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Bible Commentaries

George Milligan - Paul's Epistle to the Thessalonians
2 Thessalonians 1

 

 

Verse 1

1. παῦλος κτλ.] The address corresponds word for word with the address in 1 Thessalonians 1:1 (where see notes) except in the addition of ἡμῶν after πατρί emphasizing that it is the Divine fatherhood in relation to man and not to Christ that is specially in view.


Verse 2

2. ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρός κτλ.] These words, though unauthentic in 1 Thessalonians 1:1, form part of the true text here, and, as in all subsequent Pauline Epp., carry back the customary greeting χάρις κ. εἰρήνη to its ultimate source. Both subjects θεοῦ πατρός and κυρ. ἰης. χρ. are under the government of the same preposition ἀπό, and any distinction between them therefore as the ‘ultimate’ and the ‘mediating’ channel of grace and peace (as Findlay), however true in reality, is out of place here. In 2 John 1:3 the same relation is brought out by the repeated παρά ... παρά, which can hardly be distinguished from ἀπό in this connexion, though in accordance with its general sense it may help to draw attention to the passage from the giver to the receiver (cf. Lft. on Galatians 1:12).

The addition of ἡμῶν after πατρός is well attested ( אAG … Vg Go Bob Syrr), but in accordance with BDP 17 is omitted by WH. Its insertion was doubtless due to its frequent presence in corresponding Pauline formulas.


Verse 3

3, 4. ‘We count it a duty, as well as a privilege, Brothers, to give thanks to God at all times for you, as indeed your own conduct fully merits, in view of the marvellous growth of your faith and the abounding love which you are all displaying towards one another. So marked indeed are these, that we on our own part are able to make a boast of you in the churches of God, as we think of the endurance and the faith which you have continued to show even among the persecutions and afflictions which are falling upon you at this time.’

3. εὐχαριστεῖν ὀφείλομεν] Cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:2, the addition of ὀφείλομεν in the present passage bringing out the Apostles’ sense of thanksgiving as actually a debt owing to God in view of their converts’ rapid growth in spiritual things (see below). As contrasted with δεῖ ‘an obligation in the nature of things,’ ὀφείλω expresses ‘a special, personal obligation’ (Westcott on 1 John 2:6). It is found combined with εὐχαιστεῖν as here in 2:13; cf. Clem. R. Cor. 38:4, Barn. Ephesians 5:3 ( ὑπερευχαριστεῖν) 7:1.

καθὼς ἄξιόν ἐστι] not a mere tautological repetition of ὀφείλομεν for the sake of emphasis (as Jewett), but bringing out the duty of the εὐχαριστία from the human standpoint—‘it is also merited by your conduct’ (Lft.): cf. Philippians 1:7, and for a similar use of ἄξιος see 1 Corinthians 16:4.

ὅτι] referring back to the principal statement εὐχ. ὀφείλομεν, and in view of the emphatic ὀφείλομεν (see above) best given its full causal significance ‘because,’ cf. 2:13 and contrast 1 Thessalonians 2:13.

ὑπεραυξάνει] ‘groweth exceedingly’ (Vg. supercrescit, Beza vehementer augescat, Wycl. ouer wexith), as compared with the ὑστερήματα τ. πίστεως, 1 Thessalonians 3:10.

The verb is another of the verbs compounded with ὑπερ- for which St Paul shows such a marked predilection, cf. ὑπερβαίνω (1 Thessalonians 4:6), ὑπερεντυγχάνω (Romans 8:26), ὑπερνικάω (Romans 8:37), ὑπερεκτείνω (2 Corinthians 10:14), ὑπερπλεονάζω (1 Timothy 1:14), all, like ὑπεραυξάνω, being ἅπ. λεγόμενα in the N.T.: see also the note on 1 Thessalonians 3:10. Like the simple αὐξάνω in the N.T. (except 1 Corinthians 3:6 f., 2 Corinthians 9:10), the verb is here used intransitively.

καὶ πλεονάζει κτλ.] a fulfilment of the prayer of 1 Thessalonians 3:12. As distinguished from ὑπεραυξάνει, πλεονάζει, which is found in the N.T. outside the Pauline Epp. only in 2 Peter 1:8, points to diffusive rather than organic growth, and hence is fittingly used of ἀγάπη, while this love is further characterized as not only individually manifested ( ἑνὸς ἑκάστου, cf. 1 Thessalonians 2:11), but as extended to the entire Christian community at Thessalonica ( πάντων ὑμῶν εἰς ἀλλήλους). Chrys.: καὶ ὅρα ἀγάπην· οὐ τὸν μὲν ἠγάπων, τὸν δὲ οὔ, ἀλλʼ ἴση ἦν παρὰ πάντων.


