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Full text of "A commentary on St. Paul's first epistle to the Thessalonians"

. 4 



A COMMENTARY ON ST. PAUL'S FIRST 
EPISTLE TO THE THESSALONIANS 



By the Rev. 
ALFRED PLUMMER, D.D. 

A Commentary on St. Paul's Second 
Epistle to the Thessalonians. 

An Exegetical Commentary on St. 
Matthew. 145. net. 

Consolation in Bereavement through 
Prayers for the Departed. 
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LONDON: ROBERT SCOTT 



A COMMENTARY ON 

ST. PAUL'S FIRST EPISTLE 

TO THE 

THESSALONIANS 



By the Rev. 

ALFRED PLUMMER, M.A., D.D. 

Formerly Master of University College, Durham, and sometime Fellow 
and Tutor of Trinity College, Oxford 
Author of " An Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel 
according to St. Matthew," etc. 




L- C 1-'^ 



LONDON: ROBERT SCOTT 

ROXBURGHE HOUSE 
PATERNOSTER ROW, E.C. 

M C MXVI II 
All rights reserved 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2008 with funding from 

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http://www.archive.org/details/commentaryonstpa01plumuoft 



INTRODUCTION 

I. THESSALONICA 

The Epistles to the Thessalonians do not tell us a great 
deal about the city in which these most interesting converts 
of the Apostle of the Gentiles lived ; but what they tell us 
harmonizes very well with what we learn from other sources. 
The passage of the Gospel from Asia to Europe is a 
momentous event in the history of the Apostolic Age ; and 
it took place when St. Paul, in obedience to what he believed 
to be a Divine command, ' set sail from Troas ' and came 
' to Philippi, which is a city of Macedonia, the first of the 
district, a Roman colony ' (Acts xvi. 8-14). To us this 
means the spread of Christianity from one continent to 
another. But that is not the way in which it is regarded in 
the N.T., in which the word ' Europe ' does not occur, and 
in which ' Asia ' never means the continent of Asia. The 
Apostle of the Gentiles and his historian, St. Luke, seem 
rather to have regarded the event as a passage from Eastern 
to Western civilization, an advance from a world in which 
the best elements had centred in Judaism to a world in 
which the best elements were found in the art and thought 
of Greece, and in the political and military organization of 
Rome. 

" Westward the course of empire takes its way " {Bishop Berkeley). 

It was neither to Europe in general, nor to any particular 
city, that the Apostle was invited to come and render help, 
but to Macedonia ; and the Macedonians, although they 
were looked down upon by the pure Greeks, were morally 
more promising material for missionaries to work upon than 

v 



vi INTRODUCTION 

their more brilliant and attractive neighbours in Achaia. 
As Mommsen says : 

" While in Greece proper the moral and political energy 
of the people had decayed, there still existed in Northern 
Greece a goodly proportion of the old national vigour which 
had produced the warriors of Marathon. This sturdy vigour 
and unimpaired national spirit were turned to peculiarly 
good account by the Macedonians, as the most powerful 
and best organized of the states of northern Greece. The 
people still felt itself independent and free. In stedfast 
resistance to the public enemy under whatever name, in 
unshaken fidelity towards their native country and their 
hereditary government, and in persevering courage amidst 
the severest trials, no nation in ancient history bears so 
close a resemblance to the Roman people as the Mace- 
donians ; and the almost miraculous regeneration of the 
state after the Gallic invasion redounds to the imperishable 
honour of its leaders and of the people whom they led " 
{History of Rome, Bk. III. ch. viii. sub init.\ 

It is possible that the fact of the Apostle's beginning his 
new mission at Philippi was due simply to his having chosen 
as his means of transit to Macedonia a ship that was bound 
for Neapolis, which was the seaport of Philippi, from which 
it is about ten miles distant. Having landed there, he saw 
the advantages which Philippi possessed as a missionary 
centre. But it is more probable that he aimed at Philippi 
from the first, and that he chose his ship accordingly. Its 
advantages for the Apostle's purpose were threefold. It was 
a Roman colony, and its inhabitants, like St. Paul himself, 
had the rights and privileges of Roman citizens. It was on 
the Via Egnatia, the great high road between East and 
West, right across the North of the Hellenic peninsula, 
from Dyrrhachium on the Adriatic to the mouth of the 
Hebrus. And it had, what was essential from the mission- 
ary's point of view, a settlement of Jews, to whom the 
Gospel must first be preached. The settlement was a small 
one, for it had no synagogue, but only ' a place of prayer ' 
(■n-poaevxv), near the river Gangites ; but it sufficed. When 



INTRODUCTION vii 

Paul and Silas, after the outrageous treatment which they 
received from the mob and the praetors of Philippi, decided 
to leave the place, they went rather more than ioo miles 
farther West to a city which had similar advantages. 

As Professor von Dobschiitz rightly observes : " Christi- 
anity, on account of the whole of its previous history and 
its origin, could not dispense with the synagogue as its 
starting-point " {The Apostolic Age, p. 47). Hence the 
comparative failure of the Apostle's preaching at Athens 
(Acts xvii. 32-34). 

Thessalonica, like Philippi, was on the great «Egnatian 
Road. It had a settlement of Jews large enough to have a 
synagogue, ' the desired synagogue ' (v awaycoyrj), as St. 
Luke calls it (Acts xvii. 1). Although it was not a Roman 
colony, it was a free city, a privilege which was conferred 
upon it for having sided with Octavius and Antony in the 
second civil war. Coins exist which bear the inscription, 
' Thessalonica the free.' Moreover it was a seaport, so that 
it was a travel and trade route between East and West 
both by land and by sea. It was doubtless because of its 
great advantages as a commercial centre that so many 
Jews had settled there, and have continued to settle there 
all through its history. 

It is nothing more than a coincidence, but the coincidence 
is worth noting, that both these Macedonian towns, which 
became cities under Roman rule, seem to have owed their 
origin, or at any rate their original name, to their water- 
supply. The original name of Philippi was Crenides 
(KprjvlSes), ' Wells ' or ' Fountains ' : and the original name 
of Thessalonica was Therma (Qep/ia), ' Hotspring,' from the 
hot springs of salt water, which are still found in the neigh- 
bourhood. These primitive names might seem to anticipate 
the gracious fact that both towns were to become the places 
where ' wells of water, springing up unto eternal life ' 
(Johniv. 14), and ' fountains of waters of life ' (Rev. vii. 17), 
would, for the first time in the Western world, be found. 
In later ages Thessalonica was successful in converting many 
members of the barbarous and pagan hordes which came 



viii INTRODUCTION 

down upon it ; and it was so staunch in upholding tradi- 
tional beliefs that it was known as " the Orthodox City." 
It was about B.C. 315 that Cassander, son of Antipater, 
turned the small town of Therma into a large city by sweep- 
ing into it the inhabitants of other towns and villages and 
enriching it with fine buildings. He gave it the name of 
Thessalonica after the name of his wife, who was the daughter 
of Philip of Macedon and the half-sister of Alexander. At 
the time when Macedonia was divided into four parts, 
Thessalonica was the capital of the second. When these 
divisions were abolished, it became the metropolis of the 
whole. Along the whole extent of the Egnatian Road there 
was no city so important or so influential as Thessalonica. 
Gibbon (ch. xvii. note 21) says that " before the foundation 
of Constantinople Thessalonica is mentioned by Cedrenus 
(p. 283) as the intended capital " (Smith's Milman's Gibbon, 
II. p. 292). Wealthy Romans often resided there. Cicero, 
who chose it as a home during the time of his exile (Pro 
Plane. 41), says that its inhabitants were " in the lap of our 
Empire." Many of its inhabitants, nearly all of whom were 
heathen, were engaged in trade and were well-to-do, as 
probably were most of the Jews, whose synagogue had 
attracted a considerable number of proselytes. But no 
doubt the majority earned their living by manual labour, 
as did the Apostle and his colleagues during their stay (ii. 9). 
Hence we find that among the first converts were some 
Jews, many ' God-fearers ', and a considerable number of 
women from the upper classes (Acts xvii. 4). The ' God- 
fearers ' were not proselytes, but religious heathen, who 
attended the synagogue and admired the Jewish Law. 
Whether these women were Macedonians or Jewesses, or 
whether they were the wives of heathen, or of proselytes, 
or of Jews, it is impossible to determine. Lightfoot (Philift- 
pians, pp. 55-57) has shown that women in Macedonia 
probably had a better social position than elsewhere in the 
civilized world. " At Philippi, at Thessalonica, at Beroea, 
the women take an active part with the Apostle. . . . The 
active zeal of the women in this country is a remarkable 



INTRODUCTION ix 

fact, without a parallel in the Apostle's history elsewhere." 
But a little later in his work at Thessalonica the large 
majority of converts were heathen (i. 9), who worked with 
their hands for a living (iv. 11 ; 2 Thess. hi. 10-12). Among 
the Jews were Aristarchus (Acts xx. 4 ; Col. iv. 10) and in 
all probability Jason (Acts xvii. 5, 6 ; cf. Rom. xvi. 21). 

As a free city, Thessalonica had the privilege of electing 
its own magistrates, to whom St. Luke gives the title of 
' Politarchs ' (TroXndpxaL, Acts xvii. 6, 8). This title for 
' the rulers of the city ' is found in no classical author, and 
the use of it was urged by Baur, Zeller, and others as a 
reason for questioning the accuracy of Luke's narrative. 
But the accuracy has been abundantly vindicated by the 
evidence of seventeen inscriptions, thirteen of which are 
attributed to Macedonia, five being from Thessalonica. The 
most famous of these five is now in the British Museum. 
It was taken from the Roman triumphal arch, now destroyed, 
which crossed the Via Egnatia near the Vardar gate. It 
contains these words : " The Politarchs being Sosipater son 
of Cleopatra and Lucius Pontius Secundus, Publius Flavius 
Sabinus, Demetrius son of Faustus, Demetrius of Nicopolis, 
Zoilus son of Parmenio also called Meniscus, Gains Agilleius 
Politus." It is a curious coincidence that three of the names 
should be those of three of St. Paul's friends, Sopater of 
Beroea (Acts xx. 4), Secundus of Thessalonica (xx. 4), and 
Gaius of Macedonia (xix. 29). SeeConybeare and Howson, 
ch. ix. ; Cook (Speaker's Commentary), Knowling (Expositor's 
Greek Testament), and Rackham (Oxford Commentaries) on 
Acts xvii. 6 ; Lewin, Fasti Sacri, p. 294 § 1767 ; Tozer, High- 
lands of Turkey, I. pp. 143-145, II. p. 358 ; Zahn, Introd. to 
N.T., I. p. 211 ; E. de Witt Burton, American Journal of 
Theology, July, 1898, pp. 598-632, where the whole of the 
seventeen inscriptions are collected. Sosipater (Rom. xvi. 
21) is the same name as Sopater. 

Like so many cities which are seaports, Thessalonica 
had an evil reputation for licentiousness, which was aug- 
mented by the wanton rites connected with the worship of 
the Cabiri (Lightfoot, Biblical Essays, p. 257). Cities 



x INTRODUCTION 

which were great commercial centres had a strange mixture 
of populations and were the homes of many strange cults. 
Hence the necessity for the special warnings given by the 
Apostle (iv. 1-8). His subsequent relations with the con- 
verts at Thessalonica are not recorded. He almost cer- 
tainly visited the city again after the uproar at Ephesus, 
perhaps more than once (Acts xx. if.). But of this we have 
no express information. Our knowledge of the first century 
becomes sensibly less after the passage of the Gospel into 
Europe. 

II. AUTHENTICITY 

Fifty or sixty years ago the genuineness of i Thessalonians 
was seriously doubted by many scholars, largely owing to 
the influence of the Tubingen School ; to which, however, 
while in this matter, as in many other points, we have to 
dissent from its conclusions, we owe much gratitude for its 
suggestiveness, sincerity, and courage. Baur's objections 
to i Thessalonians are now generally admitted to be, in some 
cases inadequate, or even baseless, in others, arguments in 
favour of its authenticity. Thus, to say that it has •' no 
special aim, and no intelligible occasion or purpose " is 
contrary to plain facts ; and " the insignificance of its 
contents," and the almost total " absence of any dogmatic 
idea whatever," so far from being an objection, show that 
there could be little inducement to any one to compose such 
a letter and attribute it to St. Paul. See Zahn, Introd. to 
N.T., I. p. 248. Baur notes coincidences with other Pauline 
Epistles, but uses these to disprove Pauline authorship. 
He holds that a genuine letter must be Pauline, but not too 
Pauline. If there are no parallels with St. Paul's acknow- 
ledged Epistles, St Paul did not write it ; if there are many 
parallels in thought or language, we have a forger imitating 
the Apostle ! See Salmon, Introd. to N.T., 3rd. ed. p. 387. 
With the exception of Van Manen and a small group of 
eccentric Dutch critics, who contend that we possess no 
genuine Epistles of St. Paul, the Pauline authorship of 



INTRODUCTION xi 

i Thessalonians is now almost universally admitted. It 
may suffice to mention the names of Bacon, Bornemann, 
Clemen, Drummond, Frame, Harnack, Hilgenfeld, Jowett, 
Jiilicher, McGiffert, Martineau, Moffatt, Renan, Sabatier, 
Schmiedel, Von Dobschiitz, Von Soden, Weizsacker, Wendt, 
Westrik. 

The brevity of the Epistle and the character of its contents 
render it a somewhat unlikely field for quotations ; and it 
need not surprise us that it is not quoted by name by any 
writer earlier than Irenaeus (c. 185 a.d.). There are three 
passages in Clement of Rome (Cor. xxxviii. 1, 4, xlii. 3, 4), 
and three in Ignatius (Rom. ii. 1, 4, Eph. x. 1, Pol. i. 3) 
which may possibly be reminiscences, but not much reliance 
can be put upon them. Two supposed references in Poly- 
carp (ii. 2, iv. 3) are also unsatisfactory (Lightfoot in 
Smith's D.B., III. p. 1480). Hermas {Vis. III. ix. 10) 
presents rather stronger resemblance, but the resemblance 
may be mere coincidence. Perhaps the strongest external 
evidence in support of 1 Thessalonians is supplied by 2 
Thessalonians, which (whoever be the author) throughout 
implies the Pauline authorship of the First Epistle. We 
may add to this the fact that 1 Thessalonians is included in 
the Canon of Marcion (c. 140 a.d.) and in the Muratorian 
Fragment (c. 170), as well as in the Syriac Vulgate and the 
Old Latin Versions. After Irenaeus quotations from it 
abound. 

This adequate external evidence is supported by very 
strong evidence derived from the letter itself, the simplicity 
and naturalness of which are very convincing. The lan- 
guage tells of an affectionate teacher, most anxious about 
the way in which his beloved converts, who are still only 
imperfectly instructed, are bearing the strain of prolonged 
and severe persecution. This anxiety is increased by the 
fact that, during the enforced absence of the Apostle, his 
enemies have been trying to calumniate him and his col- 
leagues, and to shake the Thessalonians' confidence in their 
teachers. It would require a very skilful inventor to 
imagine the peculiar circumstances, and then compose a 



xii INTRODUCTION 

letter, with this sincerity of tone, to fit them. Early 
Christian forgeries, such as the correspondence between 
Abgarus, King of Edessa, and our Lord, and the letter of 
the Corinthians to St. Paul with a third Epistle from him to 
them, do not encourage us to believe that any such fineness 
of conception and expression existed among the believers 
of the first few centuries, or even later. On the contrary, 
their clumsiness is so great that we wonder how any one 
could ever have believed that they were genuine. Moreover, 
it is impossible to find in this letter any motive for such 
invention. It contains no polemical or controversial matter, 
for the sake of introducing which under the authority of an 
Apostle a forger might have been induced to set to work. 

This forger is supposed to have gone to Acts for his facts. 
This is difficult to believe, for in important particulars the 
letter is rather seriously at variance with Acts. In Acts 
the converts are Jews or proselytes ; nothing is said about 
heathen. In the letter the converts are heathen ; nothing 
is said about Jews (see on i. 9). In Acts the mission seems 
to have lasted only three weeks ; the letter shows that it 
must have continued for several months (see on i. 9 and ii. 
9). Again, it is difficult to reconcile what the letter tells 
us about the movements of Silvanus and Timothy with 
what we are told about them in Acts (see on hi. 1). Evi- 
dently the writer of this letter had not seen Acts, and the 
writer of Acts had not seen this letter. '' It is capricious 
to pronounce the epistle a colourless imitation, if it agrees 
with Acts, and unauthentic, if it disagrees " (Moffatt). 
It is equally clear that it is not a mere imitation of the 
Corinthian letters. 

There is yet another point. If the letter is a forgery, it 
cannot have been published until St. Paul was dead ; and 
in that case the writer would not have represented the 
Apostle as classing himself with those who would be alive 
at the time of the Second Advent (see on iv. 15). See 
Jowett, Introduction to 1 Thessalonians, pp. 18-29, ano ^ 
McGiffert in Enc. Bibl., IV. 5041. 



INTRODUCTION xiii 



III. PLACE AND DATE 



The Place is certainly Corinth. St. Paul had gone to 
Athens (iii. i) and left Athens for Corinth, where Silvanus 
and Timothy rejoined him, and where he stayed for about 
eighteen months (Acts xvii. 15, xviii. 1, 5, 11). It was in 
the earlier half of this period that he wrote the First Epistle 
to the Thessalonians. The exact year cannot be fixed with 
certainty, and the year which we select will depend upon 
the years selected for a variety of events connected with the 
life of St. Paul. Almost all chronologers allow of some play. 
The Epistle must be placed after the so-called Council of 
Jerusalem, and it can hardly be placed earlier than a.d. 49 
or later than a.d. 53. Perhaps a.d. 51 is the most probable 
year. Harnack says 48-50 ; Turner, 50-52 ; Ramsay, 
51-53; Lightfoot and Wieseler, 52-53 ; Lewin, 52 ; Milligan, 
50-51 ; a few place it as early as 47-48, and a few as late as 
54-55* 

IV. IMPORTANCE 

Unless the hypothesis that the Epistle to the Galatians 
is earlier is correct, — and at present the large majority of 
scholars find difficulty in accepting that hypothesis, — 
1 Thessalonians is the earliest among the Pauline Epistles, 
and almost certainly the earliest of the Books of the N.T. 
Some place the Epistle of St. James first, and some the 
Gospel according to St. Mark ; but with the large majority 
of critics the First Epistle to the Thessalonians still holds 
the first place. Those who would put Galatians in front of 
it are not agreed as to whether that Epistle was written 
before or after the Council at Jerusalem. Most place it 
after the Council, and select either Antioch, or Athens, or 
Corinth as the place at which it was written. Zahn and 
Rendall and others decide for Corinth, and that view brings 
the date of Galatians within a month or two, at the outside 
of the date of 1 Thessalonians. If that were correct, the 
difference in tone between the two letters would be most 



xiv INTRODUCTION 

extraordinary. Attempts have been made to find a few 
points of resemblance between the two, but they are not 
very successful. 

But to whichever of the two Epistles we give the priority, 
i Thessalonians, more than any other Book in the N.T., 
tells us the kind of instruction which St. Paul was in the 
habit of giving to the heathen ; and, as coming from the 
Apostle himself, it is a more valuable piece of information 
in this respect than the speeches at Lystra and at Athens, 
as reported by St. Luke. Although, consciously or uncon- 
sciously, he sometimes uses the language of the LXX, yet 
he nowhere quotes the O.T., which would have little interest 
for imperfectly instructed Macedonian converts. Nor does 
he ever call Jesus the Son of Man, which to them might seem 
a strange title. There is also truth in the remark that 
I Thessalonians is the least dogmatic among the Epistles of 
St. Paul. Babes in Christ, newly won over from idolatry, 
need simple and pure religion rather than reasoned and 
systematized theology. But to call the letter " undogmatic " 
would be misleading ; study of it shows that the mission- 
aries must have taught a great deal of doctrine, so much is 
assumed as known. They have two things to which they 
can appeal ; the excellence of the message which they have 
brought, and the transparent sincerity and disinterestedness 
with which it has been preached. The Thessalonians them- 
selves knew what had been said and done by the three 
missionaries, and God knew what their motives had been. 
The writers could appeal with perfect confidence to both. 

In his manner of dealing with these converts from pagan- 
ism the Apostle reveals a great deal of his own marvellous 
personality, with its deep affection, sympathy, and sensi- 
tiveness, and its rapidly changing emotions.* As in 

* The words in which a recent Jewish writer commends the 
Epistles of St. Paul to his Jewish brethren are worth quoting. 
" We can appreciate, and be stimulated by, those wonderful passages 
in which the Apostle speaks of his own feelings and experiences. 
We cannot but be struck by his remarkable combination of humility 
and confidence, by his fortitude and enthusiasm, his indomitable 



INTRODUCTION xv 

2 Corinthians, thankfulness, love, anxiety, and entreaty on 
the one side ; on the other, when the Jewish opponents are 
uppermost in his thoughts, indignation and severity. See 
Chase, Credibility of the Acts (Hulsean Lectures, 1900), pp. 
197, 230, 244, 246. 

The whole Epistle shows that the good seed had fallen on 
good soil in Thessalonica. Although the growth had been 
rapid, the roots had gone deep, and the young plants had 
stood the scorching test of persecution. There were some 
thorns and briars which needed to be eradicated, and the 
Apostle points them out ; with the hope that the converts 
have the will and the strength to get rid of this refuse, which 
has survived their emancipation from paganism. 

The letter was written to deal with this particular crisis 
in the career of the young Church of Thessalonica, not to 
instruct us as to the character or the methods of St. Paul. 
But it is only when we take these also into account that 
we obtain an adequate idea of the importance of what is 
probably the earliest piece of Christian literature that has 
come down to us. 

IV. OCCASION 

It was during what is commonly called his Second Mis- 
sionary Journey, and after the beating and imprisonment 
at Philippi, that St. Paul came along the Egnatian Road to 
Thessalonica, accompanied by Silas, and probably by 
Timothy : but Timothy may have joined him there a little 
later. For about three weeks he laboured among the Jews 

perseverance, his high spirits (to use a homely expression), undaunted 
by difficulties, troubles and pain. There is always something 
inspiring in the picture of a great man, convinced of his cause, and 
pursuing his straight course in the face of constant opposition and 
trial. Paul not only rises superior to his sufferings, but he exults 
and rejoices in them. And perhaps in this exultation and rejoicing 
lies the most peculiar and instructive feature of his career, the fea- 
ture in which he was in fullest accordance with the teaching of his 
Master and Lord " (C. G. Montefiore, Judaism and St. Paul, pp. 
200 1). 



xvi INTRODUCTION 

and ' God-fearers ' who attended the worship in the syna- 
gogue in which the missionaries preached. Here Luke's 
account of the mission to Thessalonica ends. He passes at 
once to the withdrawal of the missionaries from the city, 
owing to the machinations of the unconverted Jews, who 
stirred up the rabble to mob them and denounce them before 
the Politarchs. The missionaries had preached Jesus as the 
Messiah-King who was coming again to found the Messianic 
Kingdom. It was therefore easy to represent them to the 
Politarchs as dangerous ringleaders who were preaching 
rebellion against Caesar. Their non-appearance to answer 
this charge of course told against them, and it was impossible 
for the magistrates to ignore so serious an accusation. But 
they seem to have had a suspicion that it was dictated by 
animus rather than loyalty. The sentence which they 
pronounced was a light one. Jason, who had sheltered 
the missionaries, and other converts, who had been pro- 
minent in support of them, were made to pledge themselves 
that there should be no further trouble. The exact meaning 
of this pledge is uncertain, but it probably means that Jason 
and his companions had to deposit a sum of money, as 
security that they themselves would appear in court, when 
called upon to do so. In consequence of this pledge, they 
sent the missionaries away by night to the quieter and more 
secluded city of Beroea. 

