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Bible Commentaries

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament
1 Thessalonians 4

 

 

Other Authors
Introduction

CHAPTER 4

1 Thessalonians 4:1. λοιπόν] Elz. Matth. read τὸ λοιπόν. Correctly rejected, according to overwhelming testimony (A B* D E F G K L א, min. Chrys. cod. Damasc.), by Griesb. Lachm. Scholz, Tisch. and Alford. τό arose from the last syllable of the preceding αὐτοῦ.

οὖν in the Receptus after λοιπόν is erased by Tisch. 1. But the omission is only attested by B* some min. Copt. Chrys. and Theoph., and might easily have been occasioned by the preceding ον.

After ἰησοῦ Elz. has καθὼς παρελάβετε παρʼ ἡμῶν τὸ τῶς δεῖ ὑμᾶς περιπατεῖν καὶ ἀρέσκειν θεῶ, ἵνα περισσεύητε μᾶλλον. Defended by Reiche. But ἵνα is to be inserted before καθὼς παρελάβετε, with Lachm. Tisch 1 and 7, and Alford (after B D* E* F G, 17, 37, al., Arm. Vulg. It. Ambrosiast. Pel.), and the parenthesis καθὼς καὶ περιπατεῖτε is to be inserted before ἵνα περισσεύητε (after A B D E F G א, min. Copt. Aeth. Arm. Syr. p. Slav. ed. Vulg. ms. It. Harl. Ambrosiast.). Internal criticism also requires this. For ἵνα περισσεύητε presupposes the earlier mention of a prior commencement (comp. 1 Thessalonians 4:10), and such a commencement would not be implied in the preceding text without καθὼς καὶ περιπατεῖτε. Evidently the apostle would originally have written ἵνα, καθὼς παρελάβετε παρʼ ἡμῶν τὸ πῶς κ. τ. λ., οὕτως καὶ περιπατῆτε; but, while writing, altered this his intended expression, that he might not say too little, wishing to notice the good beginning already made by the Thessalonians. The repetition of ἵνα after so long an intervening clause was too natural, so that it might excite suspicion—1 Thessalonians 4:6. προείπομεν. So Griesbach and Schott, after A K L, most min. (as it appears) Clem. Chrys. Theodoret, al.; whilst Elz. Matth. Lachm. Tisch. Alford, after B (e sil.) D E F G א, al. read προείπαμεν.—1 Thessalonians 4:8. Elz. has τὸν καὶ δόντα. καί is wanting in A B D*** E, min. edd. Syr. Arr. al., Ath. Chrys. al. Erased by Lachm. and Tisch. 1. However, it might easily have been omitted, the eye of the translator passing from τόν to δόντα.

Instead of δόντα, B D E F G, א* 67* et al., mult. edd. Ath. Didym. have διδόντα. Preferred by Lachm. and Tisch. 1. But διδόντα appears to be a correction from a dogmatic point of view, in order, instead of the objectionable preterite, to obtain the statement that the Holy Spirit is permanently communicated to believers.

ὑμᾶς] Elz. has ἡμᾶς. Against B D E F G K L א, min. plur. edd. Syr. Arr. Arm. Syr. p. in m. It. al. Didym. Ambrosiast. An alteration in conformity with a reference to the apostle himself implied in the preceding ἄνθρωπον.—1 Thessalonians 4:9. Instead of the meaningless Rec. ἔχετε (comp. commentary on 1 Thessalonians 4:9), ἔχομεν is to be received, after B [ εἴχομεν] D* F G א**** min. Vulg. It. Chrys. Theoph. Ambrosiast. Recommended by Griesbach. Received by Lachm. and Tisch. 1. ἔχετε is taken from 1 Thessalonians 5:1.—1 Thessalonians 4:11. ταῖς χερσίν] Elz. has ταῖς ἰδίαις χερσίν. ἰδίαις, defended by Schutz, suspected by Griesb., and erased by Lachm. Tisch. and Alford, after B D* E? F G א**** 31, 46, al., Aeth. Arm. Vulg. It. Bas. Chrys. Theoph. Ambrosiast. Pel. Gloss for the sake of strengthening, arising from τὰ ἴδια.—1 Thessalonians 4:13. θέλομεν] Elz. has θέλω. Against preponderating testimonies (A B D E F G L א, min. pl. vss. [also It. and Vulg.] and Fathers).

Instead of the Receptus κεκοιμημένων, A B א, 39, al., Or. Damasc. Chrys. ms. (alic.) have κοιμωμένων. So Lachm. Tisch. 1, 2, and Alford.—1 Thessalonians 4:16. Elz. has πρῶτον. D* F G, Vulg. It. Cyr. Theoph. ed. Tert. Ambrosiast. al. read πρῶτοι.—1 Thessalonians 4:17. Elz. has ἀπάντησιν. D* E*? F G read ὑπάντησιν.

Elz. has τοῦ κυρίου. D* E*? F G, Vulg. It. Tert. al. read τῷ χριστῷ.

CONTENTS.

The apostle entreats and exhorts his readers to progress with the greatest earnestness in the Christian life, which they had begun, according to the instructions and commandments which they had received. God desires holiness; they should therefore abstain from fornication, covetousness, and overreaching their neighbours (1 Thessalonians 4:1-8). He has no necessity to exhort them to active brotherly love; they practise this already far and wide; but he exhorts them to increase therein, and to seek honour in distinguishing themselves by a quiet and busy life (1 Thessalonians 4:9-12). With regard to their anxiety for the fate of their fellow-Christians who had fallen asleep before the commencement of the advent, it may serve for their information and comfort that those who are then alive would receive no preference over those who are already asleep; Christ will descend from heaven; then will the dead rise first, and afterwards the living also will be uplifted with them to eternal fellowship with the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).


Verse 1

1 Thessalonians 4:1. τὸ λοιπόν (see critical remark) would now directly oppose what follows with what precedes: “for the rest,” “what is yet besides to be said;” whereas λοιπόν is a less prominent particle of transition—“besides.” Both forms, however, introduce something different from what precedes, and serve properly to introduce the concluding remarks of an Epistle; comp. 2 Corinthians 13:11; Philippians 4:8; Ephesians 6:10; 2 Thessalonians 3:1. Here λοιπόν introduces the second portion of the Epistle, and that in an entirely natural and usual manner, as this second portion is the concluding portion of the Epistle.—( τὸ) λοιπόν is incorrectly explained by Chrysostom, Theophylact: ἀεὶ μὲν καὶ εἰς τὸ διηνεκές; Theodoret, to whom Oecumenius, though wavering, adheres: ἀποχρώντως; Luther: “furthermore;” Baumgarten-Crusius: “generally, what is the main thing.”

οὖν] therefore, represents what follows as an inference from the preceding, and especially from 1 Thessalonians 3:13. As it is the final destination of Christians to be ἄμεμπτοι ἐν ἁγιωσύνῃ, in order to reach this end prayer directed to God does not suffice, but also man’s own striving is requisite; so the apostle beseeches and exhorts his readers to increase in striving after a holy walk. Comp. Theodoret: τούτῳ κεχρημένοι τῷ σκοπῷ προσφέρομεν ὑμῖν τὴν παραίνεσιν. Calixtus refers οὖν to the idea of the judgment taken from 1 Thessalonians 3:13 : Ergo, … quum sciates non stare res nostras fine temporali aut terreno, sed exspectari adventum domini a coelis ad judicium, precamur vos et obtestamur, etc. Incorrectly Musculus: Quum igitur gratiam hanc acceperitis a domino, ut in fide illius firmi persistatis, quemadmodum ex relatione Timothei cum ingenti gaudio accepi: quod jam reliquum est, rogo et hortor, etc.

ἐρωτᾶν] in the classics is used only in the sense of to inquire (see the Lexicons); here, as in 1 Thessalonians 5:12, 2 Thessalonians 2:1, Philippians 4:3, John 4:40; John 14:16, Acts 23:20, etc., in the sense of to request, to beseech, analogous to the Hebrew שָׁאַל (so also the English to ask), which unites both meanings. ἐρῶτωμεν denotes the entreating address of a friend to a friend; παρακαλοῦμεν ἐν κυρίῳ, the exhortation in virtue of the apostolic office, thus the exhortation of a superior to subordinates.

ἐν κυρίῳ] in the Lord, belongs only to παρακαλοῦμεν (against Hofmann), and means, as in Romans 9:1, 2 Corinthians 2:17; 2 Corinthians 12:19, Ephesians 4:17, as found in Christ, by means of life-fellowship with Him, Paul being only the organ of Christ; not for the sake of the Lord (Flatt), which would require διὰ τὸν κύριον; also not per dominum Jesum, as a form of oath (Estius, Grotius, and others), against which is the Greek usage; comp. Fritzsche on Romans 9:1; Kühner, II. p. 307. Falsely, moreover, Theophylact: ὅρα δὲ ταπεινοφροσύνην, ὅπως οὐδὲ πρὸς τὸ παρακαλεῖν ἀξιόπιστον ἑαυτὸν εἶναί φησιν, ἀλλὰ τὸν χριστὸν παραλαμβάνει κ. τ. λ.

ἵνα] the contents of the request and exhortation in the form of its purpose.

παρελάβετε] see on 1 Thessalonians 2:13. Oecumenius, after Chrysostom (and so also Theophylact, also Pelt): τὸ παρελάβετε οὐχὶ ῥημάτων μόνον ἐστίν, ἀλλὰ καὶ πραγμάτων· ἐξ ὧν γὰρ αὑτὸς ἐβίου, τύπος τοῖς μαθηταῖς ἐγίνετο. But this extension of the idea is arbitrarily inserted against the natural meaning of the word, and against 1 Thessalonians 4:2.

τό] is not superfluous (Grotius), but specifies in a substantive sense the following words, in order to collect them into one idea, as in Romans 4:13; Romans 8:26; Romans 13:9; Galatians 5:14; Philippians 4:10; Luke 1:62. Comp. Winer, p. 99 [E. T. 134]; Bremi, ad Demosth. de Cherson. p. 236.

καὶ ἀρέσκειν θεῷ] and (thereby) to please God, is co-ordinate to περιπατεῖν, although logically considered it is the consequence of περιπατεῖν; περιπατεῖν can only be the means of ἀρέσκειν.

περισσεύητε] sc. ἐν τῷ οὕτως περιπατεῖν. Falsely Theophylact, adhering to Chrysostom: ἵνα πλέον τι τῆς ἐντολῆς φιλοτιμῆσθε ποιεῖν καὶ ὑπερβαίνητε τὰ ἐπιτάγματα.

μᾶλλον] a further intensification, as is a favourite custom with Paul; comp. 1 Thessalonians 4:10; Philippians 1:23; 2 Corinthians 7:13, etc.


Verse 2

1 Thessalonians 4:2. A strengthening of παρελάβετε παρʼ ἡμῶν, 1 Thessalonians 4:1, by appealing to the knowledge of the readers: for it is well known to you, ye will thus be the more willing to περισσεύειν. This appeal to their own knowledge is accordingly by no means useless, and still less un-Pauline (Schrader, Baur), as it is elsewhere not rare with Paul; comp. Galatians 4:13; 1 Corinthians 15:1 ff., etc.

παραγγελίαι] not evangelii praedicatio, in qua singula praecepta semine quasi inclusa latitant (Pelt), against which is the context and the plural form; but commands (comp. Acts 5:28; Acts 16:24; 1 Timothy 1:5; 1 Timothy 1:18), and that to a Christian life. The stress is on τίνας, to which τοῦτο, 1 Thessalonians 4:3, corresponds.