Verse 4

4. ὥστε αὐτοὺς ἡμᾶς κτλ.] ‘so that we on our part …,’ the emphatically placed αὐτούς not being simply reflexive, but serving to draw attention to the fact that the Apostles, as well as the Thessalonians, have ground for boasting, inasmuch as it was through their agency, humanly speaking, that the foundations of the Thessalonians’ faith were laid.

For ὥστε with inf. cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:7 note.

ἐνκαυχᾶσθαι] ἐνκαυχᾶσθαι (for form, WH.2 Notes p. 156 f.) instead of the favourite Pauline καυχᾶσθαι (Epp.35) does not occur elsewhere in the N.T., but is found with the same construction as here in Psalms 51. (52.) 3, 96. (97.) 7 ( ἐγκ-), 105. (106.) 47. For the thought cf. 1 Thessalonians 2:19 στέφανος καυχήσεως, and for ἐν indicating the ground of the boasting see WM. p. 292.

ἐν τ. ἐκκλησίαις τ. θεοῦ] i.e. in Corinth and its neighbourhood, cf. 2 Corinthians 1:1. For a similar instance of boasting cf. 2 Corinthians 8:1 ff., and for the use made of the present passage by Polycarp see Intr. p. 76 f.

ὑπὲρ τῆς ὑπομονῆς κτλ.] ὑπομονή (1 Thessalonians 1:3 note) is usually found associated with ἐλπίς, and its close union here with πίστις under a common art. has led to the latter’s being taken in the sense of ‘faithfulness’ (Beng.: ‘fidelem constantism confessionis’). But this passive significance of πίστις is, to say the least, very rare in the N.T. (cf. Romans 3:3, Galatians 5:22), and the occurrence of the word in its ordinary active sense of ‘faith’ in the immediately preceding verse makes it more natural to give it the same meaning here. Nor need the added clause ἐν πᾶσιν τ. διωγμοῖς κτλ. cause any difficulty in this respect. It was the very point of the Apostles’ boast that the Thessalonians had maintained a true religious ‘faith’ even in the midst of the ‘persecutions’ and ‘afflictions’ which had been both numerous ( πᾶσιν) and continuous ( ἀνέχεσθε pres.).

For the combination διωγμ. κ. θλίψ. cf. Matthew 13:21, Mark 4:17, the former being the more special term, with reference to the external persecutions inflicted by enemies of the Gospel (cf. Acts 8:1; Acts 13:50, 2 Maccabees 12:23), the latter (cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:6, note), more comprehensively, afflictions of any kind.

αἷς ἀνέχεσθε] ‘which ye are enduring.’ αἷς is generally regarded as an attraction for ὧν ἀνέχεσθε, as elsewhere in the N. T. ἀνέχομαι is found with the gen. (e.g. 2 Corinthians 11:1; 2 Corinthians 11:19, Ephesians 4:2). But such an attraction as this would be unique (WM. p. 204 n.2), and it is simpler to regard αἷς as directly governed by ἀνέχεσθε for which we have class, authority, e.g. Eur. Androm. 980 ξυμφοραῖς δʼ ἠνειχόμην.

Findlay suggests that the grammatical anomaly may have led to the otherwise interesting variant αἷς ἐνέχεσθε (WH. mg.) ‘in which you are involved,’ αἷς being then regularly governed by ἐν-: cf. Galatians 5:1 μὴ πάλιν ζυγῷ δουλείας ἐνέχεσθε, P.Fior. 57, 30 (3./a.d.) ἐνέχεσθε ταῖς λειτουργίαις.


Verse 5

5. ‘We have spoken of your heroic faith under persecution, and we gladly dwell upon it, because in itself it affords a proof of what awaits you in the day of God’s final judgment, and will then result in your being found worthy of the heavenly Kingdom, for which you are now suffering.’

5. ἔνδειγμα κτλ.] ‘a plain token of the righteous judgment of God’ (Beza quae res indicium est iusti iudicii Dei). ἔνδειγμα ( ἅπ. λεγ. N.T.) in accordance with its passive form denotes strictly a result that has been reached, ‘a thing proved,’ but as frequently in similar cases where the abstract gives place to the concrete can hardly be distinguished from ἔνδειξις the actual proof by an appeal to facts, cf. Romans 3:25 f., 2 Corinthians 8:24, and especially the closely parallel passage Philippians 1:28 μὴ πτυρόμενοι ἐν μηδενὶ ... ἥτις ἐστὶν αὐτοῖς ἔνδειξις ἀπωλείας.

