Bible Query from
Q: In 1 Thess 1, what do we know about the city of Thessalonika?
A: Thessalonica was a "hot" city. It was originally called "Therma" because of hot springs close by the city. The gulf is called the Thermaic Gulf. One of Alexander the Great's generals, Cassander married Alexander's half-sister, who was named Thessalonica. Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.1060 says he built a new city near Therma in her honor. Thessalonika had a large Jewish population. The NIV Study Bible p.1819 says it was the largest city in Macedonia, with a total population was about 200,000. (For comparison, Corinth had a population of 650,000.)
Thessalonika was very unusual in that it was both the Roman capital of Macedonia and a free city ruled by fix or six officials called politarchs. Luke uses the term in Acts 17:6, and some had questioned Luke's accuracy since they term was otherwise unknown. However, archaeologists since then have found nineteen inscriptions that use this term in the Macedonian government. See The Expositors Bible Commentary vol. 11 p.230 for more info.
Q: In 1 Thess 1, how do you pronounce the city "Thessalonika"?
A: It is usually said as "THESS-a-lon-I-ka", with the accent on the second to last syllable. Cruden's Concordance and the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary say the same.
Q: In 1 Thess, what is an Outline of 1 Thessalonians?
A: Here is one outline.
1 Do you Thank God for His People? Manner, circumstance, and cause
2-3 Recognizing Paul's Ministry
2:1-16 Explaining his preaching: how he delivered it, and how they received it
2:17-3:10 Explaining his absence: his frustration, current plans, and praise
3:11-13 Prayer for direction, love and strength
4-5 Instructing God's People
4:1-12 Personal Instruction: improvement, sexual purity, and brotherly love
4:13-5:11 The Parousia Hope: The dead in Christ and the Day of the Lord
5:12-22 Instructing the church: leaders, all, oneself, and worship
Q: In 1 Thess 1:2, how often did Paul say he thanked God for these believers? Why are we sometimes not so thankful as we should be for other believers?
A: Paul said he always thanked God for them. He mentions in all of his letters except Galatians that he thanked God for them. Sometimes we will not if we take other believers for granted, or we are not appreciate of the helpful (though not always pleasant) ways God uses them in our lives. But regardless of our feelings, and even if a particular believer does not look like they can do anything for us, we should thank God for creating them as His beautiful handiwork, made in His image. We will be with them, enjoying their friendship and companionship forever, so it makes sense to start appreciating them now.
Sometimes we can be full of selfishness, forgetful of God and people around us, and wrapped up in our own little world. With prudence, we should be trying to see the world and our lives from God's perspective.
Q: In 1 Thess 1:2 and Php 1:3, how can we always be thankful in prayer?
A: We should pray unceasingly, and our prayers should be filled with thankfulness. Thankfulness is not just words we say, but an attitude of living out our life. As one Christian song says, "Before I bring my need, I will bring my heart." See Now That's a Good Question p.476-478 for more info.
Q: In 1 Thess 1:2-8 exactly what were the reasons Paul was thankful for the Thessalonians?
A: Here are eight reasons Paul gave here.
1 Thess 1:3 Their work produced by faith
1 Thess 1:3 their labor prompted by love
1 Thess 1:3 their endurance inspired by hope in Jesus.
1 Thess 1:4 They were chosen by God.
1 Thess 1:6 They became imitators of Paul, Silas, and Timothy and the Lord.
1 Thess 1:6 They welcomed the message with joy given by the Holy Spirit
1 Thess 1:7 They became a model to all believers in Macedonia and Achaia.
1 Thess 1:8 The Lord's message rang out from them everywhere.
We should be thankful to God for others for similar reasons.
Q: In 1 Thess 1:6, how is it OK to say we are followers of a man (besides Christ). In what ways is it not OK to say we are followers men?
A: Paul tells us to look to him and our godly leaders as they follow Christ (Philippians 3:17; 1 Thessalonians 1:6; Hebrews 13:7). We are to obey our leaders and submit to them in the Lord (Hebrews 13:17). In other words, we are to obey our leaders, recognizing that what God says overrules any contradictory things they might say. But we should call no man our Father; only God is our Father according to Matthew 23:9.
Q: In 1 Thess 1:7, have you considered being a model? What is involved with that?
A: If people know you are a Christian, then you are already a model. The question is whether you are a good model or not.
Q: In 1 Thess 1:7-10, what are ways in which we should be concerned about the view non-believers have towards Christians? In what ways should we not be concerned?
A: We should have a positive witness as we live holy lives. We should genuinely love others and express our love. We do not want to try to offend others. But we realize that gospel itself is often offensive. We should not be concerned if people are offended by our message. We should love a person more than we love the friendship with that person, and risk sharing the gospel with them.
Q: In 1 Thess 1:8, how was the Thessalonians' faith sounded forth everywhere?
A: Their faith was well-known among Christians everywhere. But as a horn indiscriminately spreads its sound, so too the word of God should go forth from us.
Q: In 1 Thess 1:9 what was a different kind of reason Paul was thankful for the Thessalonians?
A: The previous reasons were for what these believers were, and where they were going. But this reason is just joy at recognizing the great distance they had come from where they were.
Q: 1 Thess 2:1-4, why does Paul emphasize the visit was not a failure here?
A: Paul was somewhat thwarted in Macedonia. In other places, Paul had resounding success with no opposition. In other places, like Cyprus, there was opposition from one man, but God dealt decisively with that. But after Philippi, they had to leave the region of Macedonia due tot he opposition. Perhaps Paul wondered what more would have been accomplished there if Satan's opposition had not stopped him from staying longer. But God can use even Satan's opposition for his glory. Paul had already made his mark on Philippi and Thessalonica, and the opposition forced him to move on to Berea, Athens, and especially Corinth.
Long term, Paul's brief time in the Macedonian cities of Philippi and Thessalonica proved very fruitful. Later on Macedonians were richly generous, even giving out of their poverty in 2 Corinthians 8:1-5. Some Macedonians might have come with Paul to Corinth in 2 Corinthians 9:2-4, and Paul was concerned that the Corinthian church would look stingy to the Macedonians. In early church history, bishop Polycarp wrote a letter to the Philippian church. Tertullian mentions the apostolic churches in Corinth, Philippi, Thessalonica, and Ephesus (though not Athens) in Prescription Against Heretics ch.36 p.260
Q: In 1 Thess 2:2-4, how would you characterize a ministry today a basically a success or basically a failure?
