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Bible Commentaries

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges
1 Thessalonians 4

 

 

Verse 1

1. The adverbial λοιπόν, or τὸ λοιπόν, for the rest and so finally (de cœtero, Vulg.; or quod superest), is similarly used, to attach an addendum, in 2 Thessalonians 3:1; 1 Corinthians 1:16; 2 Corinthians 13:11; Philippians 3:1; Philippians 4:8 : this verse covers all the writers have further to say.

ἐρωτῶμεν ὑμᾶς καὶ παρακαλοῦμεν ἐν κυρίῳ Ἰησοῦ. We ask you and exhort (you) in the Lord Jesus. Ἐρωτάω, in classical Greek used only of questions (interrogo), in later Greek is extended to requests (rogo), like the Eng. ask and Heb. שָׁאַל—e.g. in 1 Thessalonians 5:12, 2 Thessalonians 2:1—a usage frequent in St John. Ἐρωτάω conceives the request in a questionform (“Will you do so and so?”)—in Luke 14:18 f., John 19:31; John 19:38, e.g., the interrogative note is quite audible—and thus gives a personal urgency to it, challenging the answer as αἰτέω does not (cf. the Note under αἰτέω in Grimm-Thayer’s Lexicon, correcting the distinction laid down in Trench’s Syn., § 40). Παρακαλέω (see note on 1 Thessalonians 2:12 above) connotes possible slackness or indifference in the party addressed.

Ἐν κυρίῳ Ἰησοῦ belongs to the latter verb (cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:2; 2 Thessalonians 3:12; 1 Corinthians 1:10; 1 Corinthians 5:4; Romans 12:1; Ephesians 4:17; Philippians 2:1; Philemon 1:8, &c.); for it is on the Divine authority of Jesus, recognized by the readers, that the apostolic παράκλησις rests (1 Thessalonians 2:3 f.; 1 Corinthians 9:1; 2 Corinthians 10:8; 2 Corinthians 13:3 : cf. note on ἐκκλησίαἐν κυρίῳ Ἰησοῦ, 1 Thessalonians 1:1; and for the title “Lord Jesus,” 1 Thessalonians 2:15; 1 Thessalonians 2:19): as much as to say, “We appeal to you, servants of Christ, in His name and as men bearing His commission.” The exhortation is urgent (ἐρωτῶμεν), rousing (παρακαλοῦμεν), and solemnly authoritative (ἐν κυρίῳ Ἰησοῦ). Its general matter is stated in the remainder of the verse:—

ἵνα καθὼς παρελάβετε παρʼ ἡμῶν τὸ πῶς κ.τ.λἵνα περισσεύητε μᾶλλον, that, according as you received from us how you ought to walk … that you abound (therein) more (than you already do), or more and more (R.V.). The first ἵνα—which is dropped in the T.R. along with the second καθώς clause of the verse—is naturally repeated on resuming the thread of the protracted sentence after the parenthesis. The parenthetical καθὼς καὶ περιπατεῖτε (see Textual Note; cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:10, 1 Thessalonians 5:11, 2 Thessalonians 3:4, for the commendation), as indeed you do walk, gives a new turn to the principal verb, which is accordingly qualified by μᾶλλον, whereas the first καθώς clause suggests ἐν τούτῳ or οὕτως for complement (cf. 1 Thessalonians 2:4); so περισσεύειν μᾶλλον follows καὶ γὰρ ποιεῖτε αὐτό in 1 Thessalonians 4:10. On παραλαμβάνω, see 1 Thessalonians 2:13 : in that passage it relates to the primary message of the Gospel (λόγον ἀκοῆς); here it includes the precepts of life based thereon (τὸ πῶς δεῖ περιπατεῖν). For the use of περισσεύω, see note on 1 Thessalonians 3:12. For the sub-final use of ἵνα after ἐρωτῶμεν κ.τ.λ.—the content of the request or appeal stated in the form of purpose—cf. 2 Thessalonians 3:12, 1 Corinthians 1:10, Colossians 1:9, &c.,—also note on εἰς τό with infinitive, 1 Thessalonians 2:12 : on this idiom of N.T. Greek, see Winer-Moulton, p. 420, or A. Buttmann, N.T. Grammer, pp. 236 f. That the readers had “received παρʼ ἡμῶν” the instructions recalled, gives the Apostles the right to “ask and exhort” respecting them.

τὸ πῶς δεῖ ὑμᾶς περιπατεῖν καὶ ἀρέσκειν θεῷ, how you ought to walk and please God. Τό grasps the interrogative clause and presents it as a single definite object to παρελάβετε, giving it “precision and unity” (Lightfoot); for τό before the dependent sentence in such construction, cf. Romans 8:26; Romans 13:9; Galatians 5:14; Luke 1:62; Acts 4:21 : see Winer-Moulton, pp. 135, 644, Goodwin, Greek Grammar, 955. The Apostles had instructed their disciples in Christian practice as well as belief, the ἔργον πίστεως (1 Thessalonians 1:3) consequent on πίστις. Δεῖ denotes moral necessity, lying in the relationship presupposed (cf. 2 Thessalonians 3:7; Romans 1:27; 2 Corinthians 5:10; 1 Timothy 3:15, &c.). “To walk and please God” is not a hendiadys for “to walk so as to please God”: the Christian walk (moral behaviour) was first described and in culcated, then the obligation to please God by such a walk was enforced; contrast 1 Thessalonians 2:15, also the subsequent warning of 1 Thessalonians 4:6-8.

Ἀρέσκειν θεῷ, a leading Pauline, and Biblical, conception of the true life for man (1 Thessalonians 2:4; Romans 2:29; Romans 8:8; 1 Corinthians 4:5; 1 Corinthians 7:32 ff.; Galatians 1:10; 2 Timothy 2:4; Hebrews 11:5 f.; also John 8:29; 1 John 3:22), combining religion and morals as they spring from the personal relations of the believer to God. This representation is parallel to that of 1 Thessalonians 2:12, τὸ περιπατεῖν ἀξίως τοῦ θεοῦ; cf. Colossians 1:10, περιπατ ἀξίωςεἰς ἀρεσκίαν.


Verses 1-12

§ 7. 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12. A Lesson in Christian Morals

We pass from the first to the second half of the Letter, from narration to exhortation Chh. 1–3 are complete in themselves, setting forth the relations between the writers and the readers since their first acquaintance, and explaining the failure of the former to return to Thessalonica as they had promised. The Thanksgiving and Prayer of the last section would have fittingly closed the Epistle, had no admonition been necessary. But 1 Thessalonians 4:10 of ch. 3 indicated certain ὑστερήματα πίστεως in this Church (see note ad loc.), which Timothy had reported to his leaders, having found himself unable to supply them from his own resources, especially in so short a visit. These defects must be remedied by letter. Hence the addition of chh. 4 and 5, which attach themselves by λοιπόν to the main portion of the Epistle. The ὑστερήματα were chiefly twofold—lying (a) in a defective Christian morality (1 Thessalonians 4:1-12), and (b) in mistaken and unsettling notions about the Lord’s advent (1 Thessalonians 4:13 to 1 Thessalonians 5:11). (c) Brief and pungent exhortations are further appended, of a more general scope, bearing on Church life and personal character (1 Thessalonians 5:12-22). Exhortation (α) covers three topics: [1] social purity (1 Thessalonians 4:3-8); [2] brotherly love (1 Thessalonians 4:9 f.); [3] diligence in secular work (1 Thessalonians 4:11 f.).


Verse 2

2. οἵδατε γὰρ τίνας παραγγελίας ἐδώκαμεν ὑμῖν. For you know what charges we gave you. See notes on this characteristic οἴδατε, 1 Thessalonians 1:5, 1 Thessalonians 2:1, above. Οἴδατε τὰς παραγγελίας ἅς κ.τ.λ. (cf. 1 Thessalonians 2:1; 2 Timothy 1:12; 2 Timothy 3:15; 2 Corinthians 9:2) would have meant, “You are acquainted with the charges we gave you”—you could describe them; but οἴδατε τίνας παραγγ. (with dependent interrogative; cf. 2 Timothy 3:14, εἰδὼς παρὰ τίνων ἔμαθες) is, “You know what the charges are”—you could define them &c.; cf. note on οἴδατε οἶοι, 1 Thessalonians 1:5. The παραγγελίαι originally given by the Apostles (cf. 2 Thessalonians 3:4; 2 Thessalonians 3:6; 2 Thessalonians 3:10; Ephesians 4:20 to Ephesians 5:2; Titus 2:11-14) were not bare rules of conduct (ἐντολαί), but injunctions drawn from the nature of the Gospel and urged affectionately and solemnly, doctrine and precepts forming one παράκλησις (1 Thessalonians 2:3) or παραγγελία (1 Timothy 1:5). In classical Greek παραγγέλλω, παραγγελία, are used of commands or watch words transmitted along (παρά) a line of troops (see Xenophon, Anab. i. 8. 3; Cyrop. ii. 1 Thessalonians 4:2), then of military orders in general, of pedagogic precepts, &c.; in distinction from κελεύω (which St Paul never uses), παραγγέλλω connotes moral authority and earnestness in the command,—a “charge” not a mere “order,” “præcepta” (Vulg.) rather than “mandata” (Beza). The 1st plur. ἐδώκαμεν is rare, but not unknown, in Attic Greek; see Winer-Moulton, p. 102.

