Amplified: [Living as becomes you] with complete lowliness of mind (humility) and meekness (unselfishness, gentleness, mildness), with patience, bearing with one another and making allowances because you love one another. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
NLT: Be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other's faults because of your love. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: Accept life with humility and patience, making allowances for each other because you love each other. (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: with every lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: with all lowliness of mind and unselfishness, and with patience, bearing with one another lovingly, and earnestly striving to maintain,
WITH ALL HUMILITY AND GENTLENESS: meta pases tapeinophrosunes kai prautetos: (Numbers 12:3; Psalms 45:4; 138:6; Proverbs 3:34; 16:19; Isaiah 57:15; 61:1, 2, 3; Zephaniah 2:3; Zechariah 9:9; Matthew 5:3, 4, 5; 11:29; Acts 20:19; 1Corinthians 13:4,5; Galatians 5:22,23; Colossians 3:12,13; 1Timothy 6:11; 2Timothy 2:25; James 1:21; 3:15, 16, 17, 18; 1Peter 3:15)
With (meta) - means accompanied with.
Eadie writes that "The apostle now enforces the cultivation of those graces, the possession of which is indispensable to the harmony of the church: for the opposite vices — pride, irascibility, impatient querulousness—all tend to strife and disruption. On union the apostle had already dwelt in the second chapter as a matter of doctrine—here he introduces it as one of practice. (Eadie explains the "with" writing that) The first two nouns (humility and gentleness) are governed by one preposition, for they are closely associated in meaning, the “meekness” being after all only a phrase of the “lowliness of mind,” and resting on it. But the third noun (patience) is introduced with the preposition repeated, as it is a special and distinct virtue—a peculiar result of the former two—and so much, at the same time, before the mind of the apostle, that he explains it in the following clause. (Ephesians 4 Commentary)
Johnson writes that...
All (3956) (pas) means all without exception, modifying both humility and gentleness.
Each of the following virtues reflects a Christlike spirit and characterizes a "worthy walk" which contributes to the unity of the body.
Humility (5012) (tapeinophrosune from tapeinos = low lying, then low or humble + phren = to think) means humiliation of mind, lowly thinking, a humble attitude, modesty (modesty = unassuming in the estimation of one’s abilities) or without arrogance. It is the opposite of pride. Contemplating what we were before grace lifted us from the miry clay should cause us to have a humble attitude.
In a word humility is "low mindedness", an attitude that one is not too good to serve. Humility is that grace that, when you know you have it, you have lost it. Humility means putting Christ first, others second, and self last.
The word indicates that one esteems (not makes) themselves as "small" and lacking sufficiency to walk worthy while at the same time also recognizing the power and sufficiency of God to enable a worthy walk because Paul knows that humility promotes unity but that pride promotes disunity.
Paul is saying believing Jews are to lay aside their former "religious" pride and humbly regard their Gentile counterpart as their equal and not as their spiritual inferior.
A missionary to India once said that "If I were to pick out two phrases necessary for spiritual growth, I would pick out these: 'I don't know' and 'I am sorry.' And both phrases are the evidences of deep humility."
Humility is not thinking less of ourselves but is really not thinking of ourselves at all. This supernatural attitude in believers has its source in our association with the Lord Jesus and the enablement of His Spirit. Humility makes believers conscious of their own nothingness and enables them to esteem others better than themselves, a good antidote for a spirit of disunity in the body. The opposite attitudes of conceit and arrogance, on the other hand promote disunity.
John Eadie writes that humility of mind "is lowliness of mind, opposed to haughty in mind Ro 12:16-note. It is that profound humility which stands at the extremest distance from haughtiness, arrogance, and conceit, and which is produced by a right view of ourselves, and of our relation to Christ and to that glory to which we are called. It is ascribed by the apostle to himself in Acts 20:19. It is not any one's making himself small as Chrysostom supposes, for such would be mere simulation. Every blessing we possess or hope to enjoy is from God. Nothing is self-procured, and therefore no room is left for self-importance. This modesty of mind, says Chrysostom, is the foundation of all virtue. (Ephesians 4 Commentary)
In his last meeting with the Ephesians elders Paul used tapeinophrosune to describe himself "And when they had come to him, he said to them, "You yourselves know, from the first day that I set foot in Asia, how I was with you the whole time, 19 serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials which came upon me through the plots of the Jews (Acts 20:18,19)
In his letter to the Philippians Paul again used tapeinophrosune exhorting the saints to...
