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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and Homiletical

1 Thessalonians 1

Verse 1

1 Thessalonians 1:1

Salutation

1Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus [Timothy],1 unto the church2 of the Thessalonians which Isaiah 3:0 in God the Father and in4 the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you [Grace unto you, χάρις ὑμῖν],5 and peace (from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ).6

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

1. Paul, Silvanus, and Timotheus [Timothy].—On Paul, see the Acts of the Apostles, and the Introduction to the Epistle to the Romans.—Silvanus. He is called in the Acts Silas; by Paul and Peter, Silvanus. A distinguished leader (ἡγούμενος; comp. Lechler at Acts 15:22) and prophet of the church of Jerusalem, he was chosen by the Apostolic Council as one of the bearers of its decrees to Antioch, where he then remained for a longer period in friendly intercourse with the Gentile Christians, exhorting them and confirming them in the faith (Acts 15:22; Acts 15:27; Acts 15:32 sq.). Even though Acts 15:34 be not genuine, yet that choice and this sojourn are sufficient to show, that Silas was one of the Jewish Christians who, like Stephen, had from the beginning a freer, open sense for Gentile Christianity and Paulinism. In recognition of this Large-heartedness Paul chose him for his attendant on his second missionary journey (Acts 15:40), during which the church at Thessalonica was founded (see Introduction), and so we find him by his side in work and suffering, before magistrates, in stripes, in prison, in prayer, in miraculous deliverance, in flight, Acts 16:19; Acts 16:25; Acts 16:29; Acts 17:4; Acts 17:10; Acts 17:14 sq.; Acts 18:5. He accordingly appears in the inscriptions of the two Epistles to the Thessalonians, and 2 Corinthians 1:19. Subsequently Silvanus is simply mentioned by Peter as bearer of his First Epistle to Asia Minor, where he was already known, ever since Paul’s second missionary journey, as “a faithful brother” (1 Peter 5:12; comp. Fronmüller in loc.). Silvanus, from his original position at Jerusalem in friendly relations to Peter, and then a companion of Paul, is a man of whom it must be thought a peculiarly natural thing, that he again appears by the side of Peter, when the latter addressed himself to the at least to some extent Pauline churches of Asia Minor. He belongs to those men of second rank in the apostolic period, in whom the oneness of the Pauline spirit with that of the first Apostles, and the credibility, of late so severely assailed, of the book of Acts, are in an artless way historically represented. According to the tradition of the ancient Church, Silvanus should have been the first Bishop of Thessalonica, but Silas—whom it distinguishes from Silvanus—Bishop of Corinth (see Winer, biblisches Real-wörterbuch, 3d ed., II. p. 459, Art. Silas). As this distinction is certainly erroneous, since Silas is merely a contraction, such as frequently occurs in proper names, for Silvanus, as Ἀντίπας for Ἀντίπατρος, in German Niklas for Nikolaus, &c, and since in the Acts we find Silas, and in Paul’s Epistles Silvanus, associated with Paul and Timothy at Thessalonica and Corinth, so the whole tradition admits of easy explanation as an arbitrary inference from the New Testament data, Silas appearing for the last time at Corinth, Acts 18:5, and Silvanus in the forefront of the Thessalonian Epistles.—On Timothy, who had in like manner attended the Apostle during the founding of the Thessalonian church, see the Introduction to 1 Tim. Everywhere Paul speaks of Timothy with paternal tenderness, and bears the highest testimony to his character. Not only does he mention him generally as a brother (2 Corinthians 1:1; Colossians 1:1; Philemon 1:1; 1 Thessalonians 3:2), not only as a servant of God and his own fellow-laborer in the gospel of Christ (1 Thessalonians 3:2; Romans 16:21; 1 Corinthians 16:10), a servant of Jesus Christ, like himself (Philippians 1:1), but he calls him his faithful and beloved, his genuine child in the Lord (1 Corinthians 4:17; 1 Timothy 1:2; 1 Timothy 1:18 [γνησίῳ τέκνῳ]; 2 Timothy 1:2), and writes to the Philippians (Philippians 2:19 sqq.) of their knowing the proof of him, that, as a child the father,7 he has served with him in the gospel; indeed he says expressly (Philippians 1:20) that he has—so at least during the first Roman imprisonment, when he wrote this—no one likeminded, who will so sincerely and disinterestedly care for the church. Thus in the glorious circle of apostolic men that surrounded Paul Timothy takes the first place. “No one,” says F. Ranke, “has the Apostle embraced with more cordial and fatherly affection than Timothy—one of the loveliest and most refreshing sights of the apostolic age.”—It is undoubtedly as being the older man that Silvanus is here and 2 Corinthians 1:19 placed before Timothy,8 whose youth is still spoken of in the Epistles written to him at a much later date (1 Timothy 4:12; 2 Timothy 2:22). It is worthy of note and agrees with what has just been said, that in the narrative of travel in the Acts (Acts 16:17) Timothy, after the mention of his being added to the company, is not again immediately named, whereas Silas is mentioned frequently along with Paul. First on occasion of the separation from Paul is Timothy afterwards named along with and after Silas (Acts 17:14 sq.; Acts 18:5).—The Apostle names, and his practice is similar in other places also (comp., besides the inscriptions of 2 Thess., 2 Cor., Phil., Col., and Philemon, in which Timothy in like manner appears, 1 Corinthians 1:1 Paul and Sosthenes, and Galatians 1:1-2 Paul and all the brethren that are with me), Silvanus and Timothy as joint authors,[9] as virtually joined with him in getting up the Epistle, though he alone is the writer, and dictates the Epistle perhaps only to one of them. As they have preached the Lord together orally (comp. 2 Corinthians 1:19), so should also the written word go forth from all the three. The three men who had become dear to the church must again appear before her mental vision united as in the beginning; she must recognize their fair, lasting concord one with another, and know that she has received the same gospel, not merely from an individual, but from the mouth of two and three witnesses (Matthew 18:16; Matthew 18:20), and is borne on more than one heart (comp. 1 Thessalonians 1:2 : we give thanks). Therefore also Paul does not need to describe Silvanus and Timothy more closely; they are held still in fresh, living remembrance by the church.—For just the same reason also he does not designate himself more fully as an Apostle, &c. As already remarked by Calvin, he needs not to come before the Thessalonians with official authority, but merely to recall his person to their memory, as he lived and wrought among them in the power of the Spirit. In this brief, free self-designation Lünemann finds with reason a mark of the earlier composition and authenticity of our Epistles. At a later period, indeed, Paul does not in the inscriptions of his Epistles call himself an Apostle in cases, where he can count on faithful, unimpaired love and recognition on the part of a church or an individual; yet even there the inscriptions are fuller, as Philippians 1:1; Philemon 1:1. But after that his apostolic authority was assailed, from the time of the Epistle to the Galatians, his general custom was to append his official to his personal name, and then frequently he makes use of that for longer or shorter additions corresponding to the actual contents of the letter, so that no inscription is in all respects the same as another. Even in Thessalonica, it is true, attempts to create distrust were not wanting; but these affected not his apostolic authority as such, but his entire person. This freedom of the Apostle in his self-designations is characteristic and instructive. As he directs his letters, not to the office-bearers, but to the church, so, unless there be a necessity for it, he does not himself come forth in his official authority. He has no stiff official style, but here too he proportions every thing to the circumstances and exigencies of the particular case. Accordingly, he here distinguishes himself by no addition from Silvanus and Timotheus, but simply takes the precedence of them, and thereby at the same time designates himself as properly the author of the Epistle. Certainly in this is shown also the humility of the Apostle, and so far the remark is not incorrect, that Paul omitted his apostolic title out of modesty, whether towards the Thessalonians (Chrysostom, &c.), or towards Silvanus and Timothy Zwingli, Pott, &c.). Only we are not to find here the proper motive of the omission (comp. Colossians 1:1). The humility is all the more genuine, that it comes out thus silently and unconstrained.

2. To the church.—Paul writes not to the presbyters, teachers, &c., but to the churches; where he names the office-bearers, it is by way of supplementary appendage (Philippians 1:1).[10] In the most solemn manner he requires, 1 Thessalonians 5:27, that all the brethren should read the Epistle. To deny the reading of Holy Scripture to the laity, therefore, is to contravene its original destination. In his earlier Epistles (to the Thessalonians, Galatians, and Corinthians) Paul writes τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ or ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις; in the later ones (Romans, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians) τοῖς ἁγίοις, &c, which indeed is added in those to the Corinthians.[11]

3. In God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.—These words are to be closely joined with τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ, as if they were preceded by τῇ or τῇ οὔσῃ, as in the opening of 1 and 2 Cor., where it is said, only in reverse order: τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ τοῦ θεοῦ τῆ οὔσἐν Κορίνθῳ (comp. 1 Thessalonians 2:14). The addition attached by means of the preposition forms here, in fact (comp. Winer, p. 123), with the substantive but one main idea, and is to be connected with it merely by the voice. This happens with special frequency in the case of the Pauline formula: ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ, to which our expression is nearly allied (comp., in particular, Philippians 1:1 : τοῖς ἁγίοις ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ τοῖς οὖσιν ἐν Φιλίπποις, also Colossians 1:2). Thus the want of the article intimates that it belongs to the idea of the Church, to be in God and Christ. “Est hæc nota veluti approbatio veræ et legitimæ ecclesiæ” (Calvin). In this very brevity of the expression is something great and profound. It denotes not merely fellowship with God (Bengel, Lünemann), but a real, essential being in God and Christ (Romans 16:11; John 15:4; John 17:21 sqq.; 1 John 2:5 sq.; 1 John 5:20). “It is a high dignity, to which nothing is equal, when one is in God” (Chrysostom). Whereas Thessalonica previously lay with the whole world in the wicked one (ἐν τῷ πονηρῷ masc., 1 John 5:19; comp. 1:18; ἐν τῷ opposed to 1:20)—whereas in that place there were only Jews, who had no part in Christ, and Gentiles, who had none also in God—there is at this time a church there, that is in God the Father, and in Christ Jesus. Here is a miracle of God, over which the Apostle gives Him glory and thanks; as always at the beginning of his Epistles, when he turns his eye on the churches, so also here, 1 Thessalonians 1:2.

4. Grace unto you [German: Grace be with you.—J. L.], and peace. The old epistolary style combines in the inscription what with us is distributed into the address, salutation, subscription, and direction. The Pauline benediction is χάρις καὶ εἰρήνη; only in the Epistles to Timothy (and perhaps Titus 1:4) χάρις, ἔλεος, εἰρήνη; the first form also in 1 and 2 Peter, the latter in 2 John; Judges 2:0 : ἔλεος καὶ εἰρήνη καὶ . Χάρις reminds us of the Greek salutation χαίρειν (comp. Acts 23:26), which occurs also in the apostolic circular (Acts 15:23; James 1:1); εἰρήνη, of the Hebrew (likewise Arabic, see Winer, Realwörterbuch: Höflichkeit) form of salutation and benediction, שָׁלוֹם (Genesis 43:23; Judges 19:20; 1 Chronicles 12:18; Exodus 18:7; Judges 18:15 1 Samuel 10:4; 1 Samuel 25:5-6). As James in a lively manner connects, 1 Thessalonians 1:2, χαρά with the χαίρειν, so Paul has given it a turn of yet deeper Christian import in χάρις while, the εἰρήνη ὑμῖν had already by the Saviour or His return from death been brought to a Christian maturity and depth (John 20:19; John 20:21; John 20:26; comp. also Luke 10:5-6), especially in connection with His farewell discourse, in which He had promised, as the fruit of His victory over the world, and so as a distinctive family legacy in opposition to the world, to bequeathe His peace to His own (John 14:27; John 16:33). By their juxtaposition both words are raised completely out of their Gentile and Jewish outward significance, as referring almost solely to the natural life and welfare, into the “fulness of the peculiar salvation and blessing of Christians.” A notable instance of the way in which the New Testament dialect was formed.—χάρις is, first of all, favor generally, kindness, especially towards inferiors, the ἀγάπη in self-manifestation (just as righteousness is holiness in self-manifestation), and in this sense it is used also of the child Jesus, Luke 2:40 : χάρις θεοῦ ἦν ἐπʼ αὐτό. But in a more special sense χάρις denotes (opposed to ὀφείλημα, νόμος, ἔργα, Romans 4:4; Romans 6:14 sq.; Romans 11:6) the exhibition of the Divine love as free and undeserved in regard to such, as have not merely no legal claim to it, but have according to law deserved the opposite (Romans 3:23-24; Ephesians 2:3-5). This is the New Testament saving grace, which in Christ Jesus has appeared to sinners (Titus 2:11; John 1:17). It is not merely the principle of the redemption accomplished once for all, but it continues also to be the sustaining ground, the nourishing power of the new-spiritual life with its manifold gifts in Christians (comp. Acts 23:11 [no doubt a misprint for Acts 11:23]; Acts 6:8; Ephesians 4:7), and so is ever afresh inwardly sealed and communicated to them from God in Christ through the Holy Ghost (comp. Romans 5:5; John 1:16). In this sense, according to which grace is thus not simply a sentiment, but at the same time a Divine self-communication, Paul desires for his readers ever fresh grace from God and Christ. Εἰρήνη need not be taken, with De Wette, Meyer, &c., against the Greek and New Testament usage, as=salvation, but with most since Chrysostom, who on this point as a Greek has a special voice, as=peace. This is the immediate effect of grace in the heart of man, the restoration, after the distraction and discord of the life of sin, of the harmony of the inner life, with its pure enjoyment, resting on the fact that the oppression and curse of sin are removed from the conscience, and man knows that in Christ he is brought again into his true relation to God, the filial relation (Romans 5:1), and is thereby comforted and strengthened against the oppositions and vexations of the world (John 16:33). The enhancement of this peace, when it pours its quickening and elevating influence into the experience, is joy (χαρά, Romans 14:17; Philippians 4:4; John 15:11; John 16:22; John 16:24; John 17:13; 1Jn 1:4; 1 Peter 1:8—a fundamental idea of the New Testament, too much neglected by us in life and doctrine). Peace being the feeling of convalescence and healthfulness of the new life, the home-feeling of the returned prodigal, it impels the man of itself to abide in the healthful life-element of home; it has a power to keep the heart and mind, the whole mechanism of the inner life, in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7), and is therefore suitable in every relation as a chief benediction for Christians.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. Of the natural world these two things are true: In God we live, move, and are [Luther’s version: sind=ἐσμέν.—J. L.], all things harmoniously existing in the Logos (Acts 17:25-28; Colossians 1:17); and: The whole world lieth in the wicked one (1 John 5:19). The original Divine powers of creation and the superadded powers of the prince of this world, life and death, intermingle therein in a mysterious manner. Through Christ this mixture is dissolved, and the separation, the great judgment of the world, is effected, whereby the Satanic element is cast out, and the world brought back again to its original ground of life (John 12:31; Colossians 1:20). It is in His own person first of all, the person of the Son of man who has entered through death into His glory, that the world’s judgment is fulfilled, that which is of the devil is rightfully abolished, and humanity introduced anew to God. Whosoever would again live wholly in God must be in Him. But this new being and life unites itself to the world first inwardly in the spirit. As therefore all creatures in respect of their natural existence, that is, so far as they live generally in the world of death and corruption, live, move, and are in God and immediately in the Logos, drawing continually from His omnipresent, all-pervading energy the breath of life, so Christians, in respect of their inner, pneumatic, incorruptible existence, are and live first of all in Jesus Christ, the glorified, who being the Lord is also the Spirit[12] as God (2 Corinthians 3:17), and so the Head and all-pervading life-principle of the Church born of His Spirit (Colossians 1:18; Colossians 2:6-7; Ephesians 1:22 sq.; Ephesians 2:21 sq.), the element in which Christians live, as the branches in the vine (John 15:4 sqq.), so that all they do is done in Christ Jesus (Colossians 3:17 and the phrase, occurring more than a hundred times with Paul, ἐν Χριστῷ or ἐν κυρίῳ). Because in Christ, they are then also, in this higher sense of the spiritual, eternal life, in God (1Co 3:23; 1 Corinthians 11:3; John 14:20). Thus in the Church is a beginning made towards the attainment of the great, Divine purpose in the world, again organically to comprehend the whole in Christ and in God (Ephesians 1:10; 1 Corinthians 15:28).—[Webster and Wilkinson: The full significancy of this important preposition ἐν, in its N. T. use with Θεῷ, Ἰησοῦ, Χριστῷ, Κυρίῳ, can only be understood by realizing the all-pervading doctrine of the Holy Ghost.—J. L.]

