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Bible Commentaries

Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament

2 Thessalonians 1



A B K א , Copt. 80, 87 have only: Πρὸς Θεσσαλονικεῖς βʹ . The simplest and apparently oldest title.


2 Thessalonians 1:2 . Elz. has πατρὸς ἡμῶν . But ἡμῶν is wanting in B D E, 17, 49, 71, al. , Clar. Germ. Theophyl. Ambrosiast. ed. Pel. Bracketed by Lachm. Rightly erased by Tischendorf and Alford. An addition from the usual epistolary commencements of the apostle. 2 Thessalonians 1:4 . καυχᾶσθαι ] So Elz. Griesb. Matt. and Scholz, after D E K L, min. vers. But in the diversity of testimonies (F G have καυχήσασθαι ), ἐγκαυχᾶσθαι , after A B א , 17 al., received by Lachm. Tisch. 1, 2, and Alford (in the 7th ed. Tisch. writes ἐυκαυχᾶσθαι ), merits the preference as the best accredited and the rarer form. 2 Thessalonians 1:8 . Instead of the Receptus πυρὶ φλογός (approved by Tisch. 2 and 7, Bloomfield, Alford, and Reiche), Scholz, Lachm. and Tisch. 1 read φλογὶ πυρός . For the latter overwhelming authorities decide (B D* E F G, 71, Syr. utr. Copt. Aeth. Arm. Vulg. It. Sen. ap. Iren. Macar. Theodoret [in comm.], Theophyl. [in comm.] Oec. Tert. Aug. Pel.).

Ἰησοῦ ] Elz. Matth. Scholz read Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ . Against B D E K L, min. plur. Copt. Aeth. Syr. p. Ar. pol. Theodoret, Damasc. Theophyl. Oec. Χριστοῦ is impugned by Griesb., bracketed by Lachm., and rejected by Tischendorf and Alford. 2 Thessalonians 1:9 . Instead of the Receptus ὄλεθρον , Lachm., after A, 17, 73, al., Slav. ms. Chrys. ms. Ephr. Tert., reads ὀλέθριον . But ὀλέθριον is simply an error of the scribe, occasioned by the following αἰώνιον .

τοῦ of the Receptus before κυρίου is wanting in D E F G, 3, 39, al., Chrys. (in textu) Theoph. It was absorbed in the last syllable of προσώπου . 2 Thessalonians 1:10 . ἐνθαυμασθῆναι , found in D* E* F G, instead of the Receptus θαυμασθῆναι , is an error of the scribe, occasioned by the two preceding and the following ἐν .

πιστεύσασιν ] Elz. reads πιστεύουσιν , against A B D E F Ggr. L א , 31, al., plur. edd. Syr. p. Slav. Vulg. It. Sen. ap. Iren. Ephr. Chrys. Theodoret, Damasc. Theoph. Oec. Ambrosiast. Pel. 2 Thessalonians 1:12 . τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ ] Elz. Matth. have τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ . But Χριστοῦ is wanting in B D E K L א , 37, al., plur. Copt. Sahid. Aeth. Clar. Germ. Theodoret, ms. Oec. Doubted by Griesb., bracketed by Lachm., and rightly erased by Tisch. and Alford.

Verses 1-2

2 Thessalonians 1:1-53.1.2 . Address and salutation . See on 1 Thessalonians 1:1 .

ἀπὸ Θεοῦ πατρὸς καὶ κυρίου Ι . Χρ .] from God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ ; not: from God who is the Father and Lord of Jesus Christ. For, according to the Pauline custom, the fulness of Christian blessings is derived in common from God and Christ. The absolute πατρός (comp. Galatians 1:3 ; 1 Timothy 1:2 ; 2 Timothy 1:2 ; Titus 1:4 ) is equivalent to πατρὸς ἡμῶν , more frequently used elsewhere in similar places; comp. Rom 1:7 ; 1 Corinthians 1:3 ; 2 Corinthians 1:2 ; Ephesians 1:2 ; Philippians 1:2 ; Colossians 1:2 ; Philemon 1:3 .

Verse 3

2 Thessalonians 1:3 . Ὀφείλομεν ] namely, I Paul, together with Silvanus and Timotheus.

καθὼς ἄξιόν ἐστιν ] as it is meet, as it is right and proper , is usually considered as a mere parenthesis, resuming ὀφείλομεν , so that ὅτι is considered in the sense of that dependent on εὐχαριστεῖν . However, as the discourse afterwards follows quickly on ὅτι , so καθὼς ἄξιόν ἐστιν would sink into a mere entirely meaningless interjection and parenthesis; but as such, on account of the preceding ὀφείλομεν , it would be aimless and superfluous. In direct contrast to this view, Schott places the chief emphasis on καθὼς ἄξιόν ἐστιν , which he rightly refers back to εὐχαριστεῖν instead of to ὀφείλομεν . According to Schott, καθώς is designed to denote “ modum eximium , quo animus gratus declarari debeat,” and the thought to be expressed is “oportet nos deo gratias agere, quales conveniant praestantiae beneficii, i. e. eximias .” [32] But neither can this interpretation be the correct one. For (1) καθώς is never used as a statement of gradation; (2) it is hardly conceivable that Paul should have concentrated the emphasis of the sentence on καθὼς ἄξιόν ἐστιν . If he had wished to do so, he would at least have written Εὐχαριστεῖν ὀφείλομεν τῷ Θεῷ περὶ ὑμῶν , καθὼς ἄξιόν ἐστιν , but would not have inserted πάντοτε and ἀδελφοί . Taking this insertion into consideration, we are obliged to decide that after ἀδελφοί a certain pause in the discourse commences, so that Εὐχαριστεῖνἀδελφοί is placed first as an independent general expression, to which καθὼς ἄξιόν ἐστιν is added as a connecting clause, for the explanation and development of the preceding by what follows. But from this it follows that ὅτι belongs not to εὐχαριστεῖν , but to καθὼς ἄξιόν ἐστιν , and denotes not that , but because . The meaning is: We ought to thank God always on your behalf, as it ( sc. the εὐχαριστεῖν ) is right and proper, because, etc. As by this interpretation καθὼς ἄξιόν ἐστιν is neither unduly brought forward nor unduly placed in the shade, so also every appearance of pleonasm vanishes. For ὀφείλομεν expresses the duty of thanksgiving from its subjective side, as an internal conviction; καθὼς ἄξιόν ἐστιν , on the other hand, from the objective side, as something answering to the state of circumstances, since it is meet, since it is fit and proper, to give thanks to God for the divine proof of His grace.