The defining διὰ τοῦ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ recalls ἐν κυρίῳ Ἰησοῦ of 1 Thessalonians 4:1 (see note): διά points to the name and authority of “the Lord Jesus” as the sanction “through” which the “charges” were enforced (scarcely “prompted by the Lord Jesus,” as Lightfoot puts it), while ἐν κ. . implied that the apostolic precepts moved “in the sphere of” His rule: cf., not overlooking the difference of title, διὰ τοῦ χριστοῦ in 2 Corinthians 1:5, and Romans 1:8; Romans 5:11; somewhat similarly, διὰ θεοῦ in 1 Corinthians 1:9, Galatians 4:7, &c.; and παρακαλεῖν διά, Romans 12:1; Romans 15:30, 1 Corinthians 1:10, 2 Corinthians 10:1.


Verse 3

3. Τοῦτο γάρ ἐστιν θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ, ὁ ἁγιασμὸς ὑμῶν, ἀπέχεσθαι κ.τ.λ. For this is God’s will—(it is) your sanctification—that you abstain &c. The usual construction which makes ὁ ἁγιασμὸς ὑμῶν, anticipated by τοῦτο, subject of ἐστὶν θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ, is not satisfactory: to say that “the sanctification” of Christians “is God’s will,” is almost tautological (to be sanctified is to be subject to God’s will, which the readers already are: cf. Hebrews 10:10); while, on the other side, to identify ἁγιασμός with ἀπέχεσθαι κ.τ.λ. is to narrow and lower the idea of Sanctification. What these Greek Christians do not sufficiently realize is that the “will of God,” having already taken effect in their “sanctification” (see 2 Thessalonians 2:13; cf. 1 Corinthians 1:2; 1 Corinthians 1:30; 1 Corinthians 6:11, &c., and 1 Thessalonians 4:7 below), requires in them a perfect chastity. This was the specific matter of the apostolic παραγγελία; τοῦτο points on, not to ὁ ἁγιασμὸς ὑμῶν (which is assumed by the way), but to the infinitives ἀπέχεσθαι, εἰδέναι, κ.τ.λ.,—as much as to say, “This is God’s will for you, on this your sanctification turns, viz. that you keep clear of fornication, &c.” Θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ and ὁ ἁγιασμὸς ὑμῶν constitute a double predicate, setting forth the objective and subjective ground respectively, of the pure family and social life inculcated; the apostolic “charges” enforced clean living as being “God’s will” for His chosen (1 Thessalonians 1:4; cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:8 below; 1 Peter 1:14 ff.), and accordingly a condition essential to personal holiness (καθὼς πρέπει ἁγίοις, Ephesians 5:3; Colossians 3:9; Colossians 3:12).

The anticipation of the anarthrous infinitives by τοῦτο has a parallel in 1 Peter 2:15 (οὔτως); similarly in James 1:27; see the examples in Krüger, Griech. Sprachlehre, i. § 51. 7. 4. Θέλημα, anarthrous, since “God’s will” is the general conception under which these παραγγελίαι fall (cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:18; 1 Peter 4:2); ὁ ἁγιασμὸς ὑμῶν, because chaste living is the critical factor in Thessalonian sanctification.

Since ἁγιασμός attaches to the body along with the spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:23), πορνεία directly nullifies it: see 1 Corinthians 6:15-20. So prevalent was this vice in the Pagan cities (cf. διὰ τὰς πορνείας, 1 Corinthians 7:2), so little condemned by public opinion—it was even fostered by some forms of religion as a sort of consecration—that abstention became a sign of devotion to a holy God, of possession by His Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 4:8). The temptations to licentiousness, arising from former habits and from the state of society, were fearfully strong in the case of the first Christian converts from heathenism; all the Epistles contain warnings on this subject: see e.g. 1 Peter 4:1-4, and the relapses at Corinth (1 Corinthians 5:1; 2 Corinthians 12:21, &c.); also Acts 15:29. The very sense of pudicity had in many instances to be re-created. The Christian doctrine of Holiness is the surest prophylactic against social evils; in the maintenance of personal purity it is our best support to know that God calls us to holiness of living, and that His almighty will is pledged to help our weak resolves.

Ἁγιασμός (from ἁγιάζω) denotes the act or process of making holy, then the resulting state, as in 2 Thessalonians 2:13; Romans 6:22; Hebrews 12:14, &c. Ἅγιος (קָדוֹשׁ) is the word which in Scripture denotes the character of God as He is made known by revelation, in its moral transcendence, infinitely remote from all that is sensuous and sinful (see 1 Samuel 2:2; Ps. 99, 111:9; Isaiah 6:3; Isaiah 6:5; Isaiah 57:15, &c.). Now it is the revealed character of God, “the Holy One of Israel,” that constitutes His claim to human devotion; our “sanctification” is the acknowledgement of God’s claim on us as the Holy One who made us, whom Christ reveals as our Father looking for His image to be reproduced in us: see Matthew 5:48; 1 Peter 1:14 ff. In God, first the character disclosed, then the claim enforced; in us, first the claim acknowledged, then the character impressed. See, further, notes on 1 Thessalonians 4:7 and 1 Thessalonians 5:23; also on 1 Thessalonians 2:10, for the synonyms of ἅγιος.


Verse 4

4. εἰδέναι ἕκαστον ὑμῶν τὸ ἑαυτοῦ σκεῦος κτᾶσθαι ἐν ἁγιασμῷ καὶ τιμῇ—the positive παραγγελία completing the negative (ἀπέχεσθαιπορνείας)—that each of you know how to win his own vessel in sanctification and honour. Κτᾶσθαι always signifies to acquire, get possession of (see Luke 18:12; Luke 21:19, &c.),—the perfect κεκτῆσθαι, to hold possession of (not occurring in N.T.); and οἶδα with the infin. signifies not only a fact (to know that; as in 1 Peter 5:9), but more frequently a possibility (to know how to, to have skill, aptitude to do something: cf. Philippians 4:12; Matthew 7:11; James 4:17). The difficulty of the passage lies in τὸ ἑαυτοῦ σκεῦος, which (a) the Greek interpreters (except Theodore of Mopsuestia), as also Tertullian, Calvin, Beza, Bengel, Meyer (on Romans 1:24; cf. Camb. Bible for Schools on this verse), refer to the body of the man as “the vessel of himself,”—that in which his personality is lodged: 2 Corinthians 4:7 (“this treasure ἐν ὀστρακίνοις σκεύεσιν”; cf. 2 Corinthians 5:1-4) and Romans 1:24 (where “the body” is the subject of “dishonour” through sexual vice; cf. ἐν τιμῇ below, also Colossians 2:23) are passages which afford an approximate parallel to this reading of the sense. The comparison of the human body to a vessel (σκεῦος, ἀγγεῖον, vas—of the soul, spirit, ego) was common enough in Greek writers; it occurs also in Philo Judæus, and in Barnabas (Ep. vii. 3, xi. 9), and Hermas (Mand. 1 Thessalonians 4:2). 1 Peter 3:7 may be fairly claimed as supporting this view rather than (b); for St Peter does not call the wife a σκεῦος in virtue of her sex, but he regards man and wife alike as σκεύη of the Divine Spirit, the latter being the ἀσθενέστερον of the two. The idea of this interpretation is certainly Pauline, viz. that mastery of bodily passion is a point of “honour” and of “holiness” with the Christian (see 1 Corinthians 6:15-20). Nor is the verb κτάομαι incongruous with σκεῦος in this sense, if “winning a vessel” can be understood to mean “gaining” the object in question for this purpose,—in other words, getting possession of one’s body in such a way that it becomes one’s instrument for God’s service; thus interpreted, κτᾶσθαι τὸ σκεῦος is nearly synonymous with δουλαγωγεῖν τὸ σῶμα, 1 Corinthians 9:27; similarly κτᾶσθαι in Luke 21:19 is synonymous with περιποιεῖσθαι τὴν ψυχήν of Luke 17:33. Chrysostom writes, Ἡμεῖς αὐτὸ (scil. τὸ σῶμα) κτώμεθα ὅταν μένῃ καθαρὸν καί ἐστιν ἐν ἁγιασμῷ, ὅταν δὲ ἀκάθαρτον, ἁμαρτία· εἰκότως, οὐ γὰρ ἂ βουλόμεθα πράττει λοιπόν, ἀλλʼ ἂ ἐκείνη ἐπιτάττει. No other example, however, is forthcoming of κτᾶσθαι in the signification required (“to gain the mastery of”); and it must be admitted that ἑαυτοῦ σκεῦος would be an awkward and obscure expression for the body as the vessel of the man’s true life.

But the decisive objection against (a) lies in the pointed contrast in which κτᾶσθαι τὸ ἑαυτοῦ σκεῦος is placed to πορνεία. This forces upon us (b) the alternative explanation of σκεῦος, expounded by Augustine and Theodore and adopted by most modern interpreters,—viz. that “his own vessel,” to be “won” by “each” man, means his own wife: cf. the parallel παραγγελία of 1 Corinthians 7:2, διὰ τὰς πορνείας ἕκαστος τὴν ἑαυτοῦ γυναῖκα ἐχέτω. For Christian wedlock as being ἐν ἁγιασμῷ, see 1 Corinthians 7:14; and ἐν τιμῇ, Hebrews 13:4 (τίμιος ὁ γάμος ἐν πᾶσιν). Κτᾶσθαι, however, seems to describe courtship and the contracting of marriage, rather than the married state: the position supposed is that of a man at the outset of life deciding whether he shall yield himself to a course of license or engage in an honourable marriage; this was the choice lying before the readers. To say that ἔκαστον upon this view precludes the celibate state commended by St Paul in 1 Corinthians 7, is an insufficient objection; for 1 Thessalonians 4:2 of that chapter recognizes celibacy as being practically out of the question, though preferable on some religious grounds. The verb κτάομαι is appropriate to the winning of a bride (see Ruth 4:10; Sirach 36:29, in LXX also Xenophon, Symp. ii.10). Rabbinical writers afford instances of the wife described as a “vessel” (see Schöttgen, Horœ Hebraicœ, i. 827; also Bornemann or Lightfoot ad loc., for full examples); the last-named cites Shakespeare’s Othello, iv. 2, 1. 83, “to preserve this vessel for my lord” (Desdemona). The figure indicates the wedded partner as instrumental to the sacred purposes of marriage, whereas fornication is the debasement of sexual affection severed from its appointed ends.

