Tuesday, September 2, 2008

SOAP - 1 Thessalonians Paraphrase

For most of my Christian life I have been against paraphrases. I have believed (and still do to a point) that paraphrases leave to much room for human error, human misinterpretation, and/or plain dishonesty when dealing with Scripture. Even so, I have found that writing a paraphrase has actually helped me understand what I am reading. In writing one I have to pay closer attention to what the text is actually saying and then try to put it into words that are easier understood.

Since I started the SOAP method of Bible study I have had to paraphrase each passage of Scripture. I am now finished with 1 Thessalonians. As a result, I have a paraphrase of the entire book. I thought it would be a fun to put the whole thing together in one spot.

Before I do this I want to make a disclaimer. Part of my job as a pastor is to study Scripture and try to determine what its basic message is. This is called hermeneutics. I then try to teach/preach it in such a way that it doesn't loose its intended meaning but can be applied to lives today. I make no pretense of having correctly paraphrased 1 Thessalonians. I did my best to paraphrase it in such a way that helped me understand this wonderful letter that Paul wrote. I would also say that some of my paraphrasing has probably been influenced by what was currently going on in my life. I find that at certain times in my life certain parts of passages speak louder because they apply to what is going on.

I humbly submit this paraphrase of 1 Thessalonians as only a reference and not a translation of Scripture itself. I'd hate to hear someone say "Pastor B's paraphrase says...." All paraphrases need to be compared to legitimate translations of Scripture or the original text. If you really want to know what the Bible says you should make a thorough study of it yourself.

Here is 1 Thessalonians paraphrased:

Chapter 1

vs.1 Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy

To the church of God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ in Thessalonica:

Grace and peace be with you.

vv.2-3 You are continually on our mind when we pray, and we thank God for you and what you do. When we pray for you we constantly remember how your faith is evidenced through the things you do, how you go out of your way to do things for others because you love them, and how you continually endure hardships because you have a confident expectation of the future found in Christ.

vv.4-5 Brothers and sisters, who are loved by God, it is obvious that he has chosen you. Why is it obvious? Because when we came to you with the Gospel it was not only spoken in word but it was accompanied by God's power through the the Holy Spirit and the very fact that we were (are) convinced it is true. Our sincerity in what we believe should be obvious to you for you saw how it influenced our lives as we lived among you.

vv.6-10 After we had come to you in this way you became imitators of us and we in turn are imitators of Jesus Christ. We know this to be true because when you received the message it was received with the joy of the Holy Spirit even though you were suffering from a great deal of trouble. Because of this you are an example and inspiration to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. In fact, we are hearing reports about your faith all over the place!!! It is to the point that we don't say any thing about you because people are telling us about how you placed your trust in God, how you turned from worshiping idols, and how you are now waiting for God's Son, who was raised from the dead, to come and save us from the wrath to come.

Chapter 2

vv.1-8 You know we came to you for a reason. In spite of already having suffered in Philippi, we still came to you to share the Gospel. We share because of our faith in God. We even shared it with you while you were going through your own conflict. What we shared was not false and we never had the intention to deceive you. God has given us the responsibility to share His Good News, and this is what we do. We do not do it for any other reason. We don't do it to please people, but we want to please God who is constantly testing our faith. It should be obvious! We didn't come trying to say things that would flatter you, how could our message be misunderstood for flattery. We didn't come to try and get money from you. God is our witness! We weren't looking for a bunch of followers who glorified us!! I suppose we could have demanded this since we are Christ's apostles, but we didn't. Instead, we came to you gentle like, like a mother who takes care of a new born infant. We love you guys so much that we not only shared the Gospel with you but we stayed and gave our lives to you. That is how much you mean to us!!

vv.9-12 You can remember that we were very concerned about not coming across as freeloaders. While telling you about God's good news we worked both night and day right along side of you as not to be a burden. You, and God, can testify to our actions. We tried to be as holy, righteous and blameless in our relationship with you as possible. Remember how we treated you. We treated you like a father should treat his child. We taught you what was right, we encouraged you to do right and we held you accountable in doing the right that is worthy of God. This is the same God who has given you a place in His kingdom and who has shared His glory with you.

vv.13-16 We also continually thank God that when you accepted the word we brought to you, you accepted it as the very Word of God and not mere words of men. Indeed it is God's word and it is working in you. Look at how you have become imitators of the churches in Judea. Your own countrymen are persecuting you just as the Jews persecuted them. Jews were the ones who killed our Lord Jesus and the prophets of old. They also drove us out. Their actions are very displeasing to God because they are opposing his message from going unto the rest of the world that those who are in it might be saved. By doing this they keep stacking sin upon sin, but God is taking care of them right now.vs.

17-20 Even though we had to personally leave you for a short time (even though you really have been in our hearts this whole time) we desire, in fact we are very eager, to be with you once again. We have wanted to come to you--I Paul have continually wanted to come to you--but Satan has stopped us each time we tried. Why are you so important to us? When Jesus comes back we are going to tell him about you. You have been our hope and joy. You have been the crown of our ministry. You make us shine giving us great joy.

