Commentary on First Thessalonians
Chapter One
By Jonathan Mitchell

Jump to Chapter One, Two, Three, Four, Five

1. Paul, Silvanus (or: = Silas; D reads: Silbanos), and Timothy, to the called-out community of the Thessalonians within, and in union with, God our Father, even (or: and) [the] Lord Jesus Christ: grace and peace (or: joyous favor and harmony with the absence of conflict; = shalom [peace and prosperity]) to you [other MSS add: from God, our Father and Lord, Jesus Christ (or: God our Father, and {the} Owner, Jesus {the} Anointed)].

Paul begins by expressing solidarity with those with him, and that the ensuing message comes from all of them. As elsewhere, I have here rendered the phrases in which he refers to God and Jesus by giving two possible renderings of the Greek conjunction, "kai," which join them : "and" or "even." Was Paul regarding them as a unity, or as separate? When Jesus "ascended to the Father" (John 20:17), did He assume an identity and solidarity with Him as He said that He had with His brothers in Matt. 25:40? Did He take on the relationship with His People that Yahweh had with Israel?

As Yahweh styled Himself as the Husband of Israel, so does Christ have His People as His Bride. Is the anthropomorphic metaphor of "father" here, more one of functional relationship, as with husband/wife, rather than ontological relationship? If this were an ontological statement, does Paul mean that the Thessalonians were within, or in union with, only the Two of Them, and not with the Holy Spirit? Here, of course, I jest in making reference to Trinitarian theology. Recall that Paul said that he "travailed in birth again" for those of Galatia (Gal. 4:19). I suggest that we keep an open mind when reading such phrases as these in vs. 1. The Jews referred to Abraham as their father. Was Paul's Jewish background coming through here in showing high regard for Jesus by applying the term "Father" to Him?

2. We are continuously experiencing the well-being of grace in God, and are mindful of the favor of goodness and ease with God, always, which encircles and surrounds all of you (or: are constantly always expressing gratitude and feeling thankful to and for God concerning you all), continuously making mention of you folks upon our thinking and speaking towards things being well (or: remembering and being mindful of you people at [times of] our prayers) in regard to

Here the word "God" is in the dative case, without an expressed preposition, so I give you the possible functions of the dative: in God; with God; to God; for God. I also present two possible renderings of the verb "eu-charis-toumen," the first from the meaning of the elements of the word, the second from the common lexicons. Whether they "experienced" it, or whether they "gave" it, depends upon how we read this verb. I prefer the rendering "which encircles and surrounds" for the Greek "peri," to the secondary meaning of "concerning," but now you may choose, as the Spirit speaks to you.

In the last clause you are also given the literal meaning or "pros-eu-che" first, and the common rendering as "prayers" in the parenthetical expansion.

3. your incessantly remembering (or: being mindful, without leaving-off throughout,) of our Lord Jesus Christ's act of faith (process of trust; work from loyalty), wearisome smiting and toil of love, and persistent patient endurance from expectation, in front of our God and Father (or: ...upon our prayers, unceasingly mentioning, in the presence of our God and Father, the process of your faith {or: the work which is faith and trust} and love's exhausting toil {or: the hard labor which is love}, and [your] steadfast remaining under our Lord Jesus Christ's expectation {or: the hope and expectation which are our Lord Jesus, [the] Anointed}).

Vs. 3 contains a long string of prepositional phrases. The question arises from the syntax, Whose activities is being referred to: Christ's, as I first suggest, or the called-out group's, as given in the second rendering? The incessant remembering and being mindful was definitely the mental activity of the Thessalonians, but I believe that it was the work of Christ – His act of faith, the wearisome smiting and toil of love, and the persistent endurance from HIS expectation (i.e., the enduring of the cross for the joy set before Him – Heb. 12:2), in the presence of God, our Father – was what they were keeping before their thoughts and memories. The second option draws in the phrase from the previous verse and ties "of your" to the following phrases. Either accords with the syntax, but I think that my first rendering fits the Greek the best.

4. Brothers (= Fellow believers), folks having been and still being loved by God, knowing and perceiving your election (your being picked out; your being arranged, gathered or spoken out of the midst),

What a wonderful thing to know and perceive about ourselves, that we are in fact a product of His love, and that He still loves us and has picked us out for His purpose in our lives. We have been elected to serve humanity, to lay down our lives for them, and to inform them that they, too, have been loved by God (for God thus loves the world – John 3:16) and that He has a chosen purpose for them, as well.

5. how that the message the goodness of our God (or: our God's good news; the message of ease and well-being, which is God) was not birthed into you within word only, but rather also within power and ability, even within a set-apart Breath- effect (or: in union with [the] Holy Spirit; in the midst of [the] Sacred Breath), as well as in and by much full assurance and satisfaction from having been brought to full measure, according as you have seen and perceived (or: know; are aware). Of such sort we were birthed (produced; brought to be) among you for your sakes (because of you folks),

Note that the message CAME via a word (which was the Logos) which presented a thought, an idea, and a Person: Christ. But here Paul reminds them that this Word brought power and ability and came within a set-apart Breath-effect – the result of Its work – in union with the Holy Spirit. All of this brought an abundance of "full assurance" and satisfaction "from having been brought to FULL MEASURE," just as they had seen with perception. Paul and his associates had been "birthed" upon the scene and into their lives – and this was for THEIR sakes, to announce the message of goodness to them. With this birthing, a new relationship developed between them.

6. and within much pressure (or: squeezing; oppression) you were birthed (produced, made to be) imitators of us and of the Lord, receiving (taking into [your] hands) the Word (or: message; idea) with [the] joy of [the] Breath-effect (or: from [the] Holy Spirit; or: the Sacred Breath's joy),

7. so to produce and birth you as patterns (imprints; models) for all those continuously trusting and believing, while being loyal, within Macedonia and within Achaia.

Paul recalls that this came about in an environment of much pressure, but it produced them to be imitators of both Paul (and his associates) AND the Lord, as they received the message (the implanted Word) that was accompanied by the Holy Spirit's joy. The Thessalonians were now patterns and models – they were imprinted by Christ – for the trusting folks in Macedonia and Achaia. Those could look at them and see Christ!

We should notice that the Person, character and qualities of Christ is the pattern, the spiritual DNA, which is passed on from person to person, from generation to generation – as a grain of wheat that falls into the ground and dies, and then produces a lot more grains of wheat, all in the same likeness and with the same DNA.

8. You see, from you the Word of the Lord (or: [Yahweh’s or Christ’s] message) has been loudly sounded forth not only within Macedonia and in Achaia, but even within every place your faith toward God has gone forth, so that we have no need to be speaking anything!

The spreading of the reign of God is through the "founding forth of the Word – the message, which is the Christ – and they had done this, and thus was the seed and pattern spread to other areas who had heard of their life of faith. Thus, they had taken over for Paul and the others: a perfect example of the good news spreading through reproduction.

