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Bible Commentaries

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges
1 Thessalonians 2

 

 

Other Authors
Verse 1

1. Αὐτοὶ γὰρ οἴδατε, ἀδελφοί, τὴν εἴσοδον ἡμῶν τὴν πρὸς ὑμᾶς. For yourselves know, brothers, that entrance of ours unto you—resuming the thread of 1 Thessalonians 1:9. This αὐτοὶ γάρ is antithetical to that of 1 Thessalonians 1:9—“you know on your own part” what “they report upon theirs”; the indefinite εἴσοδον of the former sentence is now recalled to be defined, τὴντὴν πρὸς ὑμᾶς; and the historical (aorist) ἔσχομεν becomes the perfect γέγονεν, of the abiding effect. For the sense of εἴσοδος, see the previous note; for the ordo verborum, cf. τὴν πίστιν ὑμῶν τὴν πρὸς τὸν θεόν of 1 Thessalonians 1:8. Here πρός has its primary local meaning; there it carried an ethical sense.

οἴδατετὴν εἴσοδονὅτι οὐ κενὴ γέγονεν. You know … our entrance … that it has proved no vain (entrance)—i.e. far from vain. Οὐ negatives the whole predicate κενὴ γέγονεν, making it synonymous with ἐν δυνάμει ἐγενήθη (1 Thessalonians 1:5) or ἐνεργουμένη (-εῖται) of 1 Thessalonians 2:13; cf. 1 Corinthians 15:10; 1 Corinthians 15:58; Philippians 2:16. Κενός (empty, hollow) signifies in this context “void” of reality and power, as the entry of the Apostles would have proved had they “come in word” (1 Thessalonians 1:5), with hollow assumptions and κενοφωνία (1 Timothy 6:20; 2 Timothy 2:16), like “wind-bags” (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:1; 1 Corinthians 2:4; 1 Corinthians 4:19 f.).

Οἴδατε claims beforehand the subject of γέγονεν for its object, according to the Greek idiom which extends to all dependent sentences, but prevails with verbs of knowing: see Winer-Moulton, p. 781, Rutherford’s Syntax, § 244; and cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:4, ἀποδεικνύντα ἑαυτόν, κ.τ.λ.; 1 Corinthians 3:20; 2 Corinthians 12:3 f.; Luke 4:34.


Verses 1-12

§ 3. 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12. The Conduct of the Apostles at Thessalonica

The thanksgiving just offered to God for the conspicuous Christian worth of the Thessalonians reflects upon the work of the writers as the instruments of their conversion. The whole heart and interest of St Paul and his companions are bound up with the welfare of this Church (1 Thessalonians 3:8); their thoughts in the previous paragraph (1 Thessalonians 2:4-9) were constantly vibrating between “you” and “us,” as in the ensuing paragraph between “us” and “you.” This section is, in truth, an expansion of 1 Thessalonians 2:5 b in chap. 1: οἴδατε οἶοι ἐγενήθημεν [ἐν] ὑμῖν διʼ ὑμᾶς. Starting from the εἴσοδος referred to in 1 Thessalonians 1:9, the train of reflexion on the spirit and character of the past ministry of the writers amongst the Thessalonians, pursued through twelve verses with emphasis and relish, brings them back in 1 Thessalonians 2:13 into the vein of thanksgiving from which they set out. The Introd., pp. xxxiv. f., suggested some reasons for the writers’ dwelling thus on themselves and their own behaviour. The section may be analysed as follows:—The mission of St Paul and his comrades at Thessalonica exhibited the true power of the Gospel (1 Thessalonians 2:1); which was manifest [1] by the boldness they showed on its behalf in the face of persecution (1 Thessalonians 2:2)—[2] the boldness of religious sincerity untainted with personal ambition (1 Thessalonians 2:3-6), [3] united in their case with a tender parental devotion toward their charge (1 Thessalonians 2:7-9), and with [4] a solicitous fidelity to the high aims of the Christian calling (1 Thessalonians 2:11-12). Four words resume the whole—courage, purity, tenderness, fidelity; cf. 2 Corinthians 5:20 to 2 Corinthians 6:10.


Verse 2

2. οὐ κενὴ γέγονεν (1 Thessalonians 2:1), ἀλλὰἐπαρρησιασάμεθα ἐν τῷ θεῷ ἡμῶν κ.τ.λ. The Apostles’ παρρησία ἐν θεῷ excluded the thought of a κενὴ εἴσοδος: utterance so confident, and so charged with Divine energy, betokened a true mission from God. The aorists ἐπαρρησιασάμεθαλαλῆσαι signify “We took courage … to speak,” &c.—“waxed bold” (R.V.)—fiduciam sumpsimus (Calvin) rather than habuimus (Vulg.), gewannen wir in unserm Gott den Muth (Schmiedel); for in verbs of state, or continuous action, the aorist denotes inception (see Kühner’s Ausf. Grammatik2, ii. § 386. 5; or Rutherford’s Syntax, § 208), and the “entrance” of the missionaries is in question: contrast the imperfect as used in Acts 19:8. Commonly St Paul grounds his “boldness” ἐν κυρίῳ, as in 1 Thessalonians 4:1; 2 Thessalonians 3:4; Philippians 2:24, &c., or ἐν Χριστῷ, as in Philemon 1:8; here he is thinking much of his message as τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τοῦ θεοῦin our God the glad courage is grounded with which he speaks “the good news of God,” who entrusted him therewith (1 Thessalonians 2:4): cf. ἐν θεῷ, 1 Thessalonians 1:1; Colossians 3:3; ἐν δυνάμει θεοῦ, 2 Corinthians 6:4-7. Thus Jesus encouraged His disciples: “The Spirit of your Father speaketh in you.… Fear not therefore” (Matthew 10:20 ff.). In this joyful mood, shortly before, Paul and Silas “at midnight sang praise to God” in the stocks at Philippi.

Παρρησιάζομαι occurs only here and Ephesians 6:20 in St Paul, in Acts frequently; the noun παρρησία (παν-ρησία) passim. Denoting first unreserved speech, it comes to mean confident expression, freedom of bearing, frank and fearless assurance (German Freimuth)—the tone and attitude suitable to Christ’s servants (see 2 Corinthians 3:12 ff.; Luke 12:1 ff.); for the wider use of the term, cf. Philippians 1:20; Acts 4:13; Hebrews 10:35; 1 John 3:19-22, &c. Λαλῆσαι fills out the sense of ἐπαρρησιασάμεθα, as it denotes utterance, form of speech; while λέγειν (εἰπεῖν) would point to definite content, matter of speech (see 1 Thessalonians 4:15, 1 Thessalonians 5:3, &c.).

λαλῆσαι is qualified by ἐν πολλῷ ἀγῶνι, in much contention: ἀγών—a term of the athletic arena (cf. 1 Corinthians 9:25; Hebrews 12:1)—may denote either external or (as in Colossians 2:1) internal conflict; cf. 1 Corinthians 16:9, for the situation—ἀντικείμενοι πολλοί. The circumstances antecedent to their εἴσοδος, described in the introductory participial clause, προπαθόντεςἐν Φιλίπποις, enhanced the courage shown by the missionaries in preaching at Thessalonica, making it the more evident that the power of God was with them. Their Philippian experience is graphically related in Acts 16; for the connexion of the two cities, see the Map, and Introd. pp. x, lxii. Προπάσχω, only here in the N.T.: for προ- of time, cf. 1 Thessalonians 3:4, 1 Thessalonians 4:6; for πάσχω in like connexion, 1 Thessalonians 2:14, 2 Thessalonians 1:5. ὑβρισθέντες shows the “suffering” to have taken the shape of outrage, criminal violence, as was the case in the imprisonment of Paul and Silas (Acts 16:37); ὕβρις denoted legally an actionable indignity to the person: the expression indicates “the contumely which hurt St Paul’s feelings, arising from the strong sense of his Roman citizenship” (Lightfoot). What the Apostles suffered in Philippi was calculated to damage their character and arrest their work; their deliverance by so signal an interposition of Divine Providence emboldened them to proceed. καθὼς οἴδατε appeals to the familiarity of the readers with all that had transpired; cf. 1 Thessalonians 2:1, and note on 1 Thessalonians 1:5.

1 Thessalonians 2:3-4 are attached by γάρ to the object of the sentence immediately foregoing, viz. τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τοῦ θεοῦ: the religious sincerity of the Apostles went to show that it was indeed “the gospel of God” that they brought, and that accordingly in their “entrance” there was no false pretence (1 Thessalonians 2:1). The note of contradiction, οὐκἀλλά, is repeated from 1 Thessalonians 2:1-2; and the main repudiation includes a minor in 1 Thessalonians 2:4 b.


Verse 3

3. ἡ γὰρ παράκλησις ἡμῶν οὐκ ἐκ πλάνης οὐδὲ ἐξ ἀκαθαρσίας οὐδὲ ἐν δόλῳ. For our appeal (is) not of (does not proceed from) error, nor from impurity, nor (is it made) in guile. Παράκλησις may denote any kind of animating address (see 1 Corinthians 14:3; 1 Timothy 4:13; Acts 13:15), then the encouragement which such address gives (2 Thessalonians 2:16; 2 Corinthians 1:3 ff., &c.); here it is not “exhortation” to those already Christians, but “the appeal” of the Gospel to those who hear it; it includes the totum prœconium evangelii (Bengel). It corresponds to διδαχή (Chrysostom’s gloss, as in Romans 6:17, &c.) or διδασκαλία (2 Timothy 3:10) on one side—“from both of which it is distinguished as being directed more to the feelings than the understanding” (Ellicott)—and on another side to κήρυγμα (2 Timothy 4:17); it always contemplates the benefit of those addressed: cf. for παρακαλέω in like connexion, Acts 2:40; Luke 3:18; and for other uses of the verb, 1 Thessalonians 2:11 below, and 2 Thessalonians 2:17. The writers deny that they had been actuated by delusion or by impure motives (in other words, that they were either deceived or deceivers), or that they acted in crafty ways: ἐκ points to source, ἐν to manner of proceeding.

Πλάνη signifies (objective) error, as in 2 Thessalonians 2:11; Romans 1:27, &c.,—the opposite of “the word of the truth of the gospel” (Colossians 1:5; cf. 2 Corinthians 4:2; 2 Corinthians 6:7; Ephesians 1:13; 1 John 4:6; 2 Thessalonians 2:10-13 below); ἀκαθαρσία, (subjective) personal uncleanness. The latter expression commonly implies bodily defilement, as in Romans 1:24, &c., and may have this reference here; but the term, on occasion, includes μολυσμὸς πνεύματος as well as σαρκός (2 Corinthians 7:1). There is no hint anywhere else in the Epistles that St Paul was taxed with fleshly impurity; and uncleanness of spirit (sordid and mercenary aims, the αἰσχροκερδία of 1 Timothy 3:8, &c.) seems more to the point here. Against this reproach the Apostle jealously guarded himself (see 2 Corinthians 11:7-12; 2 Corinthians 12:14-18); possibly he is taking the word ἀκαθαρσία in this passage from the mouths of his gainsayers. In classical Greek it denotes moral foulness, dirty ways, of any sort. Cf. note on 1 Thessalonians 4:7; also 1 Timothy 6:5, where ἐξ ἀκαθαρσίας is recalled by διεφθαρμένων τὸν νοῦν, and ἐκ πλάνης by ἀπεστερημένων τῆς ἀληθείας. For ἐν δόλῳ, cf. 2 Corinthians 12:16; Mark 14:1; John 1:47.