As regards construction, the analogy of this last passage has led to the treating of ἔνδειγμα as a nominative, some such ellipsis as ὅ ἐστιν being supplied (Blass p. 293). But it is more in keeping with class. usage to regard such noun-phrases as accusatives, in apposition to the whole idea of the foregoing sentence (cf. Romans 8:3; Romans 12:1, 1 Timothy 2:6, and see further Kühner3 § 406, 6, Riddell The Apology of Plato (1877) p. 122). In the present instance, therefore, the meaning is that the heroic faith of the Thessalonians under persecution is in itself a ‘proof,’ a ‘sign’ (Est. ‘argumentum et indicium’) of what God’s final judgment in their case will be.

For δικαίας κρίσεως, a phrase not found elsewhere in the Pauline Epp. cf. Romans 2:5 δικαιοκρισίας which, however, denotes ‘not so much the character of the judgment as the character of the Judge’ (SH. p. 56), and for the whole thought see Romans 8:18 ff., 2 Corinthians 4:16 ff.

As a literary parallel Garrod aptly cites the lines from Browning’s ‘Abt Vogler’—

And what is our failure here but a triumph’s evidence

For the fulness of the days?

And as still better illustrating the confident appeal to the supreme judgment by which all present sufferings will be set in their true light, Dante’s great lines (Purg. 10:109–111) may be recalled—

Non attender la forma del martire: Pensa la succession; pensa che, a peggio,

Oltre la gran sentenza non può ire.

εἰς τὸ καταξιωθῆναι κτλ.] Cf. the common Rabbinic expression ‘To be worthy of the future aeon’ (Dalman Worte p. 97, E. Tr. p. 119).

καταξιόω, like the simple ἀξιόω (v. 11), denotes not ‘make’ but ‘count worthy,’ and is found elsewhere in the N.T. only in Luke 20:35 οἱ δὲ καταξιωθέντες τοῦ αἰῶνος ἐκείνου τυχεῖν, Acts 5:41 ὅτι κατηξιώθησαν ὑπὲρ τοῦ ὀνόματος ἀτιμασθῆναι. In the LXX. it is confined to Maccabees4; cf. Aristeas 175 τοὺς δὲ ἥκοντας τιμῆς καταξιῶν μείζονος. It is frequent in Polybius (e.g. 1:23. 3, 4:86. 8); see also C.I.A. 3. 690, 9 f. ἀνατροφῆς τῆς αὐτῆς καταξιωφείς.

For εἰς τό with inf., and for the meaning of τ. βασιλ. τ. θεοῦ see the notes on 1 Thessalonians 2:12.

ὑπὲρ ἧς καὶ πάσχετε] cf. Romans 8:17, 2 Corinthians 1:7, Philippians 3:10, and Dante Purg. 19:76 f.—

O eletti di Dio, li cui soffriri

E giustizia e speranza fan men duri.


Verse 6

6–10. From the thought of the future recompence awaiting the persecuted Thessalonian Church the Apostles proceed to describe more fully the issue of the Lord’s Parousia in an apocalyptic passage closely based on the O.T. as regards both language and imagery (see Intr. p. 59). The form is largely rhythmical, so much so that Bornemann (pp. 329, 336) conjectures that vv. 7b–10a may be an adaptation of some primitive Christian psalm or hymn.

‘We are the more confident of this because it is in accord with God’s righteous law to mete out trouble to troublers, and to the troubled rest—a rest which we hope to share along with you at the revelation from heaven of the Lord Jesus attended by the angels, as the instruments of His power, and surrounded by a “fire of flame.” Then will He inflict full justice upon all who in wilful ignorance oppose themselves to God, and in consequence disobey the Gospel of Christ. All such shall suffer a fitting penalty. Nothing less than eternal ruin will fall upon them—banishment from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His might. Yes, from that glory the wicked, your persecutors, will be shut out, for the object of the Lord’s coming is to be glorified in His saints and revered in all believers (amongst whom we may reckon you, for you received our testimony) in that great Day.’

6. εἴπερ δίκαιον κτλ.] εἴπερ (‘si quidem’) an intensive form, confined in the N.T. to the Pauline writings, which, without implying doubt as to the truth of the condition assumed, lays some stress on it as a condition (cf. Romans 3:30; Romans 8:9; Romans 8:17; SH. p. 96). That condition is here the exercise of the strict righteousness of God conceived as a jus talionis.

For δίκαιον cf. δικαίας κρίσεως (v. 5), and for παρὰ θεῷ (‘judice Deo’) see WM. p. 493.

