1 I, Paul, together here with Silas and Timothy, send greetings to the church at Thessalonica, Christians assembled by God the Father and by the Master, Jesus Christ. God's amazing grace be with you! God's robust peace! 2 Every time we think of you, we thank God for you. Day and night you're in our prayers 3 as we call to mind your work of faith, your labor of love, and your patience of hope in following our Master, Jesus Christ, before God our Father. 4 It is clear to us, friends, that God not only loves you very much but also has put his hand on you for something special. 5 When the Message we preached came to you, it wasn't just words. Something happened in you. The Holy Spirit put steel in your convictions. 6 and determined to live that way yourselves. In imitating us, you imitated the Master. Although great trouble accompanied the Word, you were able to take great joy from the Holy Spirit! - taking the trouble with the joy, the joy with the trouble. 7 Do you know that all over the provinces of both Macedonia and Achaia believers look up to you? 8 The word has gotten around. Your lives are echoing the Master's Word, not only in the provinces but all over the place. The news of your faith in God is out. We don't even have to say anything anymore - you're the message! 9 People come up and tell us how you received us with open arms, how you deserted the dead idols of your old life so you could embrace and serve God, the true God. 10 They marvel at how expectantly you await the arrival of his Son, whom he raised from the dead - Jesus, who rescued us from certain doom.
1 So, friends, it's obvious that our visit to you was no waste of time. 2 We had just been given rough treatment in Philippi, as you know, but that didn't slow us down. We were sure of ourselves in God, and went right ahead and said our piece, presenting God's Message to you, defiant of the opposition. 3 God tested us thoroughly to make sure we were qualified to be trusted with this Message. 4 Be assured that when we speak to you we're not after crowd approval - only God approval. Since we've been put through that battery of tests, you're guaranteed that both we and the Message are free of error, mixed motives, or hidden agendas. 5 We never used words to butter you up. No one knows that better than you. And God knows we never used words as a smoke screen to take advantage of you. 6 Even though we had some standing as Christ's apostles, we never threw our weight around or tried to come across as important, with you or anyone else. 7 We weren't aloof with you. We took you just as you were. We were never patronizing, never condescending, but we cared for you the way a mother cares for her children. 8 We loved you dearly. Not content to just pass on the Message, we wanted to give you our hearts. And we did. 9 You remember us in those days, friends, working our fingers to the bone, up half the night, moonlighting so you wouldn't have the burden of supporting us while we proclaimed God's Message to you. 10 You saw with your own eyes how discreet and courteous we were among you, with keen sensitivity to you as fellow believers. And God knows we weren't freeloaders! 11 You experienced it all firsthand. With each of you we were like a father with his child, 12 holding your hand, whispering encouragement, showing you step-by-step how to live well before God, who called us into his own kingdom, into this delightful life. 13 And now we look back on all this and thank God, an artesian well of thanks! When you got the Message of God we preached, you didn't pass it off as just one more human opinion, but you took it to heart as God's true word to you, which it is, God himself at work in you believers! 14 Friends, do you realize that you followed in the exact footsteps of the churches of God in Judea, those who were the first to follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ? You got the same bad treatment from your countrymen as they did from theirs, the Jews 15 who killed the Master Jesus (to say nothing of the prophets) and followed it up by running us out of town. They make themselves offensive to God and everyone else 16 by trying to keep us from telling people who've never heard of our God how to be saved. They've made a career of opposing God, and have gotten mighty good at it. But God is fed up, ready to put an end to it. 17 Do you have any idea how very homesick we became for you, dear friends? Even though it hadn't been that long and it was only our bodies that were separated from you, not our hearts, we tried our very best to get back to see you. 18 You can't imagine how much we missed you! I, Paul, tried over and over to get back, but Satan stymied us each time. 19 Who do you think we're going to be proud of when our Master Jesus appears if it's not you? 20 You're our pride and joy!
1 So when we couldn't stand being separated from you any longer and could find no way to visit you ourselves, we stayed in Athens 2 and sent Timothy to get you up and about, cheering you on so you wouldn't be discouraged by these hard times. He's a brother and companion in the faith, God's man in spreading the Message, preaching Christ. 3 Not that the troubles should come as any surprise to you. You've always known that we're in for this kind of thing. It's part of our calling. 4 When we were with you, we made it quite clear that there was trouble ahead. And now that it's happened, you know what it's like. 5 That's why I couldn't quit worrying; I had to know for myself how you were doing in the faith. I didn't want the Tempter getting to you and tearing down everything we had built up together. 6 But now that Timothy is back, bringing this terrific report on your faith and love, we feel a lot better. It's especially gratifying to know that you continue to think well of us, and that you want to see us as much as we want to see you! 7 In the middle of our trouble and hard times here, just knowing how you're doing keeps us going. 8 Knowing that your faith is alive keeps us alive. 9 What would be an adequate thanksgiving to offer God for all the joy we experience before him because of you? 10 We do what we can, praying away, night and day, asking for the bonus of seeing your faces again and doing what we can to help when your faith falters. 11 May God our Father himself and our Master Jesus clear the road to you! 12 And may the Master pour on the love so it fills your lives and splashes over on everyone around you, just as it does from us to you. 13 May you be infused with strength and purity, filled with confidence in the presence of God our Father when our Master Jesus arrives with all his followers.
