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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
1 Thessalonians 2

 

 

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Verse 1

1 For yourselves, brethren, know our entrance in unto you, that it was not in vain:

Ver. 1. Our entrance in unto you] The word preached in any place doth usually work best at first. After a while men become like unto birds in a belfry, that can well enough bear the noise of the bells and not be frightened.


Verse 2

2 But even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention.

Ver. 2. But even after that, &c.] From this to the 13th verse, ministers may as in a mirror see how they ought to behave themselves in the house of God.

We were bold in our God] The Church, as the palm tree, spreadeth and springeth up the more it is oppressed; as the bottle or bladder, that may be dipped, not drowned; as the oak, that sprouts out the thicker from the maims and wounds it receiveth. {a} This daunted Diocletian, and made him lay down the empire in discontent. This caused Julian the Apostate to leave off force, and use fraud to draw men from the truth.

{a} Duris ut ilex tonsa bipennibus.


Verse 3

3 For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile:

Ver. 3. Was not of deceit, nor, &c.] Neither for profit, pleasure, nor preferment (the worldling’s trinity). A minister, as he should have nothing to lose, so he should have nothing to get, but should be above all price or sale. He hath too impotent a spirit, whose services, like the dial, must be set only by the sun of self-respects. True grace is of a most masculine, disengaged, noble nature, and remits nothing of its diligence either for fear of a frown or hope of a reward.


Verse 4

4 But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.

Ver. 4. But as we were allowed] Enabled and counted faithful, 1 Timothy 1:12.

Not as pleasing men] {See Trapp on "Galatians 1:10"} Men be they pleased or displeased, God must not be displeased.

But God] Who looketh upon displeasing service as a double dishonour.

Which trieth our hearts] And so knoweth our aims, Quicquid igitur agas, propter Deum agas. Propter te, Deum agas, propter te, as he cried. It stands me upon, saith one, to see, that though my work be but mean, yet it may be clean; though not fine, yet not foul, soiled and slubbered with the slur of a rotten heart, since it is God I have to deal with. (Drus. Apophth.)


Verse 5

5 For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloke of covetousness; God is witness:

Ver. 5. For neither at any time] Sinisterity of ends is here opposed to sincerity in God’s works. And flattery, covetousness, ambition declared to be the fountains of insincerity.

Nor a cloak of covetousness] This sin goes usually cloaked with the name and pretence of good husbandry. The ordinary language of the world is, "He is a man somewhat with the hardest, a little with the nearest, a little too much for the world, but yet a marvellously honest, a wondrously good man." Covetousness is seldom without feigned words, 2 Peter 2:3, to hide it from others without, or subtle thoughts and evasions to blind fold the conscience within. Alcibiades embroidered a curtain with lions and eagles to cover his pictures of owls and apes; so all sin hath its vizard; neither is there any wool so coarse but will take some colour.

God is witness] That he flattered not; he reports himself to them, that he coveted not; he appeals to God, who is not mocked with masks or specious pretences, but will pull off the vizard, wash off the covetous man’s varnish with rivers of brimstone. Religion, as it is the best armour, so it is the worst cloak: and will serve self-seekers, as the disguise Ahab put on and perished, 1 Kings 22:30. The covetousness of the court of Rome was anciently muttered forth in that saying, Curia Romana non petit ovem siue lana; and again, In parabola ovis, capras suas quaerunt. This the poor people were ever sensible of; but dare say little. There is a story of Walter Mapes (sometime archdeacon of Oxford), who relating the gross simony {a} of the pope for confirming the election of Reinold, bastard son to Jocelin, bishop of Sarum, into the see of Bath, concludeth his narration thus, Sit Domina tamen materque nostra Roma baculus in aqua fractus; et absit credere quae vidimus, i.e. Nevertheless let our lady and mother of Rome be as a staff in the water, that seems only to be broken; and far be it from us to believe our own eyes. They dared not see, or at least say what they saw; but now all is laid open, and shall be much more at the last day, when (as at a great fair) all fardels {b} shall be uncorded, and all packs opened.

{a} The act or practice of buying or selling ecclesiastical preferments, benefices, or emoluments; traffic in sacred things. ŒD

{b} A bundle, a little pack; a parcel. ŒD


Verse 6

6 Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ.

