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1 But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you.
Ver. 1. But of the times and the seasons ] When Christ shall come to judgment, this is to be reckoned inter arcana imperii. See Trapp on " Mat 24:36 " The times and the seasons God hath put in his own power, Acts 1:7 . This is a key that he keepeth under his own girdle. Let it suffice us to know that "this is the last hour," that "the ends of the world are come upon us, and that the Lord is at hand." "The time is short" (saith our apostle, 1Co 7:29 ), or rolled up, as a piece of cloth, only a little left at the end. Moses brake the tables 1582 years before the birth of Christ. Nou existimo, &c., I do not think (saith holy Melancthon) that the time since the end of the Jewish polity shall be much longer than that was before the end thereof. Watch, therefore, and "be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless," 2 Peter 3:14 .
2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.
Ver. 2. The day of the Lord ] That day, by a specialty, Luke 21:34 , that great day, Revelation 6:17 , that day of the declaration of God’s just judgment, Romans 2:5 ; Romans 2:16 , that day of Christ, 2 Thessalonians 2:2 , of God, 2 Peter 3:12 , wherein he will show himself to be God of gods and Lord of lords.
As a thief in the night ] Who giveth no warning, Matthew 24:43 . See Trapp on " Mat 24:43 "
3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.
Ver. 3. For when they shall say ] Security is the certain usher of destruction, as in Benhadad’s army, and Pompey’s before the Pharsalian field. Some of them contended for the priesthood, which was Caesar’s office, others disposed of the consulships and offices in Rome, as if all were already their own; Pompey himself being so wretchedly reckless, that he never considered into what place he were best to retire if he lost the day.
Then shall sudden destruction ] As philosophers say, that before a snow the weather will be warmish; when the wind lies, the great rain falls; and the air is most quiet when suddenly there will be an earthquake.
As travail upon a woman ] 1. Certainly; 2. Suddenly; 3. Irresistibly, inevitably.
4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.
Ver. 4. Should overtake you as a thief ] Though it come upon you as a thief in a time uncertain. Free you are from the destruction of that day, though not altogether free from the distraction of it, till somewhat recollected you remember that now your redemption draweth nigh. Hence the saints love Christ’s appearing, 2 Timothy 4:8 ; look for it with outstretched necks, and long after it, Revelation 22:20 .
5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.
Ver. 5. We are not of the night, &c. ] Alexander willed that the Grecians and barbarians should no longer be distinguished by their garments, but by their manners (Qu. Curtius); so should the children of light and of darkness.
6 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.
Ver. 6. As do others ] What wonder that the Grecians live loosely? saith Chrysostom; but that Christians do so, this is worse, yea, intolerable.
But let us watch and be sober ] We must not be like Agrippa’s dormouse that would not awake till cast into boiling lead, or Matthiolus’s asses fed with hemlock, that lie for dead, and are half hilded ere they can be aroused. (Comment. in Dioscor.) But rather we should resemble Aristotle and others, who were wont to sleep with brazen balls in their hands, which failing on vessels purposely set on their beds’ sides, the noise did dissuade immoderate sleep.
7 For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night.
Ver. 7. Are drunk in the night ] But now, alas, drunkenness is become a noonday devil. Once Peter’s argument (saith Mr Harris) was more than probable, "These men are not drunk, for it is but the third hour of the day." Now men are grown such husbands as that by that time they will return their stocks, and have their brains crowing before day.
8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.
Ver. 8. Be sober ] Drunkenness misbeseemeth any man, but especially a saint; for it robs him of himself, and lays a beast in his room.
Putting on the breastplate of faith and love ] Faith is the forepart of this breastplate, whereby we embrace Christ, and love the hinder part thereof, whereby we embosom the saints.
9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,
Ver. 9. God hath not appointed us ] As he hath all drunken beasts,1 Corinthians 4:10; 1 Corinthians 4:10 . Yet, all those dry drunkards, Isaiah 28:1 , that will not awake (though never so much warned) out of the snare of the devil, &c., 2 Timothy 2:25 .