2. It is of doctrinal significance, that ἐκκλησία denotes as well the universal, as the individual or local, church. The distinction between congregation and church [Gemeinde und Kirche] does not exist in the New Testament usage. Not merely a philological exactness, but one of Luther’s genial instincts must be recognized in his having preserved this identity of expression, and everywhere in the New Testament translated ἐκκλησία by Gemeinde [congregation]. Spirit is, according to Oetinger’s word, where every part can again become a whole. The same is true also of the place of the Spirit’s manifestation, the Church. The Apostles, anxious as they were for the order of single churches (Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5), made no arrangement before their departure for securing the external unity of the Church, which till then had rested in their persons. From this fact, which has not yet been sufficiently considered, we perceive two things: 1. That the Church can be one in the Spirit, even where there is a separation of outward communions; 2. that we should make moderate account of the Church as an institution. The New Testament has no word for churchly.13

3. “Nothing speaks more strongly for the Divinity of Christ than the practice, which pervades the whole style of Scripture, of joining Christ with God, and ascribing to Him strictly Divine operations.” Olshausen on Romans 1:7. There is everywhere in the New Testament, even in the Synoptical Gospels, a multitude of indirect evidences for the Divinity of Christ, modes of speech which can only on this supposition be understood in their full, natural sense. Christologies which recognize in the Redeemer merely the sinless, supernaturally begotten, eternally ordained central Man (Schleiermacher, Rothe, Schenkel), have in them important elements of truth, but do not ascend to the biblical height. In the inscriptions of the Pauline Epistles Father and Son are joined together as Θεὸς πατήρ, with and without ἡμῶν, and κύριος (again with and without ἡμῶν) Ἰησοῦς Χριστός. Now it might be supposed, especially on account of the ἡμῶν common to both, that πατήρ and κύριος answer to one another, the former expression derived from the family, the latter from the state and kingdom; or the former from the filial relation, the latter from that of a servant (comp. Malachi 1:6 and the frequent δοῦλος Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ). But both the verbal arrangement and the decisive passage 1 Corinthians 8:5-6 (comp. 1 Corinthians 12:5-6; Ephesians 4:5-6) show that the correspondence is rather between θεός and κύριος, πατήρ and Ἰησοῦς Χριστός. And this reminds us that the LXX put κύριος for יְהוָֹה (in conformity with the oral אֲדֹנָי[14]) and θεός for אֱלֹהִים (comp. also John 20:28 and 2 John 1:3, where to κύριος Ἰησοῦς Χριστός is still added, with a specific relation to the πατήρ, ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ πατρός). Thus the appellation κύριος also becomes a witness for Christ’s Divinity, as Nitzsch has particularly pointed out. (Cfr. his article on the essential trinity of God, Studien und Kritiken, 1841, p. 322 sqq., and System der christl. Lehre, 5th ed., p. 145, 189.) The peculiarity of the designation of Christ as κύριος is, that therein the Divine essence (κύριος= יְהוָֹה) and the historical, official position and operation (κύριος κυριεύων, Romans 14:9, Lord and King of the kingdom of God, on which account ἡμῶν is easily subjoined) are combined in one. The latter signification evolves itself in the Gospels by various steps and deepening shades of meaning from the dialect of common life, where κύριος as applied to Jesus is scarcely any longer an ordinary word of courtesy, but, as in the sphere of revelation generally, every nomen again becomes omen, a reverential address to One whose essential superiority is recognized, as well as his possession of a miraculous power (John 4:11; John 4:15; John 4:19; Matthew 8:2; Matthew 8:6; Matthew 8:8; Matthew 8:21; Matthew 8:25; Matthew 17:4; Matthew 20:30-31; Matthew 22:43-45; Matthew 25:37; Matthew 25:44; Matthew 27:10; John 6:68; John 9:36; John 9:38; John 13:6; John 13:13 sq.; John 20:13; John 20:28; John 21:7; comp. Acts 2:36; Acts 10:36), whereas on the other hand the deeper, Jehovistic-Messianic usage of the Apostles, especially of Paul, is found employed at the very beginning, among the links of connection with the Old Testament, by the angel Gabriel (Luke 1:16-17, and so accordingly Luke 1:43; Luke 1:76; comp. also Matthew 7:21-22; Acts 7:59; Acts 9:13-14). In the Book of Acts the expressions ὁ λόγος τοῦ θεοῦ and ὁ λόγος τοῦ κυρίου are used interchangeably (Acts 4:31; Acts 6:2; Acts 6:7; Acts 8:14; Acts 17:13, &c.; Acts 8:25; Acts 13:48 sq.; Acts 15:35 sq.; Acts 19:10; Acts 19:20). In this higher use of the word it is clearly implied, that Christ attained His central position as Lord and Head of the Church, of humanity, of the world, only by means of His Divinity. But certainly there is in it also an expression of the distinctive character of His Divinity, to wit, of subordination rightly understood—the Father being the Supreme God over all, and so also the God of Christ (Ephesians 1:17; John 20:17; Revelation 3:12), but the Son God as manifested, mediating, standing on the pinnacle of the world (Ephesians 4:5-6; 1 Corinthians 12:5-6). God, Lord, Spirit, are the trinitarian expressions of Paul; Father, Son, Spirit, those of the Evangelists, of the Lord, and of John.—That God, the Most High, is our Father, who loves us, and to whom we should draw near with filial confidence, and that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Jehovah, who as Man draws near to us as Saviour—this truth meets the readers of Paul’s Epistles at the very outset, full of grace and peace.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

Paul and his friends a model of Christian fellowship: 1. Generally of brethren with one another; 2. of teachers with one another (Paul and Silas, comp. Acts 16:17); 3. of teachers and scholars (Paul and Timothy). The brotherly fellowship of teachers laboring in a church, as a main condition of blessed working: 1. The personal fellowship of spirit; 2. the fellowship of doctrine; 3. that of prayer and intercession (comp. 1 Thessalonians 1:2 and 2 Thessalonians 1:3; 2 Thessalonians 1:11).—Christian brotherhood and Christian friend ship, their oneness and their difference, shown in the relation of Paul to his fellow-laborers and especially to Timothy.—Rieger: In the kingdom of Christ even the most highly-gifted person does not choose to be so alone, nor alone to perform everything, but gladly seizes occasion to support his own witness to the truth, and mode of acting therein, by the consent of others. In this way likewise a man can really well commend himself to the consciences of others, when they perceive in him a willingness to let others also stand beside him as his equals.

Believers should regard themselves as those who are in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Comp. Tersteegen’s: “All-pervading Air, wherein we ever move, of all things principle and life, &c.” [Comp. Acts 17:28.—J. L.]—Roos: Civil societies have their ground in an external force and a temporary expediency; a Christian church has its everlasting ground in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who is acknowledged and adored in common.—Diedrich: Nowadays in most countries one knows only of churches on a merely natural foundation.—The great joy, which the Apostle always proclaims to his readers at the beginning of his Epistles, that God is our Father and Jesus Christ our Divine Lord.

The two vital points [Herzpunkte] of Christianity: 1. In the heart of God, and from Him, grace; 2. in the heart of man, and from him in the church, peace.—Thomas Aquinas: χάρις principium omnis boni, εἰρήνη finale bonorum omnium.—Phil. Matth. Hahn: We have daily need of fresh emanations of grace and peace from the highest source. 1. The emanations of God’s grace are innumerable: forgiveness of sins; the witness of the Spirit, that we are the children of God; light and life-power from the word. 2. Every new effluence of grace gives also new peace within the heart, since in full assurance of the Holy Ghost we know that we have not to fear God’s wrath on account of our former sins, and that the impending day of wrath will not consume us (see on Colossians 1:2; Ephesians 1:2).

[Anselm, cited by Pelt and Afford: “Gratia et pax a Deo sit vobis, ut, qui humana gratia et sæculari pace privati estis, apud Deum gratiam et pacem habeatis.”—J. L.]

Footnotes:

[1][The English form, Timothy, occurs seven times in our Authorized Version.—J. L.]

[2][ἐκκλησία, German: Gemeinde, congregation. But see Dr. Schaff’s note 4 on Matthew 16:18.—J. L.]

[3][The English supplement, which is, might better have been omitted.—J. L.]

[4][The repetition of the in is also superfluous.—J. L.]

[5][See the Auth. Vers. at 2 Thessalonians 1:2; Romans 1:7; Philemon 1:3. Koch: “By the omission of the verb the expression gains fn strength and emphasis.”—German, after Luther: sei mit euch.—J. L.]

[6]The words ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν καὶ κυρίου ̓Ἰησαῦ Χριστοῦ are wanting in important manuscripts [B. F. G.], versions [Vulgate, Syriac, &c.], and all the [ancient] commentaries, and are therefore bracketed by Bengel and Lachmann, and cancelled by Tischendorf,* Pott, De Wette, Lünemann, and others [Alford, Ellicott, Amer. Bible Union], though defended by Schott, Olshausen, Koch, Reiche, and others. It is an obvious conjecture, that the words were brought here from the opening of the other Pauline Epistles, and in favor of this view is the brevity by which the inscription of this earliest of the Epistles is on the whole distinguished. In the precisely similar opening of the Second Epistle to the Thessalonians the words in question are also found, and are there undoubtedly genuine. We let them stand here likewise [in brackets], in accordance with the principle which we intend to follow also in other cases, that for homiletic treatment a various reading only then comes to be of decisive importance, when the authorities are so weighty that a universal, or at least nearly universal, agreement prevails among the critics in regard to it. [In this case, moreover, the common reading is sustained by the Codex Sinaiticus,† A. D. E., and other uncials.—J. L.]

[7][According to Luther’s more exact rendering of Philippians 2:22.—J. L.]

[8][Ellicott: “as being probably the older man, and certainly the older associate of St. Paul.” Alford urges rather the personal and official eminence of Silas.—J. L.]

[9][By no means. Paul is the Bole author, and would be understood see 1 Thessalonians 2:18; 1 Thessalonians 3:1-2; 1 Thessalonians 3:5-6; 2 Thessalonians 2:5; 2 Thessalonians 3:17. Comp. 1 Cor., Phil., and Philem., in each of which Epistles the Apostle associates a companion with himself in the salutation, and then immediately proceeds throughout in the first person singular. Comp, also the Epistle to the Galatians, where it can scarcely be supposed that the writer meant to ascribe joint authorship to “an the brethren” of 1 Thessalonians 1:2.—J. L.]

[10][After citing various explanations of the special mention of “the bishops and deacons” in Philippians 1:1, Eadie adds: “The opinion of Wiesinger is at least as probable, that the real reason is to be found in the circumstances of the church, and that there was a tendency to undue assumption on the part of some individuals, which needed such an effective check as was implied in the special acknowledgment of those who bore office in it.”—J. L.]

[11][Ellicott: “The variation is slightly noticeable; it does not however seem to point to gradually altered views with regard to the attributes of the church (Jowett), but merely to the present comparative paucity of numbers (compare Chrysost.), and their aggregation in a single assembly.” And the same considerations may perhaps account for the fact that only in these two earliest Epistles does Paul address the church as composed of persons belonging to the city, and not as established in the city itself. Comp. Colossians 4:16.—J. L.]

[12][Hodge: “Not one and the same person, but one and the same Being, in the Same sense in which our Lord says: ‘I and the Father are one.’ It is an identity of essence and of power.”—J. L.]