Peter used tapeinophrosune in his exhortation to younger men writing...
John the Baptist gives a good "formula" to ensure an every growing awareness of our humble state writing that...
To the saints at Rome Paul writes that...
J Vernon McGee offers the following illustration of humility of mind and adds a practical application -- The story is told of a group of people who went in to see Beethoven’s home in Germany. After the tour guide had showed them Beethoven’s piano and had finished his lecture, he asked if any of them would like to come up and sit at the piano for a moment and play a chord or two. There was a sudden rush to the piano by all the people except a gray-haired gentleman with long, flowing hair. The guide finally asked him, “Wouldn’t you like to sit down at the piano and play a few notes?” He answered, “No, I don’t feel worthy.” That man was Paderewski, the great Polish statesman and pianist and the only man in the group who was really worthy to play the piano of Beethoven. How often the saints rush in and do things when they have no gift for doing them. We say we have difficulty in finding folk who will do the work of the church, but there is another extreme—folk who attempt to do things for which they have no gift. We need to walk in lowliness of mind. (McGee, J V: Thru the Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson)
Edwards observes that "True humility is not putting ourselves down but rather lifting up others. If we concentrate on lifting up others, putting down ourselves will take care of itself. As we go through life exalting Christ and others, then genuine humility will be inevitable. If we exalt ourselves then God will take care of our humiliation for He promises to humble the proud. It is much less painful to do it the first way.
Humility always had a negative connotation in the ancient world which considered this Christian virtue to be groveling or abject and thus a trait to be held in considerable contempt. They saw humility as a characteristic of weakness and cowardice, to be tolerated only in the involuntary submission of slaves. Christianity elevated this term to the supreme virtue, in fact providing the ultimate antidote for self-love that poisons all relationships.
Pentecost adds this charge does not just deal with the inflated religious egos of the Jews for "The Greeks prided themselves on being better than other men, and they considered it something to be proud of to acknowledge their superiority. A man so perverted not to think of himself as being a superior person was called by this word. If the army, successful in battle, took a number of captives whose lives they spared to become servants, these servants might rightly think of themselves by this word “humble-minded.” But for a Greek, never! (Pentecost, J. D. The Joy of Living: A study of Philippians. Kregel Publications)
Lenski - "The pagan and the secular idea of manhood is self-assertiveness, imposing one's will on others; when anyone stooped to others he did so only under compulsion, hence his action was ignominious [disgraceful]. The Christian ethical idea of humility could not be reached by the secular mind; it lacked the spiritual soil."
Jesus taught that "everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted." " (Lk 18:14)
With this (and other teaching of course) Jesus elevated humility which was so despised among the Greeks to the level of the supreme virtue. He also provided an antidote for the constant self-love that poisons relationships and creates disunity.
Vine describes humility as "the subjection of self under the authority of and in response to the love of the Lord Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit to conform the believer to the character of Christ. In contrast to the world’s idea of being “poor-spirited” (in Classical Greek tapeinos commonly carried that imputation), the Lord commends “the poor in spirit” (Mt 5:3-note)." (Vine, W. Collected writings of W. E. Vine. Nashville: Thomas Nelson )
Someone has described humility as “insight into one’s own insignificance”. It is the mind-set of the person who is not conceited but who has a right attitude toward himself. Humility before God and man is a virtue every child of God needs to strive for. A spirit of pride in human relations indicates a lack of humility before God.
Humility of mind in its distilled essence means a mind brought low. Paul practiced what he preached as the following chart illustrates. Note Paul's estimate of self as he grew in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Clearly, the closer he drew to His Savior, the less significant self became and yet few men in the history of the world have had such impact on mankind as the apostle Paul. Obviously, humility does not equate with uselessness in God's program. To the contrary it is the man who is humble in mind who God can greatly use.