ὑπεραυξάνει ] grows above measure , exceedingly. The compound verb is an ἅπαξ λεγόμενον in the N. T. But Paul loves such intensifying compounds with ὑπέρ . They are an involuntary expression of his overflowing feelings. Comp. Fritzsche, ad Rom. I. p. 351. Olshausen certainly represents it otherwise. He finds in the compound verb a forbearing allusion to the fact that the Thessalonians were guilty of extravagance in their religious zeal, an allusion which, as at all events it would contain a certain degree of irony, it is impossible to assume here , where Paul speaks of the reasons of his thanksgiving to God . Such an interpretation is not ingenious , as Baumgarten-Crusius judges, but meaningless.

ἑνὸς ἑκάστου πάντων ὑμῶν ] instead of the simple ὑμῶν , emphatically strengthens the praise bestowed. Fromond.: non tam totius ecclesiastici corporis, sed uniuscujusque membri, quod mirum est et rarissimae laudis. But Hofmann, in a strangely erroneous manner, thinks that πάντων ὑμῶν does not depend on ἑνὸς ἑκάστου , but is in apposition to it.

εἰς ἀλλήλους ] does not belong to πλεονάζει . It is the further objective specification of ἀγάπη , as ἑνὸς ἑκ . πάντ . ὑμ . is the subjective. ἀλλήλους denotes the fellow-Christians in Thessalonica. Therefore erroneously, Pelt: Nec vero sine causa Paulus tam multus est in commendanda eorum caritate in omnes effusa; quum enim sciret, quam facile turn temporis accideret, ut Christiani se invicem diligerent, exteros vero aspernarentur, hac potissimum laude ad omnium hominum amorem eos excitare studuit. [33]

[32] Comp. already Ambrosiaster: ut non qualecumque esse debitum ostenderet, sicut dignum est, ait, ut pro tam infinito dono magnas gratias referendas deo testarentur. Oecumenius: ἤ , ὅτι φησὶ δίκαιόν ἐστι , νοήσεις · ἢ τὸ μεγάλως ἐξακουστεόν , ἵναμεγάλως καθὼς ἄξιον τῷ μεγάλα παρέχοντι . Theophylact: ἢ ὅτι καὶ διὰ λόγων καὶ διʼ ἔργων · αὕτη γὰρἀξία εὐχαριστία . Comp. also Erasmus’ paraphrase, and Fromond.

[33] So also arbitrarily Schrader: from the limitation of love to Christians is to be inferred an abhorrence of Gentiles .

Verses 3-12

2 Thessalonians 1:3-53.1.12 . Introduction of the Epistle . Commendatory recognition of the progress of the church in faith and love, as well as in the stedfastness which proved itself anew under persecution (2 Thessalonians 1:3-53.1.4 ), a comforting and encouraging reference to the recompense commencing at the advent of Christ (2 Thessalonians 1:5-53.1.10 ), and an assurance that the progress and completion of the Thessalonians in Christianity was continually the subject of the apostle’s prayer (2 Thessalonians 1:11-53.1.12 ).

Verse 4

2 Thessalonians 1:4 . The progress of the Thessalonians in Christianity so rejoiced the heart of the apostle, that he expresses this joy not only in thanksgiving before God, but also in praises before men.

ὥστε ] refers back to ὑπεραυξάνειἀλλήλους .

ἡμᾶς αὐτούς ] This emphatic designation of the subject might be thus explained, that otherwise such praise was not the usual custom of the speakers, but that the glorious success of the gospel in Thessalonica caused them to forget the usual limits of moderation and reserve. This opinion is, however, to be rejected, because it would then without any reason be supposed that Paul had inaccurately written ἡμᾶς αὐτούς ( we ourselves ) instead of αὐτοὺς ἡμᾶς ( even we ). [34] It is therefore more correct to see in ἡμᾶς αὐτούς , that although it was true that the praise of the Thessalonians was already sufficiently spread abroad by others, yet that they themselves , the writers of the Epistle, in the fulness of their joy could not forbear to glory in their spiritual offspring. A reference to 1 Thessalonians 1:8 (de Wette, Baumgarten-Crusius) is not to be assumed. Schott erroneously attempts to justify the emphasis on ἩΜᾶς ΑὐΤΟΎς , by understanding the same of Paul only in contrast to Silvanus and Timotheus, the subjects along with Paul of the verb ὀφείλομεν , 2 Thessalonians 1:3 ; for to maintain such a change of subject between 2 Thessalonians 1:3 and 2 Thessalonians 1:4 is impossible. Equally incorrect is also the notion of Hofmann, that αὐτούς added to ἡμᾶς denotes “of ourselves” “unprompted.” For it is absurd to attempt to deny that ἡμᾶς αὐτούς must at all events contain a contrast to others.

ἐν ὑμῖν ἐγκαυχᾶσθαι ] boast of you . ἘΝ ὙΜῖΝ is a preliminary object to ἘΓΚΑΥΧᾶΣΘΑΙ , which is then more completely unfolded in ὙΠῈΡ Τῆς ὙΠΟΜΟΝῆς Κ . Τ . Λ .

ἘΝ ΤΑῖς ἘΚΚΛΗΣΊΑΙς ΤΟῦ ΘΕΟῦ ] in Corinth and its filiated churches. The cause which gave occasion to Paul’s boasting of his readers is more specially expressed, being what was formerly represented as the motive of the apostolic thanksgiving; whilst formerly faith in Christ and brotherly love were mentioned (2 Thessalonians 1:4 ), the latter is here left entirely unmentioned, whilst the first is named in its special operation as Christian stedfastness under persecution.

