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Bible Commentaries
1 Thessalonians 3

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Verses 1-99

(5) The Sending of Timothy (3:1-5)

Although Satan had frustrated the immediate realisation of their desire to return, he was unable either to quench that desire (3:11) or to prevent the sending at least of Timothy. It is probable, as Calvin has observed, that vv. 1-5 are apologetic, but precisely what the situation is to which Paul speaks is uncertain. We may suppose that the Jews had alleged not only that the missionaries, and Paul in particular (2:18, 3:5), had purposely left the converts in the lurch with no intention of returning, but also that the fact of Gentile persecution was evidence of the false character of the gospel preached (see on v. 14). Reports of these slanders may have reached Paul and stimulated his eagerness to return. Unable himself to go back at once, he, with Silvanus, determines to send Timothy, a trusted friend, in his stead, and that too at no small cost, for he himself needed Timothy. The purpose of the sending is to strengthen and encourage the converts in the matter of their faith and thus prevent their being beguiled in the midst of their persecutions. As Paul had been singled out by the Jews as the object of attack, he is at pains to add that he too as well as Silvanus had sent to get a knowledge of their faith, for he is apprehensive that the Tempter had tempted them and that his work among them would turn out to be in vain. To the insinuation that their sufferings proved that the gospel which they had welcomed was a delusion, he tacitly replies, with an appeal to their knowledge in confirmation of his words (οἴδατ vv. 3-4, as in 2:1-12), by saying that Christianity involves suffering, a principle to which he had already alluded when he predicted affliction for himself and his converts,—a prediction which, as they know, was fulfilled.

1Wherefore, since we intended no longer to endure the separation, we resolved to be left behind in Athens alone, 2and sent Timothy, our brother and God’s co-worker in the gospel of Christ, to strengthen you and encourage you about your faith, 3to prevent any one of you from being beguiled in the midst of these your afflictions. For you yourselves know that we Christians are destined to this; 4for when we were with you we were wont to tell you beforehand: “We Christians are certain to experience affliction,” as indeed it has turned out and as you know.

5Wherefore, I too, since I intended no longer to endure the separation, sent him to get a knowledge of your faith, fearing that the Tempter had tempted you and that our labour might prove to be in vain.

1. διὸ μηκέτι κτλ. Since, after the shortest interval, we were anxious to see you because of our love for you, and since the immediate accomplishment of our desire was frustrated by Satan, “so then (διο summing up the main points of vv. 17-20), since we intended no longer to endure τὸ�

διο (5:11), like διά τοῦτ (v. 5 which resumes διο here) and ὣστ (4:18), retains its consecutive force, even if it has lost its full subordinating force. B reads διότ, the only case in the N. T. epistles where διο is exchanged for διότ (Zim); the reading of B may be due to μηκέτ (Weiss) or to διότ in 2:18 (Zim).—On μηκέτ, cf. v. 5, Romans 6:6, 2 Corinthians 5:15, etc. If the classic force of μη with participles is here retained, then a subjective turn is to be given to μηκέτ: “as those who”; if not, μηκέτ = οὐκέτ For the usage of μη and ου in later Gk., see BMT 485, Bl 75:1, and Moult I, 231 f.—στέγει, a Pauline word used with the accus. expressed (πάντ 1 Corinthians 9:12, 1 Corinthians 13:7) or unexpressed (here and v. 5) occurs elsewhere in the Gk. Bib. only Sir. 8:17: οὐ δυνήσεται λόγον στέξα The classic sense “cover” and derivatively “shelter,” “protect,” “conceal” is found also in Polybius (e. g. IV, 82, VIII, 145); the meaning βαστάζειν, ὑπομένει (Hesychius), likewise in Polyb. (e. g. III, 532, XVIII, 184) fits all the N. T. instances better than “ward off” (which Wohl. here suggests); see especially Lft. ad loc. From Kypke (II, 213) down, Philo (in Flac. 526, ed. Mangey) is usually cited: μηκέτι στέγειν δυνάμενοι τάς ἐνδεία This passage has led many comm. to take στέγοντε here as = δυνάμενοι στέγει; but the pres. part. probably represents an imperfect of intention (cf. GMT 38), and is equivalent to μέλλοντες στέγει For ηὐδοκήσαμε (אBP; εὐδο ADGF) in the sense of “resolve,” see above on 2:8. While it is not certain, it is probable that the resolve was made when Paul and his two companions were in Athens. In this case, the independent account of Acts must be supplemented by the inference that Silas and Timothy did come as quickly as possible to Athens (Acts 17:14 f.).—Except in quotations, Paul does not elsewhere use καταλείπει The similar ὑπολείπει occurs but once in Paul (Romans 11:3 cit.). The phrases καταλείπεσθα or ὑπολείπεσθαι μόνο are quite common in Lxx, being employed either in contrast with others who have departed (Genesis 32:24, Judith 13:2 with ὑπο; cf. [Jn.] 8:9 with κατα). or who have perished (Genesis 7:23, Genesis 42:38, Isaiah 3:26, Isaiah 49:21, Isaiah 3:1 Mac. 13:4 with κατα; Genesis 44:20 with ὑπο).