The above κτᾶσθαι τὸ σκεῦος is ἐν ἁγιασμῷ, as it is conducted by the ἡγιασμένος under the sense of his devotion to God, and of the sanctity of his body (see note on ἁγιασμός, 1 Thessalonians 4:3 : cf. 1 Corinthians 6:15-20; also Genesis 2:21-24; Ephesians 5:28-31). It is accordingly ἐντιμῇ (note the single preposition), since the “honour” of the human person has a religious basis in the devotion of the body and its functions to God (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:23 f.). Perhaps the thought of “holiness” attaches rather to the wooer in his Christian self-respect, while the “honour” is paid to the object of his courtship (1 Peter 3:7).


Verse 5

5. μὴ ἐν πάθει ἐπιθυμίας καθάπερ καὶ τὰ ἔθνη τὰ μὴ εἰδότα τὸν θεόν, not (to do this) in passion of lust, even as the Gentiles also (do), who know not God. Ἐν πάθει ἑπιθυμίας, “in a state of lustful passion”: where the man’s action is dominated by animal desire, there is no sanctity nor honour in the union; even a lawful marriage so effected is a πορνεία in spirit. Πάθος is synonymous with ἀκαθαρσία and ἐπιθυμία κακή in Colossians 3:5, and is qualified by ἀτιμίας (see ἐν τιμῇ above) in Romans 1:26; the παθήματα of Romans 7:5, Galatians 5:24, are particular forms or kinds of πάθος. This word signifies not, like Eng. “passion,” a violent feeling, but an overmastering feeling, in which the man is borne along be evil as though its passive instrument; in this sense Romans 7:20 interprets the παθήματα of Romans 7:5. For ἑπιθυμία, cf. 1 Thessalonians 2:17; this sinister sense of ἐπιθυμέω (-ία) prevails.

For καθάπερ, cf. 1 Thessalonians 2:11, 1 Thessalonians 3:6; 1 Thessalonians 3:12; used freely by St Paul in the two first groups of his Epistles, but not later. “The Gentiles that know not God,” is an O.T. designation for the heathen, whose irreligion accounts for their depravity (Psalms 79:6; Jeremiah 10:25); it recurs in 2 Thessalonians 1:8 (see note), Galatians 4:8. Unchastity, often in abominable forms, was a prominent feature of Gentile life at this time; honourable courtship and fidelity in wedlock were comparatively rare. In Romans 1:24 ff. St Paul points to this sexual corruption, by which in fact the classical civilization was destroying itself, as a punishment inflicted upon the heathen world for its idolatry and wilful ignorance of God, and a terrible evidence of His anger on this account. Man first denies his Maker, and then degrades himself. The God, whom these lustful “Gentiles know not,” is “the living and true God” to whom Thessalonian believers had “turned from their idols” (1 Thessalonians 1:9). Obeying the call of His gospel, they had consecrated themselves to His service (ἐν ἁγιασμῷ), and so they were redeemed from shame; their affections were hallowed, and their homes founded in the sanctities of an honourable love.

To “know God” is more than an intellectual act; it implies acknowledgement and due regard,—the esteeming Him for what He is (see e.g. Jeremiah 9:23 f.; Titus 1:16). Γινώσκειν is the commoner verb in affirmative statements with God for object (John 17:3; Galatians 4:9, &c.), as it implies tentative, progressive knowledge; cf., for εἰδέναι, 1 Thessalonians 4:12 below.

Bornemann proposes a new interpretation of the whole passage, 1 Thessalonians 4:3-6, placing a comma at σκεῦος, thus made the object of εἰδέναι, and reading κτᾶσθαι in the absolute sense, “to make gain,” with τὸ μὴ ὑπερβαίνειν κ.τ.λ. placed in apposition to the latter. So he arrives at the following rendering: “that you abstain from fornication, that each of you know his own vessel (i.e. acknowledge, appreciate and hold to, his own wife: cf. 1 Peter 3:7), seek gain in sanctification and honour, not in the passion of covetousness as the Gentiles &c., that he do not overreach and take advantage of his brother in business.” But εἰδέναι τὸ ἑαυτοῦ σκεῦος, thus taken by itself, forms a very obscure clause, and an inadequate complement to ἀπέχεσθαιπορνείας; nor is the use of κτᾶσθαι without an object sufficiently supported by the parallels drawn from Ezekiel 7:12 f. (LXX) and Thucyd. i. 70. 4. Moreover the transition to the new topic of fairness in business dealings would be abrupt and unprepared for, if made by κτᾶσθαι without a mediating conjunction; while ἐν πάθει ἐπιθυμίας is an expression decidedly suggesting lust and not avarice. This construction introduces more difficulties than it removes.

1 Thessalonians 4:6 appears to stand in apposition to 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5, ἀπέχεσθαιεἰδέναι κ.τ.λ. Τὸ πρᾶγμα, on this interpretation, is the matter of the marriage relationship expressly violated by πορνεία (1 Thessalonians 4:3), which must be guarded from every kind of wrong (1 Thessalonians 4:6). In acts of impurity men sin against society; while defiling themselves, they trick and defraud others in what is dearest. To this aspect of “the matter” τὸ μὴ ὑπερβαίνειν κ.τ.λ. seems to point. For the use of τὸ πρᾶγμα as relating to “the matter” in hand, cf. 2 Corinthians 7:11. ἐν τῷ πράγματι gives a wide extension, under this veiled form of reference, to the field of injury. No wrongs excite deadlier resentment and are more ruinous to social concord than violations of womanly purity; none more justly call forth the punitive anger of Almighty God (see the next clause).

On the above view, the article in τὸ μὴ ὑπερβαίνειν καὶ πλεονεκτεῖν has an emphatic resumptive force, as in τὸ μηδένα σαίνεσθαι (1 Thessalonians 3:3; see note): (I say, or I mean) that none (understand τινά, in view of the following αὐτοῦ, rather than ἕκαστον as carried over from 1 Thessalonians 4:4) transgress (exceed the limit), and take advantage of his brother in the matter. The verbs ὑπερβαίνειν and πλεονεκτεῖν are quite as appropriate to adulterers, and the like, as to perpetrators of commercial fraud; πλεονεξία includes sins of lust as well as greed (Ephesians 4:19). Ὑπερβαίνειν, “to step over”—a good classical compound, hap. leg. in N.T.—governs, in this sense, an object of the thing (law, limit, &c.), not the person; it is probably intransitive here. Πλεονεκτεῖν in earlier Greek took a genitive of comparison, “to have advantage over”; in the κοινή it adopted an accusative,—“to take advantage of” any one. Τὸν ἀδελφόν appears to denote the wronged person not specifically as a Christian brother, but in his human claim to sympathy and respect: cf. Matthew 5:23 f., Matthew 7:3 ff.; 1 John 2:9 ff.; also 1 Thessalonians 5:15 below.

The interpretation just given is that of the Greek Fathers, followed by Jerome; and of many moderns, including Estius, Bengel, Alford, Ellicott, Lightfoot, Schmiedel. Most of the Latin interpreters (Vulg. in negotio), with Erasmus, Calvin, Beza, Grotius, Winer, de Wette, Hofmann, Lünemann, Bornemann, understand covetousness to be denounced in these words. They take ἐν τῷ πράγματι to signify “in business” generally, like the plural τὰ πράγματα; or “the (particular) business” in hand, each matter of business as it arises—cf. ἐν τῷ ἀνθρώπῳ in John 2:25 (τῷ cannot be read as τῳ = τινί—so in A.V.; this usage is foreign to N.T. Greek). But there is no example of πρᾶγμα (singular) used in the sense supposed; and in view of the strong emphasis thrown on the question of sexual morals in 1 Thessalonians 4:4 f., the transition to another subject should have been clearly marked. Besides, ἀκαθαρσία (1 Thessalonians 4:7) is applied elsewhere to sins of the flesh (with the possible exception of 1 Thessalonians 2:3 above), and this topic covers the whole ground of the preceding 1 Thessalonians 4:3-6.

διότι ἔκδικος Κύριος περὶ πάντων τούτων, because the Lord is an avenger respecting all these things—everything that concerns the honour of the human person and the sacredness of wedded life; cf. Hebrews 13:4, πόρνους κ. μοιχοὺς κρινεῖ ὁ θεός. For ἔκδικος, see Romans 13:4; Wisdom of Solomon 12:12; Sirach 30:6; in earlier Greek the adjective signified unjust (exlex). For the maxim, cf. Romans 12:19; Galatians 5:21; Ephesians 5:5 f.; Colossians 3:6; and in the O.T., Deuteronomy 32:35 (Heb.),—the original of St Paul’s allusions. “All these things” lie within the scope of that vengeance of God which pursues the wrongs of men toward each other; cf., in this connexion, Proverbs 5:21 f., Proverbs 6:32 ff., Proverbs 7:22-27. For διότι, see note on 1 Thessalonians 2:18. There is no reason to suppose that Κύριος means any other than “the Lord Jesus Christ,” through whom God judges the world at the Last Day: cf. 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9; Acts 17:31, &c.

