Quick Facts

  • Pronunciation:
  • Strongs Concordance: #G813
    • disorderly, out of ranks (often so of soldiers)
    • irregular, inordinate, immoderate pleasures
    • deviating from the prescribed order or rule
  • Appears 1 time in 1 verse in the New Testament
  • Common Translation:
    • “unruly” (1x)

How ataktos is used in the New Testament

  1. 1 Thessalonians 5:14 NASB – “We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone.”

My observations and perspective

In the single use of the word ataktos in the New Testament, the word is used to describe those who are unruly in the local church. The context of 1 Thessalonians would appear to indicate that many in the Thessalonican church were living in ways that were rebellious to the the instruction given to them on the authority of Christ.

This is yet another great example of scripture providing commentary and translation assistance for other scripture. Paul is tying the idea of being unruly to being disobedient to the instructions of Christ – not to himself, leaders, elders, or any other human being.

1 Thessalonians 4:1-3, 5-9 NASB – “1 Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction  as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more. 2 For you know what commandments we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. 3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; … 5 not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6 and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you. 7 For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification. 8 So, he who rejects this is not rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you. 9 Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another;”

In the above one can clearly see the attitude and disposition of Paul toward the Thessalonicans. He exhorted them to obey and submit to the authority of the commands of Christ. He then goes on to clearly say that rejecting such is not rejecting man, but God (again, removing himself as being the object of obedience). Further, he emphasizes that the Thessalonicans are not in need of anyone to write to them, because they are taught by God to love one another.

It would be very sloppy hermeneutics to attempt to make this verse a basis for labeling any believer as being unruly for disobeying a local church leader. The context is clearly those who are unruly in regard to the commands of Jesus. This being the case, repentance would entail obeying Christ, not obeying the rule of man.


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