: It is clear from i Thessalonians and Philippians that St. 
Luke has missed out a great deal, either because he did not 
know it, or thought it of minor importance, or had not 
room for it. The mission in Thessalonica lasted a good deal 
more than three or four weeks ; and so many heathen were 
converted, in addition to Jews, ' God-fearers ' and chief 
women, that Gentiles formed the bulk of the Thessalonian 
Church. Their conversion must have taken some time. 
More time is required for the converts to sound out the 
word in Macedonia and Achaia and beyond (i. 8). It is 
evident that at Thessalonica the Apostle acted as he did at 
Pisidian Antioch, where, after preaching for two or more 
Sabbaths to the Jews, he turned to the Gentiles (Acts xiii. 



INTRODUCTION xvii 

46-49). At Ephesus, after teaching in the synagogue for 
three months, he preached for two years to mixed multi- 
tudes (xix. 8-10). Moreover, it would scarcely have been 
necessary for the missionaries to work night and day for 
their maintenance, or (if they did so) to call attention to it, 
if they remained in the place only three or four weeks (ii. 9). 
Still less would it have been necessary for the Philippians, 
more than once, to send supplies to them (Phil. iv. 15, 16). 

At Beroea the missionaries were at first welcomed ; and 
many Jews, with not a few Greek women of honourable 
estate and Greek men, believed. But fanatical Jews of 
Thessalonica came and again caused trouble. The Apostle's 
friends took St. Paul to the sea coast, and some of them 
came on with him, probably by sea, to Athens ; Silas and 
Timothy being left behind at Beroea, whither orders were 
sent to them from Athens that they were to rejoin the 
Apostle as soon as possible (Acts xvii. 11-15). Timothy did 
so. He rejoined St. Paul at Athens, and was sent by him 
back to Thessalonica, whither the Apostle himself had much 
wished to return, but on two occasions had been prevented 
from doing so (ii. 17), possibly by a return of the malady 
which he called a ' messenger of Satan ' (2 Cor. xii. 7). 
See Rackham on Acts xvii. 9. During Timothy's absence 
St. Paul went on from Athens to Corinth, and soon all three 
missionaries were once more reunited there. What Silas 
had been doing since he was left behind at Beroea we do 
not know. Possibly he, like Timothy, had rejoined the 
Apostle at Athens, and thence, like Timothy, had been sent 
off again on a mission. But both returned to St. Paul at 
Corinth (Acts xviii. 5), where all three took part in sending 
1 Thessalonians (i. 1). 

The Epistle is the result of the favourable report brought 
by Timothy from Thessalonica. The new converts had been 
behaving well in spite of much persecution, and in spite of 
open calumnies and subtle insinuations persistently made 
against the missionaries since their flight. These attacks 
would come partly from the friends and relations of the 
Greeks who had been converted, but chiefly from the Jews 

B 



xviii INTRODUCTION 

in Thessalonica, who, like most of their brethren every- 
where, were utterly opposed to the spread of the Gospel. 
That there were Judaizing Christians at Thessalonica, such 
as caused so much trouble in Galatia and at Corinth, is not 
probable. There is no hint of any such influence either in 
i Thessalonians or in Acts. 

The main object of i Thessalonians is to answer these 
false charges and suggestions, which would be fatal to 
mission work in Macedonia, if they were believed. The 
second object, also very important, is to encourage the 
Thessalonians to persevere and make progress. They were 
still defective in purity, brotherly love, and orderly dis- 
cipline ; and they needed further instruction in doctrine, 
especially with regard to the Resurrection and Christ's 
Return. But with regard to both life and doctrine the 
Apostle's aim is not so much to convert as to confirm. The 
eager preacher has become the anxious pastor, all the more 
anxious as having to tend a deeply interesting and promis- 
ing flock, which was beset by troubles from without and from 
within. As it was impossible for the Apostle to come 
himself to repel accusations and to continue his teaching, 
he sends a letter, which is evidently not a first attempt. 
It does not read like the composition of a beginner, and 
2 Thess. hi. 17 implies that St. Paul had had much practice. 

There is no clear hint in the Epistle that the Thessalonians 
had written to the Apostle before Timothy was sent back 
to them, or that they had sent a letter by him when he 
returned to make his report of the Thessalonian Church. 
That no letter of theirs to St. Paul is mentioned in hi. 6-8 
is rather strong evidence that no such letter was sent. It 
has been thought that the ' also ' in ' we also ' (ii. 13) implies 
that the Thessalonians had written. The ' also,' as is 
shown in the notes, may be interpreted in more ways than 
one ; but none of the interpretations necessarily requires 
the hypothesis of a letter from Thessalonica to the Apostle. 
Of course, if the hypothesis of such a letter is accepted, it is 
not difficult to construct a series of questions to which 
portions of 1 Thessalonians might be an answer. A similar 



INTRODUCTION xix 

letter of inquiry might be constructed to fit Philippians, but 
it would go very little way towards proving that any such 
letter had been written. 



V. CONTENTS 

(a) The letter is written in the fulness of the Apostle's 
joy, affection, and anxiety, and has no carefully considered 
arrangement. It follows the lines of letter- writing which 
were usual at that time, and the topics follow in a natural, 
but probably not previously considered, order. There are 
two main divisions, which are preceded by a general address, 
and are followed by an Apostolic conclusion. 

I. The Salutation, i. i. 

II. Historical and Personal. A Review of the Mis- 

sionaries' Recent Relations with the Thessalonians, 
i. 2 — hi. 13. 

1. Thanksgiving for the Fruits of their Conversion, i. 2-10. 

2. How the Missionaries acted at Thessalonica. ii. 1-12. 

3. Renewed Thanksgiving for the Conversion of the 

Thessalonians, and for their Patience under Perse- 
cution, ii. 13-16. 

4. The Writers' Anxiety about their Converts, until 

reassured by Timothy, ii. 17-iii. 10. 

5. Prayer for the Thessalonians. iii. 11-13. 

III. Hortatory and Doctrinal. A Review of the Con- 

verts' Shortcomings and a Supplement to the Mission- 
aries' Teaching, iv. i — v. 24. 

1. Exhortations to Purity, to Love of the Brethren, and 

to Honest Work. iv. 1-12. 

2. Concerning them that fall asleep before the Advent of 

the Lord. iv. 13-18. 

3. The Uncertainty of the Time of the Advent and the 

Need of Watchfulness, v. 1-11. 



xx INTRODUCTION 

4. Exhortations respecting Church Discipline and Holi- 

ness of Life. v. 12-22. 

5. Prayer for the Thessalonians. v. 23, 24. 

IV. Concluding Charges and Benediction, v. 25-28. 

(b) Reminiscences of the Septuagint. 

There is no doubt that St. Paul was very familiar with 
the language of the LXX. When he handled religious 
topics in Greek, the language of the O.T. would come 
naturally to him as a means of expression.* Sometimes 
he deliberately selected the wording of the LXX and adapted 
it to his purpose. But very often (we may suppose) words 
and phrases of the LXX occurred to him without effort on 
his part ; and here and there, perhaps, what looks like a 
reminiscence may be a mere accident of language. Single 
words do not prove much, unless either the word is an 
unusual one or the general sense of the two passages is 
similar. Thus i^vX r i Tal (i- 8) and e^XV crav (Joel hi. 14) 
need have no connexion ; and much the same might be said 
of etaohov (i. 9) and daohov (2 Kings xix. 27). Even 
ava/xeveiv rbv vlbv avrov ite tcov ovpavcov (i. 10) has only 
a superficial resemblance to dve/xelva/xev icpLo-iv (Isa. lix. 11): 
to wait hopefully for the Son's Return is a different thing 
from waiting in vain for Divine favour. There is more to be 
said for the similarity between iv Travrl roirw rj nrio-Tis 
vfjb5)v e%e\r)\v9ev (i. 8) and et9 iraaav ttjv 777V e^r/Xdev 6 
$#67709 avTcov (Ps. xix. 4), or between 'Irjaovv rbv pvo/xevov 
rjfias iie t^? 0^77}? Tr}? ip^ofiivr}^ (i. 10) and c^ e' 6 pvop,evo<i 
ex iravrb<i rca/cov (Wisd. xvi. 8), for although in each pair 
only one word is the same, yet in each there is general 
resemblance between the two passages. See also notes on 
i. 9. 

But there are six or seven cases in which the resemblances 
between words in the Epistle and words in the LXX are 

* See Swete, Introduction to the Old Testament in Greek, pp. 403, 
404. 



INTRODUCTION 



xxi 



of a more decided character, and in which it is fairly safe 
to believe that the Apostle is consciously using the language 
of the Greek Version of the O.T. Scriptures. 



i Thessalonians. 

ii. 4. ©£w to5 SoKi/xd^ovTt Ttt? 
Kap8la<; f][i(bv. 



ii. 16. €i<i to avairXiqpoiaai 
avrwv ra<i dpapTtaf. 



ii. 19. o~T€<pavo<; Kav%rjo~e<0<;. 



iv. 5. t<z edvt] rd p,r) elSora 
rbv @eov. 



iv. 6. €k8iko<; Kupio? trepl 
irdvruiv tovtojv. 



iv. 8. tov Gebv rbv BcBovra 
to irvevfia avrov rb 
ayiov et9 vp,d<$. 



Septuagint. 

Jer. xii. 3. av, Kvpie, yivcoa- 
/ceis pe, SeSoKL- 
paicas tt)v Kap- 
hiav p.ov. Cf. xi. 
20 ; Ps. xvi. 
(xvii.) 3 ; Prov. 
xvii. 3. 

Gen. XV. 16. ovttco <ydp dvcnre- 
TrXrjpcovTat al 
ap,apTiai tcov 
^Apoppaicov ea>5 
tov vvv. 

Dan. viii. 23. ifk^povfiivcov t&v 

dp,apri(ov avrwv. 
Prov. xvi. 31. o-re<pavo<; /cav- 

Xrfo-ea)?. Cf. 

Ezek. xvi. 12, 

xxiii. 42. 
Ps. lxxviii. (lxxix.) 6. evdrj 

rd fir} iireyva)- 

Kora (re. 
Jer. X. 25. edvrj rd pur) elSora 

<re. Cf. ix.3. 
Deut. xxxii. 35. iv y^pa 

i/cSiicrjcreays dvr- 
cnroScoaa). 
Ps. xciii. (xciv.) I. @eo? 
eK&iKrjaewv Kvp- 
10s, 6 @eo9 etcSt- 
KTjaecov €7rapprj- 
cridcraTO. 
Ezek. xxxvii. 14. koX 6o>o-&> 

to irvevpd pov 

€t9 vfid'i, 



xxii INTRODUCTION 

V. 8. ivSva-ajxevoi Ocapaica Isa. lix. 17. Kal eveSvaaro 
7r/<7Te&>9 Kal a^dirr}^ SiKacoauvrjv o>9 

Kal 7T€ptKe(f)a\alav iX- doopaKa, Kal 7re- 

7rtSa <ra>T7]pi,a<;. piedero irepiKe- 

<pa\aiav <tq)T7]- 
p'iOV €7Tl Trjs 
KecpaXrjs. 

Wisd. V. 18. ivSvaerai 6a>- 

paKa SiKaioavi/rjv. 

V. 22. airb iravTos eifSou? iro- Job i. I. aTr€%6/jLevo<; a-rro 

rrjpov aire^eade. iravToq trovrjpov 

irpa<yp.aTO<i. 
Job ii. 3. aire^opbevo^ airb 
7ravT0? KaKOv. 



None of these are direct quotations ; and it is not certain 
that in all the eight cases there is conscious adaptation of 
the language of the LXX. The last might be an accidental 
similarity of wording. 

(c) Reminiscences of Sayings of Christ. 

Possible reminiscences of our Lord's words are fairly 
frequent, especially in the last chapter ; and probable 
reminiscences are frequent enough to render it improbable 
that all the similarities between the utterances of the 
Apostle and those of Christ are mere coincidences. Assuming 
that in some cases St. Paul is consciously reproducing 
Sayings which are attributed to our Lord in the Gospels, 
the question arises, Whence did the Apostle acquire his 
knowledge ? The most probable source is the oral tradi- 
tion, which preceded our Gospels, and continued to be a 
means of instruction for some time after the Gospels were 
published. But it is not impossible that for some of the 
Sayings which St. Paul seems to have in his mind he had a 
written source. This written source could not well be any 
of 'our four Gospels, for it is certain that Mt., Lk., and Jn. 
were not yet written, and it is extremely improbable that 



INTRODUCTION xxiii 

Mk. was already published, although a few scholars are 
disposed to believe that it was. It will be observed that 
hardly any of the passages in this Epistle which might be 
echoes of Christ's Sayings are possible echoes of those which 
are found only in Mk.* It is, however, quite possible that 
the lost document (the existence of which is now generally 
assumed), which was largely used by both Mt. and Lk., but 
hardly at all (if indeed at all) by Mk., was known to St. 
Paul and may have influenced his language. This lost 
document, commonly called Q, seems to have been mainly 
a collection of the Sayings of Christ, with just enough narra- 
tive to make the Sayings intelligible. The question is 
interesting, but it is not of great importance. There is not 
very much difference between an oral tradition, which has 
become fixed in wording, and the same or very similar 
tradition, which has been committed to writing. Very few 
of the apparent reminiscences of Christ's words in this 
Epistle resemble those in the Gospels so closely as to render 
quotation from a written document necessary. All of them 
are so brief that they might easily have been preserved 
orally. The strongest examples may be taken first ; and 
for purposes of comparison it will suffice to use the Revised 
Version. 

* In the Second Epistle all the probable reminiscences are of Sayings 
recorded in Mt. or Lk. ; not one seems to come from what is recorded 
by Mk., and most are from the apocalyptic utterances in Mt. xxiv. 
Compare i. 5 with Lk. xx. 35, i. 7 with Lk. xvii. 30, ii. 1 with Mt. 
xxiv. 31, ii. 2 with Mt. xxiv. 6, ii. 3 with Mt. xxiv. 4, 12, ii. 4 with 
Mt. xxiv. 15, ii. 9 with Mt. xxiv. 24, ii. n with Mt. xxiv. 4. Har- 
nack asserts that " no one will be able to prove that Mk. made 
use of Q " {The Sayings of Jesus, p. 226). 

With regard to the probability of St. Paul having made use of it, 
Lightfoot's words on v. 2 may be quoted : " Had such a written 
gospel existed and been circulated by St. Paul, he could scarcely 
have referred to his oral teaching in preference five years later in 
1 Cor. xi. 23 f., xv. 1, when a reference to the written document 
would have been decisive." 



XXIV 



INTRODUCTION 



i Thessalonians. 

ii. 14-16. The Jews ; who 
both killed the Lord Jesus 
and the prophets, and 
drave us out (i/cSteogdv- 
tcdv) . . . to fill up their 
sins alway. 



iv. 8. He that rejecteth, re- 
jecteth not man, but God. 



v. 2. The day of the Lord 
so cometh as a thief in the 
night. 



v. 3. Then sudden destruc- 
tion cometh upon them, as 
travail upon a woman with 
child. 

v. 5. Ye are all sons of light. 

v. 6. So then ... let us 

watch (apa ovv . . . 707770- 
pw/iev). 
v, 7. They that be drunken 
are drunken in the night. 



Gospels. 

Mt. xxiii. 31-34. Ye are the 
sons of them that slew the 
prophets. Fill ye up then 
the measure of your 
fathers. ... I send unto 
you prophets . . . some of 
them ye shall persecute 
(Stc6£eTe) from city to 
city. 

Cf. Lk. xi. 49, 50. 

Lk. x. 16. He that rejecteth 
you rejecteth me ; and he 
that rejecteth me rejecteth 
Him that sent me. 

Mt. xxiv. 43. If the master 
of the house had known in 
what watch the thief was 
coming. 

Cf. Lk. xii. 39. 

Lk. xxi. 34. Lest haply . . . 
that day come on you sud- 
denly as a snare. 

Cf. Lk. xvii. 26-30. 

Lk. xvi. 8. The sons of light 1 

Cf. Jn. xii. 36. 

Mt. xxiv. 42. Watch there- 
fore (ypyyopeiTe ovv). 

Mt. xxiv. 48, 49. If that evil 
servant ■. . . shall eat and 
drink with the drunken. 

Cf. Lk. xii. 45. 



The cumulative effect of these seven parallels is con- 
siderable ; and it is increased by the existence of other 
cases in which the similarity between St. Paul's words and 



INTRODUCTION 



XXV 



the Sayings in the Gospels is less striking than in these 
seven. 



i Thessalonians . 

ii. 12. God who calleth you 
into his own kingdom and 
glory. 



iii. 13. At the coming of our 
Lord Jesus with all his 
saints (rcov d<yia)V clvtov). 



iv. 16. With the voice of the 
archangel, and with the 
trump of God. 



iv. 17. to meet the Lord. 

v. 1. But of the times and 
the seasons. 



v. 13. Be at peace among 

yourselves. 
v. 15. See that none render 

unto any one evil for evil. 



Gospels. 

Mt. xxii. 3. Sent forth his 
servants to call them that 
were bidden to the mar- 
riage. 

Cf. Lk. xiv. 17. 

Mt. xvi. 27. The Son of man 
shall come in the glory of 
his Father with his angels 

Mk. viii. 38. twv dyyiXwv 

roov d<yi(ov. 
Lk. ix. 26. tq)v dy[(ov dy- 

yeXcov. 
Mt. xxiv. 31. He shall send 

forth his angels with a 

great sound of a trumpet. 
Cf. Mk. xiii. 26, 27 ; Lk. xxi. 

27- 
Mt. xxv. 6. Come ye forth to 

meet him. 
Mk. xiii. 32. But of that day 

or that hour. 
Mt. xxiv. 36. But of that 

day and hour. 
Mk. ix. 50. Be at peace one 

with another. 
Mt. v. 39. Resist not him 

that is evil. 
Cf. Lk. vi. 27-29. 



From these fourteen instances, which do not exhaust all 
the possibilities, we may safely infer that either through 
the oral tradition, which he would derive direct from some 



xxvi INTRODUCTION 

of the Twelve, or from some written document, St. Paul was 
familiar with many of the utterances of our Lord. 

The Christology of the Epistle appears only incidentally, 
and for that reason is all the more decisive. In four 
places (i. 3, v. 9, 23, 28) we have the full expression, 
' our Lord Jesus Christ.' The frequent title, ' the Lord,' 
implies a great deal. Side by side with the Father, ' our 
Lord Jesus ' is addressed in prayer (hi. 11). He 'died 
for us ' (v. 10 ; cf. ii. 15), and was ' raised from the dead ' 
(i. 10, iv. 14). He is in Heaven, whence He will come 
again to gather to Himself both quick and dead (iv. 16-18, 
v. 10). 



VI. COMMENTARIES 

Only a selection is given here. A very full list will be 
found in the excellent commentary by Professor J. E. 
Frame, who has had the advantage of coming last in a very 
distinguished list, In the following summary foreign works 
which have been translated into English are inserted in the 
English list. 

On the Greek Text. 
Patristic. 

Greek. Chrysostom, Theodore of Mopsuestia, Theodoret, 
Oecumenius.* 

Latin. Ambrosiaster, Pelagius. 

Reformers. 
Latin. Calvin, wingli, Musculus. 

* For information see H. B. Swete, Patristic Study, and C. H. 
Turner, "Patristic Commentaries," in Hastings' DB. V. pp. 484 f. 
Chrysostom 's eleven Homilies on 1 Thessalonians are not reckoned 
among his best ; but they are fairly often quoted, and most of the 
passages thus distinguished are given in these notes. 



INTRODUCTION xxvii 

Modern. 

Bengel, Gnomon N.T., 1742 ; tr. 1857, i860. 

Webster and Wilkinson, 1855-1861. 

Lillie, 1856 (American). 

Alford, 1857, 5 th ed. 1871. 

Olshausen, 1830 ; tr. 1858. 

Jowett, 1859. 

C. Wordsworth, 1859. 

Eadie, 1877. 

Liineman, 1850 (in Meyer) ; tr. 1880. 

Ellicott, 1880. 

Lightfoot, 1895 (Posthumous, in Notes on the Epistles of 

St. Paul). 
Findlay, 1904 (Cambridge Greek Testament). 
B. Weiss, 1902 ; tr. 1906. 
Milligan, 1908. 

Moffatt, 1910 (Expositor's Greek Testament). 
Frame, 1912 (International Critical Commentary). 

On The English Versions. 

Mason (Ellicott' s Com. for English Readers). 
Alexander, 1881 (Speaker's Commentary). 
Marcus Dods, 1882 (Schaff's Popular Com.). 
Gloag, 1887 (Pulpit Commentary). 
Findlay (1891) (Cambridge Bible). 
Denney, 1892 (Expositor' s Bible). 
Bartlet, 1902 (Temple Bible). 
Adeney (New Century Bible). 

New Translations into English. 

The Twentieth Century New Testament, 1900. 
Weymouth, The N.T. in Modern Speech, 1905. 
Way, The Letters of St. Paul, 2nd. ed. 1906. 
Rutherford (Posthumous), Thessalonians and Corinthians, 

1908. 
Moffatt, The N.T., a New Translation, 1913. 



xxviii INTRODUCTION 

Cunnington, The New Covenant, 1914. 

There are valuable articles on the Epistle in Smith's 
DB. by Lightfoot, 1863 ; Hastings' DB. by Lock, 

1902 ; Cheyne's Enc. Bibl. by McGiffert, 1903 ; Murray's 
Illustrated Bible Dictionary by Sinker. 

See also the article on " Paul " in Hastings' DCG. II. 
by Sanday, 1908. 

Of German commentaries those by Schmiedel, 1892 (in 
Holtzmann), Bornemann, 1894 (in Meyer), Wohlenberg, 

1903 (in Zahn), Dobschutz, 1909 (in Meyer), will be found 
most useful. 



N.B. — In the quotations from the A.V., italics signify that the 
word is not expressed in the Greek. In the paraphrase, italics 
signify that the word is emphatic. Paraphrase is necessary, be- 
cause no mere translation, however accurate, can convey the 
fulness of the Apostle's meaning to the English reader. 



A COMMENTARY ON ST. PAUL'S 

FIRST EPISTLE TO THE 

THESSALONIANS 

i. i. THE SALUTATION 

i Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the Church of the 
Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus 
Christ : Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and 
the Lord Jesus Christ. 

The Salutation in I Thessalonians is the shortest of all 
the Pauline Salutations,* but it contains all that is essential, 
and it implies a great deal that is not expressed, as the 
following paraphrase shows. 

' Paul and Silvanus and Timothy, well known to you as friends 
and instructors, to the Assembly of Thessalonians who have God as 
Father and Jesus Christ as Lord, and are thereby united as children 
in one family and members in one body. We send you the Christian 
and the Jewish greeting combined — grace, the source of all spiritual 
blessings, and peace, the end and issue of them all.' 

i. Neither here nor in 2 Thess. i. i does St. Paul give 
himself or his colleagues any title, either ' Apostle ' or 
' bondservant of Jesus Christ.' The omission of ' Apostle ' 
after ' Paul,' as in Phil. i. i, is in harmony with the tone of 
the letter, which is one of affection rather than of authority. 
All three workers were on equally friendly terms with the 
Macedonian Churches. No titles are required, because all 

* The concluding Benediction is also short. The brevity of both 
is in harmony with the simplicity of style which characterizes these 
early Epistles, as compared with the later groups. 



2 COMMENTARY ON 1 THESSALONIANS [i. i 

three were personally known. From ii. 6, where all three 
are called ' apostles ' in the general sense of ' missionaries,' 
it is plain that while St. Paul was working at Thessalonica 
the claims of an Apostle had not been pressed, and in none 
of the Macedonian Churches had his authority as an Apostle 
been questioned. The omission of the title here is a mark 
of genuineness ; a forger would probably have inserted it. 

