μέριμνα (merimna) ~ care, anxiety, worry

μέριμνα (merimna) ~ care, anxiety, worry

The Greek concept of μέριμνα (merimna) describes a state in which someone is mentally occupied with something.  It manifests as an anxious, troubled, and distracted mind.  The attention consumed with the cares of this life.  The Bible teaches this is Satan’s only weapon against a believer in Christ, one that he employs to hinder spiritual growth.

Part One ~ I Peter 5:5-8
Introduction

This week we are beginning an eight-part study on the Greek word μέριμνα (merimna) (Strong’s 3308) and its verb form μεριμνάω (merimnao) (Strong’s 3309).

Definition

The noun μέριμνα (merimna) is translated as care, anxiety, and worry.  Its root is the Greek word μερίζω (merizō) (Strong’s 3307), which is translated to divide, or to separate.  So μέριμνα (merimna) represents a mental state or condition in which someone is occupied with or dwelling upon something.

Origin

Derived from the noun, the verb form μεριμνάω (merimnao) means to be anxious, to be troubled, and careful thought.  In early Greek literature it is used to convey the concept of meditation.

Usage

The noun and verb forms of μέριμνα (merimna) are used in the New Testament and can carry either positive or negative associations.  Used in the positive, these words convey the idea of focused care.  By contrast, the negative conveys the idea of distraction through occupying the attention of the mind.  We are going to study both of these uses in our eight-part study. 

Method

In this study we are going to follow these two words through the New Testament in order to observe how they are used to reveal the tool by which Satan occupies the believer’s mind.  I Peter 5:5-8 is the fundamental Scripture text for our study.  In this text, Peter presents μέριμνα as Satan’s only weapon against a believer in Christ.

Phases of the Christian Life

Before we study the text in I Peter, we have to establish an understanding of the phases comprising the Christian life: the first being Salvation; the second being Growth and Change.  This understanding enables us to perceive why μέριμνα is the only weapon Satan can use against a believer.

Phase One ~ Salvation

As previously stated, Salvation is the first phase of the Christian life.  The Bible teaches that a person must experience a spiritual birth from the Spirit of God in order to be saved.  Just believing in the Lord does not establish salvation; a person must experience the Spirit of Christ coming into their spirit or soul.  The presence of the Spirit of Christ within the believer was established as the proof of salvation by the Early Church.  Paul said to the Christians in Corinth, “Test yourselves if you are in the faith, prove yourselves.  Or do you not know yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you?  If not, you are unapproved.”  (II Corinthians 13:5)

Paul also said, “But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you; but if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, this one is not of Him.”  (Romans 8:9)

John in his polemic style of writing said, “And the one keeping His commandments abides in Him, and He in him.  And in this we know that He abides in us, from the Spirit which He gave to us.”  (I John 3:24)

Again, John says, “In this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given to us of His Spirit.”  (I John 4:13)

Not only did the New Testament writers establish that a person must be born from above through a spiritual birth in Christ in order to be saved, but Paul also said, “In whom also you, having heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, in whom also after having believed you were sealed by means of the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance, for redemption of the possession, unto the praise of His glory.”  (Ephesians 1:13-14)  Here Paul states that Christ not only fills our soul or spirit, but our soul is additionally sealed by the Holy Spirit. 

Peter said concerning the ones who have an inheritance in heaven waiting for them: “The ones being kept (guarded) in the power of God through faith, for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”  (I Peter 1:5)

John says, “We know that everyone who has been born of God is not continuously sinning; but the one who has been born of God He (God) keeps him and the evil one does not touch him.”  (I John 5:18)

So, the Bible teaches and establishes that a person who is saved belongs to Christ.  He is a person who is born of the Spirit of Christ and has the Spirit of Christ dwelling in his spirit (or soul).  This person’s spirit has been sealed by the Holy Spirit.  And this condition of salvation does not allow for penetration by any force or spirit into the spirit of the saved person.

Phase Two ~ Growth and Change

The second phase of the Christian life is that of Growth and Change.  It is designated as Growth and Change because growth produces change. After a person is saved by receiving the Spirit of Christ, he begins to grow by the inward working of God’s Spirit Who abides within him.  The growth process takes place within the arena of the mind.  Paul said, “And do not continually be conformed to this age but be continually transformed by means of the renewing of your mind, for you to prove what is the good, well pleasing, and perfect will of God.”  (Romans 12:2)

Paul also said, “For you to put off the old man according to the former lifestyle, the one being corrupt according to the desires of the deceit; and to be renewed by the spirit of your mind.”  (Ephesians 4:22-23)

Since a believer’s spirit is saved and sealed, the only area in which Satan can attack is the mind.  Consequently, Satan is fighting for the occupation of the attention of the mind, also known in Scripture as μέριμνα (merimna).

Meaning Part One ~ I Peter 5:5-8

Having discussed the phases of the Christian life, we can now understand the importance of Peter’s teaching in I Peter 5:5-8 where He says,

5)  Likewise, you younger ones be submissive to the older ones; and everyone put on humility while being submissive to one another; because God is resisting the proud, but is giving grace to the humble.
6)  Therefore, be humbled under the mighty hand of God, in order that he might exalt you in time;   
7)  having cast all your care (μέριμνα) upon Him, because it is a concern to Him about you.
8)  Be sober, be watchful, because your adversary the devil, is walking around as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.

In this text, Peter presents μέριμνα (merimna) – the occupation of the attention of the mind as the only weapon Satan uses against a believer.  Peter said in Verse 6 that we should submit to God’s humbling process.  The aorist participle in Verse 7 tells us that we are to submit to this humbling process having cast all of our care upon the Lord.  We are to cast all of the things that are occupying our minds onto the Lord. 

Peter, in verses 7 and 8, states that the Lord is concerned about us because our adversary, the devil, is walking around as a roaring lion.  The Lord is concerned for us because Satan is looking to devour God’s people, not spiritually, but mentally.  How?  By occupying the attention of our minds so that we are too busy and too worried about the things of this earthly life.  Consequently, we do not have the time or the focus to study and receive from God’s Word.  The end result is that we fail to grow.  We are saved but we remain unchanged. 

We know from Job chapters 1 and 2 that Satan “scouts” God’s people just as an army scout surveys the opposing army before an attack.  Satan scouts us in order to accuse us before God. He plans his attack upon our minds using those things he perceives as our weaknesses.  Our weakness could be our career.  It could be someone with whom we are too emotionally attached.  It could even be an activity for which we have a passion.  Satan cannot attack and penetrate a believer’s spirit, but he can and does make an all-out effort to distract us by drawing our attention away from the Word of God.

Conclusion

Paul said in II Corinthians 2:11, “In order that we should not be taken advantage of by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes.”  The Early Church was not ignorant of Satan’s schemes or plots and ways of attack.  In I Peter 5:8, Peter commands, “Be sober,” and, “Be watchful.”  We are commanded to be alert and not be ignorant of Satan’s schemes.  The significance of the Growth and Change phase of a believer’s life cannot be overemphasized; which is why Satan works so diligently to distract us from this process using his only weapon, μέριμνα (merimna).

Notes

– Merimna is the English font spelling of the Greek word μέριμνα.
– Merimnao is the English font spelling of the Greek word μεριμνάω.
– All Biblical quotes contained herein are a Literal English Translation of the Bible produced by BTE Ministries – The Bible Translation and Exegesis Institute of America.

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Part Two ~ Matthew 6:24-34
Introduction

We are continuing with part two in our eight-part study on the Greek word μέριμνα (merimna, Strong’s 3308) and its verb form μεριμνάω (merimnao, Strong’s 3309). 

