T. PIERCE BROWN
A few days ago I wrote an article on the word “therefore” as it is used in the Great Commission. The implications are so far-reaching that I decided to look at some other examples of “therefore” in the New Testament. I was shocked to find that it would take a small book to deal with all the significant passages where “therefore” plays an important part in the message.
There are several Greek words that are translated “therefore,” but I will only mention a few cases where the word “oun,” translated “therefore” in the Great Commission is used. I hope this will cause many of you to look more carefully at the more than 437 times the conjunction “oun” is used in the New Testament, and think more deeply on each “therefore” and what preceeds and follows it. It is usually preceeded by some important statement of truth and followed by what should be recognized as a consequence of that truth.
Notice some examples of it. In Matthew 5:18, we read, “For verily I say unto you,`Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law till all be fulfilled’.” Now notice verse 19, “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments and teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven; but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom.” Because of the eternal nature of God’s law, He uses “therefore” to emphasize the consequences of breaking or keeping it. The principle is still true. Just because God’s grace abounds, and because we can not be justified on the basis of having kept (all of) God’s law, we are in no sense to assume that any law of God which is applicable today is insignificant.
In Matthew5:48we are told, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” To what does “therefore” refer? He has just finished telling us to love our enemies that we may be “children of your Father which is in heaven.” When one has learned how to (and does) love his enemies, blessing those who curse, and doing good to those who persecute, and thus demonstrating that he is a son of God, he is therefore perfect–mature and God-like. It is in consequence of the fact that one wants to be like God that he will therefore do that which will make him perfect–that is, mature and complete in that respect.
In Matthew6:33-34 we are told, “But seek ye first thekingdomofGodand His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought (be not anxious) for tomorrow–.” Do you not see the wonderful connection between the truth that if indeed you seek first God’s Kingdom and righteousness, he will provide for all your material needs? Then as a result of your awareness of and belief of that wonderful truth, you can therefore be free from anxiety about them.
In Matthew 9:37-38, we find, “The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few; pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest.” There are two reasons given here for the prayer he enjoins upon us. There are several others we might give, but these two would be enough. The harvest is plenteous. There are many persons who would accept salvation if we would properly present it to them. But the laborers are few. Even hundreds who attend workshops do not really labor in the vineyard, but apparently just go to be inspired or “turned on.” Then they go home and turn off. At any rate, because the harvest is plenteous and the laborers few, we therefore should pray. But of course prayer is worth very little if we are not willing to be used of God to answer the prayer.
How many hundreds of times have you quoted, or heard quoted in sermons, “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.” Did you ever really think of the thing to which the “therefore” referred? Read the preceeding verses. It is because a disciple is of more value than many sparrows. Jesus values you so much that if you confess by your words and actions that you are His, He will therefore do the same before God!
In Matthew 18:4, we hear Jesus say, “Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” The “therefore” refers back to His statement in verse 3 that “Except ye be converted and become as little children, ye shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.” If that statement is so, (and it is) then therefore we had better humble ourselves and become trusting, obedient, loving, childlike disciples. You may notice that he says “Except ye be converted AND become like little children.” It would really take some conversion for many of us! But the “except” and “therefore” together make a powerful argument for our doing just that.
This is but a very small sample of the hundreds of places where a “therefore” from God emphasizes and highlights the value of some statement He has just made. Why not study some of them for yourself? Remember that any time you find a “therefore” you should try to find out what is there for.