Silvanus in the Epistles (2 Thess. i. 1 ; 2 Cor. i. 19 ; 
1 Pet. v. 12) is the same person as Silas, who in Acts (xv. 
22-xviii. 5) is mentioned thirteen times. Silas is possibly 
an abbreviation of Silvanus ; but it is probably the Jewish 
name of which Silvanus is the Latin equivalent indi- 
cating Roman citizenship. The short for Silvanus would 
be Silvas. Zahn, Intr. to the N.T., I. p. 31. Silvanus is 
placed before Timothy as being an older man and a labourer 
of longer service and greater distinction (Acts xv. 22, 
xvii. 14, 15, xviii. 5). At Thessalonica he would probably 
take a more prominent part than Timothy. He entirely 
sympathized with St. Paul's endeavours to convert the 
Gentiles ; but there is probably more picturesqueness 
than truth in Origen's remark (quoted by Farrar) that 
the concurrence of Paul and Silas flashed out the lightning 
of these Epistles. Had Silvanus not rejoined the Apostle 
at Corinth, the Epistles would have flashed out in much 
the same manner. 

Timothy is conspicuous in all the Pauline Epistles, 
excepting Galatians, Ephesians, and Titus. Cf . Acts xvi. 1 ; 
1 Cor. xvi. 10 ; Phil. ii. 20, 22. It is probable that St. 
Paul himself converted him during his first journey in Asia 
Minor. 

It is not likely that Silvanus and Timothy had much 
share in the actual composition of the letter ; but their 
agreement with its contents is recognized throughout by 
the use of the 1st person plural down to v. 25. See on v. 
2, ii. 4, 8, 18. We may conjecture that Timothy was the 
scribe to whom both 1 and 2 Thessalonians were dictated. 

The combination of Silvanus and Timothy with the 
Apostle helps us to determine the date of the letter. The 



i i] THE SALUTATION 3 

Second Missionary Journey ended at Corinth, for after his 
long visit to that city St. Paul returned to Jerusalem ; and 
after this visit Silvanus appears no more as a companion 
of St. Paul (Acts xviii. 5 ; 2 Cor. i. 19). 

to the assembly of Thessalonians] ' Assembly ' rather 
than ' Church,' because ecclesia had as yet hardly acquired 
its specially Christian meaning.* Both Jews and Greeks 
used ecclesia to denote their assemblies, and the Thessa- 
lonian converts would be familiar with the word. But the 
Christian use of the term was no doubt more closely con- 
nected with the Jewish than the Greek usage. See Trench, 
Syn. of N.T. § 1, Hort, The Christian Ecclesia, and Swete, 
The Holy Catholic Church. In Romans, Ephesians, Colos- 
sians, Philippians, St. Paul addresses ' the saints,' not 
' the assembly ' or ' the Church.' And here he names the 
people rather than the city, Thessalonians rather than 
Thessalonica, while in Galatians we have the country, 
' Churches of Galatia.' There is perhaps no reason for 
these variations. 

We have no means of estimating the number of Chris- 
tians in Thessalonica. From Acts xvii. 4 we infer that 
they were fairly numerous among the proselytes, but no 
account is taken there of the conversion of heathen after 
the mission to the synagogues had closed. 

who have God as Father and Jesus Christ as Lord] 
Lit. ' in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.' This 
momentous addition distinguishes the assembly which is 
addressed from the assemblies of Gentiles and of Jews with 
which the Thessalonians were familiar. Thus we at once 
have what is the most striking feature in these two early 
Epistles, viz. the equal emphasis on God the Father and on 
the Lord Jesus Christ. Here, as in 2 Thess. i. 1, the two 
are combined as the sphere in which the Church of the 
Thessalonians has its being ; cf. iii. n ; 2 Thess. ii. 16. 
Chrysostom calls attention to the preposition (eV) as being 

* Coverdale has ' congregacion ' : so also Tyndale and Cranmer. 
Cf. Judith vi. 16 ; Ecclus. xxiv. 2, 1. 13 ; 1 Mace. ii. 56. 



4 COMMENTARY ON 1 THESSALONIANS [i. i 

common to both Father and Son : it is not repeated with 
the latter. This clause has been pointed out as " the first 
decisive step " towards Trinitarian doctrine. We may 
surmise that the use of ' Father ' of God was already cur- 
rent ; iii. ii, 13 ; 2 Thess. i. 1, ii. 16. The combination 
' Lord Jesus Christ ' is specially frequent at the beginning 
of the Pauline Epistles. The expression had probably 
become current before St. Paul used it. The ineffable 
' Jehovah ' in its Greek form has become the common 
appellation of Christ. In this short Epistle Christ is called 
' the Lord ' more than twenty times. See Sanday in 
Hastings' DB. II. p. 648. 

It is possible that St. Paul was the first to use the com- 
bination ' grace and peace.' It is adopted in 1 and 2 Peter, 
2 John, and the Apocalypse ; and the fact that it is found 
in these very different writers is some evidence that it had 
become an ordinary Christian password. It is sometimes 
regarded as a combination of the Greek ya'ip eiv with the 
Hebrew Shalom, but both have their meaning deepened to 
an extent which makes the combination an original Christian 
creation. ' Peace ' must not be limited to a wish for 
deliverance from persecution. St. Paul has it in saluta- 
tions to those who are not being persecuted. The favour 
of God naturally produces peace of mind. Enmity to God 
has ceased, and reconciliation has followed. The torturing 
anxiety about hostile deities has been for ever banished. 
' Grace ' (%«/>*>) occurs far more often in the Pauline 
Epistles than in the rest of the N.T. In the O.T. it is rare 
in the Psalms and Prophets, but is frequent in the Sapiential 
Books. It has various shades of meaning : see Findlay on 
2 Thess. i. 12 ; J. A. Robinson, Ephesians, pp. 221 f . ; 
Sanday and Headlam, Romans, p. 10. 

' From God our Father, etc' must be omitted as an 
interpolation. In the later Epistles the words became a 
usual formula, and hence some scribes inserted them here. 
Cf. the insertion at the end of the Lord's Prayer in Mt. 
vi. 13. 



i. 2] HISTORICAL AND PERSONAL 



i. 2-iii. 13. HISTORICAL AND PERSONAL 

The first main portion of the letter begins here. It con- 
sists of five sections ; i. 2-10, The Thanksgiving ; ii. 1-12, 
How the Three Missionaries acted at Thessalonica ; ii. 13-16, 
Renewed Thanksgiving for the Conversion of the Thessa- 
lonians and their Patience under Persecution ; ii. 17-iii. 10, 
The Writer's Anxiety until reassured by Timothy ; iii. 
11-13, Prayer for the Thessalonians. 

i. 2-10. Thanksgiving for the Fruits of their 
Conversion 

2 We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of 
you in our prayers ; 3 Remembering without ceasing your work 
of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus 
Christ, in the sight of God and our Father ; 4 Knowing, brethren 
beloved, your election of God. 5 For our Gospel came not unto you 
in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much 
assurance ; as ye know what manner of men we were among you 
for your sake. 6 And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, 
having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy 
Ghost : 7 So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia 
and Achaia. 8 For from you sounded out the Word of the Lord not 
only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to 
God-ward is spread abroad ; so that we need not to speak any thing. 
9 For they themselves show of us what manner of entering in we 
had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the 
living and true God ; 10 And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom 
he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the 
wrath to come. 

This kind of opening is a usual feature in the Pauline 
Epistles, found in all of them, excepting Galatians and 
1 Timothy and Titus. Pious expressions of gratitude were 
common in the secular letters of that age, but in the Apostle's 
letters they are no mere conventional openings. They 
strike a solemn note at the outset, in order at once to 
put the hearers of the letter into a receptive state of mind. 
He had strong views as to the duty of thanksgiving. 
' Thanksgiving ' (evxapia-r[a) and ' to thank ' (evxapiaTeiv) 

c 



6 COMMENTARY ON 1 THESSALONIANS [i. 2 

are far more frequent in his writings than in the rest of the 
N.T. Cf. ii. 13, v. 18 ; 2 Cor. i. 11, iv. 15, ix. 11, 12 ; 
Eph. v. 4, 20 ; Phil. iv. 6 ; Col. ii. 7, iii. 17, iv. 2 ; 1 Tim. 
ii. i, iv. 3, 4. This Thanksgiving and that in Philippians 
are exceptionally full ; they are addressed to Churches for 
which the Apostle had a very deep affection. Those in the 
supplementary 2 Thessalonians and in Romans are excep- 
tionally brief. See Jowett, I. p. 45 on these verses as 
specially characteristic of St. Paul's style, the propositions 
overlaying one another, sometimes without clear relation 
to one another. The probable connexion is suggested in the 
following paraphrase. 

1 2 We thank the one and only God on all occasions for all of you, 
making a mention of you at our times of prayer unceasingly, and this 
because of what we remember and what we know. 3 We remember 
how your faith has shown itself, not in word only, but in work, your 
love in ceaseless toil for others, and your hope in patient endurance of 
suffering, a hope inspired by the thought of the Coming of our Lord 
Jesus Christ, in the presence of our God and Father. 4 We thank God 
also, Brethren so dearly beloved by Him, because we know so Well the 
reality of His favour in singling you out and making you His own, 5 a 
favour shown by the fact that our preaching of the Gospel did not come 
to you as a mere triumph of oratory, but was effective in power, in- 
spired by the Holy Spirit and by our full conviction of its truth. In 
like manner ye know equally Well what kind of people We proved 
ourselves to be among you for your sakes. 6 And you on your part 
showed the reality of His favour by proving yourselves imitators of us 
who are imitators of the Lord ; for you welcomed the word when to 
do so involved great affliction, and you did so with a joy which was 
a gift of the Holy Spirit. 7 So fully was this the case that you became 
a pattern to all the Christians in Macedonia and in Achaia. 8 Yes, 
a pattern, for it is from you as a centre that the word of God has 
sounded out and still sounds in Macedonia and Achaia ; and not only so, 
but in every place the report of your faith towards God has gone forth 
to the World so fully that there is no need for us to talk at all about it. 
9 For the inhabitants themselves of their own accord report respecting 
us what a prosperous admission we had into your midst, and with 
what readiness ye turned to the true God, leaving your dead idols in 
order to become bondservants of a God who is living and real, 10 and 
to await the Return of His Son out of heaven, the Son whom He 
raised from the dead, Jesus who is our Deliverer from the Wrath of 
God which is now coming near to us.' 



i. 2] HISTORICAL AND PERSONAL 7 

2. We thank] In 1 and 2 Thess., as in 2 Cor. i-ix., the 
1st person plural prevails ; St. Paul includes Silvanus and 
Timothy with himself throughout. See on ii. 4, 8, and also 
Zahn, In trod, to N.T., I. p. 210. Even in hi. 1,2, Silvanus 
is included, and perhaps Timothy also as consenting to the 
arrangement. St. Paul does this in these two letters much 
more fully than he does in 2 Corinthians, Philippians, 
Colossians, and Philemon, in which Timothy is joined with 
the Apostle, or in 1 Corinthians, in which Sosthenes seems 
to be almost entirely forgotten after the opening words. 
In 1 Corinthians, Philippians, and Philemon he at once 
begins with the 1st person singular, ' / thank.' ' Thank on 
all occasions ' (ev-^ap. irdvTore) occurs 2 Thess. i. 3 ; 1 Cor. i. 
4 ; Phil. i. 3, 4 ; and in Eph. v. 20 we have the full phrase 
(ei>xap- iravrore irepl ttcivtcov), as here. St. Paul is fond of 
alliteration, especially with the letter it ; See on iv. 17 and 
on 2 Cor. ix. 8. 

the one and only God] ' The God ' (tco ©<?&>), in contrast to 
the many false Gods which the heathen Thessalonians had 
previously worshipped. 

for all of you] The ' all ' is emphatic ; even for those who 
are most faulty ; cf. v. 5, 27 ; 2 Thess. i. 3, hi. 16, 18 ; 
Eph. vi. 18. 

making mention of] The expression occurs Rom. i. 9 ; 
Eph. i. 16 ; Philem. 4 ; always in connexion with prayer. 
The same use is found in papyri. We gather from this that 
the three missionaries were accustomed to unite together in 
prayer and intercession, — doubtless one of the causes of 
the success of their labours. 

at our times of prayer] Rather than ' in our prayers.' 
Not eV, as in Col. iv. 12, but em, as in Rom. i. 9 ; Eph. i. 16 ; 
Philem. 4 ; and not the singular, of the public prayer of 
the Church to which he is writing, as in Rom. xii. 12 ; 1 Cor. 
vii. 5 ; Phil. iv. 6 ; Col. iv. 2, but the plural, of private 
intercession, as in Rom. i. 9 ; etc. See E. A. Abbott, The 
Founding of the New Kingdom, p. 58. 

unceasingly] Cf. ii. 13, v. 17 ; Rom. i. 9 ; 1 Mace. xii. 11 ; 
2 Mace, iii 26. Both the adv. {a&ubkebrrm) and the adj. 



8 COMMENTARY ON 1 THESSALONIANS [i. 3 

are peculiar to St. Paul in the N.T., and always in connexion 
with prayer or thanksgiving. Here the adv. may be taken 
with either ' making mention ' or ' remember. ' 

3. Note the triplet, ' how your faith works, and your love 
toils, and your hope endures.' This is the earliest occurrence 
of the triplet. We have it again, in the same order, v. 8 and 
Col. i. 4 ; and, in a different order, 1 Cor. xiii. 13. Hope is 
more emphasized in 1 and 2 Thessalonians, Love in 1 Cor- 
inthians. The combination of works, toil, and endurance 
occurs Rev. ii. 2 ; and the words in this order form a climax. 
Endurance (vwofiovt]) , as Chrysostom says, is the ' Queen of 
Virtues.' It means manly endurance without cowardly 
shrinking. See Trench, Syn. § liii., Ropes on Jas. i. 3, 
and Plummer on 2 Cor. i. 6. The ' toil ' (*o7ro?) is not 
to be restricted to manual labour ; it includes charitable 
toil of all kinds, and it implies more energy, persistence, 
and fatigue than mere ' work ' (epyov). St. Paul toiled 
with hands, heart, and brain. See on v. 12. 

Note also the accumulation of genitives, which is rather 
common in the Pauline Epistles ; Rom. viii. 21 ; 2 Cor. iv. 
4 ; Eph. i. 6, iv. 13 ; Col. i. 13. A T. Robertson, Gr. of 
Grk. N.T., p. 503. 

your hope in patient endurance of suffering] Endurance 
under persecution is strengthened by hope. Christian love 
' hopeth all things, endureth all things ' (1 Cor. xiii. 7). 
St. Paul in his earlier letters is already impressed with the 
necessary connexion, in such a world, between Christian life 
and persecution ; iii. 3, 7 ; 2 Thess. i. 4, 6 ; 2 Cor. i. 4, 
iv. 17, vii. 4, viii. 2 ; Rom. v. 3, viii. 35, xii. 12. 

hope ... of the Coming] This was strong throughout 
Christendom in the Apostolic age, and it was specially 
strong at Thessalonica. Christians anxiously expected it. 

in the presence of our God and Father] This is a guarantee 
that their estimate of the Thessalonians is not the result of 
prejudice and partiality ; cf. ii. 19, iii. 9, 13. We may 
connect the words with either ' remember,' or ' work, toil, 
and endurance,' or with ' endurance ' alone. ' Our God and 
Father ' occurs Gal. i. 4 and Phil. iv. 20. In all three places 



i. 4, 5] HISTORICAL AND PERSONAL 9 

the ' our ' almost certainly belongs to both ' God ' and 
' Father.' See on 2 Cor. i. 3, where we have a similar 
construction. 

4. Brethren so dearly beloved by Him] The affectionate 
address, ' Brethren,' is remarkably frequent in this letter 
(ii. 1, 9, 14, 17, hi. 7, etc.), but the addition ' beloved by 
God ' is unique in the N.T. Cf. Ecclus. xlv. 1. In 2 Thess. 
ii. 13 we have ' Brethren beloved by the Lord,' i.e. by Jesus 
Christ. The two expressions seem to be treated as equival- 
ent. ' By God ' certainly belongs to ' beloved ' (R.V.), 
not to 'election' (A.V.). Election is always the result 
of His love. 

because we know] This looks back to ' we thank ' in v. 2. 
It is surprising that Theodoret, Erasmus, and others should 
make the participle (eiSores) refer to the Thessalonians, 
' for ye know.' 

favour in singling you out] This is the full meaning of 
' election ' (iicKoyq) ; God had appropriated them out of 
many. Cf. ' the Chosen People.' The word does not occur 
in the LXX. In the N.T. it is always used of choice made 
by God ; Acts ix. 15 ; Rom. ix. 11, xi. 5, 7, 28 ; 2 Pet. i. 
10. Cf. 1 Cor. i. 26, 27. The Thessalonians had evidently 
been taught that before they were born the advantages of 
the Gospel were in store for them ; 2 Thess. ii. 13. But 
here there is no rigid scheme of Predestination. See Light- 
foot on Col. hi. 12. "It does not seem possible to determine 
on N.T. evidence whether the individuals are regarded as 
owing their membership in the Church to their election, or 
as becoming elect by virtue of their membership" (Hastings' 
DB. art. ' Election,' p. 679b). How the reality of this 
favour is known St. Paul goes on to state. 

5. shown by the fact that] The three missionaries felt that 
in preaching to the Thessalonians they had had Divine 
assistance. Men's words unaided would never have had 
such effect. This is the experience of many a successful 
worker. The on = ' for ' (A.V.) rather than ' how that' 
(R.V.) ; it explains how the missionaries know the election 
of the Thessalonians. They have two pieces of evidence, first 



io COMMENTARY ON 1 THESSALONIANS [i. 5, 6 

the power of their own preaching, and secondly the change 
in the Thessalonians' manner of life. 

the Gospel] Or ' Glad-tidings/ or ' Good-news,' entrusted 
by God to the Apostles to proclaim to the world. A written 
Gospel is not meant, even if one existed. It is possible that 
St. Paul had seen ' Q,' the lost document used by Mt. and 
Lk. Almost certainly Mk. was not yet written. See 
Introduction V. In any case it is not a written document 
which is spoken of here, but the Gospel message. 

in power] Cf. 1 Cor. ii. 4, where a similar claim is made. 
The expression (Sum/xet) does not imply miracles, but power to 
influence men's hearts ; and words alone, however eloquent, 
cannot do this. We have the same preposition (e^) in all 
four places, but the meaning of it varies ; hence the different 
renderings. In Acts iv. 29 ' the word ' is contrasted with 
miracles. 

our full conviction] Cf. Rom. iv. 21, xiv. 5 ; Col. ii. 2 ; 
Heb. vi. n, x. 22. This conviction or assurance {irX^po^opia) 
means the confidence of the three missionaries in the truth 
and efficacy of their message. They had no paralysing 
doubts. But the knowledge is not all on their side. As 
they know the effect of the Gospel on the Thessalonians, so 
the Thessalonians know what kind of preachers the men who 
thus affected them proved to be. We might render ' we 
were enabled (by God) to be,' giving iyevr/drj^ev a passive 
sense. The sincerity of these teachers was transparent. 

The Thessalonians' knowledge exactly corresponds with 
the facts of the case («a^cb? oiBare). More often than in 
any other letter the Apostle appeals to what his converts 
know ; ii. 1, 2, 5, 11, hi. 3, 4, iv. 2, v. 2. It is evident that 
some of the hostile Jews had been defaming him ; his answer 
is, ' You know us and our conduct.' The whole of this 
half of the letter (i. 2— iii. 13), while aiming at consol- 
ing and strengthening the converts, is largely, if not 
mainly, a defence of the conduct of those who converted 
them. 

6. And you on your part] The pronoun is emphatic, in con- 
trast to ' our ' in the previous verse ; there is something more 



i. 6] HISTORICAL AND PERSONAL n 

personal to be said of the converts. They ' proved to be ' 
(eyevijOrjTe) copiers of their teachers and therefore of Christ 
who is their teachers' model ; i Cor. iv. 16, xi. i ; Phil. hi. 
17. This is the second part of the proof that they have been 
specially chosen by God. The first was the inspired nature 
of the Gospel ; the second is the hearty nature of their 
reception of it. Cf. Jas. i. 21. 

The nicety and tact fulness with which St. Paul dispenses 
praise where he sees it to be due is remarkable. " He knows 
that there are no more powerful levers in education than 
praise administered rarely but with discrimination and 
entire trust " (Weinel, St. Paul, the Man and his Work, 
p. 365). Cf. ii. 13, 19, 20, hi. 6, iv. 1, 9, 10. 

imitators of us] Cf. ii. 14. The Apostle was conscious of 
his intense union with Christ, especially as regards joy in 
suffering. He had been crucified with Christ ; Gal. ii. 20. 
Therefore he could venture to call on his converts to imitate 
him ; for in so doing they imitated Christ. 

imitators of the Lord] ' The Lord ' is used constantly by 
St. Paul as a proper name for Jesus Christ, and it sums up 
His Divine attributes ; v. 8, hi. 8, 12, iv. 6, 15, 16, 17, v. 2, 
12, etc. To Him faith, obedience, and worship are due. 
The use is not of St. Paul's making. It springs naturally 
from Christ's own Saying, Mk. xii. 35 and parallels. 

for you welcomed the word] Although becoming a Christian 
involved bitter persecution (ii. 14, iii. 2-4 ; Acts xvii. 1-13), 
they had not merely listened to the Gospel, but had embraced 
it with a joy which could have only one source, viz., the 
Holy Spirit ; Rom. xiv. 17. Cf. ii. 13 ; 2 Thess. i. 4-7. 
From the very first, joy accompanied the proclamation of 
the Glad-tidings ; Lk. ii. 10 ; Acts viii. 8, 39, xiii. 48 ; 
Phil. i. 25 ; Col. i. 11. The mingling of joy with affliction 
is also common, especially with the affliction of persecution ; 
Mt. v. n, 12 ; Lk. vi. 22 ; Acts v. 41 ; xiii. 52 ; Rom. v. 3 ; 
2 Cor. vi. 10, vii. 4, viii. 2 ; etc. And joy is elsewhere 
spoken of as a gift of the Spirit ; Rom. xiv. 17, xv. 13 ; 
Gal. v. 22. The cheeriness of our troops and of those of our 
Allies, in the midst of prolonged privations and ceaseless 



12 COMMENTARY ON 1 THESSALONIANS [i. 7,8 

danger of mutilation and death, is a fine illustration of 
affliction mingled with joy. 

7. You became a pattern] This was true of the Thessa- 
lonian Church as a whole, although the members of it were 
still far from perfection and some were very unsatisfactory ; 
iv. 1-12, v. 12—15. These verses seem somewhat extra- 
vagant when one remembers how few Churches had been 
founded in Europe, and how small each of them was. 
But the Apostle thinks of the scope of his calling. 

The reading ' patterns ' (tvttov? for tvttov) is an obvious 
correction to agree with the plural ' you ' (£/*£?). 

in Macedonia and in Achaia] The Thessalonians were in 
Macedonia, the writers in Achaia. The repetition of the 
preposition marks the two Roman provinces as distinct ; 
in v. 8 they are treated as a whole, meaning Greece, which 
was thus divided B.C. 142.* The statement in vv. 7 and 8 
implies that St. Paul had worked in Achaia for a few months ; 
otherwise there could not be many converts there to 
imitate the Thessalonians. A still longer period must be 
allowed between the missionaries' departure from Thessa- 
lonica and the writing of this letter from Corinth, for they 
remained some time in Macedonia after leaving Thessalonica. 

