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Friday, September 22nd, 2023
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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1 Thessalonians 2

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New TestamentRobertson's Word Pictures

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Verse 1

For yourselves know (αυτο γαρ οιδατε). This explanatory γαρ takes up in verses 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12 the allusion in 1 Thessalonians 1:9 about the "report" concerning the entrance (εισοδον, way in, εισ, οδον),

unto you (την προς υμας). Note repeated article to sharpen the point. This proleptic accusative is common enough. It is expanded by the epexegetic use of the οτ clause

that it hath not been found vain (οτ ου κενη γεγονεν). Literally,

that it has not become empty . Second perfect active (completed state) of γινομα. Every pastor watches wistfully to see what will be the outcome of his work. Bengel says: Non inanis, sed plena virtutis. Cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:5. Κενος is hollow, empty, while ματαιος is fruitless, ineffective. In 1 Corinthians 15:14; 1 Corinthians 15:17 Paul speaks of κενον το κηρυγμα ( empty the preaching ) and ματαια η πιστις ( vain the faith ). One easily leads to the other.

Verse 2

But having suffered before (αλλα προπαθοντες). Strong adversative αλλα, antithesis to κενη. Appeal to his personal experiences in Thessalonica known to them ( as ye know , καθως οιδατε). Second aorist active participle of προπασχω, old compound verb, but here alone in the N.T. The force of προ- (before) is carried over to the next verb. The participle may be regarded as temporal (Ellicott) or concessive (Moffatt).

And been shamefully entreated in Philippi (κα υβρισθεντες εν Φιλιπποις). First aorist passive participle of υβριζω, old verb, to treat insolently. "More than the bodily suffering it was the personal indignity that had been offered to him as a Roman citizen" (Milligan), for which account see Acts 16:16-40, an interesting example of how Acts and the Epistles throw light on each other. Luke tells how Paul resented the treatment accorded to him as a Roman citizen and here Paul shows that the memory still rankled in his bosom.

We waxed bold in our God (επαρρησιασαμεθα εν τω θεω ημων). Ingressive first aorist middle of παρρησιαζομα, old deponent verb from παρρησια (full story, παν-, ρησια). In his reply to Festus (Acts 26:26) Paul uses παρρησιαζομενος λαλω,

being bold I speak , while here he has

we waxed bold to speak (επαρρησιασαμεθα λαλησα). The insult in Philippi did not close Paul's mouth, but had precisely the opposite effect "in our God." It was not wild fanaticism, but determined courage and confidence in God that spurred Paul to still greater boldness in Thessalonica,

unto you (προς υμας), be the consequences what they might,

the gospel of God in much conflict , (το ευαγγελιον του θεου εν πολλω αγων). This figure of the athletic games (αγων) may refer to outward conflict like Philippians 1:30 or inward anxiety (Colossians 2:1). He had both in Thessalonica.

Verse 3

Exhortation (παρακλησις). Persuasive discourse, calling to one's side, for admonition, encouragement, or comfort.

Not of error (ουκ εκ πλανης). This word is same as πλαναω, to lead astray (2 Timothy 3:13) like Latin errare. Passive idea of

error here rather than deceit. That is seen in

nor in guile (ουδε εν δολω) from δελω, to catch with bait. Paul is keenly sensitive against charges against the correctness of his message and the purity of his life.

Nor of uncleanness (ουδε εξ ακαθαρσιας). "This disclaimer, startling as it may seem, was not unneeded amidst the impurities consecrated by the religions of the day" (Lightfoot). There was no necessary connection in the popular mind between religion and morals. The ecstatic initiations in some of the popular religions were grossly sensual.

Verse 4

But even as we have been approved by God (αλλα καθως δεδοκιμασμεθα υπο του θεου). Perfect passive indicative of δοκιμαζω, old verb to put to the test, but here the tense for completed state means tested and proved and so approved by God. Paul here claims the call of God for his ministry and the seal of God's blessing on his work and also for that of Silas and Timothy.