[13][German: dass man von der Kirche als Institution mässiglich halten soll. Das Neue Testament hat kein Wort für kirchlich. Nor has the N. T. any word for evangelical, trinitarian, &c.; The logic of this second inference, from which I beg leave to express my dissent, is quite as feeble, as its spirit would seem to be at variance with that of the N. T. throughout. It is surely of the Church as an institution that Christ speaks in Matthew 16:18; Matthew 18:17; and Paul, for example, in Ephesians 4:4-13; 1 Timothy 3:15; &c. Nor is there any good reason why we should shrink from acknowledging, that whatever plausibility there may be in this sort of indifferentism, which is indeed common enough, in regard to the outward constitution of the Church, is derived, not at all from the N. T., but from the historical, and, alas, still seemingly helpless, confusions of Christendom.—J. L.]

[14][Substituted by the Jews in the reading of the Scriptures for רְהוָֹה.—J. L.]

Verses 2-7

FIRST PART

Personal And Historical

1 Thessalonians 1:2 to 1 Thessalonians 3:13

___________
I
Paul shows the Thessalonians the genuineness of his preaching and of their faith

(1 Thessalonians 1:2 to 1 Thessalonians 2:16)

1 Thessalonians 1:2-7

The Apostle thanks God for the gracious standing of the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 1:2), which he describes in its human manifestation (1 Thessalonians 1:3), as well as its Divine ground (1 Thessalonians 1:4). The latter is their election, to he inferred from the fact, that the Gospel was, on the one hand, preached amongst them with power (1 Thessalonians 1:5), and, on the other hand, was received by them with joy, so as to furnish an example to others (1 Thessalonians 1:6-7)

2We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you15 in our prayers; 3remembering without ceasing16 your work of faith, and labor [toil, κόπου] of love, and patience of hope in [of ]17 our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of [before, ἔμπροσθεν] God and our Father [our God and Father, τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ πατρὸς ἡμῶν]; 4knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God [brethren beloved of 5God, your election]18; for [because, ὅτι] our gospel came not unto you19 in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in [sin. omits this ἐν] much assurance; as [even as, καθώς] ye know what manner of men we were [proved were found]20 among you [for ἐν ὑμῖν Bin. has simply ὑμῖν] for your sake; 6and ye became followers [imitators, μιμηταί] of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost; 7so that ye were [became, γενέσθαι] ensamples [a pattern]21 to all that believe [all the believers]22 in Macedonia and [in] Achaia.[23]

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

1. (1 Thessalonians 1:2.) We give thanks.—With such a thanks giving for the faith of his readers, or rather an assurance that he is always giving thanks on that account, Paul begins all his Epistles to churches (and also 2 Timothy and Philemon), with the exception of that to the Galatians, where he sets out with a characteristic θαυμάζω. What God has done and continues to do in sinners appears to him ever afresh great and worthy of praise, nor does he even allow himself to be disconcerted in his thanksgiving by the many faults and imperfections still adhering to the churches, while on the other hand by testifying his thankful joy in his readers, every one of whom is to understand that he himself is included therein (πάντων), he opens his way to their hearts. But pro gratulatione gratiarum actionem ponit, ut Dei beneficium esse admoneat, quicquid prædicat esse in ipsis laude dignum (Calvin).—The plural, found here and 2 Thessalonians and Colossians, is not the literary We (Pelt, [Conybeare,] &c., contrary to 1 Corinthians, Philippians, Philemon, &c., but includes Silvanus and Timothy (comp. 1 Thessalonians 2:18).24 As the three men preach and write together, so also they pray together. Excellently De Wette: “In other cases the Epistles begin with such declarations of thankfulness only by way of preamble, and so that soon a special object of the Epistle is announced; but here the thanksgiving is connected with a good deal that the Apostle feels himself impelled to write to the young church respecting its condition, and his own relation to it; and this forms a principal part of the Epistle, if not its main substance.” The Apostle gives thanks for the Christian standing of his readers, and to confirm them therein, and remove all doubt of its Divine reality, as well as of the purity of the motives with which he himself had led them into their position, is really, strictly speaking, his object in chh. 1–3.

2. Making mention of you.—That μνείαν ποιούμ. supplies the particular explanation, or modal definition, to εὐχαρ.: “whilst we make mention of you,” is clear; and equally so that εἰδότες, 1 Thessalonians 1:4, supplies a causal definition: Paul thanks God for the Thessalonians, because he knows their election. But it is a question, whether the intermediate participle is to be made parallel to the first or the third. The former view is adopted by most, and then at first sight a beautiful parallel results: μνημονεύοντες answers to the μνείαν ποιούμ., the ὑμῶν is extended in ὑμῶν τοῦ ἔργουἸησοῦ Χριστοῦ, and, ἐπὶ τῶν προσευχῶν, &c. returns in ἔμπροσθενπατρὸς ἡμῶν. But the parallelism is only too strong, and amounts to tautology; the first clause were of no account alongside of the second. We shall, therefore, do better (with Chrysostom, Calvin, Schott, Koch), by taking μνημον. as parallel to εἰδότες, and finding in 1 Thessalonians 1:3 the first, and in 1 Thessalonians 1:4 the second, ground assigned for the thanksgiving. In favor of this, also, is the analogy of Colossians 1:4 and 2 Thessalonians 1:3. To thanksgiving for the Thessalonians the Apostle is impelled on the human side by his remembrance of their work of faith, &c.; on the divine side, by his reasonable conviction of their election.25

3. (1 Thessalonians 1:2 [3].) Without ceasing.—Ἀδιαλείπτως is by the Peschito, Vulgate, Luther, Bengel, Ewald, and many others [Benson, Burton, Bloomfield, Alford, Webster and Wilkinson, &c.—J. L.], rightly construed with what precedes; and for this the analogy of 1 Thessalonians 2:13; Romans 1:9; comp. 2 Timothy 1:3, is decisive. The word, moreover, is used by Paul in only one other place, 1 Thessalonians 5:17, and thus always in connection with prayer. Nor does the word so arranged drag (Lünemann); rather it is distinguished, and πάντοτε thereby receives its special illustration. The Apostle would certify the Thessalonians with peculiar emphasis that they are constantly in his devotional remembrance. On the other hand, μνημονεὐοντες does not in this way become flat (De Wette), but is just as marked and forcible as the parallel εἰδότες at the head of the clause.26

4. (1 Thessalonians 1:3.) For we are mindful [Remembering].Μνημονεύειν is not merely transitive=μνείαν ποιεῖσθαι, to mention, bring to remembrance (De Wette, Lünemann, &c.27), but it also means, and indeed primarily, to be mindful (μνήμων), as κυριεύειν, δουλεύειν κύριος, δοῦλος εἶναι. Thus everywhere in Paul’s writings, and generally in the New Testament; whence arises a new proof in favor of our view of 1 Thessalonians 1:3 (though, even taken intransitively, the word might be understood of remembrance in prayer).—Paul remembers what he himself has seen at Thessalonica, and what Timothy has since reported to him (1 Thessalonians 3:6). He goes on to speak in unusually strong terms of the excellencies of the Thessalonians, as in the second chapter he has to commend his own ministry. In this there is neither flattery nor egotism; nor is it simply even a father’s joy in the young church, that puts such words in his mouth. He is rather “exhibiting evidences to the Thessalonians, that they had attained to a genuine faith, and that there is in them a true work of God” (J. Mich. Hahn).

5. Your work in [of] faith.—Ὑμῶν is to be connected with the following substantives, and that in such a way that its force extends over all the three main ideas.—It is, then, of three things that Paul is mindful, and this threefoldness he defines according to the three fundamental elements of the Christian life, which he so often extols: faith, love, hope (comp. 1 Thessalonians 5:8; 1 Corinthians 13:13; Colossians 1:4 sq.). But here these occur only in a subordinate, genitival way. And the genitives are all of the same sort: genitives of the origin (De Wette, Schott, and most);28 they mark the feeling that produces ἔργον, κόπος, ὑπομονή, showing itself practically therein. In German we should best employ compound substantives: Glaubenswerk, Liebesmühe, [faith-work, love-toil], were this kind of phrase possible in the last instance. Now in this way also may be explained the only one of these expressions that is difficult, and has been very variously understood: τὸ ἔργον τῆς πίστεως, with which comp. 2 Thessalonians 1:11. Here ἔργον, as parallel to κόπος, cannot denote a single work, but is something continuous, a totality, like our day’s-work, life-work. And so ἔργον is already found also in classical Greek = business, occupation; it denotes every human activity, especially in so far as it displays a free energetic movement, or is connected with toil and effort (Passow). In the New Testament and with Paul the word stands repeatedly for a man’s whole life-work, the sum of his ἔργα, as it is sometimes said that God judges according to works, at other times according to every one’s work (comp., for instance, Romans 1:0 [2] 6 with 1 Peter 1:17; Revelation 20:12 with Revelation 22:12). Τὸ ἔργον τῆς πίστεως is thus a course of action, with the accessory idea of vigor, strength, as proceeding from faith; the resolute, serious authentication of faith; practical earnestness in Christianity (comp. for the expression τὸ ἔργον τοῦ νόμου, Romans 2:15, in which only the genitival relation is somewhat different; whereas the material parallel cited by De Wette, and others, Galatians 5:6 : πίστις δἰ , is in so far less apt, as it confounds the second particular, the κόπος τῆς , with the first). To the later Pauline usage, formed in connection with the doctrine of justification, our expression stands as yet in no direct, conscious relation; but in reality it forms a double antithesis to the ἔργα νόμου, since faith and law stand mutually opposed (Romans 4:13 sqq.; Galatians 3:23 sqq.), and so the singular τὸ ἔργον to the anarthrous plural—the undivided unity of the spiritually quickened life-work to the incoherent multiplicity of single, more or less external, works and performances. For the thought, such passages may be compared as Colossians 1:10; Ephesians 2:10, and especially Titus 3:8 (καλῶν ἔργων προΐστασθαι οἱ πεπιστευκότες θεῷ); Titus 2:14; Titus 2:7; Titus 1:16; 1 Timothy 2:10; 2 Timothy 2:21; 2 Timothy 3:17. As Paul has the expression τὸ ἔργον τῆς πίστεως in his two earliest Epistles, so his latest, the Pastoral Epistles, insist with peculiar earnestness on the evidencing of faith in good works. Herein moreover lie hints for the reconciliation of Paul with James. After what has been said, we can now readily estimate the divergent explanations. It is a mistake, were it only on account of the analogy with what follows, to take τῆς πίστεως, nearly in the sense of John 6:29, as a genitive of apposition [Hofmann, Alford]: the work, that consists in faith; whether, indeed, we understand this, with Calvin and Calov, of faith as a mighty operation of God in man, or, with Clericus and Macknight, of the reception of the Gospel as man’s work, so far as that involves, for example, the subduing of prejudices. It is also erroneous, because resting on an indistinct conception of the ἔργον and of the genitival relation, and likewise as violating the analogy with what follows, and encroaching in the third member, to lay the chief stress, with Chrysostom, Theodoret, Pelt, Lünemann (though he rightly says that ἔργου is emphatic), and others, on πίστεως: faith, something begun with energy, and in spite of all temptations steadfastly retained. Rightly Anselm: quomodo fides vestra non est otiosa, sed semper bonum opus gignit; De Wette: moral activity, proceeding from faith; and similarly Bengel, Olshausen, &c.

[At 2 Thessalonians 1:11 Dr. Riggenbach would modify the above explanation of ἔργον τῆς πίστεως by limiting the expression to the inward work of faith in the soul itself, and cites Romans 4:20-21 as a better parallel than Galatians 5:6. An obvious objection to this is, that what Paul had observed of the faith of the Thessalonians, and what he now remembered of it, could only have been its outward manifestations in the life, not its internal operation in the heart. And just so in regard to their love and hope.—J. L.]

6. Toil in [of] love.—[“Such as their own Jason had shown amid persecutions, in Acts 17:0.” Jowett.—J. L.]—The first expression bears on the relation to God, the second on that to the Christian brethren (comp. Colossians 1:4), the third on that to the world and its persecutions. The governing substantives advance from the active to the passive: ἔργον is vigorous doing, ὑπομονή patient suffering, κόπος forms the transition: toil is a doing combined with suffering; strenuous, fatiguing, devoted labor. Patience is the last and highest; rightly to suffer is more and harder than rightly to work; even in the case of the Lord suffering was the last, decisive test, and became the means of His perfecting and glorification (comp. 1 Peter 4:14). In these three, then, are shown and verified faith, love, hope—the root, stem, and crown of the new life. Faith lays hold of the grace exhibited in the facts of redemption, and is thus the foundation of Christian life, the reimplanting of man through Christ in God. Thence arises love as the echo and answer to the Divine love in the heart of man; it is the pure opposite of selfishness that principle of sin—and so is the soul of the Christian life, and of the present Christian fellowship—the fulfilling of the law. Hope knows that the future belongs to the Lord and His Church; it is the real expectation and sure prospect, that the pneumatic life, which now already, descending from the Lord, dwells in his members, shall outwardly also penetrate and transfigure all things, and subdue its still existing antagonists, the flesh and the world, by means of new revelations of the Lord. Thus, in these three subjective factors of the new life is reflected at the same time the historical character of the objective kingdom of God.—With regard to the Thessalonians, therefore, Paul rejoices first of all in the vigor and earnestness of their life of faith, in that they have not yet become faint, and then in the fact that during this hard time, when their church is exposed to manifold vexations, they not merely in a general way hold together in mutual love, but also with laborious effort and sacrifice come to one another’s help—in beneficiis spiritualibus vel externis (Bengel). Comp. the examples, Acts 17:5; Acts 17:9; Romans 16:4; Romans 16:12; 1 John 3:16.—With this is connected finally

