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1 Thessalonians

1 Thessalonians front

Introduction to 1 Thessalonians

Part 1: General Introduction

Outline of the Book of 1 Thessalonians
  1. Greeting (1:1)
  2. Prayer of thanksgiving for the Thessalonian Christians (1:2-10)
  3. Paul’s ministry in Thessalonica (2:1-16)
  4. Paul’s concerns for their spiritual growth
    • Like a mother (2:7)
    • Like a father (2:11)
  5. Paul sends Timothy to the Thessalonians and Timothy reports back to Paul (3:1-13)
  6. Practical instructions
    • Live to please God (4:1-12)
    • Comfort regarding those who have died (4:12-18)
    • Christ’s return is a motive for godly living (5:1-11)
  7. Closing blessings, thanks, and prayers (5:12-28)
Who wrote 1 Thessalonians?

Paul wrote 1 Thessalonians. Paul was from the city of Tarsus. He had been known as Saul in his early life. Before becoming a Christian, Paul was a Pharisee. He persecuted Christians. After he became a Christian, he traveled several times throughout the Roman Empire telling people about Jesus.

Paul wrote this letter while staying in the city of Corinth. Of all Paul’s letters that are in the Bible, many scholars think 1 Thessalonians was the first letter Paul wrote.

What is the Book of 1 Thessalonians about?

Paul wrote this letter to the believers in the city of Thessalonica. He wrote it after the Jews in the city forced him to leave. In this letter he said he considered his visit to them a success, even though he was forced to leave.

Paul responded to the news from Timothy about the Thessalonian believers. The believers there were being persecuted. He encouraged them to continue living in a way that pleased God. He also comforted them by explaining what happens to those who die before Christ returns.

How should the title of this book be translated?

Translators may choose to call this book by its traditional title, “1 Thessalonians” or “First Thessalonians.” They may instead prefer to choose a clearer title, such as “Paul’s First Letter to the Church in Thessalonica,” or “The First Letter to the Christians in Thessalonica.” (See: How to Translate Names)

Part 2: Important Religious and Cultural Concepts

What is the “second coming” of Jesus?

Paul wrote much in this letter about Jesus’ eventual return to Earth. When Jesus returns, he will judge all mankind. He will also rule over creation, and there will be peace everywhere.

What happens to those who die before the return of Christ?

Paul made clear that those who die before Christ’s return will come back to life and be with Jesus. They will not remain dead forever. Paul wrote this to encourage the Thessalonians. For some of them worried that those who died would miss the great day when Jesus returns.

Part 3: Important Translation Issues

What did Paul mean by expressions like “in Christ” and “in the Lord.”?

Paul meant to express the idea of a very a close union with Christ and the believers. Please see the introduction to the Book of Romans for more details about this kind of expression.

What are the major issues in the text of the Book of 1 Thessalonians?

For the following verses, modern versions of the Bible differ from older versions. The ULT text has the modern reading and puts the older reading in a footnote. If a translation of the Bible exists in the general region, translators should consider using the reading found in those versions. If not, translators are advised to follow the modern reading. * “May grace and peace be to you” (1:1). Some older versions read: “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” * “Instead, we were as gentle among you as a mother comforting her own children.” (2:7) Other modern versions and older versions read, “Instead, we were like babies among you, as when a mother comforts her own children.” * “Timothy, our brother and fellow worker for God” (3:2). Some other versions read: “Timothy, our brother and servant of God.”

(See: Textual Variants)

1 Thessalonians 1

1 Thessalonians 1 General Notes

Structure and formatting

Verse 1 formally introduces this letter. Letters in the ancient Near East commonly had introductions of this type.

Special concepts in this chapter


Other people persecuted the Christians in Thessalonica. But the Christians there handled it well. (See: Assumed Knowledge and Implicit Information)

1 Thessalonians 1:1

Paul identifies himself as the writer of the letter and greets the church at Thessalonica.

Παῦλος, καὶ Σιλουανὸς, καὶ Τιμόθεος; τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ

The UST makes clear that it was Paul who wrote this letter. (See: Assumed Knowledge and Implicit Information)

χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη

The terms Grace and peace are metonyms for the person who acts toward people in a kindly and peaceful manner. Alternate translation: “May God be kind to you and give you peace” (See: Metonymy)


The word you refers to the Thessalonian believers. (See: Forms of You)

1 Thessalonians 1:2

In this letter the words we and us refer to Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, unless otherwise noted.(See: Exclusive and Inclusive ‘We’)

The word you is plural and refers to the believers at the church of Thessalonica. (See: Forms of You)

εὐχαριστοῦμεν τῷ Θεῷ πάντοτε

Here, always suggests that when Paul prays to God, he consistently presents the Thessalonians to God in his prayers.

