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Bible Commentaries

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary
1 Thessalonians 3

 

 

Verses 2-13

2–3:13.] FIRST PORTION OF THE EPISTLE, in which he pours out his heart to the Thessalonians respecting all the circumstances of their reception of and adhesion to the faith.


Verse 17

17–3:13.] He relates to them how he desired to return after his separation from them: and when that was impracticable, how he sent Timotheus: at whose good intelligence of them he was cheered, thanks God for them, and prays for their continuance in love and confirmation in the faith.


Verse 1

1.] διό, because of our affection for you just expressed; ‘hac narratione quæ sequitur, desiderii illius sui fidem facit,’ Calvin.

μηκ. στέγοντες] no longer being able to ( μηκέτι gives the subjective feeling as distinguished from οὐκέτι, which would describe the mere objective matter of fact) bear (reff.) (our continued absence from you), we (I Paul, from above, ch. 1 Thessalonians 2:18) determined ( εὐδοκήσαμεν does not carry with it any expression of pleasure (‘promptam animi inclinationem designat,’ Calv.), except in so far as we say ‘it was our pleasure,’—referring merely to the resolution of the will) to be left behind (see Acts 17:15-16) in Athens alone,


Verse 2

2.] and sent Timotheus our brother and fellow-worker with God (ref. and Ellic.’s note here) in (the field of his working) the Gospel of Christ (there does not appear to be any special reason for this honourable mention of Timotheus (as Chrys., τοῦτο οὐ τὸν τιμόθεον ἐπαίρων φησίν, ἀλλʼ αὐτοὺς τιμῶν), further than the disposition to speak thus highly of him on the part of the Apostle. Such is the more natural view, when we take into account the fervid and affectionate heart of the writer. See, however, note on 1 Timothy 5:23; with which timid character of Timotheus such designations as this may be connected), in order to confirm you, and exhort on behalf of (in order for the furtherance of) your faith,


Verse 3

3.] that no one might be disquieted (ref.: Soph. Antig. 1214, παιδός με σαίνει φθόγγος: Eur. Rhes. 53, σαίνει μʼ ἔννυχος φρυκτώρια, &c. In these places σαίνω is a vox media, conveying the meaning of agitation, disquieting, which the context must interpret for better or worse) in (in the midst of) these tribulations (which are happening to us both). The construction of τὸ μηδένα σαίνεσθαι is doubted. Lünem. enters into the matter, as usual, at length and thoroughly. He first deals with the rec. τῷ μηδ. σ., and exposes as ungrammatical the view which would regard it as a dativus commodi, as = εἰς τὸ …, rejecting also Rückert’s more grammatical view, that it indicates “unde nascituram τὴν παράκλησιν speraverat, quum Timotheum misit, apostolus.” Then as to τὸ μ. σ.,—we may take it either 1) with Matthæi, supplying a second εἰς from the former εἰς τὸ στηρ. But then why is not the second εἰς expressed, as in Romans 4:11? Or, 2) with Schott, as a pendent accusative, in the sense ‘quod attinet, ad.’ But this is a very rare construction, which has been often assumed without reason (see Bernhardy, pp. 132 ff.), and therefore should only be resorted to when no other supposition will help the construction: 3) Winer, edn. 3 (not in edn. 6), § 45. 3 anm., whom De W. and Ellicott follow, makes it dependent on παρακαλέσαι, and treats it as a further explanation of ὑπὲρ τῆς πίστεως—viz. ‘to exhort, that none should become unstable.’ But if τὸ μηδ. σαίν. depended on παρακαλέσαι, then παρακαλεῖν, in the sense of ‘to exhort,’ would be followed by a imple accusative of the thing, which though perhaps possible, see 1 Timothy 6:2, is very harsh. (Consult however Ellicott’s note, as to the mere mediate dependence of such clauses on the governing verb in comparison with the immediate dependence of substantives.) Besides, if τὸ μ. σ. were a further specification of ὑπὲρ τῆς πίστεως ὑμῶν, it would not be accusative but genitive. 4) It only remains that we should take τὸ μ. σ. as in apposition with the whole foregoing sentence, εἰς τὸ στ. . κ. παρ. ὑπ. τ. πίστ. ὑμ.—so that τὸ μηδ. σαίν. serves only to repeat the same thought, which was before positively expressed, in a negative but better defined form: τό being nearly = τουτέστι. So that the sense is: to confirm you and exhort you on behalf of your faith, that is, that no one may be shaken in these troubles: τὸ μηδ. being dependent, not on a second εἰς understood, as in (1), but on the first εἰς, which is expressed. With this view I entirely agree, only adding, that instead of making τό = τουτέστι, I would rather say that τουτέστι might have been inserted before τὸ μηδένα.

