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1 Thessalonians 4:12

ESV so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.
NIV so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.
NASB so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need.
CSB so that you may behave properly in the presence of outsiders and not be dependent on anyone.
NLT Then people who are not believers will respect the way you live, and you will not need to depend on others.
KJV That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing.
NKJV that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing.

What does 1 Thessalonians 4:12 mean?

The prior verse described three traits which Paul meant to encourage in the Thessalonian believers. These included being peaceful towards others, not butting into the business of other people, and a productive work ethic. Paul affirms in this verse that the peaceful, diligent lifestyle he described in verse 11 leads to an effective testimony before the lost and avoids a life of dependence on others. This is not primarily meant to impress non-believers, but so that they'll be more receptive to the gospel.

Perhaps some members of the church at Thessalonica needed these exhortations more than others. Later verses indicate they struggled with confusion about the return of Christ, and therefore saw no reason to work. As a result of this indolence, non-Christians would have a negative attitude toward the gospel.

The book of Proverbs offers wise instruction in favor of diligence and against laziness. That book indicates that, "Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits lacks sense" (Proverbs 12:11). "The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied," according to Proverbs 13:4. Likewise, Proverbs 20:13 says we ought to, "Love not sleep, lest you come to poverty; open your eyes, and you will have plenty of bread."
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