9. For they themselves are continuously reporting concerning us of what sort an entrance (or: introduction) we had toward you, and how you turned about toward God from the idols (forms; images seen; external appearances; pagan concepts and world views) to continuously be a slave to the living and true (or: real) God,

The work of the sent-forth folks has come full circle and is now being reported back to them that which involved they themselves and their work in Thessalonica. It is a report of changed lives that have by the Spirit been devoted to become slaves to the real God.

10. even to constantly dwell and remain (or: abide and lodge) back up again [with] His Son – [living] from out of the heavens! (or: His Son, whose origin is from the midst of the atmospheres) – Whom He raised from out of the midst of dead folks, Jesus, the One continuously and progressively drawing (or: repeatedly dragging) us to Himself from out of the midst of the repeatedly (or: periodically; continuously) coming violent emotion (inherent fervor; mental disposition of teeming desire; passionate impulse; or: anger; internal teeming & agitation; outburst of rage; wrath).

These folks now lived in the heavens (the atmosphere), having returned to their source, Christ, Who continuously inhabits our atmosphere. Their physical existence had not moved, but their spirits and attitudes had. They were now citizens of the Jerusalem which is above, who is their mother (Gal. 4:26).

Note that Paul identifies God's Son, the Christ, as Jesus. He is the One that is continuously and progressively drawing and dragging us to Himself from out of the midst of the situations of violent emotion, inherent fervor, etc., that is repeatedly and periodically coming. It was then presently coming to them, coming progressively closer with the passing days. But it is something that habitually comes, to test, try and bring improvements to people – just as it did with Job. This is no "once at the end of the world" thing, as history has shown us. It constantly comes and goes (the Greek "erchomai" means both to come and to go."

Jump to Chapter One, Two, Three, Four, Five

Commentary on First Thessalonians
Chapter Two
By Jonathan Mitchell

1. For you yourselves have perceived (know; are aware), brothers (= fellow members of the Body), that our entrance (or: way into; introduction) toward you has not been produced, birthed or come to be empty (without contents; = useless or without results),

2. but rather, after previously experiencing ill treatment and being outraged (subjected to insolent, riotous, or insulting behavior) in Philippi, according as you are aware, we spoke freely and boldly – publicly, as is the right of citizens – within, and in union with, our God, [proceeding at once] to utter God's message of goodness (or: the good news from God; the message of ease and well-being, which is God) toward you in the midst of much striving (conflict; arguing; or: within a large stadium or racecourse; or: in much agony of struggle).

Their original work had been productive, as is now evidenced by the state of faith and trust among the Thessalonians, but that work was done amidst conflict and arguing, including agony (probably of spirit) and struggle. But Paul reminds them that his group had acted with the privilege of citizens who could boldly speak what they had to say, and as always it was the message of God's goodness. This was probably new to those who only knew the pagan gods, or even to Jews who may have been taught (like most Christians) that God is full of wrath.

3. You see, our calling alongside to assist (our admonition and encouragement; our work as paracletes) [is] not out of wandering (being led astray; deception), neither out of uncleanness, nor yet within a bait for entrapping or with guile or craftiness,

The promise of the coming of the Holy Spirit had been termed by Jesus as the coming of another Comforter. The Greek word for this is "parakletos," or in English, "paraclete." Paul uses this word often, showing that upon receiving the "Paraclete" he and others like him became the same, doing the work of giving assistance, encouragement, etc.

They had operated with good form as upstanding representatives of Christ, without any ulterior motives. They were not what is today called "a cult." They were not trying to get them under their control by entrapment or "mind games" or "guilt trips" of a moralistic religion. Paul never preached anything about a "hell" or "endless torment" to use the guile of fear. His message was GOOD news.

4. but rather, to the degree that and according as we have been approved by testing under God to be entrusted [with] the message of goodness and well-being, thus we are continuously speaking: not as constantly pleasing to people, but rather [as] to the God [Who is] repeatedly testing our hearts!

Vs. 4 makes an interesting point: testing under God in order to be approved to be entrusted with God's message. Now elsewhere, Paul does not say that he had been tested by a committee of people. No group or denomination "gave them papers" to be able to do that were doing, but they affirm that God had tested and approved them. The fruit of their ministry is their proof.

Not having to please people (those who "sent people out," as it is today, to whom they have to conform, in order for them to get financial support), but rather, even as they did the work God was repeatedly testing their hearts – to be sure of pure motives, no doubt.

5. For neither did we at any time come to be flattering in word, according as you are aware, neither within a pretense which comes from greed: God is witness!

They did not speak dishonestly to try to win them or being their friends. Neither did they not try to get their offerings, nor were they selling something. Apparently this type of thing happened then, as well as today – thus this disclaimer.

6. Neither [are we] continuously seeking glory (or: a reputation) from among people (humans) – neither from you, nor from others – all the while being able [to be] burdensome (or: as constantly having power in weighty [matters]), as representatives of Christ (or: emissaries of [the] Anointed One).

They were not trying to build their kingdom or ministries. They were not trying to become famous. They could have become a financial burden to them, expecting the Thessalonians to support them – but they did not. They could have demonstrated their capacity to impress the people with their knowledge of the Scriptures or of philosophy – but they didn't. As His emissaries, they simply presented Christ to them.

7. But rather, we were birthed babes (infants; [other MSS: made to become gentle and kind ones]) within the midst of you folks, as whenever a nursing mother would continuously impart warmth to her own children.

Note the dual role which they played: they came as little children of the kingdom (infants; or, with the other MSS, gentle and kind folks), while at the same time mothering them with tenderness and nurturing. What a picture.

8. Thus, continuously being affectionately considerate of you, we were habitually delighted (thinking it good; well-pleased) to share or impart to you not only God's message of goodness and well-being [other MSS: the good news which is Christ], but rather even our own souls (inner beings and lives), because you have been birthed (or: come to be) beloved ones to us (or: folks loved by us; or: = very dear to and appreciated by us).

Paul and his associates saw themselves as one with the community, in total solidarity. They became family to Paul, and he was happy to share all of his inner being, his whole self, with them. This is just the opposite of the titled speakers who keep a distance from the audience. This was an organic relationship.

9. For you are remembering, brothers (= fellow believers), our wearisome labor and hardship of toil, continuously working night and day towards not being burdensome (or: a weight) upon any of you, [and] after the manner of a herald we proclaimed God's message of goodness (the good news from God; or: the message of ease and well-being which is God) into the midst of (or: unto) you folks.

10. You and God [are] witnesses how appropriately and loyally (or: benignly; in accord with universal law), justly (or: fairly), and blamelessly we were caused to be to you (or: for you folks), the ones continuously trusting and believing.

11. With reference to which you have seen and are aware of how [we treated] each one of you folks, continually calling you alongside to give assistance and relief, exhort or encourage (perform as a paraclete), as well as speaking gentle influence and comfort at your side, as a father [to] his own children,

12. even continuously giving evidence (witnessing; confirming by testimony) unto you folks to be continuously walking about worthily of the God (= living your lives in a manner equal in value with regard to the God) [Who is] continuously calling (or: repeatedly inviting) you people into His own kingdom (or: reign; sovereign influence and activity) and glory (or: a manifestation which calls forth praise; or: reputation; or: opinion and imagination; or: = manifest presence).

