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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

2 Thessalonians 1

Verse 1

Paul, etc. (Παυλοσ, ετχ.). This address or superscription is identical with that in 1 Thessalonians 1:1 save that our (ημων) is added after

Father (πατρ).

Verse 2

From God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (απο θεου πατρος κα Κυριου Ιησου Χριστου). These words are not genuine in 1 Thessalonians 1:1, but are here and they appear in all the other Pauline Epistles. Note absence of article both after εν and απο, though both God and Lord Jesus Christ are definite. In both cases Jesus Christ is put on a par with God, though not identical. See on 1 Thessalonians 1:1 for discussion of words, but note difference between εν, in the sphere of, by the power of, and απο, from, as the fountain head and source of grace and peace.

Verse 3

We are bound (οφειλομεν). Paul feels a sense of obligation to keep on giving thanks to God (ευχαριστειν τω θεω, present infinitive with dative case) because of God's continued blessings on the Thessalonians. He uses the same idiom again in 2 Thessalonians 2:13 and nowhere else in his thanksgivings. It is not necessity (δε) that Paul here notes, but a sense of personal obligation as in 1 John 2:6 (Milligan).

Even as it is meet (καθως αξιον εστιν). Οφειλομεν points to the divine, αξιον to the human side of the obligation (Lightfoot), perhaps to cheer the fainthearted in a possible letter to him in reply to Paul's First Thessalonian epistle (Milligan). This adjective αξιος is from αγω, to drag down the scales, and so weighty, worthy, worthwhile, old word and appropriate here.

For that your faith groweth exceedingly (οτ υπεραυξανε η πιστις υμων). Causal use of οτ referring to the obligation stated in οφειλομεν. The verb υπεραυξανω is one of Paul's frequent compounds in υπερ (υπερ βαινω, 1 Thessalonians 4:6; υπερ εκ τεινω, 2 Corinthians 10:14; υπερ εν τυγχανω, Romans 8:26; υπερ νικαω, Romans 8:37; υπερ πλεοναζω, 1 Timothy 1:14) and occurs only here in N.T. and rare elsewhere (Galen, Dio Cass.). Figure of the tree of faith growing above (υπερ) measure. Cf. parable of Jesus about faith-like a grain of mustard seed (Matthew 13:31).

Aboundeth (πλεοναζε). Same verb in 1 Thessalonians 3:12, here a fulfilment of the prayer made there. Milligan finds diffusive growth of love in this word because of "each one" (ενος εκαστου). Frame finds in this fulfilment of the prayer of 1 Thessalonians 3:12 one proof that II Thessalonians is later than I Thessalonians.

Verse 4

So that (ωστε). Another example of ωστε and the infinitive (ενκαυχασθα) for result as in 1 Thessalonians 1:7 which see.

We ourselves (αυτους ημας). Accusative of general reference with the infinitive, but not merely ημας (or εαυτους), perhaps in contrast with εν υμιν (in you), as much as to say, "so that we ourselves, contrary to your expectations, are boasting" (Frame). Ενκαυχαομα occurs here alone in N.T., but is found in the LXX and in Aesop's Fables, proof enough of its vernacular use. Paul was not above praising one church to other churches, to provoke them to good works. Here he is boasting of Thessalonica in Macedonia to the Corinthians as he did later to the Corinthians about the collection (2 Corinthians 8:1-15) after having first boasted to the Macedonians about the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 9:1-5). There were other churches in Achaia besides Corinth (2 Corinthians 1:1).

For (υπερ). Over, about, like περ (1 Thessalonians 1:2).

In all your persecutions (εν πασιν τοις διωγμοις υμων). Their patience and faith had already attracted Paul's attention (1 Thessalonians 1:3) and their tribulations θλιψεσιν (1 Thessalonians 1:6). Here Paul adds the more specific term διωγμος, old word from διωκω, to chase, to pursue, a word used by Paul of his treatment in Corinth (2 Corinthians 12:10).

Which ye endure (αις ανεχεσθε). B here reads ενεχεσθε, to be entangled in, to be held in as in Galatians 5:1, but ανεχεσθε is probably correct and the αις is probably attracted to locative case of θλιψεσιν from the ablative ων after ανεχεσθε,

from which ye hold yourselves back (cf. Colossians 3:13).

Verse 5

A manifest token of the righteous judgment of God (ενδειγμα της δικαιας κρισεως του θεου). Old word from ενδεικνυμ, to point out, result reached (-μα), a thing proved. It is either in the accusative of general reference in apposition with the preceding clause as in Romans 8:3; Romans 12:1, or in the nominative absolute when ο εστιν, if supplied, would explain it as in Philippians 1:28. This righteous judgment is future and final (verses 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10).

To the end that you may be counted worthy (εις το καταξιωθηνα υμας). Another example of εις το for purpose with first aorist passive infinitive from καταξιοω, old verb, with accusative of general reference υμας and followed by the genitive της βασιλειας (kingdom of God). See 1 Thessalonians 2:12 for

kingdom of God .