Definition

The noun μέριμνα (merimna) is translated as care, anxiety, and worry.  Its root is the Greek word μερίζω (merizō, Strong’s 3307), which is translated to divide, or to separate.  

Origin

Derived from the noun, the verb form μεριμνάω (merimnao) means to be anxious, to be troubled, and careful thought.  

Review ~ Phases of the Christian Life

So μέριμνα (merimna) represents a mental state or condition in which someone is occupied with or dwelling upon something.

As a foundation for our word study, we established a scriptural understanding of the phases of the Christian life: the first being Salvation; the second being Growth and Change.

As previously discussed, Scripture shows that the Early Church established the presence of the Spirit of Christ dwelling within a person as the proof of salvation (Romans 8:9; II Corinthians 13:5; I John 3:24; I John 4:13).  Additionally, Ephesians 1:13 states that a believer is “sealed by the Holy Spirit.”  Hence, anyone who belongs to Christ has the Spirit of Christ indwelling and sealing his spirit.  These two things make it impossible for any other spirit to penetrate the spirit of a believer.

We also studied that once saved, a believer grows and changes through the “transformation of the mind” (Romans 12:2; Ephesians 4:23).

Review ~ Meaning Part One

Based upon these scriptural facts, I Peter 5:5-8 becomes the foundation Scripture for our study on μέριμνα (merimna).  In verse 7, Peter exhorts us to cast our care (μέριμνα, merimna) upon the Lord because Satan (our adversary) is walking around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.  Since Scripture presents that the spirit of a believer has been saved and sealed by the Holy Spirit, we understand this scripture to mean that Satan is not looking to devour a believer in Christ spiritually, but mentally.  Satan attempts to disrupt the growth and maturation process of a believer by occupying the attention of his mind.  This μέριμνα (merimna) is the only weapon Satan can use against a believer – he cannot take a believer’s salvation, he cannot unseal a believer’s spirit, he can only attack a believer’s mind, attempting to distract his attention away from God’s Word thereby hindering spiritual growth and maturity.

Meaning Part Two ~ Matthew 6:24-34

This week we are going to study from the teaching of Jesus Himself in Matthew 6:24-34.  This is the teaching upon which Peter and Paul based their teachings of this important issue.

Matthew 6:24 is the primary teaching upon which Verses 25-34 are based.  We must understand this most important principle before we can understand the importance of the Lord’s teaching on μέριμνα (merimna).

24)  No one is able to serve two lords; for either he will hate the one, and he will love the other; or he will cling to one, and he will despise the other.  You are not able to serve God and mammon.

Singular Capacity

The word able in this text is the Greek word δύναμαι (dunamai, Strong’s 1410) and means ability or capacity.  Jesus taught a human being has been created with a capacity to serve only one lord or master.  He cannot and does not have the capacity to serve two. 

The word mammon at the end of the verse is from an Aramaic root meaning materialism; which   Jesus personifies here as being the lord of materialism.  Materialism, according to the concept of mammon, involves both physical things as well as ambitions and desires for them.  Jesus is saying that a human being is created with the capacity to serve either God or the material realm but is unable to serve both.  [μαμμωνα (mammōna) Strong’s 3126]

Instruction

Notice how Verse 25 starts:

25)  On account of this I say to you, do not be anxious for your life, what you should eat and what you should drink; nor for your body, what you should put on.  Is not life more than the food and the body more than the clothing.

 The phrase, on account of this (διὰ τοῦτο, dia touto) means on the basis of the truth I just stated.  Jesus follows His presentation of the principle of singular capacity with His teaching on μεριμνάω (merimnao).  He instructs believers to not be anxious about the things pertaining to this life because a human being has been created with the capacity to serve only one realm or master.

Command One of Two

Jesus then presents the first of two main commands in this text: “do not be anxious (μεριμνάω, merimnao) for your life.”  Jesus knows that because we have the capacity to serve only one master, we can’t be consumed with thinking and worrying about the necessities of our life and be serving Him at the same time. 

Jesus then goes on to say:

26)  Look at the birds of heaven, that they do not sow, nor do they reap, nor do they gather into barns, and your heavenly Father is feeding them; do you not differ more than they?
27)  And which of you while being anxious is able to add one cubit upon his stature?
28)  And why are you anxious concerning clothing?  Observe the lilies of the field, how they grow; they do not labor nor do they spin;
29)  but I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself as one of these.
30)  And if God clothes in this way the grass of the field, which is existing today and tomorrow is being cast into an oven, will He not much more clothe you, little faith ones?

Outline

In the body of His message, Jesus presents two secondary commands and four questions in order to drive home the importance of the knowledge of μεριμνάω (merimnao). 

Secondary Command

The first secondary command is “Look,” ἐμβλέπω (emblepō, Strong’s 1689) translated  to consider, to study.  Jesus is commanding the disciples to study the birds of the air and see how their heavenly Father takes care of them. 

Question

Jesus then asks the first question, “Do you not differ more than they?”  He is saying that since the heavenly Father feeds the birds, He will certainly feed the ones who belong to Him.

Question

In Verse 27, Jesus asks the second question, “And which of you while being anxious is able to add one cubit upon his stature?”  The word anxious is the participial form of μεριμνάω (merimnao) and denotes a habit of life.  Jesus is showing that a person can be continually occupied with his height but will not be able to add to it even though he is constantly thinking on it.

Question

In Verse 28, He asks the third question, “And why are you anxious (μεριμνάω, merimnao) concerning clothing?”

Secondary Command

He then gives the second secondary command, “Observe the lilies.” [καταμανθάνω (katamanthanō) Strong’s 2648, translated to examine, to observe.]  Drawing attention to the fact that God clothes the flowers and grass of the field.  They do not labor or spin in order to obtain their clothing; He provides it for them.  Jesus said that when Solomon clothed himself, he was not clothed as one of these. 

Question

The Lord then asks the fourth question in Verse 30, “Will He not much more clothe you, little faith ones?”  Jesus is presenting throughout these scriptures that trust in the Lord is the key to dealing with the necessities of life.  We do not have the capacity to be occupied with our necessities and to trust the Lord at the same time; but when we occupy our minds with the Lord, He makes sure that we have what we need for life.

Conclusion One of Two

The Lord presents the first of two conclusions in Verse 31:

31)  Therefore, do not be anxious for your life saying, “What should we eat?” or, “What should we drink?” or, “With what should we be clothed?”

He starts with the conclusion therefore and presents a series of subjunctives working off of the main command in Verse 25.  The reasons we should not be anxious about these things are given in verse 32:

32)  For all these things the nations are seeking after; for your heavenly Father knows that you are in need of all these things.

The heathen of the world are seeking the things of survival and have the attention of their minds constantly on mammon.  Jesus is saying our heavenly Father already knows the things that we need. 

Command Two of Two

The second main command of this teaching comes in verse 33.  In light of the fact that a human being has the capacity to serve only one master, either God or mammon, Jesus says:

33)  But you seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Since we have been created to have the capacity to seek and serve only one master, we are commanded to seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness.  Since our Father knows that we are in need of earthly things, they will be given to us by God while we focus our attention on the things of the Lord.  Note that He did not say we would get what we want, but that we will have our needs taken care of.

Conclusion Two of Two

There is a second conclusion in Verse 34.  Jesus again uses a subjunctive mood to express what we should not do based upon the main command, “Do not be anxious for your life” in verse 25.  He says,

34)  Therefore, you should not be anxious (μεριμνάω) for the tomorrow.  For the tomorrow will be anxious for the things of itself.  Sufficient for the day is the adversity of it.