The “we” in vv. 1-5 is difficult (see on 1:1). Were it true that θλίψεσι (v. 3) refers solely to the persecutions that Paul experienced (Dob.), and that consequently the “we” of v. 4 refers to Paul alone, then it would be natural to take the “we” of v. 1 as also referring simply to Paul, and to urge the consideration that a μόνο which includes Silvanus weakens the argument. But it is by no means certain that θλίψεσι (v. 3) has in mind only Paul; furthermore, κείμεθ (v. 3) and μέλλομε (v. 4) may refer to Christians in general, while ἦμε and προελέγομε (v. 4) include not only Paul but Silvanus and Timothy. Above all, ἐγω (v. 5) is naturally explained (cf. 2:18) as purposely emphasising the fact that he as well as Silvanus had made the resolve to send Timothy, for the Jews obviously had directed their criticisms mainly against Paul. Hence the subject of ηὐδοκήσαμε and ἐπέμψαμε is Paul and Silvanus (cf. Mill.).—Failure to see the significance of the contrast between ἐγω (v. 5) and the subject of ἐπέμψαμε (v. 2) has led Hofmann and Spitta (Zur Geschichte und Litteratur des Urchristentums, 1893, I, 121 ff.), who rightly take the subject of ηὐδοκήσαμε (v. 1) to be Paul and Silvanus, to infer that Paul (v. 5) sent another person, unnamed, in addition to Timothy. But v. 6 speaks only of the return of Timothy, and the obvious object of ἔπεμψ here as of ἐπέμψαμε (v. 2) is Τιμόθεο

2. Τιμόθεο … συνεργὸν τοῦ θεοῦ κτλ. Timothy, who has already been called an apostle (2:7), is here described not only as “our brother” (cf. 2 Corinthians 1:1, Colossians 1:1) but also, if the reading of D d e Ambst be accepted, “God’s fellow-labourer.” The sphere in which (Romans 1:9, Philippians 4:3) he works with God is the gospel which Christ inspires (see on 1:4). The choice of such a representative honours the converts (Chrys.) and proves Paul’s inclination to consult their welfare (Calv.).

The reading of B (καὶ συνεργό), which Weiss and Find. prefer, yields excellent sense and attaches itself nicely to ἡμῶ (cf. Philippians 2:25, Romans 16:21). But if it is original, it is difficult to account for τοῦ θεου in the other readings. If D is original, it is easy to understand (cf. Dob. 131) the suppression of the bold designation συνεργὸς τοῦ θεου (elsewhere only 1 Corinthians 3:9) by the omission of τοῦ θεου, the substitution of διάκονο for συνεργό in אAP, Vulg (διάκονον τοῦ θεου; fuld. domini), and the conflated readings of GF (καὶ διάκονον καὶ συνεργὸν τοῦ θεου) and DcKL, Pesh (καὶ διάκονον τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ συνεργὸν ἡμῶ).—συνεργό, outside of Paul, appears in Gk. Bib. only 3 John 1:8, 3 John 1:2 Mac. 8:7, 14:5; in Paul it is used with μο (Romans 16:3, Romans 16:21, Philemon 1:24, Philippians 4:3) or ἡμῶ (Romans 16:9, Philemon 1:1; cf. 2 Corinthians 8:23), with a thing (2 Corinthians 1:24, Colossians 4:11), and with θεου (only here and 1 Corinthians 3:9). Timothy is thus not simply “our fellow-worker” (Romans 16:21) but “God’s fellow-worker.” Apart from אAPKL, et al., here, Paul does not call Timothy a διάκονος τοῦ θεου

2-3a. εἰς τὸ στηρίξα … τὸ μηδένα σαίνεσθαι κτλ. The primary purpose (εἰς το) of Timothy’s mission is to strengthen and encourage the converts in reference to (ὑπέ = περι) their faith (1:8). The secondary purpose, dependent on the fulfilment of the primary, is to prevent any person (τὸ μηδέν) from being beguiled in the midst of these their afflictions. Under the stress of persecutions, some of the converts might be coaxed away from the Christian faith by the insinuations of the Jews. In the phrase ἐν ταῖς θλίψεσιν ταύταις, ἐ is primarily local, though a temporal force may also be felt. Since Paul says not ἡμῶ but ταύται it is evident that he is thinking not of his own but of his converts’ afflictions, as indeed ὑμᾶ and ὑμῶ (v. 2) intimate. Zahn (Introd. I, 218) observes: “The Tempter, who was threatening to destroy the Apostle’s entire work in Thessalonica (3:5), assumed not only the form of a roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8), but also that of a fawning dog (Philippians 3:2) and a hissing serpent (1 Corinthians 11:3).”

Paul uses πέμπει with εἰς το and infin. elsewhere v. 5, II 2:11, with infin. of purpose (1 Corinthians 16:3; cf. 1 Mac. 13:17 (אV) 2 Mac. 14:19), and with ἵν (2 Corinthians 9:3, Philippians 2:19, Philippians 2:28; cf. Colossians 4:8, Ephesians 6:22). It is a small matter who is the subject of στηρίξα (cf. γνῶνα v. 5), whether Paul or Timothy, for in the last resort Timothy is the agent of Paul’s purpose.—The collocation στηρίζει and παρακαλεῖ occurs in the reverse order also in II 2:17; cf. Romans 1:11, Acts 14:22, Acts 15:32.—ὑπέ here and II 2:1 = περι (which DcL here read); on παρακαλεῖν ὑπέ, cf. 2 Corinthians 12:8.—ὑμᾶ to be supplied after παρακαλέσα, is expressed by DcKL.—τὸ μη with infin., a good Pauline construction, is used appositively (Romans 14:13, 2 Corinthians 2:1), predicatively (Romans 14:21 with adjective), and as the object of δεῖσθα (2 Corinthians 10:2). Here τὸ μηδέν with infin. may be either in apposition with τὸ στηρίξα (Lün., Born, Find.), or the object of παρακαλέσα (Ell., Schmiedel, Wohl., Dob.), or the infin. of purpose (Bl 71:2), or better still, as in 4:6, the infin. after an unexpressed verb of hindering (GMT 811).