καθὼς καὶ προείπαμεν ὑμῖν καὶ διεμαρτυράμεθα, as indeed we foretold you and solemnly protested. As to the indispensableness of chastity to the Christian life and the fearful consequences of transgression against its laws, the Thessalonians had been plainly and impressively instructed in the first lessons of the Gospel. For προείπαμεν—in the 1st aorist form, which many familiar 2nd aorists assumed in the κοινή (see Winer-Moulton, pp. 86 f., Blass, Grammar of N.T. Greek, p. 45)—cf. προλέγω, 1 Thessalonians 3:4 and Galatians 5:21; προ-, “before” the event. The μαρτύρομαι of 1 Thessalonians 2:12 (see note) is strengthened by διά, which implies the presence of God, or the Lord, “through” whom—scil. in whose name—this warning is given; cf. διὰ τοῦ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ, 1 Thessalonians 4:2, and the references there supplied.


Verse 6

6. κυριος, anarthrous, א*ABD*H 17; ο is a Syrian addition.

-ειπαμεν becomes -ειπομεν passim in the T. R. These 1st, for 2nd, aorist endings, in certain verbs of common occurrence, were characteristic of the vernacular; they occur to a limited extent in the literary κοινή, and prevail in contemporary Papyri.


Verse 7

7. οὐ γὰρ ἐκάλεσεν ἡμᾶς ὁ θεὸς ἐπὶ ἀκαθαρσίᾳ ἀλλʼ ἐν ἁγιασμῷ. For God did not call us for (with a view to) uncleanness, but in sanctification. A further reason (γάρ), put by way of explanation at the close, for chastity amongst Christians. That purity of life was God’s purpose for us in sending the Gospel-message, explains in part the peculiar anger with which a departure from it will be visited.

The A.V. misrenders both ἐπί and ἐν here. Ἐπί with dative may signify either on terms of or with a view to, according as the reference is subjective or objective—i.e. as the intention implied was in the mind of the called themselves, or of God who called them; the latter rendering is preferable in this connexion (cf. Galatians 5:13; Ephesians 2:10). Ἐν ἁγιασμῷ, as in 1 Thessalonians 4:4 and 2 Thessalonians 2:13, marks out “sanctification” not as the ultimate aim, nor as a gradual attainment, of the Christian life, but as its basis and ruling condition, the assumption on which God’s dealings with Christian men rest,—viz. that they are ἅγιοι, consecrated persons; cf. note on ὁ ἁγιασμὸς ὑμῶν, 1 Thessalonians 4:3. Accordingly ἐκάλεσεν bears the emphasis of the sentence (cf. 1 Thessalonians 2:12, and note; also 1 Thessalonians 1:4 and 2 Thessalonians 2:13). God’s call in the Gospel, from which the Christian status of the readers took its rise, would be frustrated by any relapse into the filthiness of heathen life.

1 Thessalonians 4:8 concludes the rehearsal of the apostolic παραγγελία on this subject by an appeal to God, such as διεμαρτυράμεθα in 1 Thessalonians 4:6 already implied (see note above):—

τοιγαροῦν ὁ ἀθετῶν οὐκ ἄνθρωπον ἀθετεῖ ἀλλὰ τὸν θεόν. Wherefore then the rejector is not rejecting a man, but God. The compound particle τοι-γαρ-οῦν, “collective and retrospective” (Ellicott), “introduces its conclusion with some specific emphasis or formality” (Grimm, in Lexicon), in a style suitable to the solemn language of 1 Thessalonians 4:6 b, 7: Hebrews 12:1 supplies the only other example of this conjunction in the N.T.; it is common in Epictetus. Ἀθετέω (α- privative, and √ θη- of τίθημι, through ἄθετος) means to set out of position, to make void (a promise, law, or the like; see Galatians 3:15; Hebrews 10:28), to set aside, deny, in his authority or rights, a person (Mark 6:26; Luke 10:16; Judges 1:8). For the antithesis of man and God, cf. 1 Thessalonians 2:13 b; Galatians 1:10; Acts 5:4. While ἄνθρωπος is anarthrous (indefinite) in the negative clause, the articular ὁ θεός signifies the (one, actual) God; cf. Galatians 4:31, for the article.

Romanist divines (e.g. Estius), following the received Latin reading of the two last words of the verse (in nobis), quote this text in proof of the Divine sanction of ecclesiastical authority. The Apostles, however, are insisting not on their own commandment as Divine, but on God’s commandment as distinct from and immeasurably above theirs. That the “charge” of 1 Thessalonians 4:3-6 comes from God is evidenced [1] by the nature of the injunction itself, [2] by the moral purpose of the Gospel (1 Thessalonians 4:7), and [3] by the witness of the Holy Spirit given to the readers (1 Thessalonians 4:8 b):—

τὸν διδόντα τὸ πνεῦμα αὐτοῦ τὸ ἅγιον εἰς ὑμᾶς, (God) who gives His Spirit, the Holy (Spirit), to be within you. Even if εἰς ἡμᾶς were the true reading (see Textual Note, and last paragraph), this would refer not to the writers specifically or officially, but to writers and readers communicatively; cf. the 1st plural in the same connexion in Romans 8:15 f., Galatians 4:6. Lightfoot sees in the participle διδόντα an indication of “ever fresh accessions of the Holy Spirit” (cf. Galatians 3:5; 1 Corinthians 12:11); it is, perhaps, better conceived as a substantival present, like τὸν ῥυόμενον in 1 Thessalonians 1:10 or τῷ δοκιμάζοντι in 1 Thessalonians 2:4—“the giver of His Holy Spirit”; for this bestowment is God’s prerogative, and sets Him in an abiding relation of inward guidance and command toward believers: cf. Luke 11:13; John 3:34; John 7:38 f.; 2 Corinthians 1:22; 2 Corinthians 5:5; Romans 8:9; Romans 8:14 f.; Galatians 3:2; Galatians 4:6; Galatians 5:25; 2 Timothy 1:7; 1 John 3:24; 1 John 4:13. The epithet ἅγιον is emphasized by its position, in accordance with the stress thrown on holiness throughout (1 Thessalonians 4:3-4; 1 Thessalonians 4:7). (Τὸν διδόντα) εἰς ὑμᾶς means not “to you” (ὑμῖν) but “into you,” so as to enter your hearts and dwell within you: Ezekiel 37:6 (δώσω πνεῦμά μου εἰς ὑμᾶς, נָתַתִּי בָכֶם רוּחַ) probably suggested the phrase; cf. δίδωμι εἰς in Acts 19:31; Hebrews 8:10; also εἰς in Ephesians 3:16; Mark 2:1, &c. That God who called us to a pure life, puts His Spirit in us, is a consideration heightening the fear of Divine vengeance upon sins of inchastity; for they affront God’s indwelling Presence and defile “God’s temple”: cf. 1 Corinthians 3:16 f., 1 Corinthians 6:19; Ephesians 4:30. Seen in this light, uncleanness is profanity.


Verse 8

8. διδοντα: א*BDG, Or Ath Did. δοντα: AKL, &c., latt vg (qui dedit); the aorist in this connexion in 2 Corinthians 1:22; 2 Corinthians 5:5; Acts 15:8. See Expository Note.

και (before the partic.) wanting in ABDb, c 17 73 cattxt, cop syrpesh go, Orcat Ath, &c.; found in א*D*GKL, most minn., vg syrhcl, Clem. Evidence fairly divided: the conjunction seems to be either a Western wordy insertion, or an Alexandrian severe omission. The motive for insertion is not obvious, and κ before διδοντα might easily have been overlooked: transcriptional probability favours retention.

υμας is ημας in A and many minn., two good copies of vg, syrhcl txt, and later Fathers.


Verse 9

9. Περὶ δὲ τῆς φιλαδελφίας οὐ χρείαν ἔχετε γράφειν ὑμῖν. About love of the brethren, however, you have no need that one (or that we) write to you. There was need (note the contrastive δέ) to write on the former subject. The introduction of a fresh topic by περὶ δέ, as isn 1 Thessalonians 4:1 below, prevails in 1 Corinthians (περὶ μέν, 2 Corinthians 9:1), and then drops out of use in the Epistles.

Φιλαδελφία is enjoined, as a distinctive Christian virtue arising out of the relation of believers to each other in “the household of faith,” in Romans 12:10, Hebrews 13:1 (see also 1 Peter 1:22, and Hort’s Note). It is distinguished from ἀγάπη, the general principle of spiritual love, in 2 Peter 1:7 : cf. 2 Peter 3:12; 2 Thessalonians 1:3; Galatians 5:13 ff.; Philippians 2:1 ff.; also John 13:34 f., John 15:17; 1 John 2:9 ff., 1 John 3:14 ff., 1 John 3:23; 1 John 4:11. In 1 John 4:19 to 1 John 5:2 love to God in Christ, and love to the children of God, are shown to be an identical affection devoted to kindred objects, In common Greek the word φιλάδελφος, -ία, did not go beyond the literal sense.

There is a slight laxity of expression in the words οὐ χρείαν ἔχετε γράφειν: either ἔχομενγράφειν (cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:8; also Acts 25:26; 2 John 1:12), or ἔχετεγράφεσθαι (1 Thessalonians 5:1), would have been more exact. On the constructions of χρείαν ἔχειν, see note to 1 Thessalonians 1:8. Cf. περισσόν μοί ἐστιν τὸ γράφειν, 2 Corinthians 9:1.