Ver. 6. Nor of men sought we glory] Theologus gloriae dicit malum bonum, et bonum malum (saith Luther), Theologus crucis dicit id quod res est: A vain glorious preacher calleth good evil, and evil good, &c.


Verse 7

7 But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children:

Ver. 7. But we were gentle] This is the way to win; for man is a cursed, crabbed creature, and may be led, but not easily dragged to duty. Soft words and hard arguments soonest prevail with him.


Verse 8

8 So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us.

Ver. 8. So being affectionately desirous] Honing and hankering after you. The Greek word signifieth the most swaying heart passion, the most effectual affection. ( ιμειρομενοι. Cupidine rapti.)

But also our own souls] Greater love than this hath no man; and such a love ought there to be in every pastor toward his people. Love is liberal, charity is no churl.


Verse 9

9 For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God.

Ver. 9. Our labour] Even to lassitude, yea, to solicitude.

And travail] So, to spare them, he spared not himself.


Verse 10

10 Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe:

Ver. 10. Ye are witnesses, and God also] Happy is that man that can be acquitted by himself in private, in public by others, in both by God: bystanders may see more.

How holily, and justly, and unblameably] Here he practised his own precepts, Titus 2:12. And herein lies the difference between divinity and other sciences, that it is not enough to prescribe it, but you must practise it, as lessons of music, and as a copy must not be read only, but acted also.


Verse 11

11 As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children,

Ver. 11. As a father] Before, as a mother, 1 Thessalonians 2:7, a nurse not mercenary, but natural, with greatest tenderness and indulgence. Here he tempers his mother-like meekness with the gravity and authority of a father. Ministers must turn themselves, as it were, into all shapes and fashions, both of speech and spirit, to win people to God.


Verse 12

12 That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.

Ver. 12. Walk worthy of God] Whose livery we wear, whose image we bear, whose kingdom we are called unto, &c. Those that stood with the Lamb, Revelation 14:1, had his Father’s name on their foreheads. Our wanderings reflect upon God, who will require and requite.


Verse 13

13 For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.

Ver. 13. Not as the word of men] Whom yet he maketh use of to cast down Satan’s strongholds, as he made use of little David against Goliath, and of the frogs and flies against Pharaoh, and of the ram’s horns against Jericho. This treasure, these pearls, he giveth us in vile oyster shells, 2 Corinthians 4:7.

As the word of God] With reverence and diligence, with all good affection and attention. When Samuel knew it was God that called him (and not Eli) he had no more mind to sleep. "We are all here present before God," saith Cornelius, Acts 10:33. And "God is in you of a truth," saith the Corinthian convert, 1 Corinthians 14:25.


Verse 14

14 For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews:

Ver. 14. Of your own countrymen] Malice against the truth breaks all bonds of nature or amity. Moab was irked because of Israel, or vexed at them, Numbers 22:3-4, though they were allied to Israel, who passed by them peaceably, and by the slaughter of the Amorites, freed them from evil neighbours, which had taken away part of their country, &c. The English Papists in four years sacrificed 800 of their innocent countrymen in Queen Mary’s days. In the holy war (as they called it) against the Waldenses (those ancient Protestants) in France, the pope’s great army took one great populous city, and put to the sword 60,000, among whom were many of their own Catholics. For, Arnoldus the Cistercian, abbot (being the pope’s envoy in this great war) commanded the captains and soldiers, saying, Caedite eos, novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius, i.e. Down with them all, for God knoweth which of them are his. (Caesarius Heisterbach. Hist. v. 21.) And the issue of this was, ut potius caesi, fugati, bonis ac dignitatibus ubique spoliati sint, quam ut erroris convicti resipuerint, i.e. that they were rather slain, scattered, spoiled of their goods and dignities, than brought by a sight of any error to sound repentance, saith Thuanus, an ingenuous Papist.


