1 Thessalonians

When Paul and his companions visited Thessalonica in AD 49 or 50, it was a well-established city. It had been founded in the fourth century BC by Cassander, one of Alexander the Great's army officers. He named it after his wife, Thessalonica, who was Alexander's half-sister. It occupied a strategic position with a natural harbour at the head of the Thermaic Gulf, and it was situated on the Via Egnatia, the main route between Rome and the East. Thessalonica was the capital of the Roman province of Macedonia and nearly became world capital. The evangelisation of Thessalonica is recorded in Acts 17. The Jewish population of Thessalonica was large enough for a synagogue and Paul's approach was to preach there first. However, soon opposition arose. Jealous of Paul's influence in the city, the Jews recruited a gang of thugs and started a riot. Not finding Paul or Silas in Jason's house, where they were staying, the ringleaders dragged Jason and other believers before the city magistrates and made a serious accusation against them (Ac 17:6-7). The allegation threw the city into an uproar and during the night Paul and Silas were smuggled out of town. After some further missionary activity Paul reached Corinth and wrote this epistle from there (3:6). It was possibly the second letter that he wrote. In it the apostle responds to information about the church passed on from Timothy, who had returned there after Paul and Silas' escape. On one hand, Timothy had brought news of the Thessalonians' 'faith and love', their loyalty and steadfastness under persecution (3:6-8). On the other hand he had reported that Paul was being criticized for insincerity and ulterior motives (2:2-6), and for not returning to Thessalonica (2:17-3:5). In addition, the Thessalonians needed correction and instruction in areas of sexual morality, earning a living, preparing for the second coming, and handling tensions in the fellowship..

1 1Paul [Paulos]

It was customary in the ancient world for all letters to begin in the same way. Correspondents would announce first themselves, then the person(s) to whom they were writing, next a greeting, and lastly (though not always) either a thanksgiving or a wish for the reader's welfare. Paul follows this pattern, but Christianizes it.

, Silvanus [Silouanos], and Timothy [Timotheos], to the assembly [ekklēsia]

This church is only a few months old. Its members are recent converts from either Judaism or paganism. Their convictions have been newly acquired, their standards have been recently adopted, and they are being sorely tested by persecution. However Paul is confident. Ekklēsia means 'an assembly'. In those days it was used in a variety of contexts, religious and secular. As Chrysostom wrote, 'there were many assemblies, both Jewish and Grecian'.

of the Thessalonians [Thessalonikeōn]

Paul and his companions visited Thessalonica in AD 49 or 50 and by then it was already a well-established city with a long history. It had been founded in the fourth century BC by Cassander, one of Alexander the Great's army officers. He named it after his wife, Thessalonica, who was Alexander's half-sister. It occupied a strategic position with a good natural harbour at the head of the Thermaic Gulf, and was situated on the Via Egnatia which was the main route between Rome and the East. Thessalonica became the capital of the Roman province of Macedonia and could have been world capital.

in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ [christō Heb. Messiah]: Grace [charis]

Paul's greeting Grace and peace is a combination of the Jewish greeting shalom ('Peace!') and the Greek greeting chairein ('Rejoice!' or 'Hail'), now Christianized as charis, 'grace'. It is as if Paul is saying 'We send you the new greeting with the old'.

to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 2We always give thanks [eucharisteō] to God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers, 3remembering without ceasing your work of faith [pisteōs] and labour [kopou]

Denotes 'either the fatiguing nature of what is done or the magnitude of the exertion required'.

of love [agapēs] and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, before our God and Father. 4We know, brothers [adelphoi] loved [agapaō] by God, that you are chosen [eklogēn], 5and that our Good News [euangelion] came to you not in word [logō] only, but also in power [dynamei], and in the Holy Spirit, and with much assurance. You know what kind of men we showed [ginomai] ourselves to be among you for your sake. 6You became imitators [mimētai] of us, and of the Lord, having received the word [logon] in much affliction [thlipsei], with joy [charas] of the Holy Spirit, 7so that you became an example [typon] to all who believe [pisteuousin] in Macedonia [Makedonia] and in Achaia [Achaia]. 8For from you the word [logos] of the Lord has been declared [exēcheō]

Occurs nowhere else in the NT. It is derived from ēchos, 'echo' or 'noise'. It can mean to 'sound, ring, peal or boom'. It was used in LXX or bells, zithers, trumpets and other loud noises. In the NT the weaker verb ēcheō relates to the noise of a resounding gong (1 Co 13:1) and of the roaring sea (Lk 21:25; cf. Ps 65:7). Chrysostom thought that Paul was likening the preaching of the gospel to 'the sound of a loud trumpet'. The verb is also used of 'a great thunder' (Ecclus 40:13; cf 46:17), and Jerome described Paul's writings as non verb sed tonitrua, 'not words but thunderclaps'.