Vs. 9-12 need little comment. He stresses their former deportment among them, and how they performed actual work to earn their own sustenance – as well as heralding the message of well-being, which message is God Himself, coming to them. This parenthetical expansion demonstrates the genitive of apposition. God comes in His Word. Or, taken as an ablative, it can be simply "the good news from God."

He calls them to witness, along with God, their appropriate, loyal, fair and blameless behavior to these believers, and how they ministered aid and performed as paracletes to them – now acting like being their fathers. They were all things to them. Then he reminds them of how he and the others had repeatedly given evidence to them, so that they would lives their lives in the way that corresponded to how they valued God, reminding them that God was continuously and progressively calling them to be a part of His sovereign influence and activities, and so reflect His glorious reputation among other folks. Since "doxa" can mean "opinion" and "imagination," as well as "glory," it would seem that they and we are also invited to participate in His imagination, and share in His opinions.

13. And so, on account of this, we also continuously give thanks to God (or: affirm the goodness of the grace and favor in God) by an unvarying practice (or: unintermittently), because in receiving (or: taking to [your] side; accepting) a word or message – the source of which is hearing from us – you receive from God. You welcomingly accepted not a word of people (or: a human message), but rather, according as it truly is, a word of God (God's message; a thought which is God), Which (or: Who) also (or: even) is continuously in-working (being active; operating; energizing) within you folks – those continuously trusting and progressively believing with loyalty.

Note here Paul's reference to an "unvarying practice," or, "unintermittently" giving thanks and affirming God's goodness and favor. This was a way of life for him, a way of being. It calls to mind the LXX version of Ps. 150:6, "Let every breath praise the Lord [= Yahweh]."

Next he goes on to affirm that the word and message that they brought was in fact from God – and they "welcomingly accepted" it as such. Their hearts had been opened by God, and they accepted the evidence spoken of in vs. 12. They did not question it, as the Pharisees had questioned the word of Jesus.

Now Paul affirms that this very Logos (Christ, His thought and idea) is continuously in- working, being active, operating and energizing within them. Can we grab hold of this concept? That Christ, the Logos is continuously working within us? That His thought and His idea is active and operating within us? This is what the new heavens and the new earth (the new creation) is like. We are joined to God who lives within us!

14. For you, brothers (= fellow believers), were birthed (or: were made to be) imitators of God's called-out folks (or: summoned forth communities) – the ones within Christ being (or: existing) in Judea – because you also at one point experienced (or: suffered) the very same things by (or: under) your own fellow- tribesmen, just as they also [did] by (or: under) the Jews,

Here is an interesting characteristic and attribute of being an imitator of God's called-out folks: suffering and experiencing mal-treatment from the local religious folks. Today, it is mostly in the form of social ostracism in America, but in other countries it is the same today as it was back then. So if we would imitate God's called-out folks, we should expect opposition.

15. even from those killing-off the Lord Jesus, as well as the prophets; even from those driving us out and continuously displeasing God, and from folks contrary to (or: in opposition against) all humanity (or: people),

16. while continuously forbidding us (cutting us off; preventing us) to speak to the nations (the ethnic groups; the non-Israelite multitudes; the Gentiles) – to the end that they may be delivered (saved; rescued; healed and made whole) – always [proceeding] unto that which fills up their own failures (errors; deviations; sins)! But inherent fervor (or: swelling passion; teeming desire; or: anger; wrath; agitation of soul) advanced upon them unto a purpose (or: on into [the] final act; or: in the end; on into the midst of a Goal).

Such persecution involved things that were "contrary to all humanity." We do hear of this today. The Jews had tried to silence Christ's body and messengers. They wanted to stamp out what they considered to be "this new religion." They were not concerned about "the nations... [being] delivered," unless they became proselytes. They were concerned with their own traditions and their own culture. But Paul call this persecution "that which fills up their own failures, deviations and sins," and Jesus prophesied their end in Matt. 24 and Lu. 21, along with many of His parables that were directed against the Jewish leadership. Here Paul prophesies of what was to come: God's inherent fervor and teeming desire for His beloved people and Jerusalem. They would be destroyed, but for a purpose, with a goal in view, their ultimate end being grafted back into their own olive tree (Rom. 11:24).

17. Now we, brothers, being deprived (or: orphaned; bereaved; torn-away) from you for a fitting situation of an hour (or: for an hour's season; = for a short spell, during a specific situation) – by face (= in presence), not by or in heart – we more exceedingly made diligent haste to see your face, in much full desire!

18. On that account we intended (purposed, willed) to come toward you – indeed I, Paul, once, even twice – and the adversary (or: "the accuser;" = the enemy or opposer; satan; [note: perhaps a code name for the hostile Jews, as in Rev. 2:9 and 3:9]) struck within us (cut in on us; = cut across our path; or: travailed and wearily toiled among us).

Opposition constantly dogged Paul's heels, as the Jews followed him and tried to block his progress. As Jesus spoke to Peter with the term "adversary (satan)," so I suggest the figurative use of the word here, or the actual use, if we see that the Greek "satan" was a transliteration of the Heb. word that meant adversary, opponent or accuser. All this fits what the Jews were doing to Paul.

19. For who (or: what) is our expectation (or: expectant hope) or joy, or shall be a crown (victor's wreath; encirclement) of boasting and glorying in front of our Lord Jesus, in His presence (or: in the place facing toward our Master, Jesus, within the midst of His being present alongside [us]), if not even you folks?

20. For you see, you yourselves are our glory (or: our reputation; our manifestation which calls forth praise) and joy!

He changes the theme away from himself and his troubles, and like the joy set before Jesus (Heb. 12:2), he expresses the same to them: they are his reward and reason for boasting and glorying "in His presence" – and he was at that time doing so "in His presence." The fruit of our labors in the Lord is our glory. Folks often seek to have His glory to come upon them, but the Thessalonians were Paul's and his associates' glory and joy – as they were God's glory. Recall the solidarity of Jesus with His brothers (family) in Matt. 25:40. These folks were Christ's glory – His manifestation of Himself in them, which called forth praise. They brought a reputation to God, and even the towns around them heard it.

Jump to Chapter One, Two, Three, Four, Five

Commentary on First Thessalonians
Chapter Three
By Jonathan Mitchell

1. Wherefore (or: For this reason), no longer keeping a lid on [our desires] (or: bearing it no longer), we thought it a good idea to be left down alone in Athens,

2. and then sent Timothy, our brother and God's fellow-worker in Christ's message of ease and goodness, to perhaps set you firmly (make you stable) and possibly call you alongside (to aid, encourage, exhort, console and give relief) over the [situation] of your trust and faith (or: loyalty),

3. that no one be continuously wagged as a tail (= shaken or agitated) within these pressures (contractions, constrictions; oppressions), for you yourselves have seen and are aware that we are continually laid into (= repeatedly destined and set for) this!