The meaning of σαίνεσθα (only here in Gk. Bib.) is uncertain. (1) The usual view, that of the Fathers and Versions, interprets it to mean “to be moved” (κινεῖσθαι, σαλεύεσθα) or “to be disturbed” (ταράττεσθαι, θορυβεῖσθα); for the latter rendering, cf. Dob. who contrasts στηρίζει (v. 2) and στήκει (v. 8). (2) Lachmann (see Thay sub voc.) conjectures from the reading of G (μηδεν ασι ενεσθα)�

εἰς τοῦτ = εἰς τὸ θλίβεσθα κεῖμαι εἰ (Philippians 1:16, Luke 2:34) does not occur in Lxx (Joshua 4:6 is not a parallel); it is equivalent to τέθειμαι εἰ (Bl 23:7; cf. Luke 23:53 with John 19:41). Christians as such are “set,” “appointed,” “destined” to suffer persecution (cf. Acts 14:22). In εἶναι πρό (II 2:5, 3:10) as in παρεῖναι πρό (Galatians 4:18, Galatians 4:20, 2 Corinthians 11:9), πρό = “with,” “bei,” “chez” (cf. Bl 43:7). The phrase καὶ γὰρ ὅτ … ἦμε recurs in II 3:10. The imperfect προελέγομε denotes repeated action; προ is predictive as μέλλομε shows; cf. Galatians 5:21, 2 Corinthians 13:2, Isaiah 41:26; and below 4:6. The ὅτ before μέλλομε may be recitative or may introduce indirect discourse unchanged. μέλλομε is followed by the present infin. here and Romans 4:24, Romans 8:13. It is uncertain whether μέλλομε = κείμεθ “are certain to” or is a periphrasis for the future (Bl 62:4), “are going to.” The construction καθὼς και … και is similar to that in 4:6; “as also has happened,” corresponding to the prediction, “and as you know,” corresponding to their knowledge. The και is implied in καθώ and is sometimes expressed (4:1, 6, 13, 5:11, II 3:1), sometimes not (1:5, 2:2, etc.).

5. διὰ τοῦτο κἀγώ κτλ Contrary to the slanders which you are hearing, “I too, as well as Silvanus, intending to stand the separation no longer, sent Timothy to get a knowledge of your faith.” This verse obviously resumes v. 1, though the purpose of the sending of Timothy is put in different language. As in 2:18 (ἐγὼ μέ), so here the change from the plural to the singular (κἀγω) is due to the fact that the Jews had singled out Paul as especially the one who, indifferent to the sufferings of the converts, had left them in the lurch with no intention of returning. The και before ἐγω is emphatic, “I too as well as Silvanus.” That the object of ἕπεμψ is Τιμόθεο is plain not only from v. 1 but from v. 6 which reports the return of Timothy only.

μή πως ἐπείρασεν κτλ. He sent to get a knowledge of their faith, “fearing that” (sc φοβούμενο, and cf. Galatians 4:11) the Tempter had tempted them, that is, in the light of v. 3, that the Jews, taking advantage of the persecutions, had beguiled them from their faith; and fearing that, as the result of the temptation, the labour already expended might prove to be fruitless. The aorist indicative ἐπείρασε suggests that the tempting has taken place, though the issue of it is at the time of writing uncertain; the aorist subjunctive γένητα intimates that the work may turn out to be in vain, though that result has not yet been reached (cf. Galatians 2:2 μή πως εἰς κενὸν τρέχω ἢ ἔδραμο. The designation of Satan (2:18) as ὁ πειράζω is found elsewhere in the Gk. Bib. only Matthew 4:3; it is appropriate, for as Calvin remarks: proprium Satanae officium est tentare (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:5).

The construction of μή πως κτλ assumed above (cf. BMT 225 and Bl 65:3) is preferable to that which takes it as an indirect question (cf. Luke 3:15). The order of B τὴν ὑμῶν πίστι puts an emphasis on ὑμῶ which is more suitable in v. 7. On the subject of γνῶνα, see on the subject of στηρίξα v. 2. εἰς κενό, found in N. T. only in Paul, is a common phrase in the Lxx e. g. with γίνεσθα (as here; Micah 1:14), τρέχει (Galatians 2:2, Philippians 2:16), δέχεσθα (2 Corinthians 6:1), εἶνα (Leviticus 26:20), and κοπιᾶ (Philippians 2:16; Job 2:9, Job 39:16, Isaiah 65:23, Jer. 28:58). For ὁ κόπος ἡμῶ, see 1:3 and cf. 1 Corinthians 15:58. The designation of Satan as ὁ πειράζω does not appear in Lxx Test. xii, Ps. Sol. or in the Apostolic Fathers.

(6) Timothy’s Return and Report (3:6-10)

The apprehension that induced Paul to send Timothy is allayed by the favourable report of the religious and moral status of the converts and of their personal regard for him. From their faith which still kept hardy in trials, Paul derived courage to face his own privations and persecutions: “We live if you stand fast in the Lord.” Transported by the good news, he cannot find adequate words to express to God the joy he has, as he prays continually that he might see them and amend the shortcomings of their faith. The exuberance of joy, the references to the visit (vv. 6, 10), the insistence that the joy is διʼ ὑμᾶ (v. 9) and the thanksgiving περὶ ὑμῶ (v. 9) imply that the insinuations of the Jews are still in mind. The Tempter has tempted them but they have not succumbed. To be sure the exuberance of feeling; due not only to their personal affection for him, but also to their spiritual excellence, does not blind his mind to the fact that deficiencies exist, to which in 4:1 ff. he turns.

6But now that Timothy has just come to us from you and has brought us good news of your faith and love, and has told us that you have been having a kindly remembrance of us always and have been longing to see us as we too to see you,—7 for this reason, brothers, we became encouraged in you to face all our privations and persecutions through your faith, 8for now we live if you stand fast in the Lord. 9Indeed, what adequate thanks can we return to God for you for all the joy we express for your sake in the presence of our God, 10begging night and day most earnestly to see your face and make up the deficiencies of your faith.

