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1Thess 5:20, 21

Discussion in 'Bible Study' started by Siloam, Feb 14, 2015.

  1. In the last chapter of 1st Thessalonians, Paul lists some final instructions or recommendations for how to live our daily lives.

    Many of them are short and to the point. Some, like verse 15, is both the instruction of what not to do “See that none render evil for evil unto any man;” and an instruction of what to do instead “but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men”.

    My question concerns verse 5:20 & 21, which King James renders

    20: Despise not prophesyings.

    21: Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.

    These seem to be two separate instructions.

    While NIV renders those verses as

    20: Do not treat prophecies with contempt 21 but test them all; hold on to what is good.

    In the NIV version the 'them all' in V-21 refers back to the prophecies of v-20 and indicates that the testing of scripture is part of treating them with respect.

    I have checked several other versions. Newer translations seem to favor the single sentence, which specifically targets the testing to the scriptures.

    Older versions keep the verses separate, which in context would seem to make them less closely related admonitions.

    I am not a scholar in the ancient languages.

    My question is: Does the original text favor the separate verses rendering with two less related (short & to the point) instructions, or to giving an instruction to test scripture? (which I would understand to mean study them and cross compare them, holding on to the interpretations that are consistent with all of God's word).
  2. There's a conjunction between vs. 20 and 21, "but". So I'd agree with the NIV rendering. The Greek then has "test everything", but coming after "but" means that "everything" is connected back to "prophecies".
    Major and Siloam say Amen and like this.
  3. Another possibility is that "prophecies" refers to prophecies among the members of the Church, not scripture. This reading seems to best follow the admonition "Do not quench the Spirit," and would make the NIV and KJV rendering mean the same thing, which could perhaps be paraphrased something like, "When someone among you has a prophecy, don't disregard it, but test/prove it, so that you don't dismiss something the Spirit is trying to tell you."
    LanceA and Big Moose say Amen and like this.
  4. The problem with both the Greek and Hebrew originals is there are no punctuations. They are all one big sentence without even spaces, like this:


    It's up to the translator where to put the comma, period, colon, semicolon, etc. This issue is indeed a serious issue because in the west, that can change the meaning of the intended words.

    Here's the Greek Codex Vaticanus... if you look up your verse, you'll see that the "ΔΕ" meaning "but" is added...

    This understanding will open your eyes to a new way to read the word of God.
    Major likes this.
  5. Indeed, that why there are many interpretations. It's great to see it written in the originals. I was reading something about the Codex Vaticanus the other day; can't place my finger on what it was...
  6. Agreed.
  7. That is interesting. I was standing in the bathroom the other day and could not remember if I had just come in or was about to go out.
  8. Could it also be referring to "balance" because the very next verse tells them to abstain from every possible kind of evil.

    It may be that Paul was encouraging them to not hinder someone who is genuinely working for God neither should they be gullible and accept anyone who claims to be religious.
    Roads likes this.
  9. :LOL: :)
  10. Ab is 100% correct here and that is why some separate these with semi-colons and others commas...but separate or as related the whole list is valuable
    Major likes this.
  11. Think of it like this:

    Don't trust me.
    Don't, trust me.​

    Two meanings right? One little comma. Big deal in English.
  12. It can be smaller than a comma. It can be whitespace

    God is nowhere -- The cry of the atheist
    God is now here -- The believer who feels God's presence.
    Abdicate and Fish_of_Faith say Amen and like this.

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