“We also continuously give thanks to God, because when you received the word of God that you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but — as it truly is — the word of God, which also is releasing divine energy in you who believe.” (1 Thessalonians 2:13)
There are many different “holy” books that have been written in many different religious traditions. In one way or another, they all claim to have a message from God. However, the apostle Paul, as he writes 1 Thessalonians, adds an additional claim. That claim is that the truth of Christ actually releases something supernatural into the lives of the people who receive it. It releases an energy that actually transforms a person’s life.
It is this truth that makes the Bible more than a book of rules and regulations. While the Bible contains many teachings on how to live the best life, it also recognizes that living that best life is beyond us. That is why the promise of divine energy is so important. The Bible doesn’t just teach us about how to live, it releases the very power in us that gives us the ability to live our best lives.
The message of the gospel is that Jesus died so that we might have forgiveness, the promise of eternal life, resurrection from the dead, and the power to live a new life here and now. While those who claim to follow Christ still have the ability to ignore the power that is available for a transformed life, those who do not ignore this power are able to live above their base nature, and truly release the life of God on this earth.
Divine energy is available to us. It comes through reading and applying God’s truth to our hearts. That is why it is helpful to read translations posts such as this. It is one more way that God releases divine energy to us.
Now, on to the translation of 1 Thessalonians 2.
1 Thessalonians 2:1-20
A Translation by Randal Cutter
2:1 For you yourselves know, brothers, that our stay with you was not without impact,*
2:2 but after we suffered and were deprived of our rights* in Philippi—as you know—with God’s help we had the confidence to share the gospel of God with you in the face of strong opposition.
2:3 For our message does not come from error, impurity, or deception,
2:4 but we have been proven genuine by God and entrusted with the gospel. We speak, not in order to please men, but to please the God who tests our hearts.
2:5 We did not come with a flattering message, as you know, nor with a greedy motive. God is our witness.
2:6 We also did not seek human honor, either from you or from others,
2:7 though as apostles of Christ we have the right to be a burden, but instead were like children among you. Like a nursemaid caring for her children,
2:8 we waited on you, and we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God, but also our very lives, because you became very dear to us.
2:9 For, you remember, brothers, our hard work and toil, working night and day so not to be a burden to any of you, as we preached to you the gospel of God.
2:10 You—and God—are our witnesses, as to how holy, righteous, and blameless we were to those who believed.
2:11 As you know, we encouraged, comforted, and testified to each one of you as a father to his children,
2:12 so that you walk worthy of the God who is calling you into his kingdom and glory.
2:13 We also continuously give thanks to God, because when you received the word of God that you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but — as it truly is — the word of God, which also is releasing divine energy* in you who believe.
2:14 For you, brothers, became imitators of the assemblies* of God in Judea that are in Christ Jesus, because you suffered in the same way from your own countrymen, just as they did from those in Judea
2:15 who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and persecuted us severely. They are not pleasing God, and are a hindrance to everyone
2:16 when they prevent us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they might be saved.* The result is that they heap up their sin each time they do this, and the end time wrath has already drawn near them.*
2:17 And we, brothers, have felt orphaned by our separation from you for a short season of time, in person not in affection, but we eagerly desired to see you in person.
2:18 We wanted to come to you — I, Paul, wanted to come several times — but Satan blocked us.
2:19 For who will be our hope, our joy, or crown of triumph in the presence of the Lord Jesus at his coming, if it is not you?
2:20 You are our glory and our joy.
2:1 Without Impact: You could more literally transfer this phrase, “It was not empty.” Since it wasn’t empty, it added something, or had impact.
2:2 Deprived of our rights: The Greek word refers to outrageous abuse that is unjust. “Insult” (see NIV 1984) is too weak a translation of this word. The 2011 NIV translates it, “treated outrageously,” because it captures the unjust nature of the word. My translation attempts to capture the official nature of the injustice.
2:13 Divine Energy: The Greek word refers to supernatural power or energy, whether from God’s activity, or Satan’s activity. Obviously, in this case, Paul is referencing divine energy. The word of God releases divine energy in those who believe. This is a stunning truth, and one that is worth showcasing with a translation that highlights it.
2:14 Assemblies of God: The Greek word I have translated “assembly,” is ekklesia. While we normally translate this word “church,” it was a word used in Greek culture to refer to any type of assembly. It eventually became a well-known technical term referring to churches or synagogues in the New Testament. However, in this instance, Paul is writing his very first letter to a group of new believers in Thessalonica who would need to know what type of assembly was being discussed; the ones in Christ Jesus.
2:16 They are not pleasing God . . . when they prevent us . . .: It is vitally important that we translate this section with great care so that we do not commit a grave error that hinders the gospel. Some versions actually have translated this passage in a way that seems to refer to identity rather than actions. Those versions can make it appear that the Jewish people are, by nature, displeasing to God. Not only is this a violation of clear biblical statements to the contrary (see Romans 11:28, “but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable.”), it ignores the fact that Paul himself was one of those, “who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets.” He is clearly calling out the continued actions of opposition, rather than inherent identity, or what he said would also have applied to Paul himself. Paul’s statements only apply to those of his countrymen that were actively opposing him and his message. Paul believed that those who continued to oppose him were not pleasing God. It would have been odd if he didn’t believe this.
2:16 End time wrath: This difficult phrase is woodenly translated, “The wrath of God has overtaken them unto the end.” While translators interpret this phrase in many different ways, the most obvious and contextually sound way is to recognize that Paul saw the progressively worsening political situation in Judea as a sign of judgment because of their opposition to the gospel, and he also saw it as a sign of the end of the current age. He understood that as the political situation with Rome worsened, that those who opposed him would no longer be able to do so adamantly. He refers to the deteriorating political situation as “end time wrath” because he knew the church age was beginning, even as the current age was ending.
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Image credit: Bible by Randal Cutter/iPhone 6s/Photoshop Oil Paint Filter