Verse 4

4. Base motives and methods were excluded, once for all, by the nature of the apostolic commission: ἀλλὰ καθὼς δεδοκιμάσμεθα ὑπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ πιστευθῆναι τὸ εὐαγγέλιον, κ.τ.λ. But according as we have been approved by God to be put in trust with the Good News, we thus speak—quemadmodum probati fuimus a Deo, ut crederetur nobis Evangelium, sic loquimur (Calvin). Δεδοκιμάσμεθα (in the perf. tense, of settled and resultful fact), which is echoed by δοκιμάζοντι τὰς καρδίας in the appended clause, is the decisive word: God’s approval, shown by the conferment of this lofty commission, certifies the honesty of the Apostles and supplies its standard: cf., on this latter point, 1 Thessalonians 2:12, εἰς τὸ περιπατεῖνἀξίως, κ.τ.λ.; and 2 Thessalonians 1:11. There is a play on the double sense of δοκιμάζω (based on δόκιμος—see e.g. Romans 16:10accepted, approved, with its root in δέχομαι), which means first to assay, put to proof, as one does metal, coin, &c. (see Jeremiah 11:20, LXX, κύριε κρίνων δίκαια, δοκιμάζων νεφροὺς καὶ καρδίας: cf. Proverbs 17:3; Zechariah 13:9, &c.; also 1 Corinthians 3:13, and 1 Peter 1:7; 1 Peter 2:4), then to approve on testing, as in 1 Corinthians 16:3 : in the latter sense synon. with ἀξιόω, 2 Thessalonians 1:11, in the former with πειράζω; see Trench’s Synon. § 74. St Paul makes a similar appeal, in the face of disparagement, to the Divine judgement respecting himself in 1 Corinthians 4:1 ff.; and again in 2 Corinthians 1:12; 2 Corinthians 1:17-23.

For πιστευθῆναι τὸ εὐαγγέλιον, cf., both as to sense and grammatical form, Galatians 2:7; 1 Timothy 1:11 ff.: as to the fact, in St Paul’s own case, see Galatians 1:12; Galatians 1:15 f., Galatians 2:8 f.; Acts 9:15 f., Acts 22:14 f., Acts 26:16 ff.; Ephesians 3:2 ff.; 2 Timothy 1:11. Πιστεύομαι with nomin. of person (representing the dative after the active verb) and accus. of thing follows a sound Greek construction, occurring, for this particular verb, only in St Paul in the N.T.: add to the examples above given Romans 3:2, 1 Corinthians 9:17; consult Winer-Moulton, p. 326, Rutherford, Syntax, §201, Goodwin’s Greek Grammar, 1236. For λαλοῦμεν, see note to 1 Thessalonians 2:2.

οὕτως λαλοῦμεν is defined a second time, by οὐχ ὡς ἀνθρώποις ἀρέσκοντες ἀλλὰ θεῷ κ.τ.λ., not as (though we were) pleasing men, but (as pleasing) God who tries our hearts. The sentence “doubles back on itself” in true Pauline fashion (cf. e.g. Colossians 1:5 b, 6), the ὡς clause putting over again, in another light, what the καθώς clause had asserted. Those who serve human masters “speak” in a manner calculated to “please” them; the Apostles preach in a spirit accordant with their responsibility to God, whom they felt to be ever “trying” their “hearts.” “Ἀρέσκειν θεῷ can only be spoken de conatu, as in Galatians 1:10” (Schmiedel): for this idiom of the pres. and impf. tenses, see Kühner2, ii. § 382. 6, Rutherford, Syntax, § 210, Goodwin’s Greek Grammar, 1255. For “pleasing God,” cf. 1 Thessalonians 2:15, 1 Thessalonians 4:1; Romans 8:8; 1 Corinthians 7:32 : for “men,” Ephesians 6:6—and in a good sense, 1 Corinthians 10:33; Romans 15:1 ff.

For δοκιμάζω, see note on p. 37; the phrase comes from Jeremiah 11:20. τὰς καρδίας, plural (cf. 1 Thessalonians 3:13; 2 Thessalonians 2:17; 2 Thessalonians 3:5), shows that St Paul carries his companions with him in all he writes (τὴν καρδίαν would have suited the conventional pluralis auctoris); see note on the Address (1 Thessalonians 1:1), and Lightfoot’s note ad hoc. “The heart” in Scripture is not the seat of mere emotion, as when in modern usage it is opposed to “the head,” but of “the inner man” comprehensively (see Ephesians 3:16 f.); it is the centre and meeting-point of the soul’s movements. There the real self is found, which God sees (see Acts 1:24; 1 Samuel 16:7; Mark 7:21, &c.)—hence contrasted with “the mouth” or “lips” or “body” (Romans 10:10; Matthew 15:8; Proverbs 16:23; Hebrews 10:22, &c.).

1 Thessalonians 2:5-8 contain a third apologetic denial, introduced by γάρ, and stated once more in the οὐκἀλλά form of contradiction. The negative half consists of three members, as in 1 Thessalonians 2:3, but is more extended; these are distinguished by οὔτε, not οὐδέ as before, since they are more closely kindred.


Verse 5

5. οὔτε γάρ ποτε ἐν λόγῳ κολακίας ἐγενήθημεν. For neither at any time did we fall into the use of speech of flattery—sermone assentatorio usi sumus (Beza); were we found using (employed in, Lightfoot) words of flattery (R.V.)—but “found” suggests detection, which is not in question. For γίνομαι ἐν, versari in, to be engaged in, see Liddell and Scott, s. 1 Thessalonians 2 :2 Thessalonians 3 b; and cf. 1 Timothy 2:14; Luke 22:44. The aorist, pointed by ποτέ, implies falling into or resorting to the practice in question; cf. note on ἐπαρρησιασάμεθα, 1 Thessalonians 2:2. Bornemann notices how the use of the paraphrastic γίνομαι, so frequent in this context, enables the writer to combine the grammatically heterogeneous predicates of 1 Thessalonians 2:5-6.

Κολακίας (classical spelling, κολακεία, from κολακεύω) is genitive of content rather than characteristic—“speech that flattered you” (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:8; 2 Corinthians 6:7, for similar genitives with λόγος). This term, hap. leg. in N.T., always implies sinister, self-interested compliment; Aristotle (Eth. Nic. iv. 12) defines the κόλαξ as ὁ ὅπως ὠφέλειά τις αὑτῷ γίγνηται εἰς χρήματα κ. ὅσα διὰ χρημάτων (sc. λέγων): accordingly the λόγος κολακίας would serve as a πρόφασις πλεονεξίας. The slander against the missionaries on this particular head is contradicted more distinctly in 1 Thessalonians 2:10-12.

οὔτε (ἐγενήθημεν ἐν) προφάσει πλεονεξίας, nor (did we make use of) a cloak of covetousness—i.e. any pretext, whether in the shape of flattering speech or otherwise, serving to hide a selfish purpose. “Πρόφασις (from προφαίνω) signifies generally the ostensible reason for which a thing is done; sometimes in a good sense (Thuc. i. 23, vi. 6, ἀληθεστάτη πρόφασις), but generally otherwise, the false or pretended reason as opposed to the true” (Lightfoot): hence in Philippians 1:18 προφάσει is contrasted with ἐν ἀληθείᾳ; cf. Luke 20:47. Πλεονεξία means greed of any kind—oftenest, but not always, for money; it is the spirit of self-aggrandizement, selfishness as a ruling motive: see Trench’s Synon. § 24; and cf. Colossians 3:5; Ephesians 5:3; 2 Corinthians 9:5; Luke 12:15; also πλεονεκτέω in 1 Thessalonians 4:6, and note; 2 Corinthians 12:17 f.

As to the λόγος κολακίας the readers were good judges (καθὼς οἴδατε: see note on 1 Thessalonians 1:5); but “God” is cited as “witness” to the absence of πρόφ. πλεονεξίας, since this concerns “the hidden man of the heart” (see notes on 1 Thessalonians 2:4): θεὸς (anarthrous) μάρτυς, (there is) God (as) witness; cf. Romans 1:9; Philippians 1:8. For the twofold sin repudiated, cf. Psalms 12:2, “A flattering lip and a double heart.”


Verse 6

6. οὔτε (ἐγενήθημεν) ζητοῦντες ἐξ ἀνθρώπων δόξαν. Along with fawning lips and covert selfishness, the writers disclaim the pursuit of human reputation; the three kinds of conduct are closely allied—flattery cloaking greed and ambition. The transition from the prepositional (1 Thessalonians 2:5) to the participial construction distinguishes the third vice as a practice rather than a disposition: nor did we become seekers of (or fall into the pursuit of) glory from men. To “men” God is tacitly opposed as the proper source of “glory”: cf. 1 Thessalonians 2:4, δεδοκιμάσμεθα ὑπὸ τοῦ θεοῦθεῷ ἀρέσκοντες; also John 5:41 ff; John 7:18; 1 Corinthians 4:3 ff.; Romans 2:7; and 1 Thessalonians 2:19 f. below. That the Apostles have ἐξ ἀνθρώπων δόξαν, was stated in 1 Thessalonians 1:9; but they never “seek” it.

οὔτε ἀφʼ ὑμῶν οὔτε ἀπʼ ἄλλων. The missionaries might conceivably have sought reputation either from their converts, or “from others” at a distance hearing about them (cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:8 f.); but this object never influenced their work. If ἐξ and ἀπό may be distinguished here (this however is questioned), ἐξ points to the general source of such “glory” and indicates its nature, while ἀπό marks out the particular quarter from which it might be derived—glory such as men could give, whether you or others supplied it: cf. Romans 2:29 for ἐξ; for ἀπό in like connexion, Luke 11:50 f., Luke 12:20; also 1 Thessalonians 1:8 above. As to the relations of ἀπό and ἐκ in N.T. Greek, see A. Buttmann’s N.T. Grammar, p. 324.

