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Bible verses about Agathosune
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Romans 15:14

This verse provides a clear sense of an active, even aggressive, goodness. Paul links goodness with full knowledge and admonition of each other. This gives us insight into what he knew of and expected from Christians in Rome, placing before us a target to shoot for in our relationships within the fellowship of the church.

But Paul lists goodness first, as though it is either the foundation for the other two virtues or at least their necessary precursor. I Corinthians 8:1 says, "Knowledge puffs up." Knowledge combined with vanity can spew a torrent of self-righteous offense, but goodness will hold such a display in check and guide knowledge to build up rather than destroy.

Biblical goodness is always, under every circumstance, beneficial. Though he had not yet been to Rome at the writing of his epistle, Paul evidently understood that he was writing to an unusually strong congregation. He was so confident that they had a strong and sincere desire to do the right thing that he wrote that they were "full of goodness [and] filled with all knowledge."

This is quite a compliment, serving to reinforce what he writes in Romans 1:8: "Your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world"! They were far different from the recipients of Hebrews, whom he tells, "For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God" (Hebrews 5:12).

The Romans' full knowledge was an intelligent and comprehensive understanding of the faith and Christian responsibility. Strong faith is not built on weak understanding. They had given honest, serious thought to applying their faith to the sometimes bewildering tangle of life in this world. They were living it.

These two qualities—goodness and knowledge combined—present a sound vehicle for instructing each other on the best ways to "walk the walk" despite the pulls of this world. Goodness provides the right disposition and motivation, and knowledge, the correct instruction. One devoid of the necessary knowledge cannot teach; anyone destitute of goodness will not even try because he lacks the impulse to help others in the right spirit. Even if he makes the effort, only a spirit marked by active love will win the response without which no true education in God's way is possible.

The word translated "admonish" in verse 14 is rendered "advice," "counsel," and "instruct" in other translations. In I Thessalonians 5:14, the same word is translated "warn," indicating that it is more than mere instruction. The English word that comes closest to expressing the sense best is "inculcate." Inculcate means "to impress upon the mind by frequent repetition or persistent urging" (Webster's New World Dictionary). Among its synonyms are such strong words as "indoctrinate," "brainwash," "admonish repeatedly," and even "hammer"! No wonder William Barclay says that agathosune is goodness that "might, and could, rebuke and discipline."

This goodness does whatever loving wisdom calls for in a given situation. However, this in no way means that one should deliver the admonishment, counsel, or even rebuke with meanness of spirit. In other words, one with goodness does not viciously "chew somebody out." Numerous Scriptures counsel us to be gentle and tender with each other. Paul is himself a model of tact and diplomacy in dealing with difficult circumstances within congregations and between himself and a person or congregation.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fruit of the Spirit: Goodness


 

Galatians 5:22

Good is a very versatile word with many uses in everyday English. It is used as a noun, adjective, and adverb and is the root of the word "goodness." The common idea in almost all of its uses is that it suggests a desirable quality, something commendable, reliable, welcome, enjoyable, beneficent, kind, noble, admirable, propitious, exemplary, and very much welcome. In the word "goodness," the inner qualities of virtue, excellence of character, morality, and attitude that we see in a person's behavior come to the fore.

The Hebrew and Greek uses are similar, but the Hebrew, like the English, has a broader application. The Greek word, agathosune, at first glance seems very similar to chrestotes ("kindness"). However, closer examination of its use in the Scriptures reveals a word indicating zealous activity in doing good. Kindness or gentleness (chrestotes) is more passive.

