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Bible Commentaries

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

2 Thessalonians 3

Verse 1

1 .] On τὸ λ . (= λοιπόν ), see 1 Thessalonians 4:1 .

ἵνα ] On the use of telic conjunctions with verbs like προσεύχομαι , see note on 1 Corinthians 14:13 .

ὁ λ . τ . κυρ . ] the Lord’s word i.e. the Gospel: see reff.

τρέχ ] Contrast to ‘ being bound :’ see 2Ti 2:9 may spread rapidly .

δοξ . ] See reff. The word of the Lord is then glorified, when it becomes the power of God to salvation to the believer see Romans 1:16 .

καθὼς καὶ πρὸς ὑμᾶς ] for they had thus received it: 1 Thessalonians 1:6 .

πρὸς ὑμᾶς ] among you (reff.).

Verses 1-5

1 5 .] Exhortation to pray for him and his colleagues (1, 2). His confidence that the Lord will keep them (3) and that they will obey his commands (4). Prayer for them (5).

Verses 1-15


Verse 2

2 .] And in order for that to be the case, that we may be free to preach it. On ἄτοπος , Lünem. says, “it is properly used of that which is not in its right place. When of persons , it designates one who does or says that which is inappropriate under the circumstances. Thus it answers to ineptus in Latin (Cic. de Orat. ii. 4). From ‘aptitude,’ it passes to its wider ethical meaning, and is used of men who act contrary to divine or human laws. Thus it gets the general signification of bad or ungodly . See examples in Kypke, Obss. ii. p. 145, in Lösner and Wetst.” Who are these men? It is obvious that the key to the answer will be found in Acts 18:0 . They were the Jews at Corinth, who were at that time the especial adversaries of the Apostle and his preaching. And this is confirmed by the clause which he has added to account for their ἀτοπία and πονηρία :

οὐ γὰρ πάντωνπίστις for to all men the (Christian) faith does not belong all men do not receive it have no receptivity for it obviously pointing at Jews by this description. It is more natural to understand the article here as definite, the faith , than as abstract: for faith , as such, would not bear much meaning here.

Verse 3

3 .] Calvin says, “Ceterum de aliis magis quam do se anxium fuisse Paulum, ostendunt hæc ipsa verba. In eum maligni homines improbitatis suæ aculeos dirigebant, in eum totus impetus irruebat: curam interea suam ad Thessalonicenses convertit, nequid hæc illis tentatio noceat.”

πιστός seems to be chosen in allusion to πίστις which has just preceded; but the allusion cannot be more than that of sound, as the things spoken of are wholly different.

κύριος is our Lord: see ch. 2 Thessalonians 2:16 , and 2 Thessalonians 3:5 .

δέ , in contrast with the men just mentioned.

στηρίξει ] in reference to his wish, ch. 2 Thessalonians 2:17 .

τοῦ πονηροῦ may mean ‘the evil one,’ as in Matthew 13:19 ; Ephesians 4:16 , al.: and so Ellic. But here the assurance seems, as before said, to correspond to the wish ch. 2 Thessalonians 2:17 ; and thus στηρίξαι ἐν παντὶ ἔργῳ κ . λόγῳ ἀγαθῷ = στηρίξει κ . φυλάξει ἀπὸ τοῦ πονηροῦ : in which case τ . πον . is neuter . We may observe that the words are nearly a citation from the Lord’s prayer.

Verse 4

4 .] forms a transition to the exhortations which are to follow, 2 Thessalonians 3:6 ff.

ἐν κυρίῳ , as the element in which his confidence is exercised, shews it to be one assuming that they will act consistently with their Christian profession: and so gives the expectation the force of an exhortation, but at the same time of a hopeful exhortation.

ἐφ ʼ ὑμᾶς (reff.), with reference to you the direction of his confidence. καὶ ποιεῖτε κ . ποιήσετε is all the apodosis not ὅτιπαραγγ . κ . ποιεῖτε , καὶ ποιήσετε , as Erasm.

Verse 5

5 .] There does not appear to be any distrust of the Thessalonians implied by this repeated wish for them, as De W. supposes. Rather is it an enlargement , taken up by the δέ (not only so, but) of theπαραγγέλλομεν κ . ποιεῖτε κ . ποιήσετε .