Chapter 3

vv.1-5 As a result of all I have written so far when we got to Athens we could not bear not knowing how you were doing. So we stayed in Athens and sent Timothy, our brother and coworker in spreading the good news about Jesus, to you. He has been sent to help and encourage you in your faith because we know that it will be tempting for you to react negatively to the troubles we are facing and possibly lose faith. We need to remind you that when we were there with you we told you this day would come. It should come as no surprise that we are suffering right now. I couldn't bear the thought of your hearing about our troubles and not knowing how you were reacting. I was afraid that you might have given into Satan who uses every advantage he can to tempt you. My fear was that you might have given in making all of our hard work among you useless.

vv.6-10 But now Timothy is back with us and has brought us very encouraging news concerning your faith and love. He tells us that you think about us always and long to see us, and we long to see you. I can't tell you how much this news is comforting us during our trial here. Knowing that you are standing fast in the Lord makes it all the more bearable and gives us reason to keep going. How can we thank God anymore then to continue on? You have brought us great joy! We continue to pray for you always, and we pray that we might finally be able to come to you so that if you are lacking in faith over our troubles we may be able to put such unfaithfulness to an end.

vv.11-13 Now may our Father God, and Jesus Christ our Lord, enable us to visit you, and may he cause your love for one another (and for all) to increase and overflow as much as ours does for you. We pray this so that when our Lord Jesus comes back, with all his holy ones, you will be able to stand before God with a blameless heart.

Chapter 4

vv.1-8 Now let me get to the point of this letter. Please listen to us as we ask you, in our Lord Jesus, to live in the manner we taught you; a manner that pleases God. To an extent, you are doing this, but we want to urge you to do it more and more. We gave you specific instructions through our Lord Jesus. The will of God is for you to live a holy life. You need to stay away from all sexual acts that are wrong. Treat your bodies with respect by learning how to control yourselves. The world lives by uncontrolled desires because they don't know God. You do!! Do not intentionally sin in this way for when you do you hurt each other. We warned you before and we will warn you again. God will take vengeance on anyone who does these types of things. God didn't call you to be like the rest of the world, he called you to be different from it. If anyone disregards this they are not disregarding man but God who has given you the Holy Spirit who reminds you not to do these things.

vv.9-12 I want to write to you concerning your love for one another. I don't need to write you and tell you that you are supposed to do it or how to do it for God has already taught you how. In fact, you are doing it very well and it shows in how you have loved all fellow Christians through Macedonia. No, instead I want to encourage you to allow your love for one another to continue to grow and be exhibited through your actions. Make it a point to not be too active. Focus on what you need to do and do what it takes to get it done!! This is what we taught you when we were with you. If you do these things you will be a good reflection of Jesus and you will not have to depend upon anyone else.

vv.13-18 We don't want you to worry about those Christians who have died. The people of this world have no hope and therefore grieve when they lose someone, but we believe in Jesus who died and rose again! If Jesus died and rose again then their is hope. God will cause all those Christians who have died to come back when Jesus does. We know this to be true because God has revealed it to us and so we pass it on to you. We who are left behind (waiting for Jesus to come) will not precede those who have died. Jesus will come from heaven with a sound of the trumpet of God and he will command with the voice of an archangel and the Christians who have died will rise first. Then we who are alive will rise and together we will meet Jesus in the sky, and we will at that point be with him forever. Use what we are saying to encourage one another.

Chapter 5

vv.1-11 I really don't need to write to you about when Jesus is going to come back. You know full well that his coming will be like that of when a thief comes to rob you. A thief seems to come when people feel safe and secure. There is no expectation of his coming, but you are not like these people. You know that Jesus is coming, even though you don't know when. Your eyes have been opened unlike the rest of the worlds giving you the opportunity to be ready for when he comes. Those whose eyes are closed are not prepared for Jesus's return. Because you are, live your lives in full expectation of Jesus' return. Live full of faith, love and confident expectation that we will be saved when Jesus comes. God's plan for us is not destruction but salvation through our Master Jesus who died so that we might have real life through him. So continue to be an encouragement to one another and help each other continue to grow as you have been.

vv.12-13 Brothers and sisters, please respect your pastors, elders and ministry heads. See how valuable they are and love them because of the work they do.

vv.14-15 Put aside selfishness as you work together. We strongly encourage all of you to do the following. Help those who are idle see the folly in being so, encourage those whose faith is weak, and support and strengthen those who are weak in every other way. Above all, have patience with everyone. Make sure that each of you love one another. Christians do not get revenge for a wrong that has been done them, but instead we always do what is right and best no matter what.

v.16 Always exhibit a positive outlook on life.

v.17 Never stop praying.

v.18 No matter what happens give God thanks, for this is God's will for you as you were shown by Jesus.

vv.19-22 Do not prohibit the Spirit from working in you. Do not reject the word of God spoken to you. Test all things of a spiritual nature, and that which is good keep. Stay away from that which is evil.

vv.23-24 In closing, may God, the God of peace, help you to live a life that is separate from those in the world. What I mean by this is, that you as a whole person be kept blameless until the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. God has called you out of the world and he is faithful to help you be holy.

v.25 Please continue to pray for us.

v.26 Greet everyone with the love of Christ.

v.27 You need to swear before the Lord that you will read this letter to everyone.

v.28 May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

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