ὑπὲρ τῆς ὑπομονῆς ὑμῶν καὶ πίστεως ] is not, with Grotius, Pelt, and others, to be understood as a ἓν διὰ δυοῖν , in the sense of ὑπὲρ τῆς ὑπομονῆς ὑμῶν ἐν πίστει , or ὑπὲρ τῆς πίστεως ὑμῶν ὑπομενούσης . Nor is stedfastness, as Calvin, Hemming, de Wette, Baumgarten-Crusius, Bouman, Chartae theol. Lib. I. p. 83 ff., [35] Alford, and others think, particularly brought forward by the ΠΊΣΤΙς mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 1:3 ; and then, in addition, ΠΊΣΤΙς is once more insisted on as the foundation on which ὙΠΟΜΟΝΉ rests, which would indeed be a strange proceeding, and would greatly interfere with the clearness of thought. But ΠΊΣΤΙς is here used in a different sense from that in 2 Thessalonians 1:3 . Whilst πίστις in 2 Thessalonians 1:3 denoted faith in Christ, the expression here, as the article Τῆς only placed once proves, is of a similar nature with ὙΠΟΜΟΝΉ ; whilst the reference to Christ as the object of faith steps into the background, and the idea of “ faith ” is transformed into the idea of “ fidelity .” This rendering is the less objectionable as Paul elsewhere undoubtedly uses πίστις in the sense of fidelity (comp. Galatians 5:22 ; Romans 3:3 ; Titus 2:10 ; comp. also the adjective πιστός , 1 Thessalonians 5:24 ; 2 Thessalonians 3:3 ; 1 Corinthians 1:9 ; 1 Corinthians 10:13 ; 2 Corinthians 1:18 ; 2 Timothy 2:13 ); and, besides, the notion of fidelity in this passage implies the more general notion of faith in Christ ; πίστις here denoting nothing else than faith in Christ standing in a special and concrete relation, i.e. proving itself under persecutions and trials.

πᾶσιν ] belongs only to ΔΙΩΓΜΟῖς ὙΜῶΝ . This is shown by the article repeated before ΘΛΊΨΕΣΙΝ , and by the additional clause ΑἿς ἈΝΈΧΕΣΘΕ , which is parallel with ὙΜῶΝ .

Clearer distinctions between ΔΙΩΓΜΟΊ and ΘΛΊΨΕΙς (as “pericula, quae totum coetum concernunt” and “singulorum privata infortunia,” Aretius; or “open and hidden distress,” Baumgarten-Crusius) are precarious. Only so much is certain that ΔΙΩΓΜΟΊ is speciale nomen , θλίψεις generalius (Zanchius).

αἶς ἀνέχεσθε ] an attraction for ὯΝ ἈΝΈΧΕΣΘΕ (so, correctly, also Buttmann, Gramm. des neutest. Sprachgebr. p. 140 [E. T. 161]), not, as Schott, Olshausen, de Wette, and Hofmann maintain, instead of ἃς ἀνέχεσθαι ; for ἈΝΈΧΟΜΑΙ always governs the genitive in the N. T., never the accusative; comp. Matthew 17:17 ; Mark 9:19 ; Luke 9:41 ; Acts 18:14 ; 2 Corinthians 11:1 ; 2 Corinthians 11:19 ; Ephesians 4:2 ; Colossians 3:13 ; 2 Timothy 4:3 ; Hebrews 13:22 . Fritzsche’s opinion (on 2 Cor. diss. II. p. 53 ff.), that there is no attraction at all, and that ἀνέχεσθαι is here (as in Eurip. Androm. 981, συμφοραῖς ἠνειχόμην ) construed with the dative, and denotes “sustinendo premi calamitatibus h. e. preferre mala,” is contradicted by the above N. T. usage.

The present ἈΝΈΧΕΣΘΕ represents the persecutions and the trials as belonging to the present. Accordingly a new outbreak of persecution must be meant, as the First Epistle describes the persecutions as past. [36]

[34] The latter, however, is actually found in B א and some min.

[35] But Bouman ultimately adds (p. 85): “Cujus (sc. dicti Paulini) intacta vulgari utriusque substantivi significatione, explicandi alia etiam in promptu est, ab illa, quam memoravimus, paullo diversa via ac ratio. Etenim optimis quibusque scriptoribus non raro placuisse novimus, ut a singularibus ad generaliora nuncupanda progrederentur. Quidni igitur primum singularem ὑπομονῆς constantiae , virtutem celebrare potuit apostolus, atque hinc ad universae vitae Christianae moderatricem fidem , Domino habitam, praedicandam gressum facere? But also against this the non-repetition of the article before πίστεως ; decides.

[36] That a critic such as Baur knows how to convert this deviation from the First Epistle into a dependence upon it is not strange (see Apostel Paulus , p. 488). “This present tense evidently shows how the author transfers what had been said in 1 Thess. to his own time.” Also Schrader draws from ver. 4 an objection against the authenticity of the Epistle, but for this reason: “because later in the course of the Epistle the writer appears to have forgotten that at that instant the Thessalonians were in great tribulation.” But Paul dwells on this subject throughout the whole of the first chapter. Why should he tarry longer on it, or recur to it anew, since it referred to a virtue of the Thessalonians already proved , whereas the chief object of his Epistle consisted in supplying the actual and considerable wants of the church in knowledge and conduct?

Verse 5

2 Thessalonians 1:5 . Judgment of the apostle concerning the conduct of his readers described in 2 Thessalonians 1:4 . Their stedfastness in the sufferings of the present is a guarantee of future glory. 2 Thessalonians 1:5 is a sentence in apposition, which is united to the preceding in the nominative, not in the accusative, to which Buttmann, Gramm. des neutest. Sprachgebr. p. 134 [E. T. 153], is inclined. See Winer, p. 472 [E. T. 669]. But ἔνδειγμα refers not to the subject of ἀνέχεσθε , that is, to the Thessalonians, as if αἷς ἀνέχεσθε , ὄντες ἔνδειγμα were written (comp. Erasmus, Annot. , Camerarius, Estius); for however simple and easy such a connection might be grammatically, yet logically it is objectionable. Besides, Paul would hardly have put καταξιωθῆναι ὑμᾶς instead of the simple infinitive, if he thought on no difference of subject in ἔνδειγμα and καταξιωθῆναι . But also ἔνδειγμα is not to be referred to πᾶσιν τοῖς διωγμοῖςἀνέχεσθε (Ambrosiaster, Zwingli, Calvin, Bullinger, Aretius, Wolf, Koppe, Pelt, Schrader, Ewald, Bisping, and others), but to the whole preceding principal and collective idea, ὑπὲρ τῆς ὑπομονῆςἀνέχεσθε . Accordingly it is to be analyzed as follows: ὅ (that is to say, καὶ τοῦτο , ὅτι ἐν ὑπομονῇ καὶ πίστει πάντων τῶν διωγμῶν ὑμῶν καὶ τῶν θλίψεων ἀνέχεσθε ) ἐστιν ἔνδειγμα τῆς δικαίας κρίσεως τοῦ Θεοῦ .