7. (1 Thessalonians 1:3.) Patience in [of] hope. Ὑπομονή, properly the staying under (under the cross), patient, unwearied constancy in suffering; here in persecution (see Acts 17:5 sqq.). This constancy proceeds from hope, because in view of the future glory one can the more cheerfully bear the present suffering (Romans 8:18; 2 Corinthians 4:17 sq.; Hebrews 11:26; Hebrews 12:2 sq.). Patience, therefore, appears as the inseparable companion of hope (Romans 8:25); likewise, in the reverse order, as producing it, for in the spiritual life there exists a reciprocal influence (Romans 5:3 sq.); or it even takes the place of hope beside faith and love (Titus 2:2; comp. 2 Timothy 3:10; 1 Timothy 6:11).—τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ refers not to all the three preceding virtues as derived from Christ (Olshausen, [Steiger, on 1 Peter 1:2, Wordsworth, Webster and Wilkinson]), nor yet to ὑπομονή (Bengel, after 2 Thessalonians 3:5), but to ἐλπίδος as a genitive, not of apposition (Luther), but of the object. Christ is the proper object of hope (and as such is certainly Himself also called ἡ ἐλπίς, Colossians 1:27; 1 Timothy 1:1), not only because on Him all our trust (this the more common meaning of ἐλπίς) rests, but especially because it is through His return and the revelation of the Kingdom of God therewith connected, that the Christian’s hope of glory is fulfilled (Titus 2:13). Let it be observed, how by the addition of this genitive the element of hope, so important in our Epistles, already appears here in a fuller and more emphatic way than the other two.29

8. Before our God and Father.—Ἡμῶν belongs to both substantives.[30] The words ἔμπροσθεν, &c., may be joined either with the verb μνημονεύοντες (De Wette, Olshausen, [Lünemann, Alford, Ellicott], &c.), or with the three substantives, τοῦ ἔργου, &c. (Chrysostom, Theodoret, Œcumenius [Bishop Hall, Jowett, Wordsworth]). Even in the first case μνημον. need not be understood of mention in prayer, but that Paul before God, that is, so often as he comes before God in prayer, remembers their work of faith, &c.; that is the ground of his thanksgiving; comp. 1 Thessalonians 3:9, a parallel passage that favors this view. But opposed to it is the verbal arrangement, since ἔμπροσθεν, &c. would in this way drag; and the other connection, which no more than ἐν θεῷ, 1 Thessalonians 1:1, requires the article to be repeated (against Lünemann), might be preferable.[31] By this means the entire conduct of the Thessalonians is put in relation to God (comp. 1 Thessalonians 3:13), as 1 Thessalonians 1:4 will presently describe in turn God’s bearing towards them. Chrysostom [Wordsworth]: “Since no man praised or rewarded what they did, therefore Paul adds these words, as if he would say: Be of good cheer, you suffer in the presence of God.”

9. (1 Thessalonians 1:4.) Knowing.—Εἰδότες is thus parallel with μνημονεύοντες, 1 Thessalonians 1:3; comp. the note on that word. Paul makes the two participles emphatic by placing them in the front. By the side of the remembrance of what actually lay before his eyes, he sets the knowledge, the firm assurance of something, of which one cannot be so easily certain, and in this way he intimates so much the more strongly, that on this point he is sure of his ground. To an afflicted person no higher comfort can be given, than when it is allowed to say to him: I know that thou art chosen.—With this also agrees the address: brethren beloved of God (ἠγαπημένοι, perfect participle: embraced once for all by the Divine love): they are permitted to regard themselves as objects of the Divine love, of electing love; they are to know that their Christianity is not a human dream and vapor, but the evidence that the everlasting purpose of God’s own love is directed towards them. Comp. 2 Thessalonians 2:13, where an address almost entirely similar stands also in connection with election; Colossians 3:12; Romans 11:28; Psalms 60:7 [Psalms 60:5]; Psalms 108:1 [Psalms 108:6],32 where the members of the chosen people are called יְדִידֵי יְהוָֹה LXX. ἀγαπητοί. Thus the members of the Old and of the New Testament Church are spoken of both as God’s Chosen and as His beloved., Ἐκλογή, selection, the election of grace, is the acting of the Divine love, whereby God has from eternity freely devised in Christ the plan of salvation, according to which all men should be called in succession to the kingdom of heaven,33 and has likewise received into the same these ordained persons.34 Ἐκλέγεσθαι answers to בָחַר, e. g. Deuteronomy 7:6, and includes three things: ἐκ λέγ εσθαι: the stem marks the freeness of the Divine choice; the middle, that God has chosen men for Himself, into, the fellowship of His love, for His own; ἐκ, to select, out from the world, comp. John 15:15; John 16:19 [John 15:16; John 15:19]. In our place ἐκλογή denotes, not, as Romans 9:11, the act of choosing, but, as 2 Peter 1:10, the being chosen [Möller35]; Romans 11:1, the chosen. Paul constantly gives this title of elect to Christians, in whom through their calling and faith the purpose of redemption is realized; see 1 Thessalonians 1:5-6.

10. (1 Thessalonians 1:5.) Because.Ὅτι not=that (Luther, Bengel, Schott, &c.), but=because, for. It serves not to analyze τὴν ἐκλογήν, but to confirm εἰδότες τὴν ἐκλ. ὑμῶν. The Apostle assigns two grounds of his knowledge of the election of the Thessalonians, both lying in the nature of the case, so far as from the realization of election an inference may be drawn backward to its existence: 1. the call had come to them in power (1 Thessalonians 1:5); 2. they had received it in faith (1 Thessalonians 1:6). The first takes place on the part of God through the apostolical preaching, the second on the part of men; and therefore to τὸ εὐαγγέλιον ἡμῶν (1 Thessalonians 1:5) the ὑμεῖς (1 Thessalonians 1:6) is emphatically opposed.

11. Our gospel came [German: showed itself] unto you.—Before Paul came to Macedonia and Thessalonica, as Rieger also and Olshausen remind us, he was forbidden by the Holy Ghost to preach the word in the provinces of Asia and Bithynia (Acts 16:6-7); from which he could but infer that the hour of their election had not yet struck (it came later, Acts 19:10). Instead of this, he was called by a vision to Macedonia (Acts 16:9-10), and here, and therefore also in Thessalonica, he was able to preach with more than ordinary power and assurance in the Holy Ghost. By this he perceived that God’s saving purpose was directed to the Thessalonians. Ἐγενήθη εἰς, or, which is the same in sense, πρὸς ὑμᾶς, not: was with you (Luther), as if it were ε`̓ν ὑμῖν,36 but: came to you, showed itself in its direction and relation to you. By ἐγενήθη the certainty of the fact is expressed in a sonorous word, which is therefore thrice repeated in 1 Thessalonians 1:5-6, and precisely at the essential points. This we have attempted to represent in the translation by: showed itself.37

12. Not in word only, but, &c.—Comp. as specially parallel 1 Corinthians 4:20; only that μόνον is wanting there, because the λόγος τῶν πεφυσιωμένων is in question, here the preaching of the Apostle Δύναμις is the objective Divine force, which shone forth from the Apostle in preaching, and wrought as a power on men’s souls, spiritualis doctrinal energia (Calvin); πληροφορία, the subjective fulness of conviction, assurance, confidence, and joyfulness, with which he was able to speak; Ewald: gushing fulness. In the middle stands the common principle of both: the Holy Ghost, who animated the Apostle, and was, indeed, the Author alike of the former fact, the real power, and of this consciousness, the fulness of confidence. By means of ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ, significantly placed in the centre, as it were the soul of both, δύν. and πληροφ. receive their precise specification; for with mere power and assurance can even a worldly orator speak.—Power and spirit belong together (comp. 1 Corinthians 2:4; Romans 15:19; Acts 1:8; Acts 10:38; comp. Luke 1:35), and so spirit and life (Romans 8:12 [11]; John 6:63; 2 Corinthians 3:6; Romans 8:2; Romans 8:10.

13. Even as ye know what, &c—With this begin the appeals, so frequent in the sequel, especially 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12 (1 Thessalonians 2:1-2; 1 Thessalonians 2:5; 1 Thessalonians 2:9-11), to the personal knowledge of the Thessalonians respecting the Apostle’s behavior among them. These can only be explained by the fact, that some sought to misrepresent that behavior, and bring it under suspicion. Οἷοι, how behaved, in what power and fulness of the Spirit (Olshausen); carried out in detail, 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12. So little does the Apostle divide his gospel, his preaching, his office, from his person, that for proof of the former he appeals, and can appeal, to the latter. He says not: how we preached, but: how we were. The whole man preached. Such a fine advance of the thought characterizes the style of the Apostle.—By the δἰ ὑμᾶς put significantly at the close Paul hints thus early at what he afterwards also further unfolds, 1 Thessalonians 2:1 sqq., that in his ministry he had sought not his own advantage, but only the salvation of the Thessalonians.

14. (1 Thessalonians 1:6.) And ye became, &c.—After 1 Thessalonians 1:5 should be placed, not, as is commonly done, a period, but a comma, 1 Thessalonians 1:6 being still dependent on ὅτι of 1 Thessalonians 1:5, as the emphatic ὑμεῖς is no doubt opposed to τὸ εὐαγγ. ἡμῶν of that verse;[38] see Exegetical Note 9 [10]. Thus 1 Thessalonians 1:6, with which, 1 Thessalonians 1:1 is connected, contains the second ground from which is inferred the election of the Thessalonians. namely, the reception on their part of the call. But, as Paul preached, not merely in a general way, but with power, &c., so they too received the word, not merely in a general way, but in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost. Through these corroborating circumstances on both sides the conclusion in regard to the election becomes the more certain. And therefore is this corroboration emphasized in 1 Thessalonians 1:6 by prefixing μιμηταὶ ἡμῶν ἐγενήθητε, &c.; for the tertium comparationis lies not in δεξάμενοι τὸν λογόν, which indeed were unsuitable, in particular, to the Lord, but in this, that in great affliction, with holy joy of the Spirit, they yielded themselves to God in faith, as Paul and the Lord had done in their preaching and official procedure. On μιμηταί, comp. 1 Corinthians 4:16; 1 Corinthians 11:1; Philippians 3:17; Ephesians 5:1; Galatians 4:12, and the Doctrinal division.

15. Having received the word, &c.—When through the preaching of the gospel a man experiences in his heart the truth and glory of salvation, this will the more vividly mount even to joy of the Holy Ghost, the more that outward affliction, that is, hostility and persecution for the gospel’s sake, seeks to dispute with him the possession of salvation. As a counterpoise to the world’s intimidation and vexation, the Holy Ghost works this inward joy at the opening prospect of an everlasting communion with God (πνεύματος ἁγίου, genitive of the origin, like the genitives of 1 Thessalonians 1:3). And now the question is, whether the man gives the victory to this joy or to that affliction, to the new power of the Spirit or to the old power of the flesh. If he does the first, the case comes to δέχεσθαι τὸν λόγον..39 The δέχεσθαι—on which comp. 1 Thessalonians 2:13; Luke 8:13; Acts 8:14; Acts 11:1; Acts 17:11; James 1:21 (δέξασθε τὸν λόγον, imperative)—expresses man’s agency in the work of salvation, as this is likewise marked by ὑμεῖς. But this agency is not an independent efficiency (Pelagianism), nor any coöperation (Synergism), but an acceptance, the affirmation of the Divine working on us and in us, a free receptivity.40 While a man thus gives admission to prevenient grace, asserting itself to him inwardly in the word of the Spirit (1 Thessalonians 1:5), and acting upon his heart, he yet recognizes the new life as entirely the work of the Holy Spirit, because he himself has not effected, but merely received it.—On the affliction of the Thessalonians, see Acts 17:5 sqq. At Thessalonica, and generally in the primitive Church period, conversion was an act of personal courage and vigorous self denial, since a man had to be prepared to surrender comfort, honor, property, and life itself.

16. (1 Thessalonians 1:7.) A pattern to all the believers answers to the μιμηταί of 1 Thessalonians 1:6 : The true followers become themselves in turn patterns for others. This circumstance, moreover, that they had become a pattern for others, might be of vise to the Thessalonians for confirmation in their faith, and for their conviction of its reality; the Apostle, therefore, still further enlarges upon it in the following section (1 Thessalonians 1:7-10), to which our verse forms the transition.—Believers) is one of the most frequent designations of Christians in the New Testament—comp. Acts 2:44; Acts 4:32—along with ἅγιοι, &c.

17. Macedonia and Achaia, whither the Apostle journeyed from Thessalonica. Achaia, originally the most northern territory of the Peloponnesus, was from the year 146 before Christ the name of the Roman province that embraced the Peloponnesus and Hellas, since by the overthrow of the Achæan League the Romans had made themselves masters of Greece. The two provinces of Macedonia and Achaia together formed the entire Greek domain, and are therefore often named together (Acts 18:12; Acts 19:21; Romans 15:26. 2 Corinthians 9:2).

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. (1 Thessalonians 1:2.) The exordiums of the Pauline Epistles afford us noteworthy glimpses of the devotional life of the Apostle. So faithfully and constantly did he bear churches and individuals on his heart in intercession and thanksgiving, that he is able to speak of it to his readers in terms, which to the common sense appear hyperbolical. And it is true that the apostolic is by its very nature hyperbolical, inasmuch as the Apostles transcend the ordinary measure, and excel all others not only as preachers and founders of the Church, but also as men of prayer. When the Twelve at Jerusalem gave up the external services to the deacons, they said: “But we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4). Prayer is to them the full half, and indeed the first half, of their office. And so Paul too begins his Epistles, in which he addresses the word to the churches, with a distinct reference to the fact, that he is constantly praying for them. By prayer we act upon God; by the word, on the world, on men. To every labor for the world must be added the blessing of God; the moral can prosper only on the religious ground. Hence for every man the golden, in its simplicity inconceivably wise and comprehensive, rule: Pray and labor. But for the laborer in the word, whereby the world is to be brought to God, and the Spirit of God is to enter men’s souls, the rule has a double value. And indeed from the statements of the Apostle we observe that he had regular exercises of devotion; as a result of which, his Epistles manifest a continual devotional frame.

