peace (inner peace)

The Hebrew and Greek that is translated into English as “peace” (or “at ease”) is (back-) translated with a variety of idioms and phrases:

In American Sign Language it is signed with a compound sign consisting of “become” and “silent.” (Source: Yates 2011, p. 52)

“Peace” in American Sign Language (source )

See also peace (absence of strife) and this devotion on YouVersion .

mutual / among yourselves (Japanese honorifics)

Like a number of other East Asian languages, Japanese uses a complex system of honorifics, i.e. a system where a number of different levels of politeness are expressed in language via words, word forms or grammatical constructs. These can range from addressing someone or referring to someone with contempt (very informal) to expressing the highest level of reference (as used in addressing or referring to God) or any number of levels in-between.

One way to do this is through the usage (or a lack) of an honorific prefix as shown here in the widely-used Japanese Shinkaiyaku (新改訳) Bible of 2017.

The Greek that is translated as “mutual” or “among yourselves” in English is translated in the Shinkaiyaku Bible as o-tagai (お互い), combining “one another” (tagai) with the respectful prefix o-.

(Source: S. E. Doi, see also S. E. Doi in Journal of Translation, 18/2022, p. 37ff. )

complete verse (1 Thessalonians 5:13)

Following are a number of back-translations of 1 Thessalonians 5:13:

  • Uma: “Really honor and respect them and love them, because of that work of theirs. Live in unity with one another.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “Respect and really love them because of what they do for you. And you all ought to be in harmony (magsulut-sulut).” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “You must respect them very much and love them very much because of their works there among you. And it’s necessary that your relationship to each one be peaceful.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “You should thoroughly esteem them and also show your love to them on-account-of their work. You should get-along-together.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “Therefore you are all the more to honor/respect them and value them because of this position/responsibility of theirs. And well, there’s that too, that what is good is that you be in-harmony/like-minded for the making peaceful of your friendly-interaction/fellowship.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “Look well upon them and love them because of the work they do. And do not have arguments there where you live.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)

Translation commentary on 1 Thessalonians 5:13

This verse begins in Greek with “and,” but this conjunction is better omitted, not only because of the preference in many languages for shorter sentences, but because “and” tends to lead the reader to expect something new, distinct from what has gone before. In fact, verse 13a largely repeats verse 12. Work is a common word, unrelated to work in verse 12, and without the suggestion of effort of hard labor. Paul is clearly thinking here, not of the work these individuals do in order to earn their living, but of their function as leaders in the church.

Treat them with the greatest respect may be translated as “honor them very much,” or “show them how important you think they are.”

Treat them with … love can be rendered in some languages only as “love them,” but in certain instances a translation such as “show great appreciation for them” may be closer to the meaning of this context.

Because of the work they do may be best expressed in some cases as “because of all the ways in which they help you,” or “because of all that they do,” thus avoiding any specific reference to work which might imply physical labor.

Bible de Jérusalem (1st ed.) Jerusalem Bible Le Nouveau Testament. Version Synodale Moffatt Phillips Die Bibel im heutigen Deutsch all begin a new paragraph at be at peace among yourselves, and one or two translations try to make explicit a connection with what follows. Le Nouveau Testament. Version Synodale suggests a contrastive relation: “Be at peace among yourselves. However, we beg you, brothers, warn….” Phillips, on the other hand, thinks of a relation of means and purpose: “Live together in peace, and our instruction to this end is to reprimand….” If be at peace among yourselves is placed at the end of the preceding paragraph, it will refer to good relations between the church leaders and the rest of the Christian community. If this admonition is placed at the beginning of a new paragraph, it will refer to tensions among the members (cf. v. 15a). Formally, however, verse 14, with its we urge you, the transitional “and” or “but,” and brothers, appears to begin a new paragraph. If 13b is placed, as in most translations (including Bible de Jérusalem 2nd ed.), at the end of the preceding paragraph, if forms a good bridge between verses 12-13 and 14-15. The underlying thought, somewhat expanded, is most probably “you should maintain good relations with your leaders, but also with one another generally; and we must therefore go on to urge you to warn the idle” etc. Peace in Hebrew and Jewish-Christian thought was more than the absence of conflict. Nevertheless, Barclay‘s rendering of verse 13b should be noted as an example of “overtranslation”: “Nothing must ever be allowed to interrupt your personal relationships with each other.”

Be at peace implies a state, not a specific act of peace-making or reconciliation; “live at peace” (New English Bible cf. Bijbel in Gewone Taal Bible en français courant Die Bibel im heutigen Deutsch Biblia Dios Habla Hoy) expresses this clearly. A positive quality such as peace can best be expressed in some languages as the negation of a bad quality or condition, for example, “live together without quarreling,” or “live together without feeling against one another.”

This is the first of a long series of imperatives in verses 13-22 which suggest continuous or repeated action over a period. This effect is strengthened by the use of such words as at all times (vv. 15, 17) and always (v. 16).

Quoted with permission from Ellingworth, Paul and Nida, Eugene A. A Handbook on Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians. (UBS Handbook Series). New York: UBS, 1976. For this and other handbooks for translators see here .