1 Thessalonians 3.5


What about Satan’s testing function?  Could the obstacles he put in Paul’s way be considered a temptation?  One could argue that he found his inability to return to Thessalonica something of a trial, but if not a test of their faith in the sense of belief, at least a trial of their fidelity or perseverance.  In fact, later in this epistle he tells them that he finally sent Timothy to visit them, in order to assure himself of their faith:  “for I was afraid,” he says, “that the Tester had somehow put you to the test, and that our labor had been in vain” (1 Thess. 3.5).

The Tester, of course, must be Satan, doing what he did in the Book of Job, making trial of virtue and perseverance.  The relevant word for “trial” in Greek is peirasmos, from which we get the word “empiric,” that is, proceeding by trial (and error). The Latin words experimentum and experientia are etymologically connected, but the word that usually translates peirasmos is tentatio (also spelled temptatio).  Both peirasmos and tentatio tend to be translated into English as “test” when the testee passes the trial, and as “temptation” when he fails to pass it.  In English, a “tempter” sounds malicious, whereas a “tester” is more easily thought of as having good intentions.  But in Greek and Latin the same word is used in both cases.  To make things more complicated, peirasmos also means “trial” in the sense of “tribulation.”