8. from you] First with emphasis ; cf. 1 Cor. xiv. 36. 
It was not through the missionaries' efforts that these excel- 
lent results followed. 

has sounded out and still sounds] The full force of the Greek 
perfect {^vxv Tai )- ' Has been sounded out ' might be 
more accurate. The verb occurs Joel iii. 14 and 3 Mace. iii. 2, 
but nowhere else in N.T. ; and it is immaterial whether St. 
Paul is thinking of thunder (Ecclus. xl. 13) or a trumpet 
(Rev. i. 10). Here and in similar passages (iv. 15 ; 2 Thess. 
iii. 1 ; 1 Cor. xiv. 36 ; 2 Cor. ii. 17, iv. 2 ; Col. i. 25, iii. 16 ; 
Tit. ii. 9) ' the word of the Lord,' or ' of Christ,' or ' of God, ' 
means the word which proceeds from Him, as in the Prophets; 
Jer. i. 2, 4, ii. 1, xiv. 1 ; Ezek. i. 3, iii. 16 ; etc. 

* Cf. Jn. xi. 19 7rpos TTjv MdpOav kcu Mapid/x, where Martha and 
Mary are regarded as one household. Abbott, Johannine Grammar, 
p. 68. 



i. 8, 9] HISTORICAL AND PERSONAL 13 

in every place] Conventional hyperbole ; cf. Rom. i. 8, 
xvi. 19 ; 1 Cor. i. 2 ; 2 Cor. ii. 14 ; 1 Tim. ii. 8. The Apostle 
writes out of the fulness of a grateful heart, and he is generous 
in his praise. Thessalonica was a commercial centre on the 
Via Egnatia with a sea-port, and news would spread quickly 
from it. Travellers may have brought news to Corinth. 
But we must allow time for this ; see on ii. 18. 

has gone forth to the world] " Note," says Chrysostom, 
' ' how he speaks of it as a living thing. ' ' The compound verb 
(i^eXTjXvdev) is used in the same sense Rom. x. 18 and 
1 Cor. xiv. 36. The perfect tense again includes present 
results. 

there is no need] Cf. iv. 9, v. 1 ; Mt. hi. 14, xiv. 16 ; 
Heb. v. 12. 

9. the inhabitants themselves] Those in Macedonia and 
Achaia. There was no need to ask for information. See 
the first note on iv. 16. 

report] Pres. tense ; reports continually reach Corinth. 

how] ' How thoroughly and enthusiastically.' 

ye turned to the true God] We again have tov Qeov, as in 
V. 2. ' To turn to Jehovah ' (i7na-Tpi(p(iv 777309 Kvpiov) and 
' to be bondservants of Jehovah ' (8ov\eveiv Kvplw) are 
frequent in the LXX. For heathen this was an entire 
break with their past life, and it is difficult for those who have 
had no experience of it to estimate the magnitude of the 
change. Harnack says of these two verses (9, 10), " Here 
we have the mission-preaching to pagans in a nutshell " 
(Mission and Expansion of Christianity, I. p. 89). Cf. 1 Cor. 
xii. 2. Jacquier conjectures that the Jewish converts " may 
have renounced communion when the troubles caused by 
their fellow countrymen arose " (Hist, of the Books of the 
N.T., p. 68). The statement implies that the majority of 
the converts were originally heathen, which might also be 
inferred from ii. 14 ; and we have here some evidence that 
St. Paul must have spent some months at Thessalonica. 
Three weeks were spent in preaching to the Jews ; Acts 
xvii. 2. After that the work would be chiefly among 
Gentiles who did not frequent the synagogues, and this 



14 COMMENTARY ON 1 THESSALONIANS [i. 9, 10 

would take time. See on ii. 9. For ' turn ' in this sense 
cf. 2 Cor. iii. 16. 

to become bondservants] Cf. Rom. xiv. 18, xvi. 18 ; Col. 
iii. 24. St. Paul is a ' bondservant of Christ ' ; Rom i. 1 ; 
Gal. i. 10 ; Phil. i. 10 ; and of God ; Tit. i. 1. 
- a God who is living and real] Who can act, and who corre- 
sponds to the idea of God (Z&vti kclI aXr)6tvu>), whereas 
idols can do nothing and are nonentities ; 1 Cor. viii. 4, 
x. 19 ; Acts xiv. 15 ; Lev. xix. 4 ; Jer. xiv. 14. See Enc. 
Bibl. II. 2148. The ' living God ' is one who ' has life in 
Himself ' and ' gave to the Son also to have life in Him- 
self ' ; Jn. v. 26 ; Rom. iv. 17, 24 ; Josh. iii. 10 ; Dan. 
vi. 26 ; Is. lxv. 16, which St. Paul may have in his mind. 
The ' true God ' does not mean ' who cannot lie ' ; Tit. i. 2 ; 
2 Tim. ii. 13 ; Heb. vi. 18. It means One who is ' very God,' 
and can forgive sin and free men from it. Trench, Syn. 

10. to await the Return of His Son] This is the great ' hope ' 
which dominates these two Epistles. At the time when they 
were written, the three writers and those to whom they 
wrote expected that the Lord would come soon : therefore 
all Christians must make themselves fit to meet Him. Every 
chapter in this Epistle closes with this subject ; ii. 19, 20, 
iii. 13, iv. 17, 18, v. 23, 24. In 1 Cor. it is still conspicuous ; 
in the later Epistles it is less so : but we find it in Phil. iv. 5. 
St. Luke gives us no hint in Acts that the subject of the 
Return occupied so prominent a place in the early preaching 
of St. Paul.* But it was certainly prominent in the later 
teaching of Christ, and His Apostle found it useful at 
Thessalonica. See A. T. Robertson, Epochs in the Life of 
St. Paul, p. 168. ' Await ' is a compound verb {avaixivevv), 
implying constant and patient waiting. 



* We do, however, find it in St. Paul's speech on the Areopagus 
(Acts xvii. 31), which was delivered shortly before this Epistle was 
written at Corinth ; and it is the only Christian doctrine which 
appears in the speech. See Lightfoot, art. on ' Acts of the Apostles ' 
in ed. 2 of Smith's DB., p. 35. 



i. 10] HISTORICAL AND PERSONAL 15 

Only here in these two letters is Christ spoken of as the 
Son of God ; but the expression is frequent in the four 
great Epistles. The ' devout ' (crefio/nevoi) heathen, who 
formed the large majority of the first converts at Thes- 
salonica (Acts xvii. 4), had turned to the living and true God 
before they heard the Gospel. It was the Gospel that told 
them of the Son of God. 

out of heaven] Lit. ' out of the heavens,' as in ' the King- 
dom of heaven ' in Mt. St. Paul often has the plural ; but 
it is by no means certain that, as in 2 Cor. xii. 2, he is thinking 
of a series of heavens, one above the other. In iv. 16 ; 
2 Thess, i. 7 ; Rom. i. 18, x. 6 ; 1 Cor. xv. 47 ; 2 Cor. v. 2 
he has the singular. The Hebrew equivalent has no singular, 
a fact which may be due to the belief in a series of heavens 
which was common among the Jews. In 2 Cor. v. 1, 2 we 
have the plural and the singular in consecutive verses, 
without difference of meaning. 

whom He raised from the dead] The point of this addition 
is that therefore we shall be raised from the dead to be 
judged by Him. The parallel between these two verses 
(9, 10) and the conclusion of the Apostle's address at Athens 
(Acts xvii. 31) is remarkable. This was a leading topic in 
teaching heathen. Cf. ii. 19, iii. 13. 

Jesus who is our Deliverer] It is clear from this verse that, 
for St. Paul, the Jesus who died and was raised is one and 
the same with the glorified Christ who is coming to judge and 
to rescue. ' Deliverer ' perhaps refers to the name Jesus, 
' the Saviour.' See Sanday and Headlam on Rom. xi. 26. 
The participle (top pvSfievov is timeless ; ' which delivereth ' 
(R.V.) is not quite right, still less, ' which delivered ' (A.V.). 
It is the character of the Saviour that is expressed by it ; 
He is our Redeemer. Cf. Wisd. xvi. 8. 

from the wrath] Lit. ' out of the wrath,' out of the reach 
of it, so that the deliverance is complete. We have e/e, not, 
as in 2 Thess. iii. 2 and in the Lord's Prayer, diro. This 
shows, as Sabatier remarks, that the Apostle of the Gentiles, 
like the other Apostles, began by preaching the imminence 
of the Divine Judgment, and, like the Baptist, spoke of ' the 



16 COMMENTARY ON 1 THESSALONIANS [i. 10 

wrath to come.' See Knowling, The Witness of the Epistles, 
p. 405, and cf. Eccles. vii. 16, xxiii. 16. 

' The wrath ' means God's anger, as in ii. 16 ; Rom. iii. 
5, v. 9, ix. 22, xiii. 5 ; Is. xiii. 9 ; Ecclus. v. 7. Not that 
He is an angry God rather than a merciful one ; still less 
that He exhibits arbitrary outbursts of rage, as men do. 
But, seeing that sin exists, there must be Divine repulsion 
and displeasure. The N.T. supplies no definition of this 
wrath, but the effect of it is spoken of as ' death,' ' destruc- 
tion,' ' perdition ' (Oavaros, 6'A.e#po?, airoaXeia). See Hast- 
ings' DAC. art. 'Anger.' 

which is now coming near to us] It is on its way, it is 
always impending. ' To come ' (A.V., R.V.) rather implies 
that it is remote in the distant future, which is not the 
Apostle's meaning. Cf. Eph. v. 6 ; Col. iii. 6.* In Mt. iii. 7 
=Lk. iii. 7 we have arrb tt}? /ieXXovo-jj?. 

This Thanksgiving tells us of two leading ideas in the 
preaching of the missionaries. There is only one God, who 
has love for the righteous and wrath for the ungodly ; and a 
Judgment is coming, in which the love and the wrath will 
find expression, and in which God's Son can save us from 
the wrath. In iv. 16-18 there is no mention of the Judg- 
ment ; and here, as in v. 9, it is implied rather than stated. 
The Thanksgiving is resumed ii. 13, and there, as here, it 
ends with a mention of the wrath of God. 

ii. 1-12. How the Three Missionaries acted 

AT THESSALONICA 

ii. x For yourselves, brethren, know our entrance in unto you, 
that it was not in vain : 2 But even after that we had suffered 

* The thought that the great catastrophe is near is frequent in 
eschatological writings ; ' It will surely come, it will not tarry ' 
(Hab. ii. 3) ; ' Things which must shortly come to pass ' (Rev. i. 1, 
xxii. 6, 20) ; ' The Judge will come and will not tarry ' (Apocalypse 
of Baruch, xlviii. 39, cf. xx. 6). To the idea of the sure fulfilment 
of the Divine purpose " the keen hope of primitive Christianity 
adds iv to^ci " (Swete on Rev. i. 1). The Apostle's attitude, as 
that of Christ Himself during His ministry on earth, is that ' God 



ii. i] HISTORICAL AND PERSONAL 17 

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. 3 For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of 
uncleanness, nor in guile : 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. 5 For neither at any time used 
we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloke of covetousness ; God 
is witness : 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. 7 But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherish- 
eth her children. 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. 9 For ye remem- 
ber, 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. 10 Ye are witnesses, and God also, 
how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among 
you that believe. n As you know how we exhorted and comforted 
and charged every one of you, (as a father doth his children,) 12 That 
ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his king- 
dom and glory. 

St. Paul enlarges on the subject just touched upon in i. 5, 
viz. the conduct of himself and his fellow-workers in con- 
verting the Thessalonians ; and the result is a personal 
narrative similar to that in Gal. i. 11-iii. 14 and to a great 
deal of 2 Corinthians. The section gives us a vivid idea of 
the frame of mind in which this letter was dictated. The 
intensity of feeling and of effort with which the missionaries 
laboured among the Thessalonians during those eventful 
months is fresh in the Apostle's memory. He reminds them 
of the preachers' courage in the face of persecution (1, 2), 
of their freedom from self-interest (3-6), and of their parental 
tenderness in instructing them. We may safely conjecture 
that there had been criticism of the missionaries' behaviour, 
and that this is a reply to it. Jews had probably been 
saying that Paul was a fanatical renegade, who wrapped up 
his novel doctrines in specious language, in order to conceal 

alone knows the consummation of the times before they come ' 
(Apoc. of Bar. xxi. 8). See Hastings' DB. art. ' Eschatology,' pp. 
755 i- 



1 8 COMMENTARY ON 1 THESSALONIANS [ii. i 

his vanity and greed, like the itinerant impostors who 
preached new cults. Just as we owe Newman's inimitable 
Apologia to Kingsley's attack on him, so we owe the precious 
descriptions of the Apostle's work as a missionary and 
educator to the attacks which were made upon him at 
Thessalonica and Corinth. But we may allow for the 
possibility that the Apostle, in his abnormal sensitiveness, 
had somewhat exaggerated estimates of the malignity of 
his opponents. What is certain is that the Jews had stirred 
up the heathen to expel the missionaries and persecute their 
converts. 

' x You at any rate do not need to be told of what other people 
have reported about our Work and its results, for you yourselves 
know, Brethren, With regard to our admission into your midst, that 
it has proved to be by no means ineffective. 2 On the contrary, 
although we had had a foretaste of what we might expect at Thessa- 
lonica in the sufferings and brutal outrages to which, as you fully 
know, We were subjected at Philippi, we took courage — a courage 
which was not our own but our God's — to declare unto you the Gospel 
of God in the face of much violent opposition. 3 I say that our courage 
was God's, and that the Gospel which we preached to you was God's ; 
and this is no exaggeration. For the appeal which we make to you 
is not the result of our being delivered, nor yet of our having sensual 
motives, nor again is it made with a schemer's guile. 4 On the con- 
trary, exactly to the degree that we have been judged by God to be fit 
to be put in trust with the Gospel, so in accordance with this approval 
we declare it, not as though we aimed at pleasing men, but pleasing 
God, who judges our hearts and motives. 5 And this also is no 
exaggeration. For neither did we at any time engage in language 
such as flatterers use, as you fully know, nor any false professions 
such as greedy schemers use, — God is our witness ; 6 nor did we seek 
to get glory out of men, either from you or from others, although we 
might have been overbearing in our character of apostles, and apostles 
of Christ. 7 On the contrary, we showed ourselves simple as children, 
mixing with you as one of yourselves, much as a nursing mother does 
when she fondles her own children : 8 yes, with all a mother's yearn- 
ing over you we were delighted to impart to you, not only the Gospel 
of God, but even our own lives, because ye had become as beloved 
children in our eyes. 9 Again there is no exaggeration. For you 
can call to mind, Brethren, how we worked for our living- and struggled 
hard. Labouring night and day to avoid being burdensome to any of 
you we preached to you the Gospel of God. 10 As was said before, 



ii. i, 2] HISTORICAL AND PERSONAL 19 

ye are witnesses, and God also, how religiously and righteously, and 
in a manner that was free from all reproach, we behaved ourselves 
towards you who believe. u Indeed, as you very well know, to each 
one of you We acted as a father to his own children, 12 exhorting you 
and encouraging you and protesting to you solemnly, that in your 
daily life you should walk worthily of the God who is the Inviter that 
called you into His own Kingdom and glory.' 

1. for you yourselves know] The pronoun is very empha- 
tic ; see on iv. 16. ' I can speak quite positively, and I 
need not say much, for I can appeal to your own experience. ' 
See on i. 5.* The frequent ' ye know ' (o'tSare) is no evi- 
dence that the Thessalonians had written to St. Paul. If 
they had, they would not have told him of his sufferings at 
Philippi. 

Brethren] See on i. 4 ; also the full note of Ropes on Jas. i. 
2. Seeing that the Jews used ' brother ' in the sense of 
' fellow-countrymen ' (Exod. ii. 11 ; Deut. xv. 3, xvii. 15, 
xix. 18, 19, etc.) it came to be used of fellow-members of 
the new Israel. Among Gentile Christians this usage was 
facilitated by the fact that among the heathen ' brother ' 
sometimes meant a fellow-member of some religious society. 
Deissmann, Bible Studies, p. 87. 

our admission] This refers to i. 9, where the same word 
(eio-oSo?) is used. 

it has proved to be] Its character is established and remains 
(yeyovev). The ' was ' of the A.V. is inadequate. 

ineffective] Hollow and empty, devoid of power (*ev??) ; 
xv. 10, 14, 58. As Chrysostom says, ova avOpooirivT}, ovBe 
7) rvxovaa : it was not an ordinary one, but had very special 
features. ' Empty-handed ' is not the meaning. 

2. sufferings and brutal outrages] At Philippi they had 
been treated with wanton indignity ; cf. Mt. xxii. 6 ; Lk. 
xviii. 32. Trench, Syn. § xxix. It was outrageous to 
strip, beat, and imprison Roman citizens without a hearing ; 

* ' For ' (yap) is exceedingly frequent as a connecting particle 
between St. Paul's sentences, and it is important to see in each case 
what it implies. In the paraphrase it is almost always expanded : 
i. 8, 9, ii. 3, 5, 9, 14, 19, etc. 



20 COMMENTARY ON 1 THESSALONIANS [ii. 2, 3 

Acts xvi. 22, 37. At Thessalonica they might have been 
treated in a similar way ; but that did not deter them from 
delivering their message persistently and with courage. 
Cf. Acts ix. 27 ; Eph. vi. 20. 

as ye fully know] The Thessalonians had seen Paul and 
Silas soon after the beating at Philippi. See on i. 5. 

a courage not our own but our God's] They are not boast- 
ing of their own bravery ; it is rooted in their God, who is 
now the Thessalonians' God. There may here be a contrast 
with the impotent idols. ' Our God ' occurs again hi. 9 ; 
2 Thess. i. 11, 12 ; 1 Cor. vi. 11 ; and it is frequent in Revela- 
tion. ' My God ' is more common in the Pauline Epistles ; 
but usually there is no possessive pronoun. 

the Gospel of God] The Good-tidings which He sends. 

violent opposition] Such as is seen in the arena (ayuvi). 
The metaphor is an obvious one in describing the life of a 
Christian, especially in the midst of heathen ; 1 Cor. ix. 25 ; 
xv. 32 ; Eph. vi. 12 ; 2 Tim. ii. 5, iv. 7 ; Heb. x. 32 ; Jude 
3. ' Anxiety ' is a less probable meaning ; but the word 
may be used of internal as well as of external conflict ; 
Phil. i. 30 ; Col. ii. 1. 

3. the appeal] This means an appeal to the feelings (irapd- 
kXtjo-is), in the form either of ' consolation ' for the past or 
present, as often in 2 Cor., or of ' exhortation ' for the 
present or future. ' Instruction ' (SiBaxv, SiSatr«a\la) is 
an appeal to the intellect. See Hastings' DAC. art. ' Ex- 
hortation.' 

In what follows we may regard it as certain that the writers 
are replying to charges and insinuations which their Jewish 
opponents had made against them.* The motives of the 
Jews were commonly jealousy of the Apostles' miraculous 
power and success, and disgust that Jewish privileges were 
being thrown open to the Gentiles (Acts v. 17, xvii. 5, 
xxii. 21, 22) ; and their usual weapons were insinuation 
and slander. But they often resorted to violence. 

the result of our being deluded] The expression (e/e ir\avr}<i) 
implies serious aberration, being led utterly astray ; 

* See Chase, Credibility of the Acts (Hulsean Lectures, 1900), p. 246. 



ii. 3) 4] HISTORICAL AND PERSONAL 21 

2 Thess. ii. 11. See J. A. Robinson on Eph. iv. 14. The 
three missionaries were not victims of a vast deception. 

of our having sensual motives] It seems to us strange that 
the Apostle should think it necessary to disclaim sensuality 
[axa6 apcria). But heathen worship was so often combined 
with wild emotionalism akin to impurity (as in that of the 
Cabiri at Thessalonica) that it might seem to be expedient 
to point out that the Gospel was not made attractive by 
any such methods. Moreover the Jews accused the Apostle 
of undermining the moral law by his teaching. We must 
abide by the true meaning of aKadapaia. The word cannot 
mean ' covetousness.' i 

with a schemer's guile] This charge against the Apostle 
was afterwards made at Corinth ; 2 Cor. xii. 16. With 
the change of prepositions here (e* to iv) compare that in 
iv. 7 (eVi to iv). 

4. exactly to the degree] Cf. 2 Cor. x. 7, where, as here, we 
have KaOco'i . . . ovrws. See on v. 2. 

judged by God to be fit] Just as Athenians were tested as to 
antecedents and character before they were allowed to 
assume office, so God had tested them (8e8oKi/u,d<rfxe0a) 
before giving them a commission to preach. The result 
of the testing remains. See on i. 8. 

to be put in trust with the Gospel] With irtcrTevdfjvai to 
euayyeXiov cf. ol/covo/niav ireiricnevfiaL (i Ccr. ix. 17) ', 
also Gal. ii. 7 ; 1 Tim. i. 11. 

who judges our hearts] From Jer. xi. 20, xii. 3. The 
expression is frequent in the Psalms. Although there are 
no direct quotations from the O.T., most of the converts 
being ignorant of it, there are several places in which the 
Apostle, consciously or unconsciously, reproduces its lan- 
guage ; ii. 16, iv. 5, 6, 8, v. 8, 22. For the plural ' hearts ' 
see on v. 8 and on i. 2. The ' our ' refers to the three writers 
of the Epistle, as in 'our' appeal [v. 3). In Scripture 
' the heart ' covers the whole moral and spiritual character, 
the will and the intellect as well as the emotions ; Rom. 
viii. 27 ; Rev. ii. 23. In sense, though not in wording, this 
is very similar to 1 Cor. iv. 3, 4 ; cf. also Gal. i. 10. 

D 



22 COMMENTARY ON 1 THESSALONIANS [ii.5,6 

5. engage in any language such as flatterers use] They never 
resorted to cajoling [icokaiteta) in order to get their way with 
the Thessalonians. The word is found nowhere else in the 
N.T. 

false professions such as greedy schemers use] The ' greed ' 
or self-seeking ' {ifKeove^Ca) means getting more than one's 
fair share, being covetous and grasping (Trench, Syn. § 24) ; 
and the ' false profession ' or ' pretext ' (7rpo$acn?) is a 
pretended disinterestedness, a hypocritical air of unselfish- 
ness. Cf. Phil. i. 18 ; Acts xxvii. 30. 

In vv. 5 and 6 there are three denials, as in v. 3 ; but 
the two triplets are similar in only one of the three points ; 
' false professions ' may correspond to ' in guile.' 

God is witness] What kind of language they had used the 
Thessalonians themselves knew : what their motives had 
been God alone knew. Cf. Rom. i. 9 ; Phil. i. 8 ; 2 Cor. i. 

23 ; Gen. xxxi. 44 ; etc. " In that which was open to 
men's observation he appealed to their own testimony ; 
but in regard to what was hidden, to whom could he appeal 
but to God ? " (Aug. Eft. cxxvi. 10). 

6. glory out of men] They were greedy neither of gain 
nor of praise. In their preaching they were not influenced 
by the desire of either of the two baits by which most men 
are caught. 

overbearing] This refers mainly to the desire for glory. 
They might have stood upon their dignity and given them- 
selves airs as ' men of weight.' But the expression (eV fidpei 
elvai) will cover the idea of greed also. Coverdale has 
' chargeable ' ; they might have claimed maintenance and 
pay ; 1 Cor. ix. 14, 15 ; 2 Cor. xi. 7-9. But this cannot be 
counted as a reminiscence of our Lord's instructions to the 
Seventy, Lk. x. 7. Rather, it marks imitation of the Lord 
Himself ; He was a carpenter, and His great Apostle was a 
tent-maker. 

apostles of Christ] ' Apostles ' here is not used in its full 
official sense, but rather in its etymological meaning of those 
who are sent on an expedition or with a commission, — 
' missionaries ' ; Rom. xvi. 7 ; 2 Cor. xi. 13 ; Acts xiv. 4, 



ii. 7,8] HISTORICAL AND PERSONAL 23 

14. Jews had ' apostles ' who were sent from Jerusalem 
to scattered synagogues. See DAC. art. ' Apostle ' ; Zahn, 
Introd. to the N.T. I. p. 103. ' Of Christ ' is emphatic by 
position ; hence the repetition in the paraphrase. 