May we all be imitators of Paul's pattern (Heb 6:12)
Andrew Murray quipped that "The humble person is not one who thinks meanly of himself; he simply does not think of himself at all!"
Humility is that grace that, when you know you have it, you have lost it! The truly humble person knows himself and accepts himself (see note Romans 12:3). He yields himself to Christ to be a servant, to use what he is and has for the glory of God and the good of others. “Others” is a key idea in this section as the believer’s eyes are turned away from himself and focused on the needs of others.
Richards - "This (section) is perhaps Scripture’s clearest portrait of the “humility” called for in the Gospel. It is not a weak man’s surrender, but a strong man’s rejection of selfishness and determination to be actively concerned with the needs and interests of others." (He adds) It is good to know as we humble ourselves to follow Jesus that our "labor in the Lord is not in vain" (1Co 15:58). In Christ there are no empty, meaningless lives. (Richards, L O: Expository Dictionary of Bible Words: Regency)
Barnes has an interesting description of humility as the estimation of "ourselves according to truth. It is a willingness to take the place which we ought to take in the sight of God and man; and, having the low estimate of our own importance and character which the truth about our insignificance as creatures and vileness as sinners would produce, it will lead us to a willingness to perform lowly and humble offices that we may benefit others. (Philippians 2)
Paul condemns false humility in his letter to the Colossians where there were individuals in their midst who were "delighting in self-abasement (tapeinophrosune)... inflated without cause by his fleshly mind....matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement (tapeinophrosune) and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence." (Col 2:18, 23-see notes Col 2:18; Col 2:23)
When F. B. Meyer pastored Christ Church in London, Charles Spurgeon was preaching at Metropolitan Tabernacle, and G. Campbell Morgan was at Westminster Chapel. Meyer said, “I find in my own ministry that supposing I pray for my own little flock, ‘God bless me, God fill my pews, God send my flock a revival,” I miss the blessing; but as I pray for my big brother, Mr. Spurgeon, on the right-hand side of my church, ‘God bless him’; or my other big brother, Campbell Morgan, on the other side of my church, ‘God bless him’; I am sure to get a blessing without praying for it, for the overflow of their cups fills my little bucket.”
The opposite of humility of mind is illustrated by the story of the young Scottish minister who walked proudly into the pulpit to preach his first sermon. He had a brilliant mind and a good education and was confident of himself as he faced his first congregation. But the longer he preached, the more conscious everyone was that “the Lord was not in the wind.” He finished his message quickly and came down from the pulpit with his head bowed, his pride now gone. Afterward, one of the members said to him,
Many years ago the great Bible teacher William R. Newell was concluding a conference in China for China Inland Mission, and as he left he said to the mission’s leader,
The director responded with a twinkle in his eye,
Gentleness (meekness) (4240) (prautes [word study] from the adjective praus) describes the quality of not being overly impressed by a sense of one’s self-importance. Prautes is a quality of gentle friendliness - gentleness, meekness (as strength that accommodates to another's weakness), consideration, restrained patience, patient trust in the midst of difficult circumstances. Prautes suggests having one’s emotions under control (indicating the need for the strengthening of the Spirit) and is the opposite of self-assertion, rudeness, and harshness. Although prautes connotes meekness, it is not weakness but is knowing how to get angry at the right time and for the right reason. People who are angered at every nuisance or inconvenience to themselves know nothing of gentleness.
A gentle person is one whose emotions are under control. It describes the attitude that submits to God’s dealings without rebellion, and to man’s unkindness without retaliation. It is best seen in the life of our Lord Who said, “Take (red = commands) My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle (praus) and humble (tapeinos = low) in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls” (Mt 11:29).
Paul rightly ascribed prautes to His Lord writing to the saints at Corinth...