διὰ τοῦ κυρίου ἰησοῦ] through the Lord Jesus, by means of Him, i.e. Paul did not command διʼ ἑαυτοῦ, but Christ Himself was represented by him as the Giver of the παραγγελίαι. Comp. Bernhardy, Syntax, p. 235 f. Schott blends the ideas in a strange manner: Auxilio sive beneficio Christi, siquidem Paulus, ab ipso domino ad provinciam apostoli obeundam vocatus, διʼ ἁποκαλύψεως χριστοῦ inter illos docuerat. So also de Wette: by means of the revelation given in the Lord, so that the general divine truth is communicated through Him. Falsely Pelt, διά is equivalent to ἐν; and Grotius, accepta is to be supplied.


Verse 3

1 Thessalonians 4:3. Further specification of τίνας παραγγελίας, according to its contents. τοῦτο γάρ ἐστιν θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ] for this (the following) is the will of God.

τοῦτο] not the predicate (de Wette, 2d ed.), but the subject (comp. Romans 9:8; Galatians 3:7; Winer, 5th ed. p. 130 [E. T. 199]), is emphatically placed first, accordingly not superfluous (Pelt).

θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ] without the article, as the will of God is not exhausted with what is afterwards adduced. The words are without emphasis; they resume only the idea already expressed in 1 Thessalonians 4:2, although in another form. For a command given διὰ τοῦ κυρίου ἰησοῦ is nothing else than θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ.

ἁγιασμὸς ὑμῶν] namely, your sanctification, in apposition to τοῦτο and the subject-matter, whereas τοῦτο was only a preliminary and nominal subject. ἁγιασμός has an active meaning, your sanctification ( ὑμῶν, the genitive of the object), i.e. that you sanctify yourselves, not passive (Estius, Koppe, Usteri, p. 236; Olshausen, Baumgarten-Crusius), so that it would be identical with ἁγιωσύνη, 1 Thessalonians 3:13. Calovius, Wolf, Flatt, de Wette, Koch, Alford, and others take ἁγιασμός as a “quite general” idea, under which not only ἀπέχεσθαι κ. τ. λ., but also 1 Thessalonians 4:6, are specified as particulars. This view, in itself entirely suitable, becomes impossible by the article τό before ὑπερβαίνειν, 1 Thessalonians 4:6. This does not permit us to consider 1 Thessalonians 4:6 as a parallel statement to ἀπέχεσθαι, 1 Thessalonians 4:3, and εἰδέναι, 1 Thessalonians 4:4, but places the statement τὸ μὴ ὑπερβαίνειν κ. τ. λ. evidently on the same level with ἁγιασμὸς ὑμῶν. Accordingly τοῦτο receives a double specification of the subject-matter in the form of apposition—(1) in ἁγιασμὸς ὑμῶν, and (2) in τὸ μὴ ὑπερβαίνειν, 1 Thessalonians 4:6. Thus the meaning is: For the following is the will of God, first, that ye sanctify yourselves, and then that ye overreach not, etc. But from this relation of the sentences it follows that ἁγιασμός must denote holiness in a special sense, i.e. must be considered in special reference to sins of lust, thus must be used of striving after chastity (Turretin, Pelt, Schott, Olshausen, Bloomfield, and others).

ἁγιασμὸς ὑμῶν is further epexegetically explained—(1) negatively by ἀπέχεσθαι ὑμᾶς ἀπὸ τῆς πορνείας, and (2) positively by εἰδέναι κ. τ. λ., 1 Thessalonians 4:4. In an entirely erroneous manner by Hofmann, according to whom the stress is to be laid on θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ, τοῦτο is to indicate ἀπέχεσθαι κ. τ. λ., and ἁγιασμός is a parenthetic apposition. Moreover, “a contradiction” to the praise of the church, expressed elsewhere in the Epistle, is not contained in the exhortation, 1 Thessalonians 4:3 ff. (Schrader), as the reception of Christianity never delivers, as with the stroke of a magician, from the wickedness and lusts of the heathen world which have become habitual; rather a long and constant fight is necessary for vanquishing them.


Verse 4

1 Thessalonians 4:4. That every one of you may know (understand, be capable; comp. Colossians 4:6; Philippians 4:12) to acquire his own vessel in sanctification and honour. By σκεῦος, Chrysostom, Theodoret, John Damascenus, Oecumenius, Theophylact, Tertullian, Pelagius, Haimo, Calvin, Zeger, Musculus, Hemming, Bullinger, Zanchius, Hunnius, Drusius, Piscator, Gomarus, Aretius, Vorstius, Cornelius a Lapide, Beza, Grotius, Calixt, Calovius, Hammond, Turretin, Benson, Bengel, Macknight, Zacharius, Flatt, Pelt, Olshausen, Baumgarten-Crusius, Bloomfield, Meyer (Romans 4 th ed. p. 74), and others, understand the body ( τὸ σῶμα).(50) But—(1) κτᾶσθαι cannot in any way be reconciled with this interpretation. For that can only denote to gain, to acquire, but not to own, to possess (for which one in vain appeals to Luke 21:19; Sirach 6:7; Sirach 22:23; Sirach 51:20). If one would, with Olshausen (comp. also Chrysostom), retain the idea of acquiring, and then find the sense: “to guide and master his body as the true instrument of the soul,” yet, as de Wette remarks, the contrast μὴ ἐν πάθει ἐπιθυμίας, 1 Thessalonians 4:5, which likewise belongs to κτᾶσθαι, would be irreconcilable with it. (2) The body may be compared with a σκεῦος, or, when the context points to it, may be figuratively so called, but σκεῦος by itself can hardly be put in the sense of σῶμα. All the passages which are usually brought forward do not prove the contrary; e.g. Barnabas, Ep. vii. and xi.: τὸ σκεῦος τοῦ πνεύματος ( αὐτοῦ), where σκεῦος has its usual meaning, and only the full expression serves as a circumlocution for the body of Christ. Philo, quod deter. pot. ins. p. 186: τὸ τῆς ψυχῆς ἀγγεῖον τὸ σῶμα, and de migr. Abrah. p. 418: τοῖς ἀγγείοις τῆς ψυχῆς σώματι καὶ αἰσθήσει. Cicero, disput. Tusc. i. 22: corpus quidem quasi vas est aut aliquod animi receptaculum. Lucretius, iii. 441: corpus, quod vas quasi constitit ejus (sc. animae). How different also from our passage is 2 Corinthians 4:7, by the addition ὀστρακίνοις, according to which the σῶμα is only compared with a σκεῦος ὀστράκινον! (3) The position of the words τὸ ἑαυτοῦ σκεῦος is against it. For ἑαυτοῦ can only be placed first, because the emphasis rests on it; but a reference to the body of an individual cannot be emphatic; it would require to be written τὸ σκεῦος ἑαυτοῦ. Olshausen certainly finds in ἑαυτοῦ a support for the opposite view; but how arbitrary is his assertion, that by the genitive “the subjectivity, the ψυχή, is distinguished from the σκεῦος,” as only the belonging, the private possession, can be designated by ἑαυτοῦ! (4) The context also does not lead us to understand σκεῦος of the body. Paul, namely, has brought forward the ἁγιασμός of his readers as the will of God, and has further explained this ἁγιασμός, first, negatively as an abstinence from fornication. If, now, this negative specification is still further explained by a positive one, this further positive addition can only contain the reverse, that is, the requirement to satisfy the sexual impulse in chastity and honour. The words import this, if σκεῦος is understood in its original meaning, “retain a vessel,” and the expression as a figurative designation of wife. So, in essentials, Theodore Mopsuestius (ed. Fritzsche, p. 145: σκεῦος τὴν ἰδίαν ἑκάστου γαμετὴν ὀνομάζει); τίνες in Theodoret ( τὴν ὁμόζυγα); Augustin, contra Julian, iv. 10, v. 9; de nupt. et concup. i. 8; Thomas Aquinas, Zwingli, Estius, Balduin, Heinsius, Seb. Schmid, Wetstein, Schoettgen, Michaelis, Koppe, Schott, de Wette, Koch, Bisping, Ewald, Alford, Hofmann, Riggenbach, and others. How suitably does the emphatic ἑαυτοῦ become through this interpretation, the apostle, in contrast to the πορνεία, the Venus vulgivaga, urging that every one should acquire his own vessel or means to appease the sexual impulse—that is, should enter into marriage, ordained by God for the regulation of fleshly lusts; comp. 1 Corinthians 7:2, where the same principle is expressed. To regard the expression σκεῦος as a figurative designation of wife is the less objectionable, as this figurative designation is besides supported by Jewish usage. Thus it is said in Megilla Esther, i. 11: In convivio illius impii aliqui dixerunt: mulieres Medicae sunt pulchriores, alii vero: Persicae sunt pulchriores. Dixit ad eos Ahasverus: vas meum, quo ego utor ( כלי שאני משתמש בו), neque Medicum neque Persicum est, sed Chaldaicum. Comp. Sohar Levit. fol. 38, col. 152: Quicunque enim semen suum immittit in vas non bonum, ille semen suum deturpat. See Schoettgen, Hor. hebr. p. 827. Lastly, add to this that the expression κτᾶσθαι γυναῖκα, in the sense of ducere uxorem, is usual; comp. Xenoph. Conviv. ii. 10: ταύτην ( ξανθίππην) κέκτη΄αι; LXX. Ruth 4:10; Sirach 36:24.

ἕκαστον ὑ΄ῶν] every one of you, sc. who does not possess the gift of continence; comp. 1 Corinthians 7:1-2.

ἐν ἁγιασμῷ καὶ τιμῇ] in chastity and honour, belongs not to ἕκαστον, so that ὄντα would require to be supplied (Koppe, Schott), but to κτᾶσθαι, and is an epexegesis to ἑαυτοῦ, so that after κτᾶσθαι a comma is to be put. In τὸ ἑαυτοῦ σκεῦος κτᾶσθαι there is contained κτᾶσθαι ἐν ἁγιασ΄ῷ κ. τ. λ. already implicitly included. Accordingly, by this addition there is by no means expressed in what way one should marry, which, as a too special prescription, would certainly be unsuitable; but 1 Thessalonians 4:4 contains only the general prescription, instead of giving oneself up to fornication, to marry, and this is opposed as honourable and sanctified to what is dishonourable and unsanctified.


Verse 5

1 Thessalonians 4:5 brings forward the prescription ἐν ἁγιασμῷ καὶ τιμῇ once more on account of its importance, but now in a negative form.

μὴ ἐν πάθει ἐπιθυμίας] not in the passion of desire. Accordingly, Paul does not here forbid ἐπιθυμία, for this in itself, as a natural impulse, rests on the holy ordinance of God, but a πάθος ἐπιθυμίας, that is, a condition where sense has been converted into the ruling principle or into passion. Theodore Mopsuestius (ed. Fritzsche, p. 165): ὡσὰν τοῦτο ποιοῦντος οὐκέτι ταύτῃ ὡς γυναικὶ συνόντος ἀλλὰ διὰ μίξιν μόνην ἁπλῶς, ὅπερ πάθος ἐπιθυμίας ἐκάλεσεν.

καί] after καθάπερ is not added for the sake of elegance (Pelt), but is the usual καί after particles of comparison; see 1 Thessalonians 2:14, 1 Thessalonians 3:6; 1 Thessalonians 3:12, 1 Thessalonians 4:6; 1 Thessalonians 4:13; Romans 4:6, etc.; Hartung, Partikell. I. p. 126.

τὰ μὴ εἰδότα τὸν θεόν] of whom nothing better is to be expected. Comp. on the expression, Galatians 4:8; 2 Thessalonians 1:8.


