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1 Thessalonians


Hope and discipline

  1.Salutation early 50ce (Thessalonica)

1FROM PAUL, Silvanus, and Timothy
to the congregation of Thessalonians who belong to God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Grace to you and peace.

The Thessalonians Faith and Example

2We always thank God for you all, and mention you in our prayers continually. 3We call to mind, before our God and Father, how your faith has shown itself in action, your love in labour, and your hope of our Lord Jesus Christ in fortitude. 4We are certain, brothers beloved by God, that he has chosen you 5and that [Or: ... chosen you, because ...] when we brought you the Gospel, we brought it not in mere words but in the power of the Holy Spirit, and with strong conviction, as you know well. That is the kind of men we were at Thessalonica, and it was for your sake.

6And you, in your turn, followed the example set by us and by the Lord; the welcome you gave the message meant grave suffering for you, yet you rejoiced in the Holy Spirit; 7thus you have become a model for all believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. 8From Thessalonica the word of the Lord rang out; and not in Macedonia and Achaia alone, but everywhere your faith in God has reached men's ears. No words of ours are needed, 9for they themselves spread the news of our visit to you and its effect: how you turned from idols, to be servants of the living and true God, 10and to wait expectantly for the appearance from heaven of his Son Jesus, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus our deliverer from the terrors of judgement to come.


  2.Paul's Ministry in Thessalonica

1You know for yourselves, brothers, that our visit to you was not fruitless. 2Far from it; after all the injury and outrage which to your knowledge we had suffered at Philippi, we declared the gospel of God to you frankly and fearlessly, by the help of our God. 3A hard struggle it was. Indeed, the appeal we make never springs from error or base motive; there is no attempt to deceive; 4but God has approved us as fit to be entrusted with the Gospel, and on those terms we speak. We do not curry favour with men; we seek only the favour of God, who is continually testing our hearts. 5Our words have never been flattering words, as you have cause to know; nor, as God is our witness, 6have they ever been a cloak for greed. We have never sought honour from men, from you or from anyone else, although as Christ's own envoys we might have made our weight felt; 7but we were as gentle with you as a nurse caring fondly for her children. 8With such yearning love we chose to impart to you not only the gospel of God but our very selves, so dear had you become to us. 9Remember, brothers, how we toiled and drudged. We worked for a living night and day, rather than be a burden to anyone, while we proclaimed before you the good news of God.

10We call you to witness, yes and God himself, how devout and just and blameless was our behaviour towards you who are believers. 11As you well know, we dealt with you one by one, as a father deals with his children, appealing to you by encouragement, as well as by solemn injunctions, 12to live lives worthy of the God who calls you into his kingdom and glory.

13This is why we thank God continually, because when we handed on God's message, you received it, not as the word of men, but as what it truly is, the very word of God at [Or: word of God who is at ...] work in you who hold the faith. 14You have fared like the congregations in Judaea, God's people in Christ Jesus. You have been treated by your countrymen as they are treated by the Jews, 15who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets [Some witnesses read: their own prophets.] and drove us out, the Jews who are heedless of God's will and enemies of their fellow-men, 16hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles to lead them to salvation. All this time they have been making up the full measure of their guilt, and now retribution has overtaken them for good and all. [Or: now at last retribution has overtaken them.]

Paul's Desire to Visit the Church Again

17MY FRIENDS, when for a short spell you were lost to us—lost to sight, not to our hearts—we were exceedingly anxious to see you again. 18So we did propose to come to Thessalonica—I, Paul, more than once—but Satan thwarted us. 19For after all, what hope or joy or crown of pride is there for us, what indeed but you, when we stand before our Lord Jesus at his coming? 20It is you who are indeed our glory and our joy.


  3.

1So when we could bear it no longer, we decided to remain alone at Athens, 2and sent Timothy, our brother and God's fellow-worker [Or: and fellow-worker for God; One witness has simply: and fellow-worker.] in the service of the gospel of Christ, to encourage you to stand firm for the faith 3and, under all these hardships, not to be shaken; [Or: beguiled away.] for you know that this is our appointed lot. 4When we were with you we warned you that we were bound to suffer hardship; and so it has turned out, as you know. 5And thus it was that when I could bear it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith, fearing that the tempter might have tempted you and my labour might be lost.