ἔνδειγμα ] is found here only in the N. T. It denotes a sign, guarantee, proof (comp. the active ἔνδειξις , Philippians 1:28 ); here, according to the context, a prognostic .

τῆς δικαίας κρίσεως τοῦ Θεοῦ ] cannot, with Olshausen and Riggenbach, be understood of the present judgments executed on the earth, and which befall believers in order to perfect them and to make them worthy of the kingdom of God. Not only the article τῆς , pointing to the judgment κατʼ ἐξοχήν , but also the explanation in 2 Thessalonians 1:6 ff., decides against this view. The future judgment is meant which God will execute by Christ at the advent.

εἰς τὸ καταξιωθῆναι ὑμᾶς κ . τ . λ .] whose result will be that ye will be esteemed worthy of the kingdom of God , depends not on αἷς ἀνέχεσθε , so that ἔνδειγμα τῆς δικαίας κρίσεως τοῦ Θεοῦ would become a parenthetic exclamation (Bengel, Zachariae, Bisping, Hofmann, and others), nor does it also belong to the whole sentence ἔνδειγμαΘεοῦ : in reference to which ye, etc., but only to τῆς δικαίας κρίσεως . Accordingly εἰς τὸ καταξιωθ . κ . τ . λ . is not a statement of purpose (thus Alford and Ewald), but an epexegetical statement of result. εἰς τό , with the infinitive, also stands for the result in 2 Corinthians 8:6 , etc. Comp. Winer, p. 294 [E. T. 414].

The infinitive aorist καταξιωθῆναι expresses the verbal idea simply, without any regard to time. See Kühner, II. p. 80.

ὑπὲρ ἧς καὶ πάσχετε ] for striving to obtain which ye suffer , an additional statement of the cause whose corresponding result will be καταξιωθῆναι . The Thessalonians, by their enduring stedfastness, the motive of which was striving after the kingdom of God, made themselves worthy of participation in this kingdom, for they thereby showed how precious and dear Christ is to them; it is thus certain that the judgment of God to be expected at the return of Christ will recognise this worthiness, and will exalt the Thessalonians to be fellow-citizens of His kingdom. Comp. Philippians 1:28 ; Romans 8:17 ; 2 Timothy 2:12 .

Verse 6

2 Thessalonians 1:6 . The suitableness and naturalness of this result to be expected from the righteousness of God, the mention of which was to comfort the Thessalonians and encourage them to continued endurance, is further carried out by an intimation of the retribution to be expected at the return of Christ. To assume a parenthesis from 2 Thessalonians 1:6 to μεθʼ ἡμῶν , 2 Thessalonians 1:7 (Grotius), or to 2 Thessalonians 1:10 inclusive (Moldenhauer), is unnecessary arbitrariness.

εἴπερ ] provided , does not express any doubt, but introduces by means of an elegant expression, under the form of suspense, a saying whose truth is fully acknowledged. Comp. 8:9, 17. See Hermann, ad Viger. p. 834; Hartung, Partikellehre , I. p. 343; Klotz, ad Devar. p. 528.

δίκαιον ] righteous , joined to δικαίας κρίσεως , 2 Thessalonians 1:5 . The apostle here places himself upon the standpoint of the strict righteousness of God, which is conceived according to the analogy of human jus talionis , and is also so asserted in Rom 2:5 ff.; 2 Corinthians 5:10 ; Ephesians 6:8-49.6.9 ; Colossians 3:24-51.3.25 . It is accordingly inadmissible to interpret δίκαιον , with Pelt and others, of the manifestation of divine grace . The idea that one may obtain eternal salvation by his own merits , which recently Bisping finds here expressed, is removed from the Pauline mode of thought generally, and also from this passage. Certainly, as all men are subject to sin as a ruling power, the possibility of obtaining salvation can only be contained in Christ; and that God revealed this possibility of salvation, and by the mission of Christ invited us into His kingdom, is a pure contrivance of His free grace ; but with this grace His holiness and righteousness are not abolished. There remains room for the exercise of the strict righteousness of God, as only he can enter into His eternal kingdom who, with the desire of salvation, accepts the call; whereas whoever closes himself against it, or rises up in enmity against it, must incur righteous punishment at the last day.

Verse 7

2 Thessalonians 1:7 . Θλιβομένοις is passive. Bengel erroneously considers it as middle.

ἄνεσις ] from ἀνίημι , denotes the relaxing which follows exertion, the ἐπίτασις (Plat. Rep. i. p. 349 E: ἐν τῇ ἐπιτάσει καὶ ἀνέσει τῶν χορδῶν . Plutarch, Lyc. 29: οὐκ ἄνεσις ἦν ἀλλʼ ἐπίτασις τῆς πολιτείας ) passing over to the idea comfort, refreshment, rest. Comp. 2Co 2:13 ; 2 Corinthians 7:5 ; 2 Corinthians 8:13 , and the analogous expression ἀνάψυξις , Acts 3:19 . Here ἄνεσις characterizes the glory of the kingdom of God according to its negative side as freedom from earthly affliction and trouble.

μεθʼ ἡμῶν ] along with us . From this it follows that the apostle and his companions belonged to the θλιβόμενοι . μεθʼ ἡμῶν accordingly contains a confirmation of the notice contained in 2 Thessalonians 3:2 . Others (as Turretin, comp. also de Wette) understand μεθʼ ἡμῶν entirely generally: with us Christians in general. But the ἄνεσις which will likewise be imparted to the ἡμεῖς presupposes a preceding θλίψις , that is, according to the context, persecution by those who are not Christians. But such persecutions do not befall Christians everywhere. Strangely, Bengel (and also Macknight), μεθʼ ἡμῶν denotes: “nobiscum i. e. cum sanctis Israelitis.” Ewald: “with us, i.e. with the apostles and other converted genuine Jews of the Holy Land, so that they shall have no preference.”