Consider in vs. 1 that they seem to have been led by what came to them as a good idea. Nothing "hyper-spiritual," it just seemed to be a good idea to stay in Athens, and to send Timothy to Thessalonica. They could see the practical need of these folks being made stable and firmly set in this message of ease and goodness. Recall that Jesus said that His yoke was easy and His burden light (by comparison to what the Jewish religion put on people). The human tendency is to try to make himself good or right before God. The message of grace can seem too good to be true, so they wanted Timothy to be a paraclete to them, over the situation of their faith, trust and loyalty – i.e., their life in God.

They did not want others to come and "wag them as a tail" with Judaism or any "works religion." They did not want them turning to the Law from pressures from the Jews. They did not want them to establish any religion, not even a moralistic one, but to live in spirit and in truth – which conforms to the ease and rest of God. So Paul reminds them, in vs. 3, that he and his partners are committed to their support, in fact "laid into this."

4. You see, even when we were with you we were predicting (telling beforehand) to you that, "we are about to be continuously pressed (or: squeezed)," just as it was even birthed (or: also came to be), and you have seen and know.

A squeezing pressure seems to be the constant environment of a follower of Christ.

5. On account of this I also, no longer keeping a lid on [my desires] (= when I could bear it no longer), sent to find out about your faith, trust and loyalty, lest (or: in case) somehow the One continuously putting [folks] to the proof (or: the trier; [note: this could refer to God, or to one of His instruments, as with Job]) put you to the proof (tried or tested you), and our wearisome labor (striking, cutting, travail) may be birthed into a void (or: come to be [entered] into an empty place; or: exist in vain; = be to no purpose).

Paul expresses their concern for these folks and wants to know how they are doing under the pressure which has come to test and purify them (Mal. 3:2-3). He does not want them to be overcome, be discouraged or to quit, and without support this can happen. They were still young in Christ, but the testing and proving begins early, in childhood, so that His character will be formed in each one. Consider Heb. 12:4-11, where the writer quotes Prov. 3:11-12,

"My son, do not be neglecting (giving little care to) the Lord's discipline (education; child-training), neither be exhausted (dissolved; = fall apart) while being continually scrutinized or convicted (exposed and put to the test; or: reproved) by (or: under) Him, for whom the Lord [= Yahweh] is loving, He is continuously and progressively educating (or: disciplining; child-training), and He is periodically scourging every son whom He is taking alongside with His hands (accepting; receiving)."
6. Yet at the present moment, Timothy, upon coming to us from you and announcing the good news to us of your faith and love, [said] that you always continuously hold (or: have) a good remembrance of us, continuously having strong desire to see us – even as we also you!

7. On account of this, brothers (= folks who are as family), on [the occasions of] all our choking necessity and pressure, through the ministry of a paraclete (or: the Paraclete) we were comforted and encouraged about your faith, trust and loyalty,

8. so that now we can be living, since you continue standing in (and: in union with) the Lord.

9. For now, what gratitude (or: expression of the goodness of grace and favor) we continue able to give back to God in return – concerning you folks, upon [the occasion of] all the joy for which (or: in which) we are continually rejoicing because of you – before (or: in front of; in the place facing toward and in the presence of) our God

10. while night and day, over-excessively repeatedly begging regarding our need to see your face (= to see you face to face), and then to freshly adjust to correspondence (or: thoroughly equip, fit, knit together, mend and bring into agreement) the things lacking (the shortcomings or deficiencies) of your faith and with regard to your trust!

11. But our God and Father Himself, even our Lord Jesus, might suddenly make [note: verb is 3rd person singular; = He might guide] our road (path; way) straight toward (or: to) you.

Vs. 6-11 are expressions of their emotional involvement with those at Thessalonica. Timothy had brought back good news of their faith, love and desire to see Paul and company. This brought comfort and encouragement, to the point that Paul says, "so that now we can be living" since he hears that they "continue standing in the Lord." Obviously Paul and his friends had put heart and soul into these folks. This brings a response of gratitude to God, in joy expressing His goodness and grace to them all, which then leads to a request that they might see their face through a personal visit. As I noted in the text, the subject (God the Father – Lord Jesus) is singular, as shown by the verb.

12. Now the Lord [=Yahweh or Christ] might at some point make you increase (or: be more than enough; be augmented; [note: in quality and/or quantity]), even to be abundantly furnished (to super-abound) by love (or: to love; for love; in love; with love) into each other and into everyone (or: all mankind), even as we also into you,

13. to establish (fix; set fast) your hearts blameless and without defect (or: to make stable your unblamable hearts) in separateness (or: holiness; sacredness) in front of our God and Father, within the presence of our Lord Jesus with all His set-apart folks (holy peoples; separated ones).

You will note in my translation that I frequently insert "[= Yahweh or Christ]" after the word "Lord." This is because the LXX, which is frequently quoted in the NT, uses the word "Lord" in place of the Heb. Yahweh. So when "Lord" is used by itself, the writer could be referring either to Jesus Christ, or to Yahweh. They did not suddenly divorce themselves from Yahweh when Christ came on the scene. It was Yahweh Elohim Who was considered to be the Father of Jesus.

In vs. 12-13 Paul speaks into their lives that the "Lord" might at some point make them increase and even abundantly be furnished "by love." "Love" is in the dative case, so it could also read that they would super-abound "in love, to love, for love or with love." Love can be the instrument of their increase; love can attend their increase; love can be that within which they increase; love can be the goal for which they would increase. All of these aspects of their prophesied increase may be the reason why Paul did not specify a preposition before the word "love."

And note the interweaving of this love, in solidarity: "into each other and into everyone" (or, seeing the broader vision of the goal of this increase in, with, by, for love: "into all mankind"), and then, "even as we also INTO you." This is an organic network, an intertwining Vine of love, as their "branches run over the wall" (Gen. 49:22).

This increase in, with, by and for love is intended "to establish, fix and set fast [their] hearts [the source of love] blameless and without defect," in an environment of separateness (sacredness) "in front of God our Father," which is also to say, "within the presence of our Lord Jesus."

But note what he goes on to say, "... with all His set-apart folks (holy peoples; separated ones)." Aside from the inclusiveness of this statement, where is he indicating, that the place or environment exists, where these Thessalonians are in front of the Father, in the presence of our Lord Jesus, and with all His set-apart folks?

Is he indicating that their growth and love is demonstrated before all the other called-out congregations which hear about it? Is he meaning that Jesus is present with all these congregations and communities? Is he saying that the Father and Jesus, being in heaven, are seeing this that is occurring on the earth?

Does he mean that love is a matter of the spirit, and that they, like what Paul said in Eph. 2:6, are seated together in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus? Is this a reference to Heb. 12:1, and that the saints referred to here are the "cloud of witnesses"? I'm just asking. May the Spirit speak to you about this.

Jump to Chapter One, Two, Three, Four, Five

Commentary on First Thessalonians
Chapter Four
By Jonathan Mitchell

1. The remainder (What is left; or: Finally), then, brothers (= fellow believers), we are continuously asking and calling you alongside to encourage, exhort and comfort you folks in the Lord Jesus, according as you took to your side (or: received) from us how (or: in what manner) it is binding [for; upon] you to normally walk about (= live your lives) and to be continuously pleasing to God – just as you are even now continuously walking about – to the end that you may continuously be abundant (to have all around; to exist in full quantity) to a greater extent.

