The word “therefore” is used over 500 times in the Bible, in both the Old and New Testaments. It’s an important word that often indicates a conclusion, summary, or application based on what was previously stated. But what exactly does “therefore” mean and why is it significant?
In this comprehensive blog post, we’ll examine the meaning and usage of “therefore” throughout Scripture. We’ll look at some key examples where “therefore” is used to transition to important truths, promises, commands, and warnings for God’s people.
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- “Therefore” frequently indicates a logical conclusion or summary based on previous verses.
- It often transitions from theological truths to practical application.
- “Therefore” can introduce significant conclusions, promises, commands, and warnings.
- Understanding “therefore” helps us interpret Scripture in context.
- “Therefore” reminds us that Biblical truths should impact how we think, speak, and live.
The Meaning of “Therefore”
The word “therefore” in the Bible is a translation of words like “oun” in Greek and “laken” in Hebrew. These words indicate that something follows logically from what was previously stated.
The basic meaning is “for that reason” or “consequently.” Therefore is used to draw a conclusion, make a logical connection, or indicate an application based on doctrinal truths or historical accounts.
For example, Romans 5:1 states “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Here, “therefore” connects the previous theological truth about justification by faith alone with the resulting benefit – that we have peace with God.
“Therefore” can also indicate a summary, like when Jesus finishes the Sermon on the Mount saying “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock.” (Matthew 7:24). Here Jesus summarizes the teachings of the sermon and calls for obedient application.
So in essence, “therefore” means “Based on what was just said, here is the logical conclusion, implication, summary, or application that follows.” It’s a way of bringing ideas together through logical flow.
Key Purposes of “Therefore”
Let’s look now at some of the key purposes and functions of “therefore” in the Bible:
1. Indicating logical conclusions
One very common use is showing a logical conclusion derived from theological truths. For example:
“For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Therefore, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.” (Romans 5:6-9)
Here, “therefore” indicates the concluding truth that follows from the previous verses about Christ’s substitutionary death – that through His blood, we are justified and saved from God’s wrath.
There are many other examples where “therefore” introduces logical conclusions based on biblical doctrines.
2. Drawing practical applications
“Therefore” is also used regularly to transition from theological truths to practical Christian living. For example:
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” (Romans 12:1)
After laying out the gospel in chapters 1-11, Paul says “therefore” – because of the mercy of God we’ve received, we should live sacrificially for Him.
“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)
Based on the resurrection truths he just described, Paul draws the conclusion that we should be steadfast and abound in God’s work.
Many imperative commands in the New Testament are connected with “therefore” to show that they logically follow from biblical doctrine.
3. Introducing significant conclusions
“Therefore” is used to introduce major conclusions, such as at the end of Romans 8:
“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Therefore, who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:31-34)
Like a trumpet blast, “therefore” announces the monumental conclusions that if God justifies us, no charge can be brought against us and there is no condemnation. Hallelujah!
4. Introducing promised benefits
We also find “therefore” introducing promises and benefits for believers, based on biblical truths:
“And if children, therefore heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.” (Romans 8:17)
Because we’ve been adopted as God’s children, the benefit that follows is that we are co-heirs with Christ!
“But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does. Therefore, put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness.” (James 1:25,21)
Looking intently at God’s Word results in blessing when applied. Therefore, we should remove sinful habits from our lives.
5. Introducing significant commands
“Therefore” is also used prior to giving important commands we should obey as believers:
“I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness. Therefore, do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.” (Romans 6:19,12)
Based on the theological truth that we’ve been freed from sin and enslaved to righteousness, Paul commands us to not let sin reign in our bodies.
“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” (Philippians 2:12)
Because of Christ’s work in their lives, Paul commands the Philippians to work out their salvation to completion.
6. Indicating warnings
“Therefore” is also used to transition to warnings we need to heed as believers:
“Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.” (Hebrews 4:1 KJV)
The author warns them to fear and not fall short of entering God’s rest.
“Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away.” (Hebrews 2:1)
Based on the supremacy of Christ, we must pay close attention so we don’t drift away from the truth.
In passages like these, “therefore” indicates the urgency of heeding the warnings given.
Examples of “Therefore” in Key Passages
Looking at a few longer passages will further demonstrate how “therefore” is used powerfully within the flow of biblical texts:
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
Here, based on the mercies of God Paul has just expounded, he urges the sacrifice of our bodies and non-conformity to the world. “Therefore” connects the gospel realities to Christian living.
“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”
Paul links the calling of believers with the command to walk in unity, grounded in the theological oneness of God’s people.
“Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”
Based on their union with Christ, Paul urges the Philippians to be united and selfless. He makes the logical connection from doctrine to practice using “therefore.”
The Powerful Impact of “Therefore”
As we can see from the many examples above, “therefore” serves an important function in the Bible. It:
- Logically connects biblical doctrines to right thinking and living
- Calls us to respond in faith and obedience to God’s truths
- Indicates the blessings that flow out of God’s promises
- Introduces conclusions, applications, and warnings we need to hear
“Therefore” reminds us that biblical truth is meant to shape how we think, speak, and live. Sound doctrine should lead to transformed lives. Right thinking should lead to right action.
When we see “therefore,” it’s a cue to pay close attention, because something important follows that is based firmly on the foundation of biblical revelation. It draws crucial connections between faith and practice.
The next time you read a “therefore” in the Bible, consider:
- What theological truth was just stated that grounds what follows?
- How should this doctrine impact my attitudes and actions?
- What conclusion, promise, command, or warning am I called to embrace and obey?
Let’s be faithful as students of Scripture to understand the purpose of “therefore” – so biblical truths bear fruit in lives of holiness, obedience, wisdom, and love for the glory of God.
In summary, “therefore” is one of the most important transition words in Scripture. It indicates that a significant conclusion, application, promise, command, or warning follows based on what was previously revealed.
Recognizing how “therefore” is used throughout the Bible will help us better interpret Scripture in its context. And prayerfully applying the truths connected with “therefore” will allow God’s Word to powerfully change our lives.
As we walk by faith in the gospel realities described in God’s Word, may our lives overflow with the “therefore’s” – to the glory and praise of Jesus Christ our Lord!