7. The three positive statements refer here to the three 
denials in vv. 5 and 6. The unselfish character of the work 
would appeal to those who were so accustomed to the selfish 
greed of a trading centre. 

simple as children . . . much as a nursing mother] 
' Children, like a mother ' looks incongruous, but is beauti- 
fully correct. A mother fondling her children comes down 
to their level, uses their language, and plays then games. 
The Apostle compares himself to a mother ; Gal. iv. 19. 

fondles.] Cf. Eph. v. 29, where the same verb (ddXiretv) 
is used. In Deut. xxii. 6 it is used of the hen bird sitting 
over its young in the nest. Hence Bengel says here on eV 
fieaw vfjioov, sicut gallina ftullis circumdata. Cf. Lk. xxii. 27. 

There seems to be no sufficient reason for adopting the 
less strongly attested reading ' tender-hearted ' for ' simple 
as children ' (rjTrioi for vrjinoL as in Eph. iv. 15). W.H., II. 
p. 128. 

8. with all a mother's yearning] The word (o/xeipofievoi) 
is extremely rare in Greek literature, and its origin is obscure. 
Vulg. has desiderantes here and hi. 6, where the much more 
common iin7ro6ovvTe<; occurs. 

we were delighted] ' well pleased ' is hardly strong enough. 
Cf. hi. 1 ; 2 Thess. ii. 12 ; 2 Cor. v. 8, xii. 10, where the same 
verb (evSofcelv) occurs. Vulg. renders it in ten different 
ways ; here cupide volebamus. It implies hearty good-will, 
absolute contentment. It was their duty to impart the 
Gospel ; their own lives were an addition, and it was made 
with the utmost willingness. 

even our own lives] ' Our own lives for our own children.' 
Cf. Acts xv. 26 ; Rom. xvi. 4. The plural here (' lives * 
not ' life,' as in v. 4 ' hearts ' not ' heart ') shows that the 
plural verbs throughout the letter refer to the three mis- 
sionaries, not to the Apostle alone. See on i. 2 and ii. 18. 

as beloved children] Or, ' so very dear ' (a<yarr7]Toi). 



24 COMMENTARY ON 1 THESSALONIANS [ii. 9 

This letter is exceptionally affectionate in tone. Consider- 
ing its brevity, it has the address ' Brethren ' (dBe\4>ol) 
more frequently than any other Epistle of St. Paul ; see on 
i. 4. he mobile de son zele etait un amour des dmes en quelque 
sorte infini (Renan, Saint Paul, p. 237). Cf. 1 Cor. iv. 14 ; 
Eph. v. 1. 

9. you can call to mind] Again they appeal to what the 
Thessalonians know from their own experience. See on i. 5. 

how we worked and struggled] The same combination 
(«o7ro? and fioxdos) occurs 2 Thess. hi. 8 ; 2 Cor. xi. 27. 
It is unnecessary refinement to distinguish between the two 
words. The combination is a set phrase, like ' toil and 
travail,' ' toil and trouble,' in English. In the LXX the 
usual combination is kottos kcu ttovo^, singular or plural ; 
Ps. xc. 10 ; Hab. i. 3 ; Jer. xx. 18, where some texts have 
kottovs Kal fioxdovs. So far from making claims on the 
Thessalonians, the missionaries toiled and moiled to support 
themselves. The precise nature of St. Paul's handicraft 
is a little uncertain ; whether he wove material for tent- 
making, or only cut it out and sewed it together ; also 
whether the material was cloth {cilicium) or leather. Cf. 
Acts xviii. 3, xx. 34 ; 2 Thess. hi. 8 ; 1 Cor. iv. 12, ix. 15. 
We do not know how Silvanus and Timothy earned their 
living. The Church at Thessalonica probably consisted 
chiefly of poor people who had to work for their daily bread. 

The impression which these verses make on us is that the 
missionaries' stay in Thessalonica was of considerable length. 
Otherwise there would hardly be much necessity for this 
incessant work in addition to preaching ; still less for 
supplies being sent more than once from Philippi (see below). 
In Acts xvii. St. Luke tells only of the work in the syna- 
gogues among Jews and devout heathen who attended the 
synagogue-worship, who evidently formed only a minority 
of the total number of converts. There is no trace of them 
in these two Epistles. 

night and day] This is St. Paul's usual order ; hi. 10 ; 
2 Thess. hi. 8 ; etc. It has nothing to do with Jewish 
methods of reckoning time from evening to evening. ' Day 



ii. 9, 10] HISTORICAL AND PERSONAL 25 

and night ' is frequent in both O.T. and N.T. As in English, 
one order is as natural as the other. Of course he does not 
mean that he worked all through the 24 hours. He worked 
hard, and he often worked at night. 

to avoid being burdensome] The verb (imftapetv) occurs 
again in the same connexion 2 Thess. hi. 8. Cf. 2 Cor. ii. 5. 
This proved that there was no greed. They did not preach for 
what they could get. In case of necessity the Apostle was 
willing to receive alms from one Church when he was preach- 
ing in another, but never from the Church in which he was 
working. At Thessalonica he more than once received help 
from Philippi, as he tells us Phil. iv. 16. But he took care 
that it should never be possible to say that he shaped his 
preaching to please his hearers and get maintenance from 
them ; 2 Cor. xi. 7, xii. 13. Chrysostom infers from this 
that most of the Thessalonian converts were poor. This is 
probable ; but the ' chief women ' at Thessalonica would 
doubtless have entertained the missionaries, had they been 
willing to accept hospitality. 

we preached to you] The meaning may be ' into you,' so 
that the message would abide in their hearts (et? v/xa?). 
See on iv. 8 and cf. Mk. xiii. 10 ; Lk. xxiv. 47 ; 1 Pet. i. 25. 

10. ye are witnesses and God also] Cf. vv. 1, 5. The 
Thessalonians knew the whole of their conduct ; God knew 
this and also their hearts. Cf. 2 Cor. v. 11 ; 1 Sam. xii. 3.* 

religiously and righteously] These two adverbs can here 
hardly be separated, as if ' religiously ' (ocricos) were con- 
fined to the duty to God and ' righteously ' (St/catw?) to 
the duty to man. Both refer to both duties, as also does 
' free from all reproach ' (afxefxirrco^), which recurs iii. 13, 
v. 23. Cf. a/ie/iTTTo? Phil. ii. 15, iii. 6 ; Lk. i. 6 ; often in 
Job. We have adverbs rather than adjectives, because 
action rather than personal character is described. 

* Weinel finds fault with the Apostle's occasional appeals to God 
as a witness (Rom. i. 9 ; 2 Cor. i. 23 ; Phil. i. 8), which he thinks 
may have been " merely an old Jewish habit " {St. Paul, the Man 
and his Work, p. 358). 



26 COMMENTARY ON 1 THESSALONIANS [ii. 10-12 

we behaved ourselves towards you] The Greek (v/uv iyerf- 
6t]fM€v) may mean ' we made ourselves yours,' treating the 
dative as possessive, as in Rom. vii. 3. Or it might mean 
' we behaved ourselves in the opinion of you ' ; but the 
context is against this. 

who believe] Emphatic. Believers had a special claim on 
them ; Gal. vi. 10. There is no suggestion that unbelievers 
were unrighteously treated ; but the believers who are 
addressed had special knowledge of the blameless conduct 
of the preachers. 

11. as you very well know] See on i. 5. 

to each one of you] Emphatic. Every individual was an 
object of paternal care ; not one was overlooked or neg- 
lected. This would not be difficult. The number of 
converts was probably only a few hundreds. Chrysostom 
assumes a large number, and expresses astonishment at 
this minute carefulness. Cf. 2 Thess. i. 3 ; 1 Cor. xii. 18 ; 
Eph. iv. 7, 16 ; Col. iv. 6 ; etc. 

as a father] They received both a mother's affection and 
tenderness (v. 7) and a father's thought and counsel ; in 
both respects as ' their own children.' Cf. 1 Cor. iv. 14 ; 
2 Cor. vi. 13 ; Gal. iv. 19 ; 1 Tim. i. 2, 18 ; 2 Tim. i. 2, ii. 1 ; 
Tit. i. 4. 

exhorting] The verb (irapaicaXelv) is cognate with 
' appeal ' (Trapd/c\r)cn<;) in v. 3. See on hi. 7. 

encouraging] Getting them to persevere in the good 
course which they have begun ; cf. v. 14. 

protesting] Lit. ' calling to witness ' (paprvpofievoi), and 
hence testifying, ' asseverating ' ; cf . Gal. v. 3 ; Eph. iv. 17 ; 
Acts xx. 26, where it is one of the many Pauline expressions 
which occur in the speech at Miletus. Cf. Sie/xapTvpd/xe6a ) 
iv. 6 ; vov6eTovvra<; } v. 12, KoirLwvTac;, V. 12. IIapdK\r)cn<; 
movet, ut facias aliquid libenter ; •napap.vQiov, ut cum gaudio ; 
rb fiaprvpeicrdai, ut cum timore (Bengel). 

12. walk] A frequent metaphor in Scripture (and especi- 
ally in the Pauline Epistles) for general behaviour ; iv. i. 
12 ; 2 Thess. iii. 6, ii ; etc. 



ii. 12] HISTORICAL AND PERSONAL 27 

worthily of the God] The one and true God, as in i. 2. 
Cf. Col. i. 10 ; 3 Jn. 6.* 

who is the Inviter] Cf. v. 24 ; 2 Thess. ii. 14 ; 1 Cor. i. 9 ; 
Gal. v. 8 ; Col. iii. 15 ; 1 Tim. vi. 12. With ' the Inviter ' 
compare ' the Deliverer ' in i. 10. In both cases we have the 
present participle with the article. The verb here (xaXelv) 
is often used of invitations ; Mt. xxii. 3, 9 ; Lk. vii. 39, 
xiv. 7-9. The meaning is that God is the Inviter to whom 
they owe their admission into the Kingdom, and that they 
must habitually live in amanner which befits such a privilege. 
It does not mean that He is now inviting them into a 
Kingdom which they have not yet entered. Throughout the 
N.T. the Kingdom of God is both a privilege possessed and 
a prize to be won. The Parable of the Supper may have 
been known to St. Paul (Lk. xiv. 16 f ; Mt. xxii. if.), and 
may have influenced his language. See Dalman, The Words 
of Jesus, p. 118. 

It was the Apostle's persistent preaching of the coming of 
the Kingdom of God and of Christ as King which laid him 
open to the charge of treason. This had been the case at 
Thessalonica ; ' saying that there is another king, one 
Jesus,' Acts xvii. 7. 

St. Paul does not explain what he means by the Kingdom. 
The idea and expression had long been current, and had 
been emphasized and illuminated by the teaching of Christ. 
It is therefore assumed that all Christians, even those who 
are as yet babes in Christ, are familiar with it. Throughout 
the N.T. it is spoken of, sometimes as present, but more 
often as future. In the same Epistle we find both views. 
In 1 Cor. iv. 20 the Kingdom is regarded as present ; in 
vi. 9 and xv. 50 it is regarded as future. The former view 
is found also in Rom. xiv. 17 ; Col. i. 13, 14, and perhaps 

* Nemo alius est Deo digitus, quam qui opes contemsit. Quarum 
possessionem tibi non interdico : sed efficere volo, ut Mas intrepide 
possideas (Seneca, Ep. xviii. 10). In regno nati sumus : Deo parere 
libertas est (Ibid., De Vita Beata, xv. 6). A heathen could see that 
the possession of riches, though lawful, is morally perilous ; and 
that true freedom is found in obedience to the Divine Law. 



28 COMMENTARY ON 1 THESSALONIANS [ii. 12, 13 

iv. 11. The latter view is found Gal. v. 21 ; Eph. v. 5. 
In the main the two views correspond to the two Advents 
of Christ. The passage before us might be interpreted as 
being in harmony with either view ; but what is specially 
meant is the existing spiritual Kingdom which the Thessa- 
lonians had already entered. Nowhere in his Epistles does 
St. Paul show any sympathy with " the realistic eschatology 
of a visible reign of the Messiah upon earth." A. Robertson, 
Regnum Dei (the Bampton Lectures for 1901), pp. 49 f. ; 
also Robertson and Plummer on 1 Cor. iv. 20 and vi. 9, and 
Hastings' DCG. art. ' Paul,' II. p. 891. 

ii. 13-16. Renewed Thanksgiving for their Con- 
version AND FOR THEIR PATIENCE UNDER 

Persecution 

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. 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 : 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 : 16 For- 
bidding 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. 

Having appealed to their readers' experience of the 
integrity, industry, and affection with which the Gospel 
had been preached to them, the writers again burst out into 
thanksgiving to God for the results of their labours. 

13 ' Seeing that you are well aware of all that we have done for you 
and felt for you, We also on our part render thanks to our God unceas- 
ingly, because when you received with your ears the Word from us, 
which was really from our God, you welcomed it not as a Word from 
men, but with all the reverence due to what in fact it is, a word from 
God, a word which was not only welcomed by you but is also working 
effectually in you in virtue of your faith. 14 We know that this is 
so, for in Christian endurance you became imitators, Brethren, of 
the very earliest Assemblies of God, viz. those which are in Judaea, 



ii. 13] HISTORICAL AND PERSONAL 29 

having Christ Jesus as Lord. You imitated them in that you also 
suffered the very same kind of treatment at the hands of your own 
fellow-countrymen that they themselves also did at the hands of the 
Jews. 15 The Jews slew both the Lord in slaying Jesus, and also 
their Prophets, and they violently drove us out from among them. 
To God they are displeasing, and to the whole human race they are 
enemies, 16 seeing that they would fain forbid us to speak to the Gen- 
tiles to the end that they may be saved. This is only what one might 
expect ; for they must fill to the full the measure of their own sins at 
all times, past and present. But (although they are not aware of it) 
the wrath of God is already upon them to make an end of them.' 

13. We also on our part] This answers to ' you yourselves 
know ' in v. 1. Having appealed to the Thessalonians' 
experience of them as missionaries, they now thank God for 
their own experience of the Thessalonians as converts. 
Lightfoot (on Col. i. 9) thinks that here, as there, " the icaC 
denotes the response of the Apostle's personal feeling to the 
favourable character of the news." In both places we have 
hia tovto ical rjfieh. Others take icai as meaning ' we as 
well as every true Christian who hears of the conduct of 
you Thessalonians.' Others interpret, ' we give thanks as 
you say that you do ' ; and this interpretation is assumed 
to imply a letter from the Thessalonians to the Apostle 
which Timothy had brought when he returned from his 
mission. Even if the interpretation were correct, the 
assumption would be doubtful. Timothy might report 
that the Thessalonians were thankful. 

unceasingly] See on i. 2. 

received with your ears the word from us] Lit. ' received 
a word of hearing from us,' i.e. a message delivered by word 
of mouth by us. Cf. ' received ' (7rapaKafx/3dyco, as here) 
iv. 1 and Col. ii. 6. 

really from our God] This corrects the impression that 
' from us ' means that the missionaries originated it. It 
perhaps also corrects a Jewish insinuation that the Gospel 
was not from God, but was a mere human invention. 

welcomed it] Not merely heard it with their ears, but 
embraced it and appropriated it in their hearts. Cf. i. 6, 
where the same expression is used. 



30 COMMENTARY ON 1 THESSALONIANS [ii. 13,14 

In the Greek we have two verbs {irapakd^ovre^ . . . 
eSe£acr0e), not the same verb repeated, as the Vulgate and 
the A.V. imply. 

is also working effectually] The verb (ivepyelrai) is one 
of which St. Paul is very fond ; 2 Thess. ii. 7 ; Rom. vii. 5 ; 
2 Cor. i. 6, iv. 12 ; Gal. v. 6 ; etc. When he uses the middle, 
it is always of things, not persons ; see J. A. Robinson, 
Ephesians, pp. 241 ff. ; Mayor and Ropes on Jas. v. 16. 

in virtue of your faith] ' In you that believe ' (R.V.) is 
exact, as in v. 10, but does not sufficiently bring out the 
point that even God's word cannot have its proper effect 
unless it is met by faith on the part of the hearer. 

14. you became imitators] It was stated in i. 6 that the 
Thessalonians imitated their teachers in their manner of 
life. Here it is stated that they imitated them and other 
first Christians in being persecuted by their own countrymen. 
Of course in the latter case the imitation was involuntary ; 
indeed, not in intention. It was their steadfastness under 
persecution that was voluntary. 

Brethren] See on i. 4. 

Assemblies of God] Cf. 2 Thess. i. 4 ; 1 Cor. xi. 16. The 
addition ' of God ' (tov Geov) after ' Assembly ' or ' Church ' 
(e/cKkrjo-ia) is frequent in the Pauline Epistles, and is peculiar 
to them ; 1 Cor. i. 2, x. 32, xi. 22, xv. 9 ; 2 Cor. i. 1 ; Gal. 
i. 13. The addition distinguishes Christian ' Assemblies ' 
from those of the heathen, who used the same word. In 
Acts we read of ' Churches ' on the sea-board, in Galilee, 
and in Samaria. 

having Christ Jesus as Lord] See on i. 1. This addition 
(lit. ' in Christ Jesus ') distinguishes Christian ' Assemblies ' 
from those of the Jews, who also used the same word. Cf. 
Gal. i. 22. The order ' Christ Jesus ' occurs again, v. 18, 
and is almost, if not wholly, confined to the Epistles of St. 
Paul, Acts xvii. 3, xviii. 5 being doubtful. In this order 
the two words have become a proper name. In the more 
familiar order, ' Jesus Christ,' it is probable that at first 
' Christ ' was to some extent a title ; but soon both ' Jesus 



ii. 14] HISTORICAL AND PERSONAL 31 

Christ ' and ' Christ ' became merely a proper name. 
Sanday, Bampton Lectures, pp. 289 f. 

You also suffered] Note the double ' also ' and ' the very 
same ' (ra avra . . . Kal vjxeis . . . /cadco? /ecu avjoi) emphasiz- 
ing the exact similarity between the cases. Cf . 2 Cor. i. 6. 

at the hands of your own fellow-countrymen] It was in this 
that the remarkable imitation consisted, ' Fellow-country- 
men,' lit. ' fellow- tribesmen ' (a-vfi^vkirai), occurs nowhere 
else in the N.T. Cf. ' fellow-citizens ' (cru/47ro\tTat) Eph. ii. 
19. It was ' certain vile fellows of the rabble ' (and therefore 
heathen) in Thessalonica who were instigated by the Jews 
to persecute ; Acts xvii. 5-8. The heathen relations of 
the converts would be very bitter, and especially those of 
/ the chief women.' 

they themselves also] The members of the Churches in 
Judaea. This Christ foretold ; Mt. x. 17 f . Contrast Acts 
ix. 31. 

at the hands of the Jews] Nowhere else does St. Paul 
speak of ' the Jews ' in this way as denoting the enemies of 
Christ and His followers, a use so common in the Fourth 
Gospel; but 2 Cor. xi. 4 f. is somewhat similar. He elsewhere 
speaks very differently of his fellow-countrymen ; Rom. 
iii. 1, 2, ix. 1-5, x. 1, 2. But at the time when this letter 
was written he had been suffering greatly from the bitter 
hostility of the Jews, who by violence, calumny and base 
insinuations were ceaselessly impeding his missionary work 
among the Gentiles in Europe, at Thessalonica, at Beroea, 
and at Corinth. He had come to regard them as agents of 
Antichrist. Consequently at the mention of the Jews he 
goes off in a burst of indignation, as he thinks how his own 
work has been hindered and how much his beloved converts 
have had to endure. The outburst is so natural that there 
is little reason for suspecting that either the whole passage, 
or at any rate the last severe sentence of it, may be an 
interpolation.* Cf. 2 Thess. i. 8, iii. 2. 

* " The first two clauses of v. 16 bear in the highest degree the 
Pauline stamp. In form, the same is true of the abrupt conclusion, 
for which a quotation from some Jewish Apocryphon or a gloss 



32 COMMENTARY ON 1 THESSALONIANS [ii. 15 

15. slew both the Lord in slaying Jesus] In the Greek 
' the Lord ' is separated from ' Jesus,' and this brings both 
terms into prominence. This effect is lost when they are 
put together in the common expression, ' the Lord Jesus,' 
as in A.V. and R. V. ' Who slew Jesus the Lord ' would be 
better. This was a crime atrocious in its enormity and 
folly. In His Divine character they owed Him worship ; 
in His human character they owed Him gratitude and love ; 
and yet they killed Him. Cf. Acts ii. 36. There may be 
an allusion to the meaning of ' Jesus ' ; they slew their 
Lord, for they slew their Saviour. The ' both ' (/eat) 
anticipates the ' and also ' [tcaC) which follows. 

and also slew their Prophets] Their supreme crime in 
slaying the Lord was in complete harmony with their 
previous conduct, as Christ had shown them in His denun- 
ciations and in the Parable of the Unrighteous Husbandmen. 
It is possible that this mention of slaying the Prophets 
intimates that some Christians had been slain in the per- 
secutions at Thessalonica. See on iv. 13. The concluding 
words of St. Stephen's speech (Acts vii. 51, 52), which the 
' young man named Saul ' probably heard, are a striking 
parallel to this indictment. 

violently drove us out] The compound verb (itcSuo/ceiv), 
which occurs here only in the N.T., implies violent expulsion ; 
cf. Deut. vi. 19 ; Joel ii. 20. ' Persecute ' (Skokciv) does 
not necessarily imply expulsion. The brethren had been 
obliged to send Paul and Silvanus out of Thessalonica ; 
Acts xvii. 5-10 ; cf. xiv. 5, 6, 19, xvii. 13, 14. 

A different arrangement of the clauses is grammatically 
possible ; ' who both slew the Lord in slaying Jesus, and 
violently drove out the Prophets and ourselves.' This 

has been — quite superfluously — suggested. Indeed, both verses 
read like echoes from an angry indictment lately flung in the face 
of his persecutors by St. Paul. I can thus see no sufficient ground 
for removing verses ii. 15 and 16, or even only the last part of 16 
as interpolations, from the genuine Epistle of St. Paul" (Julicher, 
Intr. to N.T., p. 60). See also Hort, Judaistic Christianity, p. 90. 
De Wette says that such objections arise from subjective views 
capable of being met by similar views of equal value. 



ii. 15, 16] HISTORICAL AND PERSONAL 33 

makes good sense, but it is less probable than the other 
rendering. Cf. Rom. xi. 3 ; Mt. xxiii. 31, 37 ; 1 Kings xix. 
14. In either case we have the worst crime placed first, 
as is natural, with an inverted climax ; ' slew their Lord, 
slew their Prophets, expelled us,' or, ' slew their Lord, 
expelled their Prophets, expelled us.' 

To God they are displeasing] Lit. ' are not pleasing.' A 
mournful description, which is all the more telling by being 
a manifest understatement. Their conduct was an abomina- 
tion to God. The rendering, ' who defy God,' spoils the 
effect by making the statement so strong ; and the idea of 
defiance is not implied by the wording. ' To please God ' 
is a common Biblical expression for living a godly life ; 
iv. 1 ; Rom. viii. 8 ; 1 Cor. vii. 32. 

to the whole human race they are enemies] Juvenal 
(xiv. 103 f.), Tacitus (Hist. v. 5), and other writers show that 
the heathen regarded the Jews as an unsociable and un- 
friendly race. They had strange customs and rites, which 
cut them off from intimacy with other men and often made 
them actively hostile. St. Paul, however, condemns them 
on other grounds. 