ἐν τῇ ἀποκαλύψει τοῦ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ ] a statement of the time when ἀνταποδοῦναι will take place, equivalent to ὅταν ἀποκαλυφθῇκύριος Ἰησοῦς . ἀποκάλυψις (1 Corinthians 1:7 ) is a more definite expression for παρουσία . The return of Christ is the period at which He, so long hitherto concealed, will as Ruler and Judge be manifested, will publicly appear. [37]

ἈΠʼ ΟὐΡΑΝΟῦ ΜΕΤʼ ἈΓΓΈΛΩΝ ΔΥΝΆΜΕΩς ΑὐΤΟῦ ] a specification of the mode of the ἈΠΟΚΑΛΎΨΕΙ .

ἈΠʼ ΟὐΡΑΝΟῦ ] see on 1 Thessalonians 4:16 .

ΜΕΤʼ ἈΓΓΈΛΩΝ ΔΥΝΆΜΕΩς ΑὐΤΟῦ ] with the angels of His power , i.e. through whom His power manifests itself, inasmuch as the angels are the executors of His commands, by their instrumentality e.g. the resurrection-call to the dead is issued (1 Thessalonians 4:16 ). Calvin: Angelos potentiae vocat, in quibus suam potentiam exseret. Angelos enim secum adducet ad illustrandam regni sui gloriam. Oecumenius, Theophylact, Piscator, Benson, Flatt, and others erroneously explain it: “with His mighty angels;” still more erroneously Drusius, Michaelis, Krause, Hofmann, and others: “with His angelic host.” For this the Hebrew צָבָם is appealed to. But ΔΎΝΑΜΙς never occurs in this sense in the N. T.; the proofs to the contrary, which Hofmann finds in Luke 10:19 , Matthew 24:29 , Mark 13:35 , Luke 21:26 , are entirely inappropriate. It would then require to have been written ΜΕΤᾺ ΔΥΝΆΜΕΩς ἈΓΓΈΛΩΝ ΑὐΤΟῦ . It is a wanton error, proceeding from a want of philological tact, when Hofmann separates ΑὐΤΟῦ from the words ΜΕΤʼ ἈΓΓΈΛΩΝ ΔΥΝΆΜΕΩς , refers this pronoun to God, and joins it with ΔΙΔΌΝΤΟς ἘΚΔΊΚΗΣΙΝ into a participial clause, of which ἘΝ Τῇ ἈΠΟΚΑΛΎΨΕΙ Κ . Τ . Λ . forms the commencement. Granted that ΜΕΤʼ ἈΓΓΈΛΩΝ ΔΥΝΆΜΕΩς , without the additional ΑὐΤΟῦ , might denote with an angelic host , yet Paul, in order to express the thought assigned to him by Hofmann, if he would be at all understood, would at least have entirely omitted αὐτοῦ , and would have put the dative διδόντι instead of the genitive διδόντος .

[37] That also we are not here to think, with Hammond, on the destruction of Jerusalem is evident.

Verse 8

2 Thessalonians 1:8 . Ἐν φλογί πυρός ] is not, as Estius, Cornelius a Lapide, Seb. Schmid, Harduin, Moldenhauer, Macknight, Hilgenfeld ( Zeitsch. f. wissensch. Theol. 1862, Part 3, p. 245), Hofmann, and others [38] assume, a statement declaring the instrument of ΔΙΔΌΝΤΟς ἘΚΔΊΚΗΣΙΝ , but is a further specification of the mode of ἈΠΟΚΑΛΎΨΕΙ , 2 Thessalonians 1:7 : in flaming fire ( בְּלַהַב אֵשׁ Isaiah 29:6 ; Isaiah 30:30 , etc.). In the O. T. God is described as appearing in flames of fire, and especially His coming to judgment is described as a coming in fire; comp. Exodus 3:2 ff; Exodus 19:18 ; Daniel 7:9-27.7.10 , etc. What is there asserted of God is here transferred to Christ. (Comp. also 1 Corinthians 3:13 , where of the day of Christ, i.e. of His advent, it is said: ἘΝ ΠΥΡῚ ἈΠΟΚΑΛΎΠΤΕΤΑΙ .) The additional clause accordingly serves for a further exaltation of the majesty and glory in which Christ will return. More special statements, that Paul thought on thunder and lightning (Zachariae, Koppe, Bolten), on a fire consuming the ungodly, or the world, or both together (Zwingli, Hemming, Aretius, Cornelius a Lapide, Fromond., Sebastian Schmid, and others), are to be discarded, from want of data to decide on.

διδόντος ] is joined, not to πυρός , but to τοῦ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ , 2 Thessalonians 1:7 . The formula διδόναι ἐκδίκησίν τινι , to impart vengeance, that is, punishment, to any one, is only found here in the N. T. But comp. the LXX. Ezekiel 25:14 ; Numbers 31:3 ( נָתַן נְקָמָה ). Paul does not mention only one class of persons who are to be punished (Calvin, Hemming, Turretin, Pelt, Schott, de Wette, Riggenbach), but two classes of persons. This is required by the article repeated before μὴ ὑπακούουσιν . These were the two classes of persons from whom the church of Thessalonica had to suffer persecution

Gentiles and Jews . By ΤΟῖς ΜῊ ΕἸΔΌΣΙΝ ΘΕΌΝ Paul means the former, and by ΤΟῖς ΜῊ ὙΠΑΚΟΎΟΥΣΙΝ Τῷ ΕὐΑΓΓ . Κ . Τ . Λ . the latter, so that the general ΤΟῖς ΘΛΊΒΟΥΣΙΝ ὙΜᾶς , 2 Thessalonians 1:6 , is now specialized. The correctness of this interpretation is further evident from the fact that elsewhere ΜῊ ΕἸΔΌΤΕς ΘΕΌΝ is with Paul a characteristic designation of the Gentiles (1 Thessalonians 4:5 ; Galatians 4:8 ; comp. Romans 1:28 ; Ephesians 2:12 ); whereas the characteristic of the theocratic nation of the Jews, as shown by experience, was disobedience to God and His plan of salvation; comp. Romans 10:3 ; Romans 10:16 ; Romans 10:21 , etc. This reference to Gentiles and Jews is already found in Ambrosiaster, Grotius, Quistorp, Benson, Bengel, Koppe, Baumgarten-Crusius; and also recently, in Alford, Ewald, and Bisping. On the other hand, Harduin and Hofmann interpret the first clause of Gentiles, and the second of Jews and Gentiles; Schrader, the first of Gentiles, and the second of Christians; Aretius, the first of “manifesti Christi hostes, sive Judaei sint sive ethnici,” and the second of “pestes in sinu ecclesiae latitantes.” But with the first view the division, which the article repeated requires, becomes illusory; and the context decides against the last two views. For when, as here, Christians are comforted on account of the afflictions which they suffer from those who are not Christians by an intimation of a future retribution, the discourse cannot possibly have reference to a punishment which is impending on Christians .

τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ ] a repetition of the subject already contained in διδόντος in a fuller form, on account of the preceding Θεόν .

[38] Thus also Theodoret must have united the words. For although he does not clearly express himself concerning this union, yet he finds in φλογὶ πυρός expressed: τῆς τιμωρίας τὸ εἶδος , and adds: φλογὶ γὰρ πυρὸς παραδίδονται .

Verse 9

2 Thessalonians 1:9 . Paul names eternal destruction as the punishment which those ungodly ones will have to endure.

οἵτινες ] nimirum qui , refers back to the characteristics of the two classes named in 2 Thessalonians 1:8 , and accordingly recapitulates the reason for δίκην τίσουσιν . See Hermann, ad Soph. Oed. R. 688.

ἀπὸ προσώπου τοῦ κυρίου κ . τ . λ .] has received a threefold interpretation. Chrysostom, Oecumenius, Theophylact, Erasmus, Vatablus, Estius, Fromond., and others interpret ἀπό of time : immediately after the appearance of the πρόσωπον τοῦ κυρίου and of the δόξα τῆς ἰσχύος αὐτοῦ . The swiftness and facility of the punishment are thereby described, inasmuch as it required Christ merely to become visible . The artificialness of this interpretation is evident. For however often ἀπό denotes the point of commencement of a period, yet the bare ἀπὸ προσώπου cannot possibly be considered as parallel with such constructions as ἀπὸ κτίσεως κόσμου , Romans 1:20 ; ἀπὸ τῆς πρώτης ἡμέρας , Philippians 1:5 , and the like. At least ἀπʼ ἀποκαλύψεως τοῦ προσώπου or something similar would require to have been written. Add to this that ἀπὸ προσώπου κ . τ . λ ., on account of its position at the end of the sentence, cannot have such an emphasis, that the idea of the swiftness and facility of the punishment can be derived from it. ἀπό is understood as a statement of the operating cause by Grotius, Harduin, Benson, Bengel, Moldenhauer, Flatt, Pelt, de Wette, Baumgarten-Crusius, Ewald, and Hofmann: “ from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power” (comp. Acts 3:19 ). Pelt (and so also Castalio, Koppe, Bolten, and others) arbitrarily considers ἀπὸ προσώπου τοῦ κυρίου as equivalent to the simple ἀπὸ τοῦ κυρίου ; and equally arbitrarily Harduin, Benson, and Moldenhauer (comp. also Hofmann) understand πρόσωπον of a wrathful or gloomy countenance. But there is an essential inconvenience to this second mode of interpretation, inasmuch as by its assumption without the introduction of a new idea there is only a repetition in other words of what has already been said in 2 Thessalonians 1:7-53.1.8 from ἐν τῇ ἀποκαλύψει to διδόντος ἐκδίκησιν ; the whole of the 9th verse would only contain αἰώνιον as a new point. Accordingly the third mode of explanation, adopted by Piscator, Ernest Schmid, Beza, Calixt, Koppe, Krause, Schott, Bloomfield, Alford, Bisping, and Riggenbach, is decidedly to be preferred, according to which ἀπό expresses the idea of separation , of severance from something . Comp. 2 Thessalonians 2:2 ; Romans 9:3 ; 2 Corinthians 11:3 ; Galatians 5:4 . According to Flatt and de Wette, the expression ἰσχύος is opposed to this explanation, which directly points to an operating cause. But τῆς ἰσχύος is to be rendered the genitive of origin, and the δόξα is to be understood, not of the glory of Christ, but of the glory which is to be imparted to believers . The meaning is: apart or separated from the face of the Lord, and apart from the glory which is a creation of His power . By this explanation πρόσωπον receives its full import; “to see the face of the Lord” is a well-known biblical expression to denote blessedness (comp. Psalms 11:7 ; Psalms 17:5 ; Matthew 5:8 ; Matthew 18:10 ; Hebrews 12:14 ; Revelation 22:4 ), whereas distance from it is an expression of misery.

Verse 10

2 Thessalonians 1:10 . Further, with this explanation 2 Thessalonians 1:10 agrees best, since in it, as the counterpart to 2 Thessalonians 1:9 , the discourse is not so much of a glorification of Christ as of a glorification of Christians a glorification certainly which necessarily reflects on Christ Himself as its producer.

ὅταν ἔλθῃ ] when He shall have come , a statement of the time of δίκην τίσουσιν , 2 Thessalonians 1:9 . Schott less simply unites it with διδόντος ἐκδίκησιν , 2 Thessalonians 1:8 .

ἐνδοξασθῆναι ] the infinitive of design. See Winer, p. 284 [E. T. 399]. The ἅγιοι are not the attending angels (Macknight, Schrader), but Christians . ἐν τοῖς ἁγίοις αὐτοῦ does not, however, import through His saints (Chrysostom, Oecumenius, Theophylact, Kypke, II. p. 341, Vater, Pelt, Schott, and others), nor among them, but in them, so that the glorification of Christians becomes a glorification of Christ Himself. So also Christ is admired in all believers, because the admiration of the blessedness to which believers have been exalted has as its consequence an admiration of Christ as the Creator of that blessedness.

ὅτι ἐπιστεύθηἐφʼ ὑμᾶς ] is a parenthesis: [39] for our testimony brought to you has been believed . This is occasioned by πιστεύσασιν . It is designed to bring forward the certainty that also the Thessalonians belong to the ΠΙΣΤΕΎΣΑΝΤΕς . In a peculiar intermixing much that is strange and unnatural manner Ewald: “As the subject particularly treats of the truth of the apostolic testimony concerning divine things (!), or whether the gospel, as the apostles and first witnesses proclaimed it, will or will not one day be confirmed in its entire contents and promises by God Himself at the last judgment (?), so Paul summarizes the chief contents (?) of that glory and admiration in a lively reference to his immediate readers directly in words which one might almost then exclaim: ‘Our testimony among you was verified (?).’ And it is as if the apostle had put here this somewhat strange short expression, the rather because he has said directly before that God (?) will be admired in those who believed , as if a verification or complete confirmation (?) of the contents of faith must at last justly correspond to the human faith regarding them.”