10 Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.
Ver. 10. Whether we wake or sleep ] That is, live or die, our souls cannot miscarry; because God will have out the full price of his Son’s death. See Romans 14:8 . See Trapp on " Rom 14:8 "
11 Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.
Ver. 11. Comfort yourselves together ] This he subjoins as a singular help to the practice of the former points of duty. Social charity whets on to love and good works, as iron whets iron, as one billet kindleth another, &c.
12 And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you;
Ver. 12. And we beseech you, brethren ] Do not so exhort and edify one another as to think that now the public ministry is no further useful or needful. Let your pastors have all due respect, be your gifts never so eminent.
13 And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.
Ver. 13. Very highly ] Gr. υπερ εκ περισσου , more than exceeding. a Turks and Papists shall else condemn us, who honour every hedge priest of theirs, and have them in singular esteem, above their merits. The Grecians gave great respect to their philosophers above their orators, because these taught them how to speak, but those how to live well.
For their work’s sake ] Which is high and honourable, divine and heavenly, a worthy work, 1 Timothy 3:1 . Such as both in the preparation to it and execution of it draweth them to God, keepeth them with God, and to be ever mindful of God, and no less active for God, Ephesians 4:12 , by gathering together the saints and building up the body of Christ.
And be at peace among yourselves ] So shall your pastor have the better life, and follow his work with more content and comfort.
a Apud Groecos maiori in honore habebantur philosophi quam oratores. Illi enim recte vivendi, &c. Lactantius.
14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men .
Ver. 14. Warn them that are unruly ] Cry Cave miser, Beware the wretch, stop them in their cursed career, tell them that hell gapes for them, and is but a little before them; snatch them out of the fire, saving them with fear,Judges 1:23; Judges 1:23 . Neglect of private admonition, how it stings the consciences of the best at death, see Mr Hiron’s Life prefixed to the second part of his worthy works. See also Mr Baxter’s Saint’s Everlasting Rest, p. 497.
Comfort the feeble minded ] The dispirited, faint hearted, sick, and sinking under the sense of sin and fear of wrath. A Christian should have feeding lips and a healing tongue. The contrary whereunto is deeply detested,Ezekiel 34:4; Ezekiel 34:4 .
Support the weak ] Set to your shoulder and shore them up, αστεχεσθε . Deal not as the herd of deer do with the wounded deer, forsake and push it away from them. Christ gathereth his lambs with his arm, and bears them in his bosom, Isaiah 40:11 . He had a great care of his weaker tribes when they marched through the wilderness, for in their several brigades he put a strong tribe to two weak tribes, as Judah to Issachar and Zabulon, &c. The Greek word here rendered support, signifieth sublevare alioqui ruituros, saith Beza, to keep up those that would else go to the ground.
15 See that none render evil for evil unto any man ; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men .
Ver. 15. See that none render ] Nothing is so natural to us; and Aristotle commends revenge as a piece of manhood, when indeed it is doghood rather. Excellently Lactantius, Non est minus mall referre iniuriam, quam inferre. It is as bad to recompense wrong as to do wrong. See Trapp on " Mat 5:44 " See Trapp on " Rom 12:17 "
But ever follow that which is good ] Not to do good is to do evil; not to save a man when we can, is to destroy him, Mark 3:4 . See Trapp on " Mar 3:4 "
16 Rejoice evermore.
Ver. 16. Rejoice evermore ] A duty much pressed in both Testaments, but little practised by many of God’s whinnels, who are ever puling and putting finger in the eye, through one discontent or another. The wicked may not rejoice, Hosea 9:1 ; the saints must,Psalms 32:11; Psalms 32:11 ; Psalms 33:1 , and that continually, striving to a habitual cheerfulness, which occurs when faith heals the conscience, and grace husheth the affections, and composeth all within: what should ail such a man, not to be perpetually merry?