To be entrusted with the gospel (πιστευθηνα το ευαγγελιον). First aorist passive infinitive of πιστευω, common verb for believing, from πιστις (faith), but here to entrust rather than to trust. The accusative of the thing is retained in the passive according to regular Greek idiom as in 1 Corinthians 9:17; Galatians 2:7; Romans 3:2; 1 Timothy 1:11; Titus 1:3, though the active had the dative of the person.

So we speak (ουτως λαλουμεν). Simple, yet confident claim of loyalty to God's call and message. Surely this should be the ambition of every preacher of the gospel of God.

Not as pleasing men (ουχ ως ανθρωποις αρεσκοντες). Dative case with αρεσκω as in Galatians 1:10. Few temptations assail the preacher more strongly than this one to please men, even if God is not pleased, though with the dim hope that God will after all condone or overlook. Nothing but experience will convince some preachers how fickle is popular favour and how often it is at the cost of failure to please God. And yet the preacher wishes to win men to Christ. It is all as subtle as it is deceptive. God tests our hearts (the very verb δοκιμαζω used in the beginning of this verse) and he is the only one whose approval matters in the end of the day (1 Corinthians 4:5).

Verse 5

Using words of flattery (εν λογω κολακειας). Literally,

in speech of flattery or fawning . Old word, only here in N.T., from κολακς, a flatterer. An Epicurean, Philodemus, wrote a work Περ Κολακειας (Concerning Flattery). Milligan (Vocabulary, etc.) speaks of "the selfish conduct of too many of the rhetoricians of the day," conduct extremely repugnant to Paul. The third time (verses 1 Thessalonians 2:1; 1 Thessalonians 2:2; 1 Thessalonians 2:5) he appeals to their knowledge of his work in Thessalonica. Frame suggests "cajolery."

Nor a cloke of covetousness (ουτε προφασε πλεονεξιας). Pretext (προφασις from προφαινω, to show forth, or perhaps from προ-φημ, to speak forth). This is the charge of self-interest rather than the mere desire to please people. Pretext of greediness is Frame's translation. Πλεονεξια is merely "having more" from πλεονεκτης, one eager for more, and πλεονεκτεω, to have more, then to over-reach, all old words, all with bad meaning as the result of the desire for more. In a preacher this sin is especially fatal. Paul feels so strongly his innocence of this charge that he calls God as witness as in 2 Corinthians 1:23; Romans 9:1; Philippians 1:8, a solemn oath for his own veracity.

Verse 6

Nor seeking glory of men (ουτε ζητουντες εξ ανθρωπων δοξαν). "Upon the repudiation of covetousness follows naturally the repudiation of worldly ambition" (Milligan). See Acts 20:19; 2 Corinthians 4:5; Ephesians 4:2. This third disclaimer is as strong as the other two. Paul and his associates had not tried to extract praise or glory out of (εξ) men.

Neither from you nor from others (ουτε αφ' υμων ουτε αφ' αλλων). He widens the negation to include those outside of the church circles and changes the preposition from εξ (out of) to απο (from).

When we might have been burdensome, as apostles of Christ (δυναμενο εν βαρε εινα ως Χριστου αποστολο). Westcott and Hort put this clause in verse 1 Thessalonians 2:7. Probably a concessive participle,

though being able to be in a position of weight (either in matter of finance or of dignity, or a burden on your funds or "men of weight" as Moffatt suggests). Milligan suggests that Paul "plays here on the double sense of the phrase" like the Latin proverb: Honos propter onus. So he adds, including Silas and Timothy,

as Christ's apostles , as missionaries clearly, whether in the technical sense or not (cf. Acts 14:4; Acts 14:14; 2 Corinthians 8:23; 2 Corinthians 11:13; Romans 16:7; Philippians 2:25; Revelation 2:2). They were entitled to pay as "Christ's apostles" (cf. 1 Thessalonians 2:1; 2 Corinthians 11:7), though they had not asked for it.

