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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
1 Thessalonians 3

 

 

Verse 1

1 Wherefore when we could no longer forbear, we thought it good to be left at Athens alone;

Ver. 1. No longer forbear] στεγοντες, or, stand under our burden of vehement desire after you. See a like expression, Isaiah 42:14. As a travailing woman bites in her pain as long as she is able, and at length cries aloud; so God is patient till he can hold no longer, &c.

We thought it good] Publica privatis anteferenda bonis, A public spirit is a precious spirit. And that is a golden saying of divine Plato, η δε δικαιοσυνη αλλοτριον μεν αγαθον, οικεια δε ζημια. (De Rep. lib. 3.) Goodness is all for the good of others, though to its own disadvantage; like as nature will venture its own particular good for the general. As heavy things will ascend to keep out vacuity, and to preserve the universe.


Verse 2

2 And sent Timotheus, our brother, and minister of God, and our fellowlabourer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith:

Ver. 2. To establish you] Who haply are somewhat unsettled by the troubles that befell me among you. But as young trees shaken, root the better, so should you. Capito in an epistle to the brethren at Basil, writeth thus, Pauciores vobiscum perimuntur, quod ita Domino visum est ut stabiliantur seu lenibns pluviis, ac sementis mollioribus, plantulae in arbores maximas proditurae.


Verse 3

3 That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto.

Ver. 3. That no man should be moved] Gr. σαινεσθαι, flattered, as a dog flattereth, by moving his tail; q.d. The devil, by flattering you, with promise of more ease by a contrary course, will but do as a dirty dog, defile you with fawning.

That we are appointed thereunto] viz. By God’s decree, whereunto if damned ghosts must subscribe, Romans 9:19-20, how much more should God’s elect! 1 Peter 1:6. It is but a delicacy to dream of heaven to be had without much hardship. Many would fain pull a rose without pricks, feed on manchet, pass a deliciis ad delicias: they would sit in the seat of honour with Zebedee’s children, but not drink the cup of affliction. This will not be. Elijah must to heaven, but in a whirlwind. Daniel must be brought through lions and leopards to the meek Lamb of God, Messiah the Prince. John shall hear the harmony of harpers, but first the noise of thunder. The Israelites had five days of sorrow before their feast of joy, Leviticus 23:27; Leviticus 23:34. The first handsel {a} God gave them in their journey to the promised Canaan, was bitterness and thirst. It was by Marah that they came to Elim; neither could they taste of the sweet waters of Siloam, till they had crossed the swift streams of Jordan. We cannot sing the song of Moses, of God’s servants, and of the Lamb, but we must first swim through a sea of burning glass, Revelation 15:2-3. Non nisi per angusta, ad augusta. Not unless through trouble to glory.

{a} Lucky prognostic, omen, presage, augury; token or omen of good luck. Obs. ŒD


Verse 4

4 For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know.

Ver. 4. We told you before] Darts foreseen are dintless: premonition is the best premunition. Troubles foretold come never a whit the sooner, but far the easier; whereas coming unexpected, they find weak minds secure, make them miserable, leave them desperate.


Verse 5

5 For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labour be in vain.

Ver. 5. To know your faith] That is, your perseverance and increase in faith. That which the devil mainly endeavoureth, is, to hinder and unsettle our faith, as he dealt by Eve and Peter, Luke 22:31-32, to batter this buckler, Ephesians 6:16, for then he knows he may do what he will with us. Omnia perdidit, qui fidem amisit. He destroys all things who loses faith. (Seneca.)

Lest by some means the tempter] Who feels our pulses, and fits his assaults accordingly. {See Trapp on "Matthew 4:3"}

And our labour be in vain] So it proves many times by Satan’s malice. Other labourers can find their work as they left it, not so ministers; the devil cometh and marreth all.


Verse 6

6 But now when Timotheus came from you unto us, and brought us good tidings of your faith and charity, and that ye have good remembrance of us always, desiring greatly to see us, as we also to see you:

Ver. 6. And brought us good tidings] Here the devil was disappointed. He had been nibbling, but could not fasten: this matter was not malleable. God stints him, and staves him off, when he would worry his poor lambs, turning all to their eternal good.


Verse 7

7 Therefore, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith:

Ver. 7. We were comforted] Nothing so cheereth up the heart of a godly minister as his people’s tractableness. If this be wanting, his very heart is broken, though they be otherwise never so kind and courteous to him.


Verse 8

8 For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord.

Ver. 8. For now we live] A joyless life is a lifeless life. An unsuccessful pastor hath little or no joy in his life. "Thus shall ye say to him that liveth," 1 Samuel 25:6, that is, that liveth at heart’s ease. "All the days of the afflicted are evil," Proverbs 15:15. As good be out of the world (say they) as have no joy of the world. Now, "I have no greater joy," saith St John, "than to hear that my children walk in the truth," 3 John 1:4. This revived his good old heart, and made it dance lavoltas {a} in his bosom.

{a} A lively dance for two persons, consisting a good deal in high and active bounds. ŒD


Verse 9

9 For what thanks can we render to God again for you, for all the joy wherewith we joy for your sakes before our God;

Ver. 9. For what thanks, &c.] q.d. No sufficient thanks. Spiritual joy vents itself by an infinite desire of praising God, whereby it seeks to fill up the distance between God and the good soul. In our thanksgivings let there be modus sine modo, as Bernard hath it. Let us still deliberate what more to do, as David, Psalms 116:12.


Verse 10

10 Night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith?

Ver. 10. Night and day praying exceedingly] Prayer must be constant and instant, with utmost assiduity and intention of affection, Luke 18:1. {See Trapp on "Luke 18:1"}

And might perfect that which is lacking in your faith] Faith is not as Jonah’s gourd, that grew up in a night; or as a bullet in a mould, that is made in a moment; but is perfected by degrees and so made even (as the word καταρτισαι signifies here in the original) and complete.


Verse 11

11 Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you.

Ver. 11. Now God himself. &c.] At the very mentioning of prayer, he falls a praying. Good affections soon kindle in a gracious heart.

Direct our way unto you] "A man’s heart deviseth his way, but the Lord directeth his steps," Proverbs 16:9. Let God be our pilot, if we mean to make a good voyage of it. Let our hand be on the stern, our eye on the star; let our course as the mariner’s, be guided by the heavens.


Verse 12

12 And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you:

Ver. 12. To increase and abound] By doubling his word, he signifieth a double portion of God’s, grace, which he wisheth unto them; we are sure to receive as much good from God by prayer as we can bring faith to bear away. "Hitherto ye have asked me nothing." Ask, saith Christ, ask enough, open your mouth wide, &c.


Verse 13

13 To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.

Ver. 13. To the end he may stablish] Love is of a ferruminating, establishing property. That grace will not hang together, nor hold out, that is severed from charity.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 3:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/1-thessalonians-3.html. 1865-1868.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, December 15th, 2019
the Third Week of Advent
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