αὐτοὶ γὰρ ὑμεῖς θεοδίδακτοί ἐστε εἰς τὸ ἀγαπᾷν ἀλλήλους, for of yourselves you are God-taught, to the end you should love one another. Not simply “taught to love,” as though this were the one lesson of God’s grace, “but taught of God that you may love,” this being τὸ τέλος τῆς παραγγελίας (1 Timothy 1:5); “doctrinæ divinæ vis confluit in amorem” (Bengel): cf. οὐἐκάλεσενἐπὶ ἀκαθαρσίᾳ, 1 Thessalonians 4:7. God’s own teaching (scil. through His Spirit, 1 Thessalonians 4:8, and His word) had been received by the readers so abundantly and directly, that further advice on this subject seems superfluous. Αὐτοὶὑμεῖς presents a tacit contrast to ἡμεῖς, much as in 1 Thessalonians 1:8 f., 1 Thessalonians 2:1. For the idiomatic use of εἰς τό with infinitives, see note on 1 Thessalonians 2:12.

Θεο-δίδακτος is a hapax leg. in Scripture (cf. θεο-στυγής, probably passive, in Romans 1:30; θεό-πνευστος in 2 Timothy 3:16); its elements are found in John 6:45, which rests upon Isaiah 54:13, Jeremiah 31:33 f.,—passages probably in the Apostle’s mind here: cf. Psalms of Solomon 17:35; and Matthew 23:8. The phrase διδακτοῖς πνεύματος in 1 Corinthians 2:13 is very similar. The compound word was naturalized in the Greek Fathers.

1 Thessalonians 4:10 proves that the Thessalonian Christians are “God-taught” to the above effect: for indeed you are doing that (showing mutual love) toward all the brethren in the whole of Macedonia.

ποιεῖτε αὐτό is a chief instance of the καθὼςπεριπατεῖτε credited to the readers in 1 Thessalonians 4:1; this agrees with the testimony of 1 Thessalonians 1:3; 1 Thessalonians 1:7 ff., 2 Thessalonians 1:3; 2 Thessalonians 3:4. εἰς πάντας τοὺς ἀδελφοὺς τοὺς ἐν ὅλῃ τῇ ΄ακεδονίᾳ extends the ἀλλήλους of 1 Thessalonians 4:9 beyond the bounds of Thessalonica; a close intercourse and friendship linked the Macedonian Christians, including those of Philippi (see Philippians 4:16) and Berœa along with other Christian communities that had by this time sprung from these,—or the writers could hardly have said, “in the whole of Macedonia”; see Introd. pp. xv. f., lxii. Εἰς signifies direction of effort (cf. Ephesians 1:15 : Philemon 1:5 f.). If the second τούς be inauthentic (see Textual Note), ἐν ὅλῃ κ.τ.λ. must be attached to ποιεῖτε as denoting the region “in” which the readers display their “love of the brethren.” Thessalonica, being the capital and commercial centre of Macedonia, was a place of constant resort; and the Christians there had frequent opportunities of giving hospitality to those of other towns; this was a chief form of brotherly love in the primitive Church (see Romans 12:13; 1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:8; Hebrews 13:1; 1 Peter 4:9). Ποιεῖτε conveys a slight contrast to -δίδακτοι of the last clause: “you are not only taught, for indeed you do it”: cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:24; 2 Corinthians 8:10 f.; Matthew 7:21; Matthew 7:24; James 1:23 ff., for similar antitheses to ποιεῖν.

As ποιεῖτε αὐτό repeats the καθὼς περιπατεῖτε of 1 Thessalonians 4:1, so παρακαλοῦμενπερισσεύειν μᾶλλον resumes the παρακαλοῦμενἵνα περισσεύητε μᾶλλον of that context: see notes above. In ἀγάπη there is always room for increase and growth: cf. Ephesians 3:19; Romans 13:8 (a debt never quite discharged). 2 Thessalonians 1:3 shows that the present exhortation was acted upon. The infinitive is the more regular construction after παρακαλέω; ἵνα in 1 Thessalonians 4:1 (see note).


Verse 10

10. τους (before εν ολῃ) wanting in א*AD*G, and presumably in codd. followed by latt vg, Ambrst. On the one hand, the article may have been lost by homœoteleuton after αδελφους; or on the other, supplied (as in BHKL) by way of grammatical improvement.


Verse 11

11. (παρακαλοῦμεν δὲ ὑμᾶς) … καὶ φιλοτιμεῖσθαι ἡσυχάζειν καὶ πράσσειν τὰ ἴδια, and to be ambitious to keep quiet and to attend to your own business. This somewhat surprising turn to the παραγγελία was due to an element of restlessness in the Thessalonian Church, of which the 2nd Epistle, in ch. 1 Thessalonians 3:6-13, will give emphatic evidence; the symptoms indicated in 1 Thessalonians 4:12 ff. below may be traced to the same cause; see Introd. pp. xxxvi., xliii. f. The association of this appeal with the topic of φιλαδελφία suggests that the disorder hinted at disturbed the harmony of the Church.

Φιλοτιμεῖσθαι (ut operam detis, Vulg.; better, ut contendatis, Beza) is to act as a φιλό-τιμος, a “lover of honour,”—which signifies in common Greek a man ambitious, whether in a good or bad sense (oftener the latter), of public distinction; in later Greek the word became synonymous with ζηλωτής or πρόθυμος, denoting a man eager and restless in any pursuit; but there clings to it the connotation of some desire to shine or pursuit of eminence: see Romans 15:20, 2 Corinthians 5:9, for the only other N.T. examples. In the combination φιλοτιμ. ἡσυχάζειν there is an oxymoron, a touch of Pauline irony, as though it were said, “Make it your ambition to have no ambition; be eminent in unobtrusiveness!” The love of distinction was universal and potent for mischief in Greek city life, and the Thessalonians betray something of the uneasy, emulous spirit which gave the Apostle subsequently so much trouble at Corinth: cf. also Galatians 5:26; Philippians 2:3. For τὰ ἵδια, “one’s own (private or home) affairs,” cf. Luke 18:28; John 19:27, &c. Lightfoot refers in illustration to Plato’s Repub. 496 d, describing the philosopher who escapes from the turmoil and degradation of political affairs, as ἐν ἡσυχίᾳ ἄγων καὶ τὰ αὑτοῦ πράττων; similarly Dio Cassius lx. 27.

The closing admonition, καὶ ἐργάζεσθαι ταῖς χερσὶν ὑμῶν (cf. 2 Thessalonians 3:8-12; Ephesians 4:28), implies that some of those reproved forsook their daily work in pushing themselves into public activity and notoriety. Most of the Thessalonian Christians practised some handicraft; they belonged to the lower walks of social life (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:26 ff.). Ἡσυχάζεινκαὶ ἐργάζεσθαι κ.τ.λ. are combined in the μετὰ ἡσυχίας ἐργαζόμενοι of 2 Thessalonians 3:12; cf. also 1 Timothy 2:2; 1 Timothy 2:11 f.; 1 Peter 3:4. For the use of ἐργάζεσθαι, see note on 1 Thessalonians 2:9. Christianity through such precepts as these, and through the example of Jesus and the Apostles, has given a new dignity to manual labour, ennobling the life of the great bulk of mankind in a manner very contrary to the sentiments of classical culture and philosophy.

To “work with your hands” had been matter of a special “charge” on the part of the missionaries—καθὼς ὑμῖν παρηγγείλαμεν—a παραγγελία supported by the example of the παραγγέλλοντες: see 2 Thessalonians 3:8-12; cf. Ephesians 4:28 f.; Acts 20:34 f.


Verse 12

12. It is especially to the last particular of the lengthened παραγγελία that the final clause, ἵνα περιπατῆτε εὐσχημόνως κ.τ.λ., applies: that you may walk honourably (honeste, Vulg.; Old Eng. honestly) toward those without, and have need of nothing. Εὐσχημόνως (cf. Romans 13:13; 1 Corinthians 7:35) means in decent, comely fashion, in such manner as to “adorn the doctrine of our Saviour God” (Titus 2:10) and to win respect for the faith from those who had not embraced it. For such regard shown by St Paul to οἱ ἔξω (Heb. הַחִיצוֹנִים), “the outsiders,” cf. Colossians 4:5 (identical with this, except that ἐν σοφίᾳ replaces εὐσχημόνως), 1 Timothy 3:7, Titus 2:8; and for the phrase οἱ ἔξω elsewhere, 1 Corinthians 5:12 f., Mark 4:11. On its distinction from οἱ λοιποί, see note to 1 Thessalonians 4:13 below. For περιπατεῖν, see note on 1 Thessalonians 2:12. Πρός, “in your attitude towards, converse with the outsiders”; cf. note on πρὸς ὑμᾶς ἦμεν, 1 Thessalonians 3:3. In a thriving commercial city like Thessalonica, indolence or pauperism, and unfitness for the common work of life, would bring peculiar disgrace on the new society.

μηδενός is ambiguous in gender; some interpreters render it, “may have need of no one”: the fact that χρείαν ἔχειν is frequently used with a genitive of the thing (e.g. in Matthew 6:8, Luke 10:42, Hebrews 5:12; 1 Corinthians 12:21 is not really different) “turns the scale in favour of the neuter” (Lightfoot); the context (ἐργάζεσθαι κ.τ.λ.) suggests “need” of sustenance,—ἄρτος (2 Thessalonians 3:8; 2 Thessalonians 3:12; cf. 1 John 3:17; James 2:15). The repetition of χρείαν ἔχειν (1 Thessalonians 4:9) is accidental. The sense of honourable independence, which was so strong in the Apostle (see 1 Thessalonians 2:6; 1 Thessalonians 2:9, &c.), he desires his converts to cultivate. The Church was from the first in danger of having its charities abused by the idle.