Verse 6

1 Thessalonians 4:6. The second chief point which the apostle subordinates to the θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ (1 Thessalonians 4:3), adding to the prohibition of unchastity the further prohibition of covetousness and overreaching our neighbour (Nicolas Lyrensis, Faber Stapulus, Zwingli, Calvin, Bullinger, Zanchius, Hunnius, Luc. Osiander, Balduin, Aretius, Vorstius, Gomarus, Grotius, Calovius, Clericus, Wolf, Koppe, Flatt, de Wette, Koch, Bouman, supra, p. 82; Bisping, Ewald, Hofmann, Riggenbach, and others). It is true Chrysostom, Theodoret, John Damascenus, Oecumenius, Theophylact, Jerome on Ephesians 5:5, Erasmus, Clarius, Zeger, Estius, Cornelius a Lapide, Heinsius, Whitby, Benson, Wetstein, Kypke, Bengel, Baumgarten, Zachar., Michaelis, Pelt, Schott, Olshausen, Bloomfield, Alford, and others, refer it still to the prohibition of unchastity given in 1 Thessalonians 4:4-5, whilst they find in 1 Thessalonians 4:6 a particular form of it designated, namely, adultery, and consider the sentence as dependent on εἰδέναι (Pelt), or as in apposition to 1 Thessalonians 4:4-5. But this is without justification. For—(1) the expressions ὑπερβαίνειν and πλεονεκτεῖν most naturally denote a covetous, deceitful conduct in common social intercourse. (2) If the discourse had been only of πορνεία, the words περὶ πάντων τούτων would scarcely have been put. Different kinds of πορνεία must at least have been previously enumerated. But not even this could be the case, as then to the dissuasion from πορνεία in general, the dissuasion from a special kind of πορνεία would be united. (3) Lastly, the article imperatively requires us to consider τὸαὐτοῦ as parallel to ἁγιασμὸς ὑμῶν, 1 Thessalonians 4:3, and, accordingly, as a second object different from the first. If Pelt objects against our view that a mention of covetousness (1 Thessalonians 4:6) would occur “plane inexspectato,” he does not consider that lust and covetousness were the two cardinal vices of the heathen world, and that Paul was accustomed elsewhere to mention them together; comp. Ephesians 4:19; Ephesians 5:3; Ephesians 5:5; Colossians 3:5. Also, the further objection which is insisted on, that on account of 1 Thessalonians 4:7 an exhortation to chastity must be contained in 1 Thessalonians 4:6, is not convincing, as there is nothing to prevent us taking ἀκαθαρσία and ἁγιασμός, 1 Thessalonians 4:7 (see on passage), in the wider sense.

τό] not equivalent to ὥστε (Baumgarten-Crusius), but a second exponent of the object-matter of θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ (1 Thessalonians 4:3).

ὑπερβαίνειν] here only in the N. T., stands absolutely: justos fines migrare, to grasp too far (Luther). Comp. Eurip. Alc. 1077: μὴ νῦν ὑπέρβαινʼ, ἀλλʼ ἐναισίμως φέρε, Il. ix. 501: ὅτε κέν τις ὑπερβήῃ καὶ ἁμάρτῃ. The idea of an “oppressio violenti, qualis tyrannorum et potentium est, qui inferiores injustis exactionibus aut aliis illicitis modis premunt” (Hemming) is inserted, and every supplement, as that of Piscator, “excedere mordum in augendis rerum pretiis,” is to be rejected. What Paul particularly understood by the entirely general μὴ ὑπερβαίνειν he himself indicates by καὶ πλεονεκτεῖναὐτοῦ, which latter words, as μή is not repeated before πλεονεκτεῖν, can contain no independent requirement, but must be an explanatory specification of ὑπερβαίνειν. καί is accordingly to be understood in the sense of “and indeed.” Others, as Beza, Koppe, Pelt, Baumgarten-Crusius, Alford, Hofmann, Riggenbach, have united both verbs with τὸν ἀδελφόν. But the union of ὑπερβαίνειν with a personal object is objectionable, and also in the two passages adduced for it by Kypke (Plutarch, de amore prolis, p. 496, and Demosthenes, adv. Aristocrat. p. 439) the meaning opprimere is at least not demonstrable. Moreover, not ἕκαστον, from 1 Thessalonians 4:4 (Baumgarten-Crusius, Alford), but τινά, is to be considered as the subject to τὸ μὴ ὑπερβαίνειν κ. τ. λ.

πλεονεκτεῖν] expresses the overreaching, the fraudulent pursuit of our own gain springing from covetousness (comp. 2 Corinthians 7:2; 2 Corinthians 12:17-18), not the covetous encroaching upon the possession of a brother, as a figurative expression for adultery.

ἐν τῷ πράγματι] is not verecunde pro concubitu (Estius and those mentioned above), but means in the business (now, or at any time in hand). Too narrow a sense, Piscator: in emendo et vendendo. Rittershus. Polyc. Leyser (in Wolf), and Koppe consider the article as enclitic ( ἔν τῳ instead of ἔν τινι); unnecessary, and without any analogy in the New Testament. Comp. Winer, p. 50 [E. T. 61]. But also erroneously, Macknight, Schott, Olshausen, and others, ἐν τῷ πράγματι is equivalent to ἐν τούτῳ τῷ πράγματι.

τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ] is not equivalent to τὸν πλησίον (Schott, Koch, and others), but denotes fellow-Christians; comp. 1 Thessalonians 4:10. This limitation of the prohibition to Christians is not surprising (Schrader), as there is no emphasis on τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ (for otherwise it must have been written τὸ τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ μὴ κ. τ. λ.), and accordingly the misinterpretation that the conduct of Christians to those who are not Christians is to be different, could not possibly arise. Paul simply names the circle which stood nearest to the Christians, but without intending to exclude thereby the wider circles.

ἔκδικος] an avenger; comp. Romans 13:4. The same reason for prohibition in Ephesians 5:5-6; Colossians 3:6; Galatians 5:21. Compare the saying: ἔχει θεὸς ἔκδικον ὄμμα (Homer, Batrachom.), which has become a proverb.

καθὼς καί] refers back to διότι.

προείπομεν] foretold; the προ refers to the time preceding the future judgment, and the preterite to the time of the apostle’s presence among the Thessalonians.

διεμαρτυράμεθα] an intensifying of προείπομεν.


Verse 7

1 Thessalonians 4:7. Reason of ἔκδικος κύριος περὶ πάντων τούτων.

ἐκάλεσεν] the fuller form in 1 Thessalonians 2:12.

ἐπὶ ἀκαθαρσίᾳ] on condition of, or for the purpose of uncleanness; comp. Galatians 5:13; Ephesians 2:10; Winer, p. 351 [E. T. 492]; Erasmus: Non vocavit nos hac lege, ut essemus immundi, siquidem causa et conditio vocationis erat, ut desineremus esse, quod eramus.

ἀκαθαρσίᾳ] is uncleanness, moral impurity generally (comp. 1 Thessalonians 2:3), and thus includes covetousness as well as lust.

ἀλλʼ ἐν ἁγιασμῷ] gives, by means of an abbreviation (comp. Kühner, II. p. 316), instead of the purpose, the result of the calling: but in holiness, i.e. so that complete holiness of life has become a characteristic property of us Christians. Comp. 1 Corinthians 7:15; Galatians 1:6; Ephesians 4:4. But ἁγιασμός, as it forms the counterpart to ἀκαθαρσίᾳ, must denote moral holiness in its entire compass, and is accordingly here taken in a wider sense than in 1 Thessalonians 4:3.


Verse 8

1 Thessalonians 4:8. An inference from 1 Thessalonians 4:7 (not likewise from 1 Thessalonians 4:3, Flatt), and thereby the conclusion of the matter treated of from 1 Thessalonians 4:3 and onwards.

τοιγαροῦν] (Hebrews 12:1) therefore: not atqui (Koppe, Pelt). See Hartung, Partikell. II. p. 354.

ἀθετῶν] the rejecter (Galatians 2:21; Galatians 3:15; 1 Corinthians 1:19), stands absolutely (used as a substantive). Comp. Winer, p. 316 [E. T. 444]. What is rejected by him is evident from the context, namely, the above exhortations to chastity and disinterestedness. So already Beza. But the rejection of these exhortations is actual and practical, manifesting itself by the transgression of them. To ἀθετῶν Koppe erroneously supplies: istam τοῦ ἁγιασμοῦ legem, 1 Thessalonians 4:7; Pelt and Bloomfield: τὴν τοῦ ἁγιασμοῦ κλῆσιν; Ernest Schmid: τὸν τοιαῦτα παραγγέλλοντα; Flatt: ἐμὲ τὸν παρακαλοῦντα. It is decisive against the last two supplements, that hitherto not the person who gave the exhortations to the Thessalonians, but only the contents of those exhortations themselves, are emphatically brought forward (even on θεός, 1 Thessalonians 4:7, there is no emphasis). To seek to determine more definitely ἀθετῶν from the following οὐκ ἄνθρωπον ἀθετεῖ were arbitrary, as the course of thought in 1 Thessalonians 4:8 would be interfered with.

οὐκ ἄνθρωπον ἀθετεῖ ἀλλὰ τὸν θεόν] rejecteth not man (this may be excused) but God, inasmuch as he who enjoins the readers to avoid lust and covetousness, impresses on them not his own human opinion, accordingly not a mere arbitrary command of man, but delivers to them the solemn and unchangeable will of God.

οὐκἀλλά] is here, as always, an absolute contrast, therefore not to be weakened into “not, but especially,” or, “not only, but also” (Macknight, Flatt, and others). Comp. 1 Corinthians 1:17; Acts 5:4; Winer, p. 440 [E. T. 623]; Klotz, ad Devar. p. 9 f. In the anarthrous singular ἄνθρωπον, moreover, Paul expresses not merely the general idea man in contrast to θεός, but there is likewise contained therein an (untranslatable) subsidiary reference to himself, as the person from whose mouth the Thessalonians have heard these commandments. Others incorrectly understand by ἄνθρωπος the defrauded brother (1 Thessalonians 4:6); so Oecumenius: τοιγαροῦν παρὰ τὴν κλῆσιν πράττων ( οὗτος γὰρ ἀθετῶν) τὸν καλέσαντα ὕβρισε μᾶλλον τὸν πλεονεκτηθέντα· τοῦτο δὲ εἶπε, δεικνὺς ὡς οὐ μόνον, ἔνθα ἀδελφὸς ἀδικούμενος , δεῖ φεύγειν τὴν μοιχείαν, ἀλλὰ κἂν ἄπιστος κ. τ. λ.; and Pelt: Vestrum igitur quicunque vocationem suam spernit fratremque laedit, quem diligere potius debuisset, is sane non hominem contemnit, sed, etc.; also Alford. In a manner still more mistaken, Hofmann, referring to the whole section 1 Thessalonians 4:3-6, makes ἄνθρωπον denote humanity, against which he sins who misuses the woman for the sake of lust, or injures his brother for the sake of gain; whilst with an entirely inadmissible comparison of the Hebrew בָּגַד, he arbitrarily inserts into ἁθετεῖν the idea of an “act of sin which is a breach of peace, a violation of a holy or righteous relation,” and finds in 1 Thessalonians 4:8 the impossible and wholly abstract thought expressed, that every action which treats man as if there were no duty towards man as such, will accordingly be esteemed as having not man, but God for its object.

τὸν καὶ δόντα τὸ πνεῦμα αὐτοῦ τὸ ἅγ. εἰς ὑμᾶς] who besides, etc., an emphatic representation of the greatness of the crime which the Thessalonians would commit, were they to disobey these exhortations. In such a case they would not only set at nought the eternal will of God, but also repay the great grace which God had shown to them with shameful ingratitude. καί has an intensifying force, and brings prominently forward, by an appeal to the conscience of the readers, the inexcusableness of such conduct.

