What does 1 Thessalonians 5:20 mean?
ESV: Do not despise prophecies,
NIV: Do not treat prophecies with contempt
NASB: do not utterly reject prophecies,
CSB: Don't despise prophecies,
NLT: Do not scoff at prophecies,
KJV: Despise not prophesyings.
NKJV: Do not despise prophecies.
Verse Commentary:
Before the completion of the New Testament, God gave some believers the gift of prophecy, which was the ability to reveal the future (Acts 11:28) and to declare God's will (Acts 13:2). Ephesians 4:11 states that God gave prophets to the church to help build believers up in the faith.

However, false prophets also existed in the first century, and they proclaimed corrupt messages. The believers at Thessalonica lived before the New Testament was completed, so they often depended on prophets to reveal God's will for the church. However, some prophets were masquerading as genuine prophets, so their message must have caused some believers to regard prophecy unfavorably, so Paul instructs his readers not to despise genuine prophecy. The following verse will support this idea, telling us to "test" what we see and hear.

Today, believers do not need prophets, because we have a complete Bible that provides answers to life's big questions and guides our actions. God gave the Bible to us so we would become what He wants us to become and do what He wants us to do (2 Timothy 3:16–17).
Verse Context:
First Thessalonians 5:12–22 gives the Thessalonian believers a series of exhortations. As children of the day, who were anticipating the Lord's return, they needed to live righteously. As a church, they needed to relate well to their leadership. Paul calls upon them to treat all their fellow believers kindly and patiently and to do good to one another. Paul admonishes the believers to be joyful at all times and to keep on praying. Constant thanksgiving was to mark their lives. Further, Paul tells his readers not to quench the Holy Spirit or to have a negative attitude toward prophetic ministries. However, they were supposed to keep a firm grasp on teachings that they tested and found to be true. Lastly, Paul directs his readers to avoid every kind of evil.
Chapter Summary:
First Thessalonians chapter 5 reiterates that the rapture will occur quickly, catching the unbelieving world unprepared. In contrast, Paul presents faithful Christians as those who are aware and ready for this event. This passage uses the contrast of day versus night to highlight those differences. Paul also completes his letter by offering various practical instructions. These include the need to be peaceful, hardworking, and forgiving. He also commends constant prayer and an attitude of joyfulness, before closing his letter with a command for this letter to be read aloud.
Chapter Context:
The end of chapter 4 discussed the nature of the rapture: a sudden, physical ''taking away'' of believers from the earth. Here, Paul continues to refer to this event's sudden and dramatic nature. A key analogy used in this passage is that of daytime versus darkness, and the concept of being awake and alert. As with many of Paul's letters, practical instructions make up the bulk of his closing statements. In particular, Paul adds a command that this letter be read aloud among all of the people of the Thessalonian church.
Book Summary:
The apostle Paul's second missionary journey included a visit to the prominent Greek city of Thessalonica. This stood alongside a major land route and boasted a busy seaport. A number of individuals believed Paul's message (Acts 17:1–4), but an angry mob forced Paul to leave the city after his brief stay. Later, while in Athens, Paul received a glowing report: the believers at Thessalonica were growing spiritually and serving God fervently. However, they had questions about the Lord's return, including what happens to a believer who dies before that day. And, as all churches do, they had some areas in which they were falling short. In Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians, written about AD 51, he addresses these developments. Paul expresses gratitude for the Thessalonian believers' spiritual progress, and frequently makes references to Christ's impending return.
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