Verse 13

13. Οὐ θέλομεν δὲ ὑμᾶς ἀγνοεῖν, ἀδελφοί. But we would not have you to be ignorant, brothers. The impressive phrase οὐ θέλωἀγνοεῖν (cf. Romans 1:13; Romans 11:25; 1 Corinthians 10:1; 2 Corinthians 1:8) calls attention to a new statement which St Paul is anxious that his readers should well understand; it disappears after the second group of the Epistles: cf. the similar expressions of 1 Corinthians 12:3; Philippians 1:12; Colossians 2:1. Such formulæ are common in the Epistolary style of the period. Δέ follows οὐ θέλομεν, which form practically one word, Nolumus (Vulg.).

περὶ τῶν κοιμωμένων, concerning them that are falling asleep; “are asleep” (A.V.) represents the faulty reading of the T. R., κεκοιμημένων. The present participle denotes what is going on. This trouble had now arisen for the first time; see Introd. p. xliv. So vivid was the anticipation of the Parousia conveyed to the minds of St Paul’s converts, that the thought of death intervening to blot out the prospect had scarcely occurred to them. Now that some of their number have died, or are dying,—what about these? have they lost their part in the approaching ἀποκάλυψις τοῦ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ (1 Corinthians 1:7)? There entered, further, into the sorrow of the bereaved some doubt as to the future resurrection and eternal blessedness of those prematurely snatched away; for the sentence continues, in order that you may not sorrow (λυπῆσθε, continue in sorrow: pres. subjunctive) as the rest (of men) who are without hope. The grief of some of the readers bordered on extreme despair (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:18); yet they had been taught from the first the Christian hope of the resurrection (see 1 Thessalonians 1:10; Acts 17:18, &c.). We must allow for the short time that the Thessalonians had been under instruction and the many new truths they had to master, for the stupefying influence of grief, and for the power with which at such an hour, and amid the lamentations of unbelieving kindred, the darkest fears of their pre-Christian state would re-assert themselves. This dread was vaguely felt by the mourners; what they distinctly apprehended was that those dying beforehand could not witness the return of the Lord Jesus to His people “living” on the earth (1 Thessalonians 4:15; 1 Thessalonians 4:17). This implied a materialistic conception of the Parousia—almost inevitable in the first instance—which is tacitly corrected in 1 Thessalonians 4:17, and more fully rectified in the later teaching of 1 Corinthians 15:42-55 : “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God”; “we shall be changed.” Sorrow over the departed is not forbidden, but the dark sorrow of οἱ λοιποί: “Permittantur itaque pia corda de carorum suorum mortibus contristari dolore sanabili, et consolabiles lacrimas fundant, quas cito reprimat fidel gaudium” (Augustine).

Κοιμᾶσθαι (the synon. καθεύδειν in 1 Thessalonians 5:10, see note; Matthew 9:24, and parallels) represents death as sleep, after the style of Jesus (see John 11:11 f.; 1 Corinthians 7:39, &c.), the term indicating the restful (and perhaps restorative) effect of death to the child of God, and at the same time its temporary nature,—“I go,” said Jesus of Lazarus, “that I may awake him from sleep.” So the early Christians called their burial-places κοιμητήρια, cemeteries, or dormitories. In the O.T. (Isaiah 14:18; Isaiah 43:17; 1 Kings 2:10; 1 Kings 11:43), and occasionally in classical Greek, the same expression is found, but by way of euphemism or poetical figure; its use in 2 Maccabees 12:44 f., however, clearly implies a doctrine of the resurrection. This truth is assumed, to begin with, by the expression περὶ τῶν κοιμωμένων in reproof of despondent mourning. One does not grieve over “the sleeping.”

οἱ λοιποί, the rest, the lave—as in Ephesians 2:3—synon. with οἱ ἔξω of 1 Thessalonians 4:12 : that expression implies exclusion, this implies deprivation. οἱ μὴ ἔχοντες ἐλπίδα are the same as τὰ ἔθνη τὰ μὴ εἰδότα τὸν θεόν, 1 Thessalonians 4:5; Ephesians 2:12 identifies Gentile hopelessness and godlessness. Despair of any future beyond death was a conspicuous feature of contemporary civilization. The more enlightened a Greek or Roman might be, the less belief he commonly held in the old gods of his country and in the fables of a life beyond the grave: see the speeches of Cato and of Caesar in the Catiline of Sallust, and the quotations given by Lightfoot or Bornemann ad loc. from ancient elegiac poetry and sepulchral inscriptions. The loss of Christian faith in modern times brings back the Pagan despair,—“the shadow of a starless night.” Against this deep sorrow of the world the word sleep, four times applied in this context to the Christian’s death, is an abiding protest. 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17 will give the reasons why the Thessalonians should not sorrow over their dead, as they are tempted to do.


Verses 13-18

§ 8. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. Concerning them that fall asleep

Thessalonian faith had its “deficiencies” on the doctrinal as well as the practical side (see note introductory to last section). In regard to the coming of the Lord Jesus, which filled a large place in the missionary preaching of the Apostles and in the thoughts and hopes of their converts (see 1 Thessalonians 1:3; 1 Thessalonians 1:10, 1 Thessalonians 2:12, 1 Thessalonians 3:13; Acts 17:30 f.), there was misgiving and questioning upon two points; and about these the Thessalonians appear to have sent enquiries to St Paul (see Introd. p. xxxvi.): (a) as to the lot of those dying before the Lord’s return—would they miss the occasion, and be shut out of His kingdom? (1 Thessalonians 4:13 ff.); (b) as to the time when the advent might be expected (1 Thessalonians 5:1-11). The two subjects are abruptly introduced in turn by περί, as matters in the minds of the readers; they are treated in an identical method. With the former of these questions, made acute by the strokes of bereavement falling on the Church since St Paul’s departure, the Letter proceeds to deal. The readers [1] are assured that their departed fellow-believers are safe with Jesus, and will return along with Him (1 Thessalonians 4:13 f.); [2] they are informed, by express revelation, that these instead of being excluded will have the first place in the assembling of the saints at Christ’s return (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17); [3] they are bidden to cheer one another with this hope (1 Thessalonians 4:18). Lightfoot quotes from the Clementine Recognitions, i. 52, the question, “Si Christi regno fruentur hi quos justos invenerit ejus adventus, ergo qui ante adventum ejus defuncti sunt, regno penitus carebunt?” showing that the difficulty raised by the Thessalonians was felt elsewhere in the Early Church. This passage stands by itself in Scripture, containing a distinct λόγος κυρίου (1 Thessalonians 4:15), in the disclosure it makes respecting the circumstances of the Second Advent; it is on this account the most interesting passage in the Epistle. The discussion of the subject (1 Thessalonians 4:13 to 1 Thessalonians 5:11) reflects with a directness unusual in the Apostle the personal teaching of Jesus, and wears the colours of Jewish eschatology.


Verse 14

14. εἰ γὰρ πιστεύομεν ὅτι Ἰησοῦς ἀπέθανεν καὶ ἀνέστη. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again: the faith of a Christian in its briefest statement (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:3 f.); the form of supposition, εἰ with pres. indicative, assumes the fact,—for writers and readers alike (we believe: cf. 1 Corinthians 15:11). In Romans 10:9 St Paul declares the faith that “saves” to be the heart-belief that “God raised Jesus our Lord from the dead”; in 1 Corinthians 15:13-19 he argues that “if Christ hath not been raised” the whole Gospel is false, affording no salvation from sin, and no assurance that dying Christians do not perish in the grave. Granted this one certainty, and these consequences are reversed. See 1 Corinthians 6:14-15 at large; 2 Corinthians 4:14; Romans 4:24; Romans 5:10; Romans 8:11; Romans 14:7-9; Philippians 3:10 f., for other teaching of St Paul bearing on the momentous and manifold effects of the resurrection of Jesus. In this connexion the Redeemer is “Jesus,” being thought of in His human person and in the analogy of His experience to our own; hence οὔτως καί in the apodosis. What we believe of this “firstborn amongst many brethren, firstborn out of the dead” (Romans 8:29; Colossians 1:18), we trust to see fulfilled in His brethren: ἀπαρχὴ χριστός, ἔπειτα οἱ τοῦ χριστοῦ ἐν τῇ παρουσίᾳ αὐτοῦ (1 Corinthians 15:20-23).

οὕτως καὶ ὁ θεὸς τοὺς κοιμηθέντας διὰ τοῦ Ἰησοῦ ἄξει σὺν αὐτῷ. So also will God, (in the case of) those who fell asleep through Jesus, bring (them) along with Him: this awkward rendering reproduces the order of the Greek words, which throw emphasis on the action of God, who is conceived as the Raiser-up of the Lord Jesus, and associate Christ’s people with Him in this restoration (cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 1 Corinthians 6:14; 2 Corinthians 4:14; Galatians 1:1; Ephesians 1:19 f.). The aorist participle, τοὺς κοιμηθέντας, looks back to the “falling asleep” from the standpoint of the Parousia (ἄξει σὺν αὐτῷ).

The διά clause may belong grammatically either to the participle or to the principal verb ἄξει (note the article, τοῦ Ἰησοῦ, “the Jesus” who “died and rose again,” &c.): two considerations make for its association with κοιμηθέντας—the occurrence of the like combination in 1 Thessalonians 4:16, οἱ νεκροὶ ἐν Χριστῷ; and the fitness of the adjunct as an explanation of the emphatically reaffirmed κοιμᾶσθαι. “Through Jesus” (per Jesum, Vulg.; not in Jesu, as in Beza) the Thessalonian Christians had “fallen asleep”: death in their case was robbed of its terrors, as the survivors would remember, and transformed into sleep; clinging to the name of Jesus, they defied death (cf. Romans 8:38 f.). Such faith in Him whom He raised from the dead, God will not disown; He “will bring them (back from the unseen world) with Him.”

