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Bible Commentaries

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament
1 Thessalonians 3

 

 

Introduction

CHAPTER 3

1 Thessalonians 3:1. Elz. has διό. διότι, found in B, is a mere error of the transcriber, occasioned by the following μηκέτι.—1 Thessalonians 3:2. After τὸν ἀδελφὸν ἡμῶν the Receptus has καὶ διάκονον τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ συνεργὸν ἡμῶν. Defended by Bouman (Chartae theol. Lib. I. p. 63 f.) and Reiche. But instead of this, Griesb. Lachm. Tisch. 2 and 7, and Alford, after D* Clar. Germ. Ambrosiast., have correctly received into the text καὶ συνεργὸν τοῦ θεοῦ, from which all variations are explained. In order to remove the objectionable character which the expression συνεργὸς τοῦ θεοῦ appeared to have, sometimes τοῦ θεοῦ was suppressed (so the reading received by Tisch. 1, καὶ συνεργόν, in B, Arm.), at other times συνεργόν was changed into διάκονον ( καὶ διάκονον τοῦ θεοῦ, A א, 67** 71, et al., Copt. Aeth. Vulg. Bas. Pel. [in textu]; approved by Scholz), from which further grew, by blending with the original wording, διάκονον καὶ συνεργὸν τοῦ θεοῦ, F G, Boern., and καὶ διάκ. καὶ συνεργὸν τοῦ θεοῦ in E 17; lastly, there was interpolated καὶ διάκονον καὶ συνεργὸν ἡμῶν (Sahid.), or διάκονον τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ συνεργὸν ἡμῶν (Syr. ed. Erp.), or καὶ διάκονον τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ συνεργόν (87).

Instead of the Receptus παρακαλέσαι ὑμᾶς, only παρακαλέσαι is to be read, with Lachm. Tisch. and Alford, according to A B D* F G א, min. Copt. Sahid. Baschm. Arm. Slav. ant. Vulg. It. Chrys. Theodoret (alic.) Damasc. Ambrosiast. Pelag.

ὑπὲρ τῆς πίστεως] Elz. has περὶ τῆς πίστεως. Against A B D* E* F G K א, 17, 31, et al., Bas. Chrys. Theodoret (alic.).—1 Thessalonians 3:3. Elz. has τῷ μηδένα. But A B D E K L א, min. plur. edd. Bas. Oecum. have τὸ μηδένα. Correctly accepted by Matth. Lachm. (in the stereotype edition; in his larger edition Lachm. writes τὸ μηδὲν ἀσαίνεσθαι!) Tischendorf, and Alford. Preferred also by Reiche. In the place of the misunderstood τό, τῷ of the Receptus was put (although this is impossible from grammatical considerations; see notes on passage), or τοῦ (67, 87, al.), or ἵνα (F G, 73).—1 Thessalonians 3:7. Elz. has θλίψει καὶ ἀνάγκῃ. According to the preponderating testimony of A B D E F G א, min. edd. Syr. utr. Copt. Arm. Vulg. It. Ambrosiast. Pel., to be transposed ἀνάγκῃ καὶ θλίψει.—1 Thessalonians 3:11. Instead of the Recept. ἰησοῦς χριστός, A B D** (in D* ἰησοῦς is wanting) א, 3, 17, et al., Aeth. Vulg. ms. Ambr. al., Lachm. Tisch. Alford have ἰησοῦς, which is to be preferred.—1 Thessalonians 3:12. Elz. has κύριος. This is wanting in Syr. Erp. Suspected by Mill. Apparently spurious, as in A, 73, et al., θεός, and in D* E* F G, It. κύριος ἰησοῦς is found. If Paul added no subject in 1 Thessalonians 3:12, but caused the same to be continued from 1 Thessalonians 3:11, the early insertion of additions as glosses was natural.—1 Thessalonians 3:13. ἰησοῦ] Elz. has ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ. Against it A B D E K א, 37, 39, et al, Aeth. Germ. Vulg. ms. Damasc. Ambr.

After the Recept. ἁγίων αὐτοῦ, A D* E א* min. Copt. Aeth. Vulg. al. add ἀμήν. Bracketed by Lachm. But ἀμήν was inserted, as an ecclesiastical lection ended with 1 Thessalonians 3:13.

CONTENTS.

No longer the master of his longing and anxiety for his readers, Paul has sent Timotheus from Athens to them, to exhort them to endurance under persecutions, and to bring him exact information concerning their conduct. Timotheus has just returned, and by his message has comforted and calmed the apostle. He entreats God that he might soon be permitted to reach Thessalonica to assist the church in its remaining deficiencies, and that God might cause the Thessalonians so to abound in Christian excellence, that they may be blameless at the coming of Christ (1 Thessalonians 3:1-13).


Verse 1

1 Thessalonians 3:1. διό] Therefore, i.e. διὰ τὸ εἶναι ὑμᾶς τὴν δόξαν ἡμῶν καὶ τὴν χαράν (1 Thessalonians 2:20).

μηκέτι στέγοντες] no longer bearing it, i.e. incapable of mastering our longing for you any longer (comp. 1 Corinthians 9:12; 1 Corinthians 13:7; Philo, in Flacc. p. 974, Opp. Lut. Par. 1640, fol.: μηκέτι στέγειν δυνάμενοι τὰς ἐνδείας). So Erasmus, Vorstius, Cornelius a Lapide, Wolf, Pelt, de Wette, only the latter conjoins with the idea of longing, that of anxiety for the Thessalonians, which, indeed, is in accordance with fact, but anticipates the representation, as the idea of anxiety on the part of the apostle is first added in what follows.

μηκέτι] is not here instead of οὐκέτι, as Rückert thinks, appealing to an abusus of the later Greek, which abusus we should be cautious in recognising (see Winer, p. 431 [E. T. 609]), but as spoken from a subjective standpoint: as those who, etc. Moreover, to take the participle στέγοντες in the sense of occultantes, to which Wolf and Baumgarten are inclined: “no longer concealing my longing,” i.e. no longer observing a silence concerning it, would be flat, and contrary to the context.

