Today I studied verses 16 and 17 of 1 Thessalonians 5. These verses give us words that Christians should live by. So many Christians need to live by these verses but few Christians do. My study led me to the preceding verse, verse 15. All three of these verses to hand in hand with each other. I saw the correlation between these verses after I did some studying. Lets look at the last half of verse 15, and verses 16 and 17.
1 Thessalonians 5:15-17 “…but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men . Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing.”
I found three words which Paul used (from the original Greek) which were either identical, or nearly identical within these three verses. First, in verse 15, Paul say for us to ever follow that which is good. Then, in verse 16, Paul says for us to rejoice evermore. Finally, in verse 17, Paul says for us to pray without ceasing. The three words or phrases are ever, evermore, and without ceasing. They mean the same or nearly the same thing as one another in the English language. What original Greek word did Paul use? Looking into this, we get a good understanding of the point which Paul was making for us.
The words ever and evermore from verses 15 and 16 are translations from the same original Greek word pantote. Paul used the exact same Greek word in both verses to mean ever and evermore. I think in light of that, we can use the same context for each verse.
When Paul says for us to “rejoice”, he’s saying for us to rejoice as often or as much as we “follow that which is good.” The Greek word pantote which Paul used means at all times, or always. There should be no time in our lives when we do not follow that which is good. And by follow, Paul means to run after something, or to eagerly pursue. Christians should always strongly pursue good things. What is meant by “good things?” Look at this verse in James chapter 1.
James 1:17 “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”
Incidentally, the Greek word used for “good” in “good and perfect things” the same Greek word used in 1 Thessalonians 5 where Paul says we should follow after. Follow after the things of God. Things of God are by their very nature good and perfect. There should be no time in our Christian lives when we do not pursue the things of God.
As I began reading verse 16 where it tells us to “rejoice evermore”, I was wondering how someone would be able to do that. It was then that I realized the above. When we follow after the things of the Lord, the rejoicing will soon follow. Rejoicing, and being happy and glad will be a natural outcome of our following after the things of God. If we spend our time following the pleasures of this world, or things that apart from God which we think will bring us happiness, then the rejoicing will be short-lived at best. Nothing in this life will bring the eternal and continual joy that the things of God will. Those are the things we should follow hard after in this life.