μνείαν ποιούμενοι ἐπὶ τῶν προσευχῶν ἡμῶν, ἀδιαλείπτως

“and we continually pray for you”

1 Thessalonians 1:3

τοῦ ἔργου τῆς πίστεως

acts done because of trust in God

1 Thessalonians 1:4

Paul continues to give thanks for the believers at Thessalonica and praises them for their faith in God.


Here this means fellow Christians, including both men and women.

1 Thessalonians 1:5

οὐκ…ἐν λόγῳ μόνον

“not only in what we said”

ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐν δυνάμει, καὶ ἐν Πνεύματι Ἁγίῳ

This could mean: (1) This refers to the Holy Spirit gave Paul and his companions the ability to preach the gospel powerfully. (2) This refers to the Holy Spirit made the preaching of the gospel have a powerful effect among the Thessalonian believers. (3) This refers to the Holy Spirit demonstrated the truth of the gospel preaching by means of miracles, signs, and wonders.

πληροφορίᾳ πολλῇ

The abstract noun assurance can be translated as a verb. Alternate translation: “God made you sure that it was true” (See: Abstract Nouns)


“how we conducted ourselves when”

1 Thessalonians 1:6

ὑμεῖς μιμηταὶ…ἐγενήθητε

To “imitate” means to act like or to copy the behavior of another.

δεξάμενοι τὸν λόγον

“having welcomed the message” or “having accepted what we had to say”

ἐν θλίψει πολλῇ

“during a time of great suffering” or “in much persecution”

1 Thessalonians 1:7

ἐν τῇ Ἀχαΐᾳ

This is an ancient district in what is present-day Greece. (See: How to Translate Names)

1 Thessalonians 1:8

ὁ λόγος τοῦ Κυρίου

Here, word is a metonym for “message.” Alternate translation: “the Lord’s teachings” (See: Metonymy)


Here Paul speaks of the Christian witness produced by the Thessalonian believers as if it were a bell that was rung or a musical instrument that was being played. (See: Metaphor)

1 Thessalonians 1:9


Paul is referring to the churches that already existed in the surrounding regions, who have heard about the Thessalonian believers.


Here, themselves is used to emphasize those people who had heard about the Thessalonian believers. (See: Reflexive Pronouns)

ὁποίαν εἴσοδον ἔσχομεν πρὸς ὑμᾶς

The abstract noun reception can be expressed as the verb “receive” or “welcome.” Alternate translation: “how warmly you received us” or “how warmly you welcomed us” (See: Metonymy)

ἐπεστρέψατε πρὸς τὸν Θεὸν ἀπὸ τῶν εἰδώλων, δουλεύειν Θεῷ ζῶντι καὶ ἀληθινῷ

Here, turned to … from is a metaphor that means to start being loyal to one person and stop being loyal to someone else. Alternate translation: “you stopped worshiping idols and started serving the living and true God” (See: Metaphor)

1 Thessalonians 1:10

τὸν Υἱὸν αὐτοῦ

This is an important title for Jesus that describes his relationship to God. (See: Translating Son and Father)

ὃν ἤγειρεν

“whom God caused to live again”

ἐκ τῶν νεκρῶν

“so that he was no longer dead.” This expression describes all dead people together in the underworld. To come back from among them speaks of becoming alive again.

τὸν ῥυόμενον ἡμᾶς

Here, us includes Paul and the Thessalonian believers. (See: Exclusive and Inclusive ‘We’)

1 Thessalonians 2

1 Thessalonians 2 General Notes

Special concepts in this chapter

Christian witness

Paul values his “Christian witness” as evidence that the gospel is true. Paul says that being godly or holy bears witness to the non-Christian. Paul defends his character, so that his witness is not affected. (See: testimony, testify, witness, eyewitness, evidence and godly, godliness, ungodly, godless, ungodliness, godlessness and holy, holiness, unholy, sacred)

1 Thessalonians 2:1

Paul defines the believers’ service and reward.


The words you and yourselves refer to the Thessalonian believers. (See: Reflexive Pronouns)


Here this means fellow Christians, including both men and women.

τὴν εἴσοδον ἡμῶν

The word our refers to Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy but not the Thessalonian believers. (See: Exclusive and Inclusive ‘We’)

οὐ κενὴ γέγονεν

This can be expressed in a positive manner. Alternate translation: “was very worthwhile” (See: Double Negatives)

1 Thessalonians 2:2

προπαθόντες καὶ ὑβρισθέντες

“having been mistreated and insulted”

ἐν πολλῷ ἀγῶνι

“while struggling under great opposition”

1 Thessalonians 2:3

οὐκ ἐκ πλάνης, οὐδὲ ἐξ ἀκαθαρσίας, οὐδὲ ἐν δόλῳ

“was truthful, pure, and honest”

1 Thessalonians 2:4

δεδοκιμάσμεθα ὑπὸ τοῦ Θεοῦ, πιστευθῆναι

Paul was tested and proven trustworthy by God.


