Please note that all Biblical quotes, in this and all other lessons posted to Greek Thoughts, are from The Literal English Translation of the Bible produced by BTE Ministries - The Bible Translation and Exegesis Institute of America.
This week we begin a five-part study of the Greek noun μακροθυμὶα (Strong's #3115) meaning "patience, longsuffering, forbearance," and its verb form μακροθυμὲω (Strong's #3114) meaning "to persevere, to endure, to suffer long." Both words are made up of the adjective μακρὸς (Strong's #3117), which means "long," and θυμὸς (Strong's #2372), which means "passion, heat, anger." Μακροθυμὶα is used to express a slow human reaction toward another human being or of God waiting long to bring judgment against man. It is helpful for the understanding of makroqumi/a to consider it in contrast to uÕpomonhv, which means a remaining under or endurance in circumstances.
As we will establish in this study, μακροθυμὶα is a necessity in Christian fellowship, as well as in ministry. This is because successful fellowship and ministry among Christians happens only when human reactions are under control. People need the ministry of God's Spirit, not the human reaction and opinions of others. This necessary control is brought about by the presence and ministry of God's Spirit. Our study this week, from Galatians 5:22-23, will focus on the source that produces long-suffering in the life of the believer.
It must first be noted that μακροθυμὶα, longsuffering or slow in human reaction, is produced by God's Spirit alone. It is not an ability possessed by a human being, nor is it the result of human effort. A person can exercise discipline to control the flesh, but he/she cannot duplicate the control of his/her reactions toward other persons for the purposes of God.
- But the fruit of the Spirit is love (ἀγὰπη - Strong's #26), joy, peace, longsuffering (μακροθυμὶα), kindness, goodness, faith,
In this very well-known presentation of Paul, we find the fruit (singular) of God's Spirit presented. Although many commentators have labored over the seemingly difficult way in which the fruit of the Spirit is presented in this text, the Greek grammar helps to clarify the meaning. The word for "fruit" is singular indicating that there is only one fruit of God's Spirit, with many parts making up the whole. That is to say that the one fruit of God's Spirit is comprised of the nine components described here in these verses. Just as there are many elements making up one piece of fruit, so there are many elements working together to make up the one fruit of God's Spirit. This tells us that one part of the fruit cannot be separated from the others.
This understanding of longsuffering as a component of the fruit of the Spirit, and of the concept of the one being inseparable from the whole, is expanded even more in 1 Corinthians 13:4, where we find Paul integrating longsuffering into his description of Agape (note that Agape is also a component of the fruit of the Spirit (vs. 22).
1 Corinthians 13:4
- Love (ἀγὰπη) suffers long (μακροθυμὲω) and is kind; love is not envious; love is not boastful, is not puffed up.
In this text, Paul presents a description of Agape, the highest form of love, one originating from God. It is this love that causes believers to care about the spiritual welfare of others. It is this love causing believers to desire that others be ministered to by God's Spirit, not by the reactions of the flesh. And, as Paul's writing shows, this love is characterized by longsuffering.
Just as Agape is present in mature believers, so must μακροθυμὶα be present because each is an integral, inseparable part of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) and each is a component of the other (Galatians 5:22-23; 1 Corinthians 13:4). The successful effect of God's Spirit on others, whether that be simply in fellowship or in ministry, is accomplished only through their presence within the believer. Whether we, as mature believers, are emotionally up or down, whether we are angry with another or indifferent, God's Spirit keeps our fleshly reactions under control, enabling His Spirit to flow in fellowship and ministry.
Next week we will study, from Ephesians 4:1-6, the necessity of longsuffering among believers in order to maintain the unity of fellowship.
*MAKROTHUMIA is the English font spelling of the Greek word μακροθυμὶα.
'Greek Thoughts' Copyright 2013© Bill Klein. 'Greek Thoughts' articles may be reproduced in whole under the following provisions: 1) A proper credit must be given to the author at the end of each article, along with a link to www.studylight.org/ls/gt/ 2) 'Greek Thoughts' content may not be arranged or "mirrored" as a competitive online service.