ἀνταποδοῦναι κτλ.] Th. Mops. retribuere his qui tribulant uos retribulationem. For ἀνταποδίδωμι see 1 Thessalonians 3:9 note, and for θλίψις, 1 Thessalonians 1:6 note. The language as well as the thought (cf. Romans 2:6 ff.) is clearly suggested by O.T. prophecy, cf. especially Isaiah 66:4; Isaiah 66:14 ff., and for a terse description of the close connexion between sin and its ‘other half’ punishment see Sap. 11:16 (17) διʼ ὧν τις ἁμαρτάνει, διὰ τούτων κολάζεται.


Verse 7

7. ἄνεσιν] ἄνεσις, lit. ‘loosening,’ ‘relaxing’ of the cords of endurance now tightly drawn (cf. Plato Rep. 1:349 e ἐν τῇ ἐπιτάσει καὶ ἀνέσει τῶν χορδῶν), is, with the exception of Acts 24:23 (‘indulgence’ R.V.), used in the N.T. only by St Paul, and always with the contrast to θλίψις either stated or implied; cf. 2 Corinthians 2:13 (see v. 4), 7:5, 8:13. In the apocryphal books of the O.T. it is found also in the more general senses of ‘liberty’ (1 Esdras 4:62) and of ‘licence’ (Sirach 15:20 (21), 26:10 (13)): cf. also Aristeas 284 ἐν ταῖς ἀνέσεσι καὶ ῥᾳθυμίαις, P.Tebt. 24, 73 (2./b.c.) ἐν ἀν[έ]σει γεγονότας ‘becoming remiss.’

In the present passage the ‘rest’ spoken of (Est.: ‘remissionem, relaxationem, scilicet a pressuris hujus mundi’) is practically synonymous with the καιροὶ ἀναψύξεως of Acts 3:19, where the context again determines the eschatological reference of the phrase: cf. also Asc. Isai. 4:15 ‘And He will give rest to the godly whom He shall find in the body in this world.’

μεθʼ ἡμῶν] i.e. with Paul and his companions, rather than with Christians in general: cf. 2 Corinthians 1:7, Philippians 1:30. Oecum.: ἐπάγει τὸ μεθʼ ἡμῶν, ἵνα κοινωνοὺς αὐτοὺς λάβῃ καὶ τῶν ἀγώνων καὶ τῶν στεφάνων τῶν ἀποστολικῶν.

ἐν τῇ ἀποκαλύψει κτλ.] Cf. 1 Corinthians 1:7, and for the original suggestion of the phrase see Luke 17:30 ᾗ ἡμέρᾳ ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἀποκαλύπτεται. ἐν is not purely temporal but ‘in and through’ (cf. 1 Thessalonians 2:19 note), the ἀνταπόδοσις being not only associated with the ἀποκάλυψις but actually forming a part of it: cf. 1 Peter 1:7 (with Hort’s note), and on the distinction between ἀποκάλυψις and παρουσία see Add. Note F.

For similar language from Jewish Apocalyptic cf. 4 Ezra 7:28 (quoted 1 Thessalonians 4:17 note); 13:32 ‘et erit cum fient haec … tunc reuelabitur filius mens quem uidisti uirum ascendentem.’

μετʼ ἀγγέλων κτλ.] ‘accompanied by angels of His power’— δυνάμεως not being a mere epithet of ἀγγέλων, but, as the accompanying αὐτοῦ shows, pointing directly to the power of the Lord Himself, of which the angels (cf. 1 Thessalonians 3:13 note) were the exponents and ministers. Calv.: ‘angelos potentiae vocat, in quibus suam potestatem exseret.’


Verse 8

8. ἐν πυρὶ φλογός] a common figure in O.T. theophanies, and frequently associated as here with the thought of judgment, e.g. Isaiah 66:15 ἰδοὺ γὰρ κύριος ὡς πῦρ ἥξει, ... ἀποδοῦναι ἐν θυμῷ ἐκδίκησιν αὐτοῦ καὶ ἀποσκορακισμὸν αὐτοῦ ἐν φλογὶ πυρός. See also Apoc. Bar. 48:39, ‘Therefore a fire will consume their thoughts, and in flame will the meditations of their reins be tried; for the Judge will come and will not tarry,’ where as elsewhere in the same book (44:15, 59:2 (with Charles’s note), 85:13) material fire seems to be intended. In St Paul’s hands on the contrary the figure has become entirely spiritualized, and there is certainly no thought here of ‘fire’ as the actual instrument for the destruction of the ungodly, as Kabisch appears to suggest (Eschatologie des Paulus (1893) p. 246).

The v.l. ἐν φλογὶ πυρός (BDG 47 71) appears to be a conformation to Isaiah 66:15 (cited above); on the other hand in ἐν πυρὶ φλογός ( אAKLP) we may have a reminiscence of LXX. Exodus 3:2, where however AF read ἐν φλ. πυρ.: cf. Acts 7:30 where there is a similar variation of reading.