William Barclay's Daily Study Bible commentary on Galatians says of these two words:

It [agathosune] is the widest word for goodness; it is defined as "virtue equipped at every point." What is the difference? Agathosune might, and could, rebuke and discipline; chrestotes can only help. Trench says that Jesus showed agathosune when He cleansed the Temple and drove out those who were making it a bazaar; but He showed chrestotes when He was kind to the sinning woman who anointed His feet. The Christian needs that goodness which at the same time can be kind and strong. (p. 51)

Agathosune is therefore active—even aggressive—goodness. The English word "goodness" includes many pleasing qualities whereas the Greek word indicates one particular quality. It is more than an excellence of character; it is character energized, expressing itself in active good. Agathosune is goodness, but it does not spare sharpness and rebuke to produce good in others. Thus God can correct, sometimes very severely, and it is goodness in action. Thus parents can correct their child, and it is good because it helps produce a responsible adult.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fruit of the Spirit: Goodness


 

Ephesians 5:8

Ephesians 5:8 says that converted persons are "light in the Lord" and should "walk as children of light." This light is revealed in all goodness, righteousness, and truth. This is what others should witness in us and be guided by as an example. Each of these three terms covers a different aspect of our witness.

Righteousness conveys legality. Psalm 119:172 defines righteousness as keeping the commandments of God, thus righteousness implies conformity to law. It is a narrower term than either truth or goodness. It indicates uprightness and a manifestation of justice. It can literally mean being right. God uses the illustration of a plumb line in Amos to portray what He means by righteousness. The person who is righteous has been measured against the standard of God's law and found to be in alignment. Therefore, righteousness should be a characteristic of a Christian. He is fair and just in his dealings with others, plays life by the rules and respects others' rights and possessions.

Earlier, in Ephesians 5:6, Paul speaks of deceit, things done in secret, and the hidden things of darkness. "All truth" is their opposite. The character of the life of the Christian is without deceit. Nothing is hidden, underhanded, or dishonest; nothing smacks of hypocrisy or pretense. The life of those walking in the light will be open, aboveboard, and transparent; it has nothing to conceal and never pretends to be something it is not.

New Testament goodness, agathosune, is a versatile and strong word that can be used either of the act or the intention motivating the act. It can be gentle or sharp, but the intention of the good person is always the well-being of the recipients of his goodness. An English word that covers some aspects of the Greek word is "benevolence." This "inclination to do good" seems to be Paul's intent in Ephesians 5:9.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones, in his Darkness and Light, a commentary on Ephesians 4 and 5, writes that this goodness is "indicative of a perfect balance in the various parts of the personality. A good man is a balanced man, a man in whom everything that is noble and excellent works harmoniously together" (p. 402). Thus he can be gentle or sharp, but what he does always has the right balance and is good.

Such a person tries to promote the happiness of all around him. He is not selfish or self-centered, but because he has this balance himself, he desires that others have it too. This is how God is. God looks upon us in our misery, the result of sin, and in His goodness leads us to repentance. Sometimes the path to repentance for us is sharp and painful, but it is always good.

On the more gentle side, God "makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust" (Matthew 5:45). Although men are evil, He does this kindness out of His goodness.

In the converted person we see a pale reflection of this goodness. The good man is one who thinks about love, beauty, and truth—not just in the realm of majestic mountains, surging seas, gorgeous flowers, and sunsets, but more specifically in his fellow man. He wants to alleviate suffering and to mitigate wrongs. He consciously looks for ways to benefit others. Because he is not out to gratify himself, His works are the opposite of the self-centered works of darkness. The good person is the benefactor of the weak, helpless, and those in trouble—and sometimes even of the evil.

In the presence of Cornelius and his family, Peter says of Jesus, "God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him" (Acts 10:38). The Scriptures speak frequently of Jesus' healing all who came to Him without qualification as to who they were. He sharply rebuked those who had the power to do good but did not. Though He at times ate with the "respectable" of the cities and villages, He was known to keep company with publicans and sinners. He flatly states that He did not come for those who were well, but for those who needed a physician (Matthew 9:12-13). As a man Jesus continued to follow the same pattern He established as God above, and in so doing He gave us a perfect example to follow within our contacts and power.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fruit of the Spirit: Goodness


 

 




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