Jesus not only warns us that having the attention of our minds occupied with the necessities of life will distract us from seeking and serving the Lord, but He presents that being anxious about tomorrow will also occupy our thinking processes.  He says that there will be enough worry (μεριμνάω, merimnao) coming with the day itself and the adversity is sufficient without our worrying over tomorrow before it gets here.

Importance

In these verses, Jesus introduced the concept of the occupation of the attention of the mind.  He established that a human being does not have the capacity to serve God and the material realm at the same time and that Satan uses even the necessities of life to occupy our thinking and take our attention away from the Lord.

There are many believers today who find themselves occupied with the material realm all week long.  On Sunday they attend church, but experience frustration over not growing in the Lord.  This happens because our minds are occupied with the things of the physical realm even while we are sitting in church.  We simply are not focused on the Word.  Similarly, believers go to fellowship out of duty, but do not experience the “transformation of the mind” because they are occupied and anxious about so many things.

We believers must understand the battle is not over just because we are saved.  Salvation is assured; but another battle is being waged.  It is the battle for the attention of our minds and our growth and our maturity as believers is at stake.  The mind is the arena where God ministers His Word and brings healing from the effects of sin.

Conclusion

This is why Peter says, “Be humbled under the mighty hand of God having cast all our care (μέριμνα, merimna) upon the Lord.”  He explains God is concerned for us because we have an adversary who desires to devour us through the occupation of the attention of our minds.  Satan will use any goal, any ambition, any activity, or any material thing to occupy the attention of our minds so that we will not be receptive to God’s Word, and, consequently, unable to grow or be changed.

Notes

– Merimna is the English font spelling of the Greek word μέριμνα.
– Merimnao is the English font spelling of the Greek word μεριμνάω.
– All Biblical quotes contained herein are a Literal English Translation of the Bible produced by BTE Ministries – The Bible Translation and Exegesis Institute of America.

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Part Three ~ Luke 8:4-15
Introduction

We are continuing with part three in our eight-part study on the Greek word μέριμνα (merimna, Strong’s 3308) and its verb form μεριμνάω (merimnao, Strong’s 3309). 

Definition

The noun μέριμνα (merimna) is translated as care, anxiety, and worry.  Its root is the Greek word μερίζω (merizō, Strong’s 3307), which is translated to divide, or to separate

Origin

Derived from the noun, the verb form μεριμνάω (merimnao) means to be anxious, to be troubled, and careful thought

Usage

The noun and verb forms of μέριμνα (merimna) are used in the New Testament and can carry either positive or negative associations.  Used in the positive, these words convey the idea of focused care.  By contrast, the negative conveys the idea of distraction through occupying the attention of the mind.

Review ~ Meaning Part Two

Last week we studied from the teaching of Jesus in Matthew 6:24-34 wherein Jesus established four basic principles involved in μέριμνα (merimna):

(1)  The first principle is found in Verse 24 – Jesus said that a human being was not created with a capacity to serve two masters.  He specifically said we do not have the capacity to serve God and materialism.

(2)  The second principle Jesus presented is in Verse 25.  He commanded, “Do not be anxious (μεριμνάω, merimnao) for your life, what you should eat and what you should drink; nor for your body, what you should put on.”

(3)  Based upon these two, Jesus then presents a third principle in Verse 33, “But you seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

(4)  The fourth principle is found in Verse 34.  He said we should not be anxious (μεριμνάω, merimnao) about tomorrow.

Meaning Part Three ~ Luke 8:4-15

This week we are continuing our study on the importance of understanding how Satan uses μέριμνα (merimna), the occupation of the attention of our minds, to distract us from the things of the Lord.  Our textual basis for this study is Luke 8:4-15, The Parable of the Sower:

4)  And while a large crowd was gathering together, and the ones from city after city were traveling to Him, He spoke through a parable:
5)  “The one sowing went out to sow his seed; and as he was sowing, some indeed fell along the road, and it was trampled down, and the birds of heaven ate it.
6)  “And other seed fell upon the rock; and after it sprung up, it withered, on account of it had no moisture.
7)  “And other seed fell in the middle of the thorns; and after the thorns sprang up with it, they choked it.
8)  “And other seed fell upon the good ground, and after it sprung up it produced fruit a hundred times.”  While He was saying these things, He was crying out, “The one having ears to hear let him hear.”
9)  And His disciples were asking Him, saying, “What might this parable mean?”
10)  And He said, “To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest in parables, in order that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.”
11)  “Now this is the parable; the seed is the Word of God;
12)  “and the ones along the road are the ones who while hearing the Devil comes and removes the Word from their heart, in order that they should not be saved having believed.
13)  “And the ones upon the rock are those who when they should hear, they received the word with joy, and these have no root, they believe for a time, and in time of testing they fall away.
14)  “And that which fell into the thorns, these are the ones having heard, and while going under the cares (μέριμνα) and riches and pleasures of life are choked and do not bring to completion.
15)  “And that which in the good ground, these are they who in a right and good heart after having heard the Word they hold it down, and they bring forth fruit in endurance.

Overall Theme

Before we can discuss the importance of this parable, we must first understand the overall theme of this section of Scripture as given to us in Luke 8:18, “Therefore, be observing how you are hearing; for whoever may have, it will be given to him; and whoever may not have, even what he seems to have will be taken from him.”

Understanding the Parable

The meaning of the Parable of the Sower is found in Verses 11-15.  Four different ways in which a person can hear the Word of God are presented.  Of the four, only one produces salvation.  This means that there are three conditions where salvation is not brought to completion:

The first of these occurs when a person’s heart is so hard in resisting God’s Word that the Word of God does not penetrate his heart and therefore can be and is removed by Satan.  

The second heart condition occurs when a person hears the Word with excitement but does not allow it to take root within himself.  Consequently, he only lasts until trials come.  Those trials then cause him to fall away from the things of the Lord.

The third heart condition is presented in Verse 14.  This occurs when a person hears the Word of God but continues “under the influence of the cares (μέριμνα, merimna), riches, and pleasures of life,” which then choke out the influence of the Word of God.

An Example

This parable teaches us that the Word of God will not bear the fruit of salvation if a person who is hearing the Word of God remains under the influence of the cares of this life.  Bearing in mind that a person only has the capacity to serve one master, a good illustration of this is the story of the rich, young ruler presented in Luke 18:18-23.  Jesus told the young ruler that he lacked one thing to inherit eternal life; and then instructed him, “Sell as much as you have and distribute it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven, and come follow Me.”  When the rich, young ruler heard this, he became very grieved, for he was exceedingly rich.  He was grieved because his focus in life was on his riches and he couldn’t give them up for Christ.

More Examples

We begin to understand some of the more difficult teachings of the Lord once we understand the concept of μεριμνάω (merimnao) as presented in the Scriptures.  The Lord, being aware of Satan’s schemes and knowing that each of us has the capacity to serve only one master, addressed this issue with each individual person He met.  Multiple examples can be found in Luke 9:57-62:

57)  And it happened while they were going in the way someone said to Him, “I will follow You wherever you should go, Lord.”
58)  And Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of heaven nests; but the Son of Man does not have where he may lay His head.”
59)  And He said to another, “Follow Me.”  And he said, “Lord, allow me after having gone to first bury my father.”
60)  But Jesus said to him, “Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but when you yourself go declare the kingdom of God.”
61)  And also another said, “I will follow You, Lord; but first allow me to say good- bye to the ones at my house.”
62)  But Jesus said to him, “No one after having put his hand upon the plough, and continually looking toward the things behind, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Jesus interacted with three different men.  One was called by the Lord and two volunteered to follow Him.