τὸ πνεῦμα αὐτοῦ τὸ ἅγιον] is the Holy Spirit proceeding from God, who transforms the believer into a new personality, and produces extraordinary capabilities and gifts (1 Thessalonians 5:19 f.; 1 Corinthians 12-14).

εἰς ὑμᾶς] is not precisely equivalent to ὑμῖν (Koppe, Flatt, Pelt), but denotes, instead of the mere logical relation which the dative expresses, the communication under the form of locality; accordingly, unto you.

REMARK.

If the present tense διδόντα is read, the communication of the Holy Spirit is represented as something continuing in the present. If, along with διδόντα, the reading of the Receptus, εἰς ἡμᾶς, is retained, this may be either taken in a wide sense, as ἡμᾶς in 1 Thessalonians 4:7, “to us, Christians;” or, in a narrow sense, “to us (me) the apostle.” In the first case, the addition on account of its generality would be somewhat aimless. In the second case, the following thought might be found therein: “but God, who not only commissions us to utter such exhortations, but who has also imparted to us His Holy Spirit, put us in a position to speak every moment the correct thing;” comp. 1 Corinthians 7:40.

But (1) this view is objectionable on account of the many additions and supplements which it requires; (2) τὸν καὶ διδόντα would introduce no new thought which is not already contained in the contrast οὐκ ἄνθρωπονἀλλὰ τὸν θεόν; for, being commissioned by God to give such exhortations, speaking in His name is one and the same with being qualified for this purpose by God’s Holy Spirit; (3) Lastly, it is generally improbable that the addition τὸν καὶ κ. τ. λ. should contain a statement concerning the apostle, as such a statement is too little occasioned by the preceding. For, in the contrast οὐκ ἄνθρωπονἀλλὰ τὸν θεόν, the general idea not man is contained in ἄνθρωπον as the main point, whilst the reference to the apostle’s own person in ἄνθρωπον is very slight, and forms only a subsidiary point.

If, on the other hand, εἰς ὑμᾶς be received along with the present participle, this might be explained with de Wette, whom Koch follows, that the apostle for the sake of strengthening his words reminds the Thessalonians how God still continues to communicate to them His Holy Spirit; how this communicated Holy Spirit, partly by inspired persons, partly by the voice of conscience, gives the same exhortations which he, Paul, now enforces. But who does not see that here also the chief matter, by which the addition becomes appropriate, must first be introduced and supplied?


Verse 9

1 Thessalonians 4:9. δέ] introduces a new requirement.

φιλαδελφία] brotherly love, i.e. love to fellow-Christians; Romans 12:10; Hebrews 13:1; 1 Peter 1:22; 2 Peter 1:7. But the apostle thinks on this not only as a disposition, but also as verifying itself by action, that is to say, as liberality toward needy companions in the faith (comp. ποιεῖτεεἰς, 1 Thessalonians 4:10). It is self-evident that this brotherly love does not exclude love to man in general, comp. Galatians 6:10; 2 Peter 1:7.

When, moreover, the apostle says that he has no need to exhort the Thessalonians to brotherly love, as they practise this already, but nevertheless requires them to increase in it, this is a touch of delicate rhetoric (praeteritio, παράλειψις, see Wilke, neutestamentliche Rhetoric, p. 365), not unusual to Paul (comp. 1 Thessalonians 5:1; 2 Corinthians 9:1; Philemon 1:19), in order to gain willing hearts for the fulfilment of an exhortation whose necessity was evident. Chrysostom: οὐ χρείνα ἔχομεν γράφειν ὑμῖν. ἐχρῆν οὖν σιωπῆσαι καὶ μηδὲν εἰπεῖν, εἰ μὴ χρεία ἦν. νῦν δὲ τῷ εἰπεῖν, οὐ χρεία ἐστί, μεῖζον ἐποίησεν εἰ εἶπεν. Erroneously Estius, to whom Benson assents: Tacite significat, eos omnino opus habuisse admonitione superiori, quae erat de sanctimonia seu munditia vitae; difficile enim erat, homines gentiles immunditiae peccatis assuetos a talibus subito revocare.

αὐτοί] not equivalent to sponte (Schott), which would not suit θεοδίδακτοι but αὐτοὶ γὰρ ὑμεῖς are to be taken together, and form the contrast to the person of the writer formerly named (however without further emphasis).

θεοδίδακτοι] an ἅπαξ λεγόμενον in the N. T., but analogous to διδακτοὶ θεοῦ, John 6:45 (Isaiah 54:13), and by no means un-Pauline, because Paul elsewhere uses πνευματικοί in this sense (Schrader); for πνευματικοί could not here have been put. The expression is not to be taken absolutely in the sense of θεόπνευστοι, according to which εἰς τὸ ἀγαπᾶν ἀλλήλους would only be a more definite epexegesis of it—“so that ye, in consequence of this theopneustia, love one another;” but it contains a blending of two ideas, as properly only διδακτοί ἐστε is expected, but now the source of this instruction is immediately united with the word (without any one exhorting you, you yourselves know, namely, being taught of God, etc.). The knowledge or the instruction is not theoretical, not a knowledge from the Old Testament, not a knowledge from a word of the Lord (John 13:34; Baumgarten-Crusius), also not a knowledge from the instructions of the prophets, such as actually were, according to 1 Thessalonians 5:20, among the Thessalonians (Zachariae), but a practical knowledge which has its ground and origin in the purified conscience of the inner man, effected by God through the communication of the Holy Spirit; consequently a knowledge or instruction of the heart. Moreover, incorrectly Olshausen: “where God teaches, there, the apostle says, I may be silent.” For the stress lies not on the first, but on the second half of θεοδίδακτοι.

εἰς τὸ ἀγαπᾶν ἀλλήλους] is dependent on the διδακτοί in θεοδίδακτοι, and denotes, under the form of the design at which that instruction aims, its object. Incorrectly Flatt, εἰς denotes quod attinet ad.

REMARK.

Pelt, Schott, de Wette, Hofmann, also Winer, p. 303 [E. T. 426], and Buttmann, Grammatik des neutest. Sprachgebr., Berlin 1859, p. 223 [E. T. 259], consider the reading of the Receptus: οὐ χρείαν ἔχετε γράφειν ὑμῖν (see critical remark), as correct Greek, appealing to the frequent use of the infinitive active, where one would expect the infinitive passive (see Kühner, II. p. 339). I cannot agree with this; on the contrary, most decidedly deny the applicability of that use to our passage. For, in the instances given, the characteristic distinction is throughout observable, that the infinitive active expresses the verbal idea in a vague generality, entirely free from any personal reference, so that this active infinitive, in its import and value, can scarcely be distinguished from an absolute accusative. Comp. for example, Sophocles, Oed. Col. 37: ἔξελθʼ· ἔχεις γὰρ χῶρον οὐχ ἁγνὸν πατεῖν.

Thucydides, i. 38: ἦν θεμιστοκλῆςἄξιος θαυμάσαι.

Euripides, Med. 318: λέγεις ἀκοῦσαι μαλθάκ’.

Comp. also Hebrews 5:11 : λόγος δυσερμήνευτος λέγειν. Entirely different from these is our passage, where γράφειν, by means of ὑμῖν, instead of forming an absolute statement, is put in a special personal reference to the readers; indeed, as the subject of γράθειν can only be the apostle, in a special personal reciprocal reference to Paul and the Thessalonians, and accordingly the whole expression acquires an individual concrete form. If ἔχετε is not to be without meaning, it would require accordingly either ἐμὲ γράφειν, or, as in 1 Thessalonians 5:1, the passive γράφεσθαι to be written. For that, as Bouman, Chartae theolog. I. p. 65, and Reiche, p. 339, think, ἐμέ or ἡμᾶς, or rather the indefinite τινά, readily suggest themselves to be supplied, and that the more so, as the necessity of some such supplement is obvious from the following θεοδίδακτοι (Bouman), can hardly be maintained. Also Hebrews 5:12, to which an appeal is made, proves nothing, for here from a similar reason τινά is to be accented (with Lachmann) instead of τίνα; whereby the reference and the relation of the words are entirely transformed. Comp. my commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews , 3 d ed. p. 188 f.


Verse 10

1 Thessalonians 4:10. An explanatory confirmation of the statement θεοδίδακτοί ἐστε εἰς τὸ ἀγαπᾶν ἀλλήλους by an actual historical instance. Calvin finds in 1 Thessalonians 4:10 an argumentum a majore ad minus: “nam quum eorum caritas per totam Macedoniam se diffundat, colligit non esse dubitandum, quin ipsi mutuo inter se ament.” But the emphasis rests not on ἀλλήλους and τοὺς ἀδελφοὺς τοὺς ἐν ὅλῃ τῇ ΄ακεδονίᾳ, but on ἀγαπᾶν and ποιεῖτε. Also the opinion of de Wette, whom Koch follows, that an additional reason is here adduced why the Thessalonians require no further exhortation, is to be rejected, as then καὶ ποιεῖτε would require to be written instead of καὶ γὰρ ποιεῖτε, because γάρ cannot be co-ordinate with the preceding γάρ.

καὶ γάρ] not equivalent to simple γάρ (so most critics), and also not quin etiam, or imo (Calvin), but for also; comp. Hartung, Partikell. I. p. 137 f. Whilst γάρ is a justification of ἀγαπᾶν, the idea of διδαχθῆναι is carried on to the idea of ποιεῖν by means of the corresponding καί.

ποιεῖτε] has the chief accent; it denotes the actual practice.

αὐτό] scilicet, τὸ ἀγαπᾶν, not τὸ τῆς φιλαδελφίας (Baumgarten-Crusius and Koch).

περισσεύειν μᾶλλον] to increase yet more, scilicet, in brotherly love. Musculus, appealing to Philippians 4:12, arbitrarily takes περισσεύειν absolutely, whilst he makes a new train of thought commence with παρακαλοῦμεν: “qua eos redigat in ordinem, qui doctrina charitatis ad ignaviae suae, desidiei, curiositatis et quaestus occasionem abutebantur, nihil operis facientes, sed otiose ac curiose circumeundo ex aliorum laboribus victitantes,” and finds the meaning: “ut abundetis magis, h. e. ut magis in eo sitis, ut copiam eorum, quae ad vitae hujus sunt sustentationem necessaria, habeatis, quam ut penuriam patientes fratribus sitis oneri.” Equally erroneously, because unnatural, Ewald thinks that as the following φιλοτιμεῖσθαι, so also even περισσεύειν μᾶλλον, is to be included in the unity of idea with ἡσυχάζειν κ. τ. λ., 1 Thessalonians 4:11 : “to keep quiet still more, and zealously,” etc. Besides, the construction of περισσεύειν, with a simple infinitive following, would be wholly without example.(51)

μᾶλλον] The same intensification as in 1 Thessalonians 4:1.

REMARK.

After the example of Schrader, Baur (p. 484) finds also 1 Thessalonians 4:9-10 only suitable for a church which had already existed for a considerable time. How otherwise could the brotherly love of the Thessalonians, which they showed to all the brethren in all Macedonia, be praised as a virtue already so generally proved? Certainly Paul recognises the brotherly love of the Thessalonians as a “virtue already proved;” but Baur, no less than Schrader, overlooks (1) that not εἰς πάντας τοὺς ἁγίους, but εἰς πάντας τοὺς ἀδελφοὺς ἐν ὅλῃ τῇ ΄ακεδονίᾳ, is written; consequently, the exercise of that virtue is limited to the Christian circle nearest to the Thessalonians; (2) that Paul yet desires an increase in that virtue, thus indicating that the exercise of it had only shortly before commenced. An interval of half a year (see Introduction, § 3) was accordingly a sufficient time for the Thessalonians to make themselves worthy of a praise restricted within such bounds.