Verse 7

But we were gentle in the midst of you (αλλα εγενηθημεν νηπιο εν μεσω υμων). Note εγενηθημεν (became), not ημεθα (were). This rendering follows ηπιο instead of νηπιο (Aleph B D C Vulg. Boh.) which is clearly correct, though Dibelius, Moffatt, Ellicott, Weiss prefer ηπιο as making better sense. Dibelius terms νηπιο unmoglich (impossible), but surely that is too strong. Paul is fond of the word νηπιο (babes). Lightfoot admits that he here works the metaphor to the limit in his passion, but does not mar it as Ellicott holds.

As when a nurse cherishes her own children (ως εαν τροφος θαλπη τα εαυτης τεκνα). This comparative clause with ως εαν (Mark 4:26; Galatians 6:10 without εαν or αν) and the subjunctive (Robertson, Grammar, p. 968) has a sudden change of the metaphor, as is common with Paul (1 Timothy 5:24; 2 Corinthians 3:13) from

babes to

nurse (τροφος), old word, here only in the N.T., from τρεφω, to nourish, τροφη, nourishment. It is really the mother-nurse "who suckles and nurses her own children" (Lightfoot), a use found in Sophocles, and a picture of Paul's tender affection for the Thessalonians. Θαλπω is an old word to keep warm, to cherish with tender love, to foster. In N.T. only here and Ephesians 5:29.

Verse 8

Even so, being affectionately desirous of you (ουτως ομειρομενο υμων). Clearly the correct text rather than ιμειρομενο from ιμειρω, old verb to long for. But the verb ομειρομα (Westcott and Hort om., smooth breathing) occurs nowhere else except MSS. in Job 3:21; Psalms 62:2 (Symmachus) and the Lycaonian sepulchral inscription (4th cent. A.D.) about the sorrowing parents ομειρομενο περ παιδος,

greatly desiring their son (Moulton and Milligan, Vocabulary). Moulton suggests that it comes from a root σμερ, remember, and that ο- is a derelict preposition ο like ο-δυρομαι, ο-κελλω, ω-κεανος. Wohlenberg (Zahn, Kommentar) calls the word "a term of endearment," "derived from the language of the nursery" (Milligan).

We were well pleased (ηυδοκουμεν). Imperfect active of ευδοκεω, common verb in later Greek and in N.T. (see on Matthew 3:17), picturing Paul's idea of their attitude while in Thessalonica. Paul often has it with the infinitive as here.

To impart (μεταδουνα). Second aorist active infinitive of μεταδιδωμ, old verb to share with (see on Luke 3:11). Possible zeugma with

souls (ψυχας), though Lightfoot renders "lives." Paul and his associates held nothing back.

Because ye were become very dear to us (διοτ αγαπητο ημιν εγενηθητε). Note διοτ (double cause, δια, οτ, for that), use of γινομα again for become, and dative ημιν with verbal αγαπητο, beloved and so dear. A beautiful picture of the growth of Paul's affection for them as should be true with every pastor.

Verse 9

Travail (μοχθον). Old word for difficult labour, harder than κοπος (toil). In the N.T. only here, 2 Thessalonians 3:8; 2 Corinthians 11:27. Note accusative case here though genitive with μνημονευω in 1 Thessalonians 1:3.

Night and day (νυκτος κα ημερας). Genitive case, both by day and by night, perhaps beginning before dawn and working after dark. So in 1 Thessalonians 3:10.

That we might not burden any of you (προς το μη επιβαρησα τινα υμων). Use of προς with the articular infinitive to express purpose (only four times by Paul). The verb επιβαρεω is late, but in the papyri and inscriptions for laying a burden (βαρος) on (επι-) one. In N.T. only here and 2 Thessalonians 3:8; 2 Corinthians 2:5. Paul boasted of his financial independence where he was misunderstood as in Thessalonica and Corinth (1 Thessalonians 2:2), though he vindicated his right to remuneration.