2. For you have seen and are aware what instructions (messages alongside) we gave to you through the Lord Jesus.

It is evident that the message of God's goodness and ease came with some practical instructions about their daily living, and that Paul repeatedly refers to "calling [them] alongside to encourage, exhort and comfort" them in this way of life. Jesus gave many instructions on kingdom living, as for example, in Matt. 5-7. Vs. 1 here says that "it is binding for, or upon, [them] to normally live" this way so as to be "continuously pleasing God." The verses that follow speak to some general categories that are qualities of "rightwised living," or, "living in accord to the Way (Christ) pointed out."

Yet this is not another "law" that they are to live by, but rather, he just giving examples of living by what in Rom. 8:2 he called "the law of Life's spirit, etc.,"

"For the principle and law of, and which is, the spirit of 'The Life within Christ Jesus' (or: For you see, the Law of Life’s spirit, joined with [the] Anointing of Jesus; or: For the Spirit’s law of life within Christ Jesus; or: the Law from the Breath-effect, which is Life in union with [the] Anointed Jesus)frees you away from the Law of the Sin (or: the principle of failure and the missing of the target; the code of behavior that produces error; the principle of deviation from the goal) and the Death (or: immediately set you [other MSS: me] free from the law that deals with and has the character of sin and death)."
3. You see, this is the will (intent, purpose) of God: your state of being set apart from the common use or condition (or: holiness; sacredness) – you are to continuously hold yourself from (be distant from; abstain from) all of the prostitution [note: figuratively the worship of idols or false religions].

Here is a clear statement of God's will, intent, and purpose for us: our state of being set apart from the common use or condition. This clause gives the literal meaning of what has become a religious term, "holiness." The term "sacredness," although also a religious term, has in recent decades been used in a more general way to express the value of life and creation as special beyond mere utility.

Thus, we should hold ourselves away from prostitution, in any of its forms, which makes our lives common and utilitarian, stripping it of its sacredness – as well as breaking covenant with our mates, in the realm of marriage. But this was a term that the O.T. writers used of Israel (Isa. 1:21; Hosea 1, 2, etc.), when they turned away from following Yahweh, and participated in pagan religions, worshiping idols. So Paul is also referring to remaining faithful to the true God through Jesus Christ.

4. Each one of you [is] to have seen and thus learned how and be aware of his own equipment (gear; utensils; instruments; vessel; = means of making a living), to progressively acquire (procure for one's self) in set-apartness (or: holiness) and honor (value, worth),

5. not in a feeling of excessive desire (or: in union with an experience of full-rushing passion), just as also the nations (ethnic multitudes; non-Israelites) [do] who, having not perceived, do not know (aren't aware of; aren't acquainted with) God.

Note here that Paul contrasts the excessive desire of the ethnic multitudes (or, "nations," the term being a figure that is contrasted to a people who have perceived God's way to live) to making a living and procuring goods "in set-apartness, or holiness." To do the latter is to do so without excessive desire. Doing so in "honor" means to live honestly, valuing the customer, one's society and the environment. Paul's theology is very "this-worldly."

6. Thus, no one is to be continuously overstepping and have more (hold advantage) in his brother's affair (doing; transaction; matter; = cheat his fellow believers in business dealings), because [the] Lord [= Yahweh or Christ] [is] a maintainer of right (an executor of justice) concerning all these things, according as we also said to you before and gave witness (testimony) throughout.

The phrase "a maintainer of right (an executor of justice)" is from the same word family from which we get "righteousness," or as I translate this, "being pointed in the right direction; or: the Way pointed out, which is fairness and equity in rightwised relationships." Paul is saying that the Lord cares about how we do business, and about our relationship with other people. Thus does He judge us according to our works and actions. Life in His reign is much more than just believing that Jesus is the Christ, it involves living as the Christ – which is done by reckoning ourselves dead with Christ and raised up with Him, the life we live being His life living within us: Christ in us, living His life as us.

7. For God did not call us on the basis of uncleanness (or: does not invite us [to be] on [a path lived in] a soiled condition or a dirty environment), but rather within the sphere of set-apartness (or: holiness; sacredness).

I think that it is noteworthy that Paul uses the word "uncleanness" in the context of how we live our lives in relation to other folks' business and personal affairs, and specifically in having an advantage over others. It is in the aspects of daily living in solidarity with humanity and our interactions with them that we are called to be set-apart from the System's perspectives, attitudes and way of doing business. These areas are areas for the expression of love.

8. Consequently, then, the person continuously setting aside (or: displacing) is not setting aside (or: does not displace) a human, but God, even the One continuously giving His Sacred Breath into us (or: repeatedly imparting His Spirit, the Holy One, unto us; constantly gifting His set-apart Breath-effect [to flow] into us).

Thus we see a strong affirmation of God's solidarity with humanity: how you treat others is how you are in this same act treating God. The last clause of this verse is similar to what Paul said in Acts 17:25,

"... He Himself being the One constantly giving to all people (or: all things) life and breath and all things (or: everything; the whole [universe])!"
9. But now concerning loving one like a brother (or: brotherly love; = fondness for fellow believers), we have no need to continually write to you, for you yourselves are folks continuously taught by God (God-taught ones) to continuously love each other,

10. for you are even continuously doing this unto all of those brothers within the whole of Macedonia. But we are constantly calling you alongside (to encourage, urge, exhort and comfort you), brothers, to continuously be abundant (or: to have [it] in full quantity) to a greater extent (= to overflow in it even more)

11. and then to habitually be fond of honor and value [and] to be repeatedly quiet (or: to be progressively ambitious to live in settled peace), and by habit to be engaged (or: involved) in your own affairs (or: matters), and then to constantly work with your own hands (idiom: = work at it actively), according as we commanded to you.

12. to the intent that you may continuously walk about in good form (= live your life respectably) toward those without (with a view to outsiders; = face to face with those not a part of your community), and then you would continually have need of nothing.

Vs. 9-12 are an admonition to the virtues of love, honor, value and living in good form. He acknowledges that they presently do this, but that there can be a progression in these "to a greater extent." He also points out in vs. 9 that God has taught them to do this, and other things not mentioned, for they are "God-taught ones." Thus we see that God does not only teach us through Scripture, or through teaching and preaching. There is also his encouragement that they would progressively have an ambition to live in settled peace and that they would work actively at being "engaged in [their] own affairs." This is considered to be in good form, and will result in their having need of nothing.

But to what extent should we just focus on our own affairs? The answer to this question can have political and international implication. As in all things, the answer lies in love and the leading of God's Spirit. It also lies in our capabilities, as the Lord supplies. But I think that Paul's main thrust in these words is that we not be meddlers, and leave Another's servant to stand before Him.

The next section of this letter turns from practical advice of daily living to concerns about the dead, and their relationship to the eschatological expectations that those in Thessalonica were entertaining.