δυνάμενοι ἐν βάρει εἶναι ὡς Χριστοῦ ἀπόστολοι is added to sustain the disavowal of ambition; accordingly βάρος signifies not so much the “weight” of expense that the “apostles of Christ” might have thrown on the Church for their maintenance (see 1 Corinthians 9:14, &c.), to which ἐπιβαρῆσαι refers a little later (1 Thessalonians 2:9, see note; and cf. 2 Corinthians 11:9, ἀβαρῆ ἐμαυτὸν ἐποίησα), as the “weight” of authority and personal importance with which they might have imposed themselves on disciples—so Chrysostom paraphrases ἐν τιμῇ εἶναι, Erasmus in dignitate, Schmiedel in Ansehen, &c. The latter sense is borne out by the immediate context in 1 Thessalonians 2:7. But the two meanings are compatible; for official importance was measured by stipend, by the demand made for personal support (cf. 2 Corinthians 11:7, ἐμαυτὸν ταπεινῶνὅτι δωρεὰνεὐηγγελισάμην, and the whole context); and it is just in St Paul’s manner to play on the double sense of such a phrase: when we might have sat heavily on you as Christ’s apostles reproduces, somewhat rudely, the double entendre; similarly Lightfoot ad loc. Polybius and other writers of the κοινή use βάρος in these two senses. With the locution ἐν βάρει εἶναι cf. ἐν ὑπεροχῇ ὅντων, 1 Timothy 2:2; also γίνομαι ἐν, 1 Thessalonians 2:5 above; see Liddell and Scott s. v. ἐν, 2. 2. For the connexion of βάρος with δόξα, see 2 Corinthians 4:17; both ideas are contained in the Hebrew כָּבוֹד.

Silvanus and Timotheus are included in the plural Χριστοῦ ἀπόστολοι (not, however, as ἀπόστολοι Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ). The term ἀπόστολος, שְׁלִיחַ, was in current Jewish use (see Schürer’s History of the Jewish People in the Time of Christ, ii. ii. pp. 269, 290) as signifying emissary, commissioner; it was the title given to the delegates who conveyed to Jerusalem the contributions levied for sacred purposes from Jews of the Dispersion (cf. 2 Corinthians 8:23; Philippians 2:25), but in all probability was not confined to this application. In Christian usage it took a narrower and a wider sense, as it denoted primarily “the Twelve,” “the Apostles,” commissioned in the first instance and from His own person by Jesus Christ, and as it was subsequently extended to others “sent out” from particular Churches,—either for general service in the Gospel or on some specific Christian errand. These were “apostles of the churches,” but also, in a derivative sense, “apostles of Christ,” since they belonged to Him and were despatched on His service: see further, for this larger use of the word in which it corresponds to our missionary, Acts 14:4; Acts 14:14; Romans 16:7; 2 Corinthians 11:13; Revelation 2:2; also Didaché, xi. 2. John 17:18; John 20:21 give the fundamental Christian conception of the “apostle’s” calling, and the basis of the wider application of the title. It appears always to imply a travelling commission, and an authoritative mandate. In later Epistles (2 Corinthians 1:1; Colossians 1:1) St Paul distinguishes himself as “the apostle” from “Timothy the brother,” whose function was that of “an evangelist” (2 Timothy 4:5; cf. Ephesians 4:11); he claimed the Apostleship in its higher and exclusive sense (see Galatians 1:1; Galatians 1:12; Galatians 1:17; Galatians 2:6-8; Romans 1:1-5; 1 Corinthians 9:1 ff; 1 Corinthians 15:9-11; 2 Corinthians 12:11 ff., &c.). The Judaistic controversy, which arose subsequently to the writing of the Thessalonian Epistles, compelled St Paul to assert his plenary authority and his place by the side of the Twelve; in this sense, he then became ἐν βάρει. But for the present, and at Thessalonica, there is no necessity for him to assume more than the common apostleship, nor to raise himself by way of prerogative above his companions. See the Excursus of Huxtable on The name and office of an Apostle (Pulpit Commentary: Galatians); Lightfoot, Galatians, pp. 92–101; Hort, Ecclesia, pp. 22 ff.; Weizsäcker’s History of the Apostolic Age, Vol. ii. pp. 293–296; also Smith’s2 and Hastings’ Dictionary of the Bible, s. v. Apostle.


Verse 7

7. ἀλλὰ ἐγενήθημεν νήπιοι ἐν μέσῳ ὑμῶν. See Textual Note above. (a) According to the reading νήπιοι, the Apostles were simple, guileless, and unassuming (1 Thessalonians 2:3-7) as “babes”: cf. ἀκέραιοι, τέκνα θεοῦ, in Philippians 2:15; ἀκεραίους εἰς τὸ κακόν and τῇ κακίᾳ νηπιάζετε, Romans 16:19 and 1 Corinthians 14:20; also Matthew 18:4, and 2 Corinthians 11:7, 1 Peter 2:1 f., for the various Christian qualities represented by νηπιότης. This wider interpretation of νήπιοι is demanded by the contrast with 1 Thessalonians 2:5-6; cf. that derived by Origen and Augustine from the clause which follows, given in the note below. (b) The reading ἤπιοι presents the apter contrast to 1 Thessalonians 2:6; and it traverses the πλεονεξία, if not the κολακία, of 1 Thessalonians 2:5. Ἐν μέσῳ ὑμῶν puts the ἐν ὑμῖν of 1 Thessalonians 1:5 more vividly (cf. Matthew 18:2-4),—ὡς ἄν εἴποι τις Ὡς εἶς ἐξ ὑμῶν, οὐχὶ τὴν ἄνω λαβόντες τάξιν (Chrysostom); non agebant quasi ex cathedra (Bengel): cf. 1 Peter 5:1; Revelation 1:9; Luke 22:27; Hebrews 2:12,—the two latter passages relating to the Great Example.

νήπιοι (if this reading be genuine) ἐν μέσῳ κ.τ.λ. leads on to the comparison, ὡς ἐὰν τροφὸς θάλπῃ τὰ ἑαυτῆς τέκνα, as haply a nurse might be cherishing her own children; for the skill of a nurse lies in her coming down to the level of her babes,—as Origen puts it, λαλοῦσα λόγους ὡς παιδίον διὰ τὸ παιδίον; Augustine, delectat … decurtata et mutilata verba inmurmurare. But this is only a single trait of the picture: the nurse-mother (θάλπει τὰ ἑαυτῆς τέκνα) is child-like with her children,—as far from selfish craft as they, and filled besides with a care for them (see 1 Thessalonians 2:8) which they cannot feel nor reciprocate toward her. Here St Paul paints himself as the mother τρέφουσα καὶ θάλπουσα, while in Galatians 4:19 he is the mother ὠδίνουσα. Ὡς ἄν (later Gr. ἐάν), like other relative pronouns and adverbs with ἄν and subjunct., implies a standing contingency,—“as it may be (may be seen) at any time”: cf. Galatians 5:17, Luke 9:57, &c., for the construction; the temporal ὡς ἄν of 1 Corinthians 11:34, &c., is different. Θάλπω, only here and in Ephesians 5:29 (ἐκτρέφει καὶ θάλπει) in N.T.; in LXX, Deuteronomy 22:6. Ἠπιότης however (if we prefer to read ἤπιοι) is a conspicuous trait of the τροφός with her τέκνα.


Verse 8

8. The figure of 1 Thessalonians 2:7 c, while it looks back to νήπιοι (ἤπιοι), in its turn suggests another side of the relation of the Apostles to their converts: they had been as nursing mothers to their spiritual children not only in homely simplicity (or gentleness), but in self-devotion:—

ὡςτροφὸςοὕτως ὀμειρόμενοι ὑμῶν, (like a nurse) … so tenderly yearning over you. Ὀμείρομαι, a hap. leg. in Greek—except that it occurs as a varia lectio in Job 3:21 (LXX) and in Psalms 62:2 (Symmachus)—is taken to be an obscure dialectic variation of ἱμείρομαι, a verb common in poetry from Homer downwards (not extant in Attic prose), which is spelt also by Nicander (c. 160 b.c.) μείρομαι. As a verb of feeling, it is construed with genitive of the object. Ἱμείρομαι describes in Odyss. i. 41 Odysseus’ yearning for his native land; in classical Greek it implies absence of the beloved object, like ἐπιποθέω in 1 Thessalonians 3:6 below; otherwise here,—ἐνταῦθα τὴν φιλοστοργίαν δείκνυσι (Chrys.). On the spiritus (asper or lenis?), see Textual Note.

ηὐδοκοῦμεν μεταδοῦναι ὑμῖν κ.τ.λ. We were well-pleased (or thought good) to impart to you not only the Good News of God, but also our own souls. Ηὐδοκοῦμεν implies not something that the Apostles were willing to do (A.V.), or would have done if occasion had arisen—as though they had written ηὐδοκοῦμεν (or ηὐδοκήσαμεν) ἄν—but what they actually did with hearty good-will: so εὐδοκέω with the infinitive in 1 Thessalonians 3:1; cf. Romans 15:26; 1 Corinthians 1:21; Galatians 1:15; Colossians 1:19; Luke 12:32. The idea is not that the missionaries were ready to lay down their lives for their converts—as though the words were δοῦναι, or θεῖναι, ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν τὰς ψυχάς (cf. Mark 10:45; Galatians 1:4; 1 John 3:16)—but that they gladly communicated (μετα-δοῦναι; cf. Romans 1:11) their very selves to them,—in other words, they gave with their message the best and utmost that was in them, for the reason that (διότι) the Thessalonians had grown (ἐγενήθητε) dear to them.

On ψυχή, see note to 1 Thessalonians 5:23. It denotes the personality, the living self (hence plural, as including the three), and is synonymous with καρδία (1 Thessalonians 2:4, see note); καρδία is the inner man by contrast with the outer, while ψυχή is the man himself as feeling and acting through the outer organs, the soul within the body: cf. Colossians 3:23; Luke 12:19; Luke 12:22 f.; 1 Peter 1:22; 1 Peter 2:11. St Paul and his fellows imparted themselves to this Church as the nursing-mother to her offspring (1 Thessalonians 2:7), with a tenderness in which one’s very soul goes out to the beloved. Of this unstinting, uncalculating devotion (how opposite to all πρόφασις πλεονεξίας, 1 Thessalonians 2:5) the κόπος κ. μόχθος of 1 Thessalonians 2:9 gave evidence; the saying of 2 Corinthians 12:15, ἥδιστα ἐκδαπανηθήσομαι ὑπὲρ τῶν ψυχῶν ὑμῶν, is a striking parallel to ηὐδοκοῦμεν μεταδοῦναι τὰς ψυχὰς ἡμῶν. Bengel aptly paraphrases, “Anima nostra cupiebat quasi immeare in animam vestram”; and Calvin, more at length, “Mater in liberis suis educandis … nullis parcit laboribus ac molestiis, nullam solicitudinem refugit, nulla assiduitate fatigatur, suumque adeo sanguinem hilari animo sugendum praebet.” The 3rd personal reflexive, ἑαυτῶν, is freely used in later Greek for all three persons in plural; see Winer-Moulton, pp. 187 f.