εὐδοκήσαμεν] as well as ἐπέμψαμεν, 1 Thessalonians 3:2, and ἔπεμψα, 1 Thessalonians 3:5, is a simple historical statement of a fact belonging to the past. Grotius and Pelt erroneously take the aorists in the sense of the pluperfect. εὐδοκήσαμεν does not denote a mere promptam animi inclinationem (Calvin, Pelt); also not acting gladly (Grotius: Triste hoc, sed tamen hoc libenter feceramus), but the freely formed resolution of the will: accordingly we resolved. Nicolas Lyrencis, Hunnius, Grotius, Calovius, Turretin, Whitby, Bengel, Michaelis, Wurm,(43) Hofmann, consider Paul and Silas as the subjects of εὐδοκήσαμεν; that κἀγώ (1 Thessalonians 3:5), I also, is a proof of this, for it contains in itself the reference to a wider subject, so that from a plurality of the subject in 1 Thessalonians 3:1, a single individual was, in 1 Thessalonians 3:5, brought forward. However, this view cannot be the correct one. By the insertion of ἐγὼ μὲν παῦλος, 1 Thessalonians 2:18, the subject of 1 Thessalonians 2:17-20 is expressly restricted to Paul himself; and, as chap. 3 is most closely connected with 1 Thessalonians 2:17-19, the subject here must be the same as there, εὐδοκήσαμεν must therefore, with Calvin, Hemming, Estius, Fromond., Koppe, Pelt, Schott, de Wette, Baumgarten-Crusius, Alford, Riggenbach (in J. P. Lange’s Bibelwerk, Part X., Bielef. 1864), and others, be referred to Paul only, to which κἀγώ, 1 Thessalonians 3:5, is no objection (see below).

καταλειφθῆναι ἐν ἀθήναις μόνοι] Zachariae, Koppe, Hug, Hemsen, also Wieseler (Chronologie des apost. Zeitalters, p. 249) and Alford (Proleg. p. 45), understand this of Paul’s being left alone at Athens, Timotheus not having been previously there with the apostle. They assume that Timotheus, left behind at Berea (Acts 17:14), either at the time of his being left behind, or at some later period, received the direction from the apostle, countermanding the charge given in Acts 17:15, that before proceeding to Athens, he should return from Berea to Thessalonica to strengthen the church there. This view is brought forward from a desire of reconciling our passage with the narrative in the Acts of the Apostles. Acts 17:16 informs us only of a waiting for Timotheus at Athens, but not of his arrival there; on the contrary, it is stated that Silas and Timotheus did not return from Macedonia until the residence of the apostle at Corinth (Acts 18:5). But this view does not correspond with the natural wording of our passage, as καταλειφθῆναι, to be left behind, to remain behind, evidently presupposes the previous presence of Timotheus. We must therefore, with Zanchius, Piscator, Cornelius a Lapide, Beza, Wolf, Benson, Macknight, Eichhorn, Schott, Olshausen, de Wette, Koch, Hofmann, and others, suppose that Timotheus actually came from Berea to Athens, and was sent from it by the apostle to Thessalonica. To this interpretation we appear constrained by ἐπέμψαμεν, 1 Thessalonians 3:2, and ἔπεμψα, 1 Thessalonians 3:5, as hardly anything else can be denoted with these words than a commission given directly by Paul to one present.


Verse 2

1 Thessalonians 3:2. τὸν ἀδελφὸν ἡμῶν καὶ συνεργὸν τοῦ θεοῦ ἐν τ. εὐαγγ. τοῦ χριστοῦ] our brother (Christian brother) and fellow-labourer of God in the gospel of Christ. The συν in συνεργὸν τοῦ θεοῦ refers not to man, but to God, the chief ruler of the church; comp. Meyer on 1 Corinthians 3:9. In this apposition attached to τιμόθεον, Theophylact, Musculus, and most critics (comp. already Chrysostom) discover the design, that Paul wished thereby to indicate what a great sacrifice he put himself to for the sake of the Thessalonians, as he surrendered to them at once his faithful assistant, whom he himself so much required, in order that he might minister to their wants.(44) Such a view is remote from the apostle. The epithets which he gives to Timotheus are nothing more than a commendation of his apostolic associate, which the apostle felt himself constrained spontaneously to express, on account of the faithfulness and zeal which he displayed for the sake of the gospel; and we are the less to look for any ulterior design, as it was the constant practice of the apostle, when he had occasion specially to mention his faithful associates, to designate them by some honourable appellation.

ἐν τῷ εὐαγγελίῳ] Statement of the sphere in which he was a συνεργός. Comp. Romans 1:9; Philippians 4:3.

εἰς τὸ στηρίξαι ὑμᾶς] not that we (the senders) might (by the instrumentality of Timotheus) strengthen you (Cornelius a Lapide, Grotius), but that he (Timotheus) might strengthen you. But erroneously (comp. already Chrysostom) Oecumenius, whom Theophylact, Estius, Luc. Osiander, Fromond., Nat. Alexander, Macknight, and others follow: ὡς σαλευομένους, ἐφʼ οἷς ἦν διδάσκαλος ἐν πειρασμοῖς· μέγας γὰρ ὄντως θόρυβος τοῖς μαθηταῖς τὸ εἶναι τὸν διδάσκαλον ἐν πειρασμοῖς.

Grotius and others understand παρακαλέσαι in the sense of to comfort. More correctly (on account of 1 Thessalonians 3:3), it is to be taken in the meaning of to exhort or encourage. Schott erroneously unites both ideas. Also, arbitrarily separating the words, Olshausen refers στηρίξαι to patience in persecution, and παρακαλέσαι to growth in faith.

ὑπὲρ τῆς πίστεως ὑμῶν] not equivalent to περὶ τῆς πίστεως ὑμῶν (de Wette and others), as if it were a mere statement of the object, but: for the good of your faith, i.e. in order that you might preserve it.(45)


Verse 3

1 Thessalonians 3:3. σαίνειν] related to σείειν,—only here in the N. T.,—means, to shake, to swing hither and thither. It is used specially of dogs who wag their tails (comp. Hom. Od. xvi. 4 ff., x. 217; Arist. Eq. 1031), from which the wider acceptation of fawning or caressing is derived. Then the verb stands generally for any act of shaking, passing from the sphere of sense to that of mind. Comp. Diog. Laert. viii. 41: οἱ δὲ σαινόμενοι τοῖς λεγομένοις ἐδάκρυόν τε καὶ ᾤμοζον.