Verse 11

1 Thessalonians 4:11 is attached to the preceding in the loosest grammatical connection. It has been thought that 1 Thessalonians 4:11 is only a further development of the preceding exhortation. So Olshausen, who finds in the whole section, 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12, only an exhortation to love, and in such a manner that 1 Thessalonians 4:9-10 refer to love to fellow-Christians, and 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 to love to man in general. To the latter in particular, inasmuch as the Thessalonians were required to give no occasion to those who were not Christians to blame anything in the professors of the gospel. But evidently the apostle, when he exhorts his readers to give no offence by their conduct to those who were not Christians, considers this not as the fulfilment of the commandment of love to man in general, but as a matter of prudence and discretion, in order in such a manner to counteract the prejudices against Christianity, and so to pave the way for its diffusion in wider circles. Comp. also Colossians 4:5-6. Others suppose that to the exhortation to φιλαδελφία a warning against its abuse is attached; as some in the church practised liberality, so others made use of this liberality as an occasion of leading an idle life. So already Theodoret: οὐκ ἐναντία τοῖς προῤῥηθεῖσιν ἐπαίνοις παραίνεσις· συνέβαινε γάρ, τοὺς μὲν φιλοτίμως χορηγεῖν τοῖς δεομένοις τὴν χρείαν, τοὺς δὲ διὰ τὴν τούτων φιλοτιμίαν ἀμελεῖν τῆς ἐργασίας· εἰκότως τοίνυν κἀκείνους ἐπῄνεσε καὶ τούτοις τὰ πρόσφορα συνεβούλευσε; and after him Estius (“Hac eorum liberalitate quidam pauperiores abutentes, otio et inertiae vacabant, discurrentes per domos et inhiantes mensis divitum atque in res alienas curiosi, adeo ut hoc nomine etiam apud infideles male audirent”), Benson, Flatt, Schott, de Wette (wavering), and Koch. But against this view is decisive—(1) That such a sharp division of the church into two different classes is not justified by the context; for, on account of the close connection of 1 Thessalonians 4:11 with the preceding, those of whom περισσεύειν μᾶλλον is required are the same with those to whom the exhortation to φιλοτιμεῖσθαι ἡσυχάζειν κ. τ. λ. is addressed. It accordingly follows, that as the church as such was distinguished by active brotherly love, so also the church as such (not a mere fraction of it) did not possess the qualities mentioned in 1 Thessalonians 4:11. (2) According to this view, the stress is placed only on ἐργάζεσθαι ταῖς χερσὶν ὑμῶν, whereas the demand to ἡσυχάζειν and πράσσειν τὰ ἴδια is entirely left out of consideration. And yet it apparently follows, from φιλοτιμεῖσθαι ἡσυχάζειν καὶ πράσσειν τὰ ἴδια being placed first, that the main point lies on these, whilst the idleness blamed in the readers is evidently described only as a consequence or result of the neglected ἡσυχάζειν καὶ πράσσειν τὰ ἴδια.

Accordingly, as a closer connection of ideas, than that which the form of the grammatical construction appears to indicate, is not without force demonstrable, we must, mindful of the rapid transitions which are peculiar to the Apostle Paul, especially in the practical parts of his Epistles, consider 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 as a new exhortation, internally distinct from that in 1 Thessalonians 4:9-10, and which only happens to be united with it, as both refer to the moral furtherance of the Christian life.

φιλοτιμεῖσθαι ἡσυχάζειν] is to be taken together: to make it your ambition to live quietly, and the juxtaposition of the two verbs is an oxymoron, as in the usual course of things every φιλοτιμία is properly an impulse to shine by actions.(52) Calvin takes φιλοτι΄εῖσθαι by itself, referring it back to the command to brotherly love: Postquam enim admonuit, ut crescant in caritate, sanctam aemulationem illis commendat, ut mutuo inter se amore certent, vel (?) certe praecipit, ut se ipsum unusquisque vincere contendat, atque hoc posterius magis amplector. Ergo ut perfecta sit eorum caritas, contentionem in illis requirit. So also Hemming, and already Theophylact, leave this and the usual construction a matter of choice. But the omission of καί before ἡσυχάζειν would be harsh. On φιλοτι΄εῖσθαι, comp. Romans 15:20; 2 Corinthians 5:9; Kypke, II. p. 189. The counterpart of ἡσυχάζειν is περιεργάζεσθαι, 2 Thessalonians 3:11, and πολυπραγ΄ονεῖν, Plat. Gorg. 526 C.

The disquiet or unsteadiness which prevailed in the church is not to be sought for in the political (so Zwingli: Nemo tumultuetus, nemo motum excitet; and, but undecidedly, Koppe: seditioner adversus magistratus Romanos; comp. also Schott, p. 121), but in the religious sphere. It was, as it appears, an excitement of mind which had been called forth by the new world of thought produced by Christianity; but an excitement, on the one hand, risen to such an unnatural height that worldly business was neglected, and idleness stepped into the place of a regular laborious life; and, on the other hand, manifesting itself by such a fanatical spiritual zeal that the Christians by such a line of conduct must fall into discredit with those who are not Christians. It is not improbable that the thought of the impending advent of Christ formed the centre part of this excitement. At least this, by a natural association of ideas, would give the reason why Paul after 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 suddenly interrupts the course of his admonitions, in order, exactly at this place, to attach instructions concerning the advent, whilst 1 Thessalonians 5:12 ff. shows that he intended to give various other admonitions.

The exhortation of the apostle in 1 Thessalonians 5:6; 1 Thessalonians 5:8, to be prepared for the unexpected entrance of the advent, which might be abused in favour of such an excitement, is not decisive against the reference to an apocalyptic fanaticism (against de Wette, who for this reason supposes only “pious excitement in general”), because that exhortation intervenes between preceding (1 Thessalonians 5:4-5) and succeeding (1 Thessalonians 5:9 ff.) consolatory expressions, and, accordingly, loses all that is alarming about it; the addition of that exhortation was too naturally and necessarily required by the explanation of the circumstance itself, that Paul should have suppressed it from mere fear of a possible abuse.

πράσσειν τὰ ἴδια] same as ἱδιοπραγεῖν, to be mindful of one’s own concerns, without wishing to take the oversight of the concerns of our neighbour. If the above remarks are not incorrect, Paul thinks on the unauthorized zeal, by which they had used the advent as a means of terror, in order to draw before their tribunal what was a matter of individual conscience, and by which a care for the salvation of their neighbour was assumed with an objectionable curiosity, τὰ ἑαυτοῦ πράσσειν would be more correct Greek than τὰ ἴδια πράσσειν. See Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 441 f.; Kypke, II. p. 338 f. Comp. Dio Cass. lx. 27: τὴν δὲ δὴ ἡσυχίαν ἄγων καὶ τὰ ἑαυτοῦ πράττων ἐσώζετο.

ἐργάζεσθαι] means nothing else than to work. Incorrectly, Flatt: to gain one’s maintenance by work; Baumgarten-Crusius: not to be ashamed of work. From the addition ταῖς χερσὶν ὑμῶν, it follows that the Thessalonian church was mostly composed of the working class. Comp. also 1 Corinthians 1:26. Calixt, Pelt, Schott, Hofmann, and others erroneously find expressed in the words any imaginable business. Paul mentions only the business of hand labour, and to apply this to regular business of any form or kind is entirely to sever it from this meaning of the expression.

καθὼς ὑμῖν παρηγγείλαμεν] refers not only to ἐργάζεσθαι, but to the whole of 1 Thessalonians 4:11. It would seem from this that these disorders already prevailed in their beginnings during the apostle’s personal residence in Thessalonica. There is nothing objectionable in this inference, as (1) from 2 Thessalonians 2:5 it appears that at the publication of the gospel in Thessalonica the advent had been the subject of very special explanations; and (2) the effect of such explanations on the minds of Gentiles anxious about salvation must have been overwhelming. Baur, p. 484, therefore is entirely mistaken when he maintains that exhortations, such as those given in 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12, could not have been necessary for a church recently founded.


Verse 12

is not the statement of an inference (Baumgarten-Crusius), but of a purpose: dependent, however, neither on παρηγγείλαμεν, nor on what has hitherto been said, including the precept to φιλαδελφία, 1 Thessalonians 4:10 (Flatt), but on 1 Thessalonians 4:11, and in such a manner that the first half of 1 Thessalonians 4:12 refers to φιλοτιμεῖσθαι ἡσυχάζειν καὶ πράσσειν τὰ ἴδια, and the second half to ἐργάζεσθαι ταῖς χερσὶν ὑμῶν

1 Thessalonians 4:12 is not the statement of an inference (Baumgarten-Crusius), but of a purpose: dependent, however, neither on παρηγγείλαμεν, nor on what has hitherto been said, including the precept to φιλαδελφία, 1 Thessalonians 4:10 (Flatt), but on 1 Thessalonians 4:11, and in such a manner that the first half of 1 Thessalonians 4:12 refers to φιλοτιμεῖσθαι ἡσυχάζειν καὶ πράσσειν τὰ ἴδια, and the second half to ἐργάζεσθαι ταῖς χερσὶν ὑμῶν.

εὐσχημόνως] well-becoming, honourably, Romans 13:13; 1 Corinthians 7:35; 1 Corinthians 14:40. The opposite is ἀτάκτως, 2 Thessalonians 3:6.

πρός] not coram (Flatt, Schott, Koch), but in relation to, or in reference to those who are ἔξω. Comp. Bernhardy, Syntax, p. 265.

οἱ ἔξω] those who are without (sc. the Christian community), those who are not Christians, whether Jews or Gentiles. Comp. Colossians 4:5; 1 Corinthians 5:12-13, 1 Timothy 3:7. Already among the Jews οἱ ἔξω ( חיצונים) was the usual designation of Gentiles. See Meyer on 1 Corinthians 5:12.

μηδενός] is by most considered as masculine, being understood partly of Christians only (so Flatt), partly of unbelievers only (Luther, Camerarius, Ernest Schmid, Wolf, Moldenhauer, Pelt), partly both of Christians and unbelievers (Schott, de Wette,—who, however, along with Koch, thinks that there is a chief reference to Christians,

Hofmann, Riggenbach). But to stand in need of no man, is for man an impossibility. It is better therefore, with Calvin, Estius, Grotius, Bengel, Baumgarten-Crusius, Alford, to take μηδενός as neuter, so that a further purpose is given, whose attainment is to be the motive for fulfilling the exhortations in 1 Thessalonians 4:10 : to have need of nothing, inasmuch as labour leads to the possession of all that is necessary for life, whereas idleness has as its inevitable consequence, want and need.


Verse 13

1 Thessalonians 4:13. οὐ θέλομεν δὲ ὑμᾶς ἀγνοεῖν] but we wish not that ye be in ignorance. A recognised Pauline formula of transition to new and important communications; comp. Romans 1:13; Romans 11:25; 1 Corinthians 10:1; 1 Corinthians 12:1; 2 Corinthians 1:8. In an analogous manner, Paul uses also positive turns of expression: θέλω ὑμᾶς, Colossians 2:1, 1 Corinthians 11:3, and γινώσκειν ὑμᾶς βούλομαι, Philippians 1:12.