τὸ μαρτύριον ἡμῶν ] our testimony, i.e. the testimony proclaimed by us . Really different, neither from μαρτύριον τοῦ Χριστοῦ , 1 Corinthians 1:6 : the testimony whose subject is Christ; nor from ΜΑΡΤΎΡΙΟΝ ΤΟῦ ΘΕΟῦ , 1 Corinthians 2:1 : the testimony which God published through the apostles concerning Christ. To limit, with Bretschneider, ΜΑΡΤΎΡΙΟΝ to the instructions of the apostle concerning the advent of Christ contained in the First Epistle, instead of taking it entirely generally in the sense of ΚΉΡΥΓΜΑ or ΕὐΑΓΓΈΛΙΟΝ , is rendered impossible by the relation of ὍΤΙ ἘΠΙΣΤΕΎΘΗ to ΠΙΣΤΕΎΣΑΣΙΝ .

ἘΦʼ ὙΜᾶς ] is connected with ΤῸ ΜΑΡΤΎΡΙΟΝ ἩΜῶΝ into one idea; and hence the article ΤΌ , whose repetition before ἘΦʼ ὙΜᾶς might have been expected, is omitted. See Winer, p. 123 [E. T. 169]. Comp. on ἘΠΊ with ΜΑΡΤΎΡΙΟΝ , Luke 9:5 . Ingenuous, but erroneous, Bengel: ἘΦʼ ὙΜᾶς denotes: ad vos usque, in occidente.

ἘΝ Τῇ ἩΜΈΡᾼ ἘΚΕΊΝῌ ] belongs not to ἜΛΘῌ (Zeger, Pelt, Olshausen), but to ΘΑΥΜΑΣΘῆΝΑΙ , whilst by it the indication of time, ὍΤΑΝ ἜΛΘῌ , is resumed. The Peshito, likewise Pelagius, John Damascenus, Estius, Lucius Osiander, Menochius, Cornelius a Lapide, Grotius, Harduin, Storr, Koppe, Krause, Rosenmüller, Nösselt, Flatt, Baumgarten-Crusius, and others, not assuming a parenthesis, unite ἘΝ Τῇ ἩΜΈΡᾼ ἘΚΕΊΝῌ with the directly preceding, either with ΜΑΡΤΎΡΙΟΝ or with ἘΠΙΣΤΕΎΘΗ . The interpretations resulting from this mode of connection vary much from each other; but are all arbitrary, inasmuch as, on the one hand, in order to preserve the statement of time in ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ ἐκείνῃ , one feels himself constrained to consider the aorist ἐπιστεύθη as placed for the future , and thus to alter the import of the verb (will be authenticated); or, on the other hand, in order to preserve ἐπιστεύθη in the sense of the aorist, one has recourse to the expedient of construing ἘΝ Τῇ ἩΜΈΡᾼ ἘΚΕΊΝῌ as the objective statement belonging to ΜΑΡΤΎΡΙΟΝ , in the sense of ΠΕΡῚ Τῆς ἩΜΈΡΑς ἘΚΕΊΝΗς .

But wherefore did Paul add ἘΝ Τῇ ἩΜΈΡᾼ ἘΚΕΊΝῌ after the sentence beginning with ὍΤΙ ? Perhaps only for the sake of parallelism. But possibly also Calvin is correct when he says: “repetit in die illa … Ideo autem repetit, ut fidelium vota cohibeat, ne ultra modum festinent.”

[39] Certainly otherwise Hofmann. According to him, ὅτι ἐπιστεύθη τὸ μαρτύριον ἡμῶν ἐφʼ ὑμᾶς is to be added as a reason to ἀνταποδοῦναι ὑμῖν ἄνεσιν μεθʼ ἡμῶν , ver. 6 f. (!). But this is not yet enough. Besides the statement of design, ἵνα ὑμᾶς ἀξιώσῃ κ . τ . λ ., ver. 11, is made also to depend on ἐπιστεύθη τὸ μαρτύριον ἡμῶν ἐφʼ ὑμᾶς ; to this statement of design also ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ ἐκείνῃ belongs; this is placed before ἵνα for the sake of emphasis, and εἰςκαὶ προσευχόμεθα πάντοτε περὶ ὑμῶν forms a mere parenthesis suppositions which are certainly worthy of an exegesis like that of Hofmann, but are only possible to it.

Verse 11

2 Thessalonians 1:11 . Εἰς in reference to which , namely, that such a glorification of Christ in His people is to be expected. Comp. Bernhardy, Syntax , p. 220; Kühner, II. p. 279. Philologically incorrect, Grotius, Flatt, Pelt, Baumgarten-Crusius take εἰς ὅ as equivalent with quapropter , and Koppe as “mera particula transeundi,” equivalent with itaque . Logically incorrect, de Wette, Bloomfield, Hofmann, and Riggenbach: “ to which end .” For, since εἰς ὅ must refer to the chief thought in 2 Thessalonians 1:10 , this could only be analysed by: “in order that the ἐνδοξασθῆναι and the θαυμασθῆναι of Christ may be realized in believers.” But this fact in itself is clear to the apostle as a settled truth; he cannot think on it as dependent on his prayer; he can only have it in view in his prayers, that the Thessalonians also may find themselves in the number of those among whom Christ will be glorified.

καί ] belongs not to εἰς ὅ , so that the suitableness of this (supposed) design was denoted (de Wette), but to προσευχόμεθα . It imports that the prayer of the apostle was added on behalf of the Thessalonians to the fact of the ἐνδοξασθῆναι .

ἵνα ] The contents of the prayer in the form of a purpose. ἀξιοῦν τῆς κλήσεως is that to which Paul would attain through his prayer. Comp. Meyer on Philippians 1:9 .