16. seeing that they would fain forbid us to speak to the 
Gentiles] This verse is strikingly similar in tone to Christ's 
words in Mt. xxiii. 29 f . ; Lk. xi. 48 f. For other possible 
echoes of Christ's Sayings see on i. 10, ii. 12, hi. 3, 13, iv. 8, 
v. 2, 3, 5, 6, 13, 15. Of all the elements in the Gospel which 
made it repugnant to the Jews hardly anything was more 
unwelcome than the proclamation that they had no mono- 
poly of the Messianic Kingdom, but that salvation was 
open to Jew and Gentile alike. Cf. Acts v. 17, xiii. 45-50, 
xvii. 5, xviii. 5, 6, xxii. 21, 22, xxvi. 20, 21. Some Jews 
thought that one of the joys of heaven would be seeing the 
Gentiles in misery outside the Kingdom. The spirit which 
would exclude others from the benefits which are enjoyed 
by oneself is utterly opposed to the workings of Divine 
Love ; and this spirit is at its worst when it persistently 
endeavours to prevent the blessings of the Gospel from 
being extended beyond one's own circle. No wonder that 



34 COMMENTARY ON 1 THESSALONIANS [ii. 16 

the experience of such behaviour kindles the Apostle's 
wrath ! 

to the end that they may be saved] This was the purpose 
of the missionaries' speaking. Rom. xi. 14 ; 1 Cor. ix. 
22, x. 33 ; 1 Tim. iv. 16. 

for they must fill to the full] The expression (et? to dva- 
7r\r]pco<Tcu) seems to combine the notions of consequence 
and intention. This was the result of their previous mis- 
conduct, and it was God's will that it should be so. Cf. 
Gen. xv. 16, ' The iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full,' 
which may be in the Apostle's mind ; also Dan. viii. 23, 
' When the transgressors are come to the full ' ; and 2 Mace, 
vi. 14, ' In the case of the other nations the Sovereign 
Lord doth with long-suffering forbear, until that He punish 
them when they have attained to the full measure of their 
sins,' and especially Mt. xxiii. 32, ' Fill ye up then the 
measure of your fathers.' 

of their own sins] The pronoun (avrwv) is emphatic. 

at all times] At every moment in their history (TrdvroTe) 
they were continually doing this : each generation filled up 
its own amount of sin in full measure. Cf . ' Ye do always 
(del) resist the Holy Spirit ' ; Acts vii. 51. See on iv. 17 for 
irdvTore. 

the wrath of God is already upon them] In i. 10 the Divine 
wrath is spoken of as approaching. Here it is regarded as 
having come, and there is a suggestion that those on whom 
it has come are not aware of its arrival (efydaaev eiri, as in 
Mt. xii. 28 and Lk. xi. 20). It has overtaken them more 
speedily than was anticipated ; v. 2 ; Mt. xxiv. 50 ; Lk. 
xxi. 34. See Hastings' DAC. art. ' Anger,' p. 65. 

to make an end of them] Um Ihnen den Garaus zu machen 
(De Wette). Bis zum Aiissersten (Wohlenberg). The 
words (et'9 Te'Xo?) may mean either ' to an end,' ' finally,' 
or ' to the uttermost,' ' completely ' ; Mt. x. 22 ; Lk. xviii. 
5 ; Jn. xiii. 1 ; Josh. viii. 24 ; Job xx. 7 ; Psalms of Sol. i. 
1, ii. 5. Either meaning would give the same result. The 
Divine wrath, long threatened, and at intervals partially 
exhibited, has now reached its final and complete stage, 



ii. 16] HISTORICAL AND PERSONAL 35 

that of utter destruction. They tried to prevent the 
heathen from being saved from perdition, and thereby have 
brought perdition on themselves. The form of the state- 
ment may be of Jewish origin. It occurs in the Testaments 
of the XII Patriarchs, Levi vi. 11 (see below) ; cf. The 
Secrets of Enoch xliv. 2 ; Jubilees xliv. 2. 

About 20 years later than this Letter Jerusalem with its 
Temple was destroyed, and it is possible that St. Paul has 
here some thought of our Lord's predictions of that event, 
reports of which had doubtless reached him. In 2 Thess. 
ii. i-n (which is doubtless his work) he shows knowledge 
of the discourse which is reported in Mt. xxiv. respecting 
the destruction of Jerusalem. In that case the past tense 
(ecpdaa-ev) is used of that which is so certain to happen that 
it is spoken of as having happened, as is often the case in 
predictions. But the Apostle's main thought seems to be 
that of a threatened judgment which has come at last 
and is already operative. In that case the past tense is to 
be understood literally, viz. of the judicial blindness which 
has come upon the Jews. It caused them to confound 
ritual with religion, to strain out gnats while they swallowed 
camels, and to think that they offered God service in defam- 
ing His Gospel and persecuting His messengers. This was 
the beginning of an end which could no longer be averted, 
and the Apostle and his contemporaries believed that it 
was very near ; 6771)5 i^iarrjKev (Chrys.). Cf. Rom. i. 28. 

We may regard it as fairly certain that the similar words 
in the Testaments, Levi viii., are a Christian interpolation, 
or have been modified by a translator or editor who was 
familiar with 1 Thessalonians. Burkitt in JTS., 1908, 
p. 138 ; Plummer, St. Matthew, 1909, p. xlvi. The first 
Armenian recension of the Testaments omits Levi vi. 11. 
Some critics think that the sentence here is a marginal 
gloss, added after the destruction of Jerusalem, which is an 
unnecessary conjecture. Frame gives a summary of the 
various arguments.* 

* A cheap edition of the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs 
edited by Oesterley, is published by the S.P.C.K. 



36 COMMENTARY ON 1 THESSALONIANS [ii. 17 

ii. 17-iii. 10. The Writers' Anxiety about their 
Converts, until reassured by Timothy 

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

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 ? 

20 For ye are our glory and joy. hi. 1 Wherefore when we could 
no longer forbear, we thought it good to be left at Athens alone ; 
2 And sent Timotheus, our brother, and minister of God, and our 
fellow-labourer in the Gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to com- 
fort you concerning your faith : 3 That no man should be moved by 
these afflictions : for yourselves know that we are appointed there- 
unto. 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. 6 For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to 
know ycur faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted 
you, and our labour be in vain. 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, desir- 
ing greatly to see us, as we also to see you : 7 Therefore, brethren, 
we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress, by your 
faith : 8 For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord. 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, 10 Night and day praying 
exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that 
which is lacking in your faith ? 

From the strong condemnation of the blind and bitter 
hostility of the Jews the writers return to the subject of their 
own affectionate intercourse with the Thessalonians, in 
which the enemy had made a temporary breach. They 
had been compelled to go away and to remain away. Their 
intense affection for their converts had made this enforced 
absence from them a time of torturing anxiety as to their 
condition under the continued persecution. Since it was 
impossible for all three of them to return to Thessalonica, 
Timothy went thither for a while, and the report which he 
brought back to Paul and Silvanus greatly cheered them. 

It is illuminating to remember that eight or nine months 
before these deeply affectionate words (which are of trans- 



ii. 17] HISTORICAL AND PERSONAL 37 

parent sincerity) were written, not one of the three mis- 
sionaries, so far as we know, had any acquaintance with 
any one in Thessalonica. These strong bonds of love had 
been forged and fixed by the Gospel ; and St. Paul finds 
relief in letting his converts know the strength of them. He 
is not ashamed to confess the full force of these longings. 
Owing to the strong emotion of the Apostle in dictating, 
the opening sentence is long and condensed, and requires to 
be broken up in English. 

17 But as for ourselves, Brethren, we had to be separated from you, 
and the separation was to us a veritable bereavement, like that be- 
tween child and parent. It is true that the separation had been but 
for a short interval, and was a separation of face only, while you were 
never out of our thoughts. Yet this made our endeavours to see your 
face again not less but greater ; indeed, it Was an intense desire that 
had possession of us. 18 Because it Was so intense we had resolved 
to come to you — indeed I Paul had done so more than once — and each 
time the way Was blocked by Satan. 19 I say that We passionately 
desired to revisit you. For what ground of hope, or source of joy, or 
crown of exultation have we got ? Why, none, if you are not such — ■ 
you who are the crown to be worn by us in the presence of our Lord 
Jesus at His coming. 20 Yes, truly, it is you who are our title to glory 
and our source of joy. 

iii. x Accordingly, being unable any longer to bear up against this 
separation of all of us from you, We were delighted to hit upon this 
plan ; — Paul and Silvanus to be left behind at Athens in our loneliness, 
2 while Timothy was sent to you, Timothy our brother and God's 
fellow-helper in spreading the Gospel of Christ. We sent him in order 
that he might inspire you with confidence and encouragement for the 
furtherance and vindication of your faith, 3 so that none of you should 
be allured into betraying it, in the pressure of the persecutions which 
are now afflicting you and us alike. We need not insist on this, for 
you yourselves know that affliction is our appointed lot. 4 You 
know it, for (besides other facts) when we were with you We repeatedly 
gave you this warning, that all We Christians have to endure afflictions ; 
that is what we have to expect. And this is exactly what has actually 
happened, and what you know must happen. 5 Because these 
afflictions have befallen you, and because I on my part could no longer 
bear up, I sent Timothy, so that I might have knowledge of your faith, 
for fear that, as the Tempter had tempted you, our labour among you 
should prove to have been to no purpose. 6 But, so far from this being 
the case, Timothy has just now returned to us from you and has 
brought us the Good-tidings of the steadfastness of your faith and the 

£ 



38 COMMENTARY ON 1 THESSALONIANS [ii. 17 

glow of your love ; telling us that you retain an affectionate remem- 
brance of us at all times, for you are always yearning to see us again, 
just as we also are to see you. 7 Such excellent news encouraged us, 
Brethren, thanks to you ; We Were in great necessity and affliction, 
and it was your faith which restored us. 8 For now that we are thus 
reassured about you, we feel alive again, if only you are standing 
fast in the Lord. 9 I say ' feel alive again, ' for how can we express an 
adequate thanksgiving to God for what you are to us, — for all the 
intense joy which we feel for your sakes before the presence of our 
God, 10 while night and day we make fervent supplication to Him, to 
the end that we may see your face and make good whatever short- 
comings there may be in your faith. 

17. But as for ourselves, Brethren] The ' But ' (Se) resumes 
the main subject after the outburst against the Jews and 
compares the preachers' condition with that of their con- 
verts. The Jews had hinted that the preachers had for- 
gotten their converts and were afraid to return. The 
affectionate address is an assurance of continued remem- 
brance and solicitude. The whole passage gives a vivid 
impression of the depth and constancy of the Apostle's 
love for his spiritual children. 

the separation was to us a veritable bereavement] The 
striking expression (aTrop$avi<jdevT€<; a$ v/xcov) occurs 
nowhere else in N.T. It implies that the three teachers felt 
like orphans ; and ' orphan ' in Greek may apply to loss of 
friends and of children as well as to loss of parents. The 
parental relationship is probably in the writers' mind ; vv. 7, 
11. As Chrysostom remarks, they do not say ' separated 
from,' of severed from ' or the like, but ' orphaned from ' ; 
and they do not say ' you were orphaned,' but ' we were.' 
Cf. Acts xxi. 1. 

for a short interval] This was the case at the time men- 
tioned ; it was soon after their expulsion from Thessalonica 
that they had these feelings. The course of events, however, 
made the separation a long one. The exact phrase (777309 
Kaipbv upas), ' for the season of an hour,' occurs nowhere 
else. It combines ' for a season ' (7rpo? naipbv, Lk. viii. 13 ; 
1 Cor. vii. 5) with ' for an hour ' (71750? &pav, Jn. v. 35 ; 2 Cor. 
vii. 8) ; and it is perhaps stronger than either. The Jews 



ii. 17,18] HISTORICAL AND PERSONAL 39 

had perhaps suggested that Paul did not care for his con- 
verts, and never intended to return to them. 

face only . . . thoughts] Out of sight, but not out of 
mind. This was a second alleviation of the bereavement ; 
there was no alienation of heart. The same verbal anti- 
thesis {TrpoacoTTw . . . Kaphia) occurs 2 Cor. v. 12 ; cf. 1 Cor 

v. 3- 

to see your face] Cf. hi. 10 ; Col. ii. 1 ; also 2 Jn. 12 ; 
3 Jn. 14. Close personal intercourse is implied. 

not less but greater] This may mean, either that the short 
time since the separation increased rather than weakened 
the desire to see them again, or that the fact of there being 
no alienation of heart did this. 

had possession of us] They were in the grip of an intense 
desire (eV TroXkfj eiridvfiia), like persons obsessed (ev irvevixari 
aKaddpTtp, Mk. i. 23, v. 2). For similar desire and delay cf. 
Rom. i. 13, xv. 22, 23 ; 1 Cor. xvi. 5-7 ; 2 Cor. i. 16, xiii. 1 ; 
Phil. i. 8 ; Philem. 22 ; and for hnQv^la in a good sense 
cf. Lk. xxii. 15 ; Phil. i. 23. 

18. I Paul] The. Apostle here distinguishes himself from 
Silvanus and Timothy. This again shows that the 1st pers. 
plur. throughout the Epistle includes Silvanus and Timothy. 
If it referred to Paul alone, there would be no need to make 
a distinction here. See on i. 2, ii. 4, 8, and Plummer on 
2 Cor. i. 4. All three had the desire to come ; St. Paul 
had it at least twice. This is not very clear ; but appar- 
ently it means that all continually wished to come, and that 
St. Paul more than once attempted to come (Chrysostom). 
In iii. 5 and v. 27 he again speaks in the 1st pers. sing. Cf. 
2 Cor. x. 1 ; Eph. iii. 1. Nowhere in his extant letters does 
he call himself ' Saul.' Deissmann, Bible Studies, pp. 316 f. ; 
Ramsay, St. Paul, pp. 81 f. 

The A.V. here is misleading ; ' once and again ' belongs 
to ' I Paul,' not to ' we.' For \xkv without Se cf. Rom. x. 1, 
xi. 13 ; 2 Cor. xii. 12, and see A. T. Robertson, Gr. of Greek 
N.T. pp. 1151! 

more than once] Or, ' once and again.' Lit. ' both once 
and twice ' ; cf. Phil. iv. 16 ; Neh. xiii. 20. It probably 



40 COMMENTARY ON 1 THESSALONIANS [ii. 18, 19 

means exactly twice ; and this is some indication that at 
least six months had elapsed between the flight from Thessa- 
lonica and the writing of this letter. " Timothy's journey 
there and back would have occupied some time, and Paul's 
repeated plans of travelling thither cannot be fitted into a 
few weeks " (Jiilicher, Intr. to N.T. p. 56). 

and each time] ' And ' (R.V.), not ' But ' (A.V.). The 
Vulgate has sed. Cf. Rom. i. 13. 

blocked the way] Lit. ' cut into ' ; broke up the way and 
rendered motion impossible. The verb (ivKoirreiv) occurs 
Gal. v. 7, and in the passive Rom. xv. 22. How the great 
Adversary of all good did this we are not told ; egit per 
homines malos, says Bengel. The conjecture that Acts xvii. 
9 may mean that Paul's friends had given a pledge that he 
would not return, and that this was the obstacle, is unten- 
able. If his friends did do this, he would not call it an act 
of Satan ; and if he had felt bound by this supposed pledge, 
he would never have thought of returning.* More probably, 
the malady which he regarded as a ' messenger of Satan ' 
was the obstacle. See Plummer on 2 Cor. xii. 7. 

19. crown of exultation] Or, ' chaplet to be proud of ' 
(a-T€(f)avo<i icavxi]<T€co<;) ; Prov. xvi. 31 ; Ezek. xvi. 12, xxiii. 
42. It does not mean a royal crown (BtdSr)fid), but such as 
is worn as a mark of prowess, or desert, or joy ; crrefyavov 
So^j/s (Jer. xiii. 18 ; cf. xiii. 11) ; ark$avov evK\eta<; jxeyav 
(Soph. Aj. 465). The Thessalonians will be such a crown 
for those who converted them, when all appear before the 
Divine Judge, a crown of which they can glory. See 
Lightfoot on Phil. iv. 1 ; Ropes on Jas. i. 12 ; Hastings' 
DB. art. ' Crown,' DAC. art. ' Boasting.' 

Why, none, if you are not such] The punctuation and 
rendering are uncertain. The words are a parenthesis, and 
probably a question, in the middle of the verse ; ' For what 
is our hope or joy or glorying's crown (Or is it not you 

* The 'pledge' or 'security' (to Ikclvov), as a papyrus letter 
has shown, was probably bail for the appearance of Jason and his 
companions, when called up for trial. Rackham on Acts xvii. 9. 



ii. 19] HISTORICAL AND PERSONAL 41 

indeed?) before our Lord Jesus at His Coming? '* But 
this is intolerably clumsy in English. Emotion has caused 
the Apostle to dictate a broken sentence, the form of which 
has to be modified in order to make the paraphrase intellig- 
ible. Probably the thought that he had ceased to care for 
the Thessalonians produced the interjected question. The 
general meaning is ; ' We have no hope or joy or crown, if 
you are not all these to us ; and it is you who will adorn 
us before the judgment-seat of Christ. If we can glory of 
any converts before Him, it is certainly of you.' Cf. ' Ye 
are our Epistle,' 2 Cor. hi. 2. The ' crown of righteousness ' 
in 2 Tim. iv. 8 is different. Here the main thought is, not 
that his labours will win salvation for himself, but that the 
salvation of his converts will be to him a great glory. Chry- 
sostom thinks that this passes the love of parents. 

in the presence of our Lord Jesus] In whose sight every- 
thing will have its true value and false claims will be of no 
avail ; cf. 2 Cor. v. 10. This appeal to Divine witness is 
frequent in 1 Thessalonians ; cf. i. 3, hi. 9, 13 : and the 
thought of souls saved being an honour to their minister at 
the Judgment is a favourite one with the Apostle ; Phil. ii. 
16 ; 2 Cor. i. 14. 

at His Coming] At the Second Advent. The Gospel which 
is preached in these two Epistles " might be described, not 
as the Gospel of the Cross of Christ, but of the Coming of 
Christ " (Jowett, p. 7). Hope, rather than Faith, is the 
prevailing thought. It reflects the intensity of the expecta- 
tion that the Lord would almost immediately return. This 
expectation has been compared to the British expectation 
of the return of our own King Arthur. The similarity is 
only superficial. On the one hand, it was believed that 
Arthur had never died ; whereas it was of the essence of 
the Christian belief that Christ had died and risen again. 
And hence a much stronger point of difference. The expecta- 
tion that Arthur would come again had little influence on 
men's lives even while the expectation was strong ; whereas 

* The KO.L is intensive, ' you indeed, you certainly ' ; not ' you 
also, you as well as others.' 



42 COMMENTARY ON 1 THESSALONIANS [ii. 19, 20 

the Christian expectation has had enormous influence all 
through the ages. Note the avrov between the article and 
the noun ; it is therefore emphatic : cf. rfj avrov yapin, 
rfj avrov ai/xart (Rom. iii. 24, 25) ; also Tit. hi. 5 ; Heb. ii. 

4- 

This is the first use in the N.T. of a very important term 
[irapovo-ia) which is specially frequent in these two Epistles ; 
iii. 13, iv. 15, v. 23 ; 2 Thess. ii. 1, 8, 9 ; see also 1 Cor. xv. 
23 ; Jas. v. 7, 8 ; 2 Pet. i. 16, iii. 4, 12 ; 1 Jn. ii. 28. It 
means literally ' presence/ and it was a technical term for 
the ' coming in state ' of a potentate or his representative 
(Neh. ii. 6), and it is used (as the above references show) 
by Jewish writers in the N.T. to express the Messiah's 
coming in glory. It does not occur in Mk., Lk., or Acts. 
We may perhaps infer that this use of the term is of Jewish 
origin. It is found in the Testaments, Judah xxii. 3, where, 
however, it may be an interpolation, for the Armenian 
omits. See Deissmann, Light from the Ancient East, p. 372 ; 
Brooke on 1 Jn. ii. 28 ; Hastings' DB., I. pp. 755 f. It is 
possibly because only the good are under consideration, 
viz. the missionaries and their faithful converts, that St. 
Paul uses this term Parousia rather than ' Judgment ' or 
' Day of Judgment.' The wicked are out of sight. 

20. Yes, truly it is you] The connecting particle (yap) 
shows that this sentence is a confirmation of the question so 
awkwardly interjected into the previous verse. The ' you ' 
is emphatic. Cf. 1 Cor. ix. 10 for this use of yap. 

our title to glory] ' There is no need for us to seek glory 
from men (v. 6) ; you are our glory before Christ.' 

iii. 1-10. The Mission of Timothy and its Happy 
Results 

The division of chapters is unintelligently made, as is 
rather often the case in the N.T. A new chapter might have 
begun at ii. 17 ; but the connexion between ii. 17-20 and 
what now follows is too close for interruption. 

This passage shows that the Epistle was written in 
Achaia during the Apostle's second missionary journey. 



iii. i] HISTORICAL AND PERSONAL 43 

It implies that it was not written at Athens, as is erron- 
eously stated in the late addition to the subscription ; and 
it tends to show that St. Paul had not previously written to 
the Thessalonians, or they to him. Had either letter been 
written, it would probably have been mentioned in this 
passage. 

1. bear up against] As an air-tight or water-tight vessel 
resists pressure from air or water (oreyetv). Here and in 
v. 5 both A.V. and R.V. have ' forbear,' which does not seem 
to be the exact meaning. 

we were delighted] See on ii. 8 ; the idea was adopted with 
alacrity and joy. ' We ' includes Silvanus as joining in the 
sending, and Timothy as consenting to the arrangement. 

to be left behind] The compound (KaTaXei(j)6f]vai,) indi- 
cates that Timothy and Silvanus had followed the Apostle 
to Athens from Beroea. See Lightfoot. 

in our loneliness] They would feel their banishment from 
their beloved and suffering Thessalonians all the more 
acutely through sending Timothy away ; they would miss 
both them and him. Their willingness to part with so 
beloved and so useful a colleague as Timothy was proof of 
their affectionate solicitude for their converts. Moreover, 
Athens was a place in which a Christian missionary might 
feel depressingly lonely. It was so full of evidence of the 
wrong kind of religious reverence, and so sadly wanting in 
the right kind ; Acts xvii. 16, 22, 32. 

It is a little difficult to make what is said here agree with 
Acts xvii. 14, xviii. 5. There we are told that Silas and 
Timothy were left behind at Beroea and did not rejoin 
St. Paul until he reached Corinth. Here we find that all 
three were at Athens when Timothy was sent back to 
Thessalonica. We infer that both Silas and Timothy 
joined Paul at Athens, and were both sent away again on 
different missions, Timothy to Thessalonica, and Silas to 
Philippi or Beroea. Then both rejoined the Apostle at 
Corinth. In any case, the divergence in the accounts is 
evidence that this Epistle is not a forgery constructed out 
of Acts, as Baur and others have supposed. 



44 COMMENTARY ON 1 THESSALONIANS [iii. 2 

2. our brother] Being young he had perhaps not taken a 
prominent part in the conversion of the Thessalonians and 
may have been hardly known to some of them.* Hence 
this description of him ; he is the fellow-Christian of Paul 
and Silvanus (2 Cor. i. 1 ; Col. i. 1). But he is more than 
that, as what follows shows. 

God's fellow-helper] He is not only ' a brother with us,' 
he is also ' a fellow- worker with God.' Such a description 
would strengthen his position with the Thessalonians, who 
might possibly wonder, and perhaps even resent, that so 
young a teacher had been sent to them. St. Paul is not 
here impressing upon them the great sacrifice which he 
made in parting with such a colleague when he was so much 
in need of comfort himself ; he is showing them what a 
competent worker they had received, and how rightly they 
had behaved in welcoming and trusting him. As Chrysos- 
tom puts it, the intention is to do honour to the Thessa- 
lonians rather than to Timothy. The expression is so 
startling that early copyists altered it ; some by changing 
' fellow-worker ' to ' servant ' (o-wepyov to hiaicovov) ; 
and others by omitting ' God's,' so that the whole phrase 
runs ' our brother and f ellow- worker. ' But the startling 
expression occurs 1 Cor. iii. 9, and it is doubtless genuine 
here. Cf. 3 Jn. 8. In 2 Mace. viii. 7, xiv. 5 ' fellow-worker ' 
occurs of rendering assistance to men. 

