An Exegetical Paper on
1 Thessalonians 5:16-22
By Elaina Holmes
Principles of Biblical Interpretation
MWF 10:00 a.m. – 11:05 a.m.
Summary Statement: Thessalonians 5:16-22
Paul is giving the Thessalonians instructions on how to live their lives by rejoicing, praying, and giving thanks, and also explaining what God’s will is for them.
Outline: I. Rejoice, for God is great (v. 16) II. Pray to God continuously (v. 17) III. Make sure you are always giving thanks to God, for this is His will (v. 18) IV. Do not disregard or extinguish the Spirit in your life, but fuel it (v.19) V. Don’t disregard prophets, but make sure they are true (vv. 20-21) VI. Avoid all things evil and stay pure (v. 22)
Verse: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-22
16 Rejoice always; 17 pray without ceasing;
18 in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
19 Do not quench the Spirit; 20 do not despise prophetic utterances.
21 But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good;
22 abstain from every form of evil.
Introduction Everyone has bad things happen to them. “That’s life,” we say. We pity ourselves and slip into bad habits when we feel life has thrown us a bad hand of cards. But in the passage of 1 Thessalonians 5:16-22, Paul gives the Thessalonians, and ultimately us, some reminders and commands on how we are to live in order to fulfill God’s will. Paul commands the Thessalonians in 5:16-18 to always rejoice and have the joy of the Lord shining through their thoughts and actions, to pray often and with a good heart, and to thank God for everything he does and is doing. For each one of these commands Paul says that these commands must be done continuously and without fail. We are to rejoice, pray, and give thanks no matter the circumstance or time. Paul then moves on to warn us of what not to do. He commands that believers do not quench, or put out, the Lord, and to not despise prophets. But he then follows those two warnings with more positive commands to instead test and examine the things said to be spiritual gifts, and to avoid all evil. These commands and warnings are straight-forward and applicable not only to the people living during Paul’s time, but should be followed by all believers everywhere and at all times. These commands are to be followed no matter what we are going through, and should be carefully listened to.
Rejoice, for God is great (v. 16) 16Rejoice always. Paul is commanding the Thessalonians to be joyful and glad. A Christian is supposed to always be happy and joyful because of the many blessings God has bestowed upon us. Michael Holmes explains in his book, The NIV Application Commentary, the emphasis on joy is not so much on the experience of joy, but the active expression of it.” So, Paul is telling the Thessalonians that they should not only be joyful with and from God internally, but that they must also outwardly show their constant happiness in and from the Lord. Other translations of this verse sometimes interchange “rejoice” with “be joyful,” but when “joyful” is used it can sometimes be confused as being a command for how the Thessalonians should feel internally versus “rejoice,” which sounds more like an external command for them, and us, to carry out. Χαίρω, “to rejoice,” is the most commonly used form of the verb in the 75 times the word appears in the New Testament. It a primary verb and the transliterated word is Chairo, meaning “to rejoice, be glad,” “to rejoice exceedingly,” “to be well, thrive,” “in salutations, hail,” or “at the beginning of letters: to give one greeting, salute.” Χαίρω was used secularly in the New Testament. It was often used as a greeting with χαίρεɩν, but that specific derivative is only used three times in the New Testament. Paul uses it as a matter or mood several times in 1 Thessalonians to mean rejoicing by proclaiming Christ. He is telling…