Idle translation: 1 Thessalonians 5.14

Posted: 26th September 2008 by ElShaddai Edwards in Uncategorized

Damian at Castle of Nutshells has a new post up with a blind translation comparison of 1 Thessalonians 5.14, quoted here from the REB (not one of his compared versions):

We urge you, friends, to rebuke the idle, encourage the faint-hearted, support the weak, and be patient with everyone.

Damian notes a variety of translations for the Greek ataktos, with his selected comparisons using “idle”, “unruly”, “lazy” and “disruptive”. According to Blue Letter Bible, the Greek means: “1) disorderly, out of ranks (often so of soldiers); 2) irregular, inordinate, immoderate pleasures; 3) deviating from the prescribed order or rule”. The note goes on to comment that “this word was used in Greek society of those who did not show up for work.” Vine’s leans toward the first meaning, especially in a military context.

I’m not sure I like “idle” as it is rather vague. Does it mean that the person is not doing something that they *should* be doing, e.g. work or contributing to the life of the church; or does it mean allowing (negative) things to happen without stepping in (perhaps a twist on “disruptive”); or does it just mean that the person is lazy?

With all that said, here’s my own take on the verse:

We urge you, brothers and sisters, to discipline the undisciplined, encourage the discouraged, strengthen the weak, and be patient with everyone.

  1. […] in the dark. Thanks for El Shaddai Edwards to drawing attention to the mistake in his reply here. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)A Promo for Polytheism Published […]

  2. tc robinson says:

    El, I like your translate better. 🙂

  3. Thanks, TC!

    Everyone, be sure to check out the comments to Damian’s post for some good discussion of the underlying Greek and relevant translation choices.

  4. tc robinson says:

    Yes, it is a military term and you brought that out quit well, in my opinion.

  5. Nathan Stitt says:

    BTW, I sent you a message through your contact page about the NASB and Strong’s online.

  6. Thanks, Nathan – got the link and am checking it out!