, not only in Macedonia [Makedonia] and Achaia [Achaia], but also in every place [topō]

At least west by land to Rome and east by sea to Ephesus.

your faith [pistis] toward God has gone out; so that we need not to say anything. 9For they themselves report [apangellō] concerning us what kind of a reception we had from you; and how you turned [epistrephō]

This verb became an almost technical term for conversion which is 'turning' from sin to Christ, from darkness to light and from idols to God. Paul had inveighed against idolatry when addressing the pagans of Lystra (Ac 14) and the philosophers of Athens (Ac 17), but the Thessalonians could themselves see Mount Olympus, about fifty miles south of their city, where the Greek gods were supposed to live.

to God from idols, to serve a living and true God, 10and to wait [anamenō] for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead--Jesus, who delivers [rhuomai] us from the wrath to come.

2 1For you yourselves know, brothers [adelphoi], our visit to you wasn't in vain [kenē]

'Void' and 'empty of purpose' rather than 'empty of results'; 'aimless' not 'fruitless'. From Paul's self-defense it is possible to construct the slanders of Paul's critics, who may have unfairly associated Paul with the phony teachers who tramped up and down the Egnatian Way. But Paul had had courage to speak out and risk persecution.

, 2but having suffered before and been shamefully treated, as you know, at Philippi [Philippois]

Here Paul and Silas had been stripped, beaten, thrown into prison, and had their feet fastened in the stocks. They had been disgraced further by being flogged naked in public, without trial in spite of their Roman citizenship.

, we grew bold [parrēsiazomai]

To speak freely, openly, fearlessly; with parrēsia - outspokenness, frankness, plainness of speech, courage.

in our God to tell you the Good News [euangelion] of God in much conflict. 3For our exhortation [paraklēsis] is not of error, nor of uncleanness [akatharsias]

'Impurity, uncleaness'. It can refer to sexual immorality (e.g., 4:7), and it is possible that Paul's detractors were hinting at this, since it was not uncommon among traveling teachers.

, nor in deception. 4But even as we have been approved [pistoomai]

As a householder entrusts his property to his steward, also in 1 Cor 4:1-2; 9:17; 2 Tim 2:2.

by God to be entrusted with the Good News [euangelion], so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, who tests [dokimazō]

Can mean 'to put to the test, examine' or 'to accept as proved (certified as after an inspection)' or 'approve'. It means to test and find genuine, and was used both of coins and people, as in the passing of someone as fit for election to public office.

our hearts. 5For neither were we at any time found using words of flattery [kylakeias]

Occurs nowhere else in the NT and describes the tortuous methods by which one man seeks to gain influence over another, generally for selfish ends.

, as you know, nor a cloak of covetousness (God is witness [martys]), 6nor seeking glory [doxan] from men (neither from you nor from others), when we might have claimed authority as apostles [apostoloi] of Christ. 7But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother [trophos]

Some MMS have ēpioi, 'gentle', while others have nēpioi, 'babies'. The previous word in the Greek sentence ends in 'n'. Nēpios is used by Paul elsewhere in a derogatory way of the immaturity of his converts; he does not use it of himself.

cherishes her own children. 8Even so, affectionately longing [homeiromai] for you, we were well pleased to impart to you, not the Good News [euangelion] of God only, but also our own souls [psychas], because you had become very dear [agapētoi] to us. 9For you remember, brothers [adelphoi], our labour [kopon] and travail [mochthon]; for working night and day, that we might not burden any of you, we preached [keryssō]

Lit. 'to act like a herald' and make a public proclamation.