διότι (cf. 1 Thessalonians 2:18, 1 Thessalonians 4:6) = διὰ τοῦτο ὃτι, a more distinct causal than ὅτι. ἀγαπητοὶ ἡμῖν ἐγενήθητε, beloved to us,—in our eyes. This adjective has in effect the force of a substantive (cf. 1 Thessalonians 2:19 f.); elsewhere St Paul uses it of his people by way of endearing address, along with or in place of ἀδελφοί, or in describing their relation to God (Romans 1:7; Ephesians 5:1; cf. Ephesians 1:4 above). Christ Himself is ὁ ἀγαπητός (Matthew 3:17) or ὁ ἠγαπημένος (Ephesians 1:6). Ἐγενήθητε, you became after your conversion and our acquaintance with you; cf. ὥστε γενέσθαι ὑμᾶς, 1 Thessalonians 1:8.


Verse 9

9. μνημονεύετε γάρ, ἀδελφοί. For you call to mind, brothers: for μνημονεύω with accus., cf. 2 Timothy 2:8; Matthew 16:9; Revelation 18:5; with the genitive it has a less active sense, as in 1 Thessalonians 1:3 (see note). Referring to the same matter in 2 Thessalonians 3:7, the Apostles use the stronger expression, αὐτοὶ γὰρ οἴδατε, as in 1 Thessalonians 2:1 above; here they speak as though the facts mentioned might not be at once present to the minds of the readers and would need to be recalled: cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:5.

On κόπος, see note to 1 Thessalonians 1:3. μόχθος (kindred to μόγις, μόγος) implies outward difficulty, as κόπος personal strain,—“toil and moil” (Lightfoot); so μόχθος is used of the labours of Hercules in Sophocles, Trach. 1101, 1170. The combination recurs in 2 Thessalonians 3:8; 2 Corinthians 11:27.

νυκτὸς καὶ ἡμέρας ἐργαζόμενοιἐκηρύξαμεν κ.τ.λ., by night and day working, &c.: an explanatory sentence abruptly apposed to κόπον καὶ μόχθον, much as ὡς ἐὰν τροφός κ.τ.λ. to νήπιοι (ἤπιοι) in 1 Thessalonians 2:7. The order “night and day” was common in Greek and Roman, as well as Jewish, usage (see Pliny, Nat. Hist. ii. 77 [88]; Cicero, De Finibus i. xvi. 51; Cæsar, De Bell. Gall. v. 38. 1); “day and night” is the order in Luke and John. Ἐργάζομαι bears the specific sense of manual labour also in classical Greek; so our “working man”: cf. 2 Thessalonians 3:8; 1 Corinthians 9:6; Acts 18:3. The last of these parallels, which refers to St Paul’s employment at this time, informs us of the nature of his handicraft; he was “a tentmaker by trade,” σκηνοποιὸς τῇ τέχνῃ. Jewish fathers, even if well-to-do (as St Paul’s family probably was, judging from the fact of his being sent to study at Jerusalem), had their sons taught some mechanical art as a remedy against poverty or idleness. St Paul had probably learnt at Tarsus the business of cutting out and stitching the coarse goats’-hair cloth (cilicium) used for making tents, also for shoes, mats, and other rough fabrics, which was a staple industry of Cilicia; and this skill proved a great resource to the wandering Apostle. An irksome labour it was, and ill-paid, most like the work of a shoemaker or carpet-sewer. “These hands,” as the Apostle held them up to the view of the Ephesian Elders (Acts 20:34) hard and blackened with their daily task, told their tale of stern independence and exhausting toil. Silvanus and Timothy had probably other trades of their own. Yet the Apostle during his residence at Thessalonica more than once received help from his friends at Philippi, who would not be denied the privilege of relieving his wants: see Philippians 4:10-16. This Church was composed mainly of working-class people (see 1 Thessalonians 4:11 f.), and demands soon began to be made by the Christian poor—in some cases, probably, deprived of their living by their change in religion—on the resources of its few wealthier members (including the γυναῖκες πρῶται of Acts 17:4); the Apostles acted therefore in the manner described πρὸς τὸ μὴ ἐπιβαρῆσαί τινα ὑμῶν, so as to avoid laying a burden upon any of you—words repeated in 2 Thessalonians 3:8, where 1 Thessalonians 2:9 f. add another reason for the mode of life pursued at Thessalonica: cf., to the like effect, 1 Corinthians 9:1-19; 2 Corinthians 11:7-12; Acts 20:33 ff. This went to show not only the love of the Apostles toward their converts, but their disinterestedness, the absence in them of πλεονεξία in any shape (1 Thessalonians 2:5 ff.: see note on ἐν βάρει). Ἐπιβαρέω has an ethical force in 2 Corinthians 2:5; the stronger καταβαρέω is used in the sense of this passage in 2 Corinthians 12:16.

ἐκηρύξαμεν εἰς ὑμᾶς τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τοῦ θεοῦ. We brought to you as heralds the Good News of God: cf. ὁ λόγος ἡμῶν ἐγενήθη εἰς ὑμᾶς, 1 Thessalonians 1:5. Κηρύσσω εἰς (elsewhere with dative, Acts 8:5; 1 Peter 3:19; and frequently with ἐν, as in 2 Corinthians 1:19) implies entrance amongst those addressed (εἴσ-οδος, 1 Thessalonians 2:1); cf. Mark 1:39; Luke 24:47, &c. ΄εταδοῦναι τὸ εὐαγγ. (1 Thessalonians 2:8) indicates the charity of those who bring the Gospel, ἐκηρύξαμεν the dignity of their office. For the third time in this context (1 Thessalonians 2:2; 1 Thessalonians 2:5) the Gospel is called “the good news of God” (cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:9); elsewhere only in Romans 1:1; Romans 15:16. As God’s heralds, bearing so lofty a commission and so welcome a message, the Apostles might have looked for some return in the supply of their bodily needs from those to whom they devoted themselves unsparingly (see 1 Corinthians 9:7-14); but they forbore, for the reason given. Jason’s house, referred to in Acts 17:5 f., was probably the place of assembly for the Church; the Apostles, if they regularly lodged there, were not at Jason’s charge for their maintenance.


Verse 10

10. ὑμεῖς μάρτυρες, καὶ ὁ θεός. In 1 Thessalonians 2:5 the witness of men and that of God were separately invoked (see note); here jointly, for the writers’ pastoral ministry, described in 1 Thessalonians 2:10-12, was the subject both of Divine and of human observation: cf. 1 Samuel 12:3; 1 Samuel 12:5.

ὡς ὁσίως κ. δικαίως κ. ἀμέμπτως ὑμῖν τοῖς πιστεύουσιν ἐγενήθημεν, how religiously and righteously and in a manner beyond blame we devoted ourselves to (or bore ourselves toward) you that believe. The construction of this clause is not quite obvious in point of grammar. (a) Ὑμῖν might be attached to ἐγενήθημεν, or to ἀμέμπτως singly, as a dative of opinion (see Winer-Moulton, p. 265): “how holily &c.… we behaved, in the estimation of you that believe”—or “how holily …, and unblamably in the eyes of you that believe (tametsi aliis non ita videretur, Bengel), we bore ourselves”: an interpretation condemned by Lightfoot as “inconceivably flat and unmeaning,” after ὑμεῖς μάρτ. κ. ὁ θεός and in view of 1 Thessalonians 2:11-12. (b) Or ὑμῖν is connected with ἐγενήθημεν as a dativus commodi: “how holily, &c., … we behaved to you that believe.” The adjectives ὄσιοι κ.τ.λ. would suit this sense better than the adverbs used. (c) Bornemann’s explanation is perhaps the best. He combines ὑμῖν with ἐγενήθημεν as a dative of close relationship, or of the (ethical) possessor, making this dative convey the main assertion and reading the adverbs as qualifications of the whole predicate thus formed: “how holily &c … we made ourselves yours that believe.” For this dative, somewhat rare with γίνομαι, cf. Romans 7:3, γενομένην ἀνδρί; and for the adverbs with γίνομαι, 1 Corinthians 16:10. The interest of the paragraph centres in the close ties which bound the Apostles to the Thessalonians as Christian believers (see especially note on 1 Thessalonians 2:7). To the fact that this relationship was contracted on the part of the Apostles in a godly, blameless fashion, the readers themselves, together with God, are summoned as witnesses.

Δίκαιος is distinguished from ὄσιος as when Marcus Aurelius (Medit. vii. 66) describes Socrates as δίκαιος τὰ πρὸς τοὺς ἀνθρώπους καὶ ὅσιος τὰ πρὸς τοὺς θεούς; similarly Plato writes in Gorgias 507 a, b; Polybius, Hist. xxiii. 10. 8, &c. In Deuteronomy 32:4, &c., Psalms 145:17, Revelation 16:5, the double term is applied to God: see also Ephesians 4:24; Titus 1:8; Luke 1:75, for the combination. In distinction from ἅγιος, the characteristic N.T. word for ‘holy,’ ὅσιος signifies holy in disposition and attitude toward God,—godly; ἄγιος, holy in relationship and duty to God,—consecrated (see note on ἁγιάζω, 1 Thessalonians 5:23). Ἄμεμπτος appears in 1 Thessalonians 3:13 and 1 Thessalonians 5:23,—passages indicating that “blamelessness” is asserted before God (see θεὸς μάρτυς, 1 Thessalonians 2:5, and note just above) as well as men, so that ἀμέμπτως is not to be limited by ὑμῖν.


Verse 11

11. παρακαλοῦντεςπαραμυθούμενοιμαρτυρόμενοι, exhorting … encouraging … testifying. Παρακαλέω is the general term for animating address (cf. note on παράκλησις, 1 Thessalonians 2:3, also 1 Thessalonians 3:2); παραμυθέομαι denotes exhortation on its soothing and consoling side (see 1 Thessalonians 5:14; John 11:19), suitably to the afflicted state of the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 1:6): 1 Thessalonians 4:13 ff. and 2 Thessalonians 1:5 ff. are specimens of Pauline παραμυθία (Lightfoot, however, in his note ad loc. questions this distinction). Hofmann thus defines the three terms: “παρακαλεῖν is speech that addresses itself to the will, παραμυθεῖσθαι to the sensibilities, while μαρτύρεσθαι signalizes the impressive seriousness with which the speaker personally vouches for what he says.” For μαρτύρομαι, to protest, give solemn witness, cf. Ephesians 4:17; Galatians 5:3; Acts 20:26; Acts 26:22 : to be carefully distinguished from μαρτυρέω (-έομαι; see Romans 3:21). The Vulg. reads, “deprecantes vos, et consolantes, testificati sumus,” turning the last participle into a finite verb to complete the sentence, and confusing μαρτύρομαι with μαρτυρέω; Erasmus and Beza, more correctly, obtestantes; Estius, contestantes.