αὐτοὶ γὰρ …] Reason why no one should be shaken. Griesb., al., parenthesize αὐτοὶοἴδατε, 1 Thessalonians 3:4; but wrongly, for διὰ τοῦτο, 1 Thessalonians 3:5, connects with this sentence immediately. οἴδατε; probably not for Theodoret’s reason: ἄνωθεν ἡμῖν ταῦτα προηγόρευσεν ὁ δεσπότης χριστός,—but for that given in 1 Thessalonians 3:4.

εἰς τοῦτο, viz. to θλίβεσθαι, contained in θλίψεις above: the subject to κείμεθα being ‘we Christians.’


Verse 4

4.] reason for οἴδατε.

πρὸς ὑμ., see reff.

μέλλομεν may be taken either as the recit. present, or better as representing the counsel of God, as in ὁ ἐρχόμενος and the like. The subject to μέλλ., as above, being ‘we Christians.’

οἴδατε, viz. by experience.


Verse 5

5.] διὰ τοῦτο, because tribulation had verily begun among you ( καθὼς καὶ ἐγένετο).

κἀγώ seems to convey a delicate hint that Timotheus also was anxious respecting them: or it may have the same reference as καὶ ἡμεῖς, ch. 1 Thessalonians 2:13,—viz. to the other Christians who had heard of their tribulation. De W. would render, not, ‘therefore I also &c.’—but ‘therefore also, I &c.’ But this would require (as Lün.) διὰ καὶ τοῦτο—or καὶ διὰ τ.

εἰς τὸ γν.] that I (not ‘he’) might know (be informed about): belongs to the subject of the verb ἔπεμψα.

μή πως κ. τ. λ.] lest perchance the tempter (ref.) have tempted (not, as Whitby, al., ‘seduced’) you (indicative betokening the fact absolute), and our labour might be (subjunctive, betokening the fact conditional) to no purpose (reff.). Fritz. and De W. rather harshly take μή πως in two different meanings,—with the first clause as ‘an forte,’ and with the second as ‘ne forte.’


Verse 6

6.] ἄρτι δέ is by Lünem. (and De W. hesitatingly) separated by a comma from ἐλθόντος, and joined to παρεκλήθημεν, 1 Thessalonians 3:7. But the direct connexion of ἄρτι with an aorist verb is harsher than with an aorist participle, and παρεκλ. has already its διὰ τοῦτο, which refers back to the whole preceding clause as contained in the τοῦτο. I would therefore join ἄρτι with ἐλθόντος. But Timotheus having just now come &c.

εὐαγγ.] having brought good news of: see reff. οὐκ εἶπεν ἀπαγγείλαντος, ἀλλὰ εὐαγγελισαμένου· τοσοῦτον ἀγαθὸν ἡγεῖτο τὴν ἐκείνων βεβαίωσιν κ. τὴν ἀγάπην. Chrys.

First their Christian state comforted him,—then, their constant remembrance of himself. Thdrt. remarks: τρία τέθεικεν ἀξιέραστα, τὴν πίστιν, κ. τ. ἀγάπην, κ. τοῦ διδασκάλου τὴν μνήμην. δηλοῖ ἡ μὲν πίστις τῆς εὐσεβείας τὸ βέβαιον ἡ δὲ ἀγάπη τὴν πρακτικὴν ἀρετήν· ἡ δὲ τοῦ διδασκάλου μνήμη, κ. ὁ περὶ αὐτὸν πόθος, μαρτυρεῖ τῇ περὶ τὴν διδασκαλίαν στοργῇ.

πάντοτε belongs more naturally to the foregoing: see 1 Corinthians 1:4; 1 Corinthians 15:58; Galatians 4:18; Ephesians 5:20. “ ἐπιποθεῖν τι (huc etiam redire structuram ἐπιποθεῖν sq. infinitivo nemo nescit) idem valet quod πόθον ἔχειν ἐπί τι, desiderium ferre in aliquid versum, cf. LXX. Psalms 42(41):1, ὃν τρόπον ἐπιποθεῖ ἡ ἔλαφος ἐπὶ τὰς πηγὰς τῶν ὑδάτων.” Fritz. in Romans 1:11. So that direction, not intensity (which as Fritz. also remarks, after the analogy of περιπόθητος, should be expressed by περι-, not ἐπιποθεῖν) is the force of the preposition.