Verse 15

15 Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men:

Ver. 15. Who both killed the Lord] And are therefore banished out of the world, as it were, by a common consent of nations, for their inexpiable guilt. Even in Jerusalem there be hardly to be found a hundred households of them. (Breerwood Inquir.) In Cyprus it is at present death for any Jew to set his foot upon the island. (Dio. Cass.) In Thessalonica and Constantinople there are many thousands of them, but at every Easter they are in danger of death, if they but stir out-of-doors, because at that time they crucified our Saviour. (Biddulph.) The Turks themselves so hate the Jews for crucifying Christ, that they use to say in detestation of a thing, "I would I might die a Jew." Neither will they permit a Jew to turn Turk, unless he be first baptized. The Romans permitted other nations to call themselves Romans after they had conquered them; but so they would not suffer the Jews to do, though they complied never so much, and were their servants (as August. in Psal. lviii. witnesseth), lest there should some blot stick to the glory of the Romans, by that odious and sordid people. O Marcomanni, O Quadi! said one emperor.

And their own prophets] Whose slaughter (though long since done) is in recent remembrance with God, and is reckoned and registered together with the death of Christ himself.

And have persecuted us] They still curse the Christians in their daily prayers, which they close up with a Maledic, Domine, Nazaraeis. Curse, of God, Christians. Lopez at Tyburn affirmed, that he had loved Queen Elizabeth as he loved Jesus Christ. Which from a Jew was heard not without laughter. (Camden’s Elizabeth.)

And they please not God] Yet they challenged the title of God’s Church, as the Papists will needs be the only Catholics. They cried, ad ravim usque, The temple of the Lord, when they nothing regarded the Lord of the temple.

And are contrary to all men] Being herein rather Ishmaelites than Israelites, Genesis 16:12. The trout delights to swim against stream. The herb alexander will agree with no other herb but itself. Such antipodes {a} are our Jesuits, so insufferably ambitious and impudent, that neither their doctrine nor their conversation pleaseth those of their own religion.

{a} Diametrically opposite (to anything). ŒD


Verse 16

16 Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.

Ver. 16. Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles] Bale out of Capgrave reporteth, that St Asaph (as they called him) had this saying often in his mouth, Quicunque verbo Dei adversantur, saluti hominum invident, Those that are against the preaching of the word, do envy the salvation of men. Such were Stephen Gardiner, and before him Archbishop Arundel, who died of a grievous swelling in their tongues, and that deservedly; quod verbum Dei alligassent, ne suo tempore praedicaretur, saith the historian, because they had hindered the preaching of the word.

To fill up their sin alway] Bounds are set to sin by the Divine decree, Zechariah 5:7. Wickedness is compared to a woman pressed in an ephah; when the measure is full, the business is finished. {See Trapp on "Matthew 23:32"} The bottle of wickedness, when once filled with those bitter waters, sinketh to the bottom.

Wrath is come upon them to the uttermost] Or, until the end: wrath is come upon them finally ( εις τελος), so as it shall never be removed; cloud, which at length covered the whole heaven; so some interpret it. God’s wrath is like Elijah’s, or as thunder, which you hear at first a little roaring noise afar off; but stay awhile, it is a dreadful crack. "Who knoweth the power of thy wrath?" saith Moses, Psalms 90:11. The Jews are to this day a people of God’s wrath and curse.


Verse 17

17 But we, brethren, being taken from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavoured the more abundantly to see your face with great desire.

Ver. 17. For a short time] Or, In a short time, suddenly. See Acts 17:9-10.

Being taken away] Or separated, as orphans are from their dear parents, or parents from their deceased children, απορφανισθεντες. The separation of friends is so grievous, that death itself is styled no other than a departure.


Verse 18

18 Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us.

Ver. 18. But Satan hindered us] He still doth his utmost to hinder the communion of saints, and to keep them asunder. He knows two are better than one; and therefore he stirred up the primitive persecutors to banish the Christians, and to confine them to isles and mines. Where they could not have access one to another: whether Satan hindered Paul by sickness, or by imprisonments, or tempests at sea, who can resolve saith one. (Cyprian. Epist.) He hindered him by casting a necessity upon him of disputing often with the Stoics and Epicures which were at Athens, saith another interpreter. Satan-Hindering


Verse 19

19 For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?

Ver. 19. For what is our hope, &c.] A very lively and lofty expression, such as the apostle ordinarily useth in speaking of heavenly glory. Nec Christus, nec caelum patitur hyperbolen, A man can hardly hyperbolize in speaking of heaven.


Verse 20

20 For ye are our glory and joy.

Ver. 20. For ye are our glory and joy] Let no man therefore envy us these temporary good things, a competent maintenance: there are better things abide us above.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 2:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/1-thessalonians-2.html. 1865-1868.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, November 19th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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