1. Gratitude directed towards God (except
Romans 16:4), generally in response to God's concrete acts in history. Thanksgiving was central to Old Testament worship. Sacrifice and offerings were to be made not grudgingly but with thanksgiving (Psalms 54:6;
Jonah 2:9). The psalmist valued a song of thanksgiving more than sacrifice (Psalms 69:30-31). David employed Levites “to invoke, to thank, and to praise the Lord” (1 Chronicles 16:4; also
1 Chronicles 23:30;
Nehemiah 12:46). Pilgrimage to the Temple and Temple worship were characterized by thanksgiving (Psalms 42:4;
Psalms 122:4). Thankfulness was expressed: for personal (Psalms 35:18) and national deliverance (Psalms 44:7-8); for God's faithfulness to the covenant (Psalms 100:5); and for forgiveness (Psalms 30:4-5;
Isaiah 12:1). All creation joins in offering thanks to God (Psalms 145:10). See Psalms.
Thanksgiving is a natural element of Christian worship (1 Corinthians 14:16-17) and is to characterize all of Christian life (Colossians 2:7;
Colossians 4:2). Early Christians expressed thanks: for Christ's healing ministry (Luke 17:16); for Christ's deliverance of the believer from sin (Romans 6:17-18;
Romans 7:25); for God's indescribable gift of grace in Christ (2 Corinthians 9:14-15;
1 Corinthians 15:57; compare
Romans 1:21); and for the faith of fellow Christians (Romans 1:8).
2. Epistolary thanksgiving: An element in the opening of a typical Greek letter. All of the Pauline Letters with the exception of Galatians begin with a thanksgiving. See Letters.
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.
Butler, Trent C. Editor.. "Entry for 'THANKSGIVING'". "Holman Bible Dictionary".