The First Man
The first volunteer stated that he would follow the Lord wherever He went.  The Lord’s reply touched the very heart of the man’s worldly care (μέριμνα, merimna).  Jesus told him that He Himself didn’t have a place to lay His head.  It gave the man something to consider in making his decision to follow Jesus.  This man obviously placed value on having a house to live in and therefore had to make a choice between following Jesus and having that human comfort.

The Second Man
The second man was called by Jesus to follow Him; but this man expressed the need to first take care of his father.  The Lord said that he should allow the spiritual dead to bury their own physical dead.  The Lord was pointing out the man’s concern that was keeping him from following Jesus.

The Third Man
The third man, the other volunteer, told the Lord that he would follow Him after he had said good-bye to his household.  At this point, the Lord reiterated what He first presented in Matthew 6:24-34 and Luke 8:4-15.  He said, “No one after having put his hand to the plough, and continually looking toward the things behind, is fit for the kingdom of God.”  The word fit is the Greek word εὔθετος (euthetos, Strong’s 2111), which means to be lined up with.  Jesus taught that a person could not be aligned with the kingdom of God if he is constantly looking back at the things behind (μέριμνα, merimna) while he attempts to put his hand to the plow (salvation).

Satan’s Weapon

The Lord is not the only one who understands how we function.  Satan also knows that a person has the capacity to serve only one master: either the Lord or the things (including people) of this earthly life.  Therefore he scouts us; and once he has determined what is important to us, he uses those things, no matter what they are, to pull our attention away from the Lord.

Notes

– Merimna is the English font spelling of the Greek word μέριμνα.
– Merimnao is the English font spelling of the Greek word μεριμνάω.
– All Biblical quotes contained herein are a Literal English Translation of the Bible produced by BTE Ministries – The Bible Translation and Exegesis Institute of America.

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Part Four ~ Luke 10:38-42
Introduction

We are continuing with part four in our eight-part study on the Greek word μέριμνα (merimna, Strong’s 3308) and its verb form μεριμνάω (merimnao, Strong’s 3309).

Definition

The noun μέριμνα (merimna) is translated as care, anxiety, and worry.  Its root is the Greek word μερίζω (merizō, Strong’s 3307), which is translated to divide, or to separate.

Origin

Derived from the noun, the verb form μεριμνάω (merimnao) means to be anxious, to be troubled, and careful thought

Review ~ Jesus’ Teaching

So μέριμνα (merimna) represents a mental state or condition in which someone is occupied with or dwelling upon something.  Jesus introduces the importance of the lesson of μέριμνα (merimna) in Matthew 6:24-34.  Here He presents four basic principles:

(1)  The first is found in Verse 24.  Jesus says that man is created with the capacity to serve only one master, God or the material realm.  Therefore, man cannot serve both.

(2)  The second principle is found in Verse 25.  It is a command.  Jesus says, “Do not be anxious (μεριμνάω, merimnao) for your life, what you should eat and what you should drink; nor for your body, what you should put on.”

(3)  The third principle, also a command, is found in Verse 33.  Jesus says, “But you seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”  Jesus gives these two commands because He understands that if we occupy ourselves with even the necessities of life, we will not be able to seek, serve, or focus on His Word.

(4)  The fourth principle is presented in Verse 34.  “Therefore, you should not be anxious (μεριμνάω, merimnao) about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious (μεριμνάω, merimnao) for the things of itself.  Sufficient to the day is the adversity of it.”  Jesus is teaching here that we will be tempted to be occupied with the things pertaining to tomorrow before tomorrow even arrives.

Review ~ Others’ Teachings

Both Paul and Peter minister concerning μεριμνάω (merimnao) and μέριμνα (merimna) basing their teachings on the Lord’s in Matthew 6.  In I Peter 5:5-8, Peter presents that the only weapon Satan can use against those who belong to Christ is the occupation of the attention of the mind.  Satan attempts to occupy the attention of a believer’s mind with worldly things in order to divert the believer from God’s Word.  This distraction away from the Word hinders spiritual growth and maturity.

Meaning Part Four ~ Luke 10:38-42

Luke 10:38-42 is the only text in the Scriptures that presents a detailed description of the function of μέριμνα (merimna) and what it looks like from an observer’s point of view.  This text presents the three phases of Satan’s psychological attack against the believer.

38)  And it happened as they traveled, that He Himself entered into a certain village; and a certain woman, Martha by name, received Him into her house.
39)  And there was a sister to her being called Mary, who also when she sat beside the feet of Jesus, was hearing His Word.
40)  But Martha was being distracted concerning much service; and when she stood over Him she said, “Lord, is it not a concern to You that my sister left me alone to serve? Therefore speak to her in order that she might give help to me.”
41)  And when Jesus answered He said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious (μεριμνάω, merimnao) and troubled concerning many things;
42)  “but one thing is necessary; and Mary chose the good part, which will not be taken away from her.”

 

Breakdown

This important portion of Scripture is best understood in four sections.

(1) Introduction ~ Verses 38-39

Luke sets the scene by introducing the two main people in this teaching, the first being Martha, who welcomes Jesus into her home.  The second is her sister, Mary.  Luke uses an aorist participle in Verse 39 to show that when Mary hears the Lord, her position is beside or alongside of His feet.  Luke also uses an imperfect tense verb to indicate that the habit of Mary’s life in the past has been that of “continually hearing His Word.”

(2) The Circumstance Reveals the Problem ~ Verse 40

Verse 40 describes Martha as being in the kitchen and she is “distracted” concerning much “service.”  The word service is the Greek word διακονία (diakonia, Strong’s 1248) and is properly translated service.  This word comes from the Greek word that is translated deacon.  In this text, Luke is not calling her a deacon but rather is describing the kind of work she is doing; she is in service for Christ.  It is important to notice that this text is pointing out that self-imposed, humanly motivated “service for Christ” can be a distraction from the top priority of the believer, which is the hearing and studying of God’s Word.

Martha is serving as she does every time Jesus comes for dinner.  But at this particular time Jesus isn’t just eating dinner, He is teaching.

Luke describes Martha as being “distracted.”  The word distracted (περισπάω, perispaō, Strong’s 4049) means to draw around as in pulling a net up and around fish.  The facts of her circumstance catch Martha’s attention.  She is working in the kitchen alone and Mary is not helping her.  Instead, Mary is with the others enjoying the Lord’s teaching.  The circumstances then surround her or draw a net over her.  The attention of her mind has been distracted and her circumstances have captured and consumed her.

The situation is so upsetting to Martha that she comes in and “stands over” Jesus saying, “Lord, is it not a concern to You that my sister left me alone to serve?”  Martha thinks she must do all of the work herself because Mary is sitting down listening to Jesus.

Apparently, Jesus nods His head yes in answer to Martha’s question because Martha’s next statement is, “Therefore speak to her in order that she might give help to me.”

(3) The Cause of the Problem ~ Verse 41

In His response to her, Jesus says, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled concerning many things.”  The Greek word translated anxious is the word μεριμνάω (merimnao) – the occupation of the attention of the mind.  The Greek word translated troubled is τυρβάζω (turbazō, Strong’s 5023) and means to stir up and trouble the mind.

