Full Assurance Of The Gospel
For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in holy spirit, and in much [polus] assurance [plērophoria]; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.
I THESSALONIANS 1:5
The word assurance here is translated from a very unique Greek word found only four times in the Scriptures. It is the word plērophoria, which is a combination of:
plērēs: full, complete, lacking nothing; and
phoreō: to bear, implying repetition and a constant continuance of bearing.
Combining the distinct ideas of 'complete' and 'a constant continuance' give plērophoria its Lexicon meaning of complete certainty’. It is translated ‘full assurance’ (KJV) in 3 of its 4 uses. Although 'full assurance' is good, ‘complete certainty’ better expresses the true sense of this word. The things to which God’s Word attributes ‘complete certainty’ are surely worth noting.
Here in First Thessalonians, it is the plērophoria of the ‘gospel’. The word gospel means 'a good messsage', but its use and application in the New Testament are in regard to a very specific message. It is God’s message of His plan to redeem man. Since this redemption plan requires a redeemer, the ‘gospel message’ declares in detail both the one who accomplished God’s plan, Jesus Christ, and all things that are made available by his redemptive work, both now and throughout the ages to come.
It says in verse 5 that this gospel message did not come unto them only in words, but also 1) in power, and 2) in holy spirit, and 3) complete certainty. How wonderful it is that God’s gospel message is not just words, but in truth, a message with power, and with holy spirit, and most emphatically, a message of complete certainty. You can stake your very life on it!
This next use of plērophoria is in regard to understanding that which is made known in the gospel message.
That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance [plērophoria] of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ. COLOSSIANS 2:2
In the context, Paul is telling these saints how much care he has for them, and he especially notes the ones who had not yet met him personally. He desires that their hearts are comforted, being united in love unto, (unto=to the end that, or with a view to) all riches of the complete certainty of understanding. The purpose of his teaching, both by epistle and in person, is that these saints enjoy ‘all riches of the complete certainty of understanding’ the great truths of the ‘mystery’ (secret). All the tremendous truths of this great ‘secret’ had previously been ‘hid in God’, but were now revealed to and being taught to all by Paul. Paul writes just five verses earlier:
Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to His saints, to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles [nations]; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory! COLOSSIANS 1:26-27
If God’s Word says that He wants us to have all riches of the complete certainty of understanding the truths of the mystery, then it must be available to His people.
The last two uses of plērophoria are both found in the book of Hebrews. The primary subject matter of Hebrews is the fulfillment of every requirement of the Old Covenant law of Moses by the redeemer, Jesus Christ. Therefore, this book is abundant with detailed references to, and the language of, things of the Old Covenant. Understanding this is especially important to us in this study in order to see the great truth being stated here in the tenth chapter of Hebrews.
Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance [plērophoria] of faith [believing], having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. HEBREWS 10:22
The phrase ‘Let us draw near’ is translated from one Greek word, proserchomai, which means ‘to approach’ or ‘to draw near’. This word is vital to the subject of man’s redemption which is being discussed in detail in chapters 9 and 10 of Hebrews. Jesus Christ fulfilled each and every legal obligation, so that he was both the priest who offered the sacrifice (required for redemption), as well as the perfect sacrifice itself. He was the offeror and he was the offering. Jesus Christ “offered himself without spot [blemish] to God” (Heb. 9:14), and thereby “put away [nullified] sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Heb. 9:26).
The centerpiece of the Old Covenant was the tabernacle and, as such, it is a dominant part of the discussion in Hebrews. The tabernacle was ordained and designed in every detail by God. He told Moses all the specifics of the construction. The interior of the rectangular building was divided into two distinct parts, separated by a veil (curtain). The first part was called ‘the holy’, and the second ‘the most holy’ (or ‘holy of holies’). In this second room was the ark of the Covenant and the mercy seat. The ‘holy of holies’ represented the presence of God. Man’s redeemer entered not into that man-made representation, but into the very presence of God!
For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which were figures of the true [genuine]; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us. HEBREWS 9:24
His redemptive work removed the ‘veil’ into the presence of God for us. By his sacrifice, we now have access with boldness to the throne of grace. That is the meaning of ‘let us draw near’ in verse 22 above. We are exhorted to ‘draw near’, or to approach, the presence of God ‘with a true heart in complete certainty of believing’! Because we are now fully instructed in the accomplished work of the Christ, we not only respond and act upon that instruction with believing, but with the ‘complete certainty’ (plērophoria) of believing.
Looking now at the fourth and final use of plērophoria in Hebrews chapter 6, we need to see it in context with the preceding verse.
For God is not unrighteous [unjust] to forget your work and labor of love, which ye have showed toward His name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.
And we desire that every one of you do show [demonstrate] the same diligence to the full assurance [plērophoria] of hope [the text reads “the hope”] unto the end. HEBREWS 6:10-11
We are instructed to remember the just ways of God Who does not forget our good work and labor of love for Him. Why is it important to know that God doesn’t forget? Because of His unwavering promise that “every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labor” (I Cor. 3:8). The promise of God to reward each of us in the ages to come is the incentive that motivates us to stand for Him day by day. We look to the reward, to our new body made like Christ’s resurrected body, and the exceeding riches of God’s grace to be revealed in the ages to come. That is why we demonstrate ‘diligence to the complete certainty of the hope unto the end’!