What Does “Admonish” Mean in the Bible?

The word “admonish” appears several times in the Bible, primarily in the New Testament. But what exactly does it mean? And what is the biblical context for this word? In this comprehensive blog post, we’ll explore the meaning, usage, and significance of “admonish” throughout scripture.


To admonish someone is to caution, advise, or counsel them, typically regarding a fault or oversight on their part. The goal is to encourage moral or spiritual improvement through gentle reproof and guidance. Admonishment in the Bible is often connected to concepts like warning, exhorting, teaching, and disciplining.

For Evangelical and Charismatic Christians, understanding the full meaning of “admonish” is important. God repeatedly commands His people to admonish one another within the Body of Christ. As we’ll see, Scripture provides clear instructions on how, when, and why we should admonish fellow believers. Grasping this biblical principle allows us to become more effective ministers and teachers within the church.

Viral Believer is reader-supported. We may earn a small fee from products we recommend at no charge to you. Read Our Affiliate Disclosuree

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore key questions like:

  • What is the original Greek word translated as “admonish” and what does it mean?
  • What types of behaviors does the Bible tell us to admonish?
  • How does admonishment relate to discipline and correction within the church?
  • What attitude and spirit should accompany admonishment?
  • Who exactly are we commanded to admonish?
  • What role should admonishment play in church leadership?
  • What are some real-life examples of admonishment in the Bible?

By the end of this post, you will have a thorough understanding of the biblical meaning of admonish and how it applies to your life and ministry. Let’s dive in!

What Does "Admonish" Mean in the Bible?

Defining “Admonish” in Scripture

The most common Greek word translated as “admonish” in the New Testament is noutheteō. This word appears around 10 times and means to “warn, exhort, instruct, or counsel against something.” Noutheteō comes from a root meaning “to put in mind.” So admonishing someone involves reminding them of something important they need to remember.

Paul uses noutheteō when commanding the Colossians to admonish one another:

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” (Colossians 3:16 NKJV)

Here, admonishing means instructing fellow believers through song lyrics strongly rooted in scripture. It is a form of teaching.

The author of Hebrews combines warning and admonishing:

“And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” (Hebrews 6:11-12 NKJV)

So admonishing means pointing out unwise or dangerous behavior, to motivate others to walk obediently with God.

Behaviors to Admonish

Scripture directly connects admonishment to confronting particular sins, weaknesses, or spiritual dangers. We are to humbly admonish brothers and sisters who are:

  • Living lazily or unproductively (1 Thessalonians 5:14)
  • Embracing questionable theology (Romans 15:14)
  • Engaging in sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 5:1-13)
  • Becoming spiritually complacent (Hebrews 2:1-4, Hebrews 10:23-25)
  • Struggling with pride or self-deception (Galatians 6:1-5)
  • Causing divisions within the Body (Titus 3:9-11)
  • Succumbing to the love of money (1 Timothy 6:17-19)

Furthermore, experienced ministers like Paul advise younger leaders to admonish the following groups:

  • Young Widows (1 Timothy 5:11-15)
  • Masters/Slave Owners (Ephesians 6:9, Colossians 4:1)
  • Rich People (1 Timothy 6:17-19)
  • Elders who Sin (1 Timothy 5:20)

So Scripture points to admonishment as the appropriate biblical response for addressing all kinds of spiritual or moral error within the church.

Admonishment and Church Discipline

At times, admonishing a fellow believer also includes elements of correcting or disciplining them. The goal remains restoration and repentance, not punishment. But Scripture connects admonishing firmly with the process of church discipline outlined in Matthew 18:15-17:

“Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.” (Matthew 18:15-17 NKJV)

Admonishing a sinning brother or sister one-on-one is the first prescribed step. If they refuse to listen after repeated warnings and counsel, admonishing may lead to removal from fellowship.

Paul himself engages in this kind of disciplinary admonishing. Regarding a sexually immoral church member in Corinth, he writes:

“In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” (1 Corinthians 5:4-5 NKJV)

Though harsh, this admonishment aimed to shock the man into repentance and preserve the purity of the church.