6But now Timothy has just arrived from Thessalonica, bringing good news of your faith and love. He tells us that you always think kindly of us, and are as anxious to see us as we are to see you. 7And so in all our difficulties and hardships your faith reassures us about you. 8It is the breath of life to us that you stand firm in the Lord. 9What thanks can we return to God for you? What thanks for all the joy you have brought us, making us rejoice before our God 10while we pray most earnestly night and day to be allowed to see you again and to mend your faith where it falls short?

11May our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, bring us direct to you; 12and may the Lord make your love mount and overflow towards one another and towards all, as our love does towards you. 13May he make your hearts firm, so that you may stand before our God and Father holy and faultless when our Lord Jesus comes with all those who are his own.


  4.A Life Pleasing to God

1AND NOW, MY FRIENDS, we have one thing to beg and pray of you, by our fellowship with the Lord Jesus. We passed on to you the tradition of the way; we must live to please God; you are indeed already following it, but we beg you to do so yet more thoroughly.

2For you know what orders we gave you, in the name of the Lord Jesus. 3This is the will of God, that you should be holy: you must abstain from fornication; 4each one of you must leam to gain mastery over his body, to hallow and honour it, 5not giving way to lust like the pagans who are ignorant of God; 6and no man must do his brother wrong in this matter, [Or: must overreach his brother in his business (Or: in lawsuits).] or invade his rights, because, as we told you before with all emphasis, the Lord punishes all such offences. 7For God called us to holiness, not to impurity. 8Anyone therefore who flouts these rules is flouting, not man, but God who bestows upon you his Holy Spirit.

9About love for our brotherhood you need no words of mine, for you are yourselves taught by God to love one another, 10and you are in fact practising this rule of love towards all your fellow-Christians throughout Macedonia. Yet we appeal to you, brothers, to do better still. 11Let it be your ambition to keep calm and look after your own business, and to work with your hands, as we ordered you, 12so that you may command the respect of those outside your own number, and at the same time may never be in want.

The Lord's Coming

13WE WISH YOU not to remain in ignorance, brothers, about those who sleep in death; you should not grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. 14We believe that Jesus died and rose again; and so it will be for those who died as Christians; God will bring them to life with Jesus. [Or: will bring them in company with Jesus.]

15For this we tell you as the Lord's word: we who are left alive until the Lord comes shall not forestall those who have died; 16because at the word of command, at the sound of the archangel's voice and God's trumpet-call, the Lord himself will descend from heaven; first the Christian dead will rise, 17then we who are left alive shall join them, caught up in clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18Console one another, then, with these words.


  5.

1About dates and times, my friends, we need not write to you, 2for you know perfectly well that the Day of the Lord comes like a thief in the night. 3While they are talking of peace and security, all at once calamity is upon them, sudden as the pangs that come upon a woman with child; and there will be no escape. 4But you, my friends, are not in the dark, that the day should overtake you like a thief. [Some witnesses read: thieves.] 5You are all children of light, children of day. We do not belong to night or darkness, 6and we must not sleep like the rest, but keep awake and sober. 7Sleepers sleep at night, and drunkards are drunk at night, 8 [ Is.59.17, Wis.5.18. ] but we, who belong to daylight, must keep sober, armed with faith and love for coat of mail, and the hope of salvation for helmet. 9For God has not destined us to the terrors of judgement, but to the full attainment of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10He died for us so that we, awake or asleep, might live in company with him. 11Therefore hearten one another, fortify one another- as indeed you do.

Final Exhortations and Greetings

12WE BEG YOU, BROTHERS, to acknowledge those who are working so hard among you, and in the Lord's fellowship are your leaders and counsellors. 13Hold them in the highest possible esteem and affection for the work they do.

14You must live at peace among yourselves. And we would urge you, brothers, to admonish the careless, encourage the faint-hearted, support the weak, and to be very patient with them all.

15See to it that no one pays back wrong for wrong, but always aim at doing the best you can for each other and for all men.

16Be always joyful; 17pray continually; 18give thanks whatever happens; for this is what God in Christ wills for you.

19Do not stifle inspiration, 20and do not despise prophetic utterances, 21but bring them all to the test and then keep what is good in them 22and avoid the bad of whatever kind. [Or: ... utterances. Put everything to the test; keep hold of what is good and avoid every kind of evil.]

23May God himself, the God of peace, make you holy in every part, and keep you sound in spirit, soul, and body, without fault when our Lord Jesus Christ comes. 24He who calls you is to be trusted; he will do it.

25Brothers, pray for us also.

26Greet all our brothers with the kiss of peace.

27I adjure you by the Lord to have this letter read to the whole brotherhood.

28The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you!


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