For which ye also suffer (υπερ ης κα πασχετε). Ye

also as well as we and the present tense means that it is still going on.

Verse 6

If so be that it is a righteous thing with God (ειπερ δικαιον παρα θεω). Condition of first class, determined as fulfilled, assumed as true, but with ειπερ (if on the whole, provided that) as in Romans 8:9; Romans 8:17, and with no copula expressed. A righteous thing "with God" means by the side of God (παρα θεω) and so from God's standpoint. This is as near to the idea of absolute right as it is possible to attain. Note the phrase in verse 2 Thessalonians 1:5.

To recompense affliction to them that afflict you (ανταποδουνα τοις θλιβουσιν ημας θλιψιν). Second aorist active infinitive of double compound αντ αποδιδωμ, old verb, either in good sense as in 1 Thessalonians 3:9 or in bad sense as here. Paul is certain of this principle, though he puts it conditionally.

Verse 7

Rest with us (ανεσιν μεθ' ημων). Let up, release. Old word from ανιημ, from troubles here (2 Corinthians 2:13; 2 Corinthians 7:5; 2 Corinthians 8:13), and hereafter as in this verse. Vivid word. They shared suffering with Paul (verse 2 Thessalonians 1:5) and so they will share (μεθ') the

rest .

At the revelation of the Lord Jesus (εν τη αποκαλυψε του Κυριου Ιησου). Here the Παρουσια (1 Thessalonians 2:19; 1 Thessalonians 3:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:23) is pictured as a

Revelation (Un-veiling, απο καλυψις) of the Messiah as in 1 Corinthians 1:7; 1 Peter 1:7; 1 Peter 1:13 (cf. Luke 17:30). At this Unveiling of the Messiah there will come the

recompense (verse 2 Thessalonians 1:6) to the persecutors and the

rest from the persecutions. This Revelation will be

from heaven (απ' ουρανου) as to place and

with the angels of his power (μετ' αγγελων δυναμεως αυτου) as the retinue and

in flaming fire (εν πυρ φλογος, in a fire of flame, fire characterized by flame). In Acts 7:30 the text is

flame of fire where πυρος is genitive (like Isaiah 66:15) rather than φλογος as here (Exodus 3:2).

Verse 8

Rendering (διδοντος). Genitive of present active participle of διδωμ, to give, agreeing with Ιησου.

Vengeance (εκδικησιν). Late word from εκδικεω, to vindicate, in Polybius and LXX.

To them that know not God (τοις μη ειδοσιν θεον). Dative plural of perfect active participle ειδως. Apparently chiefly Gentiles in mind (1 Thessalonians 4:3; Galatians 4:8; Romans 1:28; Ephesians 2:12), though Jews are also guilty of wilful ignorance of God (Romans 2:14).

And to them that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus (κα τοις μη υπακουουσιν τω ευαγγελιω του κυριου ημων Ιησου). Repetition of the article looks like another class and so Jews (Romans 10:16). Both Jews as instigators and Gentiles as officials (πολιταρχς) were involved in the persecution in Thessalonica (Acts 17:5-9; 2 Thessalonians 1:6). Note the use of "gospel" here as in Mark 1:15 "believe in the gospel."

Verse 9

Who (οιτινες). Qualitative use, such as. Vanishing in papyri though surviving in Paul (1 Corinthians 3:17; Romans 1:25; Galatians 4:26; Philippians 4:3).

Shall suffer punishment (δικην τισουσιν). Future active of old verb τινω, to pay penalty (δικην, right, justice), here only in N.T., but αποτινω once also to repay Philemon 1:19. In the papyri δικη is used for a case or process in law. This is the regular phrase in classic writers for paying the penalty.

Eternal destruction (ολεθρον αιωνιον). Accusative case in apposition with δικην (penalty). This phrase does not appear elsewhere in the N.T., but is in IV Macc. 10:15 τον αιωνιον του τυραννου ολεθρον the eternal destruction of the tyrant (Antiochus Epiphanes). Destruction (cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:3) does not mean here annihilation, but, as Paul proceeds to show, separation

from the face of the Lord (απο προσωπου του κυριου) and from the

glory of his might (κα απο της δοξης της ισχυος αυτου), an eternity of woe such as befell Antiochus Epiphanes. Αιωνιος in itself only means age-long and papyri and inscriptions give it in the weakened sense of a Caesar's life (Milligan), but Paul means by age-long

the coming age in contrast with

this age , as

eternal as the New Testament knows how to make it. See on Matthew 25:46 for use of αιωνιος both with ζωην, life, and κολασιν, punishment.

Verse 10

When he shall come (οταν ελθη). Second aorist active subjunctive with οταν, future and indefinite temporal clause (Robertson, Grammar, pp. 971ff.) coincident with εν τη αποκαλυψε in verse 2 Thessalonians 1:7.

