Do Not Extinguish The Spirit
February 6, 2014
The NIV translates 1 Thes. 5:19 like this: “Do not put out the Spirit’s fire.” However, the Greek says, “The Spirit do not quench.” If the word “fire” is not in the original, then why does the NIV insert it? Being that the word “quench” in the New Testament means to put out or to extinguish, I’m glad that at least the NIV says, “Do not put out…”, though adding “fire” seems disingenuous.
So, if we are told that “quench” in the N.T. means to extinguish, rather than to lessen, reduce, or suppress (or satisfy, as in one’s thirst), then the best translation would be, “The Spirit do not extinguish” or, “Do not extinguish the Spirit.” If we are to obey God’s commands, then translators should give us the most literal rendering possible and not add or omit words based on their own interpretation of what is being said. Commentaries are allowed to interpret for us, but the translations / translators of the Word are not allowed that.
Does it matter very much the way this verse is translated? It certainly does. If we read, “Do not put out the Spirit’s fire”, then the emphasis is on not putting out the light or work of the Spirit. Yet that is not what the original is saying. Moreover, if we read, “Do not quench the Spirit”, then this translation also sounds much less alarming than in the original, as “quench” in English can mean merely to suppress or lessen. To suppress or lessen the Spirit in one’s life, or in the life of a church, is not nearly as dangerous as extinguishing Him from one’s life or church altogether.
“Do not extinguish the Spirit.” Now that sounds like a command that, if disobeyed, could bring very serious consequences. The Spirit extinguished? The Spirit removed? Eliminated? Erased? This is a serious offense –a serious event. And being that we could never eliminate, remove, or erase the Spirit from existence, this verse must be warning us that we can terminate Him from a particular place of residence, and that that residence can be us!
Is this not another verse that tears into the false security of those in the OSAS group? If the Spirit can be extinguished, it can only mean that He can be extinguished from a particular habitation that He now resides in. And if this were not possible, then the Word of God would not need to give us the warning.
Let’s think about it, heed the warning, and do what it takes to steer clear of those things which could cause the Spirit to be extinguished from our own spirit.