ἡμεῖς ὑμᾶς] scil. ἰδεῖν ἐπιποθοῦμεν.


Verses 6-8

6–8.] Of the good news brought by Timotheus.


Verse 7

7.] διὰ τοῦτο, viz. on account of what has just been mentioned, from ἄρτι …;— τοῦτο combining the whole of the good news in one.

ἐφʼ ὑμῖν, with reference to you: as we say, over you. You were the object of our consolation: the faith which you shewed was the means whereby that object was applied to our minds.

ἐπὶ πάσῃ τῇ ἀνάγ. κ. θλ. ἡμ.] in (reff., i.e. ‘in the midst of,’—‘in spite of’) all our necessity and tribulation: what necessity and tribulation does not appear;—but clearly some external trouble, not, as De W., care and anxiety for you, for this would be removed by the message of Timotheus. We may well imagine such external trouble, from Acts 18:5-10 :


Verse 8

8.] for now (not so much an adverb of time, here, as implying the fulfilment of the condition ( ἐάν) which follows: so Eur. Iph. in Aul. 644: “ συνετὰ λέγουσα μᾶλλον εἰς οἶκτὸν μʼ ἄγεις.” “ ἀσύνετα νῦν ἐροῦμεν, εἰ σέ γʼ εὐφοανῶ.” See more examples in Hartung, Partikell. ii. p. 25; Kühner, ii. p. 185) we live (the ἀνάγκη and θλῖψις being conceived as a death: but not to be referred to everlasting life, as Chrys. ( ζωὴν λέγων τὴν μέλλουσαν), nor weakened to ‘vivit qui felix est’ (Pelt), but with direct reference to the infringement of the powers of life by ἀνάγκ. and θλ., as Lünem., “we are in full strength and freshness of life, we do not feel the sorrows and tribulations with which the outer world surrounds us”) if ye stand fast in the Lord. The conditional form of this last sentence, with ἐάν, not ἐπεί, carries it forward as an exhortation for the future also; while the solœcistic indicative gives the Apostle’s confident expectation that such would be the case. The reading must not be dismissed, as Ellic., by taking refuge in Scrivener’s assertion that permutations of similar vowels are occasionally found even in the best MSS. I have examined the Vatican Codex through the greater part of the N. T., and can safely say that these permutations are found only in such cases as η, ι, and ει, and ο and ω in doubtful inflexions, as ἑωρακ. and ἑορακ.; not in cases like the present, nor in any ordinary occurrences of long and short vowels. See remarks on Romans 5:1; and prolegg. to Vol. I. ch. 6. § i. 36, 37. There were (1 Thessalonians 3:10) ὑστερήματα in their faith, requiring κατάρτισις.


Verse 9

9.] And this vigour of life shews itself in the earnest desire of abundant thanksgiving: so the γάρ accounts for, and specifies the action of, the ζωή just mentioned.

τίνα, what—i.e. what sufficient—?

ἀνταπ.] reff.: thanks is itself a return for God’s favours: see especially ref. Ps.

ἐπί, may be taken as above (ref. y), or as for,—in return for: the two meanings in fact run up into one.

πάσ. τῇ χαρᾷ, all the joy: i.e. not the joy from so many different sources, but the joy in its largeness and depth: q. d. τῇ χαρᾷ τῇ μεγάλῃ.

attr. for ἥν,—see Matthew 2:10; not as John 3:29,—see note there.

ἔμπρ. τ. θεοῦ ἡμ. shews the joy to be of the very highest and best,—no joy of this world, or of personal pride, but one which will bear, and does bear, the searching eye of God, and is His joy (John 15:11).


Verse 10

10.] νυκτ. κ. ἡμ. see on ch. 1 Thessalonians 2:9.

ὑπερεκπ.: see reff., and cf. Mark 6:51.

δεόμενοι belongs to the question of 1 Thessalonians 3:9—q. d., ‘what thanks can we render, &c., proportioned to the earnestness of our prayers, &c.?’ So that δεόμενοι would best be rendered praying as we do.

εἰς τό—direction, or aim, of the prayers.

καταρτίσαι τὰ ὑστ.] τὰ ἐλλείποντα πληρῶσαι, Thdrt.: cf. 2 Corinthians 9:12. These ὑστερήματα were consequences of their being as yet novices in the faith: partly theoretical, e.g. their want of stability respecting the παρουσία, and of fixed ideas respecting those who had fallen asleep in Christ,—partly practical, ch. 1 Thessalonians 4:1. One can hardly conceive a greater perverseness than that of Baur, who takes this passage for a proof that the Thessalonian church had been long in the faith.