A: First and foremost it is faithfulness to God's truth and heart. How (if at all) does a ministry compromise? How are people blessed by the ministry? Jeremiah had a successful ministry, even though in his time Baruch was one of the only people we know who followed him. Success is doing what God wants you to do, and being what God wants you to be.
Q: In 1 Thess 2:3 the Greek word dolo can mean not only lie or deceive, but also to trick, by craft, or a bait or trap. What are some "tricky" methods we should not use in God's work?
A: "Bait and switch" is a term that means to promise one thing but deliver another. We should present things in their true light. People should not be surprised when they become a Christian, or hear fundamentally different things than before they became a Christian. We need to share not just half of the gospel, but share the entire gospel. We need to tell them about Hell as well as Heaven, obedience as well as grace, and Jesus as Lord as well as Jesus as Savior. We should not make, or imply God is making empty promises that will not be kept. See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.11 p.251-252 and the Evangelical Bible Commentary p.1072 for more info.
Q: In 1 Thess 2:4, what is unusual about this verse?
A: This verse is a play on words. It can be translated, "As God, who tests our hearts, has attested our fitness to be entrusted with the Gospel", according to The Expositor's Greek Testament p.26-27.
Q: In 1 Thess 2:4, how would a ministry look different that tried to please men, vs. one that tried to please God?
A: For a ministry that was primarily trying to please men, it would be centered on strategy and numbers. Most of the discussions on ministry might be how to get more people, how to bring in more money, or how to bring in new opportunities for growth. It is in danger of being to "adaptive" that it might lose sight of its core fundamentals.
For a ministry that was primarily trying to please God it would be centered on prayer. Most of the discussions might be how to share with more people, how better to build up the members, and how to serve others. A key difference is that it would want others to be served instead of always being the one to serve others. This might mean partnering with another ministry, or even giving resources to another ministry, instead of trying to build an empire for yourself.
Q: In 1 Thess 2:5, what is the difference between using flattery, which is bad, and commending people, which can be good?
A: Flattery is insincere. It can be outright dishonest, or it can focus attention on trivial or superficial things at the expense of substantial things. Commending people for what they have done or their character, when sincere, is a fine way to encourage others.
Q: In 1 Thess 2:5, how do some people put on a mask to cover up greed?
A: They, with varying degrees of success, try to say there is another motive, such as helping others, helping the organization, etc. when the primary motive is greed. There are so many courses on leadership, there is no shortage of people want to be leaders.
The Greek word, pleonexia, literally means the desire to have more. See the New International Bible Commentary p.1462 for more info.
Q: In 2 Thess 2:8, in what ways should we share our lives with others, versus keeping our private lives private?
A: It is good to share much of our lives, both the triumphs and struggles, but we should not share every single thing. We should not share anything that God does not want use to share, so pray to God to show your heart when you should keep quiet. Here are the ABC's of what we should not share.
Angering others, unless they should be angry about something.
Boasting or bragging
Confidential information that others told you, regardless of whether they should have told them
Disheartening or discouraging another person from righteousness, such as Job's wife did. (Discouraging them from sin is OK though.)
Exalting sin. (That time I got drunk at the bar, it felt so great...)
False things or lies, including flattery
Glorifying others, putting them on a pedestal. (Honoring them is good though.)
Harmful or hurtful things to the other person or to others
Insulting words or attitudes (putting down the little people, creeps, or reprobates)
Judging others, though it OK to say sinful actions are sinful
Knowingly speaking that others lose trust in your words
Long-winded, wordy, and verbose, giving more information than the person wants to here
Malicious misinformation to harm others or have fun at their expense
Non-public information about another person they do not want shared. (Regardless of whether you think that are right in not sharing it.)
Plagiarizing what another said, without giving credit. Don't steal others' words as your own.
Questionable accuracy (you are not really sure if it true or not)
Rehashing bad things the other person did, after you have already discussed it and forgiven them. Those things should be forgotten.
Secrets that could get an innocent person killed, harmed, or wrongfully jailed
Tempting to others. (That time I got drunk in this specific bar, where the drinks are half-off...)
Undisclosed information that you promised your employer, former employer, or customer you would not share.
Vilifying or slandering another person
Wicked people might use to their advantage
X-rated, erotic, indecent, or crude humor or information
You are not honoring God or fellow Christians
People should see your life in action, but you should not feel pressure to always have to say something.
Q: In 1 Thess 2:9, why did Paul need to work at a trade among them?
A: Paul did not ask support of the non-believers and brand new believers he was preaching to. In Judaism, no rabbi was allowed to earn his living by teaching the law, according to the New International Bible Commentary p.1462. In some Muslim countries, full-time Christian workers are wrongly looked down upon a deadbeats taking advantage of others. But a tentmaker missionary, who has a secular job, would not have that problem. Both Paul and missionaries today have the right to receive full support form the church. However, for the sake of his working among the people he was preaching to, Paul chose not to exercise that right.
The Evangelical Bible Commentary p.1073 says that manual labor was somewhat looked down upon by the Greek and Roman upper class, but it was not by Jews.
Q: In 1 Thess 2:10, what if the life of a Christian worker, whether a full-time missionary or not, was not blameless? How would that work?
A: It can erode their witness when others know. Even fellow believers, who look up to the worker, can think since he failed in a particular area, then it is not too serious if I failed in that area too. But a worker can be repentant, and still serve God, telling others not to make the same mistakes he did.
Q: In 1 Thess 2:11-12, how can this be a summary for discipling, counseling, and even witnessing?
A: While this verse does not specify what to do, it is rather comprehensive on how to do it. Encouraging, comforting, and exhorting people. Paul says to he did this like a good mother (1 Thessalonians 2:7) or a good father (1Thessalonians 2:11) would do to help his own children.
Q: In 1 Thess 2:13, how can any word of finite, fallible, imperfect man actually be the word of God?
A: It might seem impossible if someone focuses solely on man's inabilities. However, Almighty God, for whom nothing is impossible (Matthew 19:26; Mark 10:27; Luke 1:37), was able to communicate his message to Balaam through even a donkey. God Almighty is powerful and intelligent enough to communicate His message clearly through imperfect tools. Not only did God communicate with the level of precision required, but He preserved His word with the level of precision and accuracy required so that we could still understand His message.