κύρ . is our Lord , as before.

ἀγάπη τ . θεοῦ here, from the fact of his wishing that their hearts may be directed into it , must be subjective, the love of man to God . The objective meaning, God’s love , is out of the question. The other subjective meanings, the love which God works (Pelt), … which God commands (LeClerc), are far-fetched. ἡ ὑπομονὴ τ . χριστοῦ has very generally been understood as in E. V., ‘ the patient waiting for Christ .’ So Œc., Ambr., Erasm., Corn.-a-lap., Beza, all. But ὑπομονή will not bear this meaning. It occurs thirty-four times in the N. T., and always in the sense of endurance, patience . Nor again can the expression mean ‘ endurance for Christ’s sake ,’ which the simple genitive will not convey: but it must be, as Chrys. (1) ἵνα ὑπομένωμεν , ὡς ἐκεῖνος ὑπέμεινεν , the patience of Christ (gen. possess.), which Christ shewed .

Verse 6

6 .] παραγγέλλομεν δέ takes up the assurance of 2 Thessalonians 3:4 , and tests its general form by a special command.

ἐν ὀνόμ . κ . τ . λ . strengthens the παραγγ ., and does not belong to the following.

στέλλεσθαι ] lit. ‘to take in, or shorten sail:’ ἱστία μὲν στείλαντο , θέσαν δ ʼ ἐν νηῒ μελαίνῃ , Il. α . 433: hence, to draw in or shorten, generally: πότερά σοι παῤῥησίᾳ | φράσω τὰ κεῖθεν , ἢ λόγον στειλώμεθα , Eur. Bacch. 625; to conceal: ἐβουλεύετο μὲν στέλλεσθαι , οὐ μὴν ἠδύνατό γε κρύπτειν τὸ γεγονός , Polyb. Frag. hist. 39 (from Suidas, voc. στείλασθαι ), οὐ δυναμένων τὴν ἐκ τῆς συνηθείας καταξίωσιν στέλλεσθαι (‘cohibere consuetam reverentiam’), ib. viii. 22. 4. So here, ‘cohibere vos’ to keep yourselves from : see reff.: obviously without allusion as yet to any formal excommunication, but implying merely avoidance in intercourse and fellowship. The accusative is repeated before the infinitive, probably because the clause ἐν ὀνόμ ., &c., intervenes.

The παράδοσις refers to the oral instruction which the Apostle had given them when he was present, and subsequently confirmed by writing ( 1Th 4:11-12 ).

παρελάβοσαν ] plural, as belonging to the πάντες implied in παντός ; so in ἔβαν οἶκόνδε ἕκαστος .

On the form - οσαν , which is said to have been originally Macedonian, and thence is found in the Alexandrian ( ἐσχάζοσαν , Lycophr. 21), Lobeck remarks (Phryn. p. 349), “ex modorum et temporum metaplasmis, quos conjunctim tractare solent dialectorum scriptores, nullus diutius viguit eo quo tertiæ aoristi secundi personæ plurales ad similitudinem verborum in μι traducuntur, εἴδοσαν Niceph., ἐφεύροσαν Anna Comnena, μετήλθοσαν Nicet. (and παρήλθοσαν ).” We have ἤλθοσαν ἔθνη , Psalms 78:1 ; see other examples from LXX in Winer, edn. 6, § 13. 2. f.

Verses 6-15

6 15 .] Dehortation from disorderly, idle habits of life . He had given a hint in this direction before, in the first Epistle ( 1Th 5:14-15 ): he now speaks more plainly, doubtless because their restlessness and excitement concerning the παρουσία had been accompanied by an increase of such habits. His dissuading them from associating with such persons, seems to shew that the core of the Church (as Lün.) was as yet sound in this respect.

Verse 7

7 .] πῶς δεῖ μιμ . ἡμ . is a concise way of expressing ‘how ye ought to walk in imitation of us.’

ἀτακτέω also occurs in Lysias κατὰ Ἀλκιβ . a . p. 141. 18, in this sense, of ‘leading a disorderly life.’