Verse 11

11. αὐτός] Not as De W. in contrast with the δεόμενοι just spoken of,—but as Chrys., αὐτὸς δὲ ὁ θεὸς ἐκκόψαι τοὺς πειρασμοὺς τοὺς πανταχοῦ περιέλκοντας ἡμᾶς, ὥστε ὀρθὴν ἐλθεῖν πρὸς ὑμᾶς,—i.e. it exalts the absolute power of God and the Lord Jesus,—if He expedites the way, it will be accomplished, αὐτός then is in contrast with ourselves, who have once and again tried to come to you, but have been hindered by Satan. Lünem. remarks that ὁ θεός is best taken absolute, and ἡμῶν referred to πατήρ only. More majesty is thus given to the αὐτὸς ὁ θεός, although αὐτός refers to the whole. Cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17.

κατευθύναι] not infinitive, but third person singular optative aorist. It certainly cannot be passed without remark, that the two nominatives should thus be followed, here and in 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17, by a singular verb. It would be hardly possible that this should be so, unless some reason existed in the subjects of the verb. Mere unity of will between the Father and the Son (Lünem.) would not be enough, unless absolute unity were also in the writer’s mind. Athanasius therefore seems to be right in drawing from this construction an argument for the unity of the Father and the Son.

πρὸς ὑμᾶς more naturally belongs to κατευθύναι than to τὴν ὁδὸν ἡμῶν, in which case it should be τὴν ὁδ. ἡμ. τὴν πρὸς ὑμ.


Verses 11-13

11–13.] Good wishes, with respect to this his earnest desire, and to their continued progress in love and holiness.


Verse 12

12.] ὑμᾶς δέ—emphatic—‘sive nos veniemus sivo minus,’ Bengel.

ὁ κύριος may refer either to the Father, or to Christ. It is no objection to the former, that τ. θεοῦ κ. πατρ. ἡμ. is repeated below, any more than it is to the latter that τ. κυρ. ἡμ. . is so repeated. I should rather understand (still, notwithstanding Ellic.’s note) it of the Father: see 2 Corinthians 9:8.

πλεονάσαι] transitive, see reff.: enlarge you—not merely in numbers, as Thdrt., but in yourselves, in richness of gifts and largeness of faith and knowledge—fill up your ὑστερήματα, 1 Thessalonians 3:10.

περισσεύσαι (reff.), make you to abound.

εἰς πάντας] toward all men, not, as Thdrt., πάντας τοὺς ὁμοπίστους, but as Est., ‘etiam infideles et vestræ salutisinimicos.’

καθ. κ. ἡμεῖς, viz. περισσεύομεν τῇ ἀγάπῃ:— ἔχετε γὰρ μέτρον κ. παράδειγμα τῆς ἀγάπης ἡμᾶς, Thl.


Verse 13

13.] εἰς τὸ στηρίξαι—the further and higher aim of πλεον. κ. περισσ.—in order to confirm (i.e. εἰς τὸ τὸν κύριον στηρίξαι—‘in order that He may confirm’) your hearts (not merely ὑμᾶς: ἐκ γὰρ τῆς καρδίας ἐξέρχονται διαλογισμοὶ πονηροί, Chrys.) unblameable (i.e. so as to be unblameable: cf. reff. and εἰσόκε θερμὰ λοῦτρα θερμήνῃ, Il. ξ. 6,— εὔφημον, ὦ τάλαινα, κοίμησον στόμα, Æsch. Ag. 1258,— τῶν σῶν ἀδέρκτων ὀμμάτων τητώμενος, Soph. Œd. Col. 1200) in holiness (belongs to ἀμέμπτ.,—the sphere in which the blamelessness is to be shewn:—not to στηρίξαι) before (Him who is) God and our Father (or our God and Father. This ensures the genuineness of this absence of blame in holiness: that it should be not only before men, but also before God), at (in) the coming, &c.

ἁγίων—we need not enter into any question whether these are angels, or saints properly so called: the expression is an O. T. one,—Zach. 14:5, LXX,—and was probably meant by St. Paul to include both. Certainly (2 Thessalonians 1:7. Matthew 25:31, al.) He will be accompanied with the angels: but also with the spirits of the just, cf. ch. 1 Thessalonians 4:14.

 


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Bibliography Information
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 3:4". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/1-thessalonians-3.html. 1863-1878.

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