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Bible Commentaries
1 Thessalonians 1

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

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Verse 1

Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul. He does not add "an apostle," etc., because in their case, as in that of the Philippians (note, Philippians 1:1), his apostolic authority needed not substantiation. He writes familiarly as to faithful friends, not but that his apostleship was recognized among them (1 Thessalonians 2:6). On the other hand, in writing to the Galatians, among whom some called in question his apostleship, he strongly asserts it in the superscription. An undersigned propriety, evincing genuineness.

Silvanus - a 'chief man among his brethren' (Acts 15:22), a 'prophet' (1 Thes 4:32 ), and one of the deputies carried the decree of the Jerusalem council to Antioch. His age and position placed him before "Timothy," then a youth (Acts 16:1; 1 Timothy 4:12). Silvanus (the full form of "Silas") afterward joined Peter, and is called in 1 Peter 5:12, "a faithful brother" (cf. 2 Corinthians 1:19). They both aided in planting the Thessalonian church, and are therefore included in the address. This, the first of Paul's letters, being written before various evils crept into the churches, is without the censures found in other letters. So realizing was their Christian faith that they continually were looking for the Lord Jesus.

Unto the church. Not merely, as in the letters to the Romans, Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians, "to the saints," or "the faithful at Thessalonica." Though they probably had not yet the church-organization under permanent "bishops" and deacons, which appears in the later letters (note Php 1:1-30 :1 Timothy and 2 Timothy), yet he designates them by the honourable term "church," implying their status as not merely isolated believers, but a corporate body with spiritual rulers (1 Thessalonians 5:12; 2 Corinthians 1:1; Galatians 1:2).

In - implying vital union.

God the Father - marking that they were no longer pagan.

The Lord Jesus - marking that they were not Jews, but Christians.

Grace, [ charis (G5485), including chairein (G5463), 'joy,' the Greek 'greeting,' James 1:1 ]

Be unto you, and peace - may ye have in God that favour and peace which men withhold. The salutation in all the letters of Paul, except the three pastoral ones, which have "grace, mercy, and peace." 'Aleph (') A Delta f, Vulgate, support; B G g omit "from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." It may have crept in from 1 Corinthians 1:3; 2 Corinthians 1:2.

Verse 2

We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers;

(Romans 1:8; 2 Timothy 1:3) The structure here, each successive sentence repeating with greater fullness the preceding, marks Paul's abounding love and thankfulness: words are heaped on words, to convey some idea of his exuberant feelings toward his converts.

We - I, Silvanus, and Timotheus. Romans 1:9 has a different order; and so does not prove Alford's, 'Making mention of you in our prayers without ceasing' (1 Thessalonians 1:3). Rather, "without ceasing," in the third verse, is parallel to "always," in the second. His 'always making mention of them in his prayers' was due to his 'remembering without ceasing their work of faith,' etc.

Verse 3

Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;

Work of faith - the working reality of your faith (Romans 2:15). Not otiose assent, but realizing, working faith (Galatians 5:6); not "in word only," but in one continuous chain of "work" (singular, not pural, works) (1 Thessalonians 1:5-10; James 2:22). So 2 Thessalonians 1:11, "the work of faith:" its perfected development (cf. James 1:4). The other governing substantives similarly mark the characteristic manifestation of the grace which follows each in the genitive. Faith, love, and hope, the three great graces (1 Thessalonians 5:8; 1 Corinthians 13:13): faith producing love, and being the foundation of hope.

Labour of love, [ kopou (G2873)] - toil for others which love prompts us to (1 Thessalonians 2:9; Revelation 2:2). For instances see Acts 20:35; Romans 16:12. Not here ministerial labours. Those who shun toil for others love little (cf. Hebrews 6:10).

Patience of hope - the brave, persevering patience under trials which characterizes "hope." Romans 15:4 shows that "patience" also nourishes "hope."

Hope in our Lord Jesus - literally, 'of our Lord Jesus;' namely, of His coming (1 Thessalonians 1:10): a hope that looked beyond all present things.

