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1 Thessalonians 2:17

ESV But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face,
NIV But, brothers and sisters, when we were orphaned by being separated from you for a short time (in person, not in thought), out of our intense longing we made every effort to see you.
NASB But we, brothers and sisters, having been orphaned from you by absence for a short while—in person, not in spirit—were all the more eager with great desire to see your face.
CSB But as for us, brothers and sisters, after we were forced to leave you for a short time (in person, not in heart), we greatly desired and made every effort to return and see you face to face.
NLT Dear brothers and sisters, after we were separated from you for a little while (though our hearts never left you), we tried very hard to come back because of our intense longing to see you again.
KJV But we, brethren, being taken from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavoured the more abundantly to see your face with great desire.

What does 1 Thessalonians 2:17 mean?

Perhaps some of the Thessalonian believers thought Paul had purposely abandoned them, but that was not the case. Persecution had separated Paul and his missionary team from the Thessalonian Christians. He addresses the believers as his brothers whom he hoped to see again soon.

The term "brothers" reveals the strong relationship that existed between Paul and the Thessalonian Christians. He writes that he has them in his heart, but he longed to see them in person, and he had tried to visit them. The verb translated "torn away" in this verse is the Greek word, aporphanisthentes. It literally means "to be orphaned." The word emphasizes the strong feeling Paul and his coworkers had for the believers at Thessalonica. Being suddenly separated from them felt like the loss children feel when death separates them from their parents. Paul was physically separated from the Thessalonians, but he still held them lovingly in his heart. It was not a case of "out of sight, out of mind."
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