to you the Good News [euangelion] of God. 10You are witnesses [martyres] with God, how holy, righteously [dikaiōs], and blamelessly we behaved ourselves toward you who believe [pisteuō]. 11As you know, we exhorted [parakaleō], comforted [paramytheomai], and implored [martyromai] every one of you, as a father does his own children, 12to the end that you should walk [peripateō] worthily of God, who calls [kaleō] you into his own Kingdom [basileian] and glory [doxan]. 13For this cause we also thank [eucharisteō] God without ceasing, that, when you received [paralambanō]

The technical term for receiving a tradition which is being handed on.

from us the word [logon] of the message [akoēs] of God, you accepted it not as the word [logon] of men, but, as it is in truth, the word [logon] of God, which also works in you who believe [pisteuō]. 14For you, brothers [adelphoi], became imitators of the assemblies [ekklēsiōn] of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus; for you also suffered the same things from your own countrymen, even as they did from the Jews; 15who killed both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, and drove us out, and didn't please God, and are contrary [enantiōn]

This phrase has reminded many commentators of Tacitus' famous description of the Jews: 'Towards all other people they feel only hatred and hostility' (History, v.5).

to all men; 16forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles [ethnesin] that they may be saved; to fill up their sins [anaplēroō] always. But wrath has come on them to the uttermost [eis telos]

'Finally', 'at last'. Paul may be seeing the arrival of God's judgment in such events as the unprecedented famine in Judea of AD 45-47 (e.g., Ac 11:27-28), the brutal massacre of Jews in the temple precincts at Passover in AD 49 (described by Josephus), and in the same year the expulsion of the Jews from Rome by the emperor Claudius (Ac 18:2). Since 1 Thessalonians was probably written in AD 50, these were all at the time vivid, recent events. The destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 was still twenty years away.

. 17But we, brothers [adelphoi], being bereaved [aporphanizō]

Only NT occurrence. Orphanos means an orphan, namely a parentless child. But the word also applies to parents deprived of children, and has generally been applied to bereavement.

of you for a short season, in presence, not in heart, tried even harder to see your face with great desire, 18because we wanted to come to you--indeed, I, Paul, once and again--but Satan hindered [enkoptō]

Lit. 'to cut into', which could be applied either to breaking up a road to render it impassable or to an athlete 'cutting in' during a race (Gal 5:7).

us. 19For what is our hope, or joy [chara], or crown [stephanos] of rejoicing [kauchēseōs]? Isn't it even you, before our Lord Jesus at his coming [parousia]? 20For you are our glory [doxa] and our joy [chara].

3 1Therefore, when we couldn't stand it any longer, we thought it good to be left behind at Athens [Athēnais] alone, 2and sent Timothy [Timotheon], our brother [adelphon] and God's servant [synergon] in the Good News [euangeliō] of Christ, to establish [sterizō]

Almost a technical term for the consolidation and building up of new converts.

you, and to comfort [parakaleō] you concerning your faith [pisteōs]; 3that no one be moved [sainomai]

Used at first of dogs wagging their tail, and then came to mean to 'flatter', 'fawn upon' and therefore 'deceive'.

by these afflictions [thlipsesin]. For you know that we are appointed [keimai] to this task. 4For most certainly, when we were with you, we told you beforehand that we are to suffer affliction [thlibō], even as it happened, and you know [eidō]. 5For this cause I also, when I couldn't stand it any longer, sent that I might know [ginōskō] your faith [pistin], for fear that by any means the tempter had tempted you, and our labour [kopos] would have been in vain [kenon]. 6But when Timothy [Timotheou] came just now to us from you, and brought us glad news [euangelizō]

Lit. 'evangelised', the only time the word is used in the NT without referring to the gospel.

of your faith [pistin] and love [agapēn], and that you have good memories of us always, longing to see us, even as we also long to see you; 7for this cause, brothers [adelphoi], we were comforted [parakaleō] over you in all our distress [thlipsei] and affliction [anagkē] through your faith [pisteōs]. 8For now we live [zaō], if you stand fast [stēkō] in the Lord. 9For what thanksgiving [eucharisteō] can we render again to God for you, for all the joy [chara] with which we rejoice for your sakes before our God; 10night and day praying exceedingly that we may see your face, and may perfect [katartizō]

Meaning to restore, equip, or complete. Used in various contexts, e.g., of a fisherman repairing his nets (Mk 1:19); a surgeon setting bones, and a politician reconciling factions.

that which is lacking in your faith? 11Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way to you; 12and the Lord make you to increase [pleonazō] and abound [perisseuō] in love [agapē] one toward another, and toward all men, even as we also do toward you, 13to the end he may establish [stērizō] your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming [parousia] of our Lord Jesus with all his saints [agiōn].