διδόντος ἐκδίκησιν] not to be connected with πυρός but directly with τ. κυρ. ἰησοῦ, and serving to bring out further the judicial aspect under which this ἀποκάλυψις is here presented.

ἐκδίκησις from ἔκδικος (1 Thessalonians 4:6 note) is full, complete punishment, cf. 1 Peter 2:14 εἰς ἐκδίκησιν κακοποιῶν: elsewhere it has the meaning of ‘avenging,’ ‘vindication’ (e.g. Luke 18:7 ff.). The exact phrase δοῦναι ἐκδίκησιν is found only here in the N.T., but it occurs several times in the LXX., e.g. Ezekiel 25:14 : cf. Isaiah 66:15 ἀποδοῦναι ἐκδίκησιν, and more particularly for the thought Deuteronomy 32:35 ἐν ἡμέρᾳ ἐκδικήσεως ἀνταποδώσω. On the power of judgment here ascribed to the Lord Jesus see Intr. p. 67.

The v.l. διδούς (D*FG and some Latin authorities) for διδόντος, if it were better attested, would be an instance of the indifference to concord which we find so frequently in the Apocalypse, and in the less educated papyri (Moulton Prolegg. pp. 9, 60).

τοῖς μὴ εἰδόσι κτλ.] ‘to them that know not God and to them that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus.’ The two clauses (note repeated art.) are often referred to the Gentile (1 Thessalonians 4:5 note) and Jewish (Romans 10:16 ff.) opponents of the Gospel respectively. But it is doubtful whether any such distinction was in the writers’ minds at the time, nor can it be strictly applied, for Gentiles as well as Jews can be taxed with disobedience (Romans 11:30), while the wilful ignorance of God which alone can be thought of here (cf. Romans 2:14) is elsewhere directly ascribed to Jews (cf. Jeremiah 9:6 οὐκ ἤθελον εἰδέναι με). On the whole therefore it is better, and more in keeping with the Hebraistic strain of the whole passage (Findlay), to take both clauses as referring to the same general class, viz. all who as the result of wilful ignorance or disobedience oppose themselves to God: cf. Jeremiah 10:25 ἔκχεον τὸν θυμόν σου ἐπὶ ἔθνη τὰ μὴ εἰδότα σε καὶ ἐπὶ γενεὰς αἳ τὸ ὄνομά σου οὐκ ἐπεκαλέσαντο, where again the two closely parallel clauses form one extended category.

The substitution of τ. εὐαγγ. τ. κυρ. ἡμ. ἰης. for τ. εὐαγγ. τ. θεοῦ (1 Thessalonians 2:2 &c.) is in accordance with the prominence given to the Lord Jesus throughout the section.


Verse 9

9. αἵτινες] ‘men who’ (‘quippe qui’), the qualitative character of ὅστις, though generally lost in late Gk., being apparently maintained in the Pauline Epp., cf. Romans 1:25, 1 Corinthians 3:17, Galatians 4:24; Galatians 4:26, Philippians 4:3, and see Blass p. 173, Moulton Prolegg. p. 91 f.

In the papyri of the Ptolemaic period ὅστις has almost wholly disappeared, its place being taken by the simple ὅς, and in the plural often by ὅσοι (Mayser p. 310).

δίκην τίσουσιν] ‘shall pay a penalty.’ δίκη, originally ‘custom,’ ‘usage,’ and hence ‘right’ considered as established usage, came to be extended to a ‘process of law’ or ‘judicial hearing’ (e.g. P.Hib. 30, 24 (3./b.c.) ἡ δίκη σοι ἀναγραφήσετ[α]ι ‘the case will be drawn up against you,’ P.Reinach 15, 21 (2./b.c.) ἄνευ δίκης καὶ κρίσεως καὶ πάσης εὑρεσιλογίας ‘sans procès, contestation, ni chicane d’aucune sorte’), and then to the result of the lawsuit, ‘execution of a sentence,’ ‘punishment’: see Judges 1:7, Sap. 18:11, 2 Maccabees 8:11, and cf. P.Fay. 21, 24 f. (2./a.d.) τὴν προσήκουσαν δίκη[ν ὑ]πόσχωσι ‘may pay the fitting penalty.’

The exact phrase δίκην τίνειν does not occur elsewhere in the N.T. though it is very common in class. writers, cf. Soph. Electra 330 ἀλλʼ ἴσθι τοι τίσουσά γʼ ἀξίαν δίκην, and the other exx. cited by Wetstein. For the verb cf. Proverbs 27:12 ζημίαν τίσουσιν, B.G.U. 242, 7 f. (2./a.d.) [πλ]ηγαῖς πλίσταις με [ἐτ]είσατο.