Paul is referring to preaching the gospel message. (See: Assumed Knowledge and Implicit Information)

τῷ δοκιμάζοντι τὰς καρδίας ἡμῶν

The word hearts is a metonym for a person’s desires and thoughts. Alternate translation: “who knows our desires and thoughts” (See: Metonymy)

1 Thessalonians 2:5

Paul tells the Thessalonian believers that his conduct was not based in flattery, greed, or self glory.

οὔτε…ἐν λόγῳ κολακίας ἐγενήθημεν

“we never spoke to you … with false praise”

1 Thessalonians 2:7

ὡς ἐὰν τροφὸς θάλπῃ τὰ ἑαυτῆς τέκνα

Just as a mother would gently comfort her children, so Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy spoke gently to the Thessalonian believers. (See: Simile)

1 Thessalonians 2:8

οὕτως ὁμειρόμενοι ὑμῶν

“Because of our great affection for you”

ὁμειρόμενοι ὑμῶν

“Loving you”

εὐδοκοῦμεν μεταδοῦναι ὑμῖν, οὐ μόνον τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τοῦ Θεοῦ, ἀλλὰ καὶ τὰς ἑαυτῶν ψυχάς

Paul speaks of the gospel message and his soul and the souls of those with him as if they were physical objects that one could share with others. Alternate translation: “We were pleased not only to tell you the gospel of God but also to spend time with you and to help you” (See: Metaphor)

ἀγαπητοὶ ἡμῖν ἐγενήθητε

“we cared for you deeply”

1 Thessalonians 2:9


Here this means fellow Christians, including both men and women.

τὸν κόπον ἡμῶν καὶ τὸν μόχθον

The words labor and toil mean basically the same thing. Paul uses them to emphasize how hard they worked. Alternate translation: “how hard we worked” (See: Doublet)

νυκτὸς καὶ ἡμέρας ἐργαζόμενοι, πρὸς τὸ μὴ ἐπιβαρῆσαί τινα ὑμῶν

“working hard to make our own living so you would not need to support us”

1 Thessalonians 2:10

ὁσίως, καὶ δικαίως, καὶ ἀμέμπτως

Paul uses three words that describe their good behavior toward the Thessalonian believers.

1 Thessalonians 2:11

ὡς πατὴρ τέκνα ἑαυτοῦ

Paul compares how he encouraged the Thessalonians to a father gently teaching his children how to behave. (See: Metaphor)

1 Thessalonians 2:12

παρακαλοῦντες ὑμᾶς, καὶ παραμυθούμενοι, καὶ μαρτυρόμενοι…ὑμᾶς

The words exhorting, encouraging, and * testifying* are used together to express how passionately Paul’s group encouraged the Thessalonians. Alternate translation: “We were strongly encouraging you” (See: Doublet)

εἰς τὴν ἑαυτοῦ βασιλείαν καὶ δόξαν

The word glory describes the word kingdom. Alternate translation: “into his own glorious kingdom” (See: Hendiadys)

εἰς τὸ περιπατεῖν ὑμᾶς ἀξίως τοῦ Θεοῦ

Here, walk is a metaphor for “live.” Alternate translation: “for you to live in such a way that people will think well of God” (See: Metaphor)

1 Thessalonians 2:13

Paul continues to use “we” to refer to himself and his traveling companions and “you” to the Thessalonian believers.

καὶ ἡμεῖς εὐχαριστοῦμεν τῷ Θεῷ ἀδιαλείπτως

Paul often thanks God for their acceptance of the gospel message he shared with them.

οὐ λόγον ἀνθρώπων

Here, word of man is a synecdoche for “a message that comes simply from a man.” Alternate translation: “not as if it was a message that a man made up” (See: Synecdoche)

λόγον Θεοῦ

Here, word is a metonym for “message.” Alternate translation: “the message that comes from God” (See: Metonymy)

ὃς καὶ ἐνεργεῖται ἐν ὑμῖν τοῖς πιστεύουσιν

Paul speaks of God’s gospel message as if it were a person who was doing work. Alternate translation: “which those of you who believe are listening to and beginning to obey” (See: Personification)

1 Thessalonians 2:14


Here this means fellow Christians, including both men and women.