We preached (εκηρυξαμεν).

We heralded (from κηρυξ, herald) to you, common verb for preach.

Verse 10

How holily and righteously and unblameably (ως οσιως κα δικαιως κα αμεμπτως). Paul calls the Thessalonians and God as witnesses (μαρτυρες) to his life toward you the believers (υμιν τοις πιστευουσιν) dative of personal interest. He employs three common adverbs that show how holily toward God and how righteously toward men so that they did not blame him and his associates in either respect. So there is a reason for each adverb. All this argues that Paul spent a considerable time in Thessalonica, more than the three sabbaths mentioned by Luke. The pastor ought to live so that his life will bear close inspection.

Verse 11

As a father with his own children (ως πατηρ τεκνα εαυτου). Change from the figure of the mother-nurse in verse 1 Thessalonians 2:7. There is ellipse of a principal verb with the participles παρακαλουντεσ, παραμυθουμενοι, μαρτυρουμενο. Lightfoot suggests ενουθετουμεν (we admonished) or εγενηθημεν (we became). The three participles give three phases of the minister's preaching (exhorting, encouraging or consoling, witnessing or testifying). They are all old verbs, but only the first (παρακαλεω) is common in the N.T.

Verse 12

To the end that (εις το). Final use of εις and the articular infinitive, common idiom in the papyri and Paul uses εις to and the infinitive fifty times (see again in 1 Thessalonians 3:2), some final, some sub-final, some result (Robertson, Grammar, pp. 989-91).

Walk worthily of God (περιπατειν αξιως του θεου). Present infinitive (linear action), and genitive case with adverb αξιως as in Colossians 1:10 (cf. Philippians 1:27; Ephesians 4:1), like a preposition.

Calleth (καλουντος). Present active participle, keeps on calling. Some MSS. have καλεσαντος, called.

Kingdom (βασιλειαν) here is the future consummation because of glory (δοξαν) as in 2 Thessalonians 1:5; 1 Corinthians 6:9; 1 Corinthians 15:50; Galatians 5:21; 2 Timothy 4:1; 2 Timothy 4:18), but Paul uses it for the present kingdom of grace also as in 1 Corinthians 4:20; Romans 14:17; Colossians 1:13.

Verse 13

And for this cause we also (κα δια τουτο κα ημεις). Note κα twice. We as well as you are grateful for the way the gospel was received in Thessalonica.

Without ceasing (αδιαλειπτως). Late adverb for which see on 1 Thessalonians 1:2 and for ευχαριστουμεν see on 1 Thessalonians 1:2.

The word of the message (λογον ακοης). Literally,

the word of hearing, as in Sir. 42:1 and Hebrews 4:2 ο λογος της ακοης, the word marked by hearing (genitive case), the word which you heard. Here with του θεου (of God) added as a second descriptive genitive which Paul expands and justifies.

Ye received it so (παραλαβοντες) and

accepted or welcomed it (εδεξασθε) so,

not as the word of men (ου λογου ανθρωπων),

but as the word of God (αλλα λογον θεου),

as it is in truth (καθως αληθως εστιν). This last clause is literally,

as it truly is . Paul had not a doubt that he was proclaiming God's message. Should any preacher preach his doubts if he has any? God's message can be found and Paul found it.

Worketh in you (ενεργειτα εν υμιν). Perhaps middle voice of ενεργεω (εν, εργον, work) late verb, not in ancient Greek or LXX, but in papyri and late writers (Polybius, etc.) and in N.T. only by Paul and James. If it is passive, as Milligan thinks, it means "is set in operation," as Polybius has it. The idea then is that the word of God is set in operation in you that believe.

Verse 14

Imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea (μιμητα των εκκλησιων του θεου των ουσων εν τη Ιουδαια). On μιμητα see on 1 Thessalonians 1:5. "This passage, implying an affectionate admiration of the Jewish churches on the part of St. Paul, and thus entirely bearing out the impression produced by the narrative in the Acts, is entirely subversive of the theory maintained by some and based on a misconception of 1 Thessalonians 2:2, and by the fiction of the Pseudo-Clementines, of the feud existing between St. Paul and the Twelve" (Lightfoot).