Verse 8

8 .] ἄρτον ἐφάγομεν , a Hebraistic expression for ‘got our sustenance:’ παρά τινος , ‘at any one’s expense,’ from any one as a gift: there seems to be an allusion in the construction to the original sense of δωρεάν .

ἐργαζόμ . belongs to ἄρτον ἐφ . as a contrast to δωρεάν : but by working , &c. The sentence may also be taken as De W. and Ellic., regarding ἐν κόπῳ κ . μόχ . as the contrast to δωρεάν , and ἐργαζ . νύκτ . κ . ἡμ . as a parallel clause to ἐν κόπ . κ . μόχ .

Verse 9

9 .] See 1 Corinthians 9:4 ff., where he treats of his abstinence from this his apostolic power.

οὐχ ὅτι , my meaning is not, that … See reff. and Hartung, Part. ii. 153.

ἑαυτούς is used in the plural for ἡμᾶς αὐτούς and ὑμᾶς αὐτούς for shortness, but never in the singular for ἐμαυτόν or σεαυτόν , where no such reason exists: see Bernhardy, Syntax, p. 272.

Verse 10

10 .] καὶ γάρ , and we carried this further: we not only set you an example, but inculcated the duty of diligence by special precept. The γάρ is co-ordinate with that in 2 Thessalonians 3:7 . The καί does not bring out ὅτε ἦμεν πρ . ὑμᾶς as a new feature, as Thdrt., for of this period the last three verses have treated but it brings out τοῦτο , on which the stress lies, as an additional element in the reminiscence. This seems to me clearly to be the force here, and not the merely conjunctive, as Ellic. maintains, τοῦτο , viz. what follows.

εἴ τις κ . τ . λ .] Schöttgen and Wetst. quote this saying from several places in the rabbinical books.

Verse 11

11 .] Ground for reminding them of this his saying .

περιεργαζομένους ] being busybodies; or, being active about trifles; ‘busy only with what is not their own business’ (Jowett: who refers to Quintilian’s ‘non agere sed satagere’): see reff. So in the charge against Socrates, Plato, Apol. § 3, Σωκράτης ἀδικεῖ κ . περιεργάζεται ζητῶν τά τε ὑπὸ γῆς κ . τὰ ἐπουράνια , κ . τὸν ἥττω λόγον κρείττω ποιῶν , κ . ἄλλους ταὐτὰ ταῦτα διδάσκων .

Verse 12

12 .] παρακαλοῦμεν , scil, αὐτούς .

ἐν κυρ . see on 2 Thessalonians 3:6 .

μετὰ ἡσυχ . may be taken either subjectively, with a quiet mind ; or objectively, with quietness , i.e. in out ward peace. The former is most probable, as addressed to the offenders themselves. ἑαυτῶν , emphatic that which they themselves have earned.

Verse 13

13 .] δέ ye who are free from this fault. On ἐγκ . and ἐκκ . see notes on 2Co 4:1 and Galatians 6:9 .

καλοποιοῦντες , from the context, cannot mean ‘ doing good ’ ( to others ), but doing well , living diligently and uprightly: see also Galatians 4:9 , where the same general sentiment occurs. Chrys.’s meaning is surely far-fetched: στέλλεσθε μέν , φησιν , ἀπ ʼ αὐτῶν κ . ἐπιτιμᾶτε αὐτοῖς , μὴ μὴν περιΐδητε λιμῷ διαφθαρέντας .

Verse 14

14 .] Many Commentators (Luth., Calv., Grot., Calov., Le Clerc, Beng., Pelt, Winer, al.) have joined διὰ τῆς ἐπιστολῆς with what follows, and explained it (usually, see below), ‘ note that man by an Epistle ( to me ).’ But τῆς is decidedly against this rendering, unless we suppose that it signifies ‘your’ answer to this. (Bengel and Pelt, taking τῆς ἐπ . for this Epistle, would render, ‘notate nota censoria, hanc Epist., ejus admonendi causa, adhibentes eique incultantes’ (Beng.), ‘Eum hac epistola freti severius tractate’ (Pelt): but both these require σημειοῦσθε to be diverted from its simple meaning.) The great objection to the above connexion is that St. Paul has already pointed out the manner of treating such an one, 2 Thessalonians 3:6 , and is not likely to enjoin a further reference to himself on the subject. It is far better therefore, with Chrys. (there seems no reason for qualifying this by apparently , as Ellic), Est., Corn.-a-lap., Beza, Hamm., Whitby, Schott, Olsh., De W., Baum.-Crus., Lün., Ellic., all., to join διὰ τῆς ἐπ . with the preceding τῷ λόγ . ἡμ ., and render it our word by this Epistle , as ἡ ἐπιστολή is undoubtedly used in reff., and the word is that in 2 Thessalonians 3:12 .