Walter Wright comments on Jesus' gentleness writing "What an astonishingly wonderful statement! The One Who made the worlds, Who flung the stars into space and calls them by name, Who preserves the innumerable constellations in their courses, Who weighs the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance, Who takes up the isles as a very little thing, Who holds the waters of the ocean in the hollow of His hand, before Whom the inhabitants of the earth are as grasshoppers, when He comes into human life finds Himself as essentially meek and lowly in heart. It is not that He erected a perfect human ideal and accommodated Himself to it; He was that. (Ephesians: An Encyclical Letter from the Heart of Christ Through the Heart of Paul to the Heart of the Church of All Time. Moody Press. 1954)
Albert Barnes - Meekness (gentleness) relates to the manner in which we receive injuries. We are to bear them patiently, and not to retaliate, or seek revenge. The meaning here is, that we adorn the gospel when we show its power in enabling us to bear injuries without anger or a desire of revenge, or with a mild and forgiving spirit. (Albert Barnes. Barnes NT Commentary) (Bolding added)
The meek person does not have to fly off the handle because he has everything under (Spirit) control. A perfect picture is found in our Lord Jesus Christ in Matthew 21. Quoting from the Septuagint (LXX = Greek of the Hebrew Old Testament) rendering of Zechariah 9:9, which predicts the Lord’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Matthew uses the adjective form of prautes (praus) to describe Jesus as “gentle (praus) and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden” (Mt 21:5).
Meekness is a willingness to waive one's rights for a good cause, just as Jesus waived His rights to His rule as King as he rode into Jerusalem mounted on a donkey (see above). Set aside your rights! Do not demand that you be satisfied, but for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ be willing to suffer loss. Meekness is the opposite of rudeness and abrasiveness.
Meekness and weakness are not synonymous. Meekness says,
John Eadie writes that prautes is "is meekness of spirit in all relations, both toward God and toward man—which never rises in insubordination against God nor in resentment against man. It is a grace ascribed by the Saviour to Himself (Mat. 11:29), and ascribed to Him by the apostle. (2Co 10:1; Gal 5:23-note). It is not merely that meekness which is not provoked and angered by the reception of injury, but that entire subduedness of temperament which strives to be in harmony with God's will, be it what it may, and, in reference to men, thinks with candour, suffers in self-composure, and speaks in the “soft answer” which “turneth away wrath” (Pr 15:1) (Ephesians 4 Commentary)
Meekness sees everything as coming from God and accepting it without murmuring and without disputing, patiently submitting to every offense, without any desire for revenge or retribution! (See the example of our Lord as described by Peter - 1Pe 2:21, 22, 23-note)
James uses prautes in his discussion of a teachable spirit instructing his readers to
In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus used the adjective praus declaring...
MacArthur - Meekness is the opposite of violence and vengeance. The meek person, for example, accepts joyfully the seizing of his property, knowing that he has infinitely better and more permanent possessions awaiting him in heaven (Heb. 10:34). The meek person has died to self, and he therefore does not worry about injury to himself, or about loss, insult, or abuse. The meek person does not defend himself, first of all because that is His Lord’s command and example, and second because he knows that he does not deserve defending. Being poor in spirit and having mourned over his great sinfulness, the gentle person stands humbly before God, knowing he has nothing to commend himself. (MacArthur, J: Matthew 1-7 Macarthur New Testament Commentary Chicago: Moody Press)
Ray Stedman describes meekness as "strength under control" adding that "It is real strength, but it does not have to display itself or show off how strong it is. This is what our Lord beautifully displayed He described himself as "meek and lowly in heart." The first curriculum of the Holy Spirit is that we must do what Jesus said, "take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly of heart."
In Greek literature prautes was sometimes used of a feigned, hypocritical concern for others that is motivated by self-interest. But in the New Testament it is always used of genuine consideration for others.
Prautes was used in secular Greek writings to describe a soothing wind, a healing medicine, and a colt that had been broken. In each instance, there is power for a wind can become a storm, too much medicine can kill and a horse can break loose. Thus prautes describes power under control.
Prautes is an interesting word. Aristotle defined it as the correct mean between being too angry and being never angry at all. It is the quality of the man whose anger is so controlled that he is always angry at the right time and never at the wrong time. It describes the man who is never angry at any personal wrong he may receive, but who is capable of righteous anger when he sees others wronged.