6. ἄρτι δὲ ἐλθόντος κτλ. With δε (cf. 2:17), a new point in the apologetic historical review of Paul’s acts and intentions since his departure from Thessalonica is introduced, the return and report of Timothy. The selection of material is still influenced by the criticisms directed by the Jews against Paul’s character and conduct. It is first stated that Timothy has but now (ἄρτ) come from them to Paul and Silvanus, a fact that makes clear, as Grotius has observed, that our letter was written not in Athens but in Corinth, and that too under the fresh inspiration of the report of Timothy. Although ἐλθόντο may be simply temporal, it is probably also causal, as διὰ τοῦτ (v. 7) which resumes the genitive absolute clause suggests.

ἄρτ, which is to be joined with the gen. abs. (cf. 3 Mac. 6:16) and not with παρεκλήθημε, may refer either to the immediate present, “just now,” “modo” (cf. Matthew 9:18, Galatians 1:10, Galatians 1:4:20, Galatians 1:2 Mac. 9:18 (V) 3 Mac. 6:16) or to the more distant past, “nuper” (cf. II 2:7, 1 Corinthians 13:12, 16:7; also Poole, ad loc.) The former sense is preferable here as no contrast between the now and a more distant past is evident in the context. δε is not in itself adversative, but introduces either a new section (2:17, 3:11, etc.) or a new point within a section (2:16, 3:12, etc.).�Acts 18:5).

εὐαγγελισαμένον κτλ. The word itself reveals the character of the report; it is good news that the messenger brings. “Do you see the exuberant joy of Paul? He does not say�

εὐαγγελίζεσθα “to bring good news,” is a classic word (cf. Aristoph. Eq. 642 f.) found in Lxx (2 Reg. 1:20 parallel with�Psalms 39:9, Isaiah 40:9, Isaiah 52:7, Isaiah 60:6, Isaiah 61:1, etc.) and N. T. (chiefly in Pauline and Lukan writings; cf. Luke 1:19, Luke 2:20, Luke 3:18, etc.). Paul uses it either absolutely in the technical sense of preaching the gospel (1 Corinthians 1:17, etc.). or with εὐαγγέλνο (Galatians 1:11, 1 Corinthians 15:1, 2 Corinthians 11:7), πίστι (Galatians 1:23), πλοῦτος Χριστου, or with Christ as the object (Galatians 1:16; cf. Acts 5:42, Acts 8:35, Acts 11:20, Acts 17:18). On the word, see Mill. 141 ff. and Harnack, Verfassung und Recht, 199 ff.—ἀγάπ for Paul as for Christ fulfils the law on the ethical side (Romans 13:10, Galatians 5:14). The comprehensiveness of its meaning is made clear in 1 Corinthians 13:1 ff. where the points emphasised are pretty much the same as those in Galatians 5:22-23 and Romans 12:6-21. Paul speaks regularly of divine love to men �Romans 5:5, etc.; τοῦ Χριστου Romans 8:35; τοῦ πνεύματο Romans 15:30), but he rarely speaks of man’s love to God (1 Corinthians 2:9, 1 Corinthians 8:3, Romans 8:28) or Christ (1 Corinthians 16:22, Ephesians 6:24).

καὶ ὄτι ἔχετε μνείαν κτλ. The second element in the good news is personal; the Thessalonians have been having all along (ἔχετε πάντοτ) a kindly remembrance of Paul, “notwithstanding the efforts of the hostile Jews” (Mill.). This constant remembrance is significantly revealed in the fact that they have been all the time longing (ἐπιποθοῦντε; sc. πάντοτ) to see the missionaries as the missionaries have been (sc. πάντοτε ἐπιποθοῦμεν ἰδεῖ and cf. 2:17 ff.) to see them.

ὅτ naturally goes with εὐαγγελισαμένο (cf. Acts 13:32); the change of construction is more felt in English than in Gk. But others supply εἰπόντο or λέγοντο (Jeremiah 20:15) before ὅτ—Although πάντοτ sometimes precedes (4:17, 5:15, 16) and sometimes follows the verb (1:2, 2:16, II 1:3, 11, 2:13), and hence could be here taken either with ἐπιποθοῦντε or with ἔχειν μνεία, yet the latter construction is to be preferred in the light of 1:2 and Romans 1:10 (ποιεῖσθαι μνείαν�Romans 5:7 (Lft.) “kindly,” “pleasant.” It is doubtful whether ἐπιποθεῖ (a characteristic word of Paul; cf. Romans 1:11, Philippians 2:26) differs greatly from ποθεῖ (a word not in Paul; cf. Sap. 15:5f. with 15:19). On καθάπε (2:11) with comparative και, cf. 3:12, 4:5, Romans 4:6, 2 Corinthians 1:14.

7. διὰ τοῦτο παρεκλήθημεν κτλ. The good news dispelled the anxiety created by the situation in Thessalonica and gave him courage to face his own difficulties. “Wherefore, because of the good news (διὰ τοῦτ resuming ἐλθόντος κτλ.) we became encouraged (cf. v. 2 παρακαλέσα) brothers (2:17) in you (ἐφʼ ὑμῖ) to face (ἐπι) all our privation and persecution through your faith.” The first ἐπι denotes the basis of the encouragement; the second ἐπι the purpose for which it was welcome; and the δια the means by which it was conveyed, “through this faith of yours” (ὑμῶ being emphatic; contrast vv. 2, 5).

Grot. and Lillie take the first ἐπι = “on your account”; the second ἐπι local with a touch of purpose in it (cf. Bl 43:3). On παρακαλεῖσθαι ἐπι, cf. 2 Corinthians 1:4, 2 Corinthians 1:7:7; Deuteronomy 32:36, Psalms 89:13, 134:14, Psalms 89:2 Mac. 7:6. θλίψι is not distress of mind but as in 1:6 “persecution” (cf. 2 Corinthians 12:10);�2 Corinthians 9:7) but “physical privation” (Lft.) as in 2 Corinthians 6:4: ἐν θλίψεσιν, ἐν�Job 15:24, Zephaniah 1:15. ἐπὶ πάσῃ τῇ (v. 9, 2 Corinthians 1:4, 2 Corinthians 7:4, Philippians 1:3) is less frequent in Paul than ἐν πάσῃ τῇ (II 2:9, 10; 3:17, 1 Corinthians 1:5, etc.). Here and v. 9, πάσῃ may be comprehensive, the instances of privation and persecution being regarded as a unit, or may express heightened intensity (Dob.).