In Christ Jesus (εν Χριστω Ιησου). It takes this to make a Christian church of God. Note order here

Christ Jesus as compared with

Jesus Christ in 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 1 Thessalonians 1:3.

Ye also--even as they (κα υμεισ--κα αυτο). Note κα twice (correlative use of κα).

Countrymen (συμφυλετων). Fellow-countrymen or tribesmen. Late word that refers primarily to Gentiles who no doubt joined the Jews in Thessalonica who instigated the attacks on Paul and Silas so that it "was taken up by the native population, without whose co-operation it would have been powerless" (Lightfoot).

Own (ιδιων) here has apparently a weakened force. Note υπο here with the ablative both with συμφυλετων and Ιουδαιων after the intransitive επαθετε (suffered). The persecution of the Christians by the Jews in Judea was known everywhere.

Verse 15

Who both killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets (των κα τον Κυριον αποκτειναντων Ιησουν κα τους προφητας). First aorist active participle of αποκτεινω. Vivid justification of his praise of the churches in Judea. The Jews killed the prophets before the Lord Jesus who reminded them of their guilt (Matthew 23:29). Paul, as Peter (Acts 2:23), lays the guilt of the death of Christ on the Jews.

And drove us out (κα ημας εκδιωξαντων). An old verb to drive out or banish, to chase out as if a wild beast. Only here in N.T. It is Paul's vivid description of the scene told in Acts 17:5 when the rabbis and the hoodlums from the agora chased him out of Thessalonica by the help of the politarchs.

Please not God (Θεω μη αρεσκοντων). The rabbis and Jews thought that they were pleasing God by so doing as Paul did when he ravaged the young church in Jerusalem. But Paul knows better now.

And are contrary to all men (κα πασιν ανθρωποις εναντιων). Dative case with the adjective εναντιων (old and common word, face to face, opposite). It seems like a bitter word about Paul's countrymen whom he really loved (Romans 9:1-5; Romans 10:1-6), but Paul knew only too well the middle wall of partition between Jew and Gentile as he shows in 1 Thessalonians 2:2 and which only the Cross of Christ can break down. Tacitus (Hist. V. 5) says that the Jews are adversus omnes alios hostile odium.

Verse 16

Forbidding us (κωλυοντων ημας). Explanatory participle of the idea in εναντιων. They show their hostility to Paul at every turn. Right here in Corinth, where Paul is when he writes, they had already shown venomous hostility toward Paul as Luke makes plain (Acts 18:6). They not simply oppose his work among the Jews, but also to the Gentiles (εθνεσ, nations outside of the Abrahamic covenant as they understood it).

That they may be saved (ινα σωθωσιν). Final use of ινα with first aorist passive subjunctive of σωζω old verb to save. It was the only hope of the Gentiles, Christ alone and not the mystery-religions offered any real hope.

To fill up their sins alway (εις το αναπληρωσα αυτων τας αμαρτιας παντοτε). Another example of εις το and the infinitive as in verse 1 Thessalonians 2:12. It may either be God's conceived plan to allow the Jews to go on and fill up (αναπληρωσα, note ανα, fill up full, old verb) or it may be the natural result from the continual (παντοτε) sins of the Jews.

Is come (εφθασεν). First aorist (timeless aorist) active indicative of φθανω which no longer means to come before as in 1 Thessalonians 4:15 where alone in the N.T. it retains the old idea of coming before. Some MSS. have the perfect active εφθακεν, prophetic perfect of realization already. Frame translates it: "But the wrath has come upon them at last." This is the most likely meaning of εις τελος. Paul vividly foresees and foretells the final outcome of this attitude of hate on the part of the Jews. Tristis exitus, Bengel calls it. Paul speaks out of a sad experience.