Verse 11-12

11, 12. καθάπερ οἴδατε ὡς ἕνα ἕκαστονπαρακαλοῦντες κ.τ.λ. The ὡςπαρακαλοῦντες sentence is not completed, and ἕνα ἕκαστον remains in suspense, an object with no verb to govern it. The participial clause begins as if leading up to a finite verb, such as ἐνουθετοῦμεν (Acts 20:31), or ἀνετρέφομεν (see τροφός, 1 Thessalonians 2:7), or ἐτηροῦμεν (1 Thessalonians 5:23); but the writer is carried away by the extension of his third participle, μαρτυρόμενοι, and in rounding off this clause forgets the missing verb, the sense of which is however practically supplied by the full import of the three participles. Similarly διὰ τοὺς παρεισὰκ. ψευδαδέλφους is left suspended in Galatians 2:4, and τὸ ἀδύνατον τοῦ νόμου in Romans 8:3; for a like participial anacoluthon, see 2 Corinthians 7:5 b. It is more natural, and much more after St Paul’s manner, to admit such a lapse than to suppose that ἐγενήθημεν (1 Thessalonians 2:10) is resumed in thought across the intervening καθάπερ οἴδατε to support the participles, and that ἕνα ἕκαστον is conceived as object to παρακαλοῦντες κ.τ.λ., to be quickly followed by the pleonastic ὑμᾶς: see Ellicott ad loc.

Καθάπερ is more emphatic than καθὼς οἴδατε (1 Thessalonians 2:2, &c.),—“as verily,” “even as”; cf. 1 Thessalonians 3:6, &c. Οἴδατε ὡς—for ὄτι, as often in classical Greek—implies the manner as well as the bare fact: “you know the way in which (we dealt with) each one”; cf. ἐπίστασθε πῶς, Acts 20:18, and see note on οἶοι (ποῖοι), 1 Thessalonians 1:5, for the difference between ὡς and πῶς. For ἕνα ἕκαστον, asserting the individualizing care of these true pastors, cf. Acts 20:31; John 10:3 b.

ὡς πατὴρ τέκνα ἑαυτοῦ adds the father’s heedful oversight to the mother’s tender self-devotion (1 Thessalonians 2:7; cf. τὰ ἑαυτῆς τέκνα): with every kind of solicitude the missionaries “imparted their souls” (1 Thessalonians 2:8) to this Church and made themselves over to it (ὑμῖνἐγενήθημεν, 1 Thessalonians 2:10). St Paul calls the Corinthians also (1 Corinthians 4:14, 2 Corinthians 6:13), and the Galatians (Galatians 4:19), and Timothy (2 Thessalonians 1:2, &c.), his τέκνα; so in 1 John τεκνία, passim. 1 Corinthians 4:14-21 gives a different turn to the figure.


Verse 12

12. εἰς τὸ περιπατεῖν ὑμᾶς ἀξίως τοῦ θεοῦ. The sublime turn now taken by the participial clause carries the Apostle away from the scheme of sentence beginning at ὡς ἕνα ἕκαστον; he forgets what he and his comrades did, as he thinks of what God is doing for the readers: cf. 1 Corinthians 3:7. Εἰς τό with infin. is synonymous with πρὸς τό, 1 Thessalonians 2:9; the former carries one on to the purpose (or sometimes result) aimed at (“in order to”), while πρός contemplates and points to it (“with a view to,” “with reference to”): cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:9, 2 Thessalonians 1:5. Περιπατεῖν, a familiar Hebraism (הִתְהַלֵּךְ) = ἀναστρέφεσθαι, 2 Corinthians 1:12, &c.

That they should “behave worthily of God” is the proper aim of those who “have turned to God from idols” (1 Thessalonians 1:9), and the aim on their behalf of those who “were entrusted by God” with “the gospel of God” to convey to them (1 Thessalonians 2:2; 1 Thessalonians 2:4; 1 Thessalonians 2:8 f.): ἀξίως has τοῦ θεοῦ for its fitting complement here (only in 3 John 1:6 besides in N.T.),—τοῦ κυρίου in Colossians 1:10, τοῦ εὐαγγελίου τοῦ χριστοῦ in Philippians 1:27, τῆς κλήσεως in Ephesians 4:1 (cf. 2 Thessalonians 1:11 below). For other references to God as the standard of the religious life, see Ephesians 5:1; 1 Peter 1:15; Matthew 5:48; Leviticus 19:2; Genesis 17:1. For parallels to ἀξίως τοῦ θεοῦ, see Deissmann, Bible Studies, p. 248.

ἀξίως τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ καλοῦντος ὑμᾶς κ.τ.λ., worthily of the God who calls you: for it is “the God (living and real,” 1 Thessalonians 1:9), whom the Thessalonians have come to know through His gracious “call” and “choice” (1 Thessalonians 1:4) of them for salvation, of whom they are urged to “walk worthily,”—i.e. in a manner befitting the relationship in which God places them to Himself and the glorious destiny to which He summons them. The present participle may intimate the continuousness of the call (cf. note on τὸν διδόντα, 1 Thessalonians 4:8); or rather—since God’s call is commonly conceived as the single, initial manifestation of His grace to Christians (see 1 Thessalonians 4:7; 1 Corinthians 1:9, &c.)—τοῦ καλοῦντος is substantival, like τὸν ῥυόμενον in 1 Thessalonians 1:10 (see note): “God your caller” (similarly in 1 Thessalonians 5:24); St Paul and the rest are only κήρυκες, bearers of the summons from Him.

εἰς τὴν ἑαυτοῦ βασιλείαν καὶ δόξαν, (who calleth you) into (i.e. to enter) His own kingdom and glory,—the kingdom of which God is the immediate Ruler, entering which men become His acknowledged and privileged servants. “Kingdom and glory” form one idea (observe the single article and preposition): “God’s own kingdom” culminates in “His own glory,”—viz. the splendour of the revelation attending the return of Christ, which will exhibit God in the full glory of His accomplished purposes of salvation and of judgement (John 17:1; 1 Corinthians 15:21-28; Philippians 2:11); hence kingdom and glory match the serving and waiting of 1 Thessalonians 1:9 f. The Christian’s “hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:2) is one with his “hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 1:3), and is the crown of his service in God’s kingdom.

The idea of the kingdom of God was developed in the teaching of Jesus, and lies at the basis of St Paul’s doctrine. The announcement of it had been a leading feature of his preaching at Thessalonica (cf. 2 Thessalonians 1:5; see Introd. pp. xviii. ff.); in his missionary work, like John the Baptist and Jesus Himself, the Apostle Paul “went about heralding the kingdom” (Acts 20:25; Acts 28:31). He designates it sometimes “the kingdom of the Son” (Colossians 1:13), “the kingdom of Christ and God” (Ephesians 5:5; cf. Revelation 11:15), since God rules in it through Christ; and, in 2 Timothy 4:18, as “His (the Lord’s) heavenly kingdom” (cf. Matthew 4:17; Matthew 6:10; Matthew 13:24, &c.). The Kingdom is represented as future and yet present, existing hidden as “the leaven in the meal,” “the corn in the blade,” ever struggling and growing towards its ripeness: see especially Luke 17:21; Matthew 5:3; Matthew 5:10; Matthew 13:31 ff., Matthew 13:38, &c., for our Lord’s view of the Kingdom, which is indeed virtually comprised in the petitions of the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, as in heaven so on earth.” The kingdom is realized in its essence and potency wherever there is “righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17); but whatever of it men now possess the Apostle regards as only the “earnest of our inheritance” (Ephesians 1:13 f.; Romans 8:17; Titus 3:7). His appeals, consolations, and protestations to his Thessalonian converts point to the sublime issue of their admission into the perfected kingdom of God; he adjures them to be worthy both of the God who had set His love upon them and of the wondrous future assured to them as His sons in Christ.


Verse 13

13. Καὶ διὰ τοῦτο καὶ ἡμεῖς εὐχαριστοῦμεν τῷ θεῷ ἀδιαλείπτως. And on this account we also give thanks to God unceasingly. At the beginning of the Epistle the Apostles gave thanks to God in remembrance of the worth of their readers; they find a supplementary ground of thanksgiving in the fact that these had “received as God’s word” “the word of hearing” coming from themselves: hence the emphatic ἡμεῖς καὶ εὐχαριστοῦμεν instead of the bare εὐχαριστοῦμεν of 1 Thessalonians 1:1, and the peculiar phrase λόγον ἀκοῆς παρʼ ἡμῶν τοῦ θεοῦ. Διὰ τοῦτο gathers its meaning from the previous paragraph: all the toil and sacrifice of the missionaries contributed to their satisfaction over the result accomplished; their consuming devotion to the Thessalonians made the thanksgiving a thoroughly personal matter: see 1 Thessalonians 2:19 f., 1 Thessalonians 3:8 f.

Accordingly the clause ὅτι παραλαβόντες λόγον ἀκοῆς παρʼ ἡμῶν τοῦ θεοῦ, κ.τ.λ., does not supply the correlative to διὰ τοῦτο (as if St Paul meant “on this account, viz. that,” &c.); but it gives the subject-matter of εὐχαριστοῦμεν (cf. 2 Thessalonians 1:3; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Corinthians 1:4 f., &c.): that (or in that) when you received the word of hearing from us—God’s word—you accepted (in it) … a word of God. Παραλαβόντες, denoting the objective fact of receiving—by way of information, tradition, or the like (cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:1; 2 Thessalonians 3:6; 1 Corinthians 15:1; Galatians 1:9, &c.)—leads up to ἐδέξασθε, which indicates subjective acceptance (see 1 Thessalonians 1:6, and note; 2 Thessalonians 2:10; 1 Corinthians 2:14), the inner apprehension and appreciation of the message for what it truly is. The λόγος ἀκοῆς is the “word” as it came to the παραλαβόντες (cf. Philippians 4:9, παρελάβετε κ. ἠκούσατε), and from the λαλοῦντες (1 Thessalonians 2:2; 1 Thessalonians 2:4) and κηρύσσοντες (1 Thessalonians 2:9),—the word of God sounding in the ears of the Thessalonians from the writers’ lips; the phrase occurs again in Hebrews 4:2, “where, as here, it stands in contrast to the faithful reception of the Gospel” (Lightfoot). For ἀκοῆς (ἀκούω) παρά, implying a “word” lodged with the speakers (1 Thessalonians 2:3), cf. 2 Timothy 1:13; 2 Timothy 2:2; Acts 10:22, &c.; John 15:15. Others connect παρʼ ἡμῶν with παραλαβόντες. In Romans 10:17 it is said, ἡ πίστις ἐξ ἀκοῆς, where πίστις corresponds to δέχεσθαι in this passage; an ἀκοὴ ἀπιστίας is described in that context. Ἀκοῆς should probably be read, like its counterpart in Romans 10:8—(τὸ ῥῆμα) τῆς πίστεως—as a lax genitive of the possessor, “the word which belongs to (or is for) hearing”; as ἀκοή is διὰ ῥήματος (Romans 10:17), so λόγος is εἰς ἀκοήν. For ἀκοή, see further Galatians 3:2; John 12:38; Isaiah 53:1 (LXX). Τοῦ θεοῦ is genitive of subject defining the noun-phrase λόγον ἀκοῆς and correcting παρʼ ἡμῶν,—“God’s word given you to hear from us”; cf. Colossians 1:6 b, 7; 2 Corinthians 3:5 f., 1 Thessalonians 5:19 f.; Ephesians 3:7 f.; Acts 15:7 : “the Apostle betrays a nervous apprehension that he may be unconsciously making claims for himself; the awkwardness of the position of the words τοῦ θεοῦ is the measure of the emphasis of his disclaimer” (Lightfoot).

