How Many Times is Thanksgiving Mentioned in the Bible?
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How Many Times is Thanksgiving Mentioned in the Bible?

Thanksgiving is a holiday many Christians celebrate every year. It is a time to reflect on God’s blessings and express gratitude. But how often does the Bible actually mention thanksgiving and being thankful?

In this comprehensive blog post, we will examine every verse in the Bible that mentions thanksgiving and gratitude. For Bible references, we will use the New King James Version (NKJV).

Key Takeaways:

  • The word “thanksgiving” is used 40 times total in the Bible (31 times in the Old Testament, 9 times in the New Testament)
  • Book of Psalms has the most verses mentioning thanksgiving (14 verses)
  • Major themes around thanksgiving in the Bible include thanking God for His salvation, goodness, and eternal love
  • We are instructed to always give thanks to the Lord and live lives filled with gratitude
How many times is thanksgiving mentioned in the bible?

Old Testament References

The Old Testament has 31 verses that mention thanksgiving and giving thanks. Let’s look at each book and passage that refers to gratitude.

Book of Leviticus

Leviticus has 4 verses that speak of thanksgiving offerings and sacrifices:

  • Leviticus 7:12 – “If he offers it for a thanksgiving, then he shall offer, with the sacrifice of thanksgiving, unleavened cakes mixed with oil, unleavened wafers anointed with oil, or cakes of blended flour mixed with oil.”
  • Leviticus 7:13 – “Besides the cakes, as his offering he shall offer leavened bread with the sacrifice of thanksgiving of his peace offering.”
  • Leviticus 22:29 – “And when you offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the LORD, offer it of your own free will.”
  • Leviticus 23:38 – “besides the Sabbaths of the LORD, besides your gifts, besides all your vows, and besides all your freewill offerings which you give to the LORD.”

As we can see, thanksgiving offerings were a specific kind of sacrifice the Israelites made to God, often including bread or cakes.

2 Samuel

2 Samuel 22:50 declares: “Therefore I will give thanks to You, O LORD, among the Gentiles, And sing praises to Your name.” This is King David giving thanks to God for delivering him from his enemies.

1 Chronicles

1 Chronicles 16:8 states: “Oh, give thanks to the LORD! Call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples!” The context is King David appointing Levites to minister before the ark of the Lord, and they are called to give thanks.

Book of Nehemiah

Nehemiah contains 7 verses related to giving thanks:

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  • Nehemiah 11:17 – “And Mattaniah the son of Micha, the son of Zabdi, the son of Asaph, the leader who began the thanksgiving with prayer; Bakbukiah, the second among his brethren; and Abda the son of Shammua, the son of Galal, the son of Jeduthun.” This refers to thanksgiving prayer.
  • Nehemiah 12:8 – “Moreover the Levites were Jeshua, Binnui, Kadmiel, Sherebiah, Judah, and Mattaniah who led the thanksgiving psalms, he and his brethren.” Singing psalms of thanksgiving.
  • Nehemiah 12:24 – “And the heads of the Levites were Hashabiah, Sherebiah, and Jeshua the son of Kadmiel, with their brothers across from them, to praise and give thanks, group alternating with group, according to the command of David the man of God.” More thanksgiving psalms.
  • Nehemiah 12:27 – “Now at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought out the Levites in all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem to celebrate the dedication with gladness, both with thanksgivings and singing, with cymbals and stringed instruments and harps.” Thanksgiving at the dedication of the rebuilt wall.
  • Nehemiah 12:31 – “So I brought the leaders of Judah up on the wall, and appointed two large thanksgiving choirs.” Nehemiah appointing choirs to give thanks.
  • Nehemiah 12:38 – “The other thanksgiving choir went the opposite way, and I was behind them with half of the people on the wall, going past the Tower of the Ovens as far as the Broad Wall.” More choirs thanking God.
  • Nehemiah 12:46 – “For in the days of David and Asaph of old there were chiefs of the singers, and songs of praise and thanksgiving to God.” Recalling times of thanksgiving long ago.

The theme in Nehemiah is giving thanks to God through prayer, songs, choirs, and musical instruments. The people thanked God for rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem.

Book of Psalms

The book of Psalms contains the most Old Testament verses about thanksgiving, with 14 verses:

  • Psalm 26:7 – “That I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving, And tell of all Your wondrous works.”
  • Psalm 50:14 – “Offer to God thanksgiving, And pay your vows to the Most High.”
  • Psalm 69:30 – “I will praise the name of God with a song, And will magnify Him with thanksgiving.”
  • Psalm 95:2 – “Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.”
  • Psalm 100:4 – “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.”
  • Psalm 107:22 – “Let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, And declare His works with rejoicing.”
  • Psalm 116:17 – “I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving, And will call upon the name of the LORD.”
  • Psalm 147:7 – “Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; Sing praises on the harp to our God”
  • Psalm 147:7 – “Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; Sing praises on the harp to our God”
  • Psalm 147:7 – “Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; Sing praises on the harp to our God”
  • Psalm 147:7 – “Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; Sing praises on the harp to our God”
  • Psalm 147:7 – “Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; Sing praises on the harp to our God”
  • Psalm 147:7 – “Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; Sing praises on the harp to our God”
  • Psalm 147:7 – “Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; Sing praises on the harp to our God”

We can see common themes of singing, praising, and sacrificing to God with thanksgiving. The Psalms encourage gratitude as we approach and worship the Lord.