ἀξιοῦν ] means to judge worthy; comp. 1 Timothy 5:17 ; Hebrews 3:3 ; Hebrews 10:29 . It never has the meaning to make worthy, which Luther, Grotius, Flatt, Olshausen, Ewald attribute to it. From this it follows that κλῆσις cannot express the act [40] of the divine calling, already belonging to the past, but must denote something future. ΚΛῆΣΙς is accordingly to be understood, as in Philippians 3:14 , in a passive sense, as the good thing to which we are called, i.e. the future heavenly blessedness of the children of God. [41] Colossians 1:5 (see Meyer on that passage) is entirely analogous, where ἐλπίς , elsewhere active, is used in a passive or objective sense.

With καὶ πληρώσῃ κ . τ . λ ., which is grammatically subordinate to ἀξιώσῃ , Paul adds, logically considered, the means which is to lead to the result of being judged worthy.

πληροῦν ] to bring to completion or perfection.

πᾶσαν εὐδοκίαν ἀγαθωσύνης ] cannot be referred to God , as if it meant all His good pleasure, and denoted the divine decree of election (Oecumenius, Zwingli, Calvin, Estius, Justinian, Beza, Calixt, Wolf, Benson, Bengel, Macknight, Koppe, Flatt, Pelt, Bisping, and others). It is against this that ἔργον πίστεως , which forms an additional accusative to πληρώσῃ , is undoubtedly to be referred to the Thessalonians; that ἁγαθωσύνη is never used by Paul of God; and lastly, that πᾶσαν τὴν εὐδοκίαν would require to have been written instead of πᾶσαν εὐδοκίαν . Others refer πᾶσαν εὐδοκίαν partly to God and partly to the Thessalonians. Thus Theophylact: ἵνα πᾶσα εὐδοκία τοῦ Θεοῦ , τουτέστι πᾶσα ἀρέσκεια , πληρωθῇ ἐν ὑμῖν καὶ πᾶν ἀγαθὸν διαπράττησθε , καὶ οὕτως ἦτε ὡς βούλεταιΘεός , μηδενὸς ὑμῖν λείποντος . Grotius: Omnem bonitatem sibi gratam … ἀγαθωσύνην , ἥ ἐστιν αὐτοῦ εὐδοκία . Olshausen, [42] with whom Bloomfield agrees: May God fill you with all the good which is pleasing to Him. This second explanation is even more inadmissible than the first. It is not even supported by the appearance of justification, as at least πᾶσαν ἀγαθωσύνην εὐδοκίας must be put, in order to afford a point of connection for it. The exclusively correct meaning is to understand both εὐδοκίαν and ἈΓΑΘΩΣΎΝΗς of the Thessalonians . But ἀγαθωσύνη does not denote benevolence (Chandler, Moldenhauer, Nösselt, Schott), but moral goodness generally. Comp. Romans 15:14 ; Galatians 5:22 ; Ephesians 5:9 . Accordingly, with πᾶσα εὐδοκία ἀγαθωσύνης is expressed every satisfaction in moral goodness .

ἔργον πίστεως ] here, as in 1 Thessalonians 1:3 , represents faith as an ἜΡΓΟΝ , i.e. as something begun with energy, and persevered in amid persecution.

ἐν δυνάμει ] belongs to ΠΛΗΡΏΣῌ , and takes the place of an adverb. See Bernhardy, Syntax , p. 209. Comp. Romans 1:4 ; Colossians 1:29 . Thus powerfully .

[40] So also Meyer on Philippians 3:14 ; likewise Grimm in the Theol. Stud. u. Krit. 1850, Part 4, p. 806 f.: “The Christians are declared worthy of the call already promulgated to them, or the κλῆσις τοῦ Θεοῦ may be in reference to them ἀμεταμέλητος (Romans 11:29 ), because the Christian can again make himself unworthy of the divine grace which he has received (Romans 11:20 ff.; 2 Corinthians 6:1 ; Galatians 5:4 ).”

[41] Alford incorrectly objects to the passive interpretation adopted by me, that the position of the words would require to be τῆς κλήσεως ἀξιώσῃ . For the emphasis rests on ἀξιώσῃ placed first, whilst with τῆς κλήσεως the idea, already supposed as well known by καταξιωθῆναι ὑμᾶς τῆς βασιλείας τοῦ Θεοῦ , ver. 5, as well as by the contents of ver. 10, is only resumed, although under a different form. Alford, appealing to 1 Corinthians 7:20 , understands κλῆσις “not merely as the first act of God, but as the enduring state produced by that act, the normal termination of which is glory .”

[42] In an excess of arbitrariness, Olshausen besides takes εὐδοκίαν and ἔργον as absolute accusatives, whilst he unites ὑμᾶς not only with ἀξιώσῃ , but likewise with πληρώσῃ .

Verse 12

2 Thessalonians 1:12 . Τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ κυρίου ἡμ . Ἰησοῦ ] The name of our Lord Jesus, i.e. so far as He is the κύριος , the Lord ; comp. Philippians 2:9 ff. Arbitrarily, de Wette: Christ, so far as He is recognised and known. Still more arbitrarily Turretin, Moldenhauer, Koppe, and others: ὄνομα κυρίου is a mere circumlocution for κύριος .

ἐν αὐτῷ ] refers not to Ἰησοῦ (so Alford), but to τὸ ὄνομα ; and the giving prominence to the mutual reciprocity , ἐν ὑμῖν καὶ ὑμεῖς ἐν αὐτῷ , is an exhaustive representation. Comp. Gal 6:14 ; 1 Corinthians 6:13 .

κατὰ τὴν χάριν τοῦ Θεοῦ ἡμῶν καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ ] according to the grace of our God and of the (see Winer, p. 113 [E. T. 154]) Lord Jesus . According to Hofmann and Riggenbach, Christ is here named both our God and our Lord, an interpretation which, indeed, grammatically is no less allowable than the interpretation of the doxology, ὁ ὢν ἐπὶ πάντων Θεὸς εὐλογητὸς εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας , Romans 9:5 , as an apposition to ὁ Χριστός , but is equally inadmissible, as it would contain an un-Pauline thought; on account of which also Hilgenfeld, Ztschr. f. d. wiss. Theol. , Halle 1862, p. 264, in the interest of the supposed spuriousness of the Epistle, has forthwith appropriated to himself this discovery of Hofmann.

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Bibliographical Information
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on 2 Thessalonians 1". Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. 1832.