2. (1 Thessalonians 1:3.) On faith, love, hope, see Exegetical Note 5.

3. (1 Thessalonians 1:4.) Election is not to be so understood, as if God had appointed some men to salvation, to the exclusion of others. The latter are not rejected, but simply passed by for a time [?—nur zurückgestellt]. Election has reference to an organic position in that kingdom of God, to which all men are appointed, and, in connection therewith, to a temporal entrance into the same (see Romans 9-11, and on that passage especially J. T. Beck, Versuch einer pneumatisch hermeneutischen Entwicklung des ix. Kapitels im Brief an die Römer, Stuttgart, 1833). “God chooses for Himself out of all, before others and for others.” (Richter, Hausbibel, on Ephesians 1:4.) Quite as little is election to be so understood, as if in the elect grace wrought irresistibly, so that they could not fail to become and remain believers. Rather, when God’s hour for a man has struck, there goes forth to him through the Gospel the call (1 Thessalonians 1:5), which he can receive or not (1 Thessalonians 1:6;—on the relation between grace and freedom, see the second Note on that verse); and, when he has received it, it is still for him a question of permanent interest, that he persevere and continue steadfast in grace (see 2 Thessalonians 2:13-15 : εἵλατο ὑμᾶςθεὁς ʼ ἀρχῆςἐκάλεσεν διὰ τοῦ εὐαγγελίουἄρα οὖν στήκετε. 2 Peter 1:10): “Scripture certainly knows only of a Divine causality in the matter of salvation; but neither does it conflict with this, that the conditions of obtaining salvation rest with man.”41 (Stier, on Ephesians 1:4.) By means of the first view, that the election of grace is to be understood in an organic and historical sense, the difficulty in regard to the reprobi is solved; by means of the other, that freedom, or, more precisely, man’s free receptivity is not annulled, but unbound, by grace and the election of grace, is solved the difficulty in regard to the electi. “A prædestinatio sanctorum is spoken of, but without at the same time affirming also a reprobatio impiorum or a gratia irresistibilis.” (Olshausen, on Ephesians 1:4.) Predestination is a decrelum absolutum, and to that extent remains ever a mystery, in so far as it rests on the free good pleasure of the Divine love and wisdom, which according to their sovereign decision, yet not otherwise in the kingdom of God than in secular history, assign to one a distinguished, to another an inglorious, position; but it is no decretum horrendum, because on the ground of what God gives men move with freedom, and so the claims of conscience and reason remain secure. Nay, only thus does predestination become, what it is to Paul, the Divine world idea, the plan, formed in Christ, of creation and redemption, which lies at the basis of the entire development of the world, and comprehends the successive elevation or reintroduction of the creatures into the glory of the Creator. But for believers the knowledge of election has a double significance—a humbling one, made especially prominent in Romans 9:0; and one that lifts up, with which the Apostle has to do here, and at Ephesians 1:4; Romans 8:28-30. The first consideration is the consciousness, fatal to all self righteousness, that our salvation rests not on any. doings or performances of ours, but is founded wholly out of and above ourselves in the free, everlasting mercy of God. The second is the lofty and joyful assurance, wherein believers find comfort, that their salvation is therefore not of yesterday, but from eternity; that it rests not on weak, human props, but in the eternal purpose of grace of the Father in the Son, into the world pervading realization of which they know themselves to be taken up. The grace of God is all embracing; but it is precisely in consequence of the universality of the gracious disposition that despisers perish. Jul. Müller: “Love could not be in earnest with itself, did it not deny its denial.” [Matthew 10:33; Luke 12:9.] To believers, on the other hand, it never occurs either to suppose that now indeed they can no longer miscarry, or even to claim superiority to other men, as if God had not loved the world. “From all weakness and temptation we may ever again revert to the eternal foundation, that in Jesus Christ God has foreordainec us, that within the eternal contemplation of His Son is included our election, which now advances in manifestation and accomplishment, till we hear the gospel and are sealed by the Spirit. Only this is implied in the election of grace, as Paul explains it, that faith has reason to consider itself chosen; of those who do riot attain to this grace he speaks not at all.” (“Minutes of the Preachers’ Conference at Stuttgart, May 12, 1852, p. 309.)—[Barnes: It is possible for a people (and for individuals) to know that they are chosen of God, and to give such evidence of it that others shall know it also.—J. L.]

4. (1 Thessalonians 1:5.) The call does not come through every sort of gospel-preaching, but through!, preaching filled with the Spirit, and an essential point in the matter is the personal endowment of the preachers. Comp. the Exegetical Notes 11 and 12.

5. (1 Thessalonians 1:6-7.) Christianity proposes to men no new problems which they must first solve by themselves, and as it were in new paths; it is also in this respect not a law, but a gospel. The primary problem is solved, the way is prepared, and in this way there are forerunners, in whose footsteps we simply tread, God, Christ, and His witnesses. God was imitated by Christ (John 5:19 sq.), Christ by Paul and the Apostles (1 Corinthians 11:1), Paul by the Thessalonians and all who so walked (Philippians 3:17), and then again these imitators themselves became a pattern for others (see Exegetical Note 15). Nor is that a spiritless imitation, but a following (Luke 9:23 sqq., Luke 9:57 sqq.) in the power of the Spirit, who begets ever new, fresh life, though in historical continuity; since He is a Spirit of remembrance (John 14:26), yea, the ever present God Himself, authenticating His earlier creations by those subsequent, so that preceding spiritual men become models and instruments of training for the later, and that word: Learn of me (Matthew 11:29), finds its fulfilment perpetually renewed. Thus the Church hangs through Christ on God, and from God there goes forth through Christ and His Apostles into the world an unbroken succession of bright forms, a cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 12:1), who are images and representatives of God in the world, and, in connection with their predecessors, leave a personal impress of the heavenly, spiritual quality, according to the circumstances and needs of each several period. As we commence the missionary work amongst a heathen people, not by translating the Bible into their language, but by sending messengers to them—(it is not without reason that πορευθέντες occurs in the missionary charge, Matthew 28:19)—so, in general, to the word of the Spirit, even the preached, audible word, must still be added the visible stamp of the Spirit in living personalities, who show by act the power and glory of the gospel, and in whom can be seen, if the expression is allowed, the holy arts of the spiritual walk—the spiritual dietetics. On this rests the high importance of good biographies, and yet more of the living observation of Christian characters. What Christian owes not his best thanks to such life impressions? For, indeed, humanity is so organized, and this is its noble distinction, that what is deepest rests ever on the relation of person to person: the relation of father and child, of master and disciples, penetrates everywhere. Oetinger: “It cannot be denied that an embodied visible gospel42 is necessary to the right use of the written rule, and of the hearing of preaching. The written standard must be made available through the help of the Spirit in the members.” Hence the importance of Church History in its innermost sanctuary, so far as it is a history of the invisible Church, of men of God, of true saints. That is the most living tradition, the tradition of the Spirit and of power. In this sense also an essential importance belongs to the Church as well as to Holy Scripture. She is in a certain sense a continuation of the actual revelation of God alongside of the verbal revelation, wherein, it is true, the word of God reaches, as it always does, far beyond the fact, and the latter serves only as a step and means of guidance to the former (comp. John 2:11; John 2:22; John 5:36 sqq. and John 5:39 sqq.; John 14:10-11). And thus shall it be, till what we shall be appears; then fact and word become one.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

1 Thessalonians 1:2. Prayer, as in the apostolic Epistles, so generally, the beginning and foundation of the promulgation of the word. The preacher’s office a perseverance in prayer and in the ministry of the word; comp. Acts 6:4.—The Apostle’s daily communication with his churches by prayer.—Zwingli: True love is careful for the brethren.—A Christian preacher gives God glory and thanks for what through him has been wrought in souls; and just so the praise of other men becomes in the Christian’s mouth thanksgiving to God.—Rieger: Oh, the lightening of the official burden, when the Lord still opens our eyes, and shows us for what we have to give thank?, and for what to pray!—Theodoret: We should first give thanks for the good already bestowed upon us, and only then pray for what still is wanting. So do we find it everywhere with the Apostle.—Diedrich: Happy the man, who is able to let all his joy pour itself forth in pure thanksgiving to the Father. Otherwise there is even no joy worth anything.—Calvin: An important motive to zealous progress is the reflection, that God has granted to us noble gifts for the perfecting of the work begun; that under His guidance we have already made advances on the right road for reaching the end. For as an idle confidence in the virtues to which men foolishly lay claim puffs them up, and makes them secure and sluggish, so the recognition of God’s gifts humbles pious souls, and incites them to a solicitous zeal.

1 Thessalonians 1:3. Calvin: A brief description of true Christianity: 1. That faith be earnest and vigorous; 2. that no pains be spared, so long as there are neighbors to be assisted, but that all the pious assiduously fulfil the obligations of love; 3. they should studiously endeavor, in the hope of Christ’s manifestation, to despise all things else, and by patience overcome both the irksomeness of the long interval (to the appearing of the Lord), and all the temptations of the world.—Luther: Faith is a lively, active, practical, temperate thing, so that it cannot but do good works unremittingly. It does not even ask whether good works are to be done; but let a man rather ask whether he has done, and is ever doing, them. Without constraint, therefore, a man becomes willing and glad to do good to every one, to serve every one, to suffer in every way, from love to God and for His glory, who has shown him so great grace; so that it is impossible to separate works from faith, as impossible as for heat and light to be separated from fire.—Bengel: He, who from regard to his own profit and ease withdraws from labor, loves little.—Rieger: Love will have reality and truth, nor that in such measure only as is convenient for every man, bringing him honor and a good name, without too closely compromising his own life; but so that a man must descend withal from his own station, and the distinctions thereto belonging, and, instead of finding his pleasure in himself, place himself in the circumstances of another: that is what is meant by the labor of love. Under the patience of hope may be comprehended the entire career of our Lord Jesus Christ. For it is all summed up in this, that He condescended to what was most ignominious, and maintained Himself above what was most glorious; as now in our career of faith everything depends on the hope of the kingdom breaking its way through tribulation with the patience of Christ.

1 Thessalonians 1:4. Election the highest comfort of the tempted.—Zwingli: Paul therewith guards his commendation, lest they arrogate to themselves what belongs to God alone.—Marks of election: 1. a powerful call; 2. a believing reception of the gospel as the word of God; comp. 1 Thessalonians 2:13.—An anointed preacher may thus comfort tempted believers, and one Christian another: I know that thou art chosen.—Rieger: The Apostle speaks thus decidedly of their election, in consequence of the call and the evidence of their obedience to it. Nor is it even beyond our present measure to form such a judgment, in praise of the work of God in a soul, though formerly, to be sure, it may have been more perceptible. Our office otherwise loses its proper force [Seele, soul], when we never dare to discern between the righteous and the unrighteous, or to recognize as dead or alive what really is so.

1 Thessalonians 1:3-4. [Scott: Faith which worketh not obedience; professed love that declines self denying labor; and hope which is separated from patient continuance in well doing, can never prove a man’s election.—J. L.]

1 Thessalonians 1:5. The right preaching of the kingdom of God, like itself, stands not in words, but in power.—Spiritual power dwells in the preaching, when the hearers feel that the preacher himself is a man of firm conviction, who stands in the joyful assurance of that which he preaches.—Power on others and assurance (within) we cannot give to ourselves; it is a gift of the Holy Ghost. Even an Apostle cannot everywhere work with equal force. It behoves us, renouncing self, to yield ourselves to the Lord.—The preacher’s doctrine and life must form one whole.—John Mich. Hahn: A holy, Christian behavior makes impressions on elect souls. Wherever we go or sojourn, let us never forget that we too are closely watched and observed. Our aim must be to walk as elect, holy and beloved, not only before our Holy Father, but also before the dear ones whom our Lord has purchased for Himself.

1 Thessalonians 1:6. The right disposition of preachers and hearers.—Diedrich: Ye are in the heavenward march of the children of God, that is led by the God Man.—Rieger: To hear and receive God’s word has been specified by the Saviour Himself as the decisive badge of those, who are of God and of the truth; especially when one is not deterred by the outside covering of shame and affliction.—Roos: A gospel or good news should cause joy, and, if unable to cause any, it is no gospel. When amongst Jews, Heathens, or Christians, unbelief, idolatry, and all damnable ungodliness is reproved, this rebuke should be keen and of swift operation; but so likewise should joy over the simultaneously proffered grace swiftly rise, and cause the pain occasioned by the rebuke to be disregarded, when compared with the richness of the proffered grace, or with the happy condition into which a man now enters.—[Jowett: The suffering that comes from without cannot depress the spirit of a man who is faithful in a good cause. It is only when “from within are fears” that the mind is enslaved.—J. L.]

1 Thessalonians 1:7. Rieger: Who becomes a follower of the Lord, without confiding also in brave predecessors and comrades, and becoming their follower? It amounts to a great perverseness, when any would break down confidence in those who by word and work, doctrine and life, are helpers of the truth, and would pretend in this to a zeal for the Lord, supposing that they are striving merely against a ruinous dependence on men. Whoever in his following casts off humility, fails likewise to attain the grace to become a pattern.—Even believers need patterns of the genuineness and evidence of joy under affliction.—[Webster and Wilkinson: It requires higher grace, and is a more important duty, to be an example to believers than to the world, 1 Thessalonians 2:10.—J. L.]

Footnotes:

1 Thessalonians 1:2; 1 Thessalonians 1:2.—ὑμῶν after μνείαν is, indeed, wanting in A. B. [Sin.] &c., but by Tischendorf, who, with Lachmann, formerly cancelled it, it has been rightly resumed on preponderating evidence, external and internal. On account of the ὑμῶν before [μνείαν it might easily drop out of the manuscripts.

1 Thessalonians 1:3; 1 Thessalonians 1:3.—[For a different construction of ἀδιαλείπτως, adopted by our Authors, see the Exegetical Notes.—J. L.]