μιμηταὶ ἐγενήθητε…τῶν ἐκκλησιῶν

The Thessalonian believers endured persecutions similar to the Judean believers. “became like the churches”

ὑπὸ τῶν ἰδίων συμφυλετῶν

“from other Thessalonians”

1 Thessalonians 2:16

κωλυόντων ἡμᾶς…λαλῆσαι

“trying to make us stop speaking”

εἰς τὸ ἀναπληρῶσαι αὐτῶν τὰς ἁμαρτίας πάντοτε

Paul speaks as though someone can fill a container with their own sins as with liquid. (See: Metaphor)

ἔφθασεν…ἐπ’ αὐτοὺς ἡ ὀργὴ εἰς τέλος

This refers to God finally judging and punishing people for their sins.

1 Thessalonians 2:17


This means fellow Christians, including both men and women.

προσώπῳ οὐ καρδίᾳ

Here, heart represents thoughts and emotions. Though Paul and those traveling with him were not present physically in Thessalonica, they continued to care and think about the believers there. Alternate translation: “in person, but we continued to think about you” (See: Metonymy)

τὸ πρόσωπον ὑμῶν ἰδεῖν

Here, your faces means the entire person. Alternate translation: “to see you” or “to be with you” (See: Synecdoche)

1 Thessalonians 2:19

τίς γὰρ ἡμῶν ἐλπὶς ἢ χαρὰ ἢ στέφανος καυχήσεως? ἢ οὐχὶ καὶ ὑμεῖς, ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ Κυρίου ἡμῶν, Ἰησοῦ, ἐν τῇ αὐτοῦ παρουσίᾳ?

Paul uses these questions to emphasize the reasons he wants to come see the Thessalonian believers. Alternate translation: “For you are our confidence for the future, and joy, and crown of pride in front of our Lord Jesus at his coming.” (See: Rhetorical Question)

ἡμῶν ἐλπὶς…ἢ οὐχὶ καὶ ὑμεῖς

By hope Paul means the assurance he has that God will reward him for his work. The Thessalonian Christians are the reason for his hope. (See: Metonymy)

ἢ χαρὰ

The Thessalonians are the reason for his joy. (See: Metonymy)

στέφανος καυχήσεως

Here, crown refers to a laurel wreath awarded to victorious athletes. The expression crown of boasting means a reward for victory, or having done well. (See: Metonymy)

1 Thessalonians 3

1 Thessalonians 3 General Notes

Special concepts in this chapter


In this chapter, Paul uses “stand firm” to illustrate being steadfast. This is a common way to describe being steadfast or faithful. Paul uses “be shaken” as the opposite of being steadfast. (See: faithful, faithfulness, trustworthy)

1 Thessalonians 3:1

Paul tells the believers he has sent Timothy to strengthen their faith.

μηκέτι στέγοντες

“when we could no longer endure worrying about you”

ηὐδοκήσαμεν καταλειφθῆναι ἐν Ἀθήναις μόνοι

“we thought only Silvanus and me should stay behind in Athens”


“we thought it was proper” or “we decided it was reasonable”


This is a city in the Achaia province, which is now modern-day Greece. (See: How to Translate Names)

1 Thessalonians 3:2

τὸν ἀδελφὸν ἡμῶν, καὶ διάκονον

These two expressions both describe Timothy.

1 Thessalonians 3:3

μηδένα σαίνεσθαι

To be “disturbed” is an idiom for being afraid. Alternate translation: “no one would be frightened away from trusting in Christ” (See: Idiom)


Paul assumes that everyone knows that it was God who appointed them. This can be made explicit. Alternate translation: “God appointed us” (See: Assumed Knowledge and Implicit Information)

1 Thessalonians 3:4


“to be mistreated by others”

1 Thessalonians 3:5

κἀγὼ μηκέτι στέγων

Paul was describing his own emotions by using an idiom. Alternate translation: “when I could no longer wait patiently” (See: Idiom)


It is implied that Paul sent Timothy. This can be made explicit. Alternate translation: “I sent Timothy” (See: Assumed Knowledge and Implicit Information)

ὁ κόπος ἡμῶν

“our hard work among you” or “our teaching among you”

εἰς κενὸν


1 Thessalonians 3:6

Paul tells his readers about Timothy’s report after he returned from visiting them.

πρὸς ἡμᾶς

The word us refers to Paul and Silvanus. (See: Exclusive and Inclusive ‘We’)

τὴν πίστιν…ὑμῶν

It is understood that this refers to faith in Christ. This can be made explicit. Alternate translation: “of your faith in Christ” (See: Assumed Knowledge and Implicit Information)

ἔχετε μνείαν…ἀγαθὴν πάντοτε

When they think of Paul, they always have good thoughts about him.

ἐπιποθοῦντες ἡμᾶς ἰδεῖν

“desiring to see us”

1 Thessalonians 3:7


Here, brothers means fellow Christians.