Sophocl. Antig. 1214: παιδός με σαίνει φθόγγος. (Other proofs in Wetstein.) Thus here σαίνεσθαι denotes a being disquieted, becoming wavering in the faith. Chrysostom correctly explains it by θορυβεῖσθαι καὶ ταράττεσθαι. With unnecessary harshness Faber Stapulensis, to whom also Beza (adblandiri, adversariis videlicet evangelii) is inclined, Elsner, Observ. sacr. II. p. 275 f., Wolf, and Tittmann, de synonym. in N. T. p. 189, think to preserve the meaning fawning (and alluring), giving the sense: that they should not permit themselves, by “adulationes et illicitamenta carnis” (Faber Stapulensis), to apostatize from Christianity, and relapse into heathenism or Judaism. Also Rückert, whom Koch follows, adopts this view, as he will not acknowledge the meaning θορυβεῖσθαι in the verb: he thinks, rather, that from the meaning to fawn, the meaning blanditiis corrumpi in the passive is formed; and from that, in consequence of the toning down of the meaning, the general idea of corrumpi arose. Hofmann explains σαίνειν directly by to delude, a meaning which the word never has.

ἐν ταῖς θλίψεσιν ταύταις] in these afflictions, ἐν, is purely temporal, not instrumental, although, in regard to the subject in hand, it cannot be doubted that it was the θλίψεις to whose influence the possibility of a σαίνεσθαι is attributed. ταύταις is δεικτικῶς, indicative, denoting the afflictions which both the Thessalonians and Paul (so Calixtus, Flatt, Schott, and others; Oecumenius, Theophylact, Estius, Osiander, Nat. Alexander, Benson, Macknight, erroneously refer the θλίψεις to Paul only) have just experienced, and which are here considered as belonging to the present, since a renewed outbreak of them was every instant to be feared. The first part of 1 Thessalonians 3:3, accordingly, contains the warning not to suffer themselves to apostatize from the faith in Christ in the time of trouble and of need.

But it is asked how 1 Thessalonians 3:3 is to be connected with the preceding. Those who read, with the Receptus, τῷ μηδένα σαίνεσθαι (see critical note), regard τῷ as the Dativus commodi, which, as the Hebrew לְ placed before an infinitive, serves for the statement of the object; thus τῷ would be equivalent to εἰς τό (Grotius, Turretin, Benson, Koppe, Pelt, Olshausen). But τῷ with the infinitive is used exclusively to denote the reason or the inducing cause, never to denote the design; comp. 2 Corinthians 2:12, and Winer, p. 293 [E. T. 413]. Rückert, indeed, retaining this grammatical use of τῷ, makes it denote: “unde nascituram τὴν παράκλησιν speraverat, quum Timotheum misit, apostolus;” and, although he does not decide positively, prefers the reading τῷ, in order that he may find expressed therein a twofold object in sending Timotheus, in conformity with the longing of the apostle previously stated: (1) in respect to the readers, and (2) in respect to himself. Timotheus, Paul intends to say, is sent “fratres ut firmaret, sibi ut afferret ex bona illorum conditione solatium.” But this interpretation is simply impossible, as, in referring παρακαλέσαι to the apostle, it would be indispensably necessary, on account of the preceding ὑμᾶς, to subjoin ἡμᾶς. Accordingly, even from internal reasons, criticism requires us to read τὸ μηδένα σαίνεσθαι. But here, also, a different view is conceivable:—(1) We might, with Matthaei, supply a second εἰς to τὸ μηδένα σαίνεσθαι from the preceding εἰς τὸ στηρίξαι. But in this case we cannot understand why the second εἰς has been suppressed by Paul, as elsewhere he does not avoid the repetition of the form εἰς τό; comp. e.g. Romans 4:11. Or (2) with Schott, Koch, and Bisping, we might take τὸ μηδένα σαίνεσθαι as an absolute accusative, in the sense of quod attinet ad. But, considering the rarity of this construction, and the misuse which is practised with its assumption (comp. Bernhardy, Syntax, p. 132 f.; also Philippians 4:10, on which Schott founds, is no analogy, as there τὸ ὑπὲρ ἐμοῦ φρονεῖν is the usual objective accusative to ἀνεθάλετε, used transitively), this shift should only be resorted to when no other expedient presents itself. (3) Winer, 5th ed. p. 375 [E. T. 413], whom de Wette, Reiche, Buttmann, Gramm. des neutestam. Sprachgebrauchs, p. 226 [E. T. 263f.], Hofmann, and Riggenbach follow, makes τὸ μηδένα σαίνεσθαι dependent on παρακαλέσαι, and considers it as a further explanation of ὑπὲρ τῆς πίστεως, namely, to exhort that none should become wavering. But if τὸ μηδένα σαίνεσθαι depended on παρακαλέσαι, then παρακαλεῖν, in the sense of to exhort, would be construed with the simple accusative of the thing, an assumption the possibility of which is to be absolutely denied. (The passages on which Reiche supports the opposite view are without force. In Luke 3:18 both accusatives are not governed by παρακαλῶν, but, in agreement with Acts 13:32, by εὐηγγελίζετο; in 1 Timothy 6:2, ταῦτα depends on δίδασκε, and καὶ παρακάλει is annexed only in a loose manner to ταῦτα δίδασκε; so also in Titus 2:15 ταῦτα belongs only to λάλει, but not also to the following verbs; further, in Mark 5:23 πολλά does not depend on παρακαλεῖ, but is the adverbial much, very; lastly, Mark 5:17 and Acts 8:31 are not analogous, as there παρακαλεῖν is put with the accusative of the person, to which a simple infinitive, but not an infinitive with the article τό, follows.) Besides, if τὸ μηδένα σαίν. were a further explanation or epexegesis of ὑπὲρ τῆς πίστεως ὑμῶν, then not the accusative τὸ μηδένα σαίνεσθαι would have been put, but the genitive τοῦ μηδένα σαίν., in agreement with ὑπὲρ τῆς πίστεως ὑμῶν. Accordingly, this interpretation is also to be rejected. There consequently remains only (4) to consider τὸ μηδένα σαίνεσθαι ἐν ταῖς θλ. ταύταις as an apposition to the whole preceding sentence εἰς τὸ στηρίξαι ὑμᾶς καὶ παρακαλέσαι ὑπὲρ τῆς πίστεως ὑμῶν, so that τὸ μηδένα σαίν. serves only to repeat the same thought which was before positively expressed in a negative but better defined form; thus, instead of τό, τουτέστι might have been written. Thus the sense is: to strengthen you and to exhort you on behalf of your faith—that is, that no one may be shaken in these troubles; or, to strengthen and exhort you on account of your faith, particularly on one point, which is contained in one requirement: that no one may be shaken, etc.(46) Accordingly, τὸ ΄ηδένα σαίνεσθαι certainly depends on the preceding εἰς; but our interpretation is entirely different from that adduced in (1), as no second εἰς can be inserted before τὸ ΄ηδένα σαίνεσθαι without injuring the indissoluble unity which combines τὸ ΄ηδένα σαίν. κ. τ. λ. with what precedes.