Luke is here presenting the three phases of Satan’s psychological attack on God’s people. The first phase is μεριμνάω (merimnao) – the occupation of the attention of the mind.  Martha notices that Mary is not helping her.  Instead, Mary is listening to Jesus’ teaching.  Martha dwells on this until she reaches the second phase περισπάω, (perispaō).  In phase two, her concerns draw a net around her and capture her to the point that her attention is consumed by the situation. This leads to the third phase τυρβάζω (turbazō), which is the outward expression of frustration and/or anger in speech, face, and body language.  

This entire incident starts with the attention of Martha’s mind being occupied with her circumstance.  Her circumstance then captures her as a net would capture a fish.  The end result is that she storms into the room and stands over Jesus expressing her frustration.

(4)  The Cure for the Problem ~ Verse 42

Jesus continues speaking to Martha telling her the cure for the problem.  “But one thing is necessary; and Mary chose the good part, which will not be taken away from her.”

Summary

Luke’s text describes for us in detail the Lord’s teaching on the psychological attack Satan mounts against a believer in Christ.  He tempts a believer to become occupied with something.  If the believer takes the bait allowing himself to be distracted, that distraction then becomes consuming to the point that the believer expresses the stress and frustration of his state of mind.  The outward expression of the believer demonstrates what is occupying his mind.

Luke also points out that believers can even be consumed by serving the Lord.  Sometimes service for Christ is given priority over hearing the Word.  Some believers are tired and spiritually starving because, as they serve so sacrificially, they are not feeding on the Word.  Satan knows that the design for a believer’s growth is “grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (II Peter 3:18).  Therefore, he will use any method at his disposal to occupy the attention of the mind, effectively robbing the believer of any growth.

Conclusion

Understand that Satan is not fair.  He will use loved ones.  He will use life’s circumstances.  He will even attempt to use service for Christ as a way to divert a believer’s attention from the hearing of God’s Word.

Notes

– Merimna is the English font spelling of the Greek word μέριμνα.
– Merimnao is the English font spelling of the Greek word μεριμνάω.
– All Biblical quotes contained herein are a Literal English Translation of the Bible produced by BTE Ministries – The Bible Translation and Exegesis Institute of America.

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Part Five ~ I Corinthians 7:29-35
Introduction

We are continuing with part five in our eight-part study on the Greek word μέριμνα (merimna, Strong’s 3308) and its verb form μεριμνάω (merimnao, Strong’s 3309).

 

Origin

Derived from the noun, the verb form μεριμνάω (merimnao) means to be anxious, to be troubled, and careful thought

 

Review ~ Jesus’ Teaching

For review, we need to remember that Jesus introduced, in Matthew 6:24-34, the concepts embodied within the teaching of μέριμνα (merimna).  He taught that each human being was created with the capacity to serve only one realm – God or the material.  Because of this, Jesus commanded, “Do not be anxious (μεριμνάω, merimnao) for your life, what you should eat and what you should drink; nor for your body, what you should put on.”  He also gave a second command: “But you seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”  When Jesus gave these two commands, He did so knowing that if we occupy ourselves even with the necessities of life, we will not be able to serve Him, seek Him or be able to focus on His Word.  He first tells us which realm to function within and then reassures us that God will take care of our material needs.  Next Jesus said, “Therefore you should not be anxious (μεριμνάω, merimnao), for tomorrow will be anxious (μεριμνάω, merimnao) for the things of itself.  Sufficient to the day is the adversity of it.”  Here Jesus teaches that we will be tempted to be occupied with the things concerning tomorrow before the things of tomorrow get here.

 

Review ~ Others’ Teachings

Both Paul and Peter based their teachings concerning μεριμνάω (merimnao) and μέριμνα (merimna) on this teaching of the Lord’s in Matthew 6.  Peter did it in I Peter 5:5-8 where he presented that the only weapon Satan can use against those who belong to Christ is to attempt to occupy the attention of their minds.  Satan’s goal is to distract believers from God’s Word so that their growth and maturity will be hindered.

 

Review ~ Meaning Part Four (Luke 10:38-42)

Last week we studied from Luke 10:38-42, the only place in the Scriptures presenting a detailed description of the function of μέριμνα (merimna) and what it looks like from an observer’s point of view.  This text presents the three phases of Satan’s psychological attack against believers:

(1)  The first phase is μεριμνάω (merimnao) – the occupation of the attention of the mind.  Martha noticed that she had been left alone to serve while Mary went to hear the Word of Jesus. 

(2)  Martha dwelt upon her circumstances until she reached the second phase, περισπάω, (perispaō, Strong’s 4049).  This is the point at which her circumstances captured her mind just as a net would have captured a fish.

(3)  This set her up for the third phase that is expressed by the Greek word τυρβάζω (turbazō, Strong’s 5023).  This is the outward expression of frustration and/or anger in speech, facial expression, and body language.  Martha stormed into the room, stood over Jesus, expressed her frustration, and demanded that He do what she wanted done about it.

 

Meaning Part Five ~ I Corinthians 7:29-35

This week we are going to study from the writings of Paul in I Corinthians 7:29-35.

29)  And this I say, brothers, the time has been shortened; the remaining time is, that even the ones having wives, should be as not having;
30)  and the ones weeping, as not weeping; and the ones rejoicing as not rejoicing; and the ones buying, as not possessing;
31)  and the ones using this world, as not overusing it.  For the fashion of this world is passing away.
32)  I desire you to be without care (ἀμέριμνος).  The unmarried man cares (μεριμνάω) for the things of the Lord, how he will please the Lord;
33)  but the man who has married cares (μεριμνάω) for the things of the world, how he will please the wife.
34)  The wife and the virgin have become different.  The unmarried woman cares (μεριμνάω) for the things of the Lord, in order that she may be holy both in body and spirit; but the woman who has married cares (μεριμνάω) for the things of the world, how she will please the husband.
35)  I say this for your own benefit; not in order that I may cast a noose around you, but toward that which is proper and devotion to the Lord without distraction (ἀπερισπάστως).

It is apparent that Paul is familiar with the teaching recorded in Luke 10:38-42 concerning Mary and Martha because he uses two key words that are found only in Luke 10:38-42 and in I Corinthians 7:29-35.  The two root words are μέριμνα (merimna), to have the attention of the mind occupied and περισπάω, (perispaō) to draw up and around.

Starting with I Corinthians Chapter 7, Paul begins answering some of the questions posed to him by the Corinthian Christians.  Specifically, Paul addresses marriage relationships among those Gentiles who are not under the law.  Some are having problems because they themselves have received the Lord, but their spouses have not.  The point of Paul’s directive is to make sure that the Christian in the relationship does not cause a break-up of the marriage unless his/her devotion to Christ is the offense.

 

Five Basic Principles for Dealing with the World while Walking with Christ

In Verse 29 Paul presents the first of five basic principles for dealing with the world while walking with Christ.  He begins Verse 29 by presenting the motive for these principles when he says, “The time has shortened.”  Then he tells believers how to approach life in the time that is remaining.

Principle One

The first of these principles is that those who have wives should be as not having wives.  Paul is not teaching that a married man should conduct himself as if he is single, but rather is saying that a man’s devotion to the Lord should not change after he gets married.  The Lord must remain his first devotion and love.

Principles Two through Four

Verse 30 incorporates the next three principles.  In the first of these, those who weep are told to weep without being consumed by their weeping.  Paul acknowledges that there will be times when it will be natural and even necessary to grieve, but he is instructing that we are not to become consumed by grief.  The next principle found in this verse is an instruction to those who are rejoicing.  They are told to rejoice as not rejoicing.  Again Paul is presenting the fact that even times of joy are temporary here on the earth, and that we should not be consumed with rejoicing.  The last principle found here tells those who purchase things from out of the world not to possess them.  Paul is saying that we should approach our worldly possessions as though not possessing them.  They, like everything else earthly, are just temporary.  We could lose them just as quickly as we purchased them.