A better question is, since we can communicate through the word of man, how can you think an all-powerful God is not powerful enough to communicate via the word of man?
For more, one can read the article on this topic by J.I. Packer in Inerrancy p.197-226. For an extensive teaching on the whole issue of the adequacy of religious language, please consult Philosophy of Religion, 2nd edition p.211-291.
Q: Is 1 Thess 2:14-15 in any way anti-Semitic?
A: No. Nobody can seriously mean this is ethnically anti-Semitic, since Paul was a Jewish person, who as Romans 3:1-2 shows, saw great advantage in his heritage. Perhaps they think it was religiously anti-Semitic.
However, it is not religiously anti-Semitic, since it was written by someone who loved the Jewish people and cared for them deeply, despite them not accepting Christ, as Romans 9:1-5 and 10:1 show.
You must realize that some people think something is against them if it says anything negative at all about any members of their ethnic group. I suppose someone could say the Bible is anti-everyone, by this strange definition, because the Bible says everyone has fallen short of God's standard, and some people do not like any criticism or negative comments about anything.
See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.659-660 for more info.
Q: In 1 Thess 2:15, why did Paul say some of the Jews were hostile to all men, since those Jews undoubtedly had friends and had people they cared about?
A: Granted, these Jews may have acted friendly toward many. However, if they were persuading people to reject Jesus, in the most significant way possible, they were hostile to all.
Q: In 1 Thess 2:16, since God is so loving, how can people sin up to a limit?
A: Romans 11:22 says we should consider both the kindness and sternness of God. God is the most loving being in the universe, but also the most severe. Paul had personal experience with those who tried to keep others from hearing in Acts 13:8-11 with Elymas.
Q: In 1 Thess 2:17, the Greek word for "torn away", aporthanisthentes, literally means to be made orphans. Why was Paul so concerned that these new believers "not be made orphans"?
A: Paul might have been concerned that they would not be diligent in their advancing in the faith. However, a speculation is that there was a more pressing matter. They might be misled or deceived by Jews or heretics to leave the faith. Likewise when we bring someone to Christ, we are to guard them from false teachers.
Q: In 1 Thess 2:18; 2 Thess 3:17, does inserting "I, Paul" here somehow show this is a later book not by someone else?
A: Not at all. Paul did not do this in his other letters, but 1 Thessalonians was by Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, and the statement is not true of the others, such as Timothy who did go back there. The statement is only true of Paul, so Paul mentioned it was just him. Paul also mentions his name in 2 Thessalonians 3:17.
Q: In 1 Thess 2:19, will we recognize people in heaven?
A: Yes. 1 Thessalonians 2:19 and Philippians 4:1 Paul said those believers were his joy and crown, and he would certainly recognize his crown. We might not look the same with our glorified bodies, but we will recognize each other. See the Believer's Bible Commentary p.2029 for more info.
Q: In 1 Thess 2:19; 3:13; 4:15; 5:23; 2 Thess 2:1,8,9; 1 Cor 15:23; Jms 5:7,8; 2 Pet 1:16; 3:4,12; 1 Jn 2:28; Mt 24:3,27; what is unusual about this Greek word, parousia, for coming?
A: There are three Greek words used in the Bible for the coming of Christ: parousia (coming and subsequent presence), apokalupsis (unveiling, revelation, or apocalypse), and ephiphaneia (manifestation or epiphany).
It means both coming and continuing to stay. In non-Biblical literature a ruler's visit was called a parousia. See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.11 p.262 and the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.1076 for more info.
Q: In 1 Thess 3:1-3,6 why could someone in Paul's position think that they alone were best to do the preaching? Why didn't Paul have this attitude?
A: We don't know that Paul thought this, but it could be thought of by another Christian in a similar position. We need to remember that the power is not with us, but with God. God can and does use us, but God can use other people too. God did not need Paul "the best" to stay at Thessalonica, especially when Paul could be doing great things somewhere else. But an average Christian, such as Timothy, when God worked though him would do just fine.
Q: In 1 Thess 3:1-6, Paul could have said "I have done enough" and stopped preaching the gospel and have an easy life. Why do you think Paul pressed on?
A: Paul certainly could not have preached the prosperity gospel, "have an easy life, like me". While Paul might have been in a position to have thought "I have done enough already", there is absolutely no evidence that he ever did so. He was driven by his love for God and his love for others, and not wanting them to go to Hell. Paul had purpose. Remember, the word "retire" is not in the Bible.
Q: In 1 Thess 3:3, why does God deliberately destine us for trials?
A: God works out everything in conformance with His will (Ephesians 1:11; Proverbs 16:4; ~Romans 8:28).
Also, each of our days was written in God's book before one of them came to be in Psalm 139:16.
Parents "choose with regret" for their children to receive painful shots and painful lessons from their kids' mistakes. Christians have even been proud when their children, wives, and husbands have died while trying to save the life of another or stand up for their faith. No parent chooses this kind of pain for its own sake, but for the greater good. Likewise, God chooses to permit these things, not because He is some kind of sadist, but rather:
1. For the discipline or greater good of the individual (Hebrews 12:4-15)
2. For the benefit of others (Philippians 1:22-25; Colossians 1:24-25)
3. For God's glory (such as the example of Job)
4. Because God in the end will make all our trials seem insignificant compared to our future glory (Romans 8:18; 1 Peter 4:12-14)
Q: In 1 Thess 3:3, how could those who persecute Paul be doing wrong? They must have been doing God's will, since God destined Paul for those trials.
A: They were doing wrong, and they were responsible for their evil deeds. Three points to consider in the answer.
1. God works out all things with His will (Ephesians 1:11; Proverbs 16:4).
2. God uses many tools to accomplish His ultimate ends, and the Bible is forthright in showing that people's evil decisions are among the tools God uses (Genesis 50:20).
3. God planned beforehand to use Judas' wicked intentions (Acts 2:23; John 13:18; Psalm 41:9), yet Judas had full responsibility for his actions (Mark 14:21; Luke 22:21-22). Likewise, God's planned use of other's wicked actions does not lessen their responsibility for their evil choices.