διὰ τῆς ὑμῶν πίστεως

This refers to faith in Christ. This can be made explicit. Alternate translation: “because of your faith in Christ” (See: Assumed Knowledge and Implicit Information)

ἐπὶ πάσῃ τῇ ἀνάγκῃ καὶ θλίψει ἡμῶν

The word affliction explains why they are in distress. Alternate translation: “in all our distress caused by our afflictions” (See: Doublet)

1 Thessalonians 3:8


This is an idiom that expresses living a satisfied life. Alternate translation: “we are very encouraged” (See: Idiom)

ἐὰν ὑμεῖς στήκετε ἐν Κυρίῳ

To stand firm is an idiom meaning to continue being faithful. Alternate translation: “if you continue to trust in the Lord” (See: Idiom)

1 Thessalonians 3:9

τίνα γὰρ εὐχαριστίαν δυνάμεθα τῷ Θεῷ ἀνταποδοῦναι περὶ ὑμῶν, ἐπὶ πάσῃ τῇ χαρᾷ ᾗ χαίρομεν δι’ ὑμᾶς, ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ Θεοῦ ἡμῶν

This is the beginning of a rhetorical question that continues to the end of the next verse. It can be expressed as a statement, but it will be necessary to change the question mark to a period at the end of verse 10. Alternate translation: “We cannot thank God enough for what he has done for you! We greatly rejoice over you when we pray to our God,” (See: Rhetorical Question)

ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ Θεοῦ ἡμῶν

Paul speaks as if he and his companions were physically in God’s presence. He is probably referring to the activity of praying. (See: Metaphor)

1 Thessalonians 3:10



εἰς τὸ ἰδεῖν ὑμῶν τὸ πρόσωπον

The word face refers to their whole person. Alternate translation: “to visit you” (See: Synecdoche)

1 Thessalonians 3:11

In these verses, the word “our” does not always refer to the same group of people. Please see the translation notes for specifics.

ὁ Θεὸς καὶ Πατὴρ ἡμῶν…ὁ Κύριος ἡμῶν

Paul uses our to include the Thessalonian believers with his ministry team. (See: Exclusive and Inclusive ‘We’)

ὁ Θεὸς καὶ Πατὴρ ἡμῶν…κατευθύναι

“we pray that our God and Father … will direct”

κατευθύναι τὴν ὁδὸν ἡμῶν πρὸς ὑμᾶς

Paul speaks as if he wants God to show him and his companions the route to take to visit the Thessalonian Christians. He means that he wants God to make it possible for them to do so. (See: Metaphor)

τὴν ὁδὸν ἡμῶν πρὸς ὑμᾶς

The word our refers to Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy but not the Thessalonian believers. (See: Exclusive and Inclusive ‘We’)


Here, himself refers back to “Father” for emphasis. (See: Reflexive Pronouns)

1 Thessalonians 3:12

ὑμᾶς…ὁ Κύριος πλεονάσαι καὶ περισσεύσαι τῇ ἀγάπῃ

Paul speaks of love as an object that one could obtain more of. (See: Metaphor)

1 Thessalonians 3:13

εἰς τὸ στηρίξαι ὑμῶν τὰς καρδίας, ἀμέμπτους

Here, heart is a metonym for one’s beliefs and convictions. Alternate translation: “to strengthen you, so that you will be” (See: Metonymy)

ἐν τῇ παρουσίᾳ τοῦ Κυρίου ἡμῶν, Ἰησοῦ

“when Jesus comes back to earth”

μετὰ πάντων τῶν ἁγίων αὐτοῦ

“with all those who belong to him”

1 Thessalonians 4

1 Thessalonians 4 General Notes

Special concepts in this chapter

Sexual immorality

Different cultures have different standards of sexual morality. These different cultural standards may make translating this passage difficult. Translators must also be aware of cultural taboos. These are topics considered improper to discuss.

Dying before the return of Christ

In the early church, people apparently wondered what would happen if a believer died before Christ returned. They may have worried whether those dying before Christ returned would be part of the kingdom of God. Paul answers that concern.

“Caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air”

This passage refers to a time when Jesus calls to himself those who have believed in him. Scholars differ on whether or not this refers to Christ’s final glorious return. (See: believe, believer, belief, unbeliever, unbelief)

1 Thessalonians 4:1


Here, brothers means fellow Christians.