13. Now then, we are not wanting (or: willing, intending) you to continue ignorant, brothers, concerning the folks who are from time to time falling asleep [other MSS: those having been put to sleep (= passed away; died), and continuing made to be sleeping], to the intent that you may not continuously be made to be sad or sorrowful according as even (or: just like also) the rest (the ones remaining or left), the folks continuously having no expectation (or: hope).
So first of all, there should be no sadness or sorrow about folks who are from time to time dying. Their attitude and world-view should not be that of either the Jewish world or that of the pagans – those who were without an expectation about those who died.
14. For you see, if we habitually believe that Jesus died and arose (or: stood up again), thus (in this manner) also, through Jesus, God will be leading together, with Him, the folks being made to sleep.

First of all we see that when Jesus is on the move, these dead folks are lead together with Him. So the question is: when does this happen?

15. For this we are continuously saying to you in a word of the Lord (or: in the Lord's Word; in a message which is [the] Lord; or: in union with an idea from [our] Owner), that we, the presently living (or: the ones continuing to live) – the folks presently continuing to be left around unto the presence of the Lord (or: into the midst of the Lord's presence) – can by no means advance before (precede; have advantage over; outstrip) the folks being made to sleep,

Thus, they can be assured about these dead folks, that those then presently living, who "in a word from the Lord," were to be continuing to be left around unto "the presence of the Lord" would by no means precede or have advantage over those that were presently dead. The question is then, what is meant by "the presence of the Lord"? Vs. 16 gives an indication:

16. because the Lord [= Yahweh or Christ] Himself will descend from [the] atmosphere (or: heaven) within (or: in union with) a shout of command, within the midst of [the] Chief Agent's (or: an original messenger's; or: a chief and ruling agent’s; or: [the] beginning messenger’s) voice, and within (or: in union with) God’s trumpet [note: figure of a message or a directive for action], and the dead people within Christ (or: in union with [the] Anointed One) will raise themselves up (or: will stand up again) first (or: in first place).

"The presence (Greek: par-ousia – 'being alongside') of the Lord" in this context means an eschatological event which Paul describes in apocalyptic images. First of all we need to consider the word "heaven" which also means "the atmosphere of the earth." Recall that we are presently seated in heavenly places, or atmospheric spheres. If we take the meaning of "ouranos" as "atmosphere," the implication is that this realm and sphere is right here, and even touches the earth at all times. Consider that vs. 17 refers to this place as being in "the midst of air," the realm of "clouds." I suggest that the idea of "descending" is a relative term that signifies God's specific intervention and involvement in the life of the "earth realm," as compared to the life in the spirit.

His descending is within the midst of, and in union with, "a shout of command, within the midst of [the] Chief, or a Ruling Agent's, voice." This Ruling Agent would either be Christ Himself, or it would be someone, or a composite group, that is at this time speaking for Him, is His Name and authority, and He descends to us within that voice. He goes on to describe this as "God's trumpet," which is a figure of a message. So His message comes, and Christ is encountered within that message. The result is the dead folks raise themselves up (the voice of the verb is "middle"), or, will stand up again, and this speaks of resurrection.

Here we enter another much debated topic. Jesus said "I am the resurrection and the life" (John 11:25). Paul made other significant statements:

Thus you folks, also, be constantly accounting (logically considering; reckoning) yourselves to exist being dead ones, indeed, by the failure to hit the target (or: in the Sin; to the deviation), yet ones continuously living by God (in God; for God; to God; with God), within Christ Jesus, our Owner" (Rom. 6:11)

So we are to logically consider ourselves to exist being dead, which would put us in the category of those in vs. 16, above, who were then "sleeping," and yet at the same time continuously living by and in God (having been joined to Christ in His death and resurrection – Rom. 6:4-5).

”even us, being continuously dead ones by (or: in; to; for) the stumblings aside (wrong steps; offences) He made alive together by (or: joins us in common life with and in; [p46, B: within; in union with]) the Christ – by Grace and joyous favor you continually exist, being folks having been delivered (rescued and saved, so that you are now safe; made whole)! – and He jointly roused and raised (or: suddenly awakens and raises) [us] up, and caused [us] to sit (or: seats [us]) together within the things situated upon [thus, above] the heavens (or: in union with the full, perfected heavenlies; or, although neuter: among those comprising the complete and perfected heavenlies; among the ones [residing] upon the atmospheres; in union with the celestials) within and in union with Christ Jesus," (Eph. 2:5-6).

Another consideration is Paul's words in 2 Cor. 1:9 where he uses the present tense of continual or repeated action in the verb "raises": "upon the God Who is continually (habitually; repeatedly; or: presently) awakening and raising up the dead ones!"

We should also keep in mind that in Christ, the bearer of the New Being, there is a new creation,

"Consequently, since someone [is] within Christ (or: if anyone [is] in union with [the] Anointed One), [there is] a new creation (or: [it is] a framing and founding of a different kind; [he or she is] an act of creation having a fresh character and a new quality): the original things (the beginning [situations]; the archaic and primitive [arrangements]) passed by (or: went to the side). Consider! New things have come into existence (have been birthed; or: It has become new things; or: He has been birthed and now exists being ones of a different kind, character and quality)." (2 Cor. 5:17).
17. Thereupon (or: After that; As a next step) we, the presently living folks, the ones presently continuing to be left around, will – at the same time, together with them – be seized and snatched away within clouds (or: carried off by force, in union with clouds,) into the midst of [the] air [note: this would be in the earth's lower atmosphere, the place where there is air] – into the Lord's meeting ([Christ’s or Yahweh’s] encounter). And thus (in this way and such a manner) shall we always be (or: exist at all times) together with [the] Lord [= Christ or Yahweh].

Paul here is speaking of an event that those then living, "we," would experience: being "seized and snatched away within clouds into the midst of [the] air." Most of Christianity believes this to be a future event, and some have considered Paul to have been misguided to have expected it to happen in the then near future. But others, among them those of the preterist paradigm, believe that this happened when the Lord returned to Jerusalem in judgment, both through the agency of the Romans and in a literal "snatching away" and resurrection during the period of AD 65-70.

It should be noted that Paul did not say that the Lord would take everyone off to heaven, but that they would be with Him "in [the] air." Thus would they be in our atmosphere – close enough to touch. That, of course, is putting a literal spin on the interpretation of his words. A figurative interpretation – since he spoke in apocalyptic terms of a shout, the blowing of a trumpet, and descending – would speak of the joining of the heavens and the earth in the realm of spirit, and thus catching folks up into realm of spirit, similar to the descending of the New Jerusalem as symbolically pictured in Rev. 21:2, and its existence upon earth in ch. 22. This, of course, was a figurative description of the Lamb's wife (21:9), the bride of Christ, God's tabernacle (= His temple, His body) dwelling with humanity (21:3).

I should also point out that this same word "seized and snatched away" is used in Matt. 11:12 in the context of the reign of the heavens, where I render it as "grasping it and drawing it up,"

"Now from the days of John the Immerser until right now, the reign of the heavens (or: sovereign rule of the kingdom of the atmospheres) is itself continuously pressing (or: is progressively pressing and forcing itself) forward with urgency, and those urging and pressing forward [toward the goal] are constantly grasping it and drawing it up [to themselves]."
18. So that (or: Consequently) you must constantly call each other alongside to give relief, encouragement and comfort, as a paraclete, within these words (or: thoughts; reasons).