17 Pray without ceasing.
Ver. 17. Pray without ceasing ] While prayer standeth still, the trade of godliness stands still. All good comes into the soul by this door, all true treasure by this merchant’s ship. Paul beginneth, continueth, and concludeth his Epistles with prayer, Nehemiah sends up ejaculations ever and anon. Of Carolus Magnus it was spoken, Carolus plus cum Deo quam cum hominibus loquitur, that he spake more with God than with men. Our hearts should be evermore in a praying temper; and our set times of prayer should not be neglected, though we be not always alike prepared and disposed thereunto. Disuse breeds lothness to do it another time. Mahometans, what occasion soever they have, either by profit or pleasure, to divert them, will pray five times every day. a Oratio est quantitas discreta, saith the philosopher. Oratio debet esse quantitas continua, saith our apostle. A Christian must ever be praying habitually, and vitally too; for, semper orat qui bene semper agit. He hath manifold occasions of calling actually upon God, as, 1. His daily morning and evening sacrifice, the neglect or non-performance whereof the Jews counted and called an "abomination of desolation." 2. The sanctification of creatures, calling, and relations. 3. New mercies. 4. New infirmities. 5. Variety of crosses. 6. Faintness of faith, spiritual desertions, temptations of Satan. 7. Sweetness of meditation. 8. Forethought of his last account, &c. Neither let any say we cannot awhile; for, 1. "A whet is no let;" a bait by the way is no hindrance to the journey; time spent in prayer hindereth not our business; for though it take so much from the heap, yet it increaseth the heap, as it is said of tithes and offerings, Malachi 3:10 ; Blind Popery could say, Mass and meat hindereth no man’s thrift. 2. The greater the business, the more need there is of prayer to speed it; to be as oil to the wheel, as wings to the bird. Jacob, after he had seen God at Bethel, lift up his feet, and went lustily on his journey, Genesis 29:1 ; Genesis 3:1-24 . How much idle time spend we, either in doing nothing, or worse, that might better be bestowed in this holy duty! Only take heed that frequency breed not formality, that we pray not in a lazy, customary, bedulling strain, like the pace the Spaniard rides, but rousing up ourselves, and wrestling with God, set we sides and shoulders to the work, lift up hearts and hands to heaven, lean upon Christ’s bosom as the beloved disciple did, lie hard upon him, as she did upon Samson, to learn out his riddle; press him as they did the prophet, till he was even ashamed to say them nay, 2 Kings 2:17 , till you put him to the blush, and leave "a blot in his face," υπωπιαζη , as the importunate widow dealt by the unjust judge,Luke 18:5; Luke 18:5 . So this is prayer; and thus we are to "continue instantly in prayer," to wait upon it (as the word προσκαρτερειν signifieth), and to persevere in it, as David did, Psalms 27:4 ; Psalms 119:81-82 .
a Lawless Liberty, in a sermon by Mr Terry.
18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
Ver. 18. In everything give thanks ] If God give prosperity, praise him, and it shall be increased, saith Augustine. If adversity, praise him, and it shall be removed, or at least sanctified. Job blessed God as well for taking as giving, Job 1:20-22 . He knew that God afflicted him, non ad exitium, sed ad exercitium, to refine him, not to ruin him. But this is Christianorum propria virtus, saith Jerome, a practice proper to Christians, to be heartily thankful for crosses. Basil spends all his sermon upon this text in this theme. Every bird can sing in a summer’s day, and it is easy to swim in a warm bath; but in deep affliction to cover God’s altar, not with our tears, as Malachi 2:13 , but with the calves of our lips, Hosea 14:2 , this none can do but the truly religious.