ἐρωτῶμεν ὑμᾶς καὶ παρακαλοῦμεν

Paul uses beg and exhort to emphasize how strongly they encourage the believers. Alternate translation: “we strongly encourage you” (See: Doublet)

παρελάβετε παρ’ ἡμῶν

You can state this in active form. Alternate translation: “we taught you” (See: Active or Passive)

δεῖ ὑμᾶς περιπατεῖν

Here, walk is an expression for the way one is to live. Alternate translation: “you ought to live” (See: Metaphor)

1 Thessalonians 4:2

διὰ τοῦ Κυρίου Ἰησοῦ

Paul speaks of his instructions as if they were given by Jesus himself. (See: Metaphor)

1 Thessalonians 4:3

ἀπέχεσθαι ὑμᾶς ἀπὸ τῆς πορνείας

“for you to stay away from sexually immoral acts”

1 Thessalonians 4:4

εἰδέναι…τὸ ἑαυτοῦ σκεῦος, κτᾶσθαι

This could mean: (1) This refers to knowing how to live with his own wife. (2) This refers to knowing how to control his own body.

1 Thessalonians 4:5

ἐν πάθει ἐπιθυμίας

“with wrongful sexual desire”

1 Thessalonians 4:6

ὑπερβαίνειν καὶ πλεονεκτεῖν

This is a doublet stating the same idea in two ways to reinforce the concept. Alternate translation: “do wrong things” (See: Doublet)

ἔκδικος Κύριος

This can be made explicit. Alternate translation: “the Lord will punish the one who transgressed and will defend the one who was wronged” (See: Assumed Knowledge and Implicit Information)

καὶ προείπαμεν ὑμῖν καὶ διεμαρτυράμεθα

“we also told you beforehand and strongly warned against”

1 Thessalonians 4:7

οὐ…ἐκάλεσεν ἡμᾶς ὁ Θεὸς ἐπὶ ἀκαθαρσίᾳ, ἀλλ’ ἐν ἁγιασμῷ

You can state this in positive form. Alternate translation: “God called us to cleanness and holiness” (See: Double Negatives)

οὐ…ἐκάλεσεν ἡμᾶς ὁ Θεὸς

The word us refers to all believers. (See: Exclusive and Inclusive ‘We’)

1 Thessalonians 4:8

ὁ ἀθετῶν

“whoever disregards this teaching” or “whoever ignores this teaching”

ἀθετῶν, οὐκ ἄνθρωπον ἀθετεῖ, ἀλλὰ τὸν Θεὸν

Paul stresses that this teaching is not from man, but from God.

1 Thessalonians 4:9

τῆς φιλαδελφίας

“love for fellow believers”

1 Thessalonians 4:10

ποιεῖτε αὐτὸ εἰς πάντας τοὺς ἀδελφοὺς, τοὺς ἐν ὅλῃ τῇ Μακεδονίᾳ

“you show love to all the believers throughout Macedonia”


Here, brothers means fellow Christians.

1 Thessalonians 4:11


“to try”


Paul uses the word quietly as a metaphor to describe living at peace in one’s community and not causing strife. Alternate translation: “live in a calm and orderly way” (See: Metaphor)

πράσσειν τὰ ἴδια

“to do your own work” or “to take care of the things that your are responsible to do.” This may also imply that we should not gossip and interfere in other people’s concerns. (See: Assumed Knowledge and Implicit Information)

ἐργάζεσθαι ταῖς ἰδίαις χερσὶν ὑμῶν

This is a metaphor for living a productive life. Alternate translation: “to work at your own jobs to earn what you need to live” (See: Metaphor)

1 Thessalonians 4:12

περιπατῆτε εὐσχημόνως

Here, walk is a metaphor for “live” or “behave.” Alternate translation: “you may behave properly” (See: Metaphor)


in a way that shows respect to others and earns their respect

πρὸς τοὺς ἔξω

Paul speaks of those who do not believer in Christ as if they are outside of a place away from the believers. Alternate translation: “in the sight of those who do not believe in Christ” (See: Metaphor)

1 Thessalonians 4:13

Paul talks about believers who have died, who are still alive, and those who will be alive when Christ returns.

οὐ θέλομεν…ὑμᾶς ἀγνοεῖν

You can state this in positive form. Alternate translation: “we want you to be informed” or “we want you to know”


Here, brothers means fellow Christians.

τῶν κοιμωμένων

Here to be asleep is a euphemism for being dead. Alternate translation: “those who have died” (See: Euphemism)

ἵνα μὴ λυπῆσθε, καθὼς καὶ οἱ λοιποὶ

“because we do not want you grieve like the rest”

μὴ λυπῆσθε

to mourn, be sad about something

καθὼς καὶ οἱ λοιποὶ, οἱ μὴ ἔχοντες ἐλπίδα

“like people who do not confidence in the future promise.” You can state this clearly what those people do not have confidence about. Alternate translation: “like the people who are not sure that they will rise from the dead” (See: Assumed Knowledge and Implicit Information)

1 Thessalonians 4:14


Here, we refers to Paul and his audience. (See: Exclusive and Inclusive ‘We’)


“rose to live again”

τοὺς κοιμηθέντας

Here, fallen asleep is a polite way to refer to having died. (See: Euphemism)

