Eph 4:1-3 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, “with all HUMILITY and GENTLENESS, with PATIENCE, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (ESV)
Gentleness, what is it? The Greek word used in this text is:
praotēs (prah-ot’-ace) After looking into this particular word, I will be using the word Meekness instead of Gentleness. You will see why as we continue.
According to: Strongs Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries this word is:
From G4235; gentleness; by implication humility: – meekness.
G4235 is: praos (prah’-os)A form of G4239, used in certain parts; gentle, that is, humble: – meek.
G4239 is: praus (prah-ooce’) Apparently a primary word; mild, that is, (by implication) humble: – meek.
The same Greek word also appears in the following New Testament passages:
“Happy [are] the gentle [or, considerate], because _they_ will inherit the earth. (Mat 5:5 ALT)
Now _I_, Paul, myself plead with you* by the gentleness and kindness of Christ, [I] who according to face [fig., in presence] indeed [am] humble [or, servile] among you*, but being absent, act boldly toward you*. (2Co 10:1 ALT)
And the fruit of the Spirit is: Love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law; and those who are Christ’s, the flesh did crucify with the affections, and the desires; if we may live in the Spirit, in the Spirit also we may walk; let us not become vain-glorious–one another provoking, one another envying! (Gal 5:22-26 YLT)
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. (Gal 6:1 ESV)
And it is necessary [for] a servant of the Lord not to be fighting [fig., disputing; or, fig., quarrelsome], _but_ to be gentle towards all, skillful at teaching, tolerant [or, patient when wronged], in gentleness [or, humility] instructing the ones opposing, [if] perhaps God shall grant to them repentance [leading] to a full [or, true] knowledge [or, an acknowledging] of the truth, and they regain their senses [and escape] from the Devil’s snare, having been captured alive to [do] that one’s will. (2Ti 2:24-26 ALT)
Remind them to continue being subject to rulers and authorities, to be obeying, to be ready for every good work, to be speaking evil of [or, slandering] no one, to be peaceable, gentle [or, considerate], showing all gentleness to all people. (Tit 3:1-2 ALT)
Word Pictures in the New Testament by Archibald thomas Robertson says this about Gentleness/Meekness:
The meek (hoi praeis). Wycliff has it “Blessed be mild men.” The ancients used the word for outward conduct and towards men. They did not rank it as a virtue anyhow. It was a mild equanimity that was sometimes negative and sometimes positively kind. But Jesus lifted the word to a nobility never attained before. In fact, the Beatitudes assume a new heart, for the natural man does not find in happiness the qualities mentioned here by Christ. The English word “meek” has largely lost the fine blend of spiritual poise and strength meant by the Master. He calls himself “meek and lowly in heart” (Mat_11:29) and Moses is also called meek. It is the gentleness of strength, not mere effeminacy.
Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible says this:
The meek – Meekness is patience in the reception of injuries. It is neither meanness nor a surrender of our rights, nor cowardice; but it is the opposite of sudden anger, of malice, of long-harbored vengeance.
Meekness is the reception of injuries with a belief that God will vindicate us. “Vengeance is his; he will repay,” Rom_12:19. It little becomes us to take his place, and to do what he has promised to do.
In an article by John W. Ritenbaugh, Forerunner, “Personal,” November 1998 titled The Fruit of the Spirit we find a lot of information pertaining to “meekness” including the following:
In his comments on Galatians 5:22, William Barclay adds that meekness is “the most untranslatable of words in the New Testament” (p. 51).
Some have tried to use “humility” as its equivalent, but both Hebrew and Greek have specific words that are synonyms for humility. Besides, humility does not fully catch its meaning. Another word associated with meekness is “gentleness,” but the same is as true for gentleness as humility. Both are part of meekness, but it is not really either. Its characteristics and use are much more involved than either of them.
The Greek word, prautes, the one to which Barclay referred, is no easier. James Strong defines it only as “mildness; i.e., (by implication) humility” (#4240). Vincent’s Word Studies of the New Testament says that “Plato opposes it to fierceness or cruelty” (vol. 1, p. 37). In The Complete Word Study Dictionary New Testament, Spiros Zodhiates writes:
Prautes, according to Aristotle, is the middle standing between two extremes, getting angry without reason, and not getting angry at all. Therefore, prautes is getting angry at the right time, in the right measure, and for the right reason. . . . [I]t is a condition of mind and heart which demonstrates gentleness, not in weakness, but in power. It is a balance born in strength of character. (p. 1209-1210)
Godly meekness is impossible unless we first learn a just and lowly estimate of ourselves. (See the fruit of Humility).