περὶ τῶν κεκοιμημένων] concerning those that are asleep, that is, by means of euphemism, “concerning the dead;” comp. 1 Corinthians 11:30; 1 Corinthians 15:6; 1 Corinthians 15:18; 1 Corinthians 15:20; John 11:11; 2 Peter 3:4; Sophocles, Electr. 509. The selection of the word is the more appropriate, as the discourse in what follows is concerning a revivification. But not the dead generally are meant, which Lipsius (Theolog. Stud. u. Krit. 1854, p. 924), with an arbitrary appeal to 1 Corinthians 15:29, considers possible, but the dead members of the Thessalonian Christian church. This is evident from all that follows, particularly from the confirmatory proposition in 1 Thessalonians 4:14, and from the expression οἱ νεκροὶ ἐν χριστῷ, 1 Thessalonians 4:16.

After the example of Weizel (Stud. u. Krit. 1836, p. 916 ff.), de Wette (though in a hesitating manner) finds in κεκοιμημένων the idea indicated “of an intermediate state, i.e. of an imperfect and, as it were, a slumbering continuance of life of the departed soul;” whereas Zwingli, Calvin, Hemming, Zanchius, in express contradiction to the idea of the sleep of the soul, insist on referring this state of being asleep to the body exclusively. But neither, according to the one side, nor according to the other, are we justified in such a limitation, as οἱ κεκοιμημένοι only denotes those who are asleep as such, i.e. according to their whole personality.

The article in περὶ τῶν κεκοιμημένοι represents the question, to the solution of which the apostle now passes, as one well known to the readers, and discussed by them. The brevity and generality of the statement of the subject, combined with the solemn formula of transition οὐ θέλομεν δὲ ὑμᾶς ἀγνοεῖν, renders it not improbable that a request was directly made to Paul for explanation on the subject.

ἵνα μὴ λυπῆσθε] sc. concerning those who are asleep.

καθὼς καὶ οἱ λοιποί] sc. λυποῦνται. Woken (in Wolf) gives the directly opposite meaning to the words: Absit a vobis tristitia, quemadmodum etiam abest a reliquis illis, qui nempe non tristantur ob mortuos et tamen spem nullam certam habent de felicitate. Erroneously, because then καθὼς καὶ οὐ λυποῦνται οἱ λοιποί, μὴ ἔχοντες (instead of οἱ μὴ ἔχ.) ἐλπίδα would require to have been written: not to mention that Paul would hardly propose unbelievers as an example to Christians.

Theodoret, Calvin, Hemming, Zanchius, Piscator, Cornelius a Lapide, Calovius, Nat. Alexander, Benson, Flatt, Pelt, Koch, Bisping, Bloomfield, Hofmann, Riggenbach find in ἵνα μὴ λυπῆσθε καθὼς κ. τ. λ. the thought that the Thessalonians should not mourn in the same degree, not so excessively as οἱ λοιποί, because the apostle could not possibly forbid every mourning for the dead. Incorrectly; for then ἵνα μὴ λυπῆσθε τοσοῦτον ὡς καὶ οἱ λοιποί would require to have been written. καθώς is only a particle of comparison, but never a statement of gradation. The apostle forbids λυπεῖσθαι altogether. Naturally; for death has no more any sting for the Christian. He does not see in it annihilation, but only the transition to an eternal and blessed fellowship with the Lord. Comp. 1 Corinthians 15:54 ff.

οἱ λοιποί] the others, that is, the Gentiles; comp. Ephesians 2:3. It is, however, possible that Paul may also have thought on a portion of the Jews, namely, the sect of the Sadducees, who denied the resurrection.

οἱ μὴ ἔχοντες ἐλπίδα] namely, of an eternal life of blessedness. Comp. Theocrit. Idyll. iv. 42: ἐλπίδες ἐν ζωοῖσιν, ἀνέλπιστοι δὲ θανόντες. Aeschyl. Eumenid. 638: ἅπαξ θανόντος οὔτις ἐστʼ ἀνάστασις. Catull. v. 4 ff.: Soles occidere et redire possunt. | Nobis quum semel occidit brevet lux, | Nox est perpetua una dormienda. Lucret. iii. 942 f.: Nec quisquam expergitus exstat, | Frigida quem semel est vitae pausa secuta.

From this comparison with those who do not believe in a future life in general, it inevitably follows that also the Thessalonians feared for their deceased Christian friends, not merely a temporary deprivation of the eternal life of bliss to be revealed at the advent, but an entire exclusion from it. If the comparison is to have any meaning (which Hofmann with great arbitrariness denies), the blessing for whose loss the Gentiles mourn must be the same as the blessing for whose loss the Christians are not to mourn. The solution of the theme περὶ τῶν κεκοιμημένων is therefore already indicated by the objective sentence, and what follows has only the purpose of further explaining this solution.


Verse 13

1 Thessalonians 4:13 to 1 Thessalonians 5:11. A comforting instruction concerning the advent. This is divided into three sections—(1) 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 removes an objection or a doubt; (2) 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3 reminds them of the sudden and unexpected entrance of the advent; and lastly, in consequence of this, 1 Thessalonians 5:4-11 is an exhortation to be ready and prepared for the entrance of the advent.

(1) 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. A removal of an objection. The painful uneasiness, which had seized on the Thessalonians concerning the fate of their deceased Christian friends, consisted not, as Zachariae, Olshausen, de Wette, Hofmann, Schriftbew. II. 2, 2d ed. p. 649 f., and in his H. Schr. N. T.; Luthardt, die Lehre von den letzten Dingen, Leipz. 1861, p. 138 f., and others assume, in anxiety lest the deceased should only be raised at the general resurrection of the dead, and would thus forfeit the blessedness of communion with the Lord in the interval between the advent and this general resurrection (“the so-called reign of a thousand years,” Olshausen). There is no trace in our section of a distinction between a first and a second resurrection; and the idea of a long interval of time between the resurrection of believers and the resurrection of the rest of mankind (Revelation 20) is, moreover, entirely strange to the Apostle Paul, as it is evident from 1 Corinthians 15:22 ff. correctly understood that the resurrection of unbelievers takes place in immediate connection with the resurrection of Christians. Rather it was feared that those already dead, as they would no more be found alive at the advent of Christ, would receive no share in the blessedness of the advent,(53) and accordingly would be placed in irreparable disadvantage to those who are then alive. See exposition of particulars.

On 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, see von Zezschwitz in the Zeitschr. f. Protestantismus und Kirche, new series, Erlangen 1863, p. 88 ff.


Verse 14

1 Thessalonians 4:14. Reason not of οὐ θέλομεν ὑμᾶς ἀγνοεῖν, but of ἵνα μὴ λυπῆσθε. The Thessalonians were not to mourn, for Christ has risen from the dead; but if this fact be certain, then it follows that they also who are fallen asleep, about whom the Thessalonians were so troubled, will be raised. There lies at the foundation of this proof, which Paul uses as a supposition, the idea that Christ and believers form together an organism of indissoluble unity, of which Christ is the Head and Christians are the members; consequently what happens to the Head must likewise happen to the members; where that is, there these must also be. Comp. already Pelagius: Qui caput suscitavit, etiam caetera membra suscitaturum se promittit. From the nature of this argument it is evident (1) that those who are asleep, about whom the Thessalonians grieved, must already have been Christians; (2) that their complete exclusion from the blessed fellowship with Christ was dreaded.(54)

εἰ γὰρ πιστεύομεν] for if we believe. εἰ is not so much as “quum, since, because” (Flatt), also not equivalent to quodsi: “for as we believe” (Baumgarten-Crusius), but is here, as always, hypothetical. But since Paul from the hypothetical protasis, without further demonstrating it, immediately draws the inference in question, it is clear that he supposes the fact of the death and resurrection of Christ as an absolute recognised truth, as, indeed, among the early Christians generally no doubt was raised concerning the reality of this fact. For even in reference to the Corinthian church, among whom doubts prevailed concerning the resurrection of the dead, Paul, in combating this view, could appeal to the resurrection of Christ as an actual recognised truth; comp. 1 Corinthians 15:12-23.

The apodosis, 1 Thessalonians 4:14, does not exactly correspond with the protasis. Instead of οὕτως κ. τ. λ. we should expect καὶ πιστεύειν δεῖ, ὅτι ὡσαύτως οἱ ἐν χριστῷ κοι΄ηθέντες ἀναστήσονται, or ὅτι οὓτως θεὸς καὶ τοὺς κοι΄ηθέντας διὰ τοῦ χριστοῦ ἐγερεῖ.

οὓτως] is not pleonastic as the mere sign of the apodosis (Schott, Olshausen); also not, with Flatt, to be referred to ἀνέστη, and then to be translated “in such a condition, i.e. raised, revived;” or to be interpreted as “then under these circumstances, i.e. in case we have faith” (Koch, Hofmann), but denotes “even so,” and, strengthened by the following καί, is designed to bring forward the agreement of the fate of Christians with Christ; comp. Winer, p. 478 [E. T. 679].

διὰ τοῦ ἰησοῦ] is (by Chry sostom, Ambrosiaster, Calvin, Hemming, Zanchius, Estius, Balduin, Vorstius, Cornelius a Lapide, Beza, Grotius, Calixt, Calov, Wolf, Whitby, Benson, Bengel, Macknight, Koppe, Jowett, Hilgenfeld (Zeitschr. f. wissenschaftl. Theolog., Halle 1862, p. 239), Riggenbach, and others) connected with τοὺς κοιμηθέντας, and then the sense is given: “those who have fallen asleep, in Christ.”(55) But this would be expressed by ἐν τῷ ἰησοῦ, as οἱ διὰ τοῦ ἰησοῦ κοι΄ηθέντες would at most contain a designation of those whom Christ had brought to death, consequently of the Christian martyrs. Salmeron, Hammond, Joseph Mede, Opp. p. 519, and Thiersch (die Kirche im apostol. Zeitalter, Frankf. u. Erlang. 1852, p. 138) actually interpret the words in this sense. Yet how contrary to the apostle’s design such a mention of the martyrs would be is evident, as according to it the resurrection and participation in the glory of the returning Christ would be most inappropriately limited to a very small portion of Christians; not to mention that, first, the indications in both Epistles do not afford the slightest justification of the idea of persecutions, which ended in bloody death; and, secondly, the formula κοιμηθῆναι διὰ τινός would be much too weak to express the idea of martyrdom. Also in the fact that Paul does not speak of the dead in general, but specially of the Christian dead, there is no reason to unite τοὺς κοι΄ηθέντας with διὰ τοῦ ἰησοῦ; for the extent of the idea of οἱ κοι΄ηθέντες in our passage is understood from the relation of the apodosis, 1 Thessalonians 4:14, to the protasis εἰ πιστεύο΄εν κ. τ. λ. We are accordingly constrained to unite διὰ τοῦ ἰησοῦ with ἄξει.

Christ is elsewhere by Paul and in the New Testament generally considered as the instrument by which the almighty act of God, the resurrection of the dead, is effected; comp. 1 Corinthians 15:21; John 5:28; John 6:39; John 6:44; John 6:54.

ἄξει] will bring with Him, is a pregnant expression, whilst, instead of the act of resuscitation, that which follows the act in time is given. And, indeed, the further clause σὺν αὐτῷ, i.e. σὺν ἰησοῦ (incorrectly Zacharius and Koppe = ὡς αὐτόν), is united in a pregnant form with ἄξει. God will through Christ bring with Him those who are asleep, that is, so that they are then united with Christ, and have a complete share in the benefits of His appearance. Hofmann arbitrarily transforms the words into the thought: “that Jesus will not appear, God will not introduce Him again into the world, without their deceased brethren coming with Him.” For the words instruct us not concerning Jesus, but concerning the κοιμηθέντες; it is not expressed in what manner the return of Christ will take place, but what will be the final fate of those who have fallen asleep. The apostle selects this pregnant form of expression instead of the simple ἐγερεῖ, because the thought of a separation of deceased Christians from Christ was that which so greatly troubled the Thessalonians, and therefore it was his endeavour to remove this anxiety, this doubting uncertainty, as soon as possible.(56)


Verse 15

1 Thessalonians 4:15. A solemn confirmation of the comforting truth τοὺς κοιμηθέντας ἄξει σὺν αὐτῷ, by bringing forward the equality between those living at the advent and those already asleep. Koppe, Flatt, and Koch erroneously assume a reference to 1 Thessalonians 4:13, making the γάρ in 1 Thessalonians 4:14 parallel to the γάρ in 1 Thessalonians 4:15, and finding in 1 Thessalonians 4:15 a new reason for comfort.