Barclay comments on this verse writing that this man "will receive the word with gentleness. (humility = praǘtēs). Gentleness is an attempt to translate the untranslatable word praǘtēs. This is a great Greek word which has no precise English equivalent. Aristotle defined it as the mean between excessive anger and excessive angerlessness; it is the quality of the man whose feelings and emotions are under perfect control. Andronicus Rhodius, commenting on Aristotle, writes, “Praǘtēs is moderation in regard to anger … You might define praǘtēs as serenity and the power, not to be lead away by emotion, but to control emotion as right reason dictates.” The Platonic definitions say that praǘtēs is the regulation of the movement of the soul caused by anger. It is the temperament (krasis) of a soul in which everything is mixed in the right proportions. No one can ever find one English word to translate what is a one word summary of the truly teachable spirit. The teachable spirit is docile and tractable, and therefore humble enough to learn. The teachable spirit is without resentment and without anger and is, therefore, able to face the truth, even when it hurts and condemns. The teachable spirit is not blinded by its own overmastering prejudices but is clear-eyed to the truth. The teachable spirit is not seduced by laziness but is so self-controlled that it can willingly and faithfully accept the discipline of learning. Praǘtēs describes the perfect conquest and control of everything in a man’s nature which would be a hindrance to his seeing, learning and obeying the truth." (Barclay, W: The Daily Study Bible Series, Rev. ed. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press)
Meekness is that unassuming inner spirit of mildness and gentleness which is the opposite of haughtiness, harshness and self-assertiveness.
Trench adds that prautes “is closely linked with humility, and follows directly upon it (Eph 4:2; Col 3:12) because it is only the humble heart which is also the meek; and which, as such, does not fight against God, and more or less struggle and contend with Him. This meekness, however, being first of all meekness before God, is also such in the face of men, even of evil men, out of a sense that these, with the insults and injuries which they may inflict, are permitted and employed by Him for the chastening and purifying of His elect. This was the root of David’s (meekness) when Shimei cursed and flung stones at him—the consideration that the Lord had bidden him (2 Sa 16:11 hold pointer over blue ref for popup), that it was just for him to suffer these things, however unjustly the other might inflict them; and out of like convictions all true Christian (meekness) must spring. He that is meek indeed will know himself a sinner among sinners...and this knowledge of his own sin will teach him to endure meekly the provocations with which they may provoke him, and not withdraw himself from the burdens which their sin may impose (Ibid)
F B Meyer - THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT--MEEKNESS --Eph. 4:1-2.
WITH PATIENCE, SHOWING TOLERANCE FOR ONE ANOTHER IN LOVE: meta makrothumias, anechomenoi (PMPMPN) allelon en agape: (Mark 9:19; Romans 15:1; 1 Corinthians 13:7; Galatians 6:2)
Patience (Longsuffering) (3115) (makrothumia [word study] from makros = long, distant, far off, large + thumos = temper, passion, emotion or thumoomai = to be furious or burn with intense anger) is literally long-temper (as opposed to short tempered), a long holding out under trial before giving in to passion, a tumultuous welling up of the whole spirit or a might emotion that seizes and moves the entire inner man. It is bearing patiently with the foibles, faults, and infirmities of others. It is a patient holding out under trial; a long-protracted restraint of the soul from yielding to passion, especially the passion of anger. Our old nature is so quick to take offense that we need longer "fuses". The new life in Christ enables one to endure with unruffled temper any wrong suffered without retaliation and to turn the other cheek.
Makrothumia - 14x in 14v - Ro 2:4; 9:22; 2 Cor 6:6; Gal 5:22; Eph 4:2; Col 1:11; 3:12; 1 Tim 1:16; 2 Tim 3:10; 4:2; Heb 6:12; Jas 5:10; 1 Pet 3:20; 2 Pet 3:15
Makrothumia is often used in the OT to translate the Hebrew phrase ('erekh 'appayim) which is literally “long of nose” (or “breathing”), and, as anger was indicated by rapid, violent breathing through the nostrils, “long of anger,” or “slow to anger.” This Hebrew phrase ('erekh 'appayim) and the Septuagint (LXX) translation as makrothumia (and the cognates makrothumos, makrothumeo) is included in the catalog of His attributes that runs through the OT like a refrain, a God "slow to anger" (Click for the 14 occurrences of this phrase in the OT).