Verse 17

Being bereaved of you (απορφανισθεντες αφ' υμων). First aorist passive participle of the rare compound verb (απορφανιζω, in Aeschylus, but nowhere else in N.T.). Literally,

being orphaned from you (αφ' υμων, ablative case). Paul changes the figure again (τροφος or mother nurse in verse 1 Thessalonians 2:7, νηπιος or babe in verse 1 Thessalonians 2:7, πατηρ or father in verse 1 Thessalonians 2:11) to

orphan (ορφανος). He refers to the period of separation from them,

for a short season (προς καιρον ωρας) for a season of an hour. This idiom only here in N.T., but προς καιρον in Luke 8:13 and προς ωραν in 2 Corinthians 7:8. But it has seemed long to Paul. Precisely how long he had been gone we do not know, some months at any rate.

In presence, not in heart (προσωπω ου καρδια). Locative case. Προσωπον, old word (προσ, οπς, in front of the eye, face) for face, look, person. Literally,

in face or person . His heart was with them, though they no longer saw his face. Heart, originally καρδια, is the inner man, the seat of the affections and purposes, not always in contrast with intellect (νους). "Out of sight, not out of mind" (Rutherford).

Endeavoured the more exceedingly (περισσοτερως εσπουδασαμεν). Ingressive aorist active indicative of σπουδαζω, old word to hasten (from σπουδη, σπευδω).

We became zealous . Comparative adverb περισσοτερως from περισσον, more abundantly than before being orphaned from you.

Your face (το προσωπον υμων). Cf. his

face above.

With great desire (εν πολλη επιθυμια).

In much longing (επιθυμια from επ and θυμος, επιθυμεω, to run after, to yearn after, whether good or bad).

Verse 18

Because (διοτ). As in 1 Thessalonians 2:8.

We would fain have come to you (ηθελησαμεν ελθειν προς υμας). First aorist active indicative of θελω. Literally,

we desired to come to you. I Paul (εγω μεν Παυλος). Clear example of literary plural ηθελεσαμεν with singular pronoun εγω. Paul uses his own name elsewhere also as in 2 Corinthians 10:1; Galatians 5:2; Colossians 1:23; Ephesians 3:1; Philemon 1:19.

Once and again (κα απαξ κα δις).

Both once and twice as in Philippians 4:16. Old idiom in Plato.

And Satan hindered us (κα ενεκοψεν ημας ο Σατανας). Adversative use of και= but or and yet. First aorist active indicative of ενκοπτω, late word to cut in, to hinder. Milligan quotes papyrus example of third century, B.C. Verb used to cut in a road, to make a road impassable. So Paul charges Satan with cutting in on his path. Used by Paul in Acts 24:4; Galatians 5:7 and passive ενεκοπτομην in Romans 15:22; 1 Peter 3:7. This hindrance may have been illness, opposition of the Jews in Corinth, what not.

Verse 19

Crown of glorying (στεφανος καυχησεως). When a king or conqueror came on a visit he was given a chaplet of glorying. Paul is answering the insinuation that he did not really wish to come.

At his coming (εν τη αυτου παρουσια). This word παρουσια is untechnical (just presence from παρειμ) in 2 Thessalonians 2:9; 1 Corinthians 16:17; 2 Corinthians 7:6; 2 Corinthians 10:10; Philippians 1:26; Philippians 2:12. But here (also 1 Thessalonians 3:13; 1 Thessalonians 4:15; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; 2 Thessalonians 2:1; 2 Thessalonians 2:8; 1 Corinthians 15:23) we have the technical sense of the second coming of Christ. Deissmann (Light from the Ancient East, pp. 372ff.) notes that the word in the papyri is almost technical for the arrival of a king or ruler who expects to receive his "crown of coming." The Thessalonians, Paul says, will be his crown, glory, joy when Jesus comes.

Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 2". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rwp/1-thessalonians-2.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.
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