Ephesians 4 teaches how to build and maintain unity within a more social context, and here, prautes appears with humility, patience, forbearance and love. Paul demands that, for unity to be built and maintained, we should receive offenses without retaliation, bearing them patiently without a desire for revenge. We are, in short, to have a forgiving spirit. Without it, we will surely promote divisiveness.
The association of humility and meekness is natural, and is yet another facet of meekness. Whereas humility deals with a correct assessment of his merits, meekness covers a correct assessment of personal rights. This does not in any way mean a lowering of the standards of justice or of right and wrong. Meekness can be accompanied by a war to the death against evil, but the meek Christian directs this warfare first against the evil in his own heart. He is a repentant sinner, and his recognition of this state radically alters his relations with fellow man. A sinner forgiven must have a forgiving attitude.
On the website Bible Tools (Church of the Great God), we find an article about Meekness by Martin G. Collins (Forerunner, “Bible Study,” September-October 1998 in a Question – Comment format.
Comment: The Holy Spirit enables us to produce meekness, a necessary attitude for understanding God’s Word. An added benefit to the meek is that God promises them the enjoyment of peace. A meek and quiet spirit is so very precious to God that he calls it an imperishable ornament, and He rewards the meek with inheritance of the earth.
The focus of true meekness is not in our outward behavior only or in our relationships to other human beings. Neither is the focus on our natural disposition. Rather, it is an inwardly developed tender-heartedness, and the performing of it is first and chiefly toward God. It is the attitude in which we accept God’s will toward us as good, and thus without disputing or resisting. Since true meekness is before God, we realize He permits and uses the insults and injuries that the world or others in the church may inflict for our chastening and purification.
In this Bible Study on Meekness – Love’s Humility there are a number of good comments and scripture. There is music on this site for those that might be up on a late night study :).
Because meekness is the selfless aspect of love, it can only be manifested from a strength of character. Those with a weak character are always occupied with self and with what others think or say to them. When you know who you are in God, what people say to you or think of you, will not move you; you are not self-centered.
It is interesting, after viewing what meekness meant in Bible times, to view how our modern dictionary’s define meekness:
What a great find from Topeka, KS! It appears to be a newsletter from the Topeka City of Character Coordinator, wouldn’t it be great if EVERY city had one of these. This is a PDF document.
Meekness is not a lack of strength; meekness is exercising all the strength of skill and passion a person has, but applying them under the governing wisdom of good character; in short, avoiding being aroused to angry action.
This website at His Glory Ministries uses “The Runt” of a litter to talk about meekness.
Did you know … The Birch Tree is the symbol for meekness?
Flowers-both cultivated and those with a native nature-have become associated with sentiments, often with the purpose of conveying amorous thoughts.
In the 1600s in Constantinople (what is now Istanbul), flowers gained meanings which enabled lovers to convey messages to each other without having to write or talk.
This language of flowers was introduced to Europe by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, a celebrated letter-writer and society poet who, in 1716, accompanied her husband to the Turkish Court in Istanbul. During her stay, she sent a Turkish love letter to England which interpreted the meanings of some plants, flowers, and spices.
The wonder of flowers, she proposed, was that words and messages of love – even altercations – could be passed in a refined and subtle manner without ‘inking the fingers’.
The passing of messages via the floral code was then taken up by the French, only to return to England during the reign of Queen Victoria.
More than 800 flowers have special meanings associated with them. There are over 30 for roses alone.
The way in which the flowers were worn and presented had a meaning in addition to the sentiments attached to individual flowers. A flower bent towards the right would signify “I”, while one extending to the left would signify “you”.
Therefore a red rosebud leaning to the left would say: “You are pure and lovely”.
How about this one … A sermon by C. H. Spurgeon given on July 31st, 1859, titled: The Meek and Lowly One.
It’s time to take a look at the opposite of Meekness, I wasn’t quite sure what would turn up since the world’s definition is different from the Biblical one:
The Christ Centered mall site uses Rebellion and pride.
This sermon from Jubilee Church has a number of opposites listed: self-assertiveness, self-interest, abrasiveness, selfish ambition.
This article at The Gospel Way on Meekness and Humility list the opposites as: self-will, self-interest, and self-assertiveness.
Restoring the Virtue of Meekness by John MacArthur lists violence and vengence as the opposite of Meekness.
Ray C. Stedman in his article, Put On the New, suggests rudeness and abrasiveness.
So, what do you think? Does your tree bear this fruit or do you see the fruit of those seen as the opposite? Maybe you have seasons where you bear this fruit and other’s where you don’t? Maybe you see this fruit but it is just a bit too small and needs to grow more? Just remember: All things are possible through Jesus Christ. If you don’t see this fruit, look to God’s Word and He will help you begin to bear this fruit.