αὐτοὶ γὰρ οἴδ.… καὶ οἴδατε, 1 Thessalonians 3:4, is not, with Moldenhauer, Griesbach, Vater, Flatt, to be included in a parenthesis, as διὰ τοῦτο, 1 Thessalonians 3:5, is connected with what directly precedes.

γάρ] proves the legitimacy of the demand ΄ηδένα σαίνεσθαι.

οἴδατε] 1 Thessalonians 3:4, explains whence they knew it,—namely, partly from previous definite intimations of the apostle, and partly from their own experience. Contrary to the text, Theodoret: from the previous intimation of Christ.

ὅτι εἰς τοῦτο κεί΄εθα] that we were appointed thereto. Comp. Philippians 1:17; Luke 2:34. εἰς τοῦτο, i.e. not εἰς τὸ μηδένα σαίνεσθαι, but εἰς τὸ θλίβεσθαι (comp. 1 Thessalonians 3:4), in connection with θλίψεσιν. Moreover, κεί΄εθα refers not only to Paul (Oecumenius, Estius, Osiander, and others), or to Paul and his companions (Hofmann), nor also to Paul and the Thessalonians (Koppe), but to Christians in general.


Verse 4

1 Thessalonians 3:4. Reason of αὐτοὶ γὰρ οἴδατε.

πρὸς ὑμᾶς] The accusative, as in Galatians 1:18; Galatians 2:5; 1 Corinthians 16:7, etc.

Also μέλλομεν is neither to be restricted to Paul (Oecumenius, Estius, Osiander, Nat. Alexander, Macknight), nor to Paul and his companions (Hofmann), nor to Paul and the Thessalonians (Grotius, Koppe); but, as κείμεθα, 1 Thessalonians 3:3, to be taken generally: we Christians in general. ΄έλλομεν θλίβεσθαι however, is distinguished from the simple future—it characterizes the sufferings as inevitable, as predetermined in the counsels of God.

οἴδατε] from your own experience. Baumgarten-Crusius incorrectly refers it to προελέγομεν.


Verse 5

1 Thessalonians 3:5. διὰ τοῦτο] on this account, i.e. on account of the actual commencement of trouble. But, incorrectly, Fromond.: ne tribulationibus meis turbaremini.

The καί in κἀγώ does not belong to the whole sentence: “therefore also, no longer forbearing, I sent” (de Wette, Koch, Bisping), for then διὰ καὶ τοῦτο would have been written (the passages adduced by de Wette to the contrary do not prove what is designed); rather καί impressively gives prominence to the person of the ἐγώ: therefore I also. Thus a relation must be contained in it to other persons. Schott, whom Olshausen follows, supposes these others the Thessalonians, finding the thought expressed: “as ye, in consequence of the troubles which befell me, were anxious for me, so I also could no longer bear to be without information concerning you.” But, according to the connection ( καὶ ἐγένετο καὶ οἴδατε, 1 Thessalonians 3:4), a relation must be contained in κἀγώ to others, of whom, as of Paul, a μηκέτι στέγειν in respect of the Thessalonians is asserted.(47) These others are the Christian circle with the apostle in Athens (Acts 17:34), including Timotheus sent from it to Thessalonica. Events such as befell the Thessalonians must have awakened lively sympathy in every Christian who heard of them. Entirely perverted is the view of Hofmann, who takes the singular, 1 Thessalonians 3:5, as a contrast to the plural, 1 Thessalonians 3:1. In 1 Thessalonians 3:5 only Paul is spoken of, whereas in 1 Thessalonians 3:1 Paul and Silvanus are referred to. He accordingly infers, that besides Timotheus, sent by Paul and Silvanus jointly to Thessalonica, there was another sent specially by Paul. After Timotheus was on his journey to strengthen the Thessalonian Church against the persecution which had broken out upon them, Paul, at a time when Silvanus was also absent, sent a second, this time for his own sake; his own troubled condition making the want of news from Thessalonica insupportable, lest perhaps the fruit of his labours among them might be entirely lost. Yet before the return of this unknown messenger Silvanus and also Timotheus had rejoined the apostle!

εἰς τὸ γνῶναι] in order to learn, belongs to the subject of the verb ἔπεμψα; thus: “in order that I, the sender, might learn;” not: in order that he (Timotheus) might learn (Pelt, Olshausen, and others).

τὴν πίστιν ὑμῶν] your faith, i.e. how it is with it, how it stands.

μήπως] depends on γνῶναι, not on ἔπεμψα, and is the introductory particle of an indirect question: whether perhaps the tempter has tempted you. So Wahl, Schott, and de Wette; also Bouman, Chartae theolog. I. p. 80. Without reason, Beza, Grotius, Turretin, Benson, Koppe, Flatt, Pelt, Winer, p. 448 [E. T. 633 f.], supply φοβούμενος before μήπως: “filled with anxiety lest the tempter should have tempted you.”

πειράζων] another expression for σατανᾶς, 1 Thessalonians 2:18. Comp. Matthew 4:3.