1 Thessalonians 1:3; 1 Thessalonians 1:3.—[Comp. 1 Thessalonians 5:8; Romans 5:2; Titus 1:2; Titus 3:7. And so here the older English versions, and very many others. See the Exegetical Notes, and the Revision.—J. L.]

1 Thessalonians 1:4; 1 Thessalonians 1:4.—[This construction of εἰδότες, ἀδελφοὶ ἠγαπημένοι ὑπὸ θεοῦ (Sin: τοῦ θεοῦ) τὴν ἐκλογὴν ὑμῶν, is that of the oldest versions (Syriac and Vulgate), and may be said to be now universally adopted. King James’ Revisers erred here in quitting Tyndale and Cranmer to follow Geneva and the Bishops’ Bible. Comp. 2 Thessalonians 2:3; Romans 1:7 : Sept. Deuteronomy 33:12; Sir 45:1; Sir 46:13.—The reason for the change of the punctuation at the close of 1 Thessalonians 1:4-5 will be found in the exegesis.—J. L.]

1 Thessalonians 1:5; 1 Thessalonians 1:5.—εἰς ὑμᾶς, Griesbach, Lachmann, Lünemann: πρὸς ὑμᾶς. [Sin. inserts τοῦ θεοῦ after εὐαγγέλιον.—J. L.]

1 Thessalonians 1:5; 1 Thessalonians 1:5.—[ἐγενήθημεν. Comp. 2 Corinthians 7:14. Here Tyndale, Cranmer, Geneva: behaved ourselves; Auberlen: urs erwiesen (and similarly in the other two instances in 1 Thessalonians 1:5-6); and many other versions to the same effect. In the New Testament the first aorist passive forms of γίνομαι (see Phrynichus, ed. Lobeck, pp. 108–9) occur 36 times, and, while in 14 instances our English version treats them as simply equivalent to a past tense of εἶναι, it is not difficult to detect a different shade of meaning in every one of them. See the Revision on this verse, Notes s. and W. In the present context Alford lays (Ellicott thinks an undue) stress on the passive forms as suggestive of Divine efficiency;* and so Wordsworth: “were made by God’s grace.”—J. L.]

1 Thessalonians 1:7; 1 Thessalonians 1:7.—τύπον Recepta, defended by: τύπους. [The singular is edited by Knapp, Lachmann, Tischendorf, Alford, Wordsworth, Ellicott—the last named, however, admitting that the plural form is supported by better external authority—A. C. F. G. K. L.; to which must now be added Sin.—For the translation, comp. Titus 2:7 and Hebrews 8:5.—J. L.].

1 Thessalonians 1:7; 1 Thessalonians 1:7.—[πάσιν τοῖς πιστεύουσιν;—“πιστ. not having here a pure participial force, … but, as often in the N. T. coalescing with the article to form a substantive.” Ellicott.—J. L.]

1 Thessalonians 1:7; 1 Thessalonians 1:7.—[ Most critical editions repeat the ἐν before τῇ Ἀχαΐᾳ, with nearly all the uncial manuscripts, including Sin.—Here, and in 1 Thessalonians 1:8, Μακεδονίᾳ is in Sin. Μακαιδ.—J. L.]

[24][So commentators generally in this instance. Wordsworth’s remark, however, is worthy of note, that the we of these earliest Epistles is in those of later date exchanged for the first person singular I. Jowett also refers it exclusively to Paul.—J. L.]

[25][Ellicott, who takes the other view of μνημονεύοντες, as being parallel to the preceding μνείαν ποιούμ, would distinguish the three participial clauses thus: “The first serves principally to define the manner, the second the time and circumstances, the third the reasons and motives of the action.”—J. L.]

[26][All this fails to satisfy me that the construction of our English version should not be retained. The whole sentence is thus better balanced. Paul having assured the Thessalonians that he was always thanking God for them, it was much less important to add immediately that he made continual mention of them in his prayers, than that the continual remembrance of their Christian character and its fruits was the reason why his reference to them in his prayers always took the form of thanksgiving to God. The other texts cited cannot control a sentence of different structure. Ellicott also adheres to this arrangement as “far more natural,” and refers in its behalf to Chrysostom and the other Greek commentators.—J. L.]

[27][This meaning, which Beza here introduced (commemorantes), and which Alford has lately adopted: making mention of (though in his New Testament for English Readers, published in the same year as the last edition of the Greek Testament—1865—he follows the Common Version, remembering), is borne by the word, out of 21 instances of its occurrence in the New Testament, only at Hebrews 11:22, and there the construction is different.—J. L.]

[28][Ellicott is inclined to make them simply possessive genitives, and ἔργου, κόπου, ὑπομονῆς the prevailing features and characteristics of πίστεως, ἀγάπης, ἐλπίδος,, respectively. But the two ideas are in this case essentially one—at least inseparable in fact;—the former belonging to the latter at modes of self-manifestation.—J. L.]

[29][The above definition of the hope, as having immediate reference to Christ’s second coming (comp. 1 Thessalonians 1:10), is given by very many of the best interpreters, from Ambrosiaster to Alford and Ellicott.—J. L.]

[30][So the Dutch version, Conybeare, Peile, Jowett, &c. The other construction, however, is in this case grammatically allowable. Ellicott rather prefers it; see his note on Galatians 1:4.—J. L.]

[31][Dr. Riggenbach’s Preface indicates a preference for the connection with μνημονεύοντες.—J. L.]

[32][The German Bible, like the Hebrew, includes the titles of the Psalms among the numbered verses.—J. L.]

[33][I do not know where Scripture teaches that this is a part of the plan of salvation, or where ἐκλογή is employed to express any such idea; nor is it easy to see how it could be, except, indeed, as the human race might be spoken of as thus distinguished from the angels that sinned—J. L.]

[34][What persons? All men in succession? or the Church members referred to in the previous sentence? In either case reception and election represent totally different ideas.—The whole definition is lacking in accuracy and precision. Nor do these qualities by any means characterize all that is added on this topic under the Doctrinal head. This is not the place for the discussion of theological systems, But I may be allowed simply to refer to what is said on this point in my Lectures on Thessalonians, p. 55 sqq. and p. 542 sq.—J. L.]

[35][Dr. W. Möller. He edited the 3d edition of De Wette’s Exeg. Handbuch on the Epistles to the Galatians and Thessalonians, 1864.—J. L.]

[36][Ellicott would allow this sense to πρὸς ὑμᾶς, and refers to 1 Corinthians 16:10.—J. L.]

[37][See Critical Note 6.—J. L.]

[38][The Author’s German version repeats the ὅτι: and because ye became, &c. But it is better, with Ellicott, to regard the connection of 1 Thessalonians 1:6 with that particle as rather logical than structural, and so “to place neither a period (Tischendorf, Alford), nor a comma (Lachmann, Buttmann), but a colon, after 1 Thessalonians 1:5.” In the Translation, indeed, Ellicott, perhaps through oversight, retains the period.—J. L.]

[39][The joy of the Holy Ghost is rather the accompaniment and the fruit of faith, than, as here represented, the preparation for it.—J. L.]

[40][On δέχσθαι as compared with παραλαβεῖν, see Exegetical Notes on 1 Thessalonians 2:13.—J. L.]

[41][Only let it be added, that the “Divine causality” extends also to the “human conditions,” though in such a way, however to us incomprehensible, as does not at all impair, out rather strengthens, man’s free moral agency. See Acts 13:48; Acts 16:14; Ephesians 2:8; 2 Timothy 2:25; Luke 22:32; 1 Peter 1:5; Jude 1:24; &c—J. L.]

[42][German: ein visibles und sichtbares Evangelium.]

Verses 8-10

1 Thessalonians 1:8-10

2. Other Christians also, who have heard thereof, bear witness to the blessed work of the Apostle at Thessalonica, and the thorough conversion of the Thessalonians.

8For [sin. omits γάρ] from you sounded out [hath been sounded forth, ἐξήχηται] the word of the Lord43 not only in Macedonia and Achaia,44 but also in every [but in every]45 place your faith to God ward [toward God] is spread abroad [hath gone forth, ἐξελήλυθεν], so that we need not [have no need]46 to speak anything. 9For they themselves shew of us [report concerning us, περὶ ἡμῶν ] what manner of entering in [entrance, εἴσοδον] we had47 unto you, and how ye turned to God from [the]48 idols, to serve the living and true God, 10and to wait for His Son from heaven [the heavens],49 whom He raised from the50 dead, even Jesus, which delivered us [who delivered us]51 from the wrath to come [the coming wrath, τῆς ὀργῆς τῆς ἐρχομένης],

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

1. In commencing a new short section with 1 Thessalonians 1:8, we vary from the common view which takes the whole of the first chapter together. But there are evidently three different testimonies adduced by Paul in support of the two facts, which he is now engaged in proving—his own pure, powerful preaching, and the genuine faith of the Thessalonians. He first gives his own testimony, 1 Thessalonians 1:2-7, especially 1 Thessalonians 1:5 sqq.; then he brings forward that of Christians elsewhere, 1 Thessalonians 1:8-10; lastly, he appeals to the These salonians and their remembrance of his entrance among them (1 Thessalonians 2:1-2), just as on his side he bears witness to them of their believing reception of the word, of which they had, and still have, experience as the word of God (1 Thessalonians 2:13-16).

2. (1 Thessalonians 1:8.) There is a question, first of all, of the punctuation of 1 Thessalonians 1:8. Ordinarily a comma is put first after Ἀχαΐᾳ, and then there arises a double inconvenience. In the first place, the proof (γάρ) stretches unsuitably beyond the thing to be proved (1 Thessalonians 1:7): Ye are become a pattern to the believers in Macedonia and Achaia, for not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but everywhere, have you been heard of. In the second place, the clause with but is, in a manner at once unsuitable and really insignificant, provided with a new subject and verb, whilst we are expecting only: From you the word of the Lord has come forth not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but in all places. If Paul meant to introduce a new subject and verb into the latter clause, he must have placed after οὐ μόνον the subject and verb of the former clause, together with ἀφʼ ὑμῶν, which answers to the ὑμῶν after πίστις.52 It will therefore be better, with Calvin, Lünemann and others, to put a colon after κυρίου, so that now οὐ μόνον ἐν, as well as ἀλλʼ ἐν, is dependent on ἡ πίστις ὑμῶν ἐξελήλυθεν..53 If in this way the second of the difficulties named is obviated, so not less is the first also, since now the logical relation, expressed by γἀρ, of 1 Thessalonians 1:8 to 1 Thessalonians 1:7 is formed thus: Ye are become a pattern to the believers in Macedonia and Achaia; for even in other quarters it has become known, how the word of God has wrought among you. On this new thought the Apostle now dwells, and carries it out by itself still further and beyond 1 Thessalonians 1:7. For the exemplariness of the Thessalonians is not the main thought to be established in the following verses, but forms merely the transition to the new witnesses, the citation of whom is (according to Note 1) properly his object. That the clause with οὐ μόνον appears attached to the preceding one by asyndeton need not disturb us, since, with explanatory clauses particularly, this is frequently the case, comp. 1 Thessalonians 2:7; 1 Thessalonians 2:9. Winer, p. 476.

3. From you hath been sounded forth.Ἀφʼὑμῶν stands emphatically first; ἀπό in the proper local sense: out from, you. Ἐξἠχηται in the New Testament ἅπαξ λεγόμενον; ἐξηχἐω commonly intransitive, but also in classic Greek transitive=to cause to sound forth; ἐξηχεῖται, it sounds forth, is heard abroad. Similarly here with the sense of the perfect: The word of God has been so powerful among you, has produced a movement so lively and loud, that the sound thereof, so to speak, [as of a trumpet; Chrysostom,] has propagated itself to a distance—that people have heard it everywhere. Bengel: claro sono diditus est. The idea of resonance (echo) does not lie in the word. Comp. the parallel έξελήλυθεν: has pressed forth, become known, (Luke 7:17).

4. The word of the Lord—your faith in God.—These two expressions of themselves describe Christianity on its two sides; the word on the Divine side, but offering itself to men; faith on the human, but turning to meet the approach of God; 1 Thessalonians 1:4; 1 Thessalonians 1:6. In the present connection, however, where the second clause merely carries out further the first, and where also, therefore, the verbs are synonymous, both points are jointly intended under both expressions:54 the word of God, as it was preached by the Apostle and believingly received by the Thessalonians (so also Olshausen, De Wette, Koch), and hence the emphatic position of ἀφʼ ὑμὦν; faith, as it was aroused in the Thessalonians by the Apostle’s preaching (Lünemann). But still the word of the Lord stands first, precluding mere human glory—The word of the Lord (as in 2 Thessalonians 3:1), the word or the gospel of Christ (Colossians 3:16; Romans 1:9, and often), not different from the word or gospel of God (1 Corinthians 14:36; Romans 1:1, and often), just as in the Acts ὁ λόγος τοῦ θεοῦ and ὁ λόγος τοῦ κυρἰου are used interchangeably. It is not a genitive of the object=verbum de Deo, but, as is clear especially from 1 Thessalonians 2:13, a genitive of the subject or author=the word which Christ or God causes to be proclaimed (Lünemann, &c.). Faith in God, because most of the Christians in Thessalonica had previously been heathens, see 1 Thessalonians 1:9; πίστις πρός, instead of the common εἰσ,[55] also at Philemon 1:5; comp. 2 Corinthians 3:4.

5. In every place, where, that is, there are Christian churches, even beyond Macedonia and Achaia; similarly full expressions, Romans 1:8; Colossians 1:6; Colossians 1:23. But since Paul had not in the meantime left these countries, ὡστε μή &c. must have reference to letters or visits. Ewald and others call attention to the fact that precisely in Corinth where Paul wrote our Epistle, with trade converging there from all quarters of the Roman world, was it possible for him to give such an assurance. The church need not, therefore, have already existed for a long period (against Baur), but its rapid, powerfully spreading conversion must have excited great attention. The words also indicate an intercourse of the liveliest kind among the Christians.