Jesus! my only hope Thou art,

Strength of my failing flesh and heart!”

(Charles Wesley’s Dying Hymn.)

The argument of this verse is elliptical, its compression being due to the vivacity and eagerness of the Apostle’s mind, especially manifest under strong emotion. More completely expressed, his syllogism would read thus: “If we believe that Jesus died and rose again on our behalf, we are bound to believe that He will raise up those who fell asleep in death trusting in Him, and will restore them to us at His return.” St Paul leaps over two steps in drawing out his conclusion: [1] he argues from belief in the fact in his protasis to the fact itself in the apodosis; [2] he tacitly assumes the immediate consequence, viz. the resurrection of the κοιμηθέντες guaranteed by the resurrection of Jesus, in his haste to anticipate the ultimate consequence, their return along with Jesus; for it was about the share of their beloved dead in the Advent that the readers were anxious. Underlying this assurance we trace St Paul’s deep and characteristic doctrine of the union between Christ and Christians. This unity becomes clearer as we proceed: see 1 Thessalonians 4:16 f. (οἱ νεκροὶ ἐν Χριστῷ, πάντοτε σὺν κυρίῳ ἐσόμεθα); 1 Thessalonians 5:10; 2 Thessalonians 1:12; 2 Thessalonians 2:14; cf. 1 Corinthians 15:23; 2 Corinthians 4:10; Romans 6:5; Colossians 3:1-4; 2 Timothy 2:11, &c. The nerve of the Apostle’s reasoning lies in the connexion of the words “died and rose again”: Jesus has made a pathway through the grave; by this passage His faithful, fallen asleep but still one with Him, are conducted to appear with Him at His return. Ἄξει, “ducet, suave verbum: dicitur de viventibus” (Bengel). Cf. Hebrews 2:10, πολλοὺς υἱοὺς εἰς δόξαν ἀγαγόντα; but the thought here is that of reunion with the living saints, rather than of guidance to heavenly glory (see 2 Thessalonians 2:1).


Verse 15

15. Τοῦτο γὰρ ὑμῖν λέγομεν ἐν λόγῳ κυρίου. For this we say to you, in a word of the Lord,—i.e. in the character of a message coming from “the mouth of the Lord”: cf. 1 Corinthians 7:10, “I give charge,—not I, but the Lord”; also 1 Thessalonians 4:8 and 1 Thessalonians 2:13 above; = בִּדְבַר יהוה, 1 Kings 13:17 f., 1 Kings 20:35, &c.; “quasi Eo ipso loquente” (Beza). St Paul reports an express communication from Christ on the question: while the language of 1 Thessalonians 4:16, ὅτι αὐτὸςοὐρανοῦ, reflects the predictions of Jesus reported in Matthew 24:25, &c., there is nothing in the record of the Gospels which covers the important statement made in this verse. The Apostles are either quoting some ἄγραφον of Jesus, known through tradition, like the memorable dictum of Acts 20:35; or they are disclosing a new revelation made to themselves—either to St Paul (cf. Acts 18:9 f., Acts 27:23; 2 Corinthians 12:1 ff.; Galatians 2:2), or to Silas (see Acts 15:32), or to some other Christian prophet of their acquaintance (cf. Acts 20:23; Acts 21:10 f.). The brief, authoritative form of statement leads us to suppose that the writers are speaking out of their own inspiration; they seem to be giving a message from the Lord received at the time and to meet this specific case.

ὅτι ἡμεῖς οἱ ζῶντες οἱ περιλείπομενοι εἰς τὴν παρουσίαν τοῦ κυρίου, that we who are alive, who survive until the coming of the Lord. The second designation, carefully repeated in 1 Thessalonians 4:17, qualifies and guards the first—“we the living,—those (I mean) who remain, &c.” St Paul did not count on a very near approach of the Second Advent (cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:1 f.); but his language implies the possibility of the event taking place within his lifetime or that of the present generation (this is obviously a comprehensive “we”). Christ had left this an open question, or rather a matter on which questioning was forbidden (Acts 1:7; Matthew 24:36); cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:1 ff. below. The Apostles “knew in part” and “prophesied in part,” by piecemeal (ἐκ μέρους), about the mysteries of the Last Things; until further light came, it was inevitable that the Church, with its ardent longing to see its Lord, should speak and think as St Paul does here. The same expectant “we” is found in this connexion in 1 Corinthians 15:51; cf. James 5:8 f.; 1 Peter 4:5 f. But from the time of the crisis in his life alluded to in 2 Corinthians 1:8 f., the prospect of death occupied the foreground in St Paul’s anticipations of his own future; he never afterwards writes “we that remain.” Bengel minimizes the significance of the plural when he writes: “Sic τὸ nos hic ponitur, ut alias nomina Gajus et Titius”; more justly he continues, “idque eo commodius quia fidelibus illius ætatis amplum temporis spatium ad finem mundi nondum scire licuit.” Περιλείπεσθαι, here and in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 only in N.T.; a classical word. For παρουσία, see note on 1 Thessalonians 3:13.

οὐ μὴ φθάσωμεν τοὺς κοιμηθέντας, shall by no means precede (or anticipate) those that fell asleep,—“that had fallen asleep” before the Coming. The shadow cast over the fate of the sleeping Thessalonian Christians is imaginary. Instead of their having no place, these will have, it is now revealed, a foremost place in the Lord’s triumphant return. Though dead, they are “the dead in Christ” (1 Thessalonians 4:16); they departed to “be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:17, 1 Thessalonians 5:10)—“absent from the body,” but “at home with the Lord,” as St Paul subsequently expressed it (2 Corinthians 5:6 ff.; Philippians 1:23). If so, it is impossible that those remaining in the flesh when Christ returns should be beforehand with them. “God will bring them with Jesus,” for they are with Him already—the tacit link of thought connecting 1 Thessalonians 4:14-15.

Οὐ μή with aorist subj. appears in its well-known use as an intensive negative; see Winer-Moulton, pp. 634 ff.; Goodwin, Gr. Grammar, 1360. For φθάνω, cf. 1 Thessalonians 2:16; this transitive force of the verb is as old as Homer,—Iliad xi. 451, xxi. 262.

That the sleeping saints will be found already “with the Lord,” when He returns to “those living” on earth, is shown by the description of the Advent in 1 Thessalonians 4:16 f. (note the order πρῶτον, ἔπειτα):—


Verse 16

16. ὅτι αὐτὸς ὁ κύριος ἐν κελεύσματι, ἐν φωνῇ ἀρχαγγέλου καὶ ἐν σάλπιγγι θεοῦ, καταβήσεται ἀπʼ οὐρανοῦ. For the Lord Himself with a shout-of-command, with the archangel’s voice and with the trumpet of God, will come down from heaven; cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:10 (and note); Acts 1:11. Αὐτὸς ὸ κύριος: “in His personal august presence” (Ellicott); cf. 1 Thessalonians 3:11, 1 Thessalonians 5:23; 2 Thessalonians 2:16; 2 Thessalonians 3:16, for this kind of emphasis,—particularly frequent in these Epistles. In each context the “grandis sermo” (Bengel) indicates the majesty with which “the Lord,” or “God,” rises above human doings and desires.

The three prepositional adjuncts prefixed to καταβήσεται depict the Lord’s descent from heaven under the sense of its Divine grandeur. In this κατάβασις the κοιμώμενοι are to participate: how glorious, then, how far from sorrowful their lot! Ἐν is the preposition of “attendant circumstance” (Lightf.); cf. 2 Thessalonians 1:8; 2 Thessalonians 2:9 f. (see notes): its repetition adds vividness and rhetorical force; the second and third particulars, apparently, explicate the first. We must not look for literal exactness where realities are described beyond the reach of sense. The three phrases may express a single idea, that of “the voice of the Son of God” by which the dead will be called forth (see John 5:25-29), His “command” being expressed by an “archangel’s voice,” and that again constituting the “trumpet of God.” Christ predicted His return attended by “angels” (Matthew 25:31; cf. 2 Thessalonians 1:7); and the Divine “voices” of the Apocalypse are constantly uttered by “an angel,” or “mighty angel” (Revelation 5:2; Revelation 7:2, &c.). In the same Book, voice and trumpet are identified in the description of the glorified Son of Man: “I heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet talking with me” (Revelation 1:10; Revelation 1:12; Revelation 4:1); cf. Matthew 24:31, “He shall send forth His angels with a trumpet of great voice.” In 1 Corinthians 15:52 the whole accompaniment is gathered into one word, σαλπίσει (impersonal). This vein of description, in its vocabulary and colouring, is derived from the Theophanies and Apocalyptic of the Old Testament: see Exodus 19:11; Exodus 19:13; Exodus 19:16 ff.; Deuteronomy 33:2; Joel 2:1; Micah 1:3; Zechariah 9:14; Isaiah 27:13; Psalms 18:9-11; Psalms 47:5.

Κέλευσμα (hap. leg. in N.T.; Proverbs 24:6 [Proverbs 30:27], LXX see Lightfoot’s illustrations from classical Greek) is the “word of command” or “signal”—the shout with which an officer gives the order to his troops or a captain to his crew. Such “command” he might utter either by “voice”—his own or another’s—or through a “trumpet”; the “archangel” in this imagery stands by the Lord’s side as the σαλπιγκτής beside his general, to transmit His κέλευσμα. The σάλπιγξ is the military trumpet of the Lord of Hosts, mustering His array; cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:8, with its “breastplate” and “helmet” (see note). “As a commander rouses his sleeping soldiers, so the Lord calls up His dead, and bids them shake off the fetters of the grave and rise anew to waking life” (Hofmann); cf. with this, in view of the words ἄξει σὺν αὐτῷ of 1 Thessalonians 4:14, the scene imagined in Revelation 19:14 and its context.