Q: In 1 Thess 3:8; Php 4:1; and Eph 6:10-16 since we are already saved, why are we commanded to "stand firm in the faith"?
A: Christians can be misled or deceived, as Matthew 24:24 shows. Even genuine Christians can drift away, or hide their faith out of fear, and for a while do things displeasing to God.
Q: In 1 Thess 3:12, 4:9-10, as Christians who already love God and others, do you need our love to increase? how does God make our love for others increase and even overflow?
A: We should consciously want our love for others in increase. It can increase as we express our love for them and pray for them.
Q: In 1 Thess 3:13, how does God strengthen our hearts to be blameless and holy in His presence?
A: God can work through our reading His word, our obedient, or worship of Him, and our loving others. But God can also work in ways unnoticed by us. People he brings in our lives (including difficult people), events (both pleasant and unpleasant) and by bringing things to our remembrance God can strengthen our hearts in our drive to seek His holiness in our lives. But always be willing to have God change and alter you. A test does not always strengthen a person, it depends on your response to it. Remembers Job's wife, who said "curse God and die" vs. Job.
Q: In 1 Thess 3:13, how does God strengthen our hearts to be blameless and holy in His presence?
A: God can work through our reading His word, our obedient, or worship of Him, and our loving others. But God can also work in ways unnoticed by us. People he brings in our lives (including difficult people), events (both pleasant and unpleasant) and by bringing things to our remembrance God can strengthen our hearts in our drive to seek His holiness in our lives. But always be willing to have God change and alter you.
Q: In 1 Thess 4:1, what are the best ways to encourage others to live to please God?
A: Encourage them to look beyond immediate circumstances and point them to look to God, what He has done for them. Point them to how God cares for them, and the eternal importance of what they do. Remind them of the briefness of time on earth compared to eternity. If possible, go alongside them, helping them, and being with them. In some situations, find someone else who has gone through the same trials, for counsel and support.
Q: In 1 Thess 4:1-7, how can we live a more holy life?
A: Let's answer this question is an analogy from athletics.
An athlete can improve by three types of things: primary efforts, secondary efforts, and things to avoid. Primarily, it is correct practice, of the sport they do. Sometimes, for a game, it is playing the game. Other times it is practicing just one aspect in isolation, running, or lifting weights. An athlete usually enjoys training for his sport, but if an athlete only trained when he felt like it, she or he would not go very far. Self-discipline is required, in addition to love for the sport.
Secondarily, it is having a good diet, getting sufficient sleep, and perhaps doing complementary things, such as pitching in baseball helps your serve in tennis.
Finally, it is avoiding certain things. Some things, like smoking, getting drunk, etc. are bad all the time. Other things are not harmful of themselves but detract from your goal. For example, for best performance you should not go swimming on the day you will be playing a baseball game.
A spiritual athlete likewise can improve by three types of things: primary, secondary, and things to avoid. Primarily, there is no substitute for devoted love and obedience. We should enjoy loving and serving God. But even when we don't feel it at that time, self-discipline is required to do what God wants us to do anyway.
Secondarily, we need to have a good diet. Of course God tells us not to be gluttons stuffing our mouths and serving our bellies (Proverbs 28:7; Philippians 3:19a), but we need to also watch our "diet" of what goes in through our eyes and ears too.
Finally, we need not just to avoid doing sinful things that displease God, but avoid situations that, at least for us, are temptations for us. We also need to take stock of "time sucks", that might not be sinful, but take up large amounts of our time and distract us from serving God. If you ever feel God has not given you enough time to do what you know you need to do to serve Him, it might be that the problem is not that God did not give you more than 24 hours in a day, but rather your time is insufficient because you have squandered the time God has given you.
Q: In 1 Thess 4:9-10, what more can we do to love other believers more?
A: You can also periodically send them something to show that you care and are thinking about them. On one hand we can pray for what they ask us to pray for, and do things for them that they ask us to do, be friendly towards them. But on a deeper level we can have genuine concern for them. We can observe how they are doing, ask and suggest things to pray for, and proactively take the initiative to help them where they nee help. Have you ever "out of the blue" have someone come and give you something you needed? It is a nice feeling, but it is even a nicer feeling when you can do it for others.
Q: In 1 Thess 4:11-12, why do you think there is an emphasis on living a "quiet life", in contrast to the world's "living large" or "go big or go home"?
A: We do not need to seek fame, power, or prestige, either in the world or in a church. If you do your work well it might come to you, but do not seek it, because it will distract you from seeking after God. In western culture a major problem in knowing God is not lack of knowledge, but rather distractions. Seek to identify and eliminate , or at least reduce distractions to your walk with the Lord. But remember, when unanticipated events occur, such as running across someone who is in need, those might not be distractions, but rather the main work God wants you to do at that moment.
Q: In 1 Thess 4:12b, why is there the desire not to be dependent on anybody?
A: It is OK to accept expressions of love from others, and it is perfectly fine to be dependent on others to take care of you when you really need others to take care of you. But be a net giver, not a taker. Paul says in 2 Thessalonians 3:6 says not to be idle, and in 3:10 "If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat." (NKJV) Do not make other people do things for you that you are able to do for yourself. If are able to work or bring money to the family, then do not be lazy and rely on others. Again, if you cannot do so, then it is fine to rely on others. But if you can make money, even if it is only a little, then do so to support, or at least partially support yourself.
Q: In 1 Thess 4:13-14, are Christians who have already died in "soul sleep", or are they conscious in Heaven?
A: Believers are now conscious in heaven. The main verses showing is are 2 Corinthians 5:6, Luke 16:19-31; Philippians 1:23; Revelation 6:9-11; Revelation 7:9-11, and other verses of conscious praise in Revelation. 2 Corinthians 5:8 says, "...to be away from the body and at home with the Lord."
Concerning the Martyrdom of Polycarp ch.2 p.39 says that absent from the body is communing with the Lord. Tertullian, writing 198-220 A.D., mentions that a Christian wife who died is already in the Lord's presence in On Exhortation to Chastity ch.11 p.56. See When Critics Ask p.491 for more info.
Q: In 1 Thess 4:13-16, 1 Thess 5:10, and 1 Cor 15:51, does "asleep" prove dead people are unconscious?
