The Good: Again, not exactly good, but interesting. This is apparently the very first NT writing, dating to about 49 CE.
The Bad: V 4 – Some people are God’s chosen – so that must mean some aren’t. V 5 “the Holy Spirit gave you full assurance that what we said was true”. Exactly what is the evidence here – and what is it evidence of? haha V 6 The glorification of suffering (again). V 10 – believers are expecting Jesus to return within their lifetime.
The Bad: V 1-13 – Paul seems to be constantly on the defensive here, protesting that he was not preaching with deceit or mockery, nor using flattery to get people’s money, nor seeking praise, nor making excessive demands. He makes a big deal of how hard he has worked, and how devout and honest and blameless he is. Has anyone said otherwise? There’s no context given here regarding his need for a defense. And does anyone else notice that it’s all about Paul? What an ego – it’s always about Paul. But think about it – this is his first letter of the OT, written less than 20 years after Jesus supposedly died. Why isn’t he writing about Jesus instead of focusing on himself?
V 18 Paul wanted to stop by for a visit, but ‘Satan’ prevented it. Why? How? These epistles are big on grandiose claims and short on detail.
The Ugly: V 14 – for the umpteenth time, the glorification of suffering. And v 15-16 – Those nasty Jews killed Jesus. Blame the Jews.
There’s another brief reference to Jesus coming in Paul’s lifetime (v 13). And a reader caught a discrepancy in this verse as well – the KJV does not refer to the ‘return’ or ‘second coming’ of Christ; only the arrival of Christ. As in – the first coming. The NLT interprets that to mean Christ returning, because of course that’s what most Christians believe. Apart from that one interesting verse, this chapter is just a lot of basic Christianese – encourage and strengthen you in your faith… resist temptation… stand firm in the lord… pray earnestly for you… yeah, whatever…
The Good: V 4 – well not exactly good, but good for a laugh. Coming on the heels of v 3, warning against ‘fornication’, Paul warns that everyone should know how to possess his ‘vessel’ in sanctification and honor. Bahaha! The NLT interprets it thus: “each of you will control his own body and live in holiness and honor”. Sure.
The Bad: V 6 Never harm or cheat a fellow believer because the lord will avenge such sins. Wow – no! How about just – never harm or cheat a fellow human being; it shouldn’t matter whether they are part of your in-group or not. And behaving merely to avoid punishment is pretty primitive moral reasoning. Ditto v 10 – don’t just love your fellow believers; love your fellow human beings.
V 11-12 seem like an admonition to become self-sufficient so as to avoid needing to rely on unbelievers; in other words, manage resources within your own group and shun the outside world. Like a commune, or colony? There certainly are many cults and sects who live like this.
The Ugly: In v 13-14, Paul claims to know what will happen to believers who have died. He doesn’t want his followers to be like unbelievers, who have no hope! V 15-17 – he has it on good authority from the lord (that would mean his visions/dreams/hallucinations) what will happen. Read it yourself, and don’t laugh – it’s a serious matter for people who actually believe this kind of dangerous conspiratorial bullshit. Here’s an example (read the whole site if you dare, but mainly see bullet #1 ‘The Rapture’).
The Good: In the middle of this chapter, Paul issues ‘advice for living’ – like some primitive Dr Phil. There are actually a few pearls of wisdom in there – v 14-16, and v 21-22. Maybe he should take his own advice in v 21, though (test everything, and hold onto that which is good). And I’ll qualify v 22, because it depends on how you define evil.
The Bad: In v 1-11 we get some more details about when the rapture/end times will occur (spoiler, Paul doesn’t have a clue); another reference to the Armor of God (I can’t help giggling); and some Basic Christianity (Christ died for us etc etc). Ho-hum. And some of Paul’s advice in that middle section demonstrates his belief in ‘woo’ (v 17, 19, and 20), which directly contradicts what he says in v 21.
Quotes: I didn’t single out any particular quotations from any of 1 Thessalonians, because the favorites are just about what we’d expect, and I’m getting tired of the same stuff. Most of the memes feature verses about prayer and other Basics of Christianity (god loves you, peace, hope, thankfulness, etc).