4 1Finally then, brothers [adelphoi], we beg [erōtaō] and exhort [parakaleō] you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received [paralambanō] from us how you ought to walk [peripateō] and to please [areskō] God, that you abound more and more. 2For you know what instructions [parangelias]

A forceful word used either for a military command or for a civil order, for example by a court or by magistrates (e.g., Ac 5:28; 16:24).

we gave you through the Lord Jesus. 3For this is the will of God: your sanctification [agiasmos], that you abstain from sexual immorality [porneias]

Paul begins with this, the most imperious of all human urges, and because of the laxity - promiscuity - of the Graeco-Roman world. Besides, he was writing from Corinth to Thessalonica, and both cities were famed for their immorality. In Corinth Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of sex and beauty, whom the Romans identified with Venus, sent her servants out as prostitutes to roam the streets at night. Thessalonica, on the other hand, was particularly associated with the worship of deities called the Cabiri, in whose rites immorality was promoted under a thin veil of religion. Perhaps Corinth and Thessalonica were no worse than other cities of a time in which it was accepted that men would not limit themselves to one wife. A man could have a hetaira (mistress) who provided intellectual companionship; a palakē who was a slave made a concubine; and for casual gratification a pornē or prostitute. The function of his wife was to manage his household and to be the mother of his legitimate children and heirs.

, 4that each one of you know how to possess himself of his own vessel [skeuos ktaomai]

There has been a long historic discussion as to whether skeuos (vessel, utensil, instrument or container) is a metaphor for 'wife' or 'body'. Reference to women as a container seems in later Judaism to have been an established and demeaning euphemism for intercourse. However, no parallel use of skeuos for 'body' has been found, and to regard the body as the 'container' of the soul is Greek, not biblical. Ktaomai normally means to 'procure for oneself, acquire, get'; so it cannot be applied to our body since we already possess one, whereas in LXX it was used of acquiring a wife.

in sanctification [agiasmō] and honour, 5not in the passion of lust, even as the Gentiles who don't know God; 6that no one should take advantage of [pleonekteō]

'To covet' or desire to possess more than one should in any area of life.

and wrong [hyperbainō]

This verb has the force of crossing a forbidden boundary, and hence trespassing (sexually).

a brother [adelphon] or sister in this matter [pragmati]

The Greek expression could mean 'in his business' or 'in lawsuits' although the context here does not support this.

; because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as also we forewarned you and testified [diamartyromai]. 7For God called [kaleō] us not for uncleanness [akatharsia] , but in sanctification [agiasmō]. 8Therefore he who rejects this doesn't reject man, but God, who has also given his Holy [agion] Spirit to you. 9But concerning brotherly love [philadelphias]

In secular Greek and LXX it was used in relation to blood brothers and sisters, but in the NT it is applied to the fraternity of faith.

, you have no need that one write to you. For you yourselves are taught by God [theodidaktoi]

Lit. 'God- taught'.

to love [agapaō] one another, 10for indeed you do it toward all the brothers [adelphoi] who are in all Macedonia. But we exhort [parakaleō] you, brothers [adelphoi], that you abound more and more; 11and that you make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, even as we instructed you; 12that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and may have need of nothing. 13But we don't want you to be ignorant, brothers [adelphoi], concerning those who have fallen asleep [koimaomai], so that you don't grieve like the rest, who have no hope. 14For if we believe [pisteuō] that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep [koimaomai]

Sleep has been a widely used euphemism for death; the Greek for graveyard was koimētērion, 'sleeping place'.

in Jesus. 15For this we tell you by the word [logō] of the Lord, that we who are alive [zōntes], who are left to the coming [parousian]

Either a 'presence' or a 'coming' but used in a special sense of Christ. The word had served as a cult expression for the coming of a hidden divinity, who makes his presence felt by a revelation of his power. Parousia became the official term for a visit of a person of high rank, especially of kings and emperors visiting a province. Both of these meanings overlap. Paul's critics in Thessalonia could have accused Paul of defying Claudius Caesar by announcing that 'there is another king, one called Jesus' (Ac 17:7).

of the Lord, will in no way precede [phthanō] those who have fallen asleep [koimaomai]. 16For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with God's trumpet [salpingi]

Heb. Shofar Ram's horn.