This would have been a real comfort to them, and so it can be to us, since He is repeatedly coming to us and walking among us (pictured as lampstand, among which He constantly walks: Rev. 1:20 and 2:1). Note that the One who constantly, or repeatedly, walks among us speaks with "a great voice (or: = a loud sound), as of a trumpet..." (Rev. 1:10).

Jump to Chapter One, Two, Three, Four, Five

Commentary on First Thessalonians
Chapter Five
By Jonathan Mitchell

1. But concerning the times and the fitting situations (or: specific seasons or occasions; fertile periods; mature moments), brothers (= fellow believers), you have no need [for it] to be continually written to you

2. for you yourselves are accurately aware (know exactly from having seen) that a day of the Lord [= Yahweh] thus continually comes (is habitually and repeatedly coming; is presently coming) as a thief in a night (or: within [the] night).

Now the day of Yahweh was a term that figured a time of judging and of hard times, in the Old Testament; e.g., see Joel 1:15 and 2:1-2; Jer. 30:7; Amos 5:18; Zeph. 1:14-18. Here Paul continues using the figures of "a day of the Lord," and "a thief at night." It would be a time of dark days – trouble. This letter being written about AD 50, he might have been speaking prophetically of what was to begin in about 15 years. This phrase indicates a special visitation from God where He intervenes in the affairs of humanity. Note that this occurrence periodically or continually comes: it is not a one time, "end of the world" event.

Paul had just described it as the Lord's "presence" (Greek: "par-ousia," i.e., "being alongside") in ch. 4:15, and referred to it as an "encounter" or a "meeting." Having this now connected with the O.T. term "day of the Lord" would seem to indicate that it is a time of decision and change (or: judging, as in O.T. times) along with a time of higher experience (air/clouds, which figure "spirit") and a forceful snatching away ("harpazo," ch. 4:17), in union with clouds, for His people. This word was used in regard to "the kingdom of the atmospheres" in Matt. 11:12. Vs. 1, here, tells us that Paul must have already described the situations or occasions that would signal this period, for they were aware of this.

3. So whenever they may be repeatedly saying, "Peace and security from falling (or: safety; stability)," then (at that time) sudden and unexpected ruin (or: a surprise of destruction) is presently standing upon them, just as the birth-pang for the pregnant woman (or: to the one having [a child] in the womb), and they may by no means flee out or make an escape.

Here he points to political and social upheaval, and possibly war. They would be aware of its gathering, just as a woman who is long pregnant usually knows the season of when to expect birth-pangs. And Paul's use of this metaphor may also point to an expectation of a new situation being "birthed." Once it begins, there is no escaping its coming.

4. Yet you yourselves, brothers (= believers), are not continuously in darkness, to the end that the day may (or: would) suddenly take you down (grasp or seize you in a corresponding manner) as a thief,

So here Paul assures them that they have the light of this knowledge and won't be surprised. Furthermore, they are not living in the realm of darkness (figured by the conditions and deeds spoken of in Rev. 22:15) which exists outside their called-out community, for the New Jerusalem (a figure of God's people in the new reality and kingdom – see Gal. 4:26) has light (Rev. 22:5) and is a light for the ethnic multitudes and nations that are not yet a part of the City (Rev. 21:23- 26). The Thessalonians are the light of the dominating System (or: world – Matt. 5:14) in their area.

5. for you see, you all are (or: exist being) sons of (= associated with and having the qualities of) Light and sons of (= associated with and having qualities of) Day! We are not (or: do not exist) of night, nor of darkness (or: we do not belong to or have the characteristics of night, nor to or of darkness).

This shows that a change has come – old things had passed away. The darkness can refer both to ignorance, and to the old religious systems of Judaism or the pagan religions. But it also refers to the coming dark clouds of judgment, that would soon approach them, as well as the Jerusalem which was of the earth and in slavery to Mount Sinai – the Law (Gal 4:25), putting out the light of the old Jewish religion. The light is a metaphor for Christ and His body. The day referred both to the day of judging, and to the new day of the new age – and the new creation/covenant.

6. Consequently, then, we may not continuously fall asleep [into death? in awareness?] even as the rest (= as other folks), but rather, we can and should continuously be aroused and stirred up from sleep [thus, awake to be alertly watchful; also a figure for being alive] and sober (or: clear-headed).

Paul was very clear here: that to which he was referring was not some far-off event. It was soon to come, and they must "continuously be aroused and stirred up from sleep and clear-headed!" They would live to see this happen!

7. You see, the folks continuously falling asleep (or: drowsing) are sleeping at (or: from [the]) night, and the ones continuously being made drunk are becoming drunk at (or: from [the]) night.

Day and night existed at the same time in Paul's metaphor – the difference was whether you were dwelling in darkness, or in the Light. It was the night for the old creation, but at the same time it was the New Day of the new age/creation. It was a conjunction of the ages (Heb. 9:26) – the end of one; the beginning of the next. The Jews were asleep to the coming of the Messiah; they were drunk on the old wine.

8. We, on the other hand, being of Day (belonging to and having characteristics of [the] Day; having [the] Day as our source), can and should continuously be sober (clear-headed), putting on (or: clothing ourselves with; enveloping ourselves in; entering within) a breastplate (or: thorax) of faith and love (or: which is and is composed of faith and love; = have trust & love as body armor) and, as a helmet, an expectation (or: expectant hope) of deliverance (health and wholeness; rescue and salvation; restoration to our original state and condition),

This was a time to be clear about the message of God's goodness, and put Him on, as a warrior puts on the protection of a helmet and breastplate, as Paul also said in Eph. 6:11,

"you folks must enter within (or: clothe yourselves with) the full suit of armor and implements of war (panoply; the complete equipment for men-at-arms) which is God (or: which comes from and belongs to God), in order for you to be continuously able and powerful to stand (or: to make a stand) facing toward the crafty methods (stratagems) of the adversary (or: that which throws folks into dualism with divided thinking and perceptions; or: the person that throws something through the midst and casts division; the one who thrusts things through folks; the slanderer who accuses and deceives; or, commonly called: the "devil")."
9. because God Himself did not (or: does not) place or set us into anger (inherent fervor; violent emotion; wrath; or: teeming, passionate desire), but rather, into an encompassing of deliverance (or: unto establishing a perimeter of safety; into making health and wholeness encircle [us]; into the forming of an encompassing salvation around [us]) through our Lord, Jesus Christ –

The Thessalonians, and the rest of the body of Christ elsewhere, were not going to be a part of the oncoming judging that was to come through His "instrument of destruction" (Isa. 54:16), the Romans. He was going to be their "encompassing of deliverance."

10. the One dying concerning and on behalf of us (or: = while encompassing our [situation]; [other MSS: over our {situation}), to the end that whether we can or would exist being continuously awake (attentively watching) or continuously falling asleep [note: a metaphor for "being alive or being dead"], we can at the same time be alive (or: live) together with Him (= share His life).