Φωνῇ ἀρχαγγέλου (not τῇ φωνῇ τοῦ ἀρχαγγ., as though some known angelic chief were intended) is added in explanation of ἐν κελεύσματι, and to indicate the majesty and power of the summons. This is the earliest example of the title ἀρχάγγελος. In Judges 1:9 we read of “Michael the archangel”—an expression probably based on the Greek of Daniel 12:1, ΄ιχαὴλ ὁ ἄγγελος (ἄρχων) ὁ μέγας; cf. Revelation 12:7. Ranked with Michael was Gabriel, the angel of comfort and good tidings in Daniel 8:16; Daniel 9:21, and Luke 1:19; Luke 1:26. The military tenor of this context suggests Michael. Next to these two, amongst the seven chief angels recognized in Jewish teaching, stood Raphael, “the affable archangel” (Milton); cf. Tobit 12:15. St Paul doubtless ranked the ἀρχάγγελοι amongst his heavenly ἀρχαί: cf. Romans 8:38; Ephesians 1:21; Ephesians 3:10; Colossians 1:16; Colossians 2:10; Colossians 2:15. See the articles on Angel in Hastings’ Dict. of the Bible and Smith’s Dict. of Christian Antiquities.

καὶ οἱ νεκροὶ ἐν Χριστῷ ἀναστήσονται πρῶτον, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Οἱ νεκροὶ ἐν Χριστῷ are οἱ κοιμηθέντες διὰ τοῦ Ἰησοῦ of 1 Thessalonians 4:14 (see note)—this phrase defining their present situation as “the dead,” that their past experience in dying. Being “in Christ” (cf. notes on the ἐν of 1 Thessalonians 1:1 and 1 Thessalonians 4:1; and see Winer-Moulton, p. 486, note 3), nothing can part them from Him,—death no more than life (Romans 8:38 f.). Οἱ νεκροὶ ἐν Χριστῷ forms a single idea in this context; hence οἱ is not repeated: see Winer-Moulton, p. 169. “Will rise first”—not before the other dead rise, as though theirs were a select and separate resurrection of the élite (cf. John 5:28 f.), but before “the living” saints are “caught up to meet the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:17): πρῶτον is antithetical to ἔπειτα ἡμεῖς οἱ ζῶντες.

1 Thessalonians 4:17 resumes in its subject, under the aforesaid antithesis, the ἡμεῖς οἱ ζῶντες οἱ περιλειπόμενοι of 1 Thessalonians 4:15 (see notes above). For πρῶτονἔπειτα, apposing things consecutive either in time or in importance, cf. 1 Corinthians 12:28; 1 Corinthians 15:46; 1 Timothy 3:10; Mark 4:28; James 3:17.

ἅμα σὺν αὐτοῖς ἁρπαγησόμεθα ἐν νεφέλαις, together with them will be caught up in (the) clouds. Ἅμα σὺν αὐτοῖς bears the stress of the sentence, explaining definitely the οὐ μὴ φθάσωμεν of 1 Thessalonians 4:15, which formed the central word of the λόγος κυρίου; cf. ἐπισυναγωγή, 2 Thessalonians 2:1 (see note). The combination ἅμα σύν, denoting full association (una cum; rather than simul cum, Vulg.), recurs in 1 Thessalonians 5:10, where, as here, the temporal sense of ἅμα is inappropriate; cf. Romans 3:12, 1 Timothy 5:13, Acts 24:26, in which passages ἅμα signifies not simultaneity but conjunction: “we the living shall join their company, who are already with the Lord.”

Ἁρπάζω implies a sudden, irresistible force: “we shall be seized, snatched up … into the air”; cf. 2 Corinthians 12:2; 2 Corinthians 12:4 (of St Paul’s rapture into the third heaven); Matthew 11:12; Matthew 13:19; Acts 8:39; Revelation 12:5. Ἐν νεφέλαις, not “into” but “amid clouds,”—surrounding and upbearing the rapt “like a triumphal chariot” (Grotius). Christ Himself, and the angels at His ascension, spoke of His coming thus attended (Matthew 24:30; Matthew 26:64; Acts 1:9 ff.; cf. Revelation 1:7; Revelation 10:1; Revelation 11:12; Revelation 14:14 ff.). The Transfiguration gave an earnest of Christ’s heavenly glory, when “a bright cloud overshadowed” those who were with Him, and “a voice” spake “out of the cloud” (Matthew 17:5). There is something wonderful and mystical about the clouds,—half of heaven and half of earth; their ethereal drapery supplies the curtain and canopy of this glorious meeting.

The raising of the living bodies of the saints along with the risen dead implies a physical transformation of the former; this the Apostle sets forth later in 1 Corinthians 15:50 ff.: “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,” &c. (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:1-4; Philippians 3:21). Some mysterious change came upon the sacred body of Jesus at His resurrection, for it was emancipated from the ordinary laws of matter. Such a metamorphosis St Paul seems to have conceived as possible without dissolution.

Ἁρπαγησόμεθα is qualified further by two εἰς-clauses of direction: εἰς ἀπάντησιν τοῦ κυρίου, εἰς ἀέρα, to meet the Lord, into (the) air. “The air,” like the “clouds,” belongs to the interspace between the heaven from which Christ comes and the earth which He visits. He is represented as met by His Church, which does not wait till He sets foot on earth, but ascends to greet Him. The somewhat rare (Hebraistic?) idiom εἰς ἀπάντησιν (cf. לקְרַאת הָאֱלֹהִים, Exodus 19:17) is found in Matthew 25:1 (ὑπάντησιν), 6, with reference to the Virgins of Christ’s parable, “going forth to meet the Bridegroom”; our Lord’s words are running in the writer’s mind. This prepositional phrase occurs with the dative in Acts 28:15. Chrysostom finely says: καὶ γὰρ βασίλεως εἰς πόλιν εἰσελαύνοντος, οἱ μὲν ἔντιμοι πρὸς ἀπάντησιν ἐξίασιν· καὶ πατρὸς φιλοστόργου παραγινομένου, οἱ μὲν παῖδες καὶ ἄξιοι παῖδες εἶναι ἐπʼ ὀχήματος ἐξάγονται, ὥστε ἰδεῖν καὶ καταφιλῆσαιἐπὶ τοῦ ὀχήματος τοῦ πατρὸς φερόμεθαἐν νεφέλαις ἁρπαγησόμεθα· ὁρᾷς τὴν τιμὴν ὅσην καὶ τὴν ἀπάντησιν καταβαίνοντι ποιούμεθα· καὶ τὸ πάντων μακαριώτερον, οὔτω σὺν αὐτῷ ἐσόμεθα. Whether St Paul imagined that after this meeting Christ and His people would return to earth, or move upwards to heaven, he does not indicate.

καὶ οὕτως πάντοτε σὺν κυρίῳ ἐσόμεθα, and so we shall be always with the Lord. This last word of consolation addressed to the sorrowing bereaved of Thessalonica, includes their sleeping beloved with themselves. Toward this conception of future happiness St Paul’s mind gravitates, rising clear of all images of place and circumstance in its view of the state of the departed and the glory of the redeemed: cf., to the like effect, 1 Thessalonians 5:10; 2 Thessalonians 2:1; Romans 8:17; Romans 8:39; 2 Corinthians 5:8; Ephesians 2:6; Colossians 3:1-4; Philippians 1:23; 2 Timothy 4:18; also John 12:26; John 14:3; John 17:24; Acts 7:59; 1 John 3:2; Revelation 22:4. “The entire content and worth of heaven, the entire blessedness of life eternal, is for Paul embraced in the one thought of being united with Jesus, his Saviour and Lord” (Bornemann).


Verse 17

17. For απαντησιν, υπ- D*G. For του κυριου Db, latt vg, most Lat Fathers, read τῳ κυριῳ (obviam domino); D*G, with some Latins, τῳ χριστῳ. The dative may be a Latinism; but cf. Acts 28:15.

Instead of συν B reads εν κυριῳ: “ganz gedankenlos” (Weiss).


Verse 18

18. Ὥστε παρακαλεῖτε ἀλλήλους ἐν τοῖς λόγοις τούτοις. Therefore cheer one another in these words,—the λόγος κυρίου which 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 have communicated, and the other apostolic words accompanying it. Ὥστε with imperative, or cohortative subjunctive, is an idiom St Paul often uses at the point where argument or explanation passes into appeal; cf. 1 Corinthians 3:21; 1 Corinthians 4:5; 1 Corinthians 5:8, &c.: the present imperative enjoins habitual comforting. For παρακαλέω, in its varied uses, see note on 1 Thessalonians 2:12; here synonymous with παραμυθέομαι, as it stands opposed to λυπεῖσθαι (1 Thessalonians 4:13). Ἐν τοῖς λόγοις τούτοις, “in (the use of) these words,”—at their public reading in the Church assembly (cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:27; see note); then, presumably, in the repetition of their teaching by Thessalonians to each other when need occurred. Ἐν is perhaps instrumental (see Ellicott ad loc.)—“with these words”: later Greek tended to prefix ἐν to the bare dative thus. To this message of their Letter the Apostles attach great weight; they expect it to be distinctly remembered and often recalled: cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:14, and notes.

 


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

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Wednesday, November 20th, 2019
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