The Meaning of 1 Thessalonians 5:21 Explained

1 Thessalonians 5:21

KJV: Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.

YLT: all things prove; that which is good hold fast;

Darby: but prove all things, hold fast the right;

ASV: prove all things; hold fast that which is good;

What does 1 Thessalonians 5:21 Mean?

Context Summary

1 Thessalonians 5:12-28 - "without Blame" At His Coming
The remainder of the chapter is filled with brief sentences of exhortation, like cablegrams from our Heavenly Captain to his soldiers, who, in the previous section, are described as wearing the breastplate of faith and love. As we endeavor to put them into practice, we become conscious of a new and divine energy entering and quickening our nature. It is the God of peace who is at work, co-operating with our poor endeavors and sanctifying us wholly.
Each soul has a ministry to others, 1 Thessalonians 5:14. A sketch is here given of the ideal believer, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-22; full of joy, constant in prayer, giving thanks in everything, loving with the unquenched fire of the Holy Spirit, willing to listen to any voice that may bear a divine message, testing all events and utterances with a celestial solvent, steadfast in good, and persistent against evil. This is a high standard, and impossible of realization apart from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. But when the inner shrine is truly surrendered to Him, He will possess the whole temple, even to our physical well-being. God is faithful and will never fail the soul that dares to be all that He wills [source]

Chapter Summary: 1 Thessalonians 5

1  He proceeds in the description of Christ's coming to judgment;
16  and gives various instructions;
23  and so concludes the epistle

Greek Commentary for 1 Thessalonians 5:21

Prove all things [παντα δε δοκιμαζετε]
Probably δε — de (but) is genuine. Even the gift of prophecy has to be tested (1 Corinthians 12:10; 1 Corinthians 14:29) to avoid error. Paul shows fine balance here. [source]
Hold fast that which is good [το καλον κατεχετε]
Keep on holding down the beautiful (noble, morally beautiful). Present imperative κατεχω — kaṫechō (perfective use of κατα — katȧ here). [source]
Prove all things [πάντα δοκιμάζετε]
A general exhortation, not confined to prophesyings; but Paul elsewhere insists that a test be applied to phenomena which claim to be supernatural. See on discerning of spirits, 1 Corinthians 12:10; see on 1 Corinthians 14:29, and comp. 2 Thessalonians 2:2, and 1 John 4:1-3. For δοκιμάζετε prove, see on 1 Peter 1:7. In lxx, Proverbs 27:21; Psalm 11:6, δοκίμιον is a crucible or furnace. [source]
Hold fast that which is good [τὸ καλὸν κατέχετ]
These words are associated in early Christian writers with an apocryphal saying ascribed to Jesus, and very frequently quoted, γίνεσθε δὲ δόκιμοι τραπεζῖται showyourselves approved money-changers. By some ancient writers the two are cited together as Paul's; by others they are distinguished, as by Origen, who cites the saying as an injunction ( ἐντολὴν ) of Jesus, and adds, “and also (observing) the teaching of Paul, who says, 'prove all things, hold fast the good, abstain from every form of evil.'” The saying about the money-changers is probably a genuine logion of the Lord. Some have thought that the words added by Clement of Alexandria, “rejecting some things but holding fast the good,” formed part of the Lord's saying, and that, accordingly, Paul's words here depend on an original utterance of Jesus. If this could be proved, εἶδος form 1 Thessalonians 5:22, might be explained as a figure of exchangers distinguishing between genuine and false coins. [source]

Reverse Greek Commentary Search for 1 Thessalonians 5:21

2 Corinthians 6:10 Having - possessing [ἔχοντες - κατέχοντες]
The contrast is twofold: between having and not having, and between temporary and permanent having, or having and keeping. Compare Luke 8:15; 1 Corinthians 15:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:21; Hebrews 3:6. [source]
Galatians 6:4 Prove [δοκιμαζέτω]
In Class. of assaying metals Comp. lxx, Proverbs 8:10; Proverbs 17:3; 1Corinthians href="/desk/?q=1co+3:13&sr=1">1 Corinthians 3:13; 1 Peter 1:7. It is the classical verb for testing money; see Plato, Tim. 65 C. Δοκιμάζειν and πυροῦσθαι toburn or try by fire occur together, Jeremiah 9:7; Psalm 11:6; Psalm 65:10. Generally, to prove or examine, as 1 Corinthians 11:28; 1 Thessalonians 5:21. To accept that which is approved, 1 Corinthians 16:3; 2 Corinthians 8:22; 1 Thessalonians 2:4. [source]
Hebrews 3:6 Hold fast [κατάσξωμεν]
The verb is used in N.T. as here, 1 Thessalonians 5:21; Philemon 1:13; of restraining or preventing, Luke 4:42; of holding back or holding down with an evil purpose, Romans 1:18; 2 Thessalonians 2:7; of holding one's course toward, bearing down for, Acts 27:40. [source]

What do the individual words in 1 Thessalonians 5:21 mean?

All things however test To the good hold fast
πάντα δὲ δοκιμάζετε τὸ καλὸν κατέχετε

πάντα  All  things 
Parse: Adjective, Accusative Neuter Plural
Root: πᾶς  
Sense: individually.
δὲ  however 
Parse: Conjunction
Root: δέ  
Sense: but, moreover, and, etc.
δοκιμάζετε  test 
Parse: Verb, Present Imperative Active, 2nd Person Plural
Root: δοκιμάζω 
Sense: to test, examine, prove, scrutinise (to see whether a thing is genuine or not), as metals.
τὸ  To  the 
Parse: Article, Accusative Neuter Singular
Sense: this, that, these, etc.
καλὸν  good 
Parse: Adjective, Accusative Neuter Singular
Root: καλός  
Sense: beautiful, handsome, excellent, eminent, choice, surpassing, precious, useful, suitable, commendable, admirable.
κατέχετε  hold  fast 
Parse: Verb, Present Imperative Active, 2nd Person Plural
Root: κατέχω  
Sense: to hold back, detain, retain.