Principle Five

Verse 31 contains the last of Paul’s basic life principles.  He says that those who use this world should use it only for their necessities.  We should not indulge ourselves or overuse it.  He then gives the reason for these principles: “For the fashion of this world is passing away.”  The world and the things of this world are temporary, including our human relationships as we know them here upon the earth.

 

Purpose

In Verse 32, Paul presents the purpose for his counsel given in the preceding verses.  He says, “I desire you to be without care.”  The word translated without care is the Greek word ἀμέριμνος (amerimnos, Strong’s 275).  It is the adjective form of μέριμνα (merimna) with the negative particle α (alpha, Strong’s 1) placed in front of it.  Paul is saying that he desires for them to be “without having their minds occupied with the things of the world.”

 

Marriage and Merimnao

In Verses 33 and 34, Paul returns to focus on the marriage relationship issue addressed by the first basic principle in Verse 29.  He says that the unmarried man and the unmarried woman are free to μεριμνάω, be occupied with, the things of the Lord, each considering how he or she may please the Lord.  The married man and the married woman are μεριμνάω, occupied with, the things of the world, each dwelling on how he or she may please the marriage partner.  Paul did not say that this should not happen.  He is simply presenting the facts about life.  Since a person does not have the capacity to be devoted to both pleasing the Lord and the things of earth, the marriage of a believer must be to another believer; and the main devotion of both husband and wife must be to the Lord.  Nevertheless, they are still subject to the natural distractions that take place in marriage.

 

Without Distraction

In Verse 35, Paul summarizes his motive and concern for them.  He says he is not saying all of this to put them on a leash or to rope them into misery, but to instruct them in that which is proper for the believer in his or her handling of the world, so that the believer can be devoted to the Lord ἀπερισπάστως (aperispastōs Strong’s 563), without distraction.  This adverb is from the Greek word περισπάω (perispaō, Strong’s 4049), to draw around, and the negative particle α (alpha).

 

Conclusion

Paul knew that his counsel would be difficult for some to receive.  But he also knew the teaching of Jesus as recorded in Luke 10:38-42 and perceived the necessity for believers to understand this most important concept: once a person belongs to Christ, Satan will use every aspect of this worldly life to occupy the attention of his mind in order to distract him from devotion to the Lord and His Word.  Although Satan cannot possess a believer’s spirit, he can rob him of God given opportunities for growth through the hearing of the Word.

 

Notes

– Merimna is the English font spelling of the Greek word μέριμνα.
– Merimnao is the English font spelling of the Greek word μεριμνάω.
– All Biblical quotes contained herein are a Literal English Translation of the Bible produced by BTE Ministries – The Bible Translation and Exegesis Institute of America.

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Part Six ~ Philippians 4:2-7
Introduction

We are continuing with part six in our eight-part study on the Greek word μέριμνα (merimna, Strong’s 3308) and its verb form μεριμνάω (merimnao, Strong’s 3309).

 

Definition

The noun μέριμνα (merimna) is translated as care, anxiety, and worry.  Its root is the Greek word μερίζω (merizō, Strong’s 3307), which is translated to divide, or to separate.  So μέριμνα represents a mental state or condition in which someone is occupied with or dwelling upon something.

 

Origin

Derived from the noun, the verb form μεριμνάω (merimnao) means to be anxious, to be troubled, and careful thought

 

Review

We have learned that a person who has been born of the Spirit of God belongs to Christ and as such is saved.  After a person has been saved, he is then changed and transformed by the Spirit of God living within him.  Each human being has been created with the capacity to serve only one realm – God or the material (Matthew 6:24); therefore Satan is looking for believers to devour through μέριμνα (merimna), the occupation of the attention of the mind (I Peter 5:5-8).  Satan cannot penetrate or occupy a believer’s spirit, so he attacks with the only weapon he has at his disposal – the distraction of a believer from God’s Word so that the believer’s growth and maturity are hindered.

 

Meaning Part Six ~ Philippians 4:2-7

In our study this week, we want to learn from God’s Word what the believer is to do when the attention of his or her mind becomes occupied causing a distraction from God’s Word.  The textual basis for this study is Philippians 4:2-7:

2)  I encourage Euodia, and I encourage Syntyche, to think the same thing in the Lord.
3)  And I ask you also, genuine comrade, help them, who contended together with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.
4)  Be satisfied in the Lord always; again I will say, be satisfied.
5)  Let your yielding be known to all men.  The Lord is near.
6)  Do not be anxious (μεριμνάω) for one thing, but in everything by prayer and petition with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God;
7)  and the peace of God, the peace surpassing all understanding, will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.

 

Frame of Mind

The theme of the letter written by Paul to the Christians in Philippi is fellowship.  In this letter Paul presents changes to a believer’s inner life that are necessary for Christian fellowship.  The main command and focus of the letter is found in Philippians 2:5 where Paul says, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.”  The word for mind is the present passive imperative of φρονέω (phroneō, Strong’s 5426), the frame of mind or the mind-set.  Paul is commanding the believer to be receptive to the Lord creating within him that same frame of mind with which Jesus approached this earthly life.  While being God, Jesus emptied Himself, humbled Himself, and submitted Himself to the Father’s will, even to death on the Cross.  This is the frame of mind that must be developed within the believer by the Holy Spirit for the purpose of fellowship with other believers.

 

Like Minded

In Philippians 4:2 Paul introduces two women who Paul considers to be precious to him and to the Lord’s work.  He describes them as women who have “contended together with me in the Gospel” and “whose names are in the book of life.”  However, they are in disagreement concerning something in the church at Philippi.  Paul encourages them “to think the same thing in the Lord.”  The word used for think is the infinitive form of φρονέω (phroneō), the frame of mind or mind-set.  Paul is telling them that their frame of mind or attitude in their approach to the issues of life must be the same, willing to give up what they want in order to seek what the Lord wants.  Believers can only have genuine, spiritual fellowship when they are willing to empty themselves of their own desires and wants, humbling and submitting themselves to the Lord’s leadership in the church.

 

Necessary for Fellowship

After Paul’s encouragement, he lists four commands in Verses 4-6 that are necessary to come to the same mind in the Lord:

 

First Command

The first command is in Verse 4: “Be satisfied in the Lord always; again I will say, be satisfied.”  The Greek word translated be satisfied is the word χαίρω (chairō, Strong’s 5463) and is generally translated rejoice in most English translations.  The entire family of Greek words coming from the root χάρ (char) carries with it the sense of gratification or satisfaction.  This word is used to express the gratification or satisfaction of the soldier who is involved in war.  It is also used to describe the satisfaction of an athlete when he participates in the Coliseum games.  Paul is commanding that believers find their satisfaction in the Lord, not in getting their own way.

 

Second Command

The second command is in Verse 5. Paul says, “Let your yielding be known to all men.”  Believers are to be known for moderation and yielding, not for indulging in the things of the world.  The things of this material world should not be important to the believer.  Again, the satisfaction of the believer is to be in the Lord, not in the accomplishment of getting his own way.

 

Third Command

The third command is found in Verse 6.  Paul says, “Do not be anxious for one thing.”  The word used for anxious is the word μεριμνάω (merimnao), the occupation of the attention of the mind.  Paul commands that we are not to allow even one thing of this material realm to consume us, because it will preclude us from unity and fellowship in Christ.  Instead, we are to be yielding, finding our satisfaction in what the Lord wants.