8. ὅτι νῦν ζῶμεν κτλ. “Through your faith,” I say, “for now we live, if you stand fast in the Lord.” Though at death’s door constantly (Romans 8:36, 1 Corinthians 15:31, 2 Corinthians 6:9, 2 Corinthians 11:23), he feels that he has a new lease of life (recte valemus, Calv.), if their faith stands unwavering in virtue of the indwelling power of Christ (Philippians 4:1), notwithstanding their persecutions (cf. II 1:4) and the beguilement of the Jews.

On the late Gk. στήκει, built on ἕστηκ, see Bl 17 and Kennedy, Sources, 158; and cf. Judges 16:26 (B), 3 Reg. 8:11 (B; A has στῆνα), Exodus 14:13 (A; B has στῆτ), Romans 14:4, etc. The phrase στήκετε ἐν κυρίῳ recurs in Philippians 4:1; on ἐ, see 1:1. The reading στήκετ (BAGF) is more original than στήκητ (אD); on ἐά with indic., cf. 1 John 5:15, Mark 11:25. It is not the form (BMT 242, 247) but the fact of the condition that suggests that Paul here speaks “with some hesitation. Their faith was not complete” (Lft. who notes ὑστερήματ v. 10). If this is so, νῦ is not temporal but logical: “this being the case” (so Ell.).

9. τίνα γὰρ εὐχαριστίαν κτλ. The faith of the converts gave Paul and his associates not only life but joy (Chrys.), as γά, parallel to ὅτ and introducing a second and unqualifed confirmation of διὰ τῆς ὑηῶν πίστεω, makes plain. This joy, which is not so much personal as religious, and which therefore finds its constant outlet ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶ (Dob.), is so excessive that Paul is unable to give God that adequate thanks which is his due. Although it is pointed out, over against the insinuations of the Jews, that it is none other than the converts for whom (περὶ ὑμῶ) he renders thanks to God, none other than they who are the basis of his joy (ἐπὶ πάσῃ τῇ χαρᾷ), and none other than they on whose account (διʼ ὑμᾶ; cf. 1:5) he constantly expresses before the Christian God (ὁ θεὸς ἡμῶ; cf. 2:2) his overwhelming feeling of joy, yet it is likewise indicated that it is God after all, not himself, not even the converts, that he must try to thank for their spiritual attainment.

On the co-ordinating γά in interrogative sentences, see Bl 78:6. εὐχαριστί, a favourite word of Paul, denotes for him not “gratitude” (Sir. 37:11, 2 Mac. 2:27) but the “giving of thanks” (Sap. 16:28 where it is parallel to ἐντυγχάνει).�Psalms 115:3 (Grot.) or in a bad sense (cf. II 1:6, Romans 12:19, Deuteronomy 32:41), is probably stronger than�2 Corinthians 9:15. ᾖ before χαίρομε stands not for ἐφʼ ᾖ (cf. 2 Corinthians 7:13), but either for the cognate dative χαρᾷ (John 3:29, Isaiah 66:10 B) or for the congnate accus. ἥ (Matthew 2:10, Isaiah 39:2 אA, 66:10 A, Jonah 4:6). διʼ ὑμᾶ (John 3:29) is stronger than the expected ἐφʼ ὑμῖ (cf. χαίρειν ἐπι Romans 16:19, 1 Corinthians 13:6, 16:17, 2 Corinthians 7:13; Isaiah 39:2, Habakkuk 3:18 and often in Lxx). ἔμπροσθε goes with χαίρομε

10. νυκτὸ … δεόμενο. It is in the atmosphere of intense joy that he prays unceasingly (νυκτὸς καὶ ἡμέρα as 2:9) and exuberantly (ὑπερεκπερισσου as 5:13), not simply that he might see their face (as 2:17) but also that he might make up the deficencies of their faith (cf. v. 8). Both his desire to return which has been the point of his defence since 2:17 and his desire to amend the shortcomings of their faith are suffused by the spirit of joy. The converts are thus tactfully assured both of the genuineness of his longing to see them and of his confidence that their imperfections are not serious. In passing, it is worth nothing that the enthusiasm of his feeling does not prevent him from being aware of the existence of moral defects,—an interesting side-light on the ethical sondness of his religious feelings. δεόμενο, loosely attached to χαίρομε, prepares the way not only for the prayer (vv. 11-13), namely, that God and Christ may direct his way to them (v. 11), and that the Lord may increase their brotherly love and love in general (v. 12) and strengthen them to remove their defects, but also for the exhortations (4:1 ff.) in which there is a detailed and at the same time tactful treatment of the ὑστερήματ