A: As Jesus chided his disciples in John 11:11-14, when he said asleep, he simply meant dead. Asleep was a common term for death, as the following verses show:
2 Peter 3:4; Acts 7:60; 1 Corinthians 15:6;18,20 Matthew 27:52; 28:13, Deuteronomy 31:16, and numerous other Old Testament passages "so-and-so slept with his fathers..."
The New Geneva Study Bible p.1898 also adds that sleep was a metaphor for death among pagan as well as Christian writings. Sleep was a euphemism for death in Homer (Iliad book 11 240-241) according to The Resurrection of Jesus p.421.
Early Christian writers likewise understood sleep as meaning dead, as Athenagoras (177 A.D.) shows in The Resurrection of the Dead chapter 16.
So these verses neither prove nor disprove that people are conscious after death. For proof that they are conscious after death, see the previous question.
Q: In 1 Thess 4:15 (KJV), what does "prevent" mean?
A: This archaic meaning of prevent means "precede". We who are still alive will not go to be with Jesus before those who have already died.
Q: In 1 Thess 4:15, since Paul write "we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord", why was Paul killed before Christ's return?
A: God did not want us to know when Jesus would return. Paul could have used three pronouns here.
"They": If God had told Paul to say "they" it would have been a tip-off that it would be after Paul died.
"I": If Paul had said "I" it would mean that Christ would certainly return before Paul died.
"We": "We" is equivalent to those of us who are still alive, and "we" is the only pronoun Paul could use that would not restrict Christ's return to either before or after Paul's death.
See also Difficulties in the Bible 178-182 for more info, and the answers to the next two questions.
Q: In 1 Thess 4:15, did Paul think he would be alive when Christ returned?
A: See the previous question for the use of the pronoun. Paul wrote this, without error, by not specifying what he was not told. There are six points as to why Paul would do this.
1. Paul never claimed to know when Jesus would return. (1 Thessalonians 5:1-2)
2. He hoped it might be in his lifetime. (1 Thessalonians 4:15)
3. Paul taught that a peace (1 Thessalonians 5:3) and a great apostasy (2 Thessalonians 2:3-10) will be prior to Christ's return.
4. Paul was watching and longing for Christ's return, as we should be, which is the blessed hope in Titus 2:13.
5. Paul, Christ, and others told us to keep watch for Christ's soon return (Matthew 24:42; Mark 13:35; 1 Thessalonians 5:4-6; 1 Peter 4:7; Revelation 3:3; 22:20).
6. As 1 Timothy 3:15 shows, Paul understood well the concept of telling people to be on good behavior, because he is not saying when he will return. See especially Matthew 24:36-25:13.
In Summary, God did not tell Paul everything, Paul told us what God told him, but of course Paul did not tell us what God did not tell him. See When Critics Ask p.492 for more info. See also the discussion on Philippians 4:5, 1 Peter 4:7, and Revelation 22:6-20.
Q: In 1 Thess 4:15, why did God not want us to know when Christ would return?
A: It is like a master telling a servant to be diligent, because he can unexpectedly return at any time as Luke 12:35-48 shows. In the Bible, reasons for living an "expectant life" longing for his return are for strength, encouragement, and comfort (1 Thessalonians 5:18; 2 Thessalonians 2:15-17) and to be vigilant to be blameless whenever Christ comes (1 Thessalonians 3:13; 5:23).
Q: In 1 Thess 4:16, does Christ being accompanied by the voice of an archangel show that Jesus is the archangel, like some Jehovah's Witnesses teach?
A: No. while there might be other archangels in addition to Michael, that is beside the point here.
A trumpet call of God accompanying Jesus does not necessarily mean Jesus blew the trumpet Himself. Likewise the voice of an archangel is likely the voice of an archangel who accompanied Jesus here.
Even if the voice here was Jesus speaking in a voice of an archangel, this does not mean He is not God. It would seem strangely redundant, for example, for someone to say on earth Jesus acted or spoke like a man, since Jesus was a man. If this did somehow prove that Jesus was an archangel, then the trumpet call of God would prove here that Jesus is God.
People do not need to resort to ambiguous verses like this to settle of the question of whether or not Jesus is God. One could simply "ask Thomas" by reading John 20:27-28, "ask John" by reading John 1:1, or ask the author of Hebrews by reading Hebrews 1:8-9. Do you honor the Son as the Father as John 5:23 commands? Do you worship Jesus, as the angels do in Hebrews 1:6? Do you praise Jesus, as well as the Father, as those in Heaven do in Revelation 5:9-13; 11:15.
See the Believer's Bible Commentary p.2038 and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.704 for more info.
Q: In 1 Thess 5:1-3, to what extent can people now the time of the day of the Lord?
A: As Matthew 24:36 says and 1 Thessalonians 5:1-2 indicate say, no one will know the day or the hour. But as Matthew 24:37-39; Luke 17:26-29, and 1 Thessalonians 5:3 say, it will be a time when most people will give no thought to Christ's Coming and it will be completely unexpected by most people.
Q: In 1 Thess 5:4-8 and Eph 4:18; 5:8-11, what does it mean to be children of the light or day, vs. of the darkness or night?
A: We are not embarrassed if people find out all about us. We are not doing any wicked things secretly that we don't want others to know about; in fact, we want others to see our life. We are not looking forward to the night for drinking, partying, or committing anything wrong. Rather, we sleep well at night, because we are looking forward to the day, and getting things done.
Q: In 1 Thess 5:9, how is it God did not appoint us to suffer wrath, since Eph 2:3 says that like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath?
A: All people (Adam, Eve, and Jesus excepted) were born with a fallen, sinful nature, and by nature were objects of wrath. However, God has given His children new birth, new life, and a new and certain hope through Jesus Christ taking our punishment.
Q: In 1 Thess 5:12-13, what are ways for us to respect those who are over us in the Lord?
A: First of all, acknowledge to them and others that you accept that they are over you in the Lord. Show your care for them, and help them if you can in their struggles in life. Show respect for their office, as Paul did to even the high priest in Acts 23:3-5. Honor them for their hard work and sacrifice, as Paul says to do in Philippians 2:28-30
Q: In 1 Thess 5:14, since we are to be patient with all men, why did Paul and Jesus not seem patient with all men?
A: Both were very patient, but that does not mean they could not also rebuke people sharply as needed.