It has been conjectured that Timothy took with him a 
letter from the Apostle to the Thessalonians. In that case 
the letter would probably have been mentioned here, and 
what is stated ii. 17 and iii. 1-5 would either have been 
omitted or expressed differently. See below on v. 6. 

* Bleek infers from this verse that Timothy was wholly unknown 
to the Thessalonians until he was sent on this mission ; that he had 
probably been left behind at Philippi, and did not rejoin Paul and 
Silvanus till they had reached Beroea. All that can safely be inferred 
from the verse is that some Thessalonians were not sufficiently 
aware of the value of Timothy as a teacher. On the Scriptural 
meanings of dSeA<j!>os see H. H. A. Kennedy, Sources of N.T, Greek, 
PP- 95 f-, and Ropes on Jas. i. 2. 



iii. 2, 3] HISTORICAL AND PERSONAL 45 

the Gospel of Christ] This probably means the Gospel 
which tells of Christ, the Good-tidings about Him. ' The 
Gospel of God ' more probably means the Gospel which 
God sends ; ii. 2, 8, 9. 

inspire you with confidence and encouragement] In 
2 Thess. ii. 17 this is given as the work of Christ and God. 
' Comfort ' (A. V., R.V.) is not here the exact meaning of 
the verb (TrapatcaXio-ai) ; see on v. 7. The reference is to 
the persecution. 

for the furtherance and vindication of] We need all this 
to bring out the full force of the preposition (inrip) ; ' con- 
cerning ' is inadequate. 

3. allured into betraying it] Wheedled away from it, 
coaxed into deserting it. The exact meaning of the verb 
(aaiveaOat) is uncertain ; possibly ' moved ' (A.V., R.V.) 
or ' disturbed.' This is Chrysostom's interpretation 
(dopvfieladai). But more probably, from its use of a dog's 
wagging its tail, it means ' be fawned upon ' or ' cajoled.' 
It occurs nowhere else in Biblical Greek, but in classical 
Greek it is repeatedly used in this sense. See Zahn, Intr. 
to N.T., I. p. 222. 

the persecutions] Evidently the Thessalonians were still 
suffering affliction, and it is possible that the Apostle himself 
was already enduring persecution at Corinth. He had 
certainly suffered at Thessalonica. 

you yourselves know] See on i. 5 and ii. 1. 

is our appointed lot] We are set or destined for it ; Acts 
ix. 16, xiv. 22, xx. 23 ; Rom. viii. 17, 18 ; Phil. i. 29 ; 
2 Tim. iii. 12 ; etc. ' Our ' includes all Christians ; Jn. xv. 
20, xvi. 33 ; 2 Tim. ii. 12. The relation in which Christians 
stand to the world of necessity involves suffering. Christ 
had warned the disciples of this, and one or more of His 
Sayings may be in the Apostle's mind (Mk. x. 30 ; Mt. v. 11, 
44, x. 23, xxiii. 34 ; Lk. xi. 49, xxi. 12 ; Jn. xv. 20, xvi. 2, 
33). The history of Thessalonica has been marked by great 
affliction ; the massacre of its citizens by Theodosius in 
370, and the capture of the city by the Saracens in 904, by 
the Normans in 1185, and by the Turks in 1430. 



46 COMMENTARY ON 1 THESSALONIANS [iii. 4 

4. besides other facts] This is an additional reason, ' what 
is more ' {xaX yap). See on iv. 10. 

when we were with you] Cf. 2 Thess. ii. 5, iii. 10 (717)69 
vfia<>) ; also 1 Cor. xvi. 6 ; Gal. i. 18. 

gave you this warning] ' Told of it beforehand ' ; iv. 6 ; 
2 Cor. xiii. 2 ; Gal. v. 21. The Jews, to whom prosperity 
was a proof of God's favour, and affliction a proof of His 
wrath, had for centuries tormented themselves with the 
question, Why do the godly suffer ? The Book of Job is 
an attempt to find an answer. Christ had said ' Blessed are 
those who mourn and are hated and persecuted,' and 
Scripture says that ' those whom God loves He chastens.' 
The solution is still imperfect ; for affliction, like all God's 
gifts to us, may be abused, and may harden instead of heal. 
We are told to count it a joy when trials and temptations 
come upon us ; and we are also told to pray that we may 
not be brought into such afflictions.* 

have to] It is sure to come (fiiXko/j-ev) ; cf. Rom. viii. 13 ; 
Acts xvii. 31. 

what ye know must happen] ' Must happen ' is not ex- 
pressed in the Greek, and ' what ye know from experience ' 
may be right : but the other is more in harmony with the 
context. 

One conjectures that Jews had been telling the converts 
that their afflictions showed that they had been befooled. 
They had been promised great happiness, and they had 
experienced great suffering ; and no doubt the suffering 
was a judgment on them for listening to impostors. St. 

* Calamitas virtutis occasio est. . . . Hos itaque Dens, quos 
probat, quos amat, indurat, recognoscit, exercet. . . . Digni visi 
sumus Deo, in quibus experiretur, quantum human a naiura posset 
pati. . . . Quid minim, generosos spiritus Deus tentat ? . . . Ad 
contemnandam malorum poientiam animus patientia pervenit (Seneca, 
De Providentia, iv. 6, 7, 8, 11, 12). Pairium habet Deus adversus 
bonos vivos animum, et illos fortiter amat : et, Operibus, inquit, dolori- 
bus, ac damnis exagitentur, ut verum colligant robur (Ibid. ii. 4). All 
this is very close to Christian doctrine as set forth in such passages as 
Heb. v. 7, 8, xii. 3-1 1 ; Jas. i. 2-4, 12 ; Rev. iii. 19 ; Rom. v. 3-5, 
etc. 



iii 5] HISTORICAL AND PERSONAL 47 

Paul's words seem to be an answer to this. He says, ' we 
warned you that there would be much affliction ; but it is 
of little account, in comparison with the joy which is being 
secured.' 

5. I on my part] Cf. ii. 13. The Apostle took the lead in 
sending Timothy. But Silvanus agreed to this ; it is ' we ' 
in v. 1. Cf. ii. 18 and v. 27. Some infer that, as Timothy 
is not named again here, a second person, some ' quite 
subordinate person,' was sent. The inference is very 
precarious. 

could no longer bear up] Here, as in v. 1, ' bear up,' rather 
than ' forbear,' is the meaning. 

as the Tempter had tempted you] The difference of mood 
(iireipaaev . . . yevrjTac) shows that the fear does not 
include the tempting, which was already a fact ; persecu- 
tion had already taken place. He was afraid as to the 
possible effect ; persecution might cause apostasy. ' The 
Tempter ' (0 ireipd^wv) occurs elsewhere only Mt. iv. 3 ; it 
is not found in the LXX, and none of the Apostolic Fathers 
uses the term. Cf. Mt. vi. 13 ; Mk. i. 13 ; 1 Cor. vii. 5 ; 
and see Trench, Syn. § lxxiv. 

to no purpose] Lit. ' to an empty result ' (ek /cevov), 
a frequent expression with St. Paul ; 2 Cor. vi. 1 ; Gal. 
ii. 2 ; Phil. ii. 16 (twice). It is frequent also in the LXX, 
especially in Isaiah and Jeremiah. Cf. ii. 1. 

It is possible to take the whole as an indirect question 
instead of a fear ; ' enquiring whether the Tempter had 
anyhow tempted you, and whether our labour among you 
would prove to have been to no purpose.' But the other 
is simpler. 

The fact that the Apostle and his colleagues had been sent 
away from Thessalonica before the matter came before the 
Politarchs was disastrous, however necessary for their 
safety. When their case was tried, and they failed to 
appear, the Politarchs decided against them. Their teach- 
ing about a Kingdom and a King was condemned as ' con- 
trary to the decrees of Caesar ' ; it was treason. This at 
once opened the door for the persecution of their adherents, 



48 COMMENTARY ON 1 THESSALONIANS [iii. 6 

and the Jews availed themselves of the welcome oppor- 
tunity. See Zahn, Intr. to N.T., I. p. 218. 

6. has just now returned] ' Just now ' [apn) is emphatic. 
He had come at the very moment when he was specially 
wanted, when St. Paul was so anxious. The ' now ' (vvv) 
in v. 8 corresponds to ' just now ' here. Timothy had 
rejoined him, not at Athens, but at Corinth ; Acts xvii. 5. 
Some connect ' just now ' with v. 7 ; ' But just now . . . 
such excellent news encouraged us. ' This is awkward, with 
five clauses between adverb and verb. In any case, St. 
Paul writes at once. 

brought us the Good-tidings] The expression (evayye- 
Xiaafiivov rjfiiv) is remarkable. Very rarely in the N.T., and 
nowhere else by St. Paul, is this verb used in any other sense 
than that of preaching the Gospel. Here (as Chrysostom 
points out) he might have said ' reported ' (airayydXavros), 
as in i. 9 and 1 Cor. xiv. 25. But he uses a word which 
implies that the news was like a Gospel to them, it was so 
good. We may compare the use of ' bereavement ' in ii. 17. 
These warm expressions are the result of his writing directly 
the welcome report reached him, while his heart was full 
of the intensity of his anxiety and of his relief. If the 
Thessalonians had written to the Apostle, the letter would 
surely have been mentioned here. 

faith . . . love] Their faith had manifested itself in acts 
of love ; i. 3 ; 2 Thess. i. 3 ; Jas. ii. 14, 26. See below on 
v. 7. 

affectionate remembrance] Here, as in v. 15, ' good ' 
(ayado?) has the definite meaning of ' kind.' This was a 
special personal joy to St. Paul. He had evidently taken the 
hearts of the Thessalonian converts by storm. 

at all times] Contrast the ' at all times ' in ii. 16. The 
adverb (TrdvTore), although more closely connected with 
' retain affectionate remembrance,' nevertheless influences 
' yearning ' also ; the yearning and the remembrance were 
identical. On peut dire que le christianisme frimitif jut 
une sorte de romantisme moral, une energique revulsion de la 
faculte d' aimer. Le christianisme ne diminua pas cette 



iii. 6-8] HISTORICAL AND PERSONAL 49 

faculte ; il la nourrit d'air et de jour (Renan, Saint Paul, 
p. 243). 

yearning] This yearning was signum bonae conscientiae 
(Bengel). The compound verb (eVt7ro^oi)vTe?) marks the 
emotional direction of the longing. St. Paul has it seven 
times ; elsewhere only Jas. iv. 5 and 1 Pet. ii. 2. 

just as we also] With Kaddirep icai (here and v. 12) cf. 
tca0co<; ical (Rom. xv. 7) and ooaavrw^ icaL (1 Cor. xi. 25). 

7. encouraged us] The verb (irapaicaktZv) is frequent in 
this letter, meaning sometimes ' encourage,' sometimes 
' comfort,' and sometimes ' exhort ' (ii. 11, iii. 2, iv. 1, 10, 
18, v. 11, 14). 

necessity and affliction] The two terms (t{) avdyfcy real 
6\1^6l) are combined 2 Cor. vi. 4, and both imply pressure 
and constraint. ' Affliction ' (OXfyts) is very frequent in 
the LXX. It is perhaps rather fanciful to make ' necessity ' 
refer to ' privations,' and ' affliction ' to persecutions. The 
two substantives have only one article, as if not much 
difference of meaning were intended. There may be an 
allusion to persecution at Corinth. Cf. ii. 16, and see 
Plummer on 2 Cor. i. 4. 

The parallel in 2 Cor. i. 8-10 should be compared, and 
also the revulsion of feeling caused by the report of Corinth 
brought by Titus to St. Paul in Macedonia, 2 Cor. ii. 12, 
vii. 5. 

it was your faith which restored us] In two consecutive 
sentences their faith is mentioned. It is a very compre- 
hensive term, and it denotes the basis of their Christian 
behaviour. It was their belief in the true God and in His 
Son, in His Resurrection and His Return, and in the cer- 
tainty of the coming of the Kingdom, which characterized 
the Thessalonian converts, and which so delighted Timothy, 
and through him Paul and Silvanus, and filled their hearts 
with thankfulness. 

8. we feel alive again] Partly through his afflictions, and 
partly through the perils in which he often lived, the Apostle 
could say, ' I die daily.' But under the influence of the 
Glad- tidings brought from Thessalonica he indeed has life. 



50 COMMENTARY ON 1 THESSALONIANS [iii. 8-1 o 

News that the converts had apostatized would have been 
like a sentence of death to himself and to the cause of Christ 
in Macedonia and Achaia. Cf. Rom. viii. 36 ; 1 Cor. iv. 9, 
xv. 30, 31 ; 2 Cor. i. 9, iv. 10, 11, vi. 9, xi. 23 ; Acts xxi. 13. 

if only you] The ' you ' is emphatic. 

are standing fast] A late and strong form of the verb ' to 
stand ' (arqicew) is used,* and the construction (idv with 
the indicative) implies a slight doubt followed by reassur- 
ance, ' if — but of course you are standing fast.' Cf. 1 Jn. v. 
15, 'if we know, as of course we do know ' (eav o'lSa/jbev). 

Jowett, pp. 70-73, compares the treatment of the first 
Christians by the Roman Government and by the populace 
with the treatment of the first Methodists by the English 
authorities in Church and State and by the populace. 

9. express an adequate thanksgiving] ' Adequate ' comes 
from the first preposition in the compound verb (dvTcnroSovvai,, 
here and 2 Thess. i. 6 ; Col. iii. 24). The second preposi- 
tion (airo) shows that thanksgiving is not really giving but 
paying ; it is rendering what is due. " Gratitude," as Dr. 
Johnson said, " is a kind of justice." Cf. v. 15 ; Mk. xii. 14, 
16 ; Rom. xiii. 7. The question implies that an adequate 
thanksgiving is impossible ; but the Apostle at once expresses 
his deep gratitude, although words are but a poor expres- 
sion of it. Cf. Lk. xviii. 14 ; Ps. cxvi. 12. 

for what you are to us . . . for your sakes] The repetition 
gives emphasis (-n-epl vfioiv . . . Si v/ia?). The Thessa- 
lonians are to understand what intense anxiety there has 
been on their account, and what intense joy and thankful- 
ness their steadfastness has caused. The affectionate ' you ' 
or ' your ' (vfieU, v/*as, vpiv, v/xcov) occurs ten times in six 
verses, 6-10. 

before the presence of our God] This appeal proves the 
sincerity and purity of the joy : it can bear the inspection 
of God. See on ii. 19. The words are not part of v. 10. 

10. night and day] See on ii. 9. 

* Cf. Judg. xvi. 26 of a building resting firmly on pillars ; also 
1 Kings viii. 11 of the priests being unable to keep their position and 
minister. 



iii. io, ii] HISTORICAL AND PERSONAL 51 

fervent] The adverb (inrepeicirepuraov) occurs again v. 13 
and Eph. iii. 20 ; 'in exceeding abundant measure ' is the 
meaning.* St. Paul is fond of strong compounds with v-n-ip : 
cf. 2 Thess. i. 3 ; 2 Cor. xi. 5. 

make supplication] This also is a strong word (Seo/xevoi), 
which in the Epistles is peculiar to St. Paul. It is stronger 
than ' pray ' [Trpoaev^eoda] 

The construction suggests that the fervency of the sup- 
plication is in proportion to the thankfulness for the joy 
produced by Timothy's report. Thankfulness for spiritual 
gifts naturally leads to asking ith increased confidence 
for an increase in the gifts. 

we may see your face] Not till some years later was this 
prayer granted (Acts xx. 1, 2). The unemphatic position 
of vfioiv throws the emphasis on to irpbawTrov. It is a 
face to face meeting that is desired. Similarly, in v. 13 the 
emphasis is on tcis /cap 8 la?. It is no mere physical strength- 
ening that is desired. Abbott, Johannine Grammar, p. 416. 

make good] From the idea of ' fitting together ' (/carap- 
TL<xai) the verb comes to mean ' to mend, correct, restore, 
make perfect ' what is amiss or defective. 

shortcomings] The word (vcrreprifia) is almost peculiar 
to St. Paul in the N.T. ; 1 Cor. xvi. 17 ; 2 Cor. viii. 13, 14, 
ix. 12, xi. 9 ; etc. Enthusiastical joy about the converts' 
affection and steadfastness does not blind the Apostle's eyes 
to their defects, or prevent him from pointing them out. 
In the prayer that follows, it is the amending these that is 
emphasized. Cf. Rom. i. 11. The Thessalonians were still 
only babes in Christ and had much to learn both in doctrine 
and practice. ' Faith ' covers both ; it is ' faith working 
by love.' Cf. i. 3, iii. 9. 

iii. 11-13. Prayer for the Thessalonians 

11 Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, 
direct our way unto you. 12 And the Lord make you to increase 
and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even 

* It is a mistake to quote Dan. iii. 22 (Theodot.) in illustration. 
There the true reading is ex Trepiacrov. 



52 COMMENTARY ON 1 THESSALONIANS [iii. n 

as we do toward you : 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. 

These verses show the kind of supplication which is being 
so earnestly made with regard to the two things just named, 
— the return of the missionaries to Thessalonica, and the 
building up of their converts' spiritual life. Success in 
either of these points is impossible without the assistance 
of God. Cf. v. 23, 24. 

' u Now may our God and Father Himself and our Lord Jesus re- 
move all hindrances to our coming to you : 12 but, whether we come 
or not, may the Lord make you to increase and to abound in your 
love to one another and to all mankind in exactly the same measure 
that we increase and abound in our love to you : 13 and may He do this 
so as to establish your hearts and make them free from reproach in the 
matter of holiness, when you stand in the presence of our God and 
Father at the Coming of our Lord Jesus attended by all His holy ones ! ' 

11. Now] The fact of the fervent supplication having been 
mentioned, the Apostle passes on (Se) to express it. 

our God and Father Himself] ' Himself ' is emphatic 
and is in contrast to the writers, who have been foiled more 
than once in this matter. Nothing less than God's help 
will prove sufficient in a case of so much difficulty. As God 
He can do it, and as Father He will be willing to do it. Cf. 
Phil. iv. 2 and see Lightfoot on Gal. i. 5. Chrysostom 
points to ' the unrestrained frenzy of affection ' which this 
language reveals. See on iv. 16 ; also on v. 23, where the 
opening words are the same. 

Note the combination of ' our God and Father ' with ' our 
Lord Jesus,' followed by a verb in the singular, as in 2 
Thess. ii. 16, where ' our Lord Jesus Christ ' is placed first* 

* Athanasius calls attention to the significance of the singular. 
St. Paul does not say kotzvOvvouv, as of two distinct granters of 
the favour, but KarevOvvai, which secures the unity of the Father 
and the Son (Or at. C. Arianos iii. 11). Lightfoot notes that "this 
ascription to our Lord of a divine power in ordering the doings of 
men occurs in the earliest of St. Paul's Epistles, and indeed probably 
the earliest of the N.T. writings." 



iii. II, 12] HISTORICAL AND PERSONAL 53 

In both passages ' Himself ' may belong to both, ' God ' 
and ' Lord Jesus/ See on i. 1. This use of ' Himself ' 
is characteristic ; Rom. viii. 16, 26 ; 1 Cor. xv. 28 ; 2 Cor. 
xi. 14. 

remove all hindrances] Make clear the way which has been 
broken up and blocked by Satan, ii. 18. Cf. 2 Thess. iii. 5 
and Lk. i. 79, the only other passages in the N.T. in which 
the verb (KarevOvveiv) occurs. In all three passages it has 
its common meaning of Divine Providence controlling man's 
conduct. In the LXX it is frequent. Here we have the 
aorist optative, as in 2 Thess. ii. 17, iii. 5. 

12. but . . . the Lord make you to increase] The ' you ' 
is very emphatic. ' Whatever may be allowed to us with 
regard to returning to you, may the Lord make your life as 
Christians more fruitful.' The Apostle's stay in Thessa- 
lonica had been brief, probably less than six months, and 
much supplementary work was still needed. The remainder 
of this letter is an attempt to supply something. 

' The Lord ' probably means Jesus, who has just been 
so called in the preceding clause. St. Paul commonly speaks 
of Him as ' the Lord ' ; i. 6, iv. 15-17, and probably iii. 8, 
v. 27. In 2 Thess. iii. 5, 16 ' the Lord ' is addressed in prayer ; 
cf. 2 Cor. xii. 8 ; 2 Tim. i. 16, 18 ; Acts vii. 59, 60. Thus 
in these very early Christian writings we have abundant 
evidence that already Jesus Christ was regarded as having 
essential equality with ' our God and Father,' and with Him 
ruling the world. 

love to one another] There were Jews among the converts, 
and it is probable that there was some friction between them 
and the Gentile converts. See on v. 15. 

and to all mankind] Their love is not to be limited to 
Christians ; it must include their Jewish and heathen 
persecutors. Cf. Rom. xii. 14, 17, 19 ; Gal. vi. 10 ; 1 Tim. 
ii. 1 ; 1 Pet. ii. 17. II etait commands de faire du bien a 
tous ; cependant, les coreligionaires etaient reconnus digne 
d'une preference (Renan, p. 246). 

in exactly the same measure] The preachers' love for their 
converts grew just as their converts grew in grace. The 

F 



54 COMMENTARY ON 1 THESSALONIANS [iii. 13 

news brought by Timothy would cause a large increase of 
affection. Cf. v. 6. 

13. to establish your hearts] The substantive is here 
emphatic, as in v/jl&v to irpouoairov (v. 10). See E. A. Abbott, 
Johannine Grammar, p. 416. There does not seem to be 
much point in Chrysostom's remark, that he does not say 
' you ' but ' your hearts,' for out of the heart proceed evil 
thoughts. The point is that outward conformity is not 
enough. We have the same phrase Jas. v. 8. 

holiness] The word {ayLcoavvq) anticipates ' His holy ones ' 
(rojv aylwv avTou) below, and the two translations should 
correspond. 

in the presence of our God and Father] Our God cannot 
be deceived as to the reality of the holiness, and our Father 
requires us to love all His children. See on v. 9. 

Coming] See on ii. 19 and cf. 1 Cor. i. 8. 

all His holy ones] The angels are included, and therefore 
' holy ones ' rather than ' saints.' In the N.T. ' the saints ' 
(ol aytoi) generally means ' holy men,' those who have been 
consecrated to God and are bound to lead holy lives ; but 
in the LXX and later Jewish literature the angels are often 
so called, as in Zech. xiv. 5, which St. Paul seems to have in 
his mind. Cf. Dan. iv. 13, viii. 13 ; also 2 Esdr. vi. 26 and 
vii. 28, where those who are in Paradise seem to be meant. 
We may regard it as certain that ' those who are fallen 
asleep through Jesus ' (iv. 14-16) are in St. Paul's mind 
here ; and it is hardly less certain that the angels are 
included also. Note the ' all,' and cf. 2 Thess. i. 7 ; Mk. 
viii. 38 ; Mt. xvi. 27 ; Lk. ix. 26 ; Jude 14. The Apostle 
may have Christ's Saying in his mind. See p. xxv. 

We must leave it in doubt whether he has here any 
thought of saints as assessors in the final judgment (1 Cor. 
vi. 3 ; Wisd. iii. 8 ; Dan. vii. 22), for the judgment itself is 
not mentioned. 

Some important witnesses add ' Amen ' at the end of this 
prayer. A liturgical lection may have ended here and in 
any case copyists may have inserted the word in accordance 
with liturgical usage. On the other hand copyists might 



iv. i] HORTATORY AND DOCTRINAL 55 

have omitted it as seeming to be unsuitable in the middle 
of a letter. But insertion, whether deliberate or mechanical, 
is more probable than omission. 