 

Fourth Command

In the fourth command, also found in Verse 6, Paul teaches what the believer is to do about the anxiety that occupies his mind.  He says, “But in everything by prayer and petition with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”  Through prayer the believer is to submit any issue that is consuming him to the Lord.  A very picturesque presentation of this is found in Peter’s teaching in I Peter 5:7, “Having cast all your care (μέριμνα) upon Him, because it is a concern to Him about you.”  Peter instructs believers to cast their μέριμνα (merimna) upon the Lord.  The word translated cast is the Greek word ἐπιῤῥίπτω (epirrhiptō, Strong’s 1977), to throw or cast upon.  The only other place this word is found in the New Testament is Luke 19:35, “And after they threw (ἐπιῤῥίπτω) their own garments upon the colt, they set Jesus upon him.”  This is a wonderful picture of the function of prayer with regard to μεριμνάω (merimnao).  The believer is told to do more than just pray; the believer is told to throw or cast the issues that are consuming him upon the Lord through prayer.  Thereby placing the issue into the hands of the Lord and asking for His will to be done (See I John 5:14-15).

 

The Peace of God

In Philippians 4:7, Paul presents the promise given to those who have given their concerns to the Lord.  “And the peace of God, the peace surpassing all understanding, will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.”  The believer has the promise that when he gives an issue to the Lord, the Lord will guard his heart and mind thereby allowing him to experience the peace of God in Christ Jesus.

 

Coming Up Next

With this study, we conclude our focus on the negative connotation of μεριμνάω (merimnao) – distraction through occupying the attention of the mind.  As previously mentioned, the noun μέριμνα (merimna) and verb μεριμνάω (merimnao) can carry either positive or negative associations.  Next we will begin a two-part study from Philippians 2:19-24 on how they are used in a positive understanding of focused care.

 

Notes

– Merimna is the English font spelling of the Greek word μέριμνα.
– Merimnao is the English font spelling of the Greek word μεριμνάω.
– All Biblical quotes contained herein are a Literal English Translation of the Bible produced by BTE Ministries – The Bible Translation and Exegesis Institute of America.

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Part Seven ~ Philippians 2:19-24
Introduction

We are continuing with part seven in our eight-part study on the Greek word μέριμνα (merimna, Strong’s 3308) and the verb form μεριμνάω (merimnao, Strong’s 3309), which means to have the attention of the mind occupied.

 

Meaning Part Seven ~ Philippians 2:19-24

The first six parts of our study focused on the negative connotation of these words, conveying the idea of distraction in occupying the attention of the mind.  In this article we introduce how these words are used in the Scriptures to convey the positive idea of focused care.  Our textual basis for this is Philippians 2:19-24.

19)  But I hope in the Lord Jesus, to send Timothy to you soon, in order that I myself also may be encouraged, after having known the things concerning you.
20)  For I have no one like-minded, who will genuinely care (μεριμνάω) for the things concerning you.
21)  For all the ones are seeking their own things, not the things of Christ Jesus.
22)  But you know the proof of him, that as a child to his father he served with me for the gospel.
23)  Therefore I hope to send this one at once, whenever I should see about the things concerning me;
24)  And on the other hand, I have been persuaded in the Lord that I myself also will come quickly.

 

Frame of Mind

Paul wrote his letter to the Christians in Philippi outlining for them the things necessary for fellowship and unity.  Paul commanded in Philippians 2:5, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.”  The word translated mind is φρονέω (phroneō, Strong’s 5426), which means frame of mind or mindset.  The command is in the passive voice, which means we are to be receptive to the Lord developing this frame of mind and attitude within us.  Paul is making the point that it is necessary for all believers to approach this material life with the same frame of mind and the same attitude with which Jesus did.

 

Breakdown

Beginning with Philippians 2:19, Paul reveals the hardships he and the rest of the Body of Christ face while serving the Lord.  Paul desires to send Timothy to Philippi in order to find out how the Christians there are doing, especially in the areas of fellowship and growth.  He anticipates being encouraged when he hears of their condition.  In Verse 20, Paul reveals two characteristics about Timothy that make him usable for the Lord’s work.

 

(1)  Like-Minded

Paul said, “I have no one like-minded….”  The first point Paul makes is that no one with him in Rome is of the same mind with him except Timothy.  More than likely, Paul has many brothers and sisters in the Lord serving with him; but here he states that he has no one except Timothy who is like-minded with him.  The word like-minded is ἰσόψυχος (isopsuchos, Strong’s 2473), which means to be of equal mind or soul with someone.  This word expresses a common motive with another person.  Paul is saying that only Timothy shares the same motive for ministry.  The motivation he is talking about is shown in every activity Paul does.  Whether he is teaching or making tents, Paul functions in service to Christ.  Evidently, so does Timothy.

 

(2)  Concerned for Spiritual Welfare

The second characteristic attributed to Timothy is that he “will genuinely care for the things concerning you.”  The word for care is μεριμνάω (merimnao) – to have the attention of the mind occupied.  Here the word μεριμνάω (merimnao) is used to describe a good quality about Timothy.  Paul could send no one else who would be genuinely occupied with the spiritual welfare and condition of the Christians in Philippi.

 

Contrasting Character

In Verse 21, Paul presents a characteristic about the other believers with him in Rome.  In contrast to Timothy, all the others “are seeking their own things, not the things of Christ Jesus.” This characteristic is one that believers in general do not understand.  They are deceived into thinking that they need only to attend church and fellowship with other believers; the rest of their time, they believe, is their own.  However, life with Christ and service to Christ is not a portion of a believer’s life; it is the entirety of a believer’s life.  This is Paul’s motivation and understanding when he says in Philippians 1:21, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

 

Focused Care

Our text this week shows a clear contrast in motive and approach to life among the believers in Rome.  Paul and Timothy have a focused care (μεριμνάω, merimnao) to serve and support the spiritual welfare of the Body of Christ.  While the other believers, those around Paul and fellowshipping with him, are focused on their own lives.  Consequently, they are not available to focus on the spiritual needs of others and they are not available for the Lord’s use.

 

Putting it All Together

Paul’s life shows that he has a clear understanding of the fact that the Lord established three things for us.  First, each human being has the capacity to serve only one realm – God or the material.  Second, a person can be occupied with the necessities of life to the point of being consumed by those necessities.  Third, in light of these truths, the Lord commands us to “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all of these things will be added to you.”

 

Spiritual Repercussions

What is true of Paul’s day is true in our time as well.  Many believers today are attending church and are fellowshipping with other believers out of a sense of duty.  They may even be doing these things in order to fulfill their own needs for enjoyment, pleasure, and/or entertainment.  Sadly, they do not realize that their attention has been diverted from seeking the mind of Christ and has become centered on seeking the things that are of importance to themselves.  Of course, as we have learned in past lessons, this results in a lack of spiritual growth for Christians such as these.

 

Conclusion

In order to be useful to Christ and for Him to accomplish what He has planned for us; we must believe what Jesus says regarding the necessities of this earthly life.  We must be of the same mind as Christ; trusting that if we first seek the kingdom of God, He will take care of the necessities related to our physical life.  Only then can our minds be fully occupied with the things of the Lord.  Only then will our motives and actions be led of the Lord.

 

 Notes

– Merimna is the English font spelling of the Greek word μέριμνα.
– Merimnao is the English font spelling of the Greek word μεριμνάω.
– All Biblical quotes contained herein are a Literal English Translation of the Bible produced by BTE Ministries – The Bible Translation and Exegesis Institute of America.