ὄλεθρον αἰώνιον] a phrase not found elsewhere in the N.T., but cf. 4 Maccabees 10:15 τὸν αἰώνιον τοῦ τυράννου ὄλεθρον.

As ὄλεθρον (I. 5:3 note) does not necessarily imply annihilation, so in itself αἰώνιον need not mean more than ‘age-long,’ ‘age-lasting,’ the period over which it extends depending on the nature of the object with which the aeon has to do. Thus in both papyri and inscriptions it is of frequent occurrence with reference to the span of a Caesar’s life, cf. B.G.U. 362. 4:11 f. ὑπὲρ σωτηριῶν καὶ αἰω[νίου] διαμο[νῆ]ς τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν (Severus), and for a similar weakened sense of the word see Magn. 188, 12 f. (2./a.d.) where reference is made to the monies spent by a certain Charidemos during his ‘life-long’ tenure of the office of gymnasiarch ( εἰς γυμνασιαρχίαν αἰώνιον). On the other hand, in view of St Paul’s consistent teaching regarding ὁ αἰὼν ὁ μέλλων which is once and for ever to supplant ὁ αἰὼν οὗτος, the thought of ‘finality’ is necessarily present in the passage before us: the destruction is an ‘eternal’ one. See further Kennedy Last Things p. 316 ff., and the passages cited by Volz Jüd. Eschat. p. 286 f. to show that the eternity of woe was the ordinary teaching of Jewish writers.

Lachmann’s reading ὀλέθριον is only supported by A 17 47 73; cf. Tert. adv. Marc. 5:16 ‘quos ait poenam luituros exitialem, aeternam.’

ἀπὸ προσώπου κτλ.] The words are borrowed, as Tertullian had already remarked (adv. Marc. 5:16 ‘verbis usus Esaiae’), from Isaiah 2:10; Isaiah 2:19; Isaiah 2:21, and hence ἀπό is best understood neither temporarily nor causally but locally in the sense of separation from the face of the Lord. For this pregnant use of the preposition cf. 2:2, Romans 9:3, 2 Corinthians 11:3, Galatians 5:4, and for the thought such passages as Matthew 7:23; Matthew 25:41, Luke 13:27 contrasted with Matthew 5:8, 1 John 3:2, Revelation 22:4.

δόξης, as in I. 2:12, is the visible glory which is the symbol of the Divine presence, while ἰσχύος (gen. orig.) is the strength by which the Lord is characterized, and from which His glory radiates; cf. Psalms 146. (147.) 5 μέγας ὁ κύριος ἡμῶν, καὶ μεγάλη ἡ ἰσχὺς αὐτοῦ. For the distinction between ἰσχύς strength absolutely and κράτος might, strength in relation to an end to be gained, see Westcott Eph. p. 25 f.


Verse 10

10. ὅταν ἔλθῃ κτλ.] ‘whenever He has (or, shall have) come …,’ the aor. subj. with ὅταν describing a completed action ‘future by virtue of its mood, punctiliar by its tense’ (Moulton Prolegg. p. 186).

ἐνδοξασθῆναι is found elsewhere in the N.T. only in v. 12, but is common in the LXX., cf. Exodus 14:4 ἐνδοξασθήσομαι ἐν φαραώ, and especially Psalms 88. (89.) 8 ὁ θεὸς ἐνδοξαζόμενος ἐν βουλῇ ἁγίων, a verse which may have suggested its use in the present passage.

ἐν τ. ἁγίοις] In accordance with the context these words can refer here only to redeemed men (cf. I. 3:13 note), the preposition marking them out not as the agents of the Lord’s glorification (Chrys.: ἐν, διά, ἐστί), but as the sphere or element in which this glorification takes place; cf. John 17:10 δεδόξασμαι ἐν αὐτοῖς.

καὶ θαυμασθῆναι κτλ.] parallel to the preceding clause and with the same wide sweep, cf. Psalms 67. (68.) 36 θαυμαστὸς ὁ θεὸς ἐν τοῖς ὁσίοις αὐτου. Bengel’s proposal to limit τ. ἁγίοις to converted Jews and πᾶσιν τ. πιστεύσασιν to converted Gentiles is quite untenable.

For ὁ πιστεύσας as an almost technical title for ‘one who has accepted the Gospel,’ ‘a believer,’ cf. Acts 4:32; Acts 11:17.

ὅτι ἐπιστεύθη κτλ.] a parenthetical clause catching up the preceding τ. πιστεύσασιν, and expressing the writers’ conviction that in the Thessalonians’ case the testimony addressed to them had secured the desired result.