ἐδέξασθε οὐ λόγον ἀνθρώπων ἀλλά, καθὼς ἀληθῶς ἐστίν, λόγον θεοῦ: you accepted no word of men, but, as it truly is, God’s word. No need to understand ὡς before λόγον in either instance: the Thessalonians in point of fact did not accept a human but a Divine word; they were listening to Another behind Paul and Silas. Of the kind of hearing negatived St Paul’s Athenian audience gave an example (Acts 17:18-21). With οὐ λόγον ἀνθρ. κ.τ.λ. cf. 1 Corinthians 3:5-9, οὔτε ὁ φυτεύων ἐστίν τι κ.τ.λ.; also 1 Corinthians 1:12-17; 1 Corinthians 1:29-31. The phrase ἀληθῶς ἐστίν is hap. leg. in St Paul; rather frequent in St John.

ὃς καὶ ἐνεργεῖται ἐν ὑμῖν τοῖς πιστεύουσιν, which (word) is also made operative (or is working effectually) in you that believe. The active of ἐνεργέω has in St Paul a personal subject; the passive (or middle) voice is used of personal powers, influences, as in 2 Thessalonians 2:7; Galatians 5:6, &c. This relative clause carries the readers from past to present time: “God’s word,” which they had accepted as such at the mouth of His Apostles, from that time “also works on in” their hearts and lives. Ἐνεργεῖται recalls the ἔργον πίστεως (1 Thessalonians 1:1; see note),—the primary matter of thanks to God. This verb (= ἐνεργής εἰμι) signifies effective, fructifying operation (cf. Romans 7:5; Philippians 2:13); see J. A. Robinson on Ephesians, pp. 241 ff., who gives reason for rendering ἐνεργέομαι as passive in the N.T. The “word is made to work in” those “that believe,” since faith is the operative principle of the new life,—πίστιςἐνεργουμένη (Galatians 5:6; cf. James 2:22; Hebrews 4:2). A second time ὑμῖν τοῖς πιστεύουσιν serves to designate the Christian readers (1 Thessalonians 2:10; see note); in 1 Thessalonians 1:7 πᾶσιν τοῖς πιστεύουσιν denoted Christians at large.


Verses 13-16

§ 4. 1 Thessalonians 2:13-16. Fellowship in Persecution with the Judæan Churches

The rich fruits of the Gospel in the Thessalonian Church, for which the writers thank God (§ 2), led them to dwell, in the tone of self-defence, on their own signal and devoted work (§ 3), which had this happy result. (a) The recital brings them back, in renewed thanksgiving, to the thought of the full acceptance on the readers’ part of the message of God (1 Thessalonians 2:13, resuming 1 Thessalonians 1:2-10). (b) In this acceptance, the Epistle goes on to say, the Thessalonian believers identify themselves with the mother Churches in Judœa (1 Thessalonians 2:14 a). (c) This fact is evidenced by the persecution undergone at the hands of their fellow-countrymen (1 Thessalonians 2:14 b). (d) At this point the Letter breaks out into a stern denunciation of the Jews, who have been persecutors of God’s servants all along (1 Thessalonians 2:15), (e) and by obstructing the salvation of the Gentiles have made themselves the objects of a settled wrath, that is bringing upon them a conclusive judgement (1 Thessalonians 2:16).

The passionate note of 1 Thessalonians 2:15-16 is singular in St Paul’s Letters; nowhere else does he assail the Jewish nation in this way (see the Introd. pp. xviii. f.). In Romans 9:1-5 the Apostle writes of his “kindred” in quite another mood. On this ground, and since 1 Thessalonians 2:15-16 form a parenthesis and might be removed without injury to the context, Schmiedel, with a few other critics, regards the passage as an interpolation due to some anti-Jewish editor, dating from a time subsequent to the fall of Jerusalem, to which the supposes 1 Thessalonians 2:16 c to refer as a fait accompli (see note below); A. Ritschl would excise the last clause only. It must be borne in mind, however, that St Paul was pursued from the beginning of his work in Thessalonica up to the time of writing with peculiar virulence by the Jews (Acts 17, 18), that the troubles of the Thessalonian Christians had their origin in Jewish envy and intrigue (Acts 17:5), and that the slanderous insinuations brought against the missionaries at the present time in Thessalonica almost certainly proceeded from the same quarter; there was cause enough for severe resentment and condemnation. Moreover, Silvanus, who had a share in the Epistle (see note on 1 Thessalonians 1:1), was a Judæan Christian; some recent news of persecution suffered by his brethren at home may have added fuel to the flame of righteous anger and awakened his prophetic spirit (Acts 15:32).


Verse 14

14. The effective power of the readers’ faith in God’s word was shown in that which it enabled them to suffer (cf. Colossians 1:11):—

ὑμεῖς γὰρ μιμηταὶ ἐγενήθητε, ἀδελφοί, τῶν ἐκκλησιῶν τοῦ θεοῦ κ.τ.λ. These “believers” had “become imitators” of the Apostles and their Lord through “receiving the word in much affliction with joy” (1 Thessalonians 1:6); they were thus identified with the original believers: for you became imitators, brothers, of the churches of God that are in Judœa in Christ Jesus. Silvanus belonged to the Jerusalem Church, of which he would be often thinking and speaking: this allusion may, possibly, be due to him (see Introd. to § 4 above). “The churches … in Judæa”—in the plural, as in Galatians 1:22, “the churches of Judæa that are in Christ”: the Palestinian Christian communities, as we gather from the notices of the Acts, formed a unity under the direct oversight in the first instance of the Apostles. They are identified with the Thessalonian Christians (1 Thessalonians 1:1; see note) as “churches of God … in Christ Jesus”; this adjunct differentiates them from the Synagogue. A “church of God” is a sacred and august fellowship: cf. 2 Thessalonians 1:4; 1 Corinthians 1:1; Galatians 1:13. For the double ἐν, of local and spiritual sphere, both depending on τῶν οὐσῶν, cf. Philippians 1:1; Philippians 1:13; Colossians 1:2, &c. In this connexion “Christ” or “Christ Jesus”—not “Jesus Christ”—is appropriate, pointing to the living Head of the Church; 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (where the reading, however, is doubtful) supplies the only other example in these Epistles of the familiar Pauline combination “Christ Jesus.”

ὅτι τὰ αὐτὰ ἐπάθετε καὶ ὑμεῖς ὑπό κ.τ.λ., in that you also suffered the same things from your fellow-countrymen. Ὅτι defines μιμηταί (cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:5), showing in what specifically the resemblance lay,—it was a συμπάσχειν: cf. Philippians 1:29 f., τὸν αὐτὸν ἀγῶνα ἔχοντες; 2 Corinthians 1:6 f.; 2 Timothy 2:3; 1 Peter 5:9, &c. συμφυλέτης (cf., for the from of compound, συμπολίτης, Ephesians 2:19), contribulis (Vulg.), fellow-tribes-man, replaces the older φυλέτης (Plato, Legg. 955 d; Aristophanes, Acharn. 568); signifying properly a member of the same φυλή, sept or clan, it grew wider in use; hap. leg. for N.T. Greek. Πάσχειν ὑπό is the regular construction (so in Matthew 17:12; Mark 5:26), ἀπό in Matthew 16:21. Τῶν ἰδίων, antithetical to αὐτοί of the next clause.

καθὼς καὶ αὐτοὶ ὑπὸ τῶν Ἰουδαίων. The doubled καί in comparisons is an emphasizing idiom characteristic of St Paul: cf. Romans 1:13; Colossians 3:13. Αὐτοί refers, by a constructio ad sensum, to the men of “the churches of God which are in Judæa.” From Acts 17:5 ff. it appears that the native Thessalonian mob were the actual persecutors, and used a violence similar to that directed against the Judæan Christians at the time of Stephen (Acts 6-8); but the Jews prompted the attack. Hence it is against their own συμφυλέται, not those of the readers, that the anger of the Apostles is directed. This is the earliest example, and the only instance in St Paul, of the designation “the Jews” applied in the sense made familiar afterwards by the Gospel of St John, as opposed to Christians—“the disciples,” “the believers,” &c.; in Galatians 2:13-15, Revelation 3:9, it has no such connotation. Τῶν Ἰουδαίων is qualified by the following participial clauses, showing how the nation is fixed in its hostility to God’s purpose in the Gospel; 1 Thessalonians 2:15 f. justify the use of the phrase “the Jews” in its anti-Gentile and anti-Christian sense.


Verse 15

15. τῶν καὶ τὸν κύριον ἀποκτεινάντων Ἰησοῦν, who both killed the Lord, even Jesus. To have “slain the Lord,” who bears the title of God, “Him whom they were bound to serve” (Jowett)—the most appalling of crimes (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:8, τὸν κύριον τῆς δόξης ἐσταύρωσαν); that “Lord,” moreover, Jesus, their Saviour (Matthew 1:21; Acts 4:12), and such as “Jesus” was known to be. The emphasis thrown by the separation on the double name brings into striking relief the Divine glory and the human character of the Slain; cf. Acts 2:36. These words echo those in which Jesus predicted His death in the parable of Luke 20:9-18 and Mark 12:1-11.

καὶ τοὺς προφήτας καὶ ἡμᾶς ἐκδιωξάντων. Jesus had represented His murder as the culmination of that of “the prophets” (Luke 11:47-51; Luke 13:33; Luke 20:9-16), a charge repeated by St Stephen in Saul’s hearing (Acts 7:52); cf. also Romans 11:3; 1 Kings 19:10; 1 Kings 19:14; Jeremiah 2:30; Nehemiah 9:26 : these parallels support the usual construction of the clause, who both killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out. But “the prophets” here follow “the Lord Jesus,” making something of an anti-climax if governed by ἀποκτεινάντων. Grammatically this object may just as well be attached to ἐκδιωξάντων and coordinated to ἡμᾶς, with the comma placed after Ἰησοῦν: who both killed the Lord Jesus, and drove out (in persecution) the prophets and ourselves. Our Lord identified His Apostles with the O. T. prophets in persecution (see Matthew 5:12); in the Parable of the Wicked Husbandmen (Matthew 21:33 ff; cf. Matthew 23:34), it was “some” of the servants that “they slew,” as they did “the Son” at last, while all were persecuted (cf. again Acts 7:52). “The prophets” and the Apostles were alike bearers of “the word of God” (1 Thessalonians 2:13), and received the same treatment from His unworthy people. Ἐκ-διώκω, “to persecute out (of a place),” is the verb found in many ancient copies in Luke 11:49, with the same twofold object: “I will send to them prophets and apostles, and some of them they will kill and will persecute”; see also Ps. 118:157, Sirach 30:19 (LXX). This is precisely what befell St Paul at Thessalonica and Berœa in turn.