σημειοῦσθε ] mark , see ref. Polyb.: the ordinary meaning of the word: put a σημεῖον on him, by noticing him for the sake of avoidance. On what is called the dynamic middle, see Krüger, Sprachlehre, § 52. 8. 4.

Verse 15

15 .] καί is more delicate than ἀλλά or δέ would be: q. d. ‘and I know that it will follow as a consequence of your being Christians, that ye will, &c.’

ὡς in the first clause seems superfluous: it is perhaps inserted to correspond with the other clause, or still further to soften the ἐχθρὸν ἡγεῖσθε . So ὥσπερ , Job 19:11 ; Job 33:10 .

Verse 16

16 .] Concluding wish . On αὐτὸς δέ , see on ch. 2 Thessalonians 2:16 .

κύριος τῆς εἰρήνης ] As the Apostle constantly uses ὁ θεὸς τῆς εἰρ . for the God of Peace (see Romans 15:33 ; Romans 16:20 :2 Corinthians 13:11 , al.), we here must understand our Lord Jesus Christ.

εἰρήνη must not be understood only of peace with one another : for there has been no special mention of mutual disagreement in this Epistle: but of peace in general , outward and inward, here and hereafter, as in Romans 14:17 . See Fritz, on Romans, vol. i, p. 22.

The stress is on ὑμῖν May the Lord of Peace give you ( that ) Peace always in every way (whether it be outward or inward, for time or for eternity).

μετὰ πάντων . ] therefore with the ἀτάκτως περιπατοῦντες also (Lün.): not as Jowett, pleonastic. The man who was to be admonished as an ἀδελφός , would hardly be excluded from the Apostle’s parting blessing.

Verse 17

17 .] Autographic salutation . The Epistle, as it follows from this, was not written with the Apostle’s own hand, but dictated. So with other Epistles; see Romans 16:22 :1 Corinthians 16:21 ; Colossians 4:18 .

] which circumstance: not attraction for ὅς . The whole of 2 Thessalonians 3:17-18 , not merely the benediction, are included. By the words οὕτως γράφω , we must not conceive that any thing was added , such as his signature, or as Œc., οἷον τὸ ἀσπάζομαι ὑμᾶς , ἢ τὸ ἔῤῥωσθε , ἤ τι τοιοῦτον : they are said of that which he is writing at the time. His reason for this caution evidently was, the ἐπιστολὴ ὡς δι ʼ ἡμῶν , spoken of ch. 2 Thessalonians 2:2 . And the words ἐν πάσἐπιστολῇ must not, with Lün., be limited to any future Epistles which he might send to the Thessalonians, but understood of a caution which he intended to practise in future with all his Epistles: or at least with such as required, from circumstances, this identification. Thus we have (1 Thess. being manifestly an exception, as written before the rule was established) Gal. written with his own hand (see note on Gal 6:11 ); 1 Cor. authenticated ( 1Co 16:21 ); 2 Cor. sent by Titus and therefore perhaps not needing it (but it may have existed in 2Co 13:12-13 without being specified); Rom. not requiring it as not insisting on his personal authority (but here again the concluding doxology may have been autographic): Col. authenticated ( Col 4:18 ); Eph. apparently without it (but possibly Eph 6:24 may have been autographic): Phil. from its character and its bearer Epaphroditus not requiring it (but here again Eph 4:23 may be autographic): and the Epistles to individuals would not require such authentication, not to mention that they are probably all autographic that to Philemon certainly is, see Phm 1:19 there. (So for the most part De Wette.)

Verses 17-18

17, 18 .] CONCLUSION.

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Bibliographical Information
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on 2 Thessalonians 3". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. 1863-1878.