1 One final word, friends. We ask you - urge is more like it - that you keep on doing what we told you to do to please God, not in a dogged religious plod, but in a living, spirited dance. 2 You know the guidelines we laid out for you from the Master Jesus. 3 God wants you to live a pure life. Keep yourselves from sexual promiscuity. 4 Learn to appreciate and give dignity to your body, 5 not abusing it, as is so common among those who know nothing of God. 6 Don't run roughshod over the concerns of your brothers and sisters. Their concerns are God's concerns, and he will take care of them. We've warned you about this before. 7 God hasn't invited us into a disorderly, unkempt life but into something holy and beautiful - as beautiful on the inside as the outside. 8 If you disregard this advice, you're not offending your neighbors; you're rejecting God, who is making you a gift of his Holy Spirit. 9 Regarding life together and getting along with each other, you don't need me to tell you what to do. You're God-taught in these matters. Just love one another! 10 You're already good at it; your friends all over the province of Macedonia are the evidence. Keep it up; get better and better at it. 11 Stay calm; mind your own business; do your own job. You've heard all this from us before, but a reminder never hurts. 12 We want you living in a way that will command the respect of outsiders, not lying around sponging off your friends. 13 And regarding the question, friends, that has come up about what happens to those already dead and buried, we don't want you in the dark any longer. First off, you must not carry on over them like people who have nothing to look forward to, as if the grave were the last word. 14 Since Jesus died and broke loose from the grave, God will most certainly bring back to life those who died in Jesus. 15 And then this: We can tell you with complete confidence - we have the Master's word on it - that when the Master comes again to get us, those of us who are still alive will not get a jump on the dead and leave them behind. In actual fact, they'll be ahead of us. 16 The Master himself will give the command. Archangel thunder! God's trumpet blast! He'll come down from heaven and the dead in Christ will rise - they'll go first. 17 Then the rest of us who are still alive at the time will be caught up with them into the clouds to meet the Master. 18 Oh, we'll be walking on air! And then there will be one huge family reunion with the Master. So reassure one another with these words.
1 I don't think, friends, that I need to deal with the question of when all this is going to happen. 2 You know as well as I that the day of the Master's coming can't be posted on our calendars. He won't call ahead and make an appointment any more than a burglar would. 3 About the time everybody's walking around complacently, congratulating each other - "We've sure got it made! Now we can take it easy!" - suddenly everything will fall apart. It's going to come as suddenly and inescapably as birth pangs to a pregnant woman. 4 But friends, you're not in the dark, so how could you be taken off guard by any of this? 5 You're sons of Light, daughters of Day. We live under wide open skies and know where we stand. 6 So let's not sleepwalk through life like those others. Let's keep our eyes open and be smart. 7 People sleep at night and get drunk at night. 8 But not us! Since we're creatures of Day, let's act like it. Walk out into the daylight sober, dressed up in faith, love, and the hope of salvation. 9 God didn't set us up for an angry rejection but for salvation by our Master, Jesus Christ. 10 He died for us, a death that triggered life. Whether we're awake with the living or asleep with the dead, we're alive with him! 11 So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you'll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind. I know you're already doing this; just keep on doing it. 12 And now, friends, we ask you to honor those leaders who work so hard for you, who have been given the responsibility of urging and guiding you along in your obedience. 13 Overwhelm them with appreciation and love! 14 Our counsel is that you warn the freeloaders to get a move on. Gently encourage the stragglers, and reach out for the exhausted, pulling them to their feet. Be patient with each person, attentive to individual needs. 15 And be careful that when you get on each other's nerves you don't snap at each other. Look for the best in each other, and always do your best to bring it out. 16 Be cheerful no matter what; 17 pray all the time; 18 thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live. 19 Don't suppress the Spirit, 20 and don't stifle those who have a word from the Master. 21 On the other hand, don't be gullible. Check out everything, and keep only what's good. 22 Throw out anything tainted with evil. 23 May God himself, the God who makes everything holy and whole, make you holy and whole, put you together - spirit, soul, and body - and keep you fit for the coming of our Master, Jesus Christ. 24 The One who called you is completely dependable. If he said it, he'll do it! 25 Friends, keep up your prayers for us. 26 Greet all the Christians there with a holy embrace. 27 And make sure this letter gets read to all the brothers and sisters. Don't leave anyone out. 28 The amazing grace of Jesus Christ be with you!