εἰς κενόν] see Meyer on Galatians 2:2.

ἐπείρασενγένηται] correctly, Schott: ut cognoscerem, quomodo se haberet persuasio vestra, num forte tentator vos tentaverit, adeo ut (quod deus avertat!) labor meus irritus fieri possit. The aorist indicative refers to a fact which possibly may have already happened; but the conjunctive γένηται refers to a fact which belongs to the future, and is conceived as a consequence of the first fact. Fritzsche (Opusc. Fritzschiorum, p. 176), to whom de Wette and Koch adhere, explains it: ut … cognoscerem, an forte Satanas vos tentasset et ne forte labores mei irriti essent. He thus takes μήπως in the first clause as an interrogative particle, and in the second clause as an expression of fear; an explanation which Winer rightly designates as harsh.

Moreover, incorrectly, Whitby, Macknight, Baumgarten-Crusius: in ἐπείρασεν is implied “tempted with success,” “seduced.” The idea of seduction exists only by the addition of εἰς κενὸν γένηται.


Verse 6

1 Thessalonians 3:6. ἄρτι δέ] but now, belongs not to ἐλθόντος (Grotius, Pelt, Schott, Alford, Ewald, Hofmann, Riggenbach), but is to be separated from it by a comma, and belongs to παρεκλήθημεν, 1 Thessalonians 3:7. For (1) not the mission of Timotheus and his return, but the mission and the consolation obtained from his return, is the main point on which it depends; (2) If Paul would connect ἄρτι δὲ ἐλθόντος, διὰ τοῦτο would scarcely be inserted in 1 Thessalonians 3:7 for the recapitulation of 1 Thessalonians 3:6; (3) ἄρτι δέ emphatically opposes the present to the past, to ἔπεμψα (1 Thessalonians 3:5); but ἄρτι would be flat if we referred it to ἐλθόντος, and that whether it was to be understood in its temporal or in its logical sense; (4) Lastly, we would expect παρακεκλήμεθα (which certainly is found in A and some minusculi), but not παρεκλήθημεν, in 1 Thessalonians 3:7.

ἐλθόντος κ. τ. λ.] not after, but because; διὰ τοῦτο requires this. The joyful message which Timotheus brought (Chrysostom: ὁρᾷς τὴν περιχάρειαν παύλου; οὐκ εἶπεν ἀπαγγείλαντος ἀλλʼ εὐαγγελισαμένου· τοσοῦτον ἀγαθὸν ἡγεῖτο τὴν ἐκείνων βεβαίωσιν καὶ τὴν ἀγάπην. Comp. also Luke 1:19, and Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 266 ff.) refers (1) to the Christian condition of the Thessalonian Church generally ( τὴν πίστιν καὶ τὴν ἀγάπην ὑμῶν), and (2) to the personal relation of the Thessalonians to the apostle ( καὶ ὅτι ἔχετε κ. τ. λ.). Theodoret: δηλοῖ μὲν πίστις τῆς εὐσεβείας τὸ βέβαιον· δὲ ἀγάπη τὴν παρακτικὴν ἀρετήν· δὲ τοῦ διδασκάλου μνήμη καὶ περὶ αὐτὸν πόθος μαρτυρεῖ τῇ περὶ τὴν διδασκαλίαν στοργῇ. Hammond incorrectly understands ἀγάπην of love to God.

καὶ ὅτι ἔχετε μνείαν ἡμῶν ἀγαθήν] and that ye have us in good remembrance. Arbitrarily Grotius: Est μετωνυμία, nam per memoriam intelligit mentionem, et bonam intelligit, in bonam partem, i.e. honorificam. For then ποιεῖσθαι must be put instead of ἔχειν.

πάντοτε] belongs to the foregoing, not, as Koch and Hofmann suppose, to what follows.

ἐπιποθοῦντες] Comp. Romans 1:11; Philippians 1:8; Philippians 2:26; 2 Corinthians 9:14.

Strikingly Musculus (also Bengel): Non modo amoris hoc erat indicium, sed et bonae conscientiae. The compound verb, however, makes prominent the direction, not the intensity, of ποθεῖν. Comp. Fritzsche on Röm. 1:11.

καθάπερ καὶ ἡμεῖς ὑμᾶς] sc. ἰδεῖν ἐπιποθοῦμεν.


Verse 7

1 Thessalonians 3:7. διὰ τοῦτο] is added in consequence of the preceding long participial sentence, and as its recapitulation. But Paul says διὰ τοῦτο, not διὰ ταῦτα, as we would naturally expect, because he here regards the joyful message of Timotheus as a whole or in its unity, but does not think on the separate points enumerated above.

παρεκλήθημεν] the aorist, in connection with ἄρτι, 1 Thessalonians 3:6, proves that this Epistle was composed immediately after the return of Timotheus.

ἐφʼ ὑμῖν] in reference to you (comp. 2 Corinthians 7:7), is not superfluous on account of the following διὰ τῆς ὑμῶν πίστεως (Koppe, Pelt), but puts the personal object first in regard to whom the consolation of the apostle occurred, whilst διὰ τῆς ὑμῶν πίστεως brings in afterwards the actual circumstances, by which the consolation was called forth.(48)

ἐπὶ πάσῃ τῇ ἁνάγκῃ καὶ θλίψει ἡ΄ῶν] on (or in) all our necessity and tribulation. ἐπὶ is not a causal, but a temporal statement. Comp. 2 Corinthians 7:4; Winer, p. 350 [E. T. 489]. Erroneously Schott, in every necessity and tribulation which we endure; this would be expressed by ἐπὶ πάσῃ ἀνάγκῃ κ. τ. λ. (without an article). By θλίψις Schott understands the tribulation caused by the Corinthian adversaries of the apostle; and by ἀνάγκη, either sickness or (so also Macknight) pecuniary indigence, combined with hard labour; whilst Bouman (Chartae theolog. I. p. 80) considers “ ἀνάγκην vocabulum generale esse, quod nullum non calamitatum genus contineat; θλίψιν de oppressionibus singulatim dici ac persecutionibus, quibus Christianos vel Ethnici vexarent vel Judaei.” These special determinations or limitations are certainly precarious; still so much is certain, that ἀνάγκη and θλίψις cannot here be interpreted, with de Wette and Koch, of care and anxiety, but are to be understood of external necessity and tribulation. For the care and anxiety of the apostle could only, according to the context, refer to the Thessalonians, and must have been removed by the message of Timotheus. But ἐπί imports that the ἀνάγκη and θλίψις of the apostle continued in spite of the glad message of Timotheus; on the other hand, by reason of it they were no longer esteemed or felt by the apostle as an evil (comp. 1 Thessalonians 3:8). For the thought can only be: We were comforted during, or in spite of, the heavy burden of necessity and tribulation which weighs upon us, consequently still rests upon us. With this interpretation what follows in 1 Thessalonians 3:8 must suitably agree.