19 Quench not the Spirit.
Ver. 19. Quench not the Spirit ] In his motions or graces. See the canon for the fire on the altar, and observe it, Leviticus 6:12-13 . Confess here as Hezekiah did, 2 Chronicles 29:6-7 . And take the apostle’s counsel, 2 Timothy 1:6 . Stir up this fire on the hearth of our hearts; let the priest’s lips blow it up into a flame; despise not prophesying, &c. It may be quenched either by the withdrawing of fuel (neglect of ordinances) or by casting on water (falling into foul courses).
20 Despise not prophesyings.
Ver. 20. Despise not ] i.e. Highly honour, and preciously esteem, as an honorary given by Christ to his Church at his wonderful ascension, Psalms 51:17 ; Ephesians 4:8 ; Ephesians 4:11 .
Prophesying ] That is, preaching, 1 Corinthians 14:3 , so called because they took their texts out of some of the prophets.
21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
Ver. 21. Prove all things ] Take nothing that you hear upon trust ( Νηφε και μεμνησο απιστειν , Epicharm.), but bring all to the test, Isaiah 8:20 . To the law, i.e. the Old Testament, and to the testimony, i.e. the New, which is by St John often called the testimony. Mercer observes that of the Hebrew word ozen for an ear, cometh Moznaiim for a pair of balances; to note that we must weigh what we hear; our two ears must be as balances for that purpose.
Hold fast that which is good ] Orthodox, current, agreeable to, and approvable by, the Scriptures, especially that which God hath made good and sweet to your own souls. Hold fast that thou hast, &c. Hast thou found honey? eat it, Proverbs 25:16 . Go on to heaven eating of it, as Samson did of his honeycomb.
22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.
Ver. 22. Abstain from all, &c. ] Whatsoever is heterodox, unsound, and unsavoury, shun it, as you would do a serpent in your way or poison in your meats. Theodosius tare the Arian’s arguments presented to him in writing, because he found them repugnant to the Scriptures. And Austin retracteth even ironies only, because they had the appearance of lying. God commanded the Jews to abstain from swine’s flesh; they would not so much as name it, but in their common talk would call a sow dabbar Achar, another thing. (Elias Thisbit.)
23 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Ver. 23. That your whole spirit, soul, body ] The temple consisted of three parts, so doth man; the body is as the outer court, the soul as the holy place, the spirit as the most holy. So the world is three stories high, the earth, the visible heaven, and the third heaven.
24 Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it .
Ver. 24. Faithfid is he, &c. ] Prayer must be founded upon the faithfulness of God in fulfilling his promises. Hereby faith will be strengthened, and affection excited. Prayer is a putting the promises in suit.
25 Brethren, pray for us.
Ver. 25. Brethren, pray for us ] The best may need the prayers of the meanest. God will have us beholden herein one to another, 1 Corinthians 12:21-22 . How earnest is that great apostle in begging prayers,Romans 15:30; Romans 15:30 . Pray for me, I say, pray for me, I say (quoth father Latimer), for I am sometimes so fearful that I could creep into a mouse hole; sometimes God doth visit me again with his comfort. (Acts and Mon.)
26 Greet all the brethren with an holy kiss.
Ver. 26. With an holy kiss ] Our very civilities should savour of sanctity, and our common conversation relish of religion,Zechariah 14:20-21; Zechariah 14:20-21 .
27 I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read unto all the holy brethren.
Ver. 27. That this epistle be read ] It is a matter of greatest necessity and importance that the Holy Scriptures be daily and duly read by all. A sad complaint it is, which Reverend Moulin makes of his countrymen the French Protestants: While they burned us, saith he, for reading the Scriptures, we burnt with zeal to be reading of them. Now, with our liberty is bred also negligence and disesteem of God’s word. (Moulin’s Theophilus.) And is it not so with us at this day? Our ancestors in Henry VIII’s time would sit up all night in reading and hearing, and were at great charges. Some gave five marks for a Bible, that we may have for five shillings.
28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen. << The first epistle to the Thessalonians was written from Athens.>>
Ver. 28. Amen ] Amen Isaiah 1:1-31 . Assenting; 2. Assevering; 3. Assuring.
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 5". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26