. The dead in Christ will rise first, 17then we who are alive [zōntes], who are left, will be caught up [harpazō]

Expresses suddenness and violence, as when the centurion ordered his troops to take Paul by force in order to rescue him from a possible lynching (Ac 23:10). Corresponding to harpazō, the Latin 'rapere' is the source for our word 'rapture'.

together with them in the clouds, to meet [apantēsin]

When a dignitary paid an official visit (parousia) to a city in Hellenistic times, the action of the leading citizens in going out to meet him and escort him back on the final stage of his journey was called the [apantēsis].

the Lord in the air. So we will be with the Lord forever. 18Therefore comfort [parakaleō] one another with these words [logois]

Paul's message is often contrasted with a second-century letter of condolence, which was discovered in one of the Oxyrhynchus papyri. It was written by an Egyptian lady named Irene to a bereaved couple whose son had died. She herself has recently mourned the loss of her own dear one, Didymas. She has made funeral offerings and prayers but admits that 'nevertheless against such things one can do nothing. Therefore, comfort one another. Farewell'.


5 1But concerning the times [chronōn]

Usually a period of time.

and the seasons [kairōn]

Usually a point of time, a crisis or opportunity.

, brothers [adelphoi], you have no need that anything be written to you. 2For you yourselves know well that the day of the Lord comes like a thief in the night. 3For when they are saying, "Peace and safety," then sudden destruction [holethros] will come on them, like birth pains on a pregnant woman; and they will in no way [ou mē] escape. 4But you, brothers [adelphoi], aren't in darkness, that the day should overtake you like a thief. 5You are all children of light, and children of the day. We don't belong to the night, nor to darkness, 6so then let's not sleep [katheudō], as the rest do, but let's watch [grēgoreō] and be sober [nēphō]. 7For those who sleep, sleep in the night, and those who are drunk are drunk in the night. 8But let us, since we belong to the day, be sober [nēphō], putting on the breastplate of faith [pisteōs] and love [agapēs], and, for a helmet, the hope [elpida]

A few Greek philosophers speculated about the immortality of the soul, and there was a vague popular concept of the dead as 'shades' enduring a flimsy existence in a dismal Hades. But this was a far cry from the joyful and confident expectation of eternal life of the Christians. On the contrary, there was in antiquity, in the face of death, neither joy nor triumph nor celebration, no any defiant challenge like that of Paul's in 1 Cor 15:55. Theocritus wrote, 'Hopes are for the living; the dead are without hope'. The tombs along the Apian Way, above ground speak of gloomy despair in spite of the pomp of their appearance. On the other hand, in the subterranean catacombs are psalms of hope, shining all the brighter in the darkness, in spite of their ill-written, ill-spelt records.

of salvation. 9For God didn't appoint us to wrath, but to the obtaining [peripoieomai] of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10who died for us, that, whether we wake [grēgorōmen] or sleep [katheudōmen], we should live together [zaō] with him. 11Therefore exhort [parakaleō] one another, and build each other up [oikodomeō], even as you also do. 12But we beg you, brothers [adelphoi], to know [oida] those who labour [kopiaō]

Normally refers to manual occupation and means to 'toil, strive, struggle growing weary in the process'. Cf. 2 Tim 2:6; 1 Thes 2:9; 2 Thess 3:8; 1 Cor 15:10; 1 Tim 4:10; Ro 16:12; 1 Tim 5:17.

among you, and are over you [proïstēmi]

'To put oneself at the head' or 'go first'. Metaphorically, it meant to 'preside' in the sense of to direct or rule, or to 'protect' or 'care for'. Evidence from the papyri show how it was applied to a variety of officials, superintendents, village heads or chiefs, landlords, estate managers and guardians of children, in all of which the notions of 'leading' and 'caring' seem to be combined. Cf. Ro 12:8; 1 Tim 3:4-5,12; 1 Tim 3:5.