1 Thessalonians 4:15

ἐν λόγῳ Κυρίου

Here, word is a metonym for “message.” Alternate translation: “by means of understanding the teachings of the Lord” (See: Metonymy)

εἰς τὴν παρουσίαν τοῦ Κυρίου

“when the Lord returns”

1 Thessalonians 4:16

αὐτὸς ὁ Κύριος…καταβήσεται

“the Lord himself … will come down”


“of the chief angel”

οἱ νεκροὶ ἐν Χριστῷ ἀναστήσονται πρῶτον

The dead in Christ are those believers who have passed away. Alternate translation: “those who believe in Jesus Christ, but who have already died, will rise first” (See: Assumed Knowledge and Implicit Information)

1 Thessalonians 4:17

ἡμεῖς οἱ ζῶντες

Here, we refers to all believers who have not died. (See: Exclusive and Inclusive ‘We’)

σὺν αὐτοῖς

The word them refers to the dead believers who were made alive again.

ἁρπαγησόμεθα ἐν νεφέλαις εἰς ἀπάντησιν τοῦ Κυρίου εἰς ἀέρα

“will be pulled up … to meet the Lord Jesus in the sky”

1 Thessalonians 5

1 Thessalonians 5 General Notes

Structure and formatting

Paul concludes his letter in a way that was typical of letters in the ancient Near East.

Special concepts in this chapter

Day of the Lord

The exact time of the coming day of the Lord will be a surprise to the world. This is what the simile “like a thief in the night” means. Because of this, Christians are to live prepared for the coming of the Lord. (See: day of the Lord, day of Yahweh and Simile)

Quench the Spirit

This means to ignore or work against the Holy Spirit’s guidance and work.

1 Thessalonians 5:1

In this chapter the words “we” and “us” refer to Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, unless otherwise noted. (See: Exclusive and Inclusive ‘We’)

The word you is plural and refers to the believers at the church of Thessalonica. (See: Forms of You)

Paul continues talking about the day Jesus will come back.

τῶν χρόνων καὶ τῶν καιρῶν

This refers to the events preceding the Lord Jesus’ return.


Here, brothers means fellow Christians.

1 Thessalonians 5:2


“very well” or “accurately”

ὡς κλέπτης ἐν νυκτὶ οὕτως

Just as one does not know which night a thief may come, we do not know when the day of the Lord will come. Alternate translation: “unexpectedly” (See: Simile)

1 Thessalonians 5:3

ὅταν λέγωσιν

“When the people may say”

τότε αἰφνίδιος…ὄλεθρος

“then unexpected destruction”

ὥσπερ ἡ ὠδὶν τῇ ἐν γαστρὶ ἐχούσῃ

Just as a pregnant woman’s birth pains come suddenly and do not stop until the birth is complete, the destruction will come, and people will not escape. Alternate translation: “like the birth pains of a pregnant woman” (See: Simile)

1 Thessalonians 5:4


Here, brothers means fellow Christians.

οὐκ ἐστὲ ἐν σκότει

Paul speaks of evil and ignorance about God as if they were darkness. Alternate translation: “you are not unknowing, like people who live in the dark” (See: Metaphor)

ἵνα ἡ ἡμέρα ὑμᾶς ὡς κλέπτας καταλάβῃ

The day when the Lord comes should not be a surprise to believers. (See: Simile)

1 Thessalonians 5:5

πάντες γὰρ ὑμεῖς υἱοὶ φωτός ἐστε, καὶ υἱοὶ ἡμέρας

Paul speaks of the truth as if it were light and day. Alternate translation: “For you know the truth, like people who live in the light, like people during the day” (See: Metaphor)

οὐκ ἐσμὲν νυκτὸς οὐδὲ σκότους

Paul speaks of evil and ignorance about God as if they were darkness. Alternate translation: “We are not unknowing, like people who live in the darkness, like people at night” (See: Metaphor)

1 Thessalonians 5:6

μὴ καθεύδωμεν ὡς οἱ λοιποί

Paul speaks of spiritual unawareness as if it were sleep. Alternate translation: “let us not be like others who are not aware that Jesus is coming back” (See: Metaphor)

μὴ καθεύδωμεν

The word we refers to all believers. (See: Exclusive and Inclusive ‘We’)

γρηγορῶμεν καὶ νήφωμεν

Paul describes spiritual awareness as the opposite of sleep and drunkenness. (See: Metaphor)

1 Thessalonians 5:7

οἱ γὰρ καθεύδοντες, νυκτὸς καθεύδουσιν

Just as when people sleep and do not know what is happening, so the people of this world do not know that Christ will return. (See: Metaphor)

