10 Key Bible Verses on Encouragement

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This article is part of the Key Bible Verses series.

All commentary notes adapted from the ESV Study Bible.

1. Philippians 2:1–4

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Read More

Encouragement to Unity in the Faith and Service of One Another. The Philippians are encouraged to live out their life in Christ and in the Spirit by living in unity.

Paul is not doubting that encouragement, participation in the Spirit, affection, and sympathy are realities in Christ* and are present in the congregation at Philippi. He uses a conditional sentence (if) to provoke the Philippians so that they will reflect on whether these qualities are evident in their lives. The Philippian believers must make sure they continue to progress in the absolutely critical area of love for one another. As Paul emphasizes, they must be of the same mind. This does not imply a drab intellectual uniformity; rather, the Philippians are to use their diverse gifts (cf. 1 Corinthians 12) in an agreeable, cooperative spirit, with a focus on the glory of God.

2. Ephesians 4:29

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Read More

corrupting talk. As with the “stopping” and “starting” noted in v. 28, Christians are to stop evil speech, substituting talk that is good for building up and giving grace. “Corrupting” (Gk. sapros) also applies to “bad” (rotten) fruit (Luke 6:43) or “bad” (putrid) fish (Matt. 13:48). To “give grace” in speaking means to benefit others rather than corrupt them through what is said.

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3. Hebrews 10:24–25

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Read More

let us consider. The third and final exhortation in Heb. 10:22–25 calls for serious thinking about other Christians with a purpose to stir up (or “provoke”) them in their love and service (good works). Christian perseverance is thus also a community endeavor. meet together. Community encouragement toward perseverance requires being together. That some were neglecting this duty may have been among the motives for the author’s warnings throughout this book. encouraging. Voicing exhortation with the goal of strengthening another’s faith (see Heb. 3:13; cf. Heb. 13:22).the Day drawing near. The coming day of Christ’s return and judgment (9:28; 10:37).

4. Romans 15:2

Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. Read More

The strong have a responsibility to tolerate and support the weak instead of living selfishly to satisfy their own desires. The Christian life centers on strengthening others. Christ is the supreme example of living for the glory of God.

5. 1 Thessalonians 4:17–18

Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words. Read More

to meet. The Greek term apantēsis is often used of an important dignitary’s reception by the inhabitants of a city, who come out to greet and welcome their honored guest with fanfare and celebration, then accompany him into the city (cf. Matt. 25:6; Acts 28:15; a related term hypantēsis is used in Matt. 25:1; John 12:13). It may indicate that the subsequent movement of the saints after meeting Christ “in the air” conforms to Christ’s direction, thus in a downward motion toward the earth. However, some interpreters caution that the vivid symbolism of apocalyptic language must be kept in mind to avoid over-interpretation of the apocalyptic details. in the air. The sky.

6. Hebrews 3:12–13

Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Read More

Drawing on several key words in Psalm 95, Hebrews warns against allowing the unbelief of a hardened, sinful heart to cause one to fall away (Gk. apostēnai, “turn away from, forsake, apostatize from”; cf. Luke 8:13; 1 Tim. 4:1). His counter to this danger is both to encourage personal commitment (take care) and to call on the church to walk together in mutual encouragement (exhort one another). as long as it is called “today.” From the perspective of God’s saving plans for world history, the church lives in a special moment in which the Lord has come, spoken, and gone, and believers await his return—faith is called for in this hour, and mutual exhortation sustains and strengthens faith.

7. Romans 1:11–12

For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you—that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. Read More

mutually encouraged. Paul desires as an apostle to encourage the Christians in Rome, but it is also noteworthy that their faith serves to inspire and strengthen him as well.

8. Ephesians 4:15–16

Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. Read More

The truth must not be used as a club to bludgeon people into acceptance and obedience but must always be presented in love. The truth leads the Christian to maturity, which is defined here as growing up into Christ. As head, Christ leads, directs, and guides the body (see Eph. 5:23; 1 Cor. 11:3).

joint. Paul continues the body metaphor to describe the church’s maturity. Every member (i.e., every believer, viewed as a limb, or unit, in Christ’s body) plays a crucial role in this growth. in love. There is no Christian maturity or true Christian ministry without love (1 Corinthians 13), and every act of love in the name of Christ is valued and remembered by him, as each part is working properly (illustrated in Eph. 4:25–32; cf. Matt. 25:31–43; 26:6–13).

9. Ecclesiastes 4:9–12

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken. Read More

Two . . . have a good reward for their toil. The wise person will pursue cooperative ventures rather than give in to jealous striving to be first (Eccl. 4:8, 10, 11), a striving that isolates him from others.

A threefold cord stands for the great value of “plurality” (more than one or even two) as opposed to being alone (Eccl. 4:7–11).

10. Romans 15:4–6

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Read More

Whatever was written in former days includes the whole of the OT Scriptures. Paul expresses confidence that all of the OT was written down for the instruction and encouragement of God’s people, thus indirectly implying that all the words of the OT are words of God, words that he wisely directed to be written not only for his purposes at the time they were written but also for later centuries.

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