Verse 8

1 Thessalonians 3:8. Paul considers the ἀνάγκη and θλίψις which lay upon him as a θάνατος, but he does not feel this evil; the θάνατος is converted to him into ζωή, when he learns how the churches which he had founded cleave to the Lord. External matters are, in general, indifferent to the apostle, provided he reaches his life-aim, to lead souls to Christ; every success in reference to this imparts strength and fulness of life to him.

νῦν] is not to be understood in contrast to the pre-Christian life of the apostle, when his thought and aim were entirely different; whereby a thought entirely foreign to the context would be introduced. The force of νῦν as an adverb of time, at present, is not to be too greatly pressed (Marloratus: Sub adverbio nunc repetit, quod prius dixerat, se afflictione et necessitate graviter fuisse oppressum), but has here (on account of ἐάν) a causal reference; now, serving as an introduction to what follows: ἐὰν ὑμεῖς στήκητε ἐν κυρίῳ. Comp. Kühner, II. p. 385; Hartung, Partikell. II. p. 25.

ζῶμεν] not to be referred, with Chrysostom, to the future, eternal life, nor weakened to “we are happy” (Pelt and others), or “satisfied” (Grotius, Moldenhauer), but the meaning is: For now we live, i.e. we are in full strength and freshness of life, we do not feel the sorrows and tribulations which the outer world prepares for us.

ἐὰν ὑμεῖς στήκητε ἐν κυρίῳ] when, or so soon as ye stand fast in the Lord, hold fast to His fellowship.

ὑμεῖς] applies specially to the Thessalonians what holds good of Christians generally.

ἐάν] makes the fact of the stedfastness of the readers appear as a well-grounded supposition (see Schmalfeld, Syntax des Griech. Verbums, p. 201). But the hypothetical form of the sentence includes, indirectly, the exhortation to hold fast to the Lord for the future.


Verse 9

1 Thessalonians 3:9. Reason of ζῶμεν, 1 Thessalonians 3:8; γάρ, consequently, is not “mera particula transeundi” (Koppe, Pelt). In a truly monstrous construction, Hofmann, with a renunciation of all exegetical tact, pulls to pieces the simple and clear structure of the words, taking τίνα γὰρ εὐχαριστίαν δυνάμεθα τῷ θεῷ ἀνταποδοῦναι περὶ ὑμῶν (1 Thessalonians 3:9) as a parenthetic clause, the object of which is to give beforehand the reason of δεόμενοι (1 Thessalonians 3:10), referring ἐπὶ πάσῃ τῇ χαρᾷ, χαίρομεν διʼ ὑμᾶς to δεόμενοι “as a statement of what he joined to his request;” considering δεόμενοι, which is “a participle of the imperfect,” as an apodosis, which, passing over the parenthesis, is annexed to παρεκλήθημεν (1 Thessalonians 3:7), and to which διὰ τῆς ὑμῶν πίστεως ὅτι νῦν ζῶμεν (1 Thessalonians 3:7-8) forms the protasis!

τίνα γὰρ εὐχαριστίαν κ. τ. λ.] for what thanks can we give in return to God on behalf of you for all the joy we feel for your sakes before our God? i.e., What expression of thanks can be sufficiently great to be an equivalent for the fulness and superabundance of our joy? Theophylact: τοσαύτη, φησίν, διʼ ὑμᾶς χαρά, ὅτι οὐδὲ εὐχαριστῆσαι τῷ θεῷ κατʼ ἀξίαν δυνάμεθα ὑπὲρ ὑμων. God has brought about and arranged this joy by His higher guidance; therefore to Him belongs the thanks; therefore is this thanks a return for the proof of His grace ( ἀνταποδοῦναι).

πᾶσα χαρά] cannot denote joy of every kind; accordingly, cannot indicate the multiplicity of objects which the joy for the Thessalonians has (which Schott thinks possible). It means, as the article added requires, the whole joy—joy in its sum total. See Winer, p. 101 [E. T. 137]. A joy in its totality is certainly the greatest conceivable joy; so that it may be said that πᾶσα χαρά denotes laetitia maxima (Flatt, Pelt, Schott).

χαίρομεν] by attraction instead of ἣν χαίρομεν; comp. Matthew 2:10.

ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν] belongs not to the following (Ewald, Hofmann), but to the preceding; but not to χαρᾷ (Koppe, Pelt, Bloomfield), but to χαίρομεν. The addition serves to bring forward the purity of this joy, to which nothing earthly cleaves. Erroneously Oecumenius and Bloomfield: “Paul would think on God as the Author of the joy.”

On ἡμῶν, comp. on 1 Thessalonians 2:2.


Verse 10

1 Thessalonians 3:10. δεόμενοι] is not used absolutely instead of δεόμεθα or ἐσμὲν δεόμενοι, which Cornelius a Lapide and Baumgarten-Crusius assume, and Flatt thinks possible, but neither is it to be united with χαίρομεν (Schott, de Wette, Koch, Riggenbach), but belongs to the main thought τίναἀνταποδοῦναι, and assigns the reason for it by the fervent longing for the readers, and anxiety for their Christian character: What sufficient thanks are we able to give to God for our joy over you, as we (cleaving to you with such paternal love that we), without ceasing, pray to see you again, and complete the defects of your faith?

νυκτός] See on 1 Thessalonians 2:9. Erroneously Fromond.: it is placed first, quia nocte praecipue propter solitudinem et silentium sancti se orationi dare solent.