In the sight of God. Your 'faith, hope, and love' were not merely such as pass for genuine before men, but "in the sight of God," the Searcher of hearts. Things are really what they are before God. Bengel takes this with "remembering." Whenever we pray we remember before God your faith, hope, and love. Our remembrance is one entertained in His presence, and in which His eye saw no insincerity. (Ellicott). The absence of the article before emprosthen favours this. But its separation from "remembering" in the order, and its connection with "your ... faith," etc., support the former view.

And, [ Tou (G3588) Theou (G2316) kai (G2532) Patros (G3962)] (both under one article) - 'in the sight of Him who is (at once) God and our Father.'

Verse 4

Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.

Knowing - as we know. The three participles (1 Thessalonians 1:2-4) give the time, manner, and reason for 'giving thanks' (1 Thessalonians 1:2).

Your election of God - rather [ eegapeemenoi (G25) hupo (G5259) Theou (G2316)], 'beloved by God:' so Romans 1:7. "Your election" - i:e., God elected you, as individual believers, to eternal life (Romans 11:5; Romans 11:7; Colossians 3:12; 2 Thessalonians 2:13).

Verse 5

For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.

Our gospel - the gospel we preached.

Came, [ egeneethee (G1096): 'proved'] - 'was made,' by God, its Author. God's having made it in respect to you to be attended with such "power" is the proof that you are 'elect of God' (1 Thessalonians 1:4).

In power - the Holy Spirit's efficacy clothing us with power (see end of verse; Acts 1:8; Acts 4:33; Acts 6:5; Acts 6:8; 1 Corinthians 2:4) in preaching the Gospel, and making it in you the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16). As "power" produces faith, so "the Holy Spirit," love; and "much assurance" (Colossians 2:2), hope (Hebrews 6:11), resting on faith (Hebrews 10:22): faith, love, and hope (1 Thessalonians 1:3). The "much assurance" is (Ellicott) on the part of the preachers. But in Colossians 2:2; Hebrews 6:11; Hebrews 10:22, the only other passages where the noun occurs, it is on the part of believers: however cf. Greek 2 Timothy 4:17.

As ye know - answering to "knowing;" i:e., as WE know (1 Thessalonians 1:4) your character as the elect of God, so YE know ours as preachers.

What manner of men we were, [ egeneethemen (G1096)] - 'we proved.'

For your sake - with a view to your best interests: to win and confirm you. 1 Thessalonians 2:10-12 shows that, in "what manner of men we were among you," besides power in preaching, there is included also Paul's and his fellow-missionaries' conduct confirming their preaching: a strong motive to holy circumspection on the Thessalonians' part, so as to win those without (Colossians 4:5: cf. 1 Corinthians 9:19-23).

Verse 6

And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost:

And ye - answering to "For our gospel" (1 Thessalonians 1:5).

Followers - Greek, 'imitators.' The Thessalonians in their turn became "ensamples" (1 Thessalonians 1:7) for others to imitate.

Of the Lord - the apostle of the Father: who taught the Word, which he brought from heaven, under adversities (Bengel): the point in which they imitated Him and His apostles, joyful acceptance and witness for the word in much affliction: the second proof of their election of God (1 Thessalonians 1:4); 1 Thessalonians 1:5 is the first (see note, 1 Thessalonians 1:5).

Received, [believingly accepted: dexamenoi (G1209); not merely paralabontes (G3880), 1 Thessalonians 2:13 ]

The word in much affliction (1 Thessalonians 2:14; 1 Thessalonians 3:2-5; Acts 17:5-10).

Joy of - i:e., performed by "the Holy Spirit." "The oil of gladness" wherewith the Son of God was 'anointed above His fellows' (Ps. 45:71 ), is the same with which He, by the Spirit, anoints His fellows too (Isaiah 61:1; Isaiah 61:3; Romans 14:17; 1 John 2:20; 1 John 2:27).

Verse 7

So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.

Ye were - `Ye became [ genesthai (G1096)].

Ensamples. So 'Aleph (') A C G g, read. B Delta f, Vulgate, 'ensample' (singular), the whole church being regarded as one. The Macedonian church of Philippi was the only one in Europe converted before the Thessalonians (Acts 16:12, etc.; 1 Thessalonians 2:2). Therefore he means their past conduct is an ensample to all believers now; of whom he specifies those "in Macedonia and Achaia," because he was there since the conversion of the Thessalonians, and was now at Corinth in Achaia. "Macedonia" then comprised the whole northern portion of Greece; "Achaia," the southern, including Hellas and the Peloponese.