Makrothumia reflects an emotional calm in face of provocation or misfortune. It expresses the capacity to be wronged and not retaliate. It is the ability to hold one's feeling in restraint or bear up under the oversights and wrongs afflicted by others without retaliating. It is manifest by the quality of forbearance under provocation. Patience is the spirit which never gives up for it endures to the end even in times of adversity, exhibiting self-restraint such that it does not hastily retaliate a wrong. Vine says makrothumia is the opposite of anger. It follows that a lack of patience often leads to wrath or revenge.
John Eadie characterizes makrothumia as that temperament which "is opposed to irritability, or to what we familiarly name shortness of temper (Jas 1:19), and is that patient self-possession which enables a man to bear with those who oppose him, or who in any way do him injustice. He can afford to wait till better judgment and feeling on their part prevail, 2Co 6:6; Gal. 5:22; 1Ti 1:16; 2Ti 4:2. In its high sense of bearing with evil, and postponing the punishment of it, it is ascribed to God, Ro 2:4, 9:22. (Ephesians 4 Commentary)
Boice tells the story of...
Albert Barnes has a pithy and practical comment on longsuffering (with thoughts overlapping with the next trait of forbearance) writing that...
J Vernon McGee writes that makrothumia "means “long-burning”—it burns a long time. We shouldn’t have a short fuse with our friends and Christian brethren. We shouldn’t make snap judgments. (McGee, J V: Thru the Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson)
Evans writes that makrothumia "could be translated “large emotions,” signifying wells of endurance that will not dry up, no matter how much is drawn from them. The Christian with this patience will have refreshing water to sustain continual effectiveness even in the face of unrelenting pressures. Those with such patience and faith are those who receive or “inherit the promises.” (Briscoe, D. S., & Ogilvie, L. J. The Preacher's Commentary Series, New Testament. 2003; Thomas Nelson)
Calvin said makrothumia refers to that quality of mind that disposes us “to take everything in good part and not to be easily offended.”
Larry Richards - The NT contains many exhortations to be patient. But just what is patience? The Greek word group (makrothumeo/makrothumia) focuses our attention on restraint: that capacity for self-control despite circumstances that might arouse the passions or cause agitation....This is not so much a trait as a way of life. We keep on loving or forgiving despite provocation, as illustrated in Jesus' pointed stories in Mt 18." (Richards, L O: Expository Dictionary of Bible Words: Regency)
William Barclay has a lengthy discussion explaining that makrothumia...
In another note Barclay writes that makrothumia is "the ability to bear with them even when they are wrong, even when they are cruel and insulting. It is a great word. The writer of First Maccabees (8:4) says that it was by makrothumia that the Romans became masters of the world, and by that he means the Roman persistence which would never make peace with an enemy even in defeat, a kind of conquering patience. Patience is the quality of a man who may lose a battle but who will never admit defeat in a campaign" (Barclay, William: New Testament Words:. Westminster John Know Press, 1964)
Boles writes that makrothumia "refers to what we might call “staying power,” to endure hard events and obnoxious people. While the word was not frequently used in classical literature, it has a rich history in the LXX. “A man’s wisdom gives him patience” (Pr 19:11), with which he can calm a quarrel (Pr 15:18) or persuade a ruler (Pr 25:15). More importantly, patience makes a man like God, who is “righteous and strong and long-tempered” (Ps 7:12, LXX). One of the great truths about God is that he is “slow to anger” (makrothumos), repeated by Moses (Ex 34:6), David (Ps 103:8), Joel (2:13), Jonah (4:2), Nahum (1:3), and Nehemiah (9:17)...Patience is the even temper that comes from a big heart. It is not the “grit your teeth” kind of angry endurance; it is loving tolerance in spite of people’s weakness and failure. Love is patient (1 Cor 13:4) and so must Christians be (Eph 4:2)...the same divine quality that allows God to be patient with sinners (2 Pet 3:9) enables the Christian to endure the exasperating behavior of others. Perhaps the best way for us to “lengthen” the fuse on our tempers is to remember how much God has had to overlook and forgive in our own lives." (Boles, K. L. Galatians & Ephesians. The College Press NIV commentary Joplin, Mo.: College Press)
Makrothumia is patience in face of injustice and unpleasant circumstances without complaint or irritation. The short-tempered person speaks and acts impulsively and lacks self-control. When a person is longsuffering, he can put up with provoking people or circumstances without retaliating. It is good to be able to get angry, for this is a sign of holy character. But it is wrong to get angry quickly at the wrong things and for the wrong reasons. It is the attitude which endures another's exasperating conduct without flying off the handle. It is a negative term. It is holding back, restraining yourself from becoming upset or speaking sharply or shrilly to somebody be they your mate, your child, or whoever...despite their conduct you find difficult and exasperating.