ὑπερεκπερισσου is found in 5:13 (אAP; BDGF read ὑπερεκπερισσῶ, a word occurring in 1 Clem. 20:11 but not in Lxx), Ephesians 3:20 and Test. xii, Joshua 17:5, but not in Lxx It is stronger than περισσοτέρω (2:17) and ὑπερπερισσῶ (in Gk. Bib. only Mark 7:37) and ἐκ περισσου (Dan. (Th.) 3:22; Mark 6:51 v. l.). See Ell. on Ephesians 3:20 and cf. Ambst abuntantissimo. εἰς το introduces the object of δεόμενο (BMT 412). δεῖσθα (Romans 1:10, Galatians 4:12, etc.), like ἐρωτᾶ (4:1, 5:12, II 2:1, Philippians 4:3), is less frequent in Paul than παρακαλεῖ—ὑστέρημ is found six times in Lxx, eight times in Paul, and once in Luke (Luke 21:4); it indicates a lack and is opposed to περίσσευμ (2 Corinthians 8:13 f.). It is joined with�1 Corinthians 16:17, Philippians 2:30; cf. Test. xii, Benj. 11:5 1 Clem. 38:2), προσαναπληροῦ (2 Corinthians 9:12, 2 Corinthians 11:9) and�Colossians 1:24) but not elsewhere in Gk. Bib. with καταρτίζει This word (Galatians 6:1, Romans 9:22, etc.; cf. προκαταρτίζει 2 Corinthians 9:5), common in Lxx, means generally to render ἄρτιο, hence to “adjust” differences, “repair” things out of repair, “set” bows, “prepare” dishes, etc.; and here “make up,” “make good” that which is lacking to complete faith. Since, however, the sense “das Fehlende” passes imperceptibly into that of “Fehler” (Dob.), as indeed 1 Clem. 2:6 (where ὑστερήματ is parallel to παραπτώματ) and Hermas Vis. III, 2:2 (where it is parallel to ἁμαρτήματ) suggest, we may translate either “make up the deficiencies of your faith” (Lillie) or “amend the short-comings of your faith” (Ruther).

III. PRAYER (3:11-13)

With δε, introducing a new section in the epistolary disposition of the letter, Paul passes from the superscription (1:1) and the thanksgiving (1:2-3:10) to the prayer (3:11-13). But the desire to see them (v. 10) and the desire to amend the deficiencies of their faith (v. 10) are resumed as he turns in prayer to the supreme court of appeal, God and Christ; but the emphasis in (3:11-13 is put less on the longing to see them (v. 11), the apologetic interest underlying 2:17-3:10, than on the shortcomings of their faith (vv. 12-13), the ὑστερήματ of v. 10. This change of emphasis prepares the way for the exhortations (4:1 ff.); in fact, when he prays that Christ may make them abound in brotherly love as well as in love (v. 12) and may strengthen them inwardly so that they may become blameless in saintliness when they appear before God at the last day when Jesus comes attended by his glorious retinue of angels (v. 13), it is not improbable that he has more or less distinctly in mind the matter of φιλαδελφί (4:9-12) and ἁγιασμό (4:3-8), to which, with λοιπό (4:1), he forthwith addresses himself.

11Now may our God and Father and our Lord Jesus himself direct our way to you. 12And as for you, may the Lord make you to increase and abound in love toward one another and toward all men, just as we too toward you, 13in order that he may strengthen your hearts (so that they may be) blameless in holiness in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his angels.

11. αὐτὸς δὲ ὁ θεός κτλ. Since δε introduces a new epistolary division, and is not of itself adversative, it is unnecessary to seek a contrast with the immediately preceding (v. 10) or with the remoter words: “and Satan hindered us” (2:18). Indeed the prayer “to see your face” (v. 10) is not contrasted with but is resumed by the prayer that God and Christ “may open up and direct our way to you de medio eorum qui moram fecerunt verbo nostro” (Ephr.). While it is striking that in Paul’s expressions of religious feeling, in superscriptions, thanksgivings, prayers, etc., the name of the Lord Jesus Christ stands next to the name of the Father (see on θεῷ πατρι, 1:1), usually after but sometimes before (II 2:16, Galatians 1:1), it is even more striking that both names should be unitedly governed by a verb in the singular (αὐτὸ … κατευθύνα; cf. II 2:16 f.). The estimate of the lordship of Christ, explicit in Colossians, is latent not only in 1 Corinthians 8:6 but here, a consideration that forbids (cf. Dob.) the taking of the ungrammatical step of denying that αὐτό here includes both God and Christ as the objects of prayer.

Lillie, however, finds in δε the idea both of transition and of slight opposition: “After all our own ineffectual attempts and ceaseless longings, may he himself, the hearer of our prayers (v. 10), direct our way unto you, and then will all Satan’s hindrances be vain. (So Pelt, Schott, Lün.).” Chracteristic of the prayers of I and II is the αὐτὸς δε (θεό 5:23, II 2:16; κύριο 4:16, II 2:16, 3:16; cf. 2 Corinthians 8:19 א) instead of the simple ὁ δε (θεό Romans 15:13). These phrases (cf. also αὐτὸς ὁ υἱό 1 Corinthians 15:28; αὐτὸ τὸ πνεῦμ Romans 8:16, Romans 8:26; αὐτὸς ὁ Σατανᾶ 2 Corinthians 11:14) are, except Revelation 21:3 (αὐτὸς ὁ θεό), found in N. T. only in Paul. The αὐτό is either reflexive or an emphatic “he” (cf. Moult I, 91). On ὁ κύριος ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ (D omits Ἰησοῦ; GFKL add Χριστό), see on 2:19. κατευθύνει, rare in the N.T. (II 3:5, Luke 1:79) but common in Lxx, means “make straight,” “make straight for” (cf. 1 Reg. 6:12), and “guide,” “direct,” “prosper.” κατευθύνειν ὁδό (or διαβήματ) is likewise frequent in Lxx (Psalms 5:9, Judith 12:8, etc.). On the πρό, cf. 1 Chronicles 29:18, 2 Chronicles 20:23, Sir. 49:3. In Paul, apart from μὴ γένοιτ (fourteen times), the optative of wishing with the third person is found only in our letters (vv. 11-12, 5:23, II 2:17, 3:5, 16), Romans 15:13 (followed by εἰς το with infin.), and 15:5 (followed by ἵν); see further Philemon 1:20 and BMT 176.

