Each year during the Advent season I translate the Greek New Testament as part of my daily devotion. In previous years I have worked mostly from the gospels–which always tend to be the frightening Olivet Discourse. This year I am working through epistles.
I take the readings from the Daily Office Lectionary in the Book of Common Prayer. This year is Year One, as I understand it, and that makes the epistle readings from 1 Thessalonians for the first week. I started a week early so that I could post them before the actual assigned readings. I hope to stay a week ahead.
Before you begin to read the translation, please note that my translation style is, I think, unique. My overall goal is to maintain faithfulness to the text but a secondary goal is to make the reading as smooth and modern as possible. This is not always easy. I also try to keep verbs as verbs and nouns as nouns, but that too is tricky, especially given the persistent problem of slipper Greek infinitives and participles. I also tend to want to keep subjects and verbs as close together as possible. That is very hard in light of Paul’s writing style or putting the subject wherever he wants and shoving the verb at the end and oh, while we’re at it, let’s cram as many phrases and prepositions as possible.
In these particular texts from 1 Thessalonians, I’d like to observe that the verb “to walk” is an idiom for “to live.” Many translations go ahead and translate it that way (NIV) but I have decided to maintain the verb “to walk” even if it is archaic. Our lives are not spent walking like the ancients. However, I decided to keep it because it maintains the concept of life as a journey. I also call your attention to Paul’s constant use of “just as” in this letter. He does this as an affirmation of positive thins the Thessalonian believers are doing, but he does it right before he gives them exhortation to improve in that area. It should also be noted that this is a very emotional letter and Paul’s writing style here is, to me anyway, choppy.
Two other things to note. One, I cleaned up the beginning of most of the verses. Paul always seems to begin with a “for” or “but” or “therefore” for every sentence. It makes for good Greek, but lousy reading in English. Second, when possible, I try to use inclusive language for human beings–i.e. “brothers and sisters” where the Greek “adelphoi” is found because that is the way I understand the word’s usage in the plural. However, I do not use inclusive language for the Lord. However, in these readings, note Paul uses both feminine and masculine imagery to describe his relationship to the Thessalonians.
I have broken the text up into the six daily readings (the BCP lectionary Changes on Sundays) so that, if you desire, you could use this translation as your daily devotions for each day of the week in order.
1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
- Paul, Silas, and Timothy—to the Thessalonian church, grace and peace to you in Father God and Lord Jesus Christ.
- We always give thanks for all of you, continually remembering you in our prayers
- remembering before our Father God your faithful work and good labor as well as your patient hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
- We know as brothers and sisters how you have been loved by God as the elect
- because our gospel came not among you only in wonders, but in power, in the Holy Spirit, and with great conviction. You know this is just exactly how we came among you, and it was for your sake.
- You became mimickers of us, receiving the word of the Lord in the midst of great distress with the joy of the Holy Spirit.
- So much so that you became an example to all those who became believers in Macedonia and Achaia.
- The word of the Lord resounds from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has spread to many other places to such a degree that I have no need to tell it anymore.
- For they themselves report to us the kind of acceptance we had with you and how you converted to God from idols to serve the living and real God
- and await his son in the heavens, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus, the rescuer from the coming wrath.
1 Thessalonians 2:1-12
- You yourselves know, brothers and sisters, our arrival to you was not empty.
- And you know how we suffered and were insulted in Philippi yet by our God we had the courage to speak to you God’s gospel in the face of much opposition.
- For our appeal comes not out of error, insincerity or subterfuge
- because we have been approved by God to believe the gospel. So we spoke not to please men but God, who proves our hearts.
- You know that we came not with flattering speech nor a pretext for greediness. God is our witness.
- Neither did we seek glory from people—not from you and not from others—
- even though we were able to by authority as Christ’s apostles, yet instead we became to you as a gentle mother nursing an infant, as she might cherish her own children.
- We longed for you so much that we decided to share not only God’s gospel with you but our very souls, because you became dear loved ones to us.