6. (1 Thessalonians 1:9.) They themselves.Ad sensum, the explanation is from the previous ἐν παντὶ τόπῳ (1 Thessalonians 1:8).—Concerning us.Ἡμῶν refers, as the double specification (ὁποίαν καὶ πῶς) shows, to the Apostle and his helpers on the one side, and the Thessalonians on the other.56

7. What manner of entrance we had unto you.εἴσοδον does not answer to the German Eingang in the sense of friendly reception, entrance into the heart (Pelt, Olshausen and many). Opposed to this is partly the word itself (see 1 Thessalonians 2:1 sq. and comp. Acts 13:24), and partly the connection, since it is in the following clause, καὶ πῶς, that mention is first made of the reception of the Apostle and his preaching. The word means a going in introduction (Chrysostom, Calvin, De Wette, &c.): “what sort of an introduction we had to you, to wit, with the preaching of the gospel; i. e. (comp. 1 Thessalonians 1:5), with what power and fulness of the Holy Ghost (Calvin), with what inward confidence and contempt of outward dangers (Chrysostom, &c.), we proclaimed to you the gospel.” Mark the expressive emphasis in δποίαν; it is not merely ἥν or οἷοι (comp. οἷοι, 1 Thessalonians 1:5) or ποίαν. Πῶς likewise is not=that [Alford: how that, referring merely to the fact; and so Ellicott], but=under what difficult circumstances, and with what joy of the Spirit withal; it points back to 1 Thessalonians 1:6. just as ὁποίαν to 1 Thessalonians 1:6. At the same time we here detect the joy of the foreign brethren over the faith of the Thessalonians.

8. How ye turned to God from the idols.—is the regular New Testament word for conversion; in the Acts, where it is naturally of frequent occurrence, with the addition ἐπὶ τὸν κύριον (Acts 11:21), or εἰς φῶς (Acts 26:18), or ἐπὶ τὸν θεόν (Acts 26:18; Acts 26:20; Acts 14:16; Acts 15:9), often too with an ἀπό, whose substantive describes heathenism sometimes on the side of its demonian background, sometimes on the side of men, sometimes of the idols, viz. Acts 26:18 ἀπὸ τῆς ἐξουσίας τοῦ σατανᾶ. Acts 15:19 ἀπὸ τῶν ἐθνῶν. Acts 14:15 ἀπὸ τῶν ματαίων ἐπιστρέφειν ἐπὶ θεὸν ζῶντα. With this class is connected the expression in our verse. The latter, negative clement corresponds to repentance (Acts 26:20); the former, positive one to faith (Acts 11:21).

9. To serve the living and true God.Δουλεύειν[57] and ἀναμένειν are infinitives of the purpose. The primary feeling of profound awe in presence of Deity, that belongs to human nature and especially to antiquity, finds expression also in language. The Old Testament employs, over against God, the expression that denotes the relation of the most unconditional subjection, that of the slave to his master: עָבַד (Exodus 9:1; Exodus 9:13; Deuteronomy 8:19; and often); to which expression the corresponding inner sentiment is fear (יָרֵא, Jonah 1:9; comp, פַּחַד, of God, Genesis 31:42; Genesis 31:53). To fear God and to serve God, these are the two most common Biblical expressions for religion. And so in our text also appears δουλεύειν θεῷ as the designation of religion or of religious practice generally; or rather, what we are accustomed to designate by these faint expressions, is in a more concrete and living way conveyed by the Apostle in that phrase, as we too have the beautiful word Gottesdienst [Divine service]. By means of the additions to τῷ θεῷ phraseology becomes a closer description of the true religion, in opposition to the false: ζῶντι, living, in opposition to the dead idol-images (see Romans 1:23); ἀληθινῷ, existing in objective truth and reality, in opposition to the merely imaginary, lying idols (see Romans 1:25). It may be thought strange that the Apostle uses, in regard to Christianity, such a general expression, that is applied also to the Old Testament religion as contrasted with heathenism, whereas he then puts what is specifically Christian, not into faith in Jesus, the Son of God and the Saviour, but into the expectation of His return from heaven. But it is just in its connection with 1 Thessalonians 1:10 that the general expression of our verse acquires also a more especially Christian sense. A man can, in truth, only then really serve God, when he has access to him through Christ, and is by His blood purified from the dead works of the old, ungodly mind (see Hebrews 9:14). And that Paul had not been silent on this point at Thessalonica, that he had proclaimed Christ as the Son of God, as the Saviour, and salvation in His death and resurrection, all that we see from 1 Thessalonians 1:10. But certainly our two verses show that his preaching at Thessalonica had turned, not so much round this central doctrine of salvation, as about the beginning and the end, the first things and the last. A parallel is furnished by the speech which the Apostle soon afterwards delivered at Athens (Acts 17:22-31). There too he first of all leads Iris hearers over from the idols to the living God, and speaks of Christ especially as the future Judge, and only incidentally, in connection with that, of His resurrection, and of faith therein; though this, it is true, significantly enough forms the conclusion.—[Webster and Wilkinson: “He puts together the first and last articles of their creed; and then supplies the two most important of the intervening articles.”—J. L.]

10. (1 Thessalonians 1:10.) And to wait for.—The Apostle defines the life-aim of the converts in two particulars, the service of God, and the waiting for the return of His Son from heaven. Though we should even say with Olshausen, that ἐπιστρέφειν includes faith, and δουλεύειν implies love, it is only the more surprising that hope is raised into such explicit and emphatic prominence. This agrees and is connected with the Whole eschatological tenor of our Epistles, as well as of the Apostle’s oral teaching at Thessalonica, and it contains a weighty warning for the Church (see Doctrinal and Ethical, no. 3). Bengel says in his New Testament on our text: To wait for the Son of God is the most appropriate mark of a true Christian. Ἀναμένειν only here in the New Testament; elsewhere we find used of the eschatological waiting προσδέχεσθαι, Luke 12:36; Titus 2:13; ἀπεκδέχεσθαι, Philippians 3:20; Hebrews 9:26 [28]; 1 Corinthians 1:7; Romans 8:19; Romans 8:23; Romans 8:25; Galatians 5:5; προσδοκᾷν, 2 Peter 3:12-14.

11. From the heavens &c. coming, belongs to ἀναμένειν. The plural οἱ οὐρανοί, which occurs so often in the New Testament, but in Luther’s version is unhappily obliterated (so even in the address of the Lord’s Prayer), is to give us an impression of the manifold, rich life of the super-terrestrial world (John 14:2). These heavens, which frequently seem to us so remote, strange, and shut, will open their doors, and from them the Son of God will come forth with the heavenly host, to the dismay of the world and the joy of His own. Comp. Acts 1:1.

12. His Son, whom He raised from the dead.—The expression, Son of God, is thus used of Christ by Paul in his very first Epistle, though as yet without further specification. But it must be considered, in the first place, that the expression is plainly chosen, for the purpose of designating Christ in his inner relation to God mentioned immediately before, and, secondly, that already in connection with it even here is the characteristic from heaven, which holds good as well of His first appearing (Galatians 4:4, ἐ ξαπέστειλεν, sent forth; Romans 8:3; 1 Corinthians 15:47): The Son of God is of heavenly, Divine origin. To the heathen at Thessalonica Paul had proclaimed not merely the true God, but also, what was still more unknown to them, that this God has a Son, who has become our Deliverer (ῥυόμενος). The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the great fact by which He is shown to be the Son of God (Romans 1:4), and by which at the same time His return is rendered possible and certain (1 Pet. [1]:3–5). Was ἐκ τῶν νεκρῶν to form an antithesis to ἐκ τῶν οὐρανῶν Comp. Romans 10:6-7.

13. Jesus, our Deliverer.—The majestic title, Son of God, is on purpose followed simply and plainly by His human proper name, Jesus. [Webster and Wilkinson: presenting our Lord to us as He was revealed and known in the flesh.—J. L.] τὸνῥυόμενον: not ῥυσἀμ., with reference to the past deliverance by His death;58 nor ῥυσόμ., with reference to the future deliverance at the judgment59 (both, the latter as founded on the former, at Romans 5:9-10), but comprehensively ῥυόμ., our Deliverer, absolutely and evermore; the participle having thus a substantival sense (Winer, p. 316); comp. Romans 11:26, after Isaiah 59:20 גּוֹאֵל., Ῥύεσθαι (comp. Colossians 1:13; Romans 7:24; Matthew 6:13), stronger than σώζειν, expresses the deliverance as a mighty fact, a strong, powerful extrication from the judgment, which shall inevitably smite all who have no part in Jesus. Τὸν ῥυόμενον has an explanatory relation to Ἰησοῦν (comp. Matthew 1:21; Acts 4:10-12), similar to that of ὅν ἤγειρεν &c. to τὸν υίὸν αὐτοῦ, [Bengel: Christus nos semel ἐλυτρώσατο, redemit: semper ῥύεται, eripit.—J. L.]

14. From the coming wrath.—Wrath is the holy will of God, energetically upholding, over against the sinful creature, His own inviolable order of life and government as the highest interest of the world, and for that reason surrendering for righteous punishment the party resisting it to self-chosen destruction. The word is used sometimes of the affection in God, His punitive justice (Romans 9:22; Hebrews 3:11; Hebrews 4:3; Revelation 6:16; and often in the Old Testament); sometimes of the effect in the world, thence resulting, the judicial punishment (Luke 21:23; Romans 2:5; Romans 3:5; comp. Romans 13:4; Romans 13:9 [5]; Ephesians 5:6; Colossians 3:6); sometimes in such a way that both ideas are included (John 3:36; Romans 1:18; Romans 2:8; Ephesians 2:3; Revelation 14:10; Revelation 16:19; Revelation 19:15). Here and in 1 Thessalonians 2:16; 1 Thessalonians 5:9 ὀργή stands in the second signification. This is shown also by the addition ἡἐρχομένη (comp. Colossians 3:6): the approaching, infallibly imminent punishment; similarly ἡ μέλλουσαὀργή, Matthew 3:7; and then Revelation 11:18, ἦλθενὀργή σου. Salvation or the deliverance is just the being rescued from the judgment that overwhelms the world, Romans 1:16-18 and, referring back to this, 1 Thessalonians 5:9-11; and this is the immediate sense of σώζειν, σωτή, σωτηρία, as here of ῥύεσθαι In 1 Thessalonians 5:9 also ὀργή and σωτηρία stand as mutual opposites. Because in Christ judgment has already passed upon the world (John 12:31), therefore whosoever believeth in Him is no longer judged (John 3:14-18; John 5:24).

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. (1 Thessalonians 1:8.) The man who walks uprightly before God, God accredits also before his brethren, imparting to them through all that is seen of him joy, refreshment, strength, so that they in return are able by their testimony to his conversion and spiritual walk to strengthen and encourage him, when tempted thereupon from without or within. This is the Christian import of the ideas glory, honor, praise, &c. The lofty consciousness, as it is here aroused by the Apostle, does not flatter self-love, but begets an earnest sense of obligation. To be a city on the hill, to which the eyes of all look, is no light responsibility, and brings a man under the discipline of the Spirit. The increase of idle talk is repressed by much affliction.

2. (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10.) Christian truth is so rich and manysided (πολυπίκιλος, Ephesians 3:10), that it may be delivered in very various ways and from different points of view. Not only do we find in the New Testament a peculiar style of teaching in the case of every apostolic writer, but even the same Paul, it is evident, addressed the Thessalonians orally and in writing otherwise—put other truths in the foreground—than, for example, in the Epistles to the Galatians and the Romans; and yet at Thessalonica also there was laid the foundation of a steadfast Christianity, approved in trial. This consideration likewise cannot but inspire us in the Church with a large-heartedness and liberality of view in regard to the different ways of conceiving and representing the truth, provided only they stand sincerely and earnestly on the one foundation, 1 Corinthians 3:11, whether they be rather mystical or intellectual, churchly or specially biblical, practical or scientific (in the sense of Ephesians 1:17 sq.), clinging to antiquity or looking towards the future. Church Confessions tolerate and require by the side of them all? forms of expression. In our hymn-books too we find Paul Gerhardt, Tersteegen, Zinzendorf, Gellert [Toplady, Cowper, the Wesleys], and others, in peace together, uttering one language in various dialects.

3. (1 Thessalonians 1:10.) The earliest Epistles of Paul are distinguished by their eschatological complexion. Subsequently he went back from eschatology to the doctrine of faith and justification (Galatians and Romans), of Christ and the Church (Philippians, Ephesians and Colossians).60 In his development of doctrine he pursued a regressive course similar to that of Messianic prophecy before him, and of the Church after him: first, the glorious end, and after that, the way to the end. But neither Old Testament prophecy nor apostolic teaching ever on the way lost sight of the end, the glorious consummation in the kingdom of God. And even in one of his latest Epistles (Titus 2:11 sq.) Paul has a passage very kindred to ours: conversion here has its counterpart there in the (objective) appearing of Divine grace, whose aim is declared to be a godly life with denial of the heathen worldly-mindedness (=to serve the living and true God), while expecting the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ (=to wait for His Son from heaven). The Church, however, has, especially since the days of Constantine, too much neglected to wait for the coming of Christ; even the Reformation restored, indeed, the genuine Pauline faith, but not yet the full hope. Calvin finds it here worthy of note, that for the hope of eternal salvation Paul puts the expectation of Christ. For, he adds, without Christ we are lost and hopeless; but, where Christ comes forward, there shines life and prosperity. Very beautiful; still one perceives that he had not yet attained to the full apostolic consciousness of the importance of Christ’s coming as distinct from the blessedness after death,[61] when, it is true, we are even already present with the Lord. If the Reformation is a working back to what was originally exhibited for the Church in Holy Scripture, we have then here one of the points in which the Reformation of the 16th century needs to be carried yet further. As we would walk in the footsteps of Prophets and Apostles, and in particular even of our Paul, we must recognize it as our task to quicken anew the element of hope in knowledge and practice. The beginnings, moreover, of such a work show themselves latterly in almost all evangelical countries.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

1 Thessalonians 1:8. The clear pealing sound, that rings out from the living Church. J. M. Hahn: The awakening of some souls may produce much reflection far and wide.—J. G. Kolb: A good man may through his earnestness become the light and salt of a whole neighborhood. (Kurzer Lebensabriss von J. G. Kolb, nebst einer Sammlung von Betrachtungen, Stuttgart, 1859).—The report of faith a sweet-savor of Christ (comp. 2 Corinthians 2:15 sq.). Chrysostom: As a sweet-scented **ointment keeps not its fragrance shut up within itself, but sends it afar, so likewise noble men keep not their virtue shut up within themselves, but through their reputation are of service to many for their improvement. Chrysostom then further makes mention of the renown acquired by Macedonia, of which Thessalonica was a principal city, through Alexander the Great, who was not without reason beheld by the prophet [Daniel 7:6] as a winged leopard, the swiftness and force being thus described, wherewith he scoured the whole world; and so what happened in Macedonia became not less universally known than what occurred in Rome (the seat of the fourth-world empire of Daniel; see Romans 1:8).—The same: In such circumstances there frequently arises envy (there is indeed, alas, such a thing as spiritual envy; see Galatians 5:26, φθονοῦντες; Philippians 2:3-4; 1 Corinthians 12:15 sqq.); but even this also your excellence has overcome, and they themselves are heralds of your conflicts.—Zinzendorf: When Jesus glorifies His time of grace now here now there, rejoice thou in the mercy to others returning.—The testimony of others to our faith a comfort in trial.—[Benson: It was an honor to any church or city, to have the gospel go out from thence to other places.”—J. L.]