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Part Eight ~ II Corinthians 11:16-28
Introduction

This is the eighth and final part in our eight-part study on the Greek word μέριμνα (merimna, Strong’s 3308) and its verb form μεριμνάω (merimnao, Strong’s 3309). 

 

Definition

The noun μέριμνα (merimna) is translated as care, anxiety, and worry.  Its root is the Greek word μερίζω (merizō, Strong’s 3307), which is translated to divide, or to separate.  So μέριμνα (merimna) represents a mental state or condition in which someone is occupied with or dwelling upon something.

 

Origin

Derived from the noun, the verb form μεριμνάω (merimnao) means to be anxious, to be troubled, and careful thought.

 

Usage

The first six parts of our study were focused on the negative use of μέριμνα (merimna) and μεριμνάω (merimnao), which is distraction through occupying the attention of the mind.  Parts seven and eight are a two-part presentation showing the positive application, which is the idea of focused care.

 

Review ~ Part Seven

We studied Philippians 2:20 where Timothy is described as one who “will genuinely care (μεριμνάω, merimnao) for the things concerning you.”  Paul presents Timothy as the only one who is like-minded with Paul.  That is, Paul and Timothy are the only Christians in Rome whose minds are occupied with, or dwelling upon, the spiritual condition of Christians in Philippi.

 

Meaning Part Eight ~ II Corinthians 11:16-28

We conclude our study of μέριμνα (merimna) with Paul’s presentation of the qualifications of his apostleship as found in II Corinthians 11:16-28.

 

16)  Again I say, that not anyone should think me to be foolish, but if not indeed, even if as a foolish one receive me, in order that I also may boast a little something.
17)  What I speak, I do not speak according to the Lord, but as in foolishness, in this confidence of boasting.
18)  Since many are boasting according to the flesh, I also will boast.
19)  For you gladly tolerate the foolish ones, while being wise.
20)  For you tolerate if anyone enslaves you, if anyone devours you, if anyone takes from you, if anyone exalts himself, if anyone strikes you in the face.
21)  According to dishonor I speak as that we ourselves became weak; but in whatever anyone might be bold – I speak in foolishness – I myself also am bold.
22)  Are they Hebrews?  I also am.  Are they Israelites?  I also am.  Are they the seed of Abraham?  I also am.
23)  Are they ministers of Christ?  I am speaking being beside myself – I am beyond them;  in labors more abundantly, in stripes beyond measure, in imprisonments more abundantly, in deaths often.
24)  By the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one.
25)  Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I  was shipwrecked, I have spent a night and a day in the deep;
26)  in travels often, in dangers of rivers, in dangers of robbers, in dangers from my race, in dangers from the Gentiles, in dangers in the city, in dangers in the desert, in dangers in the sea, in dangers among false brothers;
27)  in labor and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness;
28)  apart from the things outside, the daily pressure, the care (μέριμνα) of all of the churches.

 

Context

False teachers had come into Corinth presenting themselves to be “Super Apostles.”  They claimed to have superior knowledge and greater revelation than that which had been given to Paul.  They basically said that Paul’s teaching was outdated.  Paul answers these charges by listing his qualifications as an apostle of Christ in II Corinthians Chapters 11 and 12.  In this article, we are going to focus on the hardship and suffering he endured through outward circumstances and mental stress as presented in II Corinthians 11:16-28.

 

Outward Circumstances

In II Corinthians 11:17-19, Paul says that he is presenting his own ministry on the same basis as the so-called super apostles are.  He says that since they are boasting according to the flesh, he is going to do so as well; while at the same time acknowledging that such boasting is foolishness.  In Verse 19, he points out to the Corinthians that they gladly tolerate those who present themselves as wise, but who are actually fools.  Then he presents six lists contrasting the carnal qualifications of the “super apostles” with his credentials as a genuine apostle of Christ. 

 

List One – “Qualifications” of the False Leaders

In Verse 20 Paul enumerates five things the Corinthians are tolerating from the false teachers.  They are tolerating enslavement and the taking and devouring of their things.  In addition, the Corinthians are tolerating the self-exaltation of these false leaders, to the point of suffering humiliation at their hands.  Paul is showing the Corinthians they are putting themselves under the control of unjust and corrupt leadership. 

 

List Two – Paul’s Pedigree

In Verse 22, Paul presents his pedigree.  He finds it necessary to remind the Corinthians of this because some were questioning whether he was even a Hebrew.

 

List Three – Minister of Christ

Paul elaborates on his credentials as a minister of Christ by presenting three things in Verse 23.  He reminds them that his ministry is in labors beyond measure, imprisonments more abundant, and in situations of death often. 

 

List Four – Physical Suffering

In verses 24-26, Paul continues giving his credentials as a minister of Christ focusing on the things he has physically endured:  He received 39 stripes from the Jews five times; was beaten with rods three times; was stoned once; shipwrecked three times; spent a day and a night floating in the ocean; and traveled often.

 

List Five – Dangers

In Verse 26, Paul amplifies on what he has had to endure while traveling.  Here he lists the various dangers he has endured; rivers, robbers, those of his own race, and the Gentiles.  He has encountered these dangers everywhere he has gone; in the city, in the desert, in the sea and among false brothers.

 

List Six – Personal Hardship

Paul gives his sixth and final list in Verse 27 where he presents the personal hardships he has had to endure in serving Christ.  His hardships came in labor and toil as he worked with his own hands in order to earn a living so as not to create an offense to the hearing of the Gospel; also in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, and in cold without adequate clothing.

 

Mental Stress – Focused Care (merimna)

Paul then presents the mental hardship of serving the Lord in Verse 28, “apart from the things outside, the daily pressure, the care (μέριμνα, merimna) of all of the churches.”  In addition to struggling against all of the physical circumstances listed above, Paul explains that his mind is continually occupied with the spiritual welfare of all of the churches.  While the false teachers presented themselves as strong and successful based on financial wealth and multitude of followers; Paul demonstrated the true success of a servant of the Lord is measured in what he suffers and what he sacrifices for the well being of the Lord’s people whom he serves.

 

Conclusion

Paul’s defense of his calling and ministry in this section of Scripture clearly shows that false leaders oppress and misuse people for their own gain; in contrast to the true apostle who is motivated by continual concern for the spiritual well being of God’s people.  Paul detailed what a true servant of Christ experiences in ministry because it is essential for Christians to understand the spiritual motivation behind the actions of their leaders.  A true servant of Christ is always facing opposition – opposition that comes from all directions and through a myriad of circumstances.  Yet, while being opposed, the true servant of Christ’s mind is continually consumed with concern for the spiritual well being of the Lord’s people and the Lord’s work.

 

Series Summary

Hopefully, this eight-part series has given you an in-depth understanding of the concept of the Greek words μέριμνα (merimna) and μεριμνάω (merimnao) as found in the Scriptures.  Peter taught that μέριμνα (merimna) – the occupation of the attention of the mind – is Satan’s only weapon against a believer in Christ.  Jesus established that a human being can serve only one realm – God or the material; and commanded that we not be occupied with the necessities of life, but rather seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness.  In addition, Paul pointed out how important it is to be occupied with the Lord and His work.

 

Notes

– Merimna is the English font spelling of the Greek word μέριμνα.
– Merimnao is the English font spelling of the Greek word μεριμνάω.
– All Biblical quotes contained herein are a Literal English Translation of the Bible produced by BTE Ministries – The Bible Translation and Exegesis Institute of America.

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