in the Lord, and admonish [noutheteō]

This verb is almost invariably used in an ethical context. It means to warn against bad behaviour and its consequences (e.g., Ac 20:31; 1 Cor 4:14), and to reprove, even discipline, those who have done wrong. Its tone is pastoral, not heavy-handed.

you, 13and to respect and honour them in love [agapē] for their work's sake. Be at peace among yourselves. 14We exhort [parakaleō] you, brothers [adelphoi], admonish [noutheteō] the disorderly [ataktous]

In classical Greek ataktos was applied to an army in disarray, and to undisciplined soldiers who either broke rank instead of marching properly, or were insubordinate. It came to be used of any kind of irregular or undisciplined behaviour. Discoveries of secular papyri from the first century showed that the word atktos had developed another meaning in non-literary Greek. This comes from an example from an apprenticeship contract with a weaver which a father signed for his son in AD 66. In it he undertook that if the boy played truant (atakteō) and missed any workdays, he would make them up. So outside Christianity, in relation to work, the emphasis of ataktos is not idleness but on an irresponsible attitude to the obligation of work. In the case of the Thessalonians, there could have been unemployment in the city but Paul implies that they are unwilling, not unable, to work (2 Thes 3:10). Perhaps they disdained manual work like the Greeks who taught that it was degrading to free men and fit only for slaves. But Paul the tentmaker reinforced the example of Jesus the carpenter. Or maybe they bought into the super-spiritual idea that Christians ought to be preaching, not labouring. It has also been proposed that the Thessalonian ataxia was due to the social convention of patron-client relationships, whereby a wealthy patron would gather a large clientele of dependents. AD 51 was a famine year, so many would have been on a 'corn dole'. Paul wanted to persuade clients to work and patrons to stop acting as benefactors so that dependency could be overcome.

, encourage [paramytheomai] the fainthearted [oligopsychous]

'Faint- hearted', i.e., those who were anxious about their friends who had died, or about their own salvation.

, support [antechomai]

A picture of help in which the stronger help the weaker, holding on to them or putting an arm around.

the weak, be patient toward all. 15See that no one returns evil for evil to anyone, but always follow after [diōkō] that which is good, for one another, and for all. 16Rejoice [chairete] always. 17Pray without ceasing [adialeiptōs]. 18In everything give thanks [eucharisteō], for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus toward you. 19Don't quench [sbennymi]

Used of extinguishing both lights and fires.

the Spirit. 20Don't despise prophesies. 21Test [dokimazō] all things, and hold firmly [katechō] that which is good [kalon]

Used of what was genuine as opposed to a counterfeit coin. It is Paul's apparent use of the imagery of testing coins which led many of the early Greek fathers to associate with his instruction Jesus' unrecorded saying: 'Become approved money changers' (or 'bankers'), people who can distinguish true coinage from false.

. 22Abstain [apechomai] from every form of evil. 23May the God of peace himself sanctify [agiasai] you completely [holoteleis]

If these words can be distinguished, the first may speak of a totality from which no part is excluded, and the second an integrity in which each part has its due place and proportion.

. May your whole spirit [pneuma], soul [psyche], and body [sōma] be preserved blameless at the coming [parousia] of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24He who calls [kaleō] you is faithful [pistos], who will also do it. 25Brothers [adelphoi], pray for us. 26Greet all the brothers [adelphous] with a holy kiss [philēmati]

Originally a social gesture. But already by the time of Justin Martyr (mid second century) it had become a liturgical practice during Holy Communion.

. 27I solemnly command [enorkizō] you by the Lord that this letter [epistolēn]

Already the OT was read in the Christian assemblies, for the custom had been taken over from the synagogues. But now the apostles' letters were also to be read aloud during the worship service, so that each local church would gradually make its own collection of their letters and memoirs. This was the origin of the tradition of having both an Old and a New Testament lesson in church. The implication is that these apostolic documents were to be regarded as being on a level with the OT Scriptures.

be read to all the holy brothers [adelphois]. 28The grace [charis] of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen [amēn].

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