To be glorified (ενδοξασθηνα). First aorist passive infinitive (purpose) of ενδοξαζω, late verb, in N.T. only here and verse 2 Thessalonians 1:12, in LXX and papyri.

In his saints (εν τοις αγιοις αυτου). The sphere in which Christ will find his glory at the Revelation.

And to be marvelled at (κα θαυμασθηνα). First aorist passive infinitive (purpose), common verb θαυμαζω.

That believed (τοις πιστευσασιν). Why aorist active participle instead of present active πιστευουσιν (that believe)? Frame thinks that Paul thus reassures those who believed his message when there (1 Thessalonians 1:6; 1 Thessalonians 2:13). The parenthetical clause, though difficult, falls in with this idea:

Because our testimony unto you was believed (οτ επιστευθη το μαρτυριον ημων εφ' υμας). Moffatt calls it an anti-climax.

On that day (εν τη ημερα εκεινη). The day of Christ's coming (2 Timothy 1:12; 2 Timothy 1:18; 2 Timothy 4:8).

Verse 11

To which end (εις ο). So Colossians 1:29. Probably purpose with reference to the contents of verses 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10. We have had the Thanksgiving (verses 2 Thessalonians 1:3-10) in a long, complicated, but rich period or sentence. Now he makes a brief Prayer (verses 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12) that God will fulfil all their hopes and endeavours. Paul and his colleagues can still pray for them though no longer with them (Moffatt).

That (ινα). Common after προσευχομα (Colossians 4:3; Ephesians 1:17; Philippians 1:9) when the content of the prayer blends with the purpose (purport and purpose).

Count you worthy (υμας αξιωση). Causative verb (aorist active subjunctive) like καταξιοω in verse 2 Thessalonians 1:5 with genitive.

Of your calling (της κλησεως). Κλησις can apply to the beginning as in 1 Corinthians 1:26; Romans 11:29, but it can also apply to the final issue as in Philippians 3:14; Hebrews 3:1. Both ideas may be here. It is God's calling of the Thessalonians.

And fulfil every desire of goodness (κα πληρωση πασαν ευδοκιαν αγαθωσυνης). "Whom he counts worthy he first makes worthy" (Lillie). Yes, in purpose, but the wonder and the glory of it all is that God begins to count us worthy in Christ before the process is completed in Christ (Romans 8:29). But God will see it through and so Paul prays to God. Ευδοκια (cf. Luke 2:14) is more than mere desire, rather good pleasure, God's purpose of goodness, not in ancient Greek, only in LXX and N.T. Αγαθωσυνη like a dozen other words in -συνη occurs only in late Greek. This word occurs only in LXX, N.T., writings based on them. It is made from αγαθος, good, akin to αγαμα, to admire. May the Thessalonians find delight in goodness, a worthy and pertinent prayer.

Work of faith (εργον πιστεως). The same phrase in 1 Thessalonians 1:3. Paul prays for rich fruition of what he had seen in the beginning. Work marked by faith, springs from faith, sustained by faith.

With power (εν δυναμε). In power. Connect with πληρωση (fulfil), God's power (Romans 1:29; Colossians 1:4) in Christ (1 Corinthians 1:24) through the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 1:5).

Verse 12

That (οπως). Rare with Paul compared with ινα (1 Corinthians 1:29; 2 Corinthians 8:14). Perhaps here for variety (dependent on ινα clause in verse 2 Thessalonians 1:11).

The name (το ονομα). The Old Testament (LXX) uses ονομα embodying the revealed character of Jehovah. So here the

Name of our Lord Jesus means the Messiahship and Lordship of Jesus. The common Greek idiom of ονομα for title or dignity as in the papyri (Milligan) is not quite this idiom. The papyri also give examples of ονομα for person as in O.T. and Acts 1:15 (Deissmann, Bible Studies, pp. 196ff.).

In you, and ye in him (εν υμιν, κα υμεις εν αυτω). This reciprocal glorying is Pauline, but it is also like Christ's figure of the vine and the branches in John 15:1-11.

According to the grace (κατα την χαριν). Not merely standard, but also aim (Robertson, Grammar, p. 609).

Of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ (του θεου ημων κα κυριου Ιησου Χριστου). Here strict syntax requires, since there is only one article with θεου and κυριου that one person be meant, Jesus Christ, as is certainly true in Titus 2:13; 2 Peter 1:1 (Robertson, Grammar, p.786). This otherwise conclusive syntactical argument, admitted by Schmiedel, is weakened a bit by the fact that Κυριος is often employed as a proper name without the article, a thing not true of σωτηρ in Titus 2:13; 2 Peter 1:1. So in Ephesians 5:5 εν τη βασιλεια του Χριστου κα θεου the natural meaning is

in the Kingdom of Christ and God regarded as one, but here again θεος, like Κυριος, often occurs as a proper name without the article. So it has to be admitted that here Paul may mean "according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ," though he may also mean "according to the grace of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ."

Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright © Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on 2 Thessalonians 1". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.