John Chrysostom (c.396 A.D.) put it well in the opening of his Commentary on Galatians. "For always to address one's disciples with mildness, even when they need severity is not the part of a teacher but it would be the part of a corrupter and enemy. Wherefore our Lord too, though He generally spoke gently to His disciples, here and there uses sterner language, and at one time pronounces a blessing, at another a rebuke."
Q: In 1 Thess 5:15, what are some excuses people sometimes give to attempt to justify paying back wrong for wrong?
A: There are a number of them.
The Old Testament says an eye for an eye. (The Old Covenant is obsolete). The law is to punish today, but we are not to be vigilantes. In the Old West, a posse was OK because it was under the law, the sheriff, who would answer for the actions. A lynch mob was not.
They deserve it (and I am the one to judge what everyone deserves).
They need to learn their lesson (and I need to be the one to teach them).
They will do it again unless they are taught the consequences (and God appointed me to teach them).
I need to get even (because I think it is my right).
But regardless of which excuse they use, people who pay back wrong for wrong are disobeying God.
Q: In 1 Thess 5:16-18, how do being joyful always, praying continually, and giving thanks in all circumstances fit together?
A: We rejoice, pray, and give thanks because we know that God is in control. All three are to be done all the time. But joy should drive us to pray. Our prayers should be filled with thanks to God, and our thanksgiving should remind us of our joy.
Q: In 1 Thess 5:17, should we pray without ceasing, or use few words as Mt 6:7 says?
A: Both. As Bible Difficulties and Seeming Contradictions p.236-237 says, our whole life should be a life of prayer, in constant communion with God. Yet, we should not think that God hears a particular request because of the repetition of many words.
Q: In 1 Thess 5:22 what does "from every/all form of evil avoid / keep back" mean?
A: The Greek word for "form", eidos, can also mean appearance, fashion, shape, sight. According to Strong's Concordance, it comes from the word for "view". As a side note, Aland et al. does not indicate any manuscript variations, so this is strictly a translation issue, not a manuscript issue. Here are other translations.
"Be holding yourselves back from every form of perniciousness." (Wuest)
"From every form of evil keep back" (Green's Literal Translation)
"Abstain from all appearance of evil" (KJV)
"Abstain from every form of evil" (NKJV, NRSV)
"Continue to abstain from every sort of evil" (Williams)
"Avoid every kind of evil" (NIV)
The Believer's Bible Commentary p.2044 says that 1 Thessalonians 5:22 "may mean false tongues, prophecies, or teachings, or it may mean evil in general"
The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.709 says in part, "On the other hand counterfeit teaching and living should be rejected and avoided. Not only should pseudo-prophecies be discarded but also, as Paul broadened his warning, every king and form of evil should be avoided. What may only appear to be bad also falls under this warning. However, ... it is not always possible to abstain from everything which may appear to a narrow and foolish judgment"
Conclusion: Based on the Greek word form/kind/view, etc. both views can be true. We are to avoid every type of evil. In addition, we are to avoid being viewed doing genuinely evil things. In addition, 2 Corinthians 8:22 shows that Paul wanted to do right in the eyes of everyone.
However, 1 Thessalonians 5:22 does not cover us letting people see us doing good things (such as preaching the Gospel) because they mistakenly think this is evil.
Q: In 1 Thess 5:26, Rom 16:16; 1 Cor 16:20; 2 Cor 13:12; and 1 Pet 5:14, should Christians greet one another with a holy kiss?
A: In the culture of that time, a holy kiss was appropriate. In American and Chinese culture, the equivalent is a hug or handshake. See Building Up One Another p.103 for more on the kiss mentioned in Scripture.
Q: How do we know that Paul wrote 1 Thess?
A: There are at least two reasons.
1. 1 Thessalonians says so, and the early church never questioned this.
2. Tertullian said Paul wrote to the Thessalonians in Tertullian Against Marcion book 4 chapter 5 p.345-350 (207 A.D.). It was a book "that comes down from the apostles, which has been kept as a sacred deposit in the churches of the apostles."
Others probably wrote of 1 Thessalonians too.
Q: What are the similarities between 1 Thessalonians and the rest of Paul's letters?
A: Here are the ones I have found.
|1 Thessalonians||Other letters||Other books|
|Silvanus instead of Silas. 1 Thess 1:1||Luke always uses Silas. Paul's letters use the Greek form Silvanus in 2 Cor 1:9; 2 Thess 1:1||1 Pet 5:12 (Silvanus)|
|1 Thess 1:2 work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope; 1 Thess 5:8||1 Cor 13:13 faith, hope, love..., Gal 5:5,6; Col 1:4,5;||Heb 6:10-12; 22-24; 1 Peter 1:21,22|
|Emphasis on joy. 1 Th 1:6; 2:19; 2:20; 3:9; 5:16||Philippians uses joy 19 times|
|The Lord's message through them rang out everywhere 1 Thess 1:8||~Rom 1:8||-|
|1 Thess 2:5b God is witness||-||Gen 21:30; 31:50; Judges 11:10; 1 Sam 12:5; 20:23; 20:42; Mal 2:14|
|1 Thess 2:8; 2:17; 3:6 Paul / Epaphroditus longing for them||Rom 1:9-11; Php 1:8; 4:1; Php 2:26; 2 Tim 1:4;||-|
|Concern about being a burden, bearing a burden 1 Thess 2:6,9||2 Cor 8:13; 11:9; 12:13,14,16; Gal 6:2,5||Mt 11:30; 20:12; Rev 2:24|
|Laboring or praying night and day 1 Thess 2:9; 3:10||2 Thess 3:8; 1 Tim 5:5; 2 Tim 1:3;||Day and night Rev 4:8; 7:15; 12:10; 14:11; 20:10; Acts 26:7 (day and night, Paul is speaking); Acts 20:31 (night and day, Paul is speaking)|
|1 Thess 2:18 Paul inserted his name here||2 Thess 3:17||2 Peter 3:15-16|
|1 Thess 2:19 presence of our Lord Jesus Christ||2 Tim 4:1||-|
|They are Paul's joy or crown. 1 Thess 2:19||They are Paul's joy and crown. Php 4:1|
|Their longing for Paul 1 Thess 3:6||2 Cor 7:7; 1 Tim 3:6||-|
|1 Thess 3:8 stand firm in the Lord||Php 4:1; Eph 6:10,16; 2 Thess 2:15|
|1 Thess 3:10 supply for their faith||Eph 4:12|
|1 Thess 4:13 do not be ignorant||Rom 11:25; 1 Cor 10:1; 1 Cor 12:1||-|
|1 Thess 5:5 sons/children of light||Eph 5:8-11|
|1 Thess 5:14 warning against the idle||2 Thess 3:6,10|
|1 Thess 5:21a Test all things||~Rom 12:2; ~1Cor 11:28; ~2 Cor 8:8; ~2 Cor 13:5; Gal 6:4||-|
|1 Thess 5:23 The God of peace||Rom 15:33; Rom 16:20; ~1 Cor 14:33;||Heb 13:20|
|1 Thess 5:26 Greet all the brethren with a holy kiss||Rom 16:16; 1 Cor 16:20; 2 Cor 13:12||~1 Pet 5:14 a kiss of love|
Q: When was 1 Thess written?