1 I, Paul, together with Silas and Timothy, greet the church of the Thessalonian Christians in the name of God our Father and our Master, Jesus Christ. 2 Our God gives you everything you need, makes you everything you're to be. 3 You need to know, friends, that thanking God over and over for you is not only a pleasure; it's a must. We have to do it. Your faith is growing phenomenally; your love for each other is developing wonderfully. Why, it's only right that we give thanks. 4 We're so proud of you; you're so steady and determined in your faith despite all the hard times that have come down on you. We tell everyone we meet in the churches all about you. 5 All this trouble is a clear sign that God has decided to make you fit for the kingdom. You're suffering now, 6 but justice is on the way. When the Master Jesus appears out of heaven in a blaze of fire with his strong angels, he'll even up the score by settling accounts with those who gave you such a bad time. 7 His coming will be the break we've been waiting for. 8 Those who refuse to know God and refuse to obey the Message will pay for what they've done. 9 Eternal exile from the presence of the Master and his splendid power is their sentence. 10 But on that very same day when he comes, he will be exalted by his followers and celebrated by all who believe - and all because you believed what we told you. 11 Because we know that this extraordinary day is just ahead, we pray for you all the time - pray that our God will make you fit for what he's called you to be, pray that he'll fill your good ideas and acts of faith with his own energy so that it all amounts to something. 12 If your life honors the name of Jesus, he will honor you. Grace is behind and through all of this, our God giving himself freely, the Master, Jesus Christ, giving himself freely.
1 Now, friends, read these next words carefully. Slow down and don't go jumping to conclusions regarding the day when our Master, Jesus Christ, will come back and we assemble to welcome him. 2 Don't let anyone shake you up or get you excited over some breathless report or rumored letter from me that the day of the Master's arrival has come and gone. 3 Don't fall for any line like that. 4 He'll defy and then take over every so-called god or altar. Having cleared away the opposition, he'll then set himself up in God's Temple as "God Almighty." 5 Don't you remember me going over all this in detail when I was with you? Are your memories that short? 6 You'll also remember that I told you the Anarchist is being held back until just the right time. 7 That doesn't mean that the spirit of anarchy is not now at work. It is, secretly and underground. 8 But the time will come when the Anarchist will no longer be held back, but will be let loose. But don't worry. The Master Jesus will be right on his heels and blow him away. The Master appears and - puff! - the Anarchist is out of there. 9 The Anarchist's coming is all Satan's work. All his power and signs and miracles are fake, 10 evil sleight of hand that plays to the gallery of those who hate the truth that could save them. 11 And since they're so obsessed with evil, God rubs their noses in it - gives them what they want. 12 Since they refuse to trust truth, they're banished to their chosen world of lies and illusions. 13 Meanwhile, we've got our hands full continually thanking God for you, our good friends - so loved by God! God picked you out as his from the very start. Think of it: included in God's original plan of salvation by the bond of faith in the living truth. 14 This is the life of the Spirit he invited you to through the Message we delivered, in which you get in on the glory of our Master, Jesus Christ. 15 So, friends, take a firm stand, feet on the ground and head high. Keep a tight grip on what you were taught, whether in personal conversation or by our letter. 16 May Jesus himself and God our Father, who reached out in love and surprised you with gifts of unending help and confidence, 17 put a fresh heart in you, invigorate your work, enliven your speech.
1 One more thing, friends: Pray for us. Pray that the Master's Word will simply take off and race through the country to a groundswell of response, just as it did among you. 2 And pray that we'll be rescued from these scoundrels who are trying to do us in. I'm finding that not all "believers" are believers. 3 But the Master never lets us down. He'll stick by you and protect you from evil. 4 Because of the Master, we have great confidence in you. We know you're doing everything we told you and will continue doing it. 5 May the Master take you by the hand and lead you along the path of God's love and Christ's endurance. 6 Our orders - backed up by the Master, Jesus - are to refuse to have anything to do with those among you who are lazy and refuse to work the way we taught you. Don't permit them to freeload on the rest. 7 We showed you how to pull your weight when we were with you, so get on with it. 8 We didn't sit around on our hands expecting others to take care of us. In fact, we worked our fingers to the bone, up half the night moonlighting so you wouldn't be burdened with taking care of us. 9 And it wasn't because we didn't have a right to your support; we did. We simply wanted to provide an example of diligence, hoping it would prove contagious. 10 Don't you remember the rule we had when we lived with you? "If you don't work, you don't eat." 11 And now we're getting reports that a bunch of lazy good-for-nothings are taking advantage of you. 12 This must not be tolerated. We command them to get to work immediately - no excuses, no arguments - and earn their own keep. 13 Friends, don't slack off in doing your duty. 14 If anyone refuses to obey our clear command written in this letter, don't let him get by with it. Point out such a person and refuse to subsidize his freeloading. Maybe then he'll think twice. 15 But don't treat him as an enemy. Sit him down and talk about the problem as someone who cares. 16 May the Master of Peace himself give you the gift of getting along with each other at all times, in all ways. May the Master be truly among you! 17 I, Paul, bid you good-bye in my own handwriting. I do this in all my letters, so examine my signature as proof that the letter is genuine. 18 The incredible grace of our Master, Jesus Christ, be with all of you!