The accumulation of expressions νυκτὸς καὶ ἡμέρας ὑπερεκπερισσοῦ, is the natural outflow of the strength of his feeling; comp. Philippians 1:23.

ὑπερεκπερισσοῦ] above measure, is found only in 1 Thessalonians 5:13, Ephesians 3:20, and Theodoton, ad Daniel, 3:22. Erroneously—because grammatically impossible

Clericus insists on referring it by means of a trajection not to δεόμενοι, but to ἰδεῖν, defending his opinion on the ground that ὑπερεκπερ. denotes something not strictly necessary, whereas prayer is a duty, a necessity: orantes ut videamus vultum vestrum, quasi cumulum laetitiae nostrae. Non satis erat Paulo scire Thessalonicenses constanter evangelio adhaerere, quamvis summam laetitiam ex eo nuntio perciperit, volebat ὑπερεκπερισσοῦ, ex abundanti, eos videre.

εἰς τὸ κ. τ. λ.] the design of δεόμενοι: praying to this end, in order by means of prayer (by the answer to it) to attain the ἰδεῖν and καταρτίσαι.

καταρτίζειν] is to place in the condition of perfectness, of completeness. Thus καταρτίζειν τὰ ὑστερήματα τῆς πίστεως signifies: to render complete the defects of faith, that is, in order to make perfect that which is wanting in faith (Theodoret: τὰ ἐλλείποντα πληρῶσαι). By this ὑστερήματα τῆς πίστεως Paul understands partly defects of faith as regards insight (particularly in respect of the impending advent; comp. 1 Thessalonians 4:13 ff.); partly defects of faith as regards its practical verification in the Christian life (comp. 1 Thessalonians 4:1 ff.). It follows, moreover, from καταρτίσαι τὰ ὑστερήματα, with what inconsiderate arbitrariness Baur misuses even this passage in support of his assertion that the Thessalonian church had already existed for a long time.


Verse 11

1 Thessalonians 3:11. αὐτός] is not a general introductory subject to which the special designations are annexed as an apposition: “but He, God our Father,” etc. (Luther, de Wette, Hofmann, Riggenbach. According to de Wette, whom Koch and Bisping follow, αὐτός serves for bringing forward the contrast with the petitioner). But the whole designation of the subject αὐτὸςἰησοῦς is most closely connected: But God Himself, our Father and our Lord Jesus. It has its contrast in reference to κατευθύνειν τὴν ὁδόν. Paul thinks on a κατευθύνειν τὴν ὁδόν, both on his (man’s) side and on the side of God. The first does not conduct certainly to the end, as in reference to it the power of ἐγκόπτειν is given to the devil (comp. 1 Thessalonians 2:18). Only when the κατευθύνειν is undertaken by God Himself and Christ is its success assured, for then the hindrances of the devil are without power. Thus Paul contrasts simply and naturally God and Christ to himself.

ἡμῶν] may be referred both to θεός and to πατήρ (Hofmann, Riggenbach), so that God is called our (the Christians’) God and our Father: but it is best to restrict it to πατήρ, so that God is first considered in His existence as God simply, and then afterwards in reference to us as our Father.

καὶ κύριος ἡμῶν ἰησοῦς] This addition (comp. 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17), particularly with the following κατευθύναι, which is to be understood as the third person singular optative aorist, not as the infinitive (see Winer, ed. 5, p. 383), might appear strange. But, according to the Pauline view (comp. Usteri, Lehrbegr. p. 301), Christ, exalted to the right hand of the Father, takes part in the government of the world, and orders everything for the promotion of His kingdom. And, inasmuch as His will is not different from the will of God, but identical with it, the verb in the singular is suitable.

κατευθύναι] make straight, plain, so in order that it can be trod. Without a figure: may cause it to be realized.

πρὸς ὑμᾶς] belongs not to τὴν ὁδὸν ἡμῶν, but to κατευθύναι.


Verse 12

1 Thessalonians 3:12. To the wish as regards himself, Paul adds a further wish as regards his readers.(49)

ὑ΄ᾶς δέ] Bengel puts it well: sive nos viniemus, sive minus.

If κύριος (see critical note) is genuine, it may grammatically refer either to God or to Christ (although the latter is the more usual); also ἔ΄προσθεν τοῦ θεοῦ, 1 Thessalonians 3:13, instead of αὐτοῦ, is no objection to the reference to God, as the repetition of the name in full shortly after its mention is not rare; comp. 1 Thessalonians 2:2; Ephesians 4:12; Ephesians 4:16; Winer, p. 130 [E. T. 180].

The optatives (not infinitives, as Bretschneider thinks, who without justification supplies δῴη ὑ΄ῖν) πλεονάσαι and περισσεύσαι are in a transitive sense: but the Lord make you to become rich and abound in love. On πλεονάζειν, comp. LXX. Numbers 26:54; Ps. 70:21; on περισσεύειν, comp. Ephesians 1:8; 2 Corinthians 9:8, etc. Erroneously Theodoret, whom Cornelius a Lapide follows, takes πλεονάσαι by itself, of the external increase of the church: εὔχεται τοίνυν αὐτοὺς καὶ τῷ ἀριθμῷ πλεονάσαι καὶ τῇ ἀγάπῃ περισσεῦσαι, τουτέστι τελείαν αὐτὴν κτήσασθαι, ὥστε μηδὲν ἐλλείπειν αὐτῇ. So also Olshausen and Koch erroneously distinguish πλεονάζειν and περισσεύειν as cause and effect: to increase, and arising from this increase, abundance. Similarly Fromond. as extensio and intensio charitatis.

εἰς ἀλλήλους] towards fellow-Christians.

εἰς πάντας] is not an explication of εἰς ἀλλήλους: erga vos invicem et quidem omnes, which Koppe thinks possible, but means toward all men generally. Estius: etiam infideles et vestrae salutis inimicos. Theodoret, without reason, limits it to fellow-Christians of all places; whilst he interprets εἰς ἀλλήλους of fellow-Christians in Thessalonica.

