“Persuade” (Gk. “peitho”) – to win over or bring about a change of mind by the influence of reason or moral consideration (Vine’s, An Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words).
“Reasoning” (Gk. “dialogimos”) – to persuade or influence by the use of reason; a rational/logical explanation and/or evidence
“Manipulate” – to control or play upon by artful, unfair, or insidious (harmful; treacherous) means, especially to one’s advantage (Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary).
Acts 17:1-4 What was Paul’s custom in His evangelistic approach when he entered a city?
What happened as a result of this?
Does anything in this passage either say or imply that Paul’s method of persuading or his being persuasive by explaining and giving evidence from the Scriptures was wrong?
Have you ever persuaded anyone to accept Christ, and if so, did you use the Bible?
Obviously the Holy Spirit is the One convicting and convincing people ultimately to accept Christ, but did He use you and your skill in using the Bible?
Acts 17:15-18 What was Paul doing in the synagogue at Athens and in the market place?
How often did he do this in the market place? And to whom?
What was Paul preaching (vs. 18)?
Does this sound like what He had been doing in Thessalonica (17:1-4 above)?
Is there any implication here that God frowned on Paul’s doing this? Would you have? Why?
Do you frown on Christians who witness, who use reasoning or persuasion through the use of Scriptures? Why?
Acts 18:1, 4, 12-15 What was Paul doing every Sabbath in Corinth and trying to do (vs. 4)?
What did the Jews who rose up against Paul accuse him of or say of him (vs. 13)?
Was what Paul did wrong according to God’s law? Why?
Acts 18:19 What did Paul do in Ephesus?
Again, does the Bible indicate that what Paul did was wrong? If it does not, should you? Why?
Acts 18:24-28 How did Apollos greatly help the Christians in Achaia (vs. 28)?
Is it wrong to persuade through using the Bible, or should the Bible, in fact, be what we do use to persuade people that Jesus is the Savior and that they should accept it? Why?
To be able to use the Bible so freely, accurately, and applicably implies what?
Acts 19:8-10 What did Paul do in the Ephesian synagogue for three months?
After taking away the disciples, what did Paul do for two years in the school of Tyrannus?
What was its result?
Does it appear by now that it was Paul’s intention to persuade people by reasoning with them from the Bible?
How often do you do this, and why?
Acts 19:23-26 What did Demetrius, a silversmith, say that Paul had done not only in Ephesus, but in almost all of Asia (vs. 26)?
Do you try to persuade people not to worship idols or others gods (e.g., sports, computers, cars, clothes, music, money, possessions, career, etc.) that really are not gods anyway? Why?
Acts 26:27-29 What did King Agrippa say to Paul?
How did Paul respond to that comment?
How would you respond if someone told you what Agrippa told Paul, and why?
Acts 28:16-24 What was Paul’s intention with respect to the large number of Jews that came to him in Rome (vs. 23)?
How did Paul go about trying to do this?
Is what Paul did considered manipulating people? Why?
What were Paul’s results (vs. 24)?
How often is your intention the same as Paul’s, and how do you go about accomplishing your intention? Why?
2 Tim. 2:24-26 What should the Lord’s bond-servant be able to do with gentleness, and why?
Can this kind of correction come across as persuasion? If so, is it wrong? Why?
Titus 2:1-15 As a spiritual leader over people, Titus was to speak, exhort, and reprove with all authority (vs. 15) the things which are fitting for sound doctrine (vs. 1) by urging (vss. 6, 9ff.) people.
Does this passage sound like Titus was to persuade Christians to live rightly?
If so, then should this be true of all spiritual leaders who are over people? Why?
If you are a spiritual leader, are you urging and exhorting those under you? Why?
Acts 21:10-14 What were Paul’s traveling companions and the local residents of Caesarea begging Paul not to do?
What was Paul’s response?
What does Luke say they did and said as a result of Paul’s not being persuaded (vs. 14)?
Are Paul’s remarks directed against these friends of his trying to be persuasive or against their trying to hinder him from doing what he believed was God’s will for Him? How do you know?
Have you ever tried to persuade another Christian from doing something that was going to be harmful to them, but they refused to be persuaded?
If so, did they refuse because they were confident that what they were doing was God’s will or for some other reason?
How did you respond to their refusal to heed your persuasion? Why?