τοῦτο] refers not to the preceding, but is an emphatic introduction to what follows the first ὅτι: this, namely, we say to you, ἐν λόγῳ κυρίου, that we, the living, etc.

ἐν λόγῳ κυρίου] in or by means of a word of the Lord (comp. בִּדְבַר הַמֶּלֶךְ, Esther 1:12; בִּדְבַר יְהֹוָה, 1 Kings 20:35), that is, the following statement on the relation of the living to those who are asleep at the advent does not rest on my (the apostle’s) subjective opinion, but on the infallible authority of Christ. Comp. 1 Corinthians 7:10; 1 Corinthians 7:12; 1 Corinthians 7:25.

Pelagius, Musculus, Bolten, Pelt, and others have regarded this λόγος κυρίου, to which Paul appeals, as the words of Christ in Matthew 24:31 (comp. Mark 13:27); whereas Hofmann is of opinion that Paul might have inferred it from the promises of Christ in Matthew 26:25 ff.; John 6:39 f. But the expressions found there are too general to be identified with the special thought in our passage. Schott’s statement, that Paul might justly appeal to the prophecy in Matthew 24:31, because it contained nothing of a prerogative of the living before the dead, but on the contrary represents simply an assembling of believing confessors with a view to the participation of the Messianic kingdom, is subtle, and does not correspond to the expression ἐν λόγῳ κυρίου, which points to positive information concerning the definite subject in question. Also Luthardt’s (l.c. pp. 141, 57) view, that in λόγος κυρίου a reference is made to the parable of the virgins who went out to meet the bridegroom (Matthew 25), and for which view εἰς ἀπάντησιν (1 Thessalonians 4:17) is most arbitrarily appealed to, is evidently erroneous. Others, as Calvin and Koch, have thought that Paul referred to a saying of Christ not preserved in the Gospels, but transmitted by tradition. (So, recently, also v. Zezschwitz, l.c. p. 121, according to whom the apostle thought “on a word” which is “to be sought for in the peculiar and intimate communications of our Lord to His disciples, such as He would have given them during the forty days, when He spoke with them concerning the βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ.”) This supposition may certainly be supported by the analogy of Acts 20:35; but it must always remain precarious, the more so as there was no inducement to Christ, in His intimations concerning the period of the fulfilment of the Messianic kingdom, to make such special questions, arising only in consequence of concrete circumstances, the subject of an anticipated instruction. It is best, therefore, with Chrysostom, Theodoret, Hunnius, Piscator (who, however, arbitrarily supposes the fact described in 2 Corinthians 12:2; 2 Corinthians 12:4), Aretius, Turretin, Benson, Moldenhauer, Koppe, Olshausen, de Wette, Gess (die Lehre von der Person Christi, Basel 1856, p. 69 f.), Alford, Riggenbach, and others, to suppose that Paul appeals to information concerning the matter in hand which had been communicated to him in a direct revelation by the heavenly Christ; comp. Galatians 1:12; Galatians 2:2; Ephesians 3:3; 2 Corinthians 12:1.

ἡμεῖς οἱ ζῶντες οἱ περιλειπόμενοι εἰς τὴν παρουσίαν τοῦ κυρίου] we, the living, who remain unto the presence (or return) of the Lord. From the construction of these words it undoubtedly follows, that Paul reckoned himself with those who would survive till the commencement of the advent, as indeed the same expectation is also expressed in 1 Corinthians 15:51 f. Comp. besides, 1 Corinthians 7:26; 1 Corinthians 7:29-31; 1 Corinthians 1:7-8; Romans 13:11-12; Philippians 4:5. See also Dähne, Entwickel. des Paulin. Lehrbegr. pp. 175 f., 190; Usteri, Paulin. Lehrbegr. p. 355; Messner, Die Lehre der Apostel, Leipz. 1856, p. 282. This expectation is not confirmed by history: Paul and all his contemporaries fell a prey to death. What wonder, then, if from an early period of the Christian church this plain meaning of the word was resisted, and in its place the most artificial and distorted interpretations were substituted? For that Paul could be capable of error was regarded as an objectionable concession, as an infringement upon the divine authority of the apostle. It has therefore almost universally(57) been maintained by interpreters, that Paul speaks neither of himself nor of his contemporaries, but of a later period of Christianity. So Chrysostom, Theodoret, John Damascenus, Oecumenius, Theophylact, Erasmus, Castalio, Calvin, Musculus, Bullinger, Zanchius, Hunnius, Balduin, Vorstius, Cornelius a Lapide, Jac. Laurentius, Calixt, Calov, Joach. Lange, Whitby, Benson, Bengel, Flatt, and many others. Whilst Calvin and Cornelius a Lapide, in order to remove difficulties, do not scruple to charge the apostle with a pious fraud; supposing that he, although he was convinced of the distance of the advent, nevertheless represented himself as surviving, in order in this way to stimulate believers to be in a state of spiritual readiness at every instant; Oecumenius, after the example of Methodius, interprets οἱ ζῶντες κ. τ. λ. of the souls, and οἱ κοιμηθέντες of the bodies of Christians; ζῶντας τὰς ψυχάς, κοιμηθέντα δὲ τὰ σώματα λέγει· οὐκ ἂν οὖν προλάβωσιν αἱ ψυχαί· πρῶτον γὰρ ἐγείρεται τὰ σώματα, ἵνα αὐτὰ ἀπολάβωσιν αἱ ψυχαί, ἃς καὶ περιλιμπάνεσθαί φησι διὰ τὸ ἀθάνατον· οὐ γὰρ ἄν, εἰ μὴ περὶ ψυχῶν ἔλεγεν, εἶπε τὸ ἡμεῖς οἱ ζῶντες οἱ περιλειπόμενοι, τελευτήσειν μέλλων· λέγει οὖν, ὅτι οἱ ζῶντες αἱ ψυχαὶ οὐκ ἂν τὰ σώματα προφθάσωμεν ἐν τῇ ἀναστάσει, ἀλλὰ μετʼ αὐτῶν τῆς ἀναστάσεως τευξώμεθα. Usually, however, in order to remove the objectionableness of the words, an appeal is made to the fact that by means of an “enallage personae” or an ἀνακοίνωσις, something is often said of a collective body which, accurately taken, is only suited to a part. Then the sense would be: we Christians, namely, those of us who are alive at the commencement of the advent, i.e. the later generation of Christians who will survive the advent. But however often ἡμεῖς or ὑ΄εῖς is used in a communicative form, yet in this passage such an interpretation is impossible, because here ἡ΄εῖς οἱ ζῶντες κ. τ. λ., as a peculiar class of Christians, are placed in sharp distinction from κοιμηθέντες, as a second class. Accordingly, in order to obtain the sense assumed, the words would require to have been written: ὅτι ἡμῶν οἱ ζῶντες κ. τ. λ. οὐ μὴ φθάσονται τοὺς κοιμηθέντας, apart altogether from the fact that also in 1 Thessalonians 5:4 the possibility is expressed, that the day of the Lord might break in upon the presently existing Thessalonian church. Not less arbitrary is it, with Joachim Lange, to explain the words: “we who live in our posterity,” for which an additional clause would be necessary. Or, with Turretin, Pelt, and others, to understand οἱ ζῶντες, οἱ περιλειπόμενοι in a hypothetical sense: we, provided we are then alive, provided we still remain. (So, in essentials, Hofmann: by those who are alive are meant those who had not already died.) For then, instead of ἡμεῖς οἱ ζῶντες, οἱ περιλειπόμενοι, it would necessarily require ἡ΄εῖς ζῶντες, περιλειπό΄ενοι (without an article). The same also is valid against J. P. Lange (Das apostol. Zeitalter, I., Braunschw. 1853, p. 113): “The words, ‘the living, the surviving,’ are for the purpose of making the contrast a variable one, whilst they condition and limit the ἡμεῖς in the sense: we, so many of us (!), who yet live and have survived; or (?) rather, we in so far as we temporarily represent the living and remaining, in contrast to our dead.” Lastly, the view of Hoelemann (Die Stellung St. Pauli zu der Frage um die Zeit der Wiederkunft Christi, Leipz. 1858, p. 29) is not less refuted by the article before ζῶντες and περιλειπό΄ενοι: “The discourse, starting from the ἡ΄εῖς and rising more and more beyond this concrete beginning, by forming, with the next two notions οἱ ζῶντες, οἱ περιλειπόμενοι, always wider (!) and softer circles, strives to a generic (!) thought—namely, to this, that Paul and the contemporary Thessalonians, while in the changing state of περιλείπεσθαι (being left behind), might be indeed personally taken away beforehand; although the opposite possibility, that they themselves might yet be the surviving generation, is included in the ἡμεῖς οἱ ζῶντες with which the thought begins, and which always echoes through it.” Every unprejudiced person must, even from those dogmatic suppositions, recognise that Paul here includes himself, along with the Thessalonians, among those who will be alive at the advent of Christ. Certainly this can only have been a hope, only a subjective expectation on the part of the apostle; as likewise, in the fifth chapter, although he there considers the advent as impending and coming suddenly, yet he supposes the indefiniteness of the proper period of its commencement (comp. also Acts 1:7; Mark 13:32). That the apostle here states his surviving only as a supposition or a hope, is not nullified by the fact that he imparts the information (1 Thessalonians 4:15) ἐν λόγῳ κυρίου. For the λόγος κυρίου can, according to the context, only refer to the relation of those who are asleep to the living; but does not refer to the fact who will belong to the one or to the other class at the commencement of the advent. Only on the first point was the comforting information contained which the Thessalonians required.

The present participles ζῶντες and περιλειπό΄ενοι are not to be taken as futures (Calvin, Flatt, Pelt), but denote the condition as it exists in the present, and stretches itself to the advent.

οὐ ΄ὴ φθάσω΄εν τοὺς κοι΄ηθέντας] shall by no means precede those who are asleep, so that we would reach the end (the blessedness of the advent), but they would be left behind us, and accordingly lose the prize. The apostle speaks in the figure usual to him of a race, in which no one obtained the prize who was forced half way to interrupt his running.

On the emphatic οὐ μή, see Winer, p. 449 [E. T. 634].


Verse 16

1 Thessalonians 4:16. Comp. Flatt, Opusc. acad. p. 411 ff.

ὅτι] not that, as Koch and Hofmann think, so that 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 (according to Hofmann, only 1 Thessalonians 4:16!) still depend on λέγομεν ἐν λόγῳ κυρίου, 1 Thessalonians 4:15; but for.

αὐτὸς κύριος] the Lord Himself. αὐτός is neither a mere introductory subject (“He, the Lord,” de Wette, Hofmann); nor added with the design to refer “the coming of Christ expressly to His holy personality and corporality,” accordingly designed to exclude “every manifestation of Him by mere instruments,” or by angels (so Olshausen and Bisping, and already Musculus, Estius, and Fromond.(58)); also is not inserted here “for solemnity’s sake, and to show that it will not be a mere gathering to Him, but He Himself will descend, and we shall be summoned before Him” (Alford);—but it represents Christ as the chief Person and actor at the advent, emphatically opposed to His faithful ones—both those already asleep ( οἱ νεκροὶ ἐν χριστῷ) and those still living—as they who are acted upon.