Here Paul returns to those presently living and those having died: both categories were alive together with Him. This was the result of His dying over our previous situation: the new creation, and resurrection from our state of having been dead. Recall the words of Jesus, in John 11:26,

"And further, everyone (or: all mankind) presently (or: continuing in) living and trusting (or: progressively believing; regularly exercising faith) into Me can by no means (or: may under no circumstances) die-off (or: die-away) on into the Age. Are you presently believing, trusting and having convinced faith of this?"
11. Wherefore, keep on calling each other to [your] side (to encourage, aid, urge, comfort or exhort), and by habit let one person build up (or: edify) the [other] person (= a one-on-one endeavor), just as you are even continuously doing.

12. Now we are continuously asking you, brothers (= fellow-believers), to have seen (or: observed) and thus know and perceive those normally toiling wearily among you folks and continuously making themselves to stand before you (placing or setting themselves before you; or: presiding over you) and then continuously putting [their] mind in you (or: putting you in mind; or: admonishing you) in [the] Lord

13. and to continuously lead them above, from out of an abundance in love (or: lead the mind through a reasoning process to the conclusion to consider them exceedingly distinguished, in union with love) because of their work. Keep on being at peace (or: cultivate harmony [= shalom]) among yourselves.

In vs. 11 he exhort them to continue in encouraging and edifying each other, then in 12 and 13 he admonishes them to have observed so as to know those who toil among them and who take a stand before them, endeavor to put their mind (= their particular thoughts about things) into them, in regards to the things of the Lord, and the life in Christ. This is cautionary advice: don't let just anyone come and feed you their own ideas.

But for those whom they trusted, in accord with their service to the body, to let their estimation of them be loving respect, giving abundant loving distinction to them. In all of this, let Peace reign among them, as in their own hearts (Col. 3:15).

14. But we are continually calling you to [our] side (to encourage, entreat and admonish), brothers: continually admonish and warn (put a mind into; or: put in mind) the disorderly ones (the unarranged; those out of line; those not in battle position or deserters); continually address (speak alongside persuasively to and cheer up) the little-souled folks (the small of soul; = the faint-hearted); continually hold yourselves directly opposite (or: hold against one's self; or: = stand your ground as a shield in front of) the folks without strength (the weak ones); continually be longsuffering and tolerant (patient; long-passioned; long before breathing violently) toward everyone (or: all mankind).

15. Make it a habit to see (or: observe) [that] no one may (or: would) give back (render, discharge, repay) evil in place of evil (or: something ugly as opposition to something ugly; worthlessness in exchange for worthlessness; what not ought to be in return for what not ought to be; poor quality for poor quality; wrongdoing with wrongdoing; injury in the face of injury) to anyone, but to the contrary, continue to always pursue (follow rapidly; run swiftly to acquire; chase after) the good (the excellent; the virtuous) unto [the benefit of] each other as well as unto all people.

The letter now moves to admonitions. Vs. 14-15 need little comment, but to point out that the longsuffering and tolerance was to be toward everyone, not just the called-out community. Likewise, "no one may repay ugliness with ugliness," etc. And the good, the excellent or the virtuous were also to be for all people, not just their own group.

16. Be continuously rejoicing – always (or: = Find joy in every [situation]; Always express constant joy)!

17. Continuously think, speak and act with a view toward well-being and goodness – unceasingly (or: By habit be praying unintermittingly)

18. Within the midst of everything, be continuously giving thanks (or: In union with all people, be habitually expressing the goodness of grace and the well-being from favor),for this is God's intent (will, purpose) unto you in Christ Jesus (or: [proceeding] into the midst of you folks, in union with [the] Anointed Jesus).

Vs. 16-18 are positive admonitions that speak for themselves. They are words of life and success, and describe God's intent and purpose for our lives. They are keys to kingdom living.

19. Do not continually extinguish (put out; quench) the Breath-effect (or: Spirit).

20. Do not continually make nothing out of (set at naught, despise or scorn) prophecies (expressions of light ahead of time),

Here we have two negative injunctions. I suggest that vs. 19 refers to the effect of the Spirit within an individual, or within the community, for no one can extinguish the Consuming Fire (Heb. 12:29). Or, it could refer to their human spirit. We should also value and consider prophecies and expression of light ahead of time (this latter being the literal meaning of the Greek "pro-phe-tes" – the stem "phe," which, according to Strong comes from the base "phaino," – "to give light" – which in this case means to give light by what one speaks).

21. but be continuously examining and putting all things to the proof (or: yet habitually test all people) – [then] constantly hold tightly to the beautiful, the ideal, the fine!

22. Habitually hold yourself away (or: abstain) from every form (external appearance; shape; figure) of what is useless and unprofitable, or brings wearisome labor, or is mischievous, malicious, harmful or disadvantageous (or: from evil's every form).

Vs. 21 and 22 give contrasts that also speak for themselves. Note that 21 speaks of either things and situations, or of people: be discerning. Our focus should be toward beauty and the ideal. Expressions of what is base should be avoided.

23. Now may the God of peace Himself (or: Yet the very God who is peace and harmony [= shalom] can) set you folks apart [being] completely whole (or: wholly perfect; entirely mature; wholly finished and at the goal), and may your whole allotment (= every part) – the spirit, the soul and the body – be kept (guarded; watched over) blameless (without fault) within, and in union with, the presence of our Lord (Master; Owner), Jesus Christ.

Here Paul speaks goodness into the full complement (spirit/soul/body) of their lives, describing God as Peace personified, and that they would be guarded and kept "without fault." Note that his final impartations speak to their present environment: the "presence" of Jesus Christ, with which they are "in union." Or, he is speaking of the coming "presence" as I discussed it in vs. 1.

24. The One continuously calling you is faithful (trustworthy; loyal; full of faith and trust), Who will also perform (do, make, form, construct, create)!

He reminds them that God/Christ is full of faith, and thus is loyal to them, and can be trusted. He affirms that God will perform in their lives, create in their lives, do things in and among them, form [Christ] within them, make [goodness to abound].

25. Brothers (= Fellow believers; = Family), you must also continuously pray (think and speak with a view to ease and well-being) concerning us.

26. Draw to yourselves and enfold in your arms all the brothers (= fellow believers) in a set-apart expression of affection (a holy kiss).

He wants reciprocity in regard to speaking goodness, well-being and ease; he wants full receptivity of fellow believers, in expressions of affection.

27. I adjure (lay the duty on) you folks [in; by] the Lord [that] this letter (or: epistle) be read to (be made known again for; be recognized by) all the set- apart brothers (the sanctified [fellow believers]).

These words and thoughts are for everyone who follows Christ Jesus.

28. The grace of and from our Lord (or: the favor which is our Lord), Jesus Christ, [is] with you. Amen (Count on it; It is so)!

What more do we need? His grace and His favor are the good news in which He Himself comes to us and abides with us.

[written circa A.D. 50 – Based on the critical analysis of John A.T. Robinson]

Jump to Chapter One, Two, Three, Four, Five

Return To Jonathan Mitchell's Page or the Revelation Study Index