καθάπερ καὶ ἡ΄εῖς εἰς ὑ΄ᾶς] sc. τῇ ἀγάπῃ πλεονάζομεν καὶ περισσεύομεν, as we also are rich in love and abound toward you. Only this completion of the ellipsis corresponds to the context, and the objection to it, that πλεονάζειν and περισσεύειν is used first in a transitive and then in an intransitive sense, is of no force, as the passage of the one into the other here is so insensible and easy, that no reader could take objection to it. Arbitrary are the completions of Calvin: affecti sumus; Nösselt: animati sumus; Baumgarten-Crusius: ἔχο΄εν (?); Pelt and Schott: πολλὴν ἀγάπην ἔχο΄εν; Wolf (and so essentially already Musculus): περισσεύσαι, abundare nos in vos faciat; in which latter case the accusative ἡ΄ᾶς (as certainly Laurent, Neutestam. Studien, Gotha 1866, p. 188, actually reads, but without justification) must be put in place of the nominative ἡμεῖς. Also, supplying the simple copula sumus (Grotius) is to be rejected, which would suppose a form of speech entirely un-Grecian. Correctly, according to the sense, Theophylact: ἔχετε γὰρ μέτρον καὶ παράδειγμα τῆς ἀγάπης ἡμᾶς.


Verse 13

1 Thessalonians 3:13. The final aim is derived from the wish, 1 Thessalonians 3:12, because love is the fulfilling of the law (Romans 13:10), and the band of perfection (Colossians 3:14).

εἰς τὸ στηρίξαι] not so that (Pelt, Baumgarten-Crusius); also, not so much as καὶ στηρίξαι (Koppe), by which the words would only annex a new wish to the preceding. It is designed to introduce a majus, a greater, specifying the higher or final aim to which πλεονάζειν and περισσεύειν are to conduct. But the subject in στηρίξαι is not τὴν ἀγάπην (Oecumenius), but τὸν κύριον (which, however, is not, with Theophylact and Schrader, to be converted into the idea τὸ πνεῦμα), or, with the contingent spuriousness of κύριος in 1 Thessalonians 3:12 : God and Christ, 1 Thessalonians 3:11.

στηρίξαι denotes confirming, strengthening generally, not confirming in the faith (Flatt, Pelt), against which is the context.

τὰς καρδίας] Chrysostom: οὐκ εἶπεν ὑμᾶς στηρίξαι, ἀλλὰ τὰς καρδίας ὑμῶν. ἐκ γὰρ τῆς καρδίας ἐξέρχονται διαλογισμοὶ πονηροί.

ἀμέμπτους] proleptic: so that you will be blameless. Comp. 1 Corinthians 1:8; Philippians 3:21 (according to the correct reading); Winer, p. 549 [E. T. 779]; Kühner, II. p. 121.

ἐν ἁγιωσύνῃ] belongs not to στηρίξαι, but to ἀμέμπτους, specifying the sphere in which the blamelessness is to be shown. The expression denotes the condition of holiness, comp. Romans 1:4; 2 Corinthians 7:1; erroneously Koppe: alias ἁγιασμός, and Olshausen: ἁγιωσύνη is the process of becoming holy, the result of which is ἁγιασμός.

ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ θεοῦ] before God, according to His judgment, His judicial sentence, belongs neither to ἁγιωσύνῃ (Koppe, Pelt), nor to ἀμέμπτους (de Wette, Koch), but to the whole ἀμέμπτους ἐν ἁγιωσύνῃ.

μετὰ πάντων τῶν ἁγίων αὐτοῦ] Flatt, with whom Hofmann, in his Schriftbeweis, II. 2, ed. 1, p. 595, agrees (he construes the passage differently in ed. 2, p. 649, and in his H. Schr. N. T., without altering his interpretation of οἱ ἅγιοι), unites the clause with ἀμέμπτους ἐν ἁγιωσύνῃ: “in order that ye may appear blameless on that day with all who are consecrated to God, who are the genuine members of His people, who truly honour God and Christ.” So also Musculus; and also Benson and Olshausen (comp. also Bouman, Chartae theol. I. p. 81 ff.), although they do not construe with Musculus and Flatt, understand by ἅγιοι the earlier perfected believers. But the difficulty which impelled Flatt to this interpretation (and in which Schrader finds even an objection against the authenticity of the Epistle), namely, that ἅγιοι in the New Testament never denotes the angels when it is by itself, that is, without the addition of ἄγγελοι, vanishes, as—(1) The advent is considered as glorified by the appearance of angels; comp. 2 Thessalonians 1:7; Matthew 16:27; Matthew 25:31; Mark 8:38; Luke 9:26. (2) In the Old Testament without any further addition קְדֹשִׁים, and in the LXX. οἱ ἅγιοι, is a designation of the angels; comp. e.g. Zechariah 14:5; Daniel 4:10; and therefore this current designation cannot surprise us in Paul. Also, what Hofmann in the above-mentioned place urges in favour of Flatt’s interpretation is without force. For to “the probability of the three prepositions ἔμπροσθεν, ἐν, and μετά being used in a similar connection,” is opposed the greater naturalness and easiness of the connection of μετὰ πάντων τῶν ἁγίων αὐτοῦ with the directly preceding ἐν τῇ παρουσίᾳ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν ἰησοῦ. “And that also the connection” supports Flatt’s explanation, “since the brotherly love in which the Thessalonians are to grow finds its suitable reward in sharing at length the blessed fellowship of all the saints of God,” so that hereby is already introduced “what the apostle has particularly to teach the Christians of Thessalonica for their comfort, that those believers who fell asleep before the Advent of the Lord will not be wanting at it,” can only be maintained without arbitrariness, if not only the explanation in 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12, but the section 1 Thessalonians 4:13 ff., be directly joined to 1 Thessalonians 3:13; and then this section would be introduced with οὐ θέλομεν γὰρ ὑμᾶς ἀγνοεῖν, instead of with οὐ θέλομεν δὲ ὑμᾶς ἀγνοεῖν.

Moreover, the concluding word αὐτοῦ is more correctly referred to τοῦ θεοῦ, than, with Pelt, Riggenbach, and others, to τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν ἰησοῦ.

 


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Bibliography Information
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 3:4". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/1-thessalonians-3.html. 1832.

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