12. ὑμᾶς δὲ ὁ κύριος κτλ. The δε introduces a new point and is here adversative, as the emphatic position of ὑμᾶ makes clear: “and as for you.” “Such is our prayer for ourselves; but you, whether we come or not (Beng.: sive nos veniemus, sive minus), etc.” (Lillie). This second petition, directed to the Lord alone (that is, not θεό (A) but Christ, as DGF, which add Ἰησοῦ, interpret,—Christ who is the indwelling power unto love), has in view the ὑστερήματ (v. 10). The love in which Christ will make them to increase and abound is defined both as φιλαδελφί, a love which though present (4:9-10) needs to abound the more (4:10-12), and as�Galatians 6:10). As an example of love, he points to himself (1:6, II 3:9; cf. Calv.): “As also (καθάπερ και, v. 6) we increase and abound (sc. the intransitive πλεονάζομεν καὶ περισσεύομεν τῇ�2 Corinthians 9:8) toward you.” They are to love one another as he loves them.

πλεονάζει, common in Lxx, is found in N. T. but once (2 Peter 1:8) outside of Paul (cf. II 1:3); it means “increase,” “multiply,” “abound.” The transitive sense here is not infrequent in the Lxx (e. g. Numbers 26:54, 2 Chronicles 31:5, Psalms 49:19, 70:21, Sir. 20:8, (A) 32:1, Jeremiah 37:19). περισσεύει, frequent in N. T. and seven times in Lxx, is virtually synonymous with πλεονάζει The transitive occurs also in 2 Corinthians 9:8; cf. 2 Corinthians 4:15, Ephesians 1:8. “Do you see the unchecked madness of love which is indicated by the words? He says πλεονάσα and περισσεύσα instead of αὐξήσα” (Chrys.; cf. II 1:3). εἰ here, as in II 1:3, may be taken closely with�2 Corinthians 3:9, Sir. 11:12; or εἰ may be joined with the verbs (cf. πλεονάζειν εἰ Philippians 4:17; περισσεύειν εἰ Romans 3:7, Romans 3:5:15, 2 Corinthians 1:5, etc.), the dative designating the sphere in which they are to increase and abound (cf. περισσεύειν ἐ Romans 15:13, 1 Corinthians 15:58, etc.).

13. εἰς τὸ στηρίξαι κτλ. The purpose of the prayer (εἰς το; cf. Romans 15:13) for love is that Christ (τὸν κύριο is the subject of στηρίξα) may strengthen not their faith (v. 2) but their hearts, their inward purposes and desires, with the result that these hearts may be blameless (cf. 2:10) in the realm of holiness. The point appears to be that without the strong foundation of love the will might exploit itself in conduct not becoming to the ἅγιο, that is, specifically, as 4:3-8 suggests, in impurity. ἁγιωσύν denotes not the quality (ἁγιότη), or the process (ἁγιασμό), but the state of being ἅγιο, that is, separate from the world and consecrated to God both in body and in soul (5:23).

Some comm. (e. g. Flatt, Pelt, Find., Dob.), influenced doubtless by v. 2, where, however, the στηρίξα is specifically stated to be ὑπὲρ τῆς πίστεως ὑμῶ, are inclined to think of the strengthening of faith to meet trails, a strengthening resulting in holiness. στηρίζειν καρδία (II 2:17, Psalms 111:8, Sir. 6:37, 22:16, James 5:8) differs from στηρίζειν ὑμᾶ (v. 2) only in the expressed emphasis upon the inner life; cf. παρακαλεῖ with ὑμᾶ (v. 2) and with καρδία (II 2:17). There is no indication here of fear as the opposite of στηρίζειν καρδία (sir. 22:16, Psalms 111:8) or of the thought of perfect love castig out fear (1 John 4:17 ff.).�1 Corinthians 1:8) or σύμμορφο (Philippians 3:21). The reading�2 Corinthians 1:12, Hebrews 12:10, Hebrews 12:2 Mac. 15:2); ἁγιωσύν in more frequent (Romans 1:4, 2 Corinthians 7:1, 2 Corinthians 7:2 Malachi 3:12, Psalms 29:5, Psalms 95:6, Psalms 96:12, Psalms 144:5); and ἁγιασμό (4:3, 4, 7, II 2:13) is still more frequent (about ten times in Lxx and ten times in N. T.; cf. Romans 6:19, etc.). BDEGF read ἁγιοσύνῃ א and the corrected B ἁγιωσύνῃ, “the usual change of and ” (Weiss); but A has δικαιοσύνῃ On the idea of holiness, see SH on Romans 1:7 and Skinner and Stevens in HDB II, respectively, 394 ff. and 399 ff.

ἔμπροσθεν κτλ. Only those whose love inspires purposes that are blameless in the sphere of holiness will find the day of the Lord a day not of warth (1:10, 2:16) but of salvation (5:9). In the light of v. 9, the reference might seem to be (cf. Chrys.) to a holiness not in the sight of men but “before our God and Father” (see on 1:3); but in view of the next prepositional phrase, “in the coming of our Lord Jesus” (cf. 2:19), it is evident that the day of the Lord is in mind when all must come before the βῆμ of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10) or God (Romans 14:10) or both, when the same Father who demands holy love will test the hearts to see if they are free from blame in the realm of holiness.

μετὰ πάντων τῶν ἁγίων αὐτου. “With all his holy ones.” Whether ἅγιο refers to angels or to saints is uncertain. (1) In favour of “angels” is the immediate connection with παρουσίᾳ, the time when Christ comes down from heaven at the voice of an archangel (4:16), μετʼ�Mark 8:38, Matthew 25:31 and Jude 1:14 = Enoch (Gk.) 1:9. the αὐτου, as Matthew 16:27, Matthew 24:31 suggest, refers to Christ. Paul may have had in mind Zechariah 14:5: ἥξει ὁ κύριος μου καὶ πάντες οἱ ἅγιοι μετʼ αὐτου (2) In favour of “saints” is the usage of the N. T. where, apart from this passage, ἅγιο = “saints”; the fact that πάντες οἱἅγιο is a common turn in Paul (cf. οἱ ἅγιοι αὐτου Colossians 1:26); and possibly the fact that Did. 16:7 interprets Zechariah 14:5 of the saints. In this case, because of the difficulty of conceiving the surviving saints coming with the Lord at his Parousia, and because of the difficulty, due to πάντε, of contrasting the departed and the living saints, it is necessary to place the scene implied by μετὰ πάντων κτλ not immediately at the Parousia, as the present context seems to suggest, but later, namely, at the judgment, when Christ comes with all his consecrated ones, now glorified, ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ βήματο