- Brothers and sisters, you remember our labor and toil night and day, working so as not to be a burden to anyone as we preached God’s gospel among you.
- You believers are witnesses, and so too is God, of how devoutly, uprightly, and blamelessly we behaved among you.
- You know we treated each of one of you as a father would his child;
- encouraging you, consoling you, and affirming you to walk worthy as God calls into his own kingdom and glory.
1 Thessalonians 2:13-20
- For this reason we give thanks continually to God because when you received the word you received what was heard not as the word of men but as it is, the word of God, and it really was the word of God among those of you who believed.
- You became a copy of the bothers in the church of God in Judea, who are in Christ Jesus, because you both suffered from fellow countrymen; they from the Jews.
- After having killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and persecuting us, they displeased God and became hostile to all men.
- Hindering us to speak to the nations so that they might be saved—so much so that now their own sins are fulfilled, as sins always do, and wrath finally has come upon them.
- Now brothers and sisters, you are in our hearts, yet we miss you because we have been orphaned off from you for a moment in time. So we very eagerly long for and desire to see you.
- Therefore we desired to come to you—I, Paul, on more than one occasion—yet Satan blocked us.
- Who is it but you who are our hope, joy, and boasting before the Lord at his coming?
- You are our glory and joy.
1 Thessalonians 3:1-13
- When we couldn’t bear it any longer, we decided to be left behind in Athens, alone.
- And we sent Timothy our brother and co-worker in the gospel of God and Christ to strengthen and encourage your faith.
- So that no one would disturb themselves in these afflictions, which, as you know, we are destined for.
- You know that when we were with you, we forewarned that we are about to be persecuted.
- That is why I sent to know of your faith when I could no longer stand it. I thought perhaps the tempter had tempted you and our labor had been empty.
- But now Timothy came to us from you and told us the good news about your faith, love and fond memories of us and how you always long to see us, just as we long to see you.
- Brothers and sisters, we were encouraged by your faith in our every distress and affliction.
- That you stand firm in the Lord enlivens us!
- For how can we thank God enough for all the joy and rejoicing about you before our God?
- We pray night and day greatly to see your face and to complete your training in the faith.
- May our father God himself and our Lord Jesus pave the road between us and you,
- may the Lord increase and make rich your love toward one another and to everyone just as he has for us,
- and to strengthen your hearts in blameless holiness before our God and father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with his holy ones. [Amen.]
1 Thessalonians 4:1-12
- Finally, brothers and sisters, we ask and encourage you in the Lord Jesus to walk in such a way that you please God just as you received from us, like you do now, but even more.
- For you know what rules we gave you by the Lord Jesus.
- It is the will of God, for the sake of your holiness, to abstain from fornication.
- Each of you knows how to control his tool in holiness and honor,
- not in passionate desires as the heathens who do not know God do.
- Do not go too far and take advantage in the affairs of brothers and sisters for the Lord is always an executor of justice in these matters, just as we forewarned and seriously testified to you.
- God has not called us to unrighteousness, but to holiness.
- Consequently the man who disregards this not only rejects God but the Holy Spirit he gave to us.
- Now, about brotherly love, you do not have need for us to write to you, for you yourselves were taught by God to love one another
- for you do so to all the brothers and sisters in Macedonia. But we encourage you, do so even more.
- Make it your goal to live tranquilly and mind your own business. Work with your hands, just as we commanded you
- to walk properly in the eyes of outsiders, but also so that you have no neediness.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
- Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to not know about those who have died, because you ought not to grieve as others who have no hope.
- If we believe that Jesus died and rose then God will bring those who have died in Jesus with him.
- We say this to you as the word of the Lord, that when the Lord comes, those of us who are living—left behind if you will—should not arrive before those who have died.
- The Lord himself will come down from heaven as he summons the archangel with the sound of God’s trumpet and then those who are dead in Christ rise first.
- Then we who are living—left behind—will all at the same time be carried off into the clouds meeting the Lord in the air and then we will be with the Lord always.
- Console one another with these words.