There are typos in the Bible! True! I found it in First Thessalonians.
Now, I can already hear ya, you’re saying the Word of God is inerrant. It never contradicts itself. It is truth and has no mistakes in it.
I believe you! But look in this verse:
“As a result, you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia.” 1 Thessalonians 1:7 CSB
Don’t see it yet? That’s because you’re reading the passage in English. If you dig into the Greek, and more specifically the transliteration,1 then you will see this word: τύπος, which is the original Greek for the word Example. When we covert the Greek to English (transliterate), we get “typos.” Most transliterations use tupos, but the first one I glanced at was typos. Yep, typos in the Bible!
Let me give you a little background, then I’ll explain.
Paul’s letter to the church at Thessalonica was to encourage their faith. The church was founded in the midst of severe persecution, and was filled with pagan worshipers of idols and Greek and Roman gods.
Though they were suffering affliction, they were holding fast to their newfound faith in Jesus Christ. Paul wrote and urged them not to be shaken.
“You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.” 1 Thessalonians 1:6-7 NASB
The broad definition of Tupos (or in some cases Typos) is to strike, smite with repeated strokes. Kind of like correcting errors from a typewriter. Remember those? If you made a mistake, and had a super fancy auto-correct typewriter, you had to backspace several times over your mistake, repeatedly striking the typo until it was erased. Then, once the error was erased, you would type the correct letter several times. Repeated striking of the typewriter carriage corrected the typo.
How do you suppose the believers in Thessalonica became examples to other believers? I think there are two things to note about this from the scripture.
First, Paul remarked that the saints in Thessalonica imitated him and Timothy and Silvanus. That is, they mimicked what they saw Paul and the others doing. Can you imagine having the apostle Paul or Timothy as a teacher? I imagine I would follow them around like a shadow, soaking in all they would say or do. I would repeat what I saw them doing, in order to grow in my own spiritual walk. Is there someone whose walk with Jesus you admire? Can you imitate them?
Second, after learning from their mentors, the believers in Thessalonica became examples to other believers. Remember, the definition of tupos/typos means to strike, smite with repeated strokes; something caused by strokes or blows. With this definition and knowing the persecution the church was suffering, we could conclude that trials and tribulation caused the Thessalonians to move from imitators to examples. Trials test us2. They refine us like fire…
If you’ve ever watched the show Forged in Fire, you see the smiths hammering out weapons, until they are polished and complete. The material is heated in the fire until it is pliable, then repeatedly struck with the hammer into a design created by the smith. Sometimes the blows are hard and intense. Surely, the weapon will break in two! How does it hold up, after being softened in the fire? But the fire doesn’t destroy the original hard metal that is being forged.
As Christians, we are like those weapons being forged. The fires of life cause us to glow red. Many times we want to throw our hands in the air and say “Enough!” This is when we are soft and weak. This is when God can shape us the most. He hammers us into a beautiful example of His Son Jesus.
Why don’t we break? Because Jesus is our foundation. He is the strong metal in our spirit. He alone strengthens us.
Moving from imitators to examples, we may be put through the fires of life and repeatedly beaten. Trials and persecutions, instead of breaking us, make us stronger. They test us, and we come out as a shining example to others. We can come through the fire because of our faith and trust in Jesus. He strengthens us and molds us.
Are you an example to others? When has your example left a mark on someone’s life?
Next week, more about examples! Until then,
Grace be with you,
1 Transliteration is a type of conversion of a text from one script to another that involves swapping letters in predictable ways, such as Greek ⟨α⟩ → ⟨a⟩, Cyrillic ⟨д⟩ → ⟨d⟩, Greek ⟨χ⟩ → the digraph ⟨ch⟩, Armenian ⟨ն⟩ → ⟨n⟩ or Latin ⟨æ⟩ → ⟨ae⟩.Wikipedia
2 James 1:2-3