(1) In favour of “angels” are Grot., Hammond, De W. Lün., Edward Robinson (Lex. 1850), Schmiedel, Dob., Moff., Dibelius, and others; cf,. Ascen. Isa. 4:14 (with Charles’s note) and Ps. Sol. 17:49 (with note of Ryle and James). (2) In favour of “saints” are, in addition to those who unnaturally construe μετὰ τῶν κτλ closely with στηρίξα (Estius, Flatt, Hofmann, Wohl., et al.), Calv., Find., Briggs (Messiah of the Apostles, 85), Vincent, and others. (3) Still others (e. g. Bengel, Ell., Lillie, Lft., Mill.) include both angels and glorified men.—It is uncertain whether�Romans 15:33, Romans 16:27, Galatians 6:18; Romans 1:25, Romans 9:5, Romans 11:36, Galatians 1:5, Ephesians 3:21, Philippians 4:20. In the N. T., apart from the unique usage in the words of Jesus (where a single amen in the Synoptic Gospels and a double amen in John begins the utterance),�1 Chronicles 16:36, 1 Chronicles 16:1 Esd. 9:47, Nehemiah 5:13, Nehemiah 8:6, Tob. 8:8, 14:15, 3 Mac. 7:23, 4 Mac. 18:24); γένοιτ and�

B B (e a p r). Cod. Vaticanus, saec. iv, now in the Vatican Library. Photographic reproduction by Cozza-Luzi, Rome, 1889, and by the Milan firm of Hoepli, 1904. Contains I and II complete.

Zim F. Zimmer, Der Text der Thessalonicherbriefe (1893).

Weiss B. Weiss in TU. XIV, 3 (1896).

BMT E. D. Burton, Syntax of the Moods and Tenses in N. T. Greek (18983).

Bl F. Blass, Grammatik des neutestamentlichen Griechisch (1896, 19022).

Moult James Hope Moulton, A Grammar of N. T. Greek, I (1906).

Wohl Wohlenberg.

Lft Lightfoot.

GMT W. W. Goodwin, Syntax of the Moods and Tenses of the Greek Verb (1890).

אԠא (e a p r). Cod. Sinaiticus, saec. iv, now at St. Petersburg. Edited by Tischendorf, its discoverer, in 1862. Photographic reproduction by H. and K. Lake, Oxford, 1911. Contains I and II complete.

P P (a p r). Cod. Porphyrianus, saec. ix, now at St. Petersburg. Edited by Tischendorf (1865). Contains I and II except I 3:5 μηκετι—ημεις οι 4:17.

A A (e a p r). Cod. Alexandrinus, saec. v, now in the British Museum. Edited by Woide in 1786. Facsimile by E. M. Thompson, 1879. Contains I and II complete.

D D (p). Cod. Claromontanus, saec. vi, Graeco-Latin, now in the National library at Paris. Edited by Tischendorf in 1852. Contains I and II complete.

G G (p). Cod. Boernerianus, saec. ix, now in the Royal Library at Dresden. “It is closely related to F, according to some the archetype of F” (Souter). Edited by Matthaei, 1791. Im Lichtdruck nachgebildet, Leipzig (Hiersemann), 1909. Contains I and II complete.

F F (p). Cod. Augiensis, saec. ix, Graeco-Latin, now in the Library of Trinity College, Cambridge. An exact transcript by Scrivener, 1859. Contains I and II complete.

Lxx The Old Testament in Greek (ed. H. B. Swete, 1887-94).

Dob Ernst von Dobschütz,

Mill George Milligan.

Ambst Ambrosiaster.

Chrys Chrysostom.

Calv Calvin.

Find G. G. Findlay.

Vulg Vulgate.

K K (a p). Cod. Mosquensis, saec. ix, now at Moscow. Collated by Matthaei, 1782. Contains I and II complete.

L L (a p). Cod. Angelicus, saec. ix, now in the Angelican Library at Rome. Collated among others by Tischendorf (1843) and Tregelles (1845). Contains I and II complete.

Pesh Syriac Vulgate.

Lün Lünemann.

Born Bornemann.

Ell Ellicott.

Thay Joseph Henry Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon of the N. T. (1889).

ZNW Preuschen’s Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft.

Exp. Times The Expository Times (Edinburgh; ed. J. Hastings).

TS Texts and Studies (Cambridge).

Lillie John Lillie, Epistles of Paul to the Thessalonians, Translated from the Greek, with Notes (1856).

Grot Hugo de Groot (Grotius).

Kennedy, Sources of N. T. Greek (1895).

E E Cod. Sangermanensis, saec. ix, now at St. Petersburg. A copy of D.

Ruther W. G. Rutherford, St. Paul’s Epistles to the Thess. and Corinthians. A New Translation (1908).

Ephr Ephraem Syrus.

SH Comm. on Romans in ICC. by W. Sanday an A. C. Headlam.

HDB Hastings’ Dictionary of the Bible (1898-1904).

De W De Wette.

Moff James Moffatt.

Vincent M. R. Vincent, Word Studies in the N. T., vol. IV, 1900.

WH The New Testament in the Original Greek (1881; I, Text, II, Introduction and Appendix).

EB The Encyclopædia Biblica (London, 1899-1903; ed. J. S. Black and T. K. Cheyne).

Bibliographical Information
Driver, S.A., Plummer, A.A., Briggs, C.A. "Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 3". International Critical Commentary NT. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/icc/1-thessalonians-3.html. 1896-1924.
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