A: We know rather precisely when it was written: c. 51-52 A.D. 1 Thessalonians 3:1-7 shows it was written after Paul left Athens and was at Corinth. Acts 18:12,17 says that Gallio was the proconsul of Achaia. The NIV Study Bible p.1819 says that an inscription at Delphi shows that Gallio was only proconsul from c.51-52 A.D. Others interpret the date to be 52-53 A.D. Even the skeptical Asimov's Guide to the Bible p.1135 says 1 Thessalonians was written about 50 A.D. See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.11 p.233 for more info.
If a skeptic claims Paul's letters were written much later by someone else, and the words of 1 Thessalonians about it being written by Paul were a lie, then the burden of proof is on them to provide any evidence at all that the words were a lie. There are few fields of study where one can claim a document is bogus with no evidence whatsoever.
Q: In 1 Thess, what else do we know about the Gallio inscription?
A: What archaeologists call the Gallio inscription currently is in a museum in Delphi. It is in at least seven different pieces. Lines 5-6 mentions an edict by the Roman emperor Claudius, who reigned from 41-54 A.D., referring to Lucius Junius Gallio, proconsul of Achaia. The Dictionary of New Testament Background p.53-54, from which this was taken, says the "chronology is dependent on other temporal calculations. However, most scholars are confident that, on the basis of this inscription, as well as the fact that proconsuls usually served one-year terms, it is possible to date Gallio's term of office as proconsul of Corinth [in Achaia] to A.D. 51/52." See the Rose Book of Charts, Maps & Time Lines p.117 for a photograph of the inscription.
Q: In 1 Thess, how do we know if what we have today is a reliable preservation of what was originally written?
A: There are at least three reasons.
1. God promised to preserve His word in Isaiah 55:10-11; Isaiah 59:21; Isaiah 40:6-8; 1 Peter 1:24-25; and Matthew 24:35.
2. Evidence of the early church. Here are a few of the pre-Nicene writers who referred to verses in 1 Thessalonians.
Clement of Rome (97/98 A.D.) alludes to 1 Thessalonians 2:12,13 1 Clement vol.1 p.11
Ignatius (110-117 A.D.) quotes 1 Thessalonians 5:17 in Ignatius' Letter to Polycarp ch.1 p.93
Polycarp (c.150 A.D.) quotes all of 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (that is two words: "pray continually") in Polycarp's Letter to the Philippians ch.4 p.34
Melito of Sardis (170-180 A.D.) mentions 1 Thessalonians as by the apostle. Oration on the Lord's Passion ch.9 p.762
Irenaeus (182-188 A.D.) quotes 1 Thessalonians 5:23 as "in the first Epistle to the Thessalonians". Irenaeus Against Heresies book 5 ch.6.1 p.532
The Muratorian Canon (170-210 A.D.) ANF vol.5 p.603 mentions Paul's two letters to the Thessalonians, as well as Paul's other 11 letters.
Clement of Alexandria (193-217/220 A.D.) quotes 1 Thessalonians 2:6-7 as by Paul. The Instructor book 1 ch.5 p.214
Clement of Alexandria (193-205 A.D.) quotes 1 Thessalonians 2:5,6,7 as by the apostle. Stromata book 1 ch.1 p.300.
Tertullian said Paul wrote to the Romans, Galatians, Philippians, Thessalonians, and Ephesians in Tertullian Against Marcion book 4 ch.5 p.350 (207 A.D.). He says the New Testament was a book "that comes down from the apostles, which has been kept as a sacred deposit in the churches of the apostles." Tertullian (198-220 A.D.) quotes 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 in Five Books Against Marcion book 5 ch.15 p.462.
Hippolytus (225-235/6 A.D.) quotes 1 Thessalonians 4:12 as by Paul Treatise on Christ and Antichrist ch.66 p.219
Origen (225-253/254 A.D.) quotes 1 Thessalonians 2:14,15 as by Paul in the First Epistle to the Thessalonians. Origen's Commentary on Matthew book 2 ch.18 p.425
Cyprian of Carthage (c.246-258 A.D.) quotes from what he states is "the first Epistle of Paul to the Thessalonians" and then quotes 1 Thessalonians 4:6. He says "the apostle says" and then quotes 1 Thessalonians 5:2-3. These are in Treatise 12 the third book 88,89. He also says that 1 Thessalonians 4:13 was by Paul in The Treatises of Cyprian Treatise 7 ch.21 p.474.
Archelaus (262-278 A.D.) quotes 1 Thessalonians 5:1,2 as what the apostle "Wrote to the Thessalonians". Disputation with Manes ch.38 p.212
Adamantius (c.300 A.D.) quotes 1 Thessalonians 2:14-15 as by the Apostle Paul in Dialogue on the True Faith first part ch.29a p.69. He does not refer to any other verses in 1 Thessalonians.
Victorinus of Petau (martyred 304 A.D.) allegedly refers to 1 Thessalonians 1:2; 2:8; 4:17 according to The Greek New Testament 4th Revised Edition by Aland et al. However, there is no reference to 1 Thessalonians in the writings of Victorinus of Petau that I have: On the Creation of the World and Commentary on the Apocalypse.
Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History (323-326 A.D.)