1 Thessalonians 1:9. When the Lord enters the heart through the powerful preaching of the word, that is even the entrance of a king, though in humble raiment—Zwingli: Paul did not ride into Thessalonica with such pride and pomp, as Cardinals, Bishops, and Popish Legates are wont to display.—Rieger: The idols of the altar were not to be overthrown by the purer knowledge of God, which many philosophers at that time had; the word of the Cross must come, which brought the idols to an end in the heart’s affection, and forthwith also in the members; then too they fell as to the service that was paid to them a the altar.—Calvin: The end of true conversion is the living God. Many renounce superstition only to fall into what is worse; for, losing all sense of God, they plunge into a worldly minded, irrational62 contempt of the Holy One.—The same: We must first be converted, before we can serve God.—The same:—No one is duly converted to God, but the man who has learned to yield himself fully to Him as a servant (in servitutem).—Rieger: Conversion from idolatry to God was certainly in former times a great change; but neither is it at the present time any trifle, when on obedience to the truth the idols of wealth, pleasure, fleshly ease, honor from men, seeking to save one’s life in this world, self love, confidence in the flesh, and such like, are cast forth from the heart’s affection.—The same: The living and true God can be served only in spirit and in truth; and that requires a conscience purified in the blood of Jesus from dead works. Without fellowship with the Light, a man deals even with the living God as with a dumb idol (John 4:23-24; Hebrews 9:14; see John 1:5-10).

1 Thessalonians 1:10.—[On the first clause of this verse, see a good note by Barnes.—J. L.]—The Christian is a man who serves God and waits for Jesus.—Calvin: In the service of God, which in the corruption of our nature is a more than difficult matter, we are kept and established by the expectation of Christ; otherwise the world drags us back to itself, and we grow weary. Waiting for the Lord a main point 1. in the doctrine of Jesus and His Apostles, 2. in the life of faith of the Apostles and first Christians.—Rieger: As to what is behind, free from everything; for what is before, watchful (Mark 13:33 sqq.; Luke 21:36).—[Alford: The especial aspect of the faith of the Thessalonians was hope: hope of the return of the Son of God from heaven: a hope, indeed, common to them with all Christians in all ages, but evidently entertained by them as pointing to an event more immediate than the church has subsequently believed it to be. Certainly these words would give them an idea of the nearness of the coming of Christ: and perhaps the misunderstanding of them may have contributed to the notion which the Apostle corrects, 2 Thessalonians 2:1 sqq.—J. L]—We must be in earnest with the expectation of Christ’s coming, if we would stand in the fulness of apostolic Christianity. This carries with it, 1. a Warning, a. against every kind of worldly happiness, and service of perishable things and men, especially against the modern absorption in practical and theoretic materialism, even of a refined sort; b. against the Romanizing over valuing of what we already have even in the Church, and against striving for the Church’s outward dominion and glory; c. against false ideals of a great future of the life of nations, to be introduced by our own, be it even Christian, power and activity; and against the so frequent intermixture, concurrent therewith, of the world and the kingdom of God; 2. Comfort, a. in regard to imperfections and sins in ourselves, in the world, in the Church: it has not yet appeared, what we shall be (1 John 3:2); b. in regard to the sufferings and afflictions, which are the divinely appointed way to the future glory, 2 Corinthians 4:17 sq.; Romans 8:17.—Chrysostom: The sword in hand, the good in expectancy.—[Vaughan: A summary of the Christian life in all times; service, and expectation. The loss or disparagement of either has been in all times the cause of injury to the Church. The one, by itself, degenerates into a dry routine of duty: the other, into excitement, dreaminess, and indolent sentiment. The two together make up that life of practical piety which is the true end and chief glory of the Gospel. Titus 2:12-13.—J. L.] Jesus, the Deliverer from the future wrath: 1. The wrath cometh; the world is going on to meet the judgment: an irrefragable matter of fact. On one hand, Roos: When the unbelieving world looks out to the time after death, it sees nothing, hopes for nothing, fears nothing, except when conscience is stirred; whereas there is to be feared a fearful wrath of God, which at the appearing of Christ shall wholly burst over it, and, even before that, will make the condition of the soul separated from the body an unhappy condition. On the other hand, Rieger: The wrath of God, its revelation against all ungodliness of men, judgment on hidden sins, is already written deep in the consciences of all men. Under that wrath abide, and are even already grievously tormented by the fear of it in this world and the next, all who are not begotten again by the gospel unto hope. 2. In Christ is deliverance from the judgment. Calvin: It is an invaluable privilege that believers, as often as the judgment is spoken of, know that Christ will come for their deliverance.—The same: The wrath of God is a future thing. We are not to measure it by our present afflictions in the world, as nothing is more absurd than to snatch at the enjoyment of transitory blessings, by way of forming an estimate of the grace of God. Faith is the sight of the invisible, and so is not misled by the aspect of the present life. Whilst the ungodly revel in their security, and we languish in sorrow, let us learn to fear the vengeance of God that is hidden from the eyes of the flesh, and rest in the calm pleasures of the spiritual life!

[Vaughan: The three phrases are equally scriptural, (1) Christ saved, (2) Christ saves, (3) Christ will save. Comp. (1) Romans 8:24; Ephesians 2:5; 2 Timothy 1:9. (2) 1 Corinthians 1:18; 1 Corinthians 15:2. (3) Matthew 24:13; Mark 13:13; Philippians 2:12; 2 Timothy 2:10; Heb 9:28; 1 Peter 1:5.—J. L.]

[There is a discourse by bishop Sherlock on 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10.—J. L.]

Footnotes:

1 Thessalonians 1:8; 1 Thessalonians 1:8.—[The German adopts a different arrangement of this verse. See Exeg. Note 2. For κυριου, Sin.1 has θεοῦ.—J. L.]

1 Thessalonians 1:8; 1 Thessalonians 1:8.—[There is large authority of manuscripts (including Sin.) and versions for the repetition of ἐν τῇ every before Ἀχαḯᾳ (Scholz, Schott, Lachmann). But this is supposed to be an assimilation to 1 Thessalonians 1:7. Tischendorf, Alford, Ellicott, &c., retain the common reading (A. B., many cursive mss., and some versions and Fathers).—J. L.]

1 Thessalonians 1:8; 1 Thessalonians 1:8.—Καί after ἀλλά should be cancelled, with Lachmann, Tischendorf and others [Alford, Wordsworth, Ellicott], on superior manuscript authority [including Sin.]—to the advantage of the sense.

1 Thessalonians 1:8; 1 Thessalonians 1:8.—[μὴ χρείαν ἡμᾶς ἔχειν (rather: ἔχειν ἡμᾶς, with A. B. C. D. Sin., &c.; Lachmann, Scholz, Tischendorf, Alford, Wordsworth, Ellicott) Our English Version renders χρείαν ἔχειν, to have need or lack, 24 times; and in 6 of these the negative phrase is, to have no need.—J. L.]

1 Thessalonians 1:9; 1 Thessalonians 1:9.—Instead of the Recepta ἔχομεν, all now read ἔσχομεν, according to the best manuscripts [Sin., &c.], and the sense also favors this.

1 Thessalonians 1:9; 1 Thessalonians 1:9.—[τῶν εἰδώλων=חָאֱלִילִים, Isaiah 2:18. Comp. 1 John 5:21.—J. L.]

1 Thessalonians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 1:10.—[τῶν οὐρανῶν. Comp. Acts 2:34; &c.—J. L.]

1 Thessalonians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 1:10.—[The reading, τῶν νεκρῶν, which nearly all the critical editions now follow, “is supported,” says Ellicott, “by preponderating external evidence... and by the probability of a conformation to the more usual ἐγείρειν ἐκ νεκρῶν.” Sin has the article.—J. L.]

1 Thessalonians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 1:10.—[Or, our Deliverer, τὸν ῥυόμενον ἡμᾶς. See Exeg. Note 13. Our Translators here followed the Vulgate, qui eripuit, against the older English versions.—For ἀπό, Sin. and one cursive manuscript have ἐκ.—J. L.]

[52][Accordingly, not a few interpreters from Pagninus to Schott and Gerlach assume such a transposition.—J. L.]

[53][Others, on the contrary, as Martin’s French version and Michaelis, introduce the colon immediately after τόπῳ, and throw all that precedes on the first verb. “The most simple explanation,” says Ellicott, “appears that of Rückert (Loc. Paul. Expl. Jena, 1844), according to which the Apostle is led by the desire of making a forcible climax into a disregard of the preceding nominative, and in fact puts a sentence in antithesis to οὐ μόνονἈχαΐᾳ instead of a simple local clause, ἐν πάντι τόπῳ or ἐν ὅλῳ τῷ κόσμῳ (Romans 1:8), as the strict logical connection actually required.” But if we acquiesce in this view of the case as one of interrupted or mixed construction, it is not necessary, as I remarked in the Revision of the verse, Note g, with Rückert, to lay the main stress on ἡ πίστις ὑμῶν, or, except in the particular of local extent, to find any increase of force whatever in the latter clause. On the contrary, ἀφ̓ ὑμῶν ἐξήχηταιλόγος τοῦ κυρίου sounds something greater than ἡ πίστις ὑμῶν ἐξελήλυθεν; and the very feeling of the writer that the former phrase implied, on the part of the Thessalonians, more of evangelical influence, if not missionary activity, than could properly be asserted of them in reference to the regions beyond their own Greek provinces, may have prompted the use, in the latter connection, of the weaker form of expression: From you hath been sounded forth the word of the Lord, and not only is that true, as I have just intimated (1 Thessalonians 1:7), in relation to Macedonia and Achaia, but everywhere, throughout all the household of faith, the fact and the circumstances of your conversion are familiarly known.” Alford retains the ordinary punctuation, but regards the “new subject and predicate as merely an epexegesis of the former.”—J. L.]

[54][This view of the synonymous equivalence of the two clauses is given by Baumgarten, and is adopted, besides those mentioned above, by Alford. But see Note† on p. 70.—J. L.]

[55][Ellicott: “The less usual preposition πρός is here used with great propriety, as there is a tacit contrast to a previous faith, πρὸς τὰ εἵδωλα (see 1 Thessalonians 1:9), in which latter case the deeper πίστ. εἰς... would seem theologically unsuitable.”—J. L.]

[56][So Lünemann. But the common restriction of ἡμῶν to the preachers is greatly to be preferred; see Alford. Of the other view Ellicott remarks: “The studied prominence of περὶ ἡμῶν and the real point of the clause are thus completely overlooked: Instead of our telling about our own success, they do it for us; ἃ γὰρ αὐτοὺς ἐχρῆν παῤ ἡμῶν ,ταῦτα αὐτοὶ προλαβόντες λέγουσι, Chrys.”—J. L.]

[57][The very word applied by Rome to her worship of the saints, while she reserves λατρεύειν for God.—J, L.]

[58][See Critical Note 9.—J. L.]

[59][Grouius, Benson, Koppe, Pelt, and others.—J. L.]

[60][According as the development of error, and the circumstances of particular churches, required.—J. L.]

[61][For sufficiently obvious reasons, the general tone of the Reformation period on the subject of Christ’s second advent is not quite that of the apostolic age. Much more emphatically, however, is this true of the times that followed the Reformation. In the writings of the more eminen Reformers themselves, Luther, Melanchthon, Calvin Knox, &c., not a few strong and fervid utterances are found to which the remark of our Author would not do justice. For example, immediately preceding the above quotation from Calvin we find these words: “Ergo quisquis in vitæ sanctæ cursu perseverare volet, totam mentem applicet ad spem adventus Christi”—where there is no reference whatever to death or the intermediate state. And similar testimonies could easily be multiplied (see the Homiletical Notes on 1 Thessalonians 1:10, and my Missionary Address, on The Hope of the Church, before the Synod of New York, 1865). But take only this pregnant one from Bishop Latimer’s Third Sermon on the Lord’s Prayer: “All those excellent learned men whom, without doubt, God hath sent into this world in these latter days to give the world warning—all those men do gather out of Sacred Scripture that the last day cannot be far off. And this is most certain and sure that, whensoever He cometh, He cometh not too timely; for all things which ought to come before are passed now: so that, if He come this night or to-morrow, He cometh not too early.” The modern device, of interposing between us and that blessed hope the promised times of universal blessing, had not yet been thought of.—J. L.]

[62][Weltlichgesinnte, unvernünftige; Calvin: profanum et brutum, profane and brutish.—J. L.]

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Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 1". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/1-thessalonians-1.html. 1857-84.