What Is Biblical Thanksgiving?

It is the key to the Christian life. What does the Bible say?

There is nothing worse in the Church than ungrateful believers. We ought to be grateful for at least salvation and eternal life both down here on earth right now and then when we enter the eternal kingdom after we die.

Let’s begin with a basic word study and then do an overview of thanksgiving.

The Old Testament

It was written in Hebrew, and we look at only one word in this post (the other key words appear in other posts).

The verb yada (used 111 times) means “praise, (give) thanks, confess”; it expresses acknowledgement. The verb appears 60% of the time in psalms. “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good” (Ps. 106:1; 107:1, 136:1-3, 26). We must praise the LORD not only with voices (Ps. 67:3, 5) but also with instruments (Ps. 33:2; 71:22; 92:1). Leah, under-loved wife of Jacob, praised the LORD, when she birthed her fourth son (Gen. 29:35; cf. 49:8). Jesus was born from this fourth son. God never disappoints capriciously or in the final analysis.

See this post for the other words:

Bible Basics about Praise and Worship

The New Testament

It was written in Greek, and let’s explore a verb and a noun.

The verb is eucharisteō (pronounced yew-khar-ee-steh-oh), and it is related to our word eucharist. In Greece today, it is the common word for “thank you!” (It is pronounced in Modern Greek as ef-char-ee-stoh.) It is used 38 times and it means to thank or give thanks. It is mostly directed towards God, but occasionally humans need to be thanked (Luke 17:16; Acts 24:3; Rom. 16:4). Towards God, the verb expresses thanks and gratitude in light of his benefits. Paul thanks God for the believers’ faith and influence in the world (Rom. 1:8; 2 Cor. 1:11) and for the indwelling of faith and the love that flows into actions (Eph. 1:17; Col. 1:3-4; 1 Thess. 1:2-3), for the grace given to the church (1 Cor. 1:4), and a blessing before a meal (cf. Matt. 15:36; Mark 8:6; 1 Cor. 10:30), particularly at the Lord’s Supper (Luke 22:17; 19:1; 1 Cor. 11:24).

BDAG is considered by many to be the authoritative Greek lexicon of the NT, and it defines the verb as follows: (1) “To show that one is under obligation, be thankful, feel obligated to thank”; (2) “to express appreciation for benefits or blessings, give thanks, express thanks, render / return thanks”; (3) “pray.”

The noun is eucharistia (pronounced yew-khar-ee-stee-ah), and it is also clear that we get our word eucharist from it. It simply means “thanksgiving.” Paul uses it in his epistles to encourage the church to give thanks (Phil. 4:6; Col. 2:7; 1 Tim. 2:1). Paul offers thanksgiving to God for Christ’s work on our behalf (Col. 1:13-14).

BDAG says it means (1) “the quality of being grateful, with implication of appropriate attitude, thankfulness, gratitude”; (2) the expression or content of gratitude, the rendering of thanks, thanksgiving”; (3) “the observance and elements of the Eucharist, Lord’s Supper, Eucharist” (1 Cor. 10:16).

Now let’s take a birdseye view of thanksgiving, throughout the whole Bible.

1.. Thanksgiving is a command

It is commanded in the Psalms (Ps. 75:1; 107:1; 118:1; 136:1-3)

It is commanded in the Prophets (Is. 12:4; Jer. 33:11)

It is commanded in the New Testament (Eph. 5:20; Php. 4:6; Col. 3:15, 17; 1 Thess. 5:18)

Thank offerings are commanded (Lev. 7:12-17; 2 Chron. 29:31; Ps. 107:22).

The Levites are commanded to give thanks (1 Chron. 16:4-7; 23:28-30)

2.. Thanksgiving has reasons behind the command

We give thanks for God’s goodness and love (1 Chron. 16:34; 2 Chron. 20:21; Ps. 118:29)

We give thanks for God’s wonderful deeds (Ps. 75:1; 107:8, 15, 21, 31)

We give thanks for God’s protection (Ps. 56:12-13)

We give thanks for his salvation (1 Chron. 16:35; Ps. 118:21; Rom. 7:24-25)

We give thanks for God’s daily provision (Matt. 14:19; 2 Cor. 9:12; 1 Tim. 4:3-5)

We give thanks for faith, hope, and love (Rom. 1:8; Col. 1:3-5; 1 Thess. 1:3-4; 2 Thess. 1:3-4)

We give thanks for God’s grace (1 Cor. 1:4)

We give thanks for healing (Luke 17:16)

We give thanks for victory over sin and death (1 Cor. 15:57)

We give thanks for all people (1 Tim. 2:1)

We give thanks for and in everything (Eph. 5:20; 1 Thess. 5:18)

3.. How we are to give thanks

We give thanks by singing (Ps. 28:7; Neh. 12:27, 31, 40; Col. 3:16-17

We give thanks by playing musical instruments (1 Chron. 25:1)

We give thanks by praying (Rom. 1:8-10; 1 Cor. 1:4-9)

We give thanks by giving offerings (Lev. 7:12-15; Ps. 56:12; 2 Cor. 9:12-15)

We give thanks by worshipping God (Ps. 100:2-4; Heb. 12:28)

We give thanks by talking about Jesus (Luke 2:38)

We give thanks by living holy lives (Rom. 12:1; 1 Cor. 6:20)

How does this post help me grow in Christ?

The Scriptures say thanksgiving is commanded, so let’s do it. 1 Thess. 5:18 says we are to give thanks in every circumstance. It is up to us to give thanks even when things don’t go our way. Sour Christians are the ones who has lost their perspective. We ought to give thanks for our salvation and eternal life that we can enjoy right now in our current life and state.

SOURCES

Works Cited

At that link, look for the NIV Study Bible, Mounce, and BDAG.

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