The word exhort is a rather difficult word. When you try to pin down its precise meaning, it gets a bit tricky.
In the Oxford English Dictionary, the word can mean ‘to admonish earnestly’ or ‘to recommend earnestly.’ Overall, it seems like it is a very strong word that has some “push” to it.
Remembering that the New Testament was written in the Greek language, it is interesting to think of the parakaleo, which is the Greek word for exhort. In the Greek language, the word can also be used to mean ‘to beg.’ For example, when the Bible says, “There came unto him a centurion, beseeching him” (Matthew 8:5b), the word beseeching is the Greek word parakaleo.
You can see the strength of the word. Sometimes, it means ‘to urge’; sometimes, it means ‘to beg.’ Thinking about this, you might wonder why such a strong word would be used in the Bible.
For example, in First Thessalonians 2:11, the Apostle Paul wrote,
As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children.
Why would the Bible use such a strong word? Why wouldn’t the Bible say something like, “You know how we have our ideas, and maybe our ideas are not any better than your ideas, and maybe your ideas are not any better than our ideas?” Why is the Bible so direct, so forceful?
Though I do not believe Christians should be unkind to each other, I do believe that the teachings of the Word of God are powerful. The teaching of the Bible is not merely some man’s opinion; it is the very Word of God.
When the Bible speaks, it speaks with power; and people are urged to follow God’s way. God’s way is not just one of many equally good paths. God’s way is the only way. God’s thoughts are thoughts of very truth. God’s words are our final authority.
The Bible gives examples of men who exhorted, not just of men who suggested. I think we would all do well to consider the importance of pure words of God, words of love, words of life. I exhort you, I urge you to follow God’s way.
by Dr. Mike Zachary