To mimic; to do what is seen to be done by another; sometimes it approximates, “be obedient.” Paul's uses can be divided into three groups: (1) To call attention to a comparison even when no conscious mimicking is in mind. The Thessalonians shared suffering at the hands of their compatriots comparable to that experienced by the earliest Judean Christians (1 Thessalonians 2:14).
1 Thessalonians 1:6 perhaps belongs here. (2) To follow an example (Philippians 3:17;
2 Thessalonians 3:7,2 Thessalonians 3:9 where Paul's example of self-support is in view). Obedience may also be in mind as references to tradition (2 Thessalonians 3:6) and command (2 Thessalonians 3:10) demonstrate. (3) An equivalent to be obedient. Paul exhorted the Corinthians to follow him not primarily by following his personal example but by following his “ways in Christ” which he taught “everywhere in every church” (1 Corinthians 4:16-17). The Corinthians were to follow Paul's example by heeding his counsel to do all for the glory of God without causing offense (1 Corinthians 11:1; compare
1 Corinthians 10:23-33). In
Ephesians 5:1 the command to be imitators is again linked with the previous series of commands, especially that of forgiveness (Ephesians 4:25-32). The image of children obedient to parents is common where the thought of imitation as obedience is primary (1 Corinthians 4:14-16;
Hebrews urges imitation of the faithfulness and patient endurance of those who inherited the promises (Hebrews 6:12) and the faithfulness of church leaders (Hebrews 13:7). The command of
3 John 1:11 is general, though specific examples of good (Demetrius) and bad (Diotrephes) are in view.
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.
Butler, Trent C. Editor.. "Entry for 'IMITATE'". "Holman Bible Dictionary".