While however the general sense is clear, the construction of this clause is admittedly difficult. The words ἐφʼ ὑμᾶς are usually connected directly with τὸ μαρτύριον ἡμ., as the order of the sentence naturally suggests, but no other instance of μαρτύριον with ἐπί in this sense is forthcoming (in Luke 9:5 ἐπί=‘against’) and Findlay’s idea of a ‘testimony accosting (assailing, challenging) you’ for which he compares 1 Timothy 1:18, Ephesians 2:7, Revelation 14:6 is, to say the least, somewhat far-fetched. We must be content therefore either to regard this as a unique construction, intended to emphasize the direction the testimony took, or (with Lft.) connect ἐφʼ ὑμᾶς with ἐπιστεύθη in the sense ‘belief in our testimony directed itself to reach you.’ WH.2 (Notes p. 128) favour this latter connexion, but despairing of then finding a proper meaning for ἐπιστεύθη propose the conjectural emendation ἐπιστώθη (read in cod. min. 31) ‘was confirmed’: ‘the Christian testimony of suffering for the faith had been confirmed and sealed upon the Thessalonians.’

ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ ἐκείνῃ] a predicate of time connected with θαυμασθῆναι and rendered emphatic by position. For ἡ ἡμ. ἐκείνη as denoting the day of Christ’s final coming cf. Mark 13:32; Mark 14:25, Luke 21:34, 2 Timothy 1:12; 2 Timothy 1:18; 2 Timothy 4:8, and for the general meaning of the phrase see note on I. 5:2.


Verse 11

11, 12. A characteristic reference to the writers’ constant prayers on their brethren’s behalf.

‘And now that all this may be brought to pass, our earnest prayer is that our God will count you worthy of the heavenly rest for which you are looking. To this end may He mightily animate you with all delight in goodness, and with a whole-hearted activity inspired by the faith you profess. Thus the full glory of the Lord Jesus will be displayed in you, as you in your turn derive your glory from Him in accordance with the gracious purposes of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.’

11. εἰς ὅ] ‘to which end’ with reference to the whole contents of vv. 5–10.

ἵνα ὑμ. ἀξιώσῃ] ἀξιόω ‘count worthy’ (cf. καταξιόν v. 5) occurs seven times in the N.T., and is usually associated as here with the thought of reward (e.g. 1 Timothy 5:17, Hebrews 3:3), cf. however Hebrews 10:29 ἀξιωθήσεται τιμωρίας. The verb is frequent in the papyri in the sense of ‘beg,’ ‘entreat,’ e.g. P.Tebt. 28, 15 (2./b.c.) ἀξιοῦμεν ἐμβλέψαντα εἰς τὰ ὑποδεδειγμένα ‘we beg you to look into the matters indicated and …’

For ἵνα following προσεύχομαι cf. Mark 13:18; Mark 14:35; Mark 14:38, Philippians 1:9, and for its semi-final force here see the note on I. 4:1.

κλήσεως] Usually in the N.T. κλῆσις is applied to the initial act of salvation as a Divine invitation (Romans 11:29, 1 Corinthians 1:26) carrying with it great responsibilities (Ephesians 4:1, 2 Peter 1:10), and that meaning is by no means impossible here in the sense that on the day of Christ’s return the Thessalonians’ whole life may be found to have been in harmony with the call once addressed to them. There seems no reason however why the word should not be definitely extended to include the final issue of the calling, much in the sense of τῆς ἄνω κλήσεως in Philippians 3:14 or κλήσεως ἐπουρανίου in Hob. 3:1: cf. the similar use of καλέω in I. 2:12, and see further Intr. p. 79.

ὁ θεὸς ἡμῶν] For the expression cf. I. 2:2 note, and for the change from the 2nd pets. pron. ( ὑμᾶς) to the 1st cf. I. 5:5b note.

καὶ πληρώσῃ κτλ.] ‘and may fulfil every delight in goodness and work of faith in power.’ The almost technical use of εὐδοκία in the Bibl. writings to denote the good-will of God to man (e.g. Psalms 105. (106.) 4, Luke 2:14, Ephesians 1:5; Ephesians 1:9, Philippians 2:13; cf. Pss. Sol. 8:39, Enoch 1:8 καὶ τὴν εὐδοκίαν [ εὐοδίαν, Charles] δώσει αὐτοῖς) has led to the translation of the A.V. ‘all the good pleasure of his goodness’ (Beza totum suae bonitatis libitum). But if this had been intended we should have expected the art. before εὐδοκίαν, while the further considerations that ἀγαθωσύνης is never used elsewhere of God (cf. Romans 15:14, Galatians 5:22, Ephesians 5:9) and that the accompanying parallel clause κ. ἔργον πίστεως must refer to the Thessalonians are both in favour of extending εὐδοκίαν to them also. The word can then only mean the ‘good pleasure,’ ‘delight’ in ‘goodness’ ( ἀγαθωσύνης, gen. obj.), which it was the prayer of the Apostles that their converts might evince in full measure.