καὶ θεῷ μὴ ἀρεσκόντων. To “please God,” to “walk worthily of the Lord unto all pleasing,” is a favourite Pauline definition of the true religious life (see 1 Thessalonians 2:4, 1 Thessalonians 4:1; also Romans 8:8; Romans 12:1; 2 Corinthians 5:9, &c., and Hebrews 11:5 f.),—to which the behaviour of “the Jews” stands in glaring contrast. A tragic meiosis,—to describe as “not pleasing” the conduct of those on whom God’s heaviest “wrath” descends (1 Thessalonians 2:16). The participle after the article is regularly negatived by μή (see A. Buttmann, N.T. Grammar, p. 351), which tends to oust οὐ with all participles in later Greek; cf. τὰ μὴ εἰδότα, 1 Thessalonians 4:5. For the sentiment, cf. Isaiah 65:5; Jeremiah 32:30.

καὶ πᾶσιν ἀνθρώποις ἐναντίων, and (are) to all men contrary. So the terrible indictment of “the Jews” culminates. The two participles and the adjective ἐναντίων, under the regimen of the single article, form a continuous, closely linked statement. Tacitus and Juvenal, who knew the Jews at Rome, speak of their sullen inhumanity as a notorious fact, the former referring to their “adversus omnes alios hostile odium” (Hist. 1 Thessalonians 2:5), and the latter to their rule, “Non monstrare vias eadem nisi sacra colenti, Quæsitum ad fontem solos deducere verpos” (Sat. xiv. 103 f.). Testimonies to the like effect may be gathered from Philostratus, Vita Apoll. Tyan. v. 33; Diodorus Siculus xxxiv. 1; Josephus, contra Apion. ii. 10, 14. The offer of “the good news” of Christ to the heathen provoked Jewish jealousy and contempt to fury: when the Gentiles flocked to St Paul’s preaching in the synagogue of Pisidian Antioch, the Jews present, ἰδόντες τοὺς ὄχλους, ἐπλήσθησαν ζήλου (Acts 13:45); when the Apostle in his speech of defence at Jerusalem appealed to the Lord’s command, “Go, for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles,” hearing him ἄχρι τούτου τοῦ λόγου, they burst out, Αἶρε ἀπὸ τῆς γῆς τὸν τοιοῦτον (Acts 22:22). These were incidents in a constant experience.

There is a connexion in the nature of things between the two last clauses. The sense of God’s displeasure sours a man’s temper toward his fellows; unbelief breeds cynicism. The Judenhasse of modern times is a lamentable result of the ancient feud of Jew and Gentile, of which the figure of Shylock and his part in Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice afford a classical illustration.


Verse 16

16. κωλυόντων ἡμᾶς τοῖς ἔθνεσιν λαλῆσαι ἵνα σωθῶσιν, forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles in order that they may be saved. As much as to say, “These Jews would stop our mouths if they could, and prevent us uttering a single word to you about the Gospel; they would gladly see all the Gentiles perish.” While many individual Jews were of a humaner spirit, this was the dominant feeling and the cause of the murderous enmity that pursued the Apostle Paul, bringing about his long imprisonment and finally his death. Here he exposes the motives of his traducers: they poisoned the minds of the Thessalonians against him to rob them of the Gospel of salvation; cf. the denunciation of Jewish Christian proselytizers in Galatians 6:12 f.

Κωλυόντων, anarthrous participle, in explanatory apposition to the last clause (or, perhaps, to the two last clauses, θεῷἐναντίων). This verb in pres. and impf. is regularly tentative: “being fain to forbid.” Ἵνα is so weakened in later Greek, that λαλῆσαι ἵνα κ.τ.λ. might mean “to tell the Gentiles to be saved—to bid them be saved”: “a periphrasis for εὐαγγελίζεσθαι τοῖς ἔθνεσιν” (Ellicott). This usage is clear in the case of the verb εἰπεῖν in Luke 4:3; Luke 10:40; but it does not occur elsewhere with λαλεῖν, the force of which here lies in its connexion with τοῖς ἔθνεσιν (cf. 1 Thessalonians 2:2; also Acts 4:17; Acts 11:19 f., John 4:27, 1 Corinthians 3:1, for the stress on the person addressed in construction with λαλεῖν; and Ephesians 3:8, for τοίς ἔθνεσιν in like emphasis): the Jews would not have a word said to the Gentiles “with a view to effect” their salvation. For ἵνα σωθῶσιν, cf. 1 Corinthians 10:33; 2 Timothy 2:10.

εἰς τὸ ἀναπληρῶσαι αὐτῶν τὰς ἁμαρτίας πάντοτε states the issue for the Jews of their sustained and violent resistance to the word of God, now consummated by their rancorous opposition to the Gentiles’ receiving it. On εἰς τό, see note on 1 Thessalonians 2:12; the preposition may signify consequence here, as in 2 Corinthians 8:5 f., Hebrews 11:3, but with a meaning akin to purpose (a blind aim),—“to the effect that,” “in a manner calculated to”—whereas ὥστε (1 Thessalonians 1:8, &c.) expresses bare consequence (“so that,” “so as to”). Ellicott and Bornemann may be right, however, in seeing here the purpose of God, “which unfolds itself in this wilful and at last judicial blindness on the part of His chosen people”: cf. Romans 1:24, διὸ παρέδωκεν αὐτοὺς ὁ θεόςεἰς ἀκαθαρσίαν, where sin is declared to be punished by further and more flagrant sin. The phrase “fill up their sins” recalls Genesis 15:16, οὔπω ἀναπεπλήρωνται αἱ ἁμαρτίαι τῶν Ἀμοῤῥαίων—an ominous and humiliating parallel for Israelites; cf. also Daniel 8:23. Still more distinctly the words of Jesus are echoed (Matthew 23:31 f.): υἱοί ἐστε τῶν φονευσάντων τοὺς προφήτας· καὶ ὑμεῖς πληρώσατε τὸ μέτρον τῶν πατέρων ὑμῶν. Ἀνα-πληρόω, “to fill up (to the brim),” implies a measure quite complete: cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:6-8; Romans 2:5 f. Πάντοτε covers the whole ground of 1 Thessalonians 2:15, indicating a course of misdoing repeated at every turn.

That God’s purpose was at work in the above ἀναπληρῶσαι is shown by the last clause, ἔφθασεν δὲ ἐπʼ αὐτοὺς ἡ ὀργὴ εἰς τέλος, but the (Divine) wrath has hastened (to come) upon them, to (make) an end. Whose wrath goes without saying; cf. ἡ ὀργή in 1 Thessalonians 1:10, and Romans 5:9. In 1 Thessalonians 1:10 “the wrath” was contemplated in its approaching manifestation to the world; here in its imminence upon the Jewish people: there it is “coming” (ἐρχομένη); here it “has arrived.” Φθάνω—construed with εἰς in Romans 9:31, Philippians 3:16; with ἐπί in Matthew 12:28, &c.—signifies reaching the object aimed at, with the associated idea of speed or surprise; with a direct object, it means to overtake, anticipate (see 1 Thessalonians 4:15). For the element of unexpectedness in the judgement, cf. 1 Thessalonians 2:2 f., and Matthew 24:50, Luke 21:34 f., &c., in our Lord’s prophecies; this sense of φθάνω is unmistakable in Matthew 12:28, and accords with the emphatic position of the verb here. The sentence is prophetic, resembling in its aorist (or perfect: see Textual Note) the Hebrew perfect of prediction (where the certain future is realized in thought); the Apostles infer this from the facts before their eyes. “The Jews” have rejected the Name in which alone there is salvation (Acts 3:19 ff; Acts 4:12); by their crime in killing the Lord Jesus, and by forbidding His Gospel to the world, they have sealed their doom. The tragedy of Israel’s fate hurries visibly to its pre-determined close.

And this calamity will be finalἔφθασεν (or ἔφθακεν) … εἰς τέλος. In former threatenings God had said, “Yet will I not make a full end” (Jeremiah 4:27, &c.); this time He does make an end—of the Old Covenant and of national Israel. Still Romans 11 opens out a new prospect for the Jewish race; after all it is εἰς τέλος, not εἰς τὸ τέλος, that is written. For St Paul’s use of τέλος as implying the goal and terminus of some Divine dispensation, cf. Romans 10:4; 1 Corinthians 10:11; 1 Corinthians 15:24; also Luke 22:37. In Luke 18:5, John 13:1, εἰς τέλος has much the same force as here, meaning not at last, but finally (so as to reach an end), by way of crown and finish to the matter in hand.

Within twenty years of the writing of this Letter Jerusalem fell, after the most dreadful and calamitous siege known in history; and the Jewish people ever since have wandered without a home and without an altar. “Tristis exitus,” writes Bengel: “urgebat miseros ira Dei, et εἰς τέλος urbem cum templo delevit.”


Verse 17

17. Ἡμεῖς δέ, ἀδελφοί, ἀπορφανισθέντες ἀφʼ ὑμῶν. But we on our part, brothers, torn from you in bereavement—desolati a vobis (Vulg.), orbati vobis (Calvin, &c.)—“sicut parentes filiis absentibus” (Bengel). Ἀπ-ορφανίζομαι (hap. leg. in N. T., only found besides in Æschylus, Choeph. 246) is derived from ὀρφανός (orphan, Lat. orbus; cf. John 14:18; James 1:27), a term applying to the loss of any near relation or friend; it describes here the severing of new-found, and tenderly attached “brothers,” or of parents from children (1 Thessalonians 2:11): similarly in Pindar, ὀρφανὸς ἑταίρων (Isthm. 7. 16), as well as ὀρφανοὶ γενεᾶς (Ol. 9. 92); Hesychius defines ὀρφανός as ὁ γονέων ἐστερημένος καὶ τέκνων. The doubled ἀπο-emphasizes the separation. Ἡμεῖς δέ, in contrast with ὑμεῖς γάρ, 1 Thessalonians 2:14 : the last paragraph has thrown into relief the worth of the Thessalonians as ἀδελφοί.

πρὸς καιρὸν ὥρας, προσώπῳ οὐ καρδίᾳ. Mitigating circumstances of the bereavement (cf. John 14:18 ff; John 16:16 ff., &c.): the parting was expected to be brief; while it lasted, there would be no severance of heart. Πρὸς καιρὸν ὥρας, ad momentum horœ (Beza); cf. Horace, Sat. i. i. 7 f.: πρὸς καιρόν occurs in 1 Corinthians 7:5, Luke 8:13; πρὸς ὥραν in 2 Corinthians 7:8, Galatians 2:5, Philemon 1:15, John 5:35—the former implying a passing crisis, the latter a brief interval; the combination is unique; see however κατὰ καιροὺς ὡρῶν in Exodus 13:10. The antithesis πρόσωπονκαρδία is found in 2 Corinthians 5:12; it contrasts the apparent and real in the case, the outer aspect with the inner mind of those concerned—aspectu non corde (Vulg.): cf., for a like antithesis in πρόσωπον, Matthew 6:16 ff.; in καρδία, Romans 2:28 f.

