1 Thessalonians 5:21: "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good."
The skeptic's mantra.
An instructive word, DS.
The apostle Paul penned this letter to the Thessalonians from Corinth near the end of his second missionary journey around AD 51. About three months prior, Paul preached Christ in Thessalonica, after which this body of believers formed. Paul‘s traveling companion Timothy went back to check on and minister to this relatively new Christian congregation. Paul was aware of religious opposition and false teaching impacting this fellowship. He was relieved to receive a good report back from Timothy, sending this letter of encouragement in response.
The Bible verse you cited comes from Paul’s final instructions to the Thessalonian church. As you know, Paul’s theological writings follow a pattern of doctrine followed by application. The prophetic doctrine of the “day of the Lord” presented in verses 1-11 is referenced throughout Scripture in Isaiah, Ezekiel, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Zephaniah, Zechariah, Malachi, Acts, 1 and 2 Corinthians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, and Revelation, specifying a period of time when God personally intervenes in history to carry out His purposes and plan.
Paul was writing about this prophecy when he penned: “Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good
, reject every kind of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22, NIV). False teaching about the eschatological “day of the Lord” impacted the church in ancient Thessalonica. Paul encouraged the Thessalonians to test the prophecies they encountered in order to prove them (Acts 17:11).
Paul’s written pattern of doctrine followed by application imitates the spoken pattern of Christ: “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes (in what you hear and believe) and as innocent as doves (in how you live that out)” (Matthew 10:16, NIV). Our conduct proceeds from and displays our beliefs. “Even small children are known by their actions, so is their conduct really pure and upright?” (Proverbs 20:11).
How do we know if our conduct is pure and upright? What standards apply? Who is impartial to judge?