Athanasius (367 A.D.) lists the books of the New Testament in Festal Letter 39 p.552
Hilary of Poitiers (355-367/368 A.D.) refers to 1 Thessalonians 4:17
Synopsis Scripturae Sacrae (350-370 A.D. or 5th century) mentions Paul's two letters to the Thessalonians as part of the New Testament. It quotes all but the last four words of 1 Thessalonians 1:1.
Ephraem the Syrian (373 A.D.)
Basil of Cappadocia (357-378/379 A.D.) quotes 1 Thessalonians 3:12,13 as by the Apostle, "to the faithful at Thessalonica". On the Spirit ch.21.52 p.33
Ambrosiaster (after 384 A.D.)
Cyril of Jerusalem (c.349-386 A.D.)
John Chrysostom (396 A.D.) wrote down 11 sermons on 1 Thessalonians, which we still have today. He said it was by Paul, and Timothy with him.
Gregory of Nyssa (c.356-397 A.D.) quotes 1 Thessalonians 4:17 as by Paul in On the Making of Man ch.22.6 p.412
Didymus the Blind (398 A.D.)
Epiphanius of Salamis (360-403 A.D.)
John Chrysostom (died 407 A.D.) wrote commentaries on John, Romans, 1 Cor, 2 Cor, Gal, Eph, Col, Php, 1 Thess, 2 Thess, 1 Tim, 2 Tim, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews.
Rufinus (374-406 A.D.)
Niceta of Remesianus (366-415 A.D.) refers to 1 Thessalonians 2:8
Jerome (373-420 A.D.) alludes to 1 Thessalonians 4:13. "And the Apostle forbids the Thessalonians to be sorry for those who were asleep." Against Vigilantius ch.6 p.419. He quotes all of 1 Thessalonians 5:17 "Pray without ceasing" in Letter 125 ch.11 p.248
Augustine of Hippo (388-430 A.D.) mentions the apostle writing to the Thessalonians and quotes 1 Thessalonians 1:13 in On the Predestination of the Saints ch.39 p.517
Augustine mentions apostle writing to the Thessalonians and quotes 1 Thessalonians 4:13-16 in The City of God book 20 ch.20 p.439
The semi-Pelagian John Cassian (419-430 A.D.) quotes 1 Thessalonians 4:9-10 as by the Apostle to the Thessalonians in the Institutes of John Cassian book 10.7 p.268
Socrates' Ecclesiastical History (400-439 A.D.) book 3 ch.16 p.87 quotes part of 1 Thessalonians 5:21: "so that we might 'prove all things, and hold fast that which is good.'
Speculum (fifth century)
Quodvultdeus (c.453 A.D.) refers to 1 Thessalonians 1:3
Theodoret of Cyrus (bishop and historian) (423-458 A.D.)
Varimadum (445/480 A.D.)
3. Writings of heretics and others
The heretic Marcion according to Tertullian
The heretic Priscillian (385 A.D.) refers to 1 Thessalonians 2:16.
The heretic Pelagius (416-418 A.D.)
The Donatist schismatic Tyconius (after 390 A.D.) refers to 1 Thessalonians 1:3; 2:8
Pelagian heretic Theodore of Mopsuestia (428 A.D.)
4. Earliest manuscripts we have of 1 Thessalonians show there are small manuscript variations, but zero theologically significant errors.
p30 1 Thess 4:12-13,16-17; 5:3,8-10,12-18,25-28; 2 Thess 1:1-2; 2:1,9-11 (early 3rd century)
3rd century - 1968 - The Text of the New Testament.
p46 Chester Beatty II 100-150 A.D. has 17 verses of 1 Thessalonians. Specifically, it has 1 Thess 1:1; 1:9-2:3; 5:5-9,23-28 and other parts of Paul's letters and Hebrews. The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts has a photograph of part of p46 on p.192. It also says on p.197-198 that the quality and the stichiometric marks show that a professional scribe wrote this.
First half of 3rd century - 1936 - Frederic G. Kenyon according to The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts.
2nd century, 200 A.D. - 1935 - Ulrich Wilken according to The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts.
200 A.D. - 1968 - The Text of the New Testament.
81-96 A.D. - 1988 - Young Kyu Kim according to The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts.
About 200 A.D. - 1975 - Aland et al. third edition.
About 200 A.D. - 1998 - Aland et al. fourth revised edition.
Early to middle 2nd century - 1999 - The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts. This is based in part on the handwriting being very similar to Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 8 (late first or early second century) and Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 2337 (late first century).
p61 Romans 16:23,25-27; 1 Corinthians 1:1-2, 2-6; 5:1-3, 5-6, 9-13; Philippians 3:5-9, 12-16, Colossians 1:3-7, 9-13, 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3; Titus 3:1-5, 8-11, 14-15 Philemon 4-7. c.700 A.D.
c.700 A.D. - 1968 - The Text of the New Testament.
About 700 A.D. - 1975 - Aland et al. third edition.
About 700 A.D. - 1998 - Aland et al. fourth revised edition.
p65 1 Thess 1:3-2:1; 2:6-13. Middle 3rd century The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts has a photograph of part of p49 on p.348. It also says that p49 and p65 were written by the same scribe. They are Alexandrian texts.
3rd century - 1968 - The Text of the New Testament.
Alexandrinus [A] c.450 A.D.
Vaticanus [B] 325-350 A.D.
Sinaiticus [Si] 340-350 A.D.
Ephraemi Rescriptus [C] 5th century
Claromontanus [D] 5th/6th century
I Washington, D.C. 5th century
Bohairic Coptic [Boh] 3rd/4th century
Sahidic Coptic [Sah] 3rd/4rth century
Fayyumic Coptic [Fay] 3rd/4th century
Italic [Ital] 4th to 13th centuries
Latin Vulgate [Vg] 4th and 5th centuries
Gothic [Goth] 493-555 A.D.
Armenian [Arm] from 5th century
Georgian [Geo] from 5th century
Ethiopic [Eth] from c.500 A.D.
Peshitta Syriac [Syr P] 400-450 A.D.
Harclean Syriac [Syr H] 616 A.D.
See www.BibleQuery.org/1ThessMss.html for more on early manuscripts of 1 Thessalonians.
For more info please contact Christian Debater™ P.O. Box 144441 Austin, TX 78714. www.BibleQuery.org