περισσοτέρως ἐσπουδάσαμεν τὸ πρόσωπον ὑμῶν ἰδεῖν ἐν πολλῇ ἐπιθυμίᾳ, made more earnest endeavours to see your face in great longing. The comparative adverb, according to its use elsewhere (2 Corinthians 1:12; Galatians 1:14, &c.), signifies not “the more abundantly” (because of our strong affection, because of the anxious circumstances, or the like), but “more abundantly” (than otherwise, than in ordinary circumstances)—“in no small degree”; it is explained by ἐν πολλῇ ἐπιθυμίᾳ: the “abundant desire” filling the souls of the Apostles stirred them to an uncommon zeal in the attempt to get back to Thessalonica. Parted from their brethren “in face not in heart,” the writers longed and strove “to see” their “face.” Ἐπιθυμία denotes intent desire, and most often bad desire, lust: cf. for its good sense, Philippians 1:23; Luke 22:15; and for the verb ἐπιθυμέω, Galatians 5:17; 1 Timothy 3:1; Matthew 13:17, &c.


Verses 17-20

§ 5. 1 Thessalonians 2:17 to 1 Thessalonians 3:5. The Separation of the Apostles from their Converts

After the pause for thanksgiving to God, which in its turn led up to the stern denunciation of Jewish persecutors in 1 Thessalonians 2:15 f., the Letter resumes the strain of 1 Thessalonians 2:13. The happy intercourse between the Apostles and their newly-won converts (1 Thessalonians 2:10-12) had been broken off by the assault just alluded to; the missionaries had left Thessalonica prematurely and in grief, planning a speedy return (1 Thessalonians 2:17). St Paul in particular had twice resolved on this, but in vain (1 Thessalonians 2:18). For the Thessalonian Church gave its ministers the greatest joy and hope (1 Thessalonians 2:19 f.). Failing to return themselves, the other two had sent Timothy, to cheer the Thessalonians and sustain their faith in the present trials, of which indeed they had been forewarned (1 Thessalonians 3:1-4); especially on St Paul’s motion had Timothy gone, to enquire how the Church fared under this prolonged and anxious trial (1 Thessalonians 2:5).


Verse 18

18. διότι ἠθελήσαμεν ἐλθεῖν πρὸς ὑμᾶς, because we had resolved to come to you: place a colon only at the end of 1 Thessalonians 2:17. The A.V.—“Wherefore we would have come”—confounds διότι with διό (cf. 1 Thessalonians 3:1, &c.): for διότι, which regularly introduces an antecedent ground, not a consequence, see 1 Thessalonians 2:8, 1 Thessalonians 4:6, Romans 1:19, 1 Corinthians 15:9, &c.; it is an emphasized causal ὅτι. The R.V. also fails to do justice to θέλω here, which signifies will rather than wish (see Buttmann’s Lexilogus, Lidd. and Scott’s Lexicon, Tittmann’s Synonyms, sub voce: Grimm in his Lexicon seems to be at fault); had St Paul meant “we would fain have come” (R.V.), or “were fain to come,” he would presumably have written ἐβουλόμεθα, as in 2 Corinthians 1:15 or Philemon 1:13. This rendering, moreover, makes ἠθελήσαμεν but a weakened repetition of ἐσπουδάσαμενἐν πολλῇ ἐπιθυμίᾳ. The Apostles had “made up their minds to come”—they were resolved and bent upon it; hence their strenuous effort (1 Thessalonians 2:17). Θέλω (ἐθέλω), with θέλημα, in the N.T. as in classical Greek, always implies, more or less distinctly, active volition,—even in Matthew 1:19; “auf das entschiedene Wollen, den festen, bestimmten Vorsatz und Entschluss geht” (Bornemann ad loc.).

ἐγὼ μὲν Παῦλος καὶ ἄπαξ καὶ δίς. I, Paul, indeed both once and twice. The plural of 1 Thessalonians 2:17-18 a shows that the three writers—at any rate more than one of them (see 1 Thessalonians 3:1)—shared in this strong desire and determined attempt; St Paul, on his part, had “twice” definitely “resolved to come.” Perhaps the former of these plans to revisit Thessalonica was formed at Berœa, while Paul and Silas were together (Acts 17:10-14); and the second at Athens, which Paul reached alone (1 Thessalonians 2:15), or on the way from Berœa to Athens. The phrase καὶ ἅπαξ καὶ δίς is found in Philippians 4:16, where it is rendered as here, “once and again (you sent to relieve my need)”: cf. Nehemiah 13:20, 1 Maccabees 3:30 (LXX), where ἅπαξ κ. δίς, like our “once or twice,” means “several times” indefinitely; but the definite numerical sense is appropriate here and in Phil., and with repeated καί—“not once only, but twice,” “as often as twice.” For the double καί, cf. Matthew 10:28; 1 Corinthians 10:32. The μέν solitarium connotes a tacit contrast, scil. “but the others once”; see Blass’ Grammar of N.T. Greek, p. 267.

καὶ ἐνέκοψεν ἡμᾶς ὁ Σατανᾶς. This clause coordinates itself by καί (not δέ) quite appropriately to 1 Thessalonians 2:17, 1 Thessalonians 2:18 a being subordinate and parenthetical; the entire sentence reads thus: “But we, brothers, … made extraordinary efforts to see your face, in our great longing (for we had set our minds on coming to you,—I Paul, for my own part, not once but twice); and Satan hindered us.” The “hindering” did not obstruct the “willing” (ἠθελήσαμεν, 1 Thessalonians 2:18 a), but the “endeavouring” (ἐσπουδάσαμεν, 1 Thessalonians 2:17). If this interpretation be right (see Bornemann at length ad loc.), the punctuation both of A.V. and R.V. is misleading; cf. the two foregoing notes.

Ἐνκόπτω (see Galatians 5:7, and Lightfoot’s note; Romans 15:22) is a military term of later Greek, signifying “to make a break in (the enemy’s way),” to “cut up (the road).” Ὁ Σατανᾶς (Heb. הַשָּׂטָן, Aramaic סָטָנָא), “the Adversary,” is the Captain of the powers of evil,—undoubtedly a personality, not a personification, to St Paul; the same as ὁ πειράζων of 1 Thessalonians 3:5, ὁ πονηρός of 2 Thessalonians 3:3. This O.T. name recurs in 2 Thessalonians 2:9 (see note); it is frequent in St Paul, along with ὁ διάβολος, and is used by most N.T. writers as the proper name of the great spiritual Enemy of God and man. What form the hindrance took is not stated; Jewish malice probably supplied a chief element in it (see 1 Thessalonians 2:16, κωλυόντων ἡμᾶς κ.τ.λ.); most likely an order had been procured from the magistrates of Thessalonica forbidding the return of the missionaries. For similar references by Paul to the personal hostility of Satan, see 2 Corinthians 2:11; 2 Corinthians 12:7.

1 Thessalonians 2:19-20 go to explain the great eagerness of St Paul and his companions, and the repeated attempt of the former, to get back to Thessalonica.

1 Thessalonians 2:19 is best punctuated—after WH, Lightfoot, Nestle, and others—by reading ἤ οὐχὶ καὶ ὑμεῖς; as a parenthesis: For what is our hope or joy or glorying’s crown (or is it not you indeed?) before our Lord Jesus in His coming?” as much as to say, “What else than you?” Not that other Churches fail to afford such hope; “alios non excludit, hos maxime numerat” (Bengel): cf. Philippians 2:16; Philippians 4:1; John 15:11; John 17:10; 3 John 1:4. The Apostles’ “hope,” like that of their readers (1 Thessalonians 1:4; 1 Thessalonians 1:10, 1 Thessalonians 3:13), is fixed on the glorious return of the Lord Jesus; then their work will be appraised (see 1 Corinthians 4:1-5; 2 Corinthians 5:9 f.), and “joy” or “grief” (Hebrews 13:17), “glorying” or shame, will be theirs, as the objects of their care prove worthy or unworthy (cf. 2 Thessalonians 1:11 f.). Hence all their prayers and efforts look to this end, as in 1 Thessalonians 3:13, 1 Thessalonians 5:23 f.; Colossians 1:28 to Colossians 2:2; 2 Corinthians 11:2. At Christ’s coming St Paul expects his “crown” (2 Timothy 4:8; cf. 1 Corinthians 9:25; James 1:12; 1 Peter 5:4, &c.).

στέφανος καυχήσεωςcorona gloriationis (Calvin, Bengel), not gloriœ (Vulg.)—renders צֲטֶרֶת תִּפְאֶרֶת in Isaiah 62:3; Ezekiel 16:12; Ezekiel 23:42; Proverbs 16:31—the crown which a king or hero wears on some day of festal triumph; cf. Sophocles, Ajax 465. St Paul anticipates a consummation of the καύχησις which he already enjoys: see 2 Thessalonians 1:4; Romans 15:17; 1 Corinthians 15:31; 2 Corinthians 7:4, &c. The appealing interrogative (ἢ οὐχὶ καὶ ὑμεῖς; ) is characteristic: cf. Romans 9:21; 1 Corinthians 6:2; 1 Corinthians 6:19, &c.

Note the first appearance here of the word παρουσία, which plays so large a part in the two Epistles: see 1 Thessalonians 3:13, 1 Thessalonians 4:15, 1 Thessalonians 5:23; 2 Thessalonians 2:1; 2 Thessalonians 2:8-9; once besides, in 1 Corinthians 15:23; also in 1 John 2:28. It stood for the “coming,” or “presence,” of the expected (Jewish) Messiah, His advent and accession to power and glory. Since Jesus had claimed to be this Messiah, but had not in the first instance “come in power” or “in His kingdom” or “in the glory of His Father” (Matthew 16:28; Matthew 24:30; Mark 8:38; Mark 9:1, &c.), this remained to be realized at His future παρουσία, to which the term thus came to be specifically applied (Matthew 24:3, &c.); it is synonymous in this sense with ἐπιφάνεια (1 Timothy 6:14, &c.), and ἀποκάλυψις (1 Corinthians 1:7).


Verse 19

19. The T.R., following GL, most minn., and all versions except latt and vg (purer copies), adds Χριστου to Ιησου. Later mss. habitually fill out the names of Christ.


Verse 20

20. ὑμεῖς γάρ ἐστε ἡ δόξα ἡμῶν καὶ ἡ χαρά. Yes, truly, you are our glory and our joy. In this reply to the rhetorical question of 1 Thessalonians 2:19, δόξα covers ἐλπίς and στέφανος καυχήσεως, while χαρά is repeated. The emphasis on ὑμεῖς, and the close correspondence of 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20, scarcely admit of our reading ἐστέ as a distinctive present—as though the sentence meant, “You are now, as you will be then, our glory.” The δόξα, like the στέφανος of Christians, belongs to the future (see Romans 8:18, &c.); and yet, like their καύχησις (see note above), it is begun already (see Romans 8:30).

The division of Chapters is misjudged here; 1 Thessalonians 2:17 above supplies a much better break.

 


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Bibliography Information
"Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 2:4". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cgt/1-thessalonians-2.html. 1896.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, November 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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