For εὐδοκία (not found in class. Gk.) in this sense cf. Sirach 29:23 (30), 35:14 (32:18), Pss. Sol. 16:12 εὐδοκίᾳ δὲ μετὰ ἱλαρότητος στί ρισον τὴν ψυχήν μου, and see the note on εὐδοκέω I. 2:8. The corresponding subst. εὐδόκησις occurs O.G.I.S. 335, 122 (Perg.) κατὰ τὴ[ν τοῦ δήμου ἐπιταγὴν καὶ τὴν βασιλέω]ς εὐδόκησιν.

ἀγαθωσύνης] ἀγαθωσύνη a late form (WH.2 Notes p. 159, WSchm. p. 134) found only in the LXX., N.T., and writings derived from them. It is always rendered ‘goodness’ in A.V., R.V., and ‘represents the kindlier, as δικαιοσύνη represents the sterner element in the ideal character: comp. Romans 5:7’ (Robinson Eph. p. 200). See further Trench Syn. § 63., and cf. the valuable note on δίκαιος and ἀγαθός in Lft. Notes on Epp. of St Paul p. 286 f.

For ἔργον πίστεως ‘activity inspired by faith’ cf. I. 1:3 note.

ἐν δυνάμει] an adv. adjunct to πληρώσῃ to bring out the manner of God’s working, cf. Romans 1:4, Colossians 1:29, and the Prayer-Book collect for Monday in Easter-week: ‘That, as by Thy special grace preventing us Thou dost put into our minds good desires, so by Thy continual help we may bring the same to good effect.’


Verse 12

12. ὅπως] rare with St Paul, and used here probably to vary the preceding ἵνα, cf. 1 Corinthians 1:29, 2 Corinthians 8:14 (Blass p. 211).

ἐνδοξασθῇ] cf. v. 10 note, and for the reciprocity here implied ( ἐν ὑμ. κ. ὑμ. ἐν αὐτῷ) resting on the essential union between the Lord and His people see John 17:9 f., 20 ff.

τὸ ὄνομα τ. κυρ. ἡμ. ἰησοῦ] The use of ὄνομα here goes back to the O.T., where in accordance with its most characteristic usage ‘the name of Jehovah’ is to be understood as embodying His (revealed) character (see B.D.B. s.v. שֵׁם, and cf. Art. ‘Name’ in Hastings’ D.B. 3. p. 478 ff.). The glorification of the name of the Lord Jesus thus implies the showing forth of the Lord Jesus as He really is, in all the fulness of His person and attributes (cf. Philippians 2:9 f., Hebrews 1:4).

With this may be compared the well-established Gk. usage of ὄνομα as a title of dignity or rank, e.g. P.Oxy. 58 (3/a.d.) where the writer complains of the expense caused to the treasury by the number of persons who have devised ‘offices’ for themselves ( ὀνόματα ἑαυτοῖς ἐξευρόντες), and, after providing for a single trustworthy superintendent, ordains that the remaining ‘offices’ shall cease ( τὰ δὲ λοιπὰ ὀνόματα παύσηται). It should be noted however that very frequently ὄνομα can mean little more than ‘person,’ e.g. B.G.U. 113, 11 (2./a.d.) ἑκάστῳ ὀνόματι παραγ(ενομένῳ): see further Deissmann BS. p. 196 ff., Reitzenstein Poimandres p. 17 n.6, and cf. the note on 3:6.

κατὰ τὴν χάριν κτλ.] not merely the norm but the source of the glorification spoken of in accordance with a common derived use of κατά (WM. p. 501). Pelag.: ‘Expetit a nobis, qued possumus: ut qued non possumus, largiatur.’

The fact that the art. is not repeated before κυρίου would seem at first sight to imply that both θεοῦ and κυρίου refer to the same person, ‘(grace) of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ.’ But this cannot be pressed in view of the frequent occurrence of κύριος without the art. as practically equivalent to a proper name, and it is more in keeping with general Pauline usage to distinguish between the Father as θεός and Jesus Christ as κύριος, cf. in these Epp. I. 1:1, II. 1:1, 1:2, 2:16. We translate therefore as in the R.V., ‘according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ’: see further Middleton On the Greek Article (ed. Rose) p. 379 ff.

 


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Bibliography Information
Milligan, George. "Commentary on 2 Thessalonians 1:4". "George Milligan - Paul's Epistle to the Thessalonians". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gmt/2-thessalonians-1.html.

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Wednesday, June 26th, 2019
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12
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