Verse 8

For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing.

From you sounded out the word of the Lord. Not that they actually became missionaries; but by the report spread of their "faith" (cf. Romans 1:8), and by Christian merchants of Thessalonica bearing in various directions "the word of the Lord," they were virtually missionaries, recommending the Gospel to all within their influence by word and by example (1 Thessalonians 1:7). "Sounded" [exechetai] is an image from a trumpet filling with its clear-sounding echo all the surrounding places.

Also. 'Aleph (') A B C Delta G f g, Vulgate, omit.

In every place. Aquila and Priscilla, who had just come from Rome to Corinth, probably informed Paul of the report of the Thessalonian faith having reached the metropolis of the world (Acts 18:2).

To God-ward - no longer directed to idols.

So that we need not to speak any thing - to them in praise of your faith; "for (1 Thessalonians 1:9) they themselves" (the people in Macedonia and Achaia) know it already.

Verse 9

For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God;

Strictly there should follow, 'For they themselves show of YOU,' etc. Instead, he substitutes that which was the instrumental cause of the Thessalonians' conversion. "For they themselves show of US what manner of entering in we had unto you." Compare 1 Thessalonians 1:5, which corresponds to this former clause, as 1 Thessalonians 1:6 to the latter, "And how ye turned ... from idols to serve ... God," etc. Instead of our having "to speak anything" to them (in Macedonia and Achaia) in your praise (1 Thessalonians 1:8), 'they themselves (have the start of us in speaking of you, and) report [ apangellousin (G518)] concerning us, what manner of (how effectual an) entrance we had unto you' (1 Thessalonians 1:5; 1 Thessalonians 2:1).

The living and true God - as opposed to the dead and false gods [Acts 14:15; 1 Corinthians 8:4; Galatians 4:8; 1 John 5:20-21, 'ªliyliym (H457)] from which they "turned." Had they been Jews, it would have been, 'ye turned to the Lord' (Acts 9:35). In the reading, Acts 17:4, "of the devout Grecian a great multitude," no mention is made of the conversion of idolatrous Gentiles at Thessalonica: but A D d, Vulgate, singularly coincides with the statement here: 'Of the devout AND of Greeks (namely, idolaters) a great multitude:' so 1 Thes 1:17 , "the devout" - i:e., Gentile proselytes to Judaism, form a separate class. However, B E 'Aleph (') omit 'and.' Luke, even if not stating explicitly the conversion of idolaters at Thessalonica, states what accords with it, the conversion of 'not a few chief women,' and the rising of a tumult instigated indeed by Jews, but carried on by others, which could not have reached such a height if the preaching had not reached the Thessalonian Gentiles (Acts 17:5-8).

Verse 10

And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.

This distinguishes them from the Jews, as 1 Thessalonians 1:9, from the idolatrous Gentiles. To wait for the Lord's coming patiently [ anamenein (G362)] is characteristic of a true believer, and was prominent amidst the graces of the Thessalonians (1 Corinthians 1:7-8). As joy is the characteristic feature of the letter to the Philippians, so hope, of this letter. His coming is seldom called His return (John 14:3); because the two advents are different phases of the same coming. The second coming shall have features altogether new, so that it will not be a mere repetition of the first, or a mere coming back.

His Son ... raised from the dead - the grand proof of His divine Sonship (Romans 1:4).

Delivered, [ ton (G3588) ruomenon (G4506)] - 'who delivereth us.' Christ hath once for all redeemed us: He is 'our Deliverer' ALWAYS.

Wrath to come - `the wrath which is coming' [present participle, tees (G3588) erchomenees (G2064)]: surely, as the principles of God's moral government are fixed (1 Thessalonians 5:9; Colossians 3:6): the holy anger of God against sin, which, deeply considered, only serves to evince His love (Ellicott).

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 1". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/1-thessalonians-1.html. 1871-8.
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