So while admonishing is primarily instructive, at times it overlaps with stern correction. Both stem from a heart focused on restoring the fallen believer.

The Attitude of Admonishing

Since admonishing involves confronting sin and weakness, Scripture also provides clear instructions on how to admonish with the right attitude:

  • Gently (Galatians 6:1, 2 Timothy 2:25)
  • With patience (1 Thessalonians 5:14, 2 Timothy 4:2)
  • Lovingly (Ephesians 4:15)
  • With humility considering your own weaknesses (Galatians 6:1)
  • Without partiality (1 Timothy 5:20-21)
  • Without exasperation towards the admonished (Colossians 3:21)
  • As a father would his children (1 Thessalonians 2:11)

Harshness, impatience, arrogance, or indifference have no place in biblical admonishment. The ultimate goal must be restoration not retaliation.

Who Should We Admonish?

Scripture makes it clear every member of the Body of Christ shares responsibility for admonishing their fellow brothers and sisters in the faith. There are no exceptions.

Paul commands the Romans:

“I myself am convinced, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with knowledge and competent to instruct one another.” (Romans 15:14 NIV)

And the Thessalonians:

“And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive…” (1 Thessalonians 5:14 NIV)

The author of Hebrews gives an urgent admonishment to the entire church:

“See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” (Hebrews 12:15 NIV)

Scripture clearly calls all believers to take responsibility for admonishing and warning each other of spiritual danger.

Admonishing Church Leaders

While every Christian must admonish their brothers and sisters, Scripture places special emphasis on admonishing leaders within the church.

Paul charges Timothy:

“Those who sin are to be rebuked publicly, so that the others may take warning.” (1 Timothy 5:20 NIV)

He further instructs Titus:

“Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you.” (Titus 2:15 NIV)

And leaders are to shepherd the flock among them:

“Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.” (Acts 20:28 NIV)

Part of shepherding involves admonishing through teaching, warning, and correction when necessary. Church leaders who refuse to admonish sinning members fail in their responsibility.

Biblical Examples of Admonishing

Scripture contains many real-life instances of admonishing that illustrate how to obey these commands.

Nathan’s admonishment of David – After David sinned by committing adultery and murder, God sent the prophet Nathan to admonish him. Nathan confronted David with a parable illustrating his sin, leading David to repentance (2 Samuel 12:1-13).

Paul’s admonishment of Peter – When Peter withdrew from Gentile believers out of legalism, Paul “opposed him to his face” and publicly rebuked him (Galatians 2:11-14).

Jesus’ admonishments to the Seven Churches – In Revelation 2-3, Jesus sternly admonishes compromised churches to repent, warning of judgment if they refuse to obey.

Paul’s fatherly admonishments – Paul writes of admonishing the Thessalonians “as a father does his own children” (1 Thessalonians 2:11) and of Timothy “as my dear son” (2 Timothy 2:1).

Admonishing through song – Paul urges the Colossians to admonish one another through “psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit” (Colossians 3:16).

Conclusion & Key Takeaways

Admonishing fellow believers is a clear biblical command which none of us are exempt from. Through gentleness, patience, and love, we must humbly admonish those who are straying into sin or spiritual danger.

Here are some key takeaways from this study:

  • Admonish means to caution, warn, or counsel someone regarding a fault or spiritual weakness.
  • Scripture instructs us to admonish tendencies like laziness, sexual sin, false doctrine, pride, and greed.
  • Admonishing should be done with gentleness, patience, love, and humility.
  • Every Christian shares the responsibility to admonish brothers and sisters in Christ.
  • Church leaders have a special duty to admonish sinning members and call them to repentance.
  • Biblical examples like Nathan, Paul, and Jesus model how admonishing should work in practice.
  • Admonishing others keeps the Body of Christ pure and enables us to grow in holiness together.

The Bible makes it clear that admonishment is crucial for the health and maturity of the church. As Christians, we must take this call seriously. May we lovingly admonish one another just as Scripture commands, for the glory of God and the good of His people.

About The Author

Scroll to Top