Makrothumia always has to do with our reaction not to circumstances but to people that God allows (or sends) into our life! Because of the new nature you can be longsuffering with those with whom you otherwise could not be. What was heretofore IMPOSSIBLE is now ''HIM POSSIBLE''! Hallelujah! Remember though it is a product of prayer (Col 1:11-note)
After studying this definition you must wonder how can anyone manifest genuine makrothumia? The answer is they cannot, but God can. Paul explains that ""the fruit (click discussion of karpos) of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience (makrothumia - patiently putting up with people who continually irritate us. The Holy Spirit’s work in us increases our endurance), kindness, goodness, faithfulness" (Gal 5:22-note)
George writes that makrothumia "is the ability to put up with other people even when that is not an easy thing to do. Patience in this sense, of course, is preeminently a characteristic of God, who is “long-suffering” with his rebellious creatures. He is the loving Lord who in the face of obstinate infidelity and repeated rejection still says of his people, “How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Israel?” (Hos 11:8). Paul’s point is clear: if God has been so long-suffering with us, should we not display this same grace in our relationships with one another? This quality should characterize the life of every believer, but it has a special relevance for those who are called to teach and preach the Word of God. As Paul instructed Timothy, “Preach (all verbs in red = commands = only possible as one relies on the enabling power of the Spirit) the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction” (2Ti 4:2-note)." (George, T. The New American Commentary. Broadman & Holman Publishers.)
Longsuffering characterizes all labor that has love for its motive "Love is patient (verb form = makrothumeo), love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant," (1Corinthian 13:4-note)
Vine writes that If forbearance denotes delay in executing judgment, long-suffering denotes the particular disposition which delays it." (Vine, W. Collected writings of W. E. Vine. Nashville: Thomas Nelson)
Showing tolerance (430) (anechomai from aná = in + écho = have) (Click word study on anechomai) means literally to hold one’s self upright or firm against a person or thing, to put up with, to bear with (equanimity or evenness of mind especially under stress), to tolerate, to forbear. It pictures restraint under provocation and includes liberal allowance for the faults and failures of others. The present tense calls for this to be our lifestyle. The middle voice (reflexive) means that one is to have patience with or “to hold oneself up” till the provocation is past.
Paul also uses anechomai in the "practical" or exhortational last two chapters of his letter to the church at Colossae writing...
The idea is to hold out in spite of persecution, threats, injury, indifference, or complaints and not retaliate. It conveys the sense of putting up with others and of undergoing something onerous or troublesome without giving in.
Paul encourages the saints to make allowance (tolerate, bear, endure) for the faults and failures of others, or differing personalities, abilities, and temperaments. Forbearance is not a question of maintaining a façade of courtesy while inwardly seething with resentment but is a Spirit empowered positive love to those who irritate, disturb, or embarrass you! Not a natural but a supernatural response!
We can understand why Paul prayed for the Ephesian saints to be strengthened by the Spirit in their inner man! (see note Ephesians 3:16) This attitude and action is not possible naturally, but only supernaturally!
Application: How are you bearing up with the idiosyncrasies of your brethren at church, your spouse, your children, your co-workers, your fellow students, etc? You can't, He can and He lives in you to transform your temperament and attitude to those who irritate you.