οἱ μεθυσκόμενοι, νυκτὸς μεθύουσιν

Paul is stating that it is at night when people become drunk, so when people are unaware of Christ’s return they do not live a self-controlled life. (See: Metaphor)

1 Thessalonians 5:8

In verses 8-10 the word “we” refers to all believers. (See: Exclusive and Inclusive ‘We’)

ἡμεῖς…ἡμέρας ὄντες

Paul speaks of knowing the truth about God as belonging to the day. Alternate translation: “we, knowing the truth” or “we, having received the light of truth” (See: Metaphor)


Paul compares being sober to exercising self-control. Alternate translation: “should exercise self-control” (See: Metaphor)

ἐνδυσάμενοι θώρακα πίστεως καὶ ἀγάπης

As a soldier would put on a breastplate to protect his body, a believer who lives by faith and love will find protection. Alternate translation: “protect ourselves with faith and love” or “protect ourselves by trusting Christ and loving him” (See: Metaphor)

περικεφαλαίαν, ἐλπίδα σωτηρίας

As a helmet protects a soldier’s head, assurance of salvation protects the believer. Alternate translation: “protect ourselves by being certain that Christ will save us” (See: Metaphor)

1 Thessalonians 5:10

εἴτε γρηγορῶμεν εἴτε καθεύδωμεν

These are polite ways of saying alive or dead. Alternate translation: “whether we are alive or dead” (See: Euphemism)

1 Thessalonians 5:11

οἰκοδομεῖτε εἷς τὸν ἕνα

Here, build up is a metaphor that means “encourage.” Alternate translation: “encourage each other” (See: Metaphor)

1 Thessalonians 5:12

Paul begins to give his final instructions to the church in Thessalonica.


Here, brothers means fellow believers.

εἰδέναι τοὺς κοπιῶντας

“to esteem and appreciate those who are involved in leading”

προϊσταμένους ὑμῶν ἐν Κυρίῳ

This refers to people God appointed to serve as leaders of the local group of believers.

1 Thessalonians 5:13

ἡγεῖσθαι αὐτοὺς ὑπέρἐκπερισσοῦ ἐν ἀγάπῃ, διὰ τὸ ἔργον αὐτῶν

Paul exhorts the believers to love and esteem their church leaders.

1 Thessalonians 5:16

πάντοτε χαίρετε

Paul is exhorting the believers to maintain a spiritual attitude of rejoicing in all things.

1 Thessalonians 5:17

ἀδιαλείπτως προσεύχεσθε

Paul is exhorting the believers to be vigilant in prayer.

1 Thessalonians 5:18

ἐν παντὶ εὐχαριστεῖτε

Paul is exhorting the believers to express thankfulness in all things.

ἐν παντὶ

In all circumstances

τοῦτο γὰρ θέλημα Θεοῦ

Paul is referring to the behavior he just mentioned as being God’s will for the believers.

1 Thessalonians 5:19

τὸ Πνεῦμα μὴ σβέννυτε

“Do not stop the Holy Spirit from working among you”

1 Thessalonians 5:20

προφητείας μὴ ἐξουθενεῖτε

“Do not have contempt for prophecies” or “Do not hate anything the Holy Spirit tells someone”

1 Thessalonians 5:21

πάντα δοκιμάζετε

“Make sure that all messages that seem to come from God truly come from him”

τὸ καλὸν κατέχετε

Paul speaks of messages from the Holy Spirit as if they were objects that one could grasp in his hands. (See: Metaphor)

1 Thessalonians 5:23

ἁγιάσαι ὑμᾶς ὁλοτελεῖς

This refers to God making a person sinless and perfect in his sight.

ὁλόκληρον ὑμῶν τὸ πνεῦμα, καὶ ἡ ψυχὴ, καὶ τὸ σῶμα, ἀμέμπτως…τηρηθείη

Here, spirit, and soul, and body represent the whole person. If your language does not have three words for these parts you can state it as “your whole life” or “you.” You can state this in active form. Alternate translation: “may God make your whole life without sin” or “may God keep you completely blameless” (See: Active or Passive)

1 Thessalonians 5:24

πιστὸς ὁ καλῶν ὑμᾶς

“He is faithful who calls you” or “God who calls you is faithful”

ὃς καὶ ποιήσει

“and he will be helping you”

1 Thessalonians 5:25

Paul gives his closing statements.

1 Thessalonians 5:26


Here, brothers means fellow Christians.

1 Thessalonians 5:27

ἐνορκίζω ὑμᾶς τὸν Κύριον, ἀναγνωσθῆναι τὴν ἐπιστολὴν

You can state this in active form. Alternate translation: “I urge you, as if the Lord were speaking to you, to have people read this letter” or “With the authority of the Lord I direct you to read this letter” (See: Active or Passive)