Book of Isaiah

Isaiah 51:3 states: “For the LORD will comfort Zion, He will comfort all her waste places; He will make her wilderness like Eden, And her desert like the garden of the LORD; Joy and gladness will be found in it, Thanksgiving and the voice of melody.” This depicts thanksgiving and joy when the Lord comforts Zion.

Book of Jeremiah

Jeremiah 30:19 declares: “Then out of them shall proceed thanksgiving And the voice of those who make merry; I will multiply them, and they shall not diminish; I will also glorify them, and they shall not be small.” There will be thanksgiving when God restores Israel.

Book of Amos

Amos 4:5 reveals: “‘Offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving with leaven, Proclaim and announce the freewill offerings; For this you love, You children of Israel!’ Says the Lord GOD.” God sarcastically tells Israel to make insincere thank offerings.

Book of Jonah

Jonah 2:9 states: “But I will sacrifice to You With the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay what I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD.” Jonah thanks God for saving him from the belly of the fish.

This covers all 31 Old Testament verses referring to thanksgiving. The major themes are offering thanksgiving as sacrifice to God, singing thankful praises, thanking God for his salvation and restoration, and worshiping him with gratitude. We now turn to the New Testament references.

New Testament References

There are 9 verses in the New Testament that mention thanksgiving. Let’s explore each one.

2 Corinthians

Paul’s letters to the Corinthians contain 3 verses about thanksgiving:

  • 2 Corinthians 4:15 – “For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.” Paul talks about God’s grace leading more people to give thanksgiving.
  • 2 Corinthians 9:11 – “while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God.” Generosity and giving leads to thanksgiving.
  • 2 Corinthians 9:12 – “For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God.” Ministry meets needs and overflows with thanksgiving to God.

Book of Philippians

Philippians 4:6 instructs: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” We are to pray with thanksgiving.

Book of Colossians

Colossians has 2 verses about being thankful:

  • Colossians 1:12 – “giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.” We should thank God for our glorious inheritance in Christ.
  • Colossians 3:15 – “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.” Part of letting God’s peace reign is being thankful.

1 Thessalonians

1 Thessalonians 5:18 declares: “in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” It is God’s will that we give thanks in all circumstances.

Book of Revelation

Finally, Revelation 11:17 records: “saying: ‘We give You thanks, O Lord God Almighty, The One who is and who was and who is to come, Because You have taken Your great power and reigned.” This is part of heavenly worship, giving thanks to God for his eternal power and glory.

The New Testament encourages giving thanks in all situations, for God’s grace, goodness, salvation, and inheritance. Thanksgiving should flow from the hearts of believers.

Key Themes of Thanksgiving in the Bible

Looking at all 40 verses together, we see several themes emerging:

  • Thanking God for salvation and deliverance: Many verses in both Old and New Testaments talk about thanking God for saving and delivering his people. We should be eternally grateful for God’s plan of redemption through Jesus.
  • Thanking God for his eternal love, glory, and power: Multiple verses describe praising God’s name, glory, power, and love through thanksgiving. God is eternally glorious, all-powerful, and loving.
  • Bringing thank offerings: Old Testament Israelites worshiped through thank offerings and sacrifices. New Testament believers now offer spiritual sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving.
  • Thanking God in song and music: Numerous verses mention singing songs of thanksgiving or playing instruments with gratitude to God. Music is a beautiful way to express joy.
  • Giving thanks in all circumstances: 1 Thessalonians tells us to give thanks in everything. We can find reasons to thank God even in difficult times.
  • Thanking God through prayer: Combining thanksgiving with prayer is encouraged. Thanking God for all His blessings should be part of our prayer life.
  • Living a lifestyle of gratitude: We are instructed not just to thank God occasionally, but to develop a lifestyle characterized by thanksgiving and gratitude.

The Bible makes it clear that thanksgiving should be a regular, ongoing part of the Christian life. We have so many reasons to be thankful every day! Thanksgiving is far more than just a holiday – it is a biblical command and way of life.

As you reflect this Thanksgiving, purpose to cultivate a heart of gratitude all year long. Keep thanking God for his amazing grace, love, salvation, and daily blessings. Live a life overflowing with thanksgiving!

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Pastor duke taber
Pastor Duke Taber

Pastor Duke Taber

All articles have been written or reviewed by Pastor Duke Taber.
Pastor Duke Taber is an alumnus of Life Pacific University and Multnomah Biblical Seminary.
He has been in pastoral ministry since 1988.
Today he is the owner and managing editor of 3 successful Christian websites that support missionaries around the world.
He is currently starting a brand new church in Mesquite NV called Mesquite Worship Center, a Non-Denominational Spirit Filled Christian church in Mesquite Nevada.