Admonishment and Love (2000)

In a text handed off to the webmaster, the group attempts to explain its relationship to the topics “admonishment” - “the process of judging” - “delivering a verdict”

[translator’s note: the German verbs ‘richten’ and ‘urteilen’ can both be rendered into the English the verb ‘to judge’ and so have overlapping semantic fields.]

The more firmly a person is enmeshed in sin, the more uncomfortable admonition is for him. Not only does God’s Word find no contradiction between love and admonition, but rather it teaches that admonition is an expression of love.

Jesus cites the great commandment of loving one’s neighbor from Leviticus 19:18. In Leviticus 19:17, correction is mentioned, not as some type of alternative to love, but rather as an alternative to hatred against one’s neighbor, which a person should not carry in his heart.

But are there not passages in the New Testament which dispute the necessity of admonition?

I John 2:27 says that the anointing ( = the [Holy] Spirit) teaches us. Hebrew 8:10-11 (Jeremiah 31:33-34) is still more concrete: “And no longer should each one teach … his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord.’”

Yet few letters in the New Testament have so many admonitions and even sharp warnings as the letter to the Hebrews. From this it is clear that Hebrews 8:10-11 cannot be speaking against admonition. Rather, the difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament is addressed. In the Old Testament, there were individuals among God’s people who did not serve God, because God’s commandments were also governmental law for the entire nation. So people whose hearts were not with God had to externally [act as if they] belonged among God’s people. The community during and after the exile, which Jeremiah primarily addresses, already forms a transition to the situation in the New Testament. Jews who did not want to serve the Lord could remain in Babylon after 538 B.C. It was at this point, at least temporarily, a transition to the voluntary community of people who want to serve God. All members of God’s people in the New Testament recognize God and Jesus Christ. This is what Hebrews chapter 8 means, and also I John chapter 2.

In the New Testament, the necessity of admonition is mentioned frequently. The farewell words of Jesus in Matthew 28:20 are important. Jesus commands not only to teach [them] everything, but rather to teach [them] to keep everything (Greek terein). “Teaching to keep” is not a one-time activity, but rather a long-lasting process. This saying therefore relates not only to becoming a Christian but rather also to being a Christian.

The admonitions in the epistles are directed, of course, continually to Christians, as well as the injunction to admonish. You’ll find important passages about admonition in:

  • Matthew 18:15-18
  • Acts 20:31
  • Romans 12:1,8; 15:14
  • I Corinthians 14:3,31 (admonition as an essential component of prophetic speech)
  • Philippians 2:1 (admonition in connection with love and fellowship)
  • I Thessalonians 2:11; 4:10; 5:14
  • II Timothy 4:2
  • Titus 2:15
  • Hebrews 3:13; 10:24-25 (with special emphasis)
  • I Peter 5:1-2
  • Jude 3
  • Galatians 6:1
  • In Hebrews 3:12-13, admonition is indicated as necessary in order to hinder hardness [of heart] and falling away. Here it speaks of daily community
  • In Hebrews 10:25, admonition is the point of the meeting for which participation is required. It is contrasted to falling away.