κέλευσμα] in the N. T. an ἅπαξ λεγόμενον, denotes an imperative call, e.g. of a commander to his host to exhort them to the conflict or to warn them to decamp, of a driver to excite his horses to greater speed, of a huntsman to encourage his hounds to the pursuit of the prey, of sailors to excite themselves to vigorous rowing, etc. Comp. Thucyd. ii. 92; Xen. de venat. vi. 20; Lucian, Catapl. 19. Here the κέλευσμα might be referred to God. Only then we must not, as Hunnius does, identify it with the σάλπιγξ θεοῦ, and find represented in the two expressions the “horribilis fragor inclarescentium tonitruum;” but, in conjunction with the statement that God only knows beforehand the time and hour of the advent (Matthew 24:3), it must refer to the imperative call to bring about the advent. So recently Bisping. This interpretation is, however, to be rejected, because the three sentences introduced with ἐν are evidently similar, i.e. all three are a statement of the mode of καταβαίνειν, accordingly contain the description of the circumstances with which the descent during the course of its completion will be accompanied. But, understood in the above manner, ἐν κελεύσματι would denote an act preceding the καταβαίνειν, and thus another preposition instead of ἐν would necessarily be chosen. Others, as Theodoret, Oecumenius, Grotius, and Olshausen, refer ἐν κελεύσματι to Christ. But in this case we would be puzzled so to define the contents of the κέλευσμα, as to prevent them coming into collision with the φωνεῖν of the ἀρχάγγελος. For that we are not justified, with Theodoret, in distinguishing the κέλευσμα and the φωνή by a prius and post ( κύριοςκελεύσει μὲν ἀρχάγγελον βοῆσαι) is evident, as both are simultaneous—both in a similar manner are represented as accompanying the καταβαίνειν. It is accordingly most probable that Paul places ἐν κελεύσματι first as a primary, and on that account absolute expression, and then, in an epexegetical manner, more fully developes it by ἐν φωνῇ ἀρχαγγέλου καὶ ἐν σάλπιγγι θεοῦ. If this is the correct interpretation, the apostle considers the κέλευσμα as given by the archangel,(59) directly afterwards mentioned, who for the publication of it uses partly his voice and partly a trumpet; and, as the contents of the κέλευσμα, the imperative call which reaches the sleeping Christians to summon them from their graves (comp. also the following καὶ οἱ νεκροὶ κ. τ. λ.), consequently the resurrection-call (Theodoret, John Damascenus, Calixt, and others).

ἐν φωνῇ ἀρχαγγέλου καὶ ἐν σάλπιγγι θεοῦ] with the call, namely, of an archangel, and with (the sound) of the trumpet of God. Christ will return surrounded by hosts of angels; comp. 1 Thessalonians 3:13; 2 Thessalonians 1:7; Matthew 16:27; Matthew 24:30 f., Matthew 25:31; Mark 8:38; Mark 13:26 f.; Luke 9:26. According to the post-exile Jewish notion, the angels were distinguished into different orders and classes, over each of which presided an ἀρχάγγελος. (See Winer’s bibl. Realwörterb. 2d ed. vol. I. p. 386 f.) One of these ἀρχάγγελοι ( שָׂרִים)—whom Nicolas de Lyra, Hunnius, Estius (appealing to Jude 1:9 and Revelation 12), Bern, a Picon., Bisping suppose to be the archangel Michael; and Cornelius a Lapide, Michael or Gabriel; whilst Ambrosiaster and Olshausen, as well as Alphen and Honert (in Wolf), understand no angel at all, but the two first understand Christ (!), and the two last the Holy Ghost (!)—is considered as the herald at the commencement of the advent, who with a loud voice calls upon the dead, and arouses them by the sound of a trumpet. The Jews used trumpets for summoning the people together; comp. Numbers 10:2; Numbers 31:6, Joel 2:1. Also the manifestations of God were considered as accompanied by the sound of a trumpet; comp. Exodus 19:16; Psalms 47:6; Zechariah 9:14; Isaiah 27:13;—and as it was the opinion of the later Jews that God will use a powerful and far-sounding trumpet to raise the dead (comp. Eisenmenger’s entdecktes Judenthum, II. p. 929 f.), so in the N. T. mention is made of a σάλπιγξ in reference to Christ’s advent; comp. 1 Corinthians 15:52; Matthew 24:31. The trumpet is called σάλπιγξ θεοῦ, either because it excels all human or earthly trumpets in the power of its sound (so Cornelius a Lapide, Calov, Wolf, Benson, Bengel, Baumgarten, Bolten, and several); or because it will be blown at the command of God (so Balduin, Jac. Laurentius, Pelt, Schott, Olshausen, and others); or, lastly, because it belongs to God and is used in His service (so de Wette, who refers to the expression “harps of God,” 1 Chronicles 16:42; Revelation 15:2 [see also Winer, p. 221, E. T. 310], Koch, and Alford).

ἀπʼ οὐρανοῦ] down from heaven. For the crucified and risen Christ is enthroned in heaven at the right hand of God; comp. Romans 8:34; Ephesians 1:20; Colossians 3:1; Philippians 3:20.

καὶ οἱ νεκροὶ κ. τ. λ.] a consequence of ἐν κελεύσματι κ. τ. λ. καταβήσεται.

ἐν χριστῷ] is not to be connected with ἀναστήσονται (Pelt, Schott), but with οἱ νεκροί; comp. 1 Corinthians 15:18; Winer, p. 123 [E. T. 169]. For if connected with ἀναστήσονται, then ἐν χριστῷ would receive an emphasis which, according to the context, it cannot have; as the apostle does not intend to bring forward the person by whom the resurrection is effected, which is evident of itself, but designs to show what relation it will have to those who sleep on the one hand, and to those who are alive on the other. Theodoret has arbitrarily inserted into the text: νεκροὺς τοὺς πιστοὺς λέγει, οὐ ΄όνον τοὺς τῷ εὐαγγελίῳ πεπιστευκότας, ἀλλὰ καὶ τοὺς ἐν νό΄ῳ καὶ τοὺς πρὸ νό΄ον διαλά΄ψαντας; and Musculus, that there are also to be reckoned among the νεκροὶ ἐν χριστῷ the dead children of Christians before they believed on Christ, and the “patres priorum saeculorum qui ante tempora Christi vixerunt. Nam et illi cum semine ipsorum propter fidem venturi servatoris in Christo fuerunt.”

πρῶτον] does not denote, as Oecumenius ( οἱ ἐν χριστῷ, τουτέστιν οἱ πιστοί, πρῶτον ἀναστήσονται, οἱ δὲ λοιποὶ ἔσχατοι, ὡς ΄ὴ ἁρπάζεσθαι ΄ήτε ἀπαντᾶν ΄έλλοντες) and others maintain, the first resurrection,—the so-called resurrection of the just,—in contrast to the resurrection of all men following at a much later period; a distinction which is left entirely unnoticed in our passage, and in the form stated would be un-Pauline. Rather πρῶτον is in contrast to ἔπειτα, 1 Thessalonians 4:17, and denotes that the first act of Christ at His reappearance will be the resurrection of the Christian dead, and then the ἁρπάζεσθαι of the living, 1 Thessalonians 4:17, will follow as the second act.


Verse 16-17

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17. Proof of the truth of οὐ μὴ φθάσωμεν τοὺς κοιμηθέντας by a description of the particulars in which the advent will be realized.


Verse 17

1 Thessalonians 4:17. σὺν αὐτοῖς] i.e. with the raised νεκροὶ ἐν χριστῷ.

ἁρπαγησόμεθα] we will be snatched away. The expression (comp. 2 Corinthians 12:4; Acts 8:39) depicts the swiftness and irresistible force with which believers will be caught up. But, according to 1 Corinthians 15:50-53, the apostle must have conceived this ἁρπάζεσθαι as only occurring after a change has taken place in their former earthly bodies into heavenly, to qualify them for a participation in the eternal kingdom of the Messiah.

ἐν νεφέλαις] not instead of εἰς νεφέλας (Moldenhauer), but either in clouds, i.e. enveloped in clouds, or better, on clouds, i.e. enthroned in their midst. According to the Old Testament representation (Psalms 104:3), God rides on clouds as on a triumphal chariot. Also the Messiah appears on clouds (Daniel 7:13). According to Acts 1:9, Christ ascended to heaven on a cloud; and according to Acts 1:11, Matthew 24:30, He will return on a cloud. Theodoret: ἔδειξε τὸ μέγεθος τῆς τιμῆς· ὥσπερ γὰρ αὐτὸς δεσπότης ἐπὶ νεφελῆς φωτεινῆς ἀνελήφθη, οὕτω καὶ οἱ εἰς αὐτὸν πεπιστευκότες κ. τ. λ.

εἰς ἀπάντησιν τοῦ κυρίου] to the meeting of the Lord, i.e. in order to be led towards the Lord. εἰς ἀπάντησιν, corresponding to the Hebrew לִקְרַאת, is united both with the genitive (Matthew 25:1; Matthew 25:6), as here, and with the dative (Acts 28:15). From the words it follows that the apostle did not think of Christ descending completely down to the earth.

εἰς ἀέρα] into the air, belongs to ἁρπαγησόμεθα, and can as little be considered as equivalent to εἰς τοὺς οὐρανούς (Flatt) as it can denote through the air, i.e. through the air to the higher regions (Flatt). Nor, on the other hand, can it be the apostle’s meaning—although Pelt, Usteri, Paulin. Lehrbegr. pp. 356, 359 (hesitatingly), and Weizel in the Theol. Stud. u. Krit. 1836, p. 935 f. assume it—that the Christian host would be caught up into the air, in order to have their permanent abode with Christ in the air. For, according to 2 Corinthians 5:1, the future eternal abode of Christians is ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς.(60) Nevertheless the apostle was constrained to express himself as he has done. For when Christ descends down from heaven, and Christians are caught up to meet Him, the place of meeting can only be a space between heaven and earth, i.e. the air. Comp. Augustine, de civit. Dei, xx. 20, 1 Thessalonians 2 : Quod enim ait … non sic accipiendum est, tanquam in aëre nos dixerit semper cum domino esse mansuros; quia nec ipse utique ibi manebit, quia veniens transiturus est. Venienti quippe ibitur obviam, non manenti. But that Paul adds nothing concerning the removal of the glorified Christian host to heaven, following their being caught up with Christ, and of the resurrection of all men connected with the advent, along with the judgment of the world, is naturally explained, because the description of the advent as such is not here his object, but his design is wholly and entirely to satisfy the doubts raised by the Thessalonians in respect of the advent.(61) But to effect this purpose it was perfectly sufficient that he now, specifying the result of the points described, proceeds: καὶ οὓτως πάντοτε σὺν κυρίῳ ἐσό΄εθα] and so shall we ever be united with the Lord.

οὕτως] so, that is, after that we have actually met with Him. It refers back to εἰς ἀπάντησιν.

σύν] imports more than ΄ετά. It expresses intimate union, not mere companionship.

ἐσό΄εθα] comprehends as its subject both νεκροὶ ἐν χριστῷ and the ζῶντες.


Verse 18

1 Thessalonians 4:18. A concluding exhortation.

παρακαλεῖν] not to exhort (Musculus), but to comfort; comp. ἵνα μὴ λυπῆσθε, 1 Thessalonians 4:13.

λόγοι] denotes nothing more than words. Erroneously Aretius, Flatt, Pelt, Olshausen, and others: principles or doctrines (of faith). And ἐν τοῖς λόγοις τούτοις denotes on the ground of these or the above words.

 


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

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Thursday, December 12th, 2019
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