Or, has anyone ever tried to persuade you to not do something (out of someone’s concern for you), but for which you could not comply because you were convinced that God wanted you to go ahead with what He had confirmed in your mind was His will? If so, why didn’t you comply with them?
2 Cor. 5:9-11 Knowing the fear of the Lord (that Christians are going to be judged for what they do in this life here on earth), what does Paul say that he is doing (vs. 11)?
[Paul was trying to persuade certain members of the Corinthian Church to be pleasing God, to believe the integrity of his personal character (see 1:12ff; 4:1f; 6:3ff; 7:2ff), and to believe the authenticity of his status as their apostle (see 3:1ff; 10:1ff).].
[In the face of false reports that were being circulated about Paul (i.e., 10:10; 11:4-6, 10-21), Paul says that he is made manifest to God (that his whole life lies open to God so that he doesn’t need to persuade God of his integrity), and that he hopes that he is made manifest in the Corinthian’s consciences (that his life evidences his genuineness).].
Have you ever had to try and persuade Christians of your genuineness because false reports were being spread about your integrity?
How did you do this?
Why that approach?
PERSUADING PEOPLE TO DO THE WILL OF GOD
Unfortunately, a lot of Christians interpret the presenting of biblical principles and/or commands to them as being pressured to do something that they may not want to do. But whether or not a Christian wants to view the presentation of what the Bible teaches that he/she should be doing as being pressured is irrelevant. The point is that a Christian should obey God’s Word. And the method of presenting biblical commands and/or principles in the form of exhortation, reproof, rebuke, or persuasion is also biblical or right to do.
First, let’s define some words:
- Exhort is to incite (move to action, spur on, urge on) by argument or advice; strongly urge.
- Reprove is to convict, express disapproval of, find fault with.
- Rebuke is to reprimand or address in sharp and severe disapproval.
- Persuade is to move by argument, pleading, or reasoning against a belief, position, or course of action.
As you can see, if a Christian expresses any of these toward you, you could very well feel pressured. But if you do feel pressured to some decision or course of action that is biblical, then that’s great, not wrong or bad. Hopefully you should be convinced that the course of action or decision is God’s will and you should, therefore, do it. But even if you don’t feel like doing it, if the Bible shows it to be God’s will, then you should do it anyway out of obedience to God.
Second, let’s see what God’s Word teaches about exhortation, reproof, rebuke, and persuasion in the following passages:
2 Cor. 5:11
2 Tim. 4:2
1 Cor. 1:10
1 Thes. 2:11-12
2 Thes. 3:12
Third, let’s see some biblical examples of where Jesus, godly Paul, and John used persuasion or the pressure of biblical truths to try to get people to do God’s will:
Lk. 9:59-62 – Here, we see Jesus using the pressure of hard biblical truths to persuade these two people to do God’s will of following Jesus to be trained by Him in order to better be equipped to proclaim the gospel (God’s kingdom). Apparently, Jesus thought that persuasion and any pressure felt because of it was perfectly fine when trying to get people to do God’s will.
Lk. 14:26-27, 33 – Here, we see Jesus using the pressure of hard biblical truths to persuade people to be His disciples. Apparently, it’s perfectly fine to do if He did it because we know that Jesus never did wrong.
1 Cor. 4:21 – Here, we see Paul using pressure to persuade the Corinthian church by threatening to discipline them with a rod (severe chastising) if they didn’t do God’s will, such as in imitating him in his ways which are in Christ, 1 Cor. 4:16-17 (as Timothy had, 2 Tim. 3:10, which included Paul’s purpose in life of evangelism and training/building believers into Christ-likeness – 1 Cor. 9:16; Gal. 1:15-16; 4:19; Acts 16:1-4; 19:9-10; Phil. 4:9).
Rev. 2:1-5, 12-16, 18-23; 3:14-19 – Here, we see the apostle John telling the angels (pastors or prophets or important messenger-leaders) to deliver these messages to various church congregations (in Ephesus, Pergamum, Thyatira, and Laodicea). And John is using the pressure of hard biblical truths to persuade these church people to do God’s will, even threatening them with severe discipline if they didn’t.
So, to persuade a Christian through the logical use of biblical truths/passages in context to do something that is God’s will is not wrong, but, in fact, right to do. And if you feel pressured because of it, then Amen!!!