The Real Meaning of 1 Thessalonians 5:22

originally posted by Bob Hayton


Anyone with roots in conservative evangelicalism, and particularly fundamentalism, will have heard 1 Thess. 5:22 used as justification for all sorts of personal standards. Going to see a movie, drinking from a dark bottle, using playing cards, wearing facial hair (for men) or wearing pants (for women) — all of these activities and more are condemned with the words: “Abstain from all appearance of evil” (1 Thess 5:22, KJV).

These words are used as a bully club to keep people in line with the group’s expectations, or more usually, that of the leader. What appears as evil to one is not necessarily going to appear as evil to another; and so, taken to an extreme, the careful Christian could hardly do anything for fear of it somehow being misconstrued as evil.


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