rv), is rendered “commanded” in the kjv. (3) in Matt. 21:6, the rv, translating suntasso, as in the best mss., has “appointed,” kjv, “commanded.”

Vine, W. E., Unger, M. F., & White, W., Jr. (1996). Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Vol. 2, pp. 111–112). Nashville, TN: T. Nelson.


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