One another (240) (allelon from állos = another) means just what it says. It is like the sequoia trees of California which tower as high as 300 feet above the ground. You might be surprised to discover that these giant trees have unusually shallow root systems that reach out in all directions to capture the greatest amount of surface moisture. Their intertwining roots also provide support for each other against the storms. That's why the giant Sequoia trees usually grow in clusters. Seldom will you see a redwood standing alone, because high winds would quickly uproot it! That's what "one another" means!
In love - describes the spirit in which such forbearance was to be exercised.
John Eadie writes that "Retaliation was not to be allowed; all occasionally needed forbearance, and all were uniformly to exercise it. No acerbity of temper, sharp retort, or satirical reply was to be admitted. As it is the second word which really begins the strife, so, where mutual forbearance is exercised, even the first angry word would never be spoken. And this mutual forbearance must not be affected coolness or studied courtesy; it must have its origin, sphere, and nutriment “in love”—in the genuine attachment that ought to prevail among Christian disciples. (Ephesians 4 Commentary)
Love (26) (agape) (for more discussion see notes on 1Co 13:4) in the NT usually refers to unconditional (as in this verse), sacrificial, supernatural love, that quality of love that God is (1Jn 4:8,16), that love which God shows (Jn 3:16, 1Jn 4:9) and (to praise of the glory of His amazing grace - Ep 1:6-note) that quality of love that God's Spirit enables us as His children (Jn 1:12, Ro 8:16, 17-note) to manifest (see fruit of the Spirit - Gal 5:22-note). Do not "try" to "manufacture" this love, but instead learn daily (even moment by moment) to "die" ("to self", cp Mk 8:34, Lk 9:23, Ro 6:11-note, Ro 6:12, 13-note, Ro 6:14-note Ro 7:5, 6-note, Col 3:5-note, Php 2:12-note, Php 2:13-note, Ezekiel 36:27 = a promise associated with the New Covenant) that you might manifest this supernatural Christ-like love (cp Ep 5:1,2-note) to a lost, dying world (Eph 2:1, 2:2-note, Ep 2:3-note) in which even natural love is growing cold (cp "unloving" in 2Ti 3:3-note, Ro 1:31-note, cp Jesus' admonition regarding love in the last of the last days = Mt 24:12). (See John Piper's related sermon = The Greatest of These Is Love - Dying As a Means of Loving)
Agape love is empowered by the Holy Spirit, activated by a personal choice of our will, is not based on our feelings toward the object of our love and is manifested by specific actions especially as summarized in 1Corinthians 13
In combination with showing tolerance, the idea is to love those who don't deserve it or who irritate, disturb or embarrass us. This supernatural, Christlike behavior is only possible by the strengthening of our inner man by the Holy Spirit.
Thomas à Kempis wrote that "If Christ is amongst us, then it is necessary that we sometimes yield up our own opinion for the sake of peace. Who is so wise as to have perfect knowledge of all things? Therefore trust not too much to thine own opinion, but be ready also to hear the opinions of others.
D L Moody quipped "There are two ways of being united -- one is by being frozen together, and the other is by being melted together. What Christians need is to be united in brotherly love, and then they may expect to have power."
Thomas Watson once wrote that "In the primitive times, there was so much love among the godly as set the heathen a-wondering, and now there is so little, as may set Christians a-blushing.
George Whitefield and John Wesley disagreed in matters of theology which could have led to great disunity. Below is a letter from Whitefield to Wesley illustrating Paul's charge to show "tolerance for one another in love" - My honored friend and brother...hearken to a child who is willing to wash your feet. I beseech you, by the mercies of God in Christ Jesus our Lord, if you would have my love confirmed toward you.… Why should we dispute, when there is no possibility of convincing? Will it not, in the end, destroy brotherly love, and insensibly take from us that cordial union and sweetness of soul, which I pray God may always subsist between us? How glad would the enemies of our Lord be to see us divided....Honored sir, let us offer salvation freely to all by the blood of Jesus, and whatever light God has communicated to us, let us freely communicate to others. (Comment: And all God's people should carry out this same divine duty!)