Here the historical and personal portion of the Epistle 
comes to an end, and the division between the chapters is 
intelligently made. The letter would have a suitable con- 
clusion if it ended here ; but the writers know that more 
remains to be said. 



iv. i-v. 24. HORTATORY AND DOCTRINAL 

Admonition has now to be added to the vivid description 
of the relations which have existed and continue to exist 
between the writers and their converts. It has been 
incidentally mentioned in hi. 10 that ' shortcomings ' are 
still found among the Thessalonians ; and in what follows 
they are exhorted to remedy these. 

This second main portion of the letter, like the first, 
consists of five sections ; iv. 1-12, Exhortations to Purity, 
to Love of the Brethren, and to Honest Work ; iv. 13-18, 
Concerning them that fall asleep before the Advent of the 
Lord ; v. 1-11, The Uncertainty of the Time of the Advent 
and the Need of Watchfulness ; v. 12-22, Exhortations 
respecting Church Discipline and Holiness of Life ; v. 23, 24, 
Prayer for the Thessalonians. All five of these sections are 
eminently practical, and in this respect they have much in 
common with the Epistle of St. James. The first of them 
contains admonitions respecting elements of the Christian 
life in which the Thessalonians had seemed to be defective ; 
and the opening verses are a kind of general introduction 
to this second main portion of the letter. 

iv. 1-12. Exhortations to Purity, to Love of 
the Brethren, and to Honest Work. 

iv. x Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort 
you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought 
to walk and to please God, 50 ye would abound more and more. 



56 COMMENTARY ON i THESSALONIANS [iv. i 

2 For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus. 

3 For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should 
abstain from fornication : 4 That every one of you should know 
how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour ; 5 Not in 
the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God : 
6 That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter : 
because that the Lord is the avenger of all such; as we also have 
forewarned you and testified. 7 For God hath not called us unto 
uncleanness, but unto holiness. 8 He therefore that despiseth, 
despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy 
Spirit. 9 But as touching brotherly love, ye need not that I write 
unto you : for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another. 
10 And indeed ye do it toward all the brethren which are in all Mace- 
donia : but we beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and 
more ; u And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own busi- 
ness, and to work with your own hands (as we commanded you ;) 
12 That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and 
that ye may have lack of nothing. 

1 1 Seeing then, Brethren, that such has been our past condition (that 
we have laboured so much, and you have suffered so much, for the 
Gospel's sake, and that God has been so good to us both), We ask you 
as friends, and We exhort you as having authority in the Lord Jesus, 
to consider a further appeal. You received from our lips the lesson 
as to the manner in which you are bound to walk if you are to please 
God, as indeed you really are walking ; and We desire you now to do 
this still more fully than you have hitherto done. 2 I say that you 
received this lesson, for you know what careful precepts we gave you, 
not in our own name, but in that of the Lord Jesus. 3 For we told 
you that God's will, or (one may say) your training in holiness, lies 
in this, — to abstain from carnal impurity ; 4 that each one of you 
should know how to gain complete mastery of his own body, training 
it in holiness and treating it with reverence, 5 not allowing it to be in 
a state of lustful passion, which is just the state of the heathen also, 
who have no knowledge of God. 6 In this way a man avoids the 
temptation to transgress and to defraud his brother, in order to 
gratify his own desire. We give you this charge, because the Lord is 
an avenger of all sins of this kind, as indeed we told you beforehand 
and earnestly protested. 7 Of course He is such, for God did not call 
us to indulge in an unclean life, but to be ever engaged in perfecting 
holiness. 8 It follows from this that he who deliberately ignores what 
We have been saying is ignoring the authority, not of a man, but of the 
one God, who is ever giving His Spirit, the Spirit whose special 
characteristic is holiness, to dwell within you. 

9 There is another subject, that of love of the brethren, about which 
you have no need that we should write to you. For of your own 



iv. i] HORTATORY AND DOCTRINAL 57 

accord you have accepted God's teaching to the effect that you must 
love one another. 10 We say this the more confidently, for you are 
actively following this teaching in your conduct towards all the 
brethren in the whole of Macedonia. But We do exhort you, Brethren, 
to do this still more fully than you have hitherto done, n and to make 
a vigorous endeavour to keep quiet, and to attend each to his own 
affairs and to Work at some handicraft, in exact accordance with the 
precepts which we gave you. 12 Our object in this is that you should 
live so as to be in good repute in your relations with your unbelieving 
neighbours, and should maintain an honourable independence.' 

I. This new division opens with an expression (\olttov) 
which implies that a good deal has been said, but that the 
end has not been quite reached ; and it seems to show that 
what follows was not the main purpose of the letter. The 
main purpose was to defend the conduct and character of 
the writers, and to comfort and encourage the recipients. 
The rendering ' Finally ' is not altogether satisfactory, for 
what follows this expression may be of considerable length, 
as here ; and therefore ' Finally ' seems to come too soon, — 
too far removed from the actual end of the letter. Cf. 2 
Thess. hi. 1 ; 2 Cor. xiii. 11 ; Phil. iii. 1, iv. 8 ; 2 Tim. iv. 8. 
Except in the last case, where it has in reliquo, the Vulgate 
rendering for \oltt6v and to \olttov is de caetero. In the 
above paraphrase it is expanded. 

Brethren] The admonition begins affectionately, and the 
connecting particle (ovv), if it be genuine, looks back to 
iii. 13. See on i. 4 and ii. 1. 

we ask you as friends] The verb (eparw^iev) rather implies 
that the two parties are equals, whereas 'exhort ' (nrapaica- 
Xov/j-ev) assumes some kind of superiority over those who 
are exhorted. St. Paul uses the more friendly word only 
in his letters to the beloved Macedonian Churches ; v 12 ; 
2 Thess. ii. 1 ; Phil. iv. 3. See Trench, Syn. § 40. The 
two verbs are found in combination in pre-Christian corre- 
spondence. 

in the Lord Jesus] This is added to show that no personal 
superiority is claimed. It is ' in Christ ' that they have the 
right to exhort ; and it is ' the Lord Jesus ' to whom the 
Divine prerogative of bestowing this right is assigned, 



58 COMMENTARY ON i THESSALONIANS [iv. 1-3 

Cf. 2 Thess. iii. 6, 12. The Greek sentence is irregular in 
structure, and it requires to be broken up in order to give 
the sense in smooth English. 

to please God] See on ii. 15. The prayer in iii. 13 is in 
his mind. 

as indeed you really are walking] Some texts omit this 
clause, but it may safely be retained. 

to do this still more fully] This implies that they are 
already doing it to a laudable extent. With characteristic 
tact, the Apostle does justice to the goodness which already 
exists ; cf . v. 10, v. 11 ; 2 Thess. iii. 4 ; 2 Cor. ix. 1 ; Phil. i. 
9. What is needed is further progress. They must make 
themselves more ready for the Advent. This use of ' still 
more ' (fiaWov) is characteristic ; iv. 10 ; 2 Cor. vii. 13 ; 
Phil. i. 23. 

2. for you know] See on i. 5, ii. 1, 5, 11, iii. 3, 4. The 
point here is that no new demands are being made ; they 
are merely being reminded of previous instructions. 

careful precepts] Rules of life, charges as to the essentials 
of Christian conduct. The word (TrapayyeXlat,) originally 
meant ' words of command ' which a subordinate officer 
received and passed on ; and hence it was used of instruc- 
tions generally ; 1 Tim. i. 5, 18 ; Acts v. 28, xvi. 24. Cf. 
the Saying in Lk. x. 16 ; also (for Bid) Rom. xv. 18 ; 
1 Cor. ii. 10 ; Phil. i. 11. 

3. God's will . . . training in holiness] These terms are 
in apposition ; both point in the same direction, viz. utter 
abstention from impurity. Moreover, while training our- 
selves in holiness we may be quite sure of Divine help, 
because we are working in absolute harmony with the 
Divine will. God wills our consecration. Among the 
heathen sensual indulgence was regarded very lightly and 
was treated almost as a matter of course, like eating and 
drinking. Cicero (Pro Coelio, 48) excuses it ; quando 
reprehensum ? quando non permissum ? Thessalonica was 
a large sea-port, with many wealthy and luxurious inhabit- 
ants. Such conditions favour immorality. 

See Jowett's Essay in St. Paul's Epistles, II. pp. 74 f. ; 



iv. 3,4] HORTATORY AND DOCTRINAL 59 

Hastings' DAC. art. ' Abstinence.' Hence the necessity of 
giving stringent charges against it to Gentile converts ; 
Acts xv. 20, xxi. 25 ; 1 Cor. v. 1, 9 ; 2 Cor. xii. 21 ; 1 Pet. 
iv. 1-4. ' God's will ' (6e\7]/ma tov Qeov), i.e. one of the 
things willed by Him, is a frequent expression with St. 
Paul ; v. 18 ; Rom. i. I9,"xii. 2, xv. 32 ; 1 Cor. i. 1 ; etc. 

training in holiness] The term (a<yia<Tp.6s) implies a 
process, a process of self -consecration, and in it abstention 
from impurity plays an important part. In the N.T. the 
word is mainly Pauline ; 2 Thess. ii. 13 ; Rom. vi. 19, 22 ; 
1 Cor. i. 30 ; 1 Tim. ii. 15. 

This is one of several passages in these two chapters in 
which there is similarity with the Didache. Here compare 
Did. hi. 3, where there is warning against iropvela and 
/Aoixela. See on v. 13, 22. 

to abstain from carnal impurity] The very words of the 
Apostolic decree (airexeaOai iropvetas), which had been 
promulgated a year or two before the writing of this letter, 
and which St. Paul had helped to make known in the 
Churches of Asia Minor ; Acts xvi. 4. Cf. v. 22 ; 1 Pet. ii. 
11. The Greek word covers not only fornication but other 
kinds of impurity also ; 1 Cor. v. 1 ; Mt. v. 32. Chacune 
de ces Eglises etait pour lui comme une fiancee qu'il avait 
promise au Christ et qu'il voulait garder pure (Renan, Saint 
Paul, p. 227). 

4. know how] Cf. the use of ' know ' in Mt, vii. 11. Purity, 
says Chrysostom, is "a thing that has to be learned " 
(uaOtjaew 7rpdj/xa), a habit to be acquired. 

to gain complete mastery of his own body] It is impossible 
to be certain of the meaning of the Greek (to kaviov cncevo<; 
KTaadai), which may mean ' to take to himself a wife of his 
own.' This interpretation of the words makes good sense 
in harmony with v. 6 and 1 Cor. vii. 2. The ambiguous 
word (oveeOo?) means ' vessel,' and ' vessel ' often means 
' body,' as that which contains the soul or spirit ; 2 Cor. iv. 7. 
Instances are also found in which ' vessel ' means ' wife.' 
But 1 Pet. hi. 7 is not in point, for there the wife is a ' weaker 
vessel ' in reference to the Holy Spirit, not in reference to 



60 COMMENTARY ON 1 THESSALONIANS [iv. 4 

her husband.* The verb (/crao-Oab) does not mean ' possess ' 
or ' keep ' (which would be KeKTrjaOai), but ' acquire ' or 
' gain,' and in the LXX it is used of winning a wife ; Ruth 
iv. 10 ; Ecclus. xxxvi. 24. Theodore of Mopsuestia and 
Augustine adopt this explanation : Chrysostom and Theo- 
doret prefer the other ; their argument is that when we 
purify our body from sin we make it our own (tcTw/AeOa) ; 
to which we may add that this charge is addressed to women 
as well as to men. Both views have found many supporters. 
In favour of Chrysostom's interpretation, which is adopted 
in the paraphrase, it has been shown from papyri that in the 
popular language the meaning of ' possess ' was not confined 
to the perf. Ki/cTrjadai (see Milligan ad loc). ' Gradually 
acquire full control ' seems to be the most probable meaning. 
But we must leave the explanation of the phrase open. 

A third explanation must be mentioned, not as being 
probable, but as being perhaps grammatically possible ; 
and it has been adopted by a few scholars. They 
propose to separate ' know ' (elBevai) from ' gain ' (/crao-dai) 
and explain it as ' know ' has to be understood in v. 12, viz. 
' know the value of,' ' treat with respect.' The whole will 
then run thus ; ' that each of you should respect his own 
wife, get her in the spirit of holiness and reverence, not in 
a state of lustful passion, etc' It is difficult to believe that, 
if this had been meant, it would have been expressed in this 
harsh and ambiguous way. 

treating it with reverence] Honour for the human body as 
something sacred is to a large extent a Christian idea. 
Heathen philosophers often regarded it with contempt. 
One of them said that he blushed at the thought of possessing 
a body ; only the mind or soul was of value, and the body 
was a vile impediment. f 

* ' Weaker vessel ' implies that both husband and wife are ves- 
sels or chattels : they are both of them pieces of furniture in God's 
house, the husband stronger, the wife weaker. But " we can 
hardly suppose St. Peter to be thinking only of the bodily weakness 
of the wife " (Bigg, ad loc). See also Lightfoot on this passage. 

f Contempt of human personality can hardly go deeper than 
in this attitude of Plotinus. And what does Neo-Platonism offer 



iv. 5, 6] HORTATORY AND DOCTRINAL 61 

5. a state of lustful passion] The expression (rrddei eVt- 
dvnias) implies that the person is overmastered and 
becomes the instrument of the lust. 

just the state] We have the same word {KaOdirep) ii. 11, 
iii 6, 12 ; like KadJx; in i. 5, ii. 2, 4, 5, 13, 14, hi. 4, iv. 1, 6, 
11, etc., it implies exact correspondence, and in the N.T. it 
is almost peculiar to the writings of St. Paul. 

who have no knowledge of God] Cf. 2 Thess. i. 8 ; Gal. iv. 
8. The words are a quotation from Jer. x. 25. Cf. Ps. 
lxxix. 6 ; Job xviii. 21 ; Judg. ii. 10 ; 1 Sam. ii. 12 ; Jer. 
ix. 3. The heathen had no adequate knowledge of God. 
They often recognized His power, but they had little idea 
of His love or His purity ; and many of them, in their 
ignorance of anything Divine, had lost the sense of the 
difference between right and wrong, especially as regards 
charity, purity, and honesty. Cf. Seneca De Ira ii. 8 ; 
Nee furtiva jam scelera sunt; praeter oculos eunt. Adeoque 
in publicum missa nequitia est et in omnium pectoribus 
evaluit, ut innocentia non rara, sed nulla est. The whole 
passage should be read as a description of heathen disregard 
of moral laws. For other echoes of the O.T. see on ii. 4. 

6. to transgress] Of the two verbs {jmepfHaiveiv teal 
•7r\eove/cTeiv) it is possible that only the second governs 
' his brother/ the first being absolute. But it is also possible 
that both verbs govern ' his brother,' and that we ought 
to translate, ' to get the better of and defraud his brother ' ; 
and this makes equally good sense. Nowhere else in the 
N.T. does vTrepf3aii>eiv occur. 

defraud his brother] Impurity is a wrong to society ; it 
defiles the sinner and his victim and corrupts the whole 
community. The offender robs his fellows by a selfish 
lowering of the moral tone ; 1 Cor. v. 6. In the case of the 
adulterer the defrauding is at a maximum. In the Sibylline 
Oracles iv. 164 it is probable that v/3pei? is used in this 
sense. See K. Lake, Earlier Epistles of St. Paul p. 57. 

us in exchange ? Extasy ; the absorption of our own personality 
in that of the Deity, and a Deity as inaccessible to knowledge as to 
love. 



62 COMMENTARY ON 1 THESSALONIANS [iv. 6 

' His brother ' here does not mean ' his fellow-Christian/ 
but ' his fellow-creature,' ' his neighbour.' The person 
who was specially wronged might be a heathen. 

to gratify his own desire] This is interpretation of the 
vague expression (eV t&> irpdyfiaTi) under which the nauseous 
meaning is veiled.* In the matter ' (R.V.) means ' in the 
matter which we are considering,' viz. personal chastity. 
Cf. 2 Cor. vii. n. ' In any matter ' (A.V.) is wrong ; there 
is no thought here of fraud in business transactions, as is 
clear from the next verse. The whole section is concerned 
with impurity, and an abrupt parenthetical allusion to 
dishonesty and covetousness is improbable. The Vulgate's 
in negotio misled the translators of 1611. The suggestion 
that for ra> irpdyfiarc we should read tw irpdyixaii may be 
dismissed ; ra = tlvl is found nowhere in the N.T., neither 
here nor i Cor. xv. 8. 

an avenger of all sins of this kind] Lit. ' an avenger con- 
cerning all these things.' Here and in Rom. xii. 19, and 
perhaps xiii. 4, it is Deut. xxxii. 35 which is in St. Paul's 
mind ; cf. Heb. x. 30 ; Ps. xciv. 1. He is closer to the 
Hebrew, ' Vengeance is Mine and recompense,' than to the 
LXX, ' In a day of vengeance I will recompense.' It is 
just possible that, as he is quoting the O.T., ' the Lord ' 
here means ' Jehovah.' But almost certainly ' the Lord ' 
has the usual Pauline meaning of ' the Lord Jesus,' to whom 
God has committed the final judgment ; 2 Thess. i. 7-9. 
St. Paul constantly takes expressions which in the O.T. are 
used of Jehovah and uses them of Christ, as if the transition 
was natural and obvious. See on iii. 12 ; also Hastings' 
DAC. I. p. 188b. 

told you beforehand] Or, ' gave you warning ' ; cf. iii. 3 ; 
2 Cor. xiii. 2 ; Gal. v. 21. 

earnestly protested] A stronger word (8iep.apTvpdp,e0a) 
than that used in ii. 12 (p,apTvp6p,evot,). Cf. Lk. xvi. 28 
and Heb. ii. 6. Elsewhere St. Paul adds ' before God ' 
[ivayn-Lov rod @eov) to ' earnestly protest ' ; I Tim. v. 21 ; 
2 Tim. ii. 14, iv. 1. Both verbs occur in St. Paul's speech 

* Euphemia est, quod adulterium non appellat apostolus (Bengel). 



iv. 7, 8] HORTATORY AND DOCTRINAL 63 

before the Sanhedrin, Acts xxiii. 11, and both in the speech 
at Miletus, xx. 21, 23, 24, 26. In the latter speech Pauline 
language abounds. See on v. 12. 

7. to indulge in] Lit. ' on terms of ' (eVt) ; cf. Eph. ii. 10 ; 
Gal. v. 13. Non vocavit hac lege ut essemus immundi. 

an unclean life] Or, ' uncleanness.' This shows that in 
v. 6 there is no reference to dishonesty in business. Here, 
as in ii. 3, we have a change of preposition ; here from ' on 
terms of,' ' on a basis of ' (eV/) to ' in ' (ev). 

in perfecting holiness] Training in it, as in vv. 3 and 4. 
The repetition of the term should be noted. We must also 
remember that St. Paul is writing from Corinth, where 
sensuality was rampant. 

8. It follows from this] Introduces an emphatic con- 
clusion (roiyapovv) ; cf. Heb. xii. I. 

deliberately ignores] ' Treats as removed from position 
and practically inoperative ' (aderel = ' makes aderov'). 
Cf . Lk. x. 16 (a Saying which may be in the Apostle's mind ; 
see on i. 5 and ii. 16) and Jn. xii. 48 ; also Is. xxiv. 16 f. 

what we have been saying] The Greek has simply ' deli- 
berately ignores,' and what is ignored has to be understood. 
Some understand ' God's call to a holy life,' which makes 
what follows to be an empty truism. 

the one God] See on i. 2. The article (tov Qeov) is all the 
more noticeable because ' a man ' (dvOpcoirov) has no article. 

is ever giving] Or possibly, ' is the Giver of ' (toi> hlhoma 
like tov pvofxevov in i. 10). ' Hath given ' (Sovra) is a 
wrong reading. In Rom. v. 5 ; 2 Cor. i. 22, v. 5 ; Gal. i. 4 
the aorist is right. "It is important to notice how central 
was the belief that Christians were men who were inspired 
with a Holy Spirit." (K. Lake, Earlier Epistles, p. 21). 
This inspiration transformed their whole life ; and it put 
an end to the pagan plea that man has no power to resist 
impure desires. 

whose special characteristic, etc.] The repetition of the 
article (to irvevfia to ayiov) gives this effect ; ' holiness ' 
is a separate idea added to ' the Spirit.' It looks back 
to the threefold mention of holiness. 



64 COMMENTARY ON 1 THESSALONIANS [iv. 8, 9 

to dwell within you] Lit. ' into you ' (ek y/xa?), as in 
ii. 9 ; cf. Heb. viii. 10, ' give My laws into their mind.' The 
meaning might be ' for your good ' ; Eph. hi. 2 ; Col. i. 25. 
Some texts here have ' us ' for ' you ' (??/xa? for v/xasi), a 
frequent confusion in MSS. See Ezek. xxxvii. 14, which 
seems to have been in the Apostle's mind. 

The second half of v. 8 balances, by way of contrast, 
the second half of v. 6. The Lord is the Avenger of all these 
gross sins ; but the God who has called us to a life of holiness 
is the Giver of the Spirit, to enable us to forsake th sins 
and respond to His call. The way to escape the Avenger 
is to fly to the Giver and accept and cherish His gift. 

9. There is another subject] The opening words [irepl 
he T779 k.t.X.) resemble 1 Cor. vii. 25, viii. 1, xii. 1, xvi. 1 in 
form ; but it is not likely that the Thessalonians had written 
to the Apostle to ask for advice on this subject. See on hi. 6. 

From the grossly selfish sin of impurity the writers pass 
to the ' love of the brethren ' which is such a contrast to it, 
with regard to which the Thessalonians require, not reforma- 
tion, but progress. ' Love of the brethren ' ((/uAaSeA^ta), 
as distinct from a^aTrt] (iii. 6, 12, v. 8), which has no limits, 
means affection for all fellow-Christians (Rom. xii. 10 ; 
Heb. xiii. 1 ; 1 Pet. i. 22 ; 2 Pet. i. 7 only). The more com- 
prehensive term occurs scores of times in N.T. Chastity 
and charity are in a special sense Christian virtues, and the 
inculcation of them had much to do with the success of the 
Gospel. The experience of the heathen had taught them 
the value of these lofty virtues, which to them seemed 
to be almost unattainable. 

you have no need] To make the construction smoother 
some copyists substituted ' we have no need.' The 
statement is made in all sincerity. Though poor, these 
Macedonians could be very generous (2 Cor. viii. 1-5) ; 
the recognition of this paves the way for a request 
for still greater things, as Chrysostom intimates. 

The writers are not inciting their converts to acquire a 
virtue which they do not possess by telling them that they 
do possess it. Cf. v. 1 ; 2 Cor. ix. 1 ; Philem. 21. 



iv. 9-11] HORTATORY AND DOCTRINAL 65 

of your own accord] Without being exhorted by their 
teachers. See on iv. 16 for this emphatic use of the pronoun 
(avTOi). 

you have accepted God's teaching] Lit. ' you are God- 
taught ' (deoSloa/cTol icrre), an expression which occurs 
nowhere else in the N.T. Cf. Jn. vi. 45 ; 1 Cor. ii. 10, 13 ; 
1 Jn. ii. 20. The statement does not refer to any specific 
precept, such as ' Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself,' 
but to the Divine influence on their hearts. Cf. Is. liv. 13 ; 
Jer. xxxi. 34 ; Mt. xxiii. 8. 

10. the more confidently] This verse gives an additional 
reason for the previous statement ; cf . hi. 4; 2 Thess. iii. 10 ; 
1 Cor. v. 7. They must be God-taught, for they practise 
the Divine lesson, not merely among themselves, but in the 
whole of Macedonia, viz. Philippi, Beroea, and other Chris- 
tian communities not known to us. Their position on the 
Egnatian Way gave the Thessalonians many opportunities. 
Like the other two cities, they became a missionary 
centre. 

to do this still more fully] Cf. v. 1 and v. 11. The Apostle 
would say the same thing now. It is the jealousies and 
enmities between Christians which constitute the chief 
obstacles to the success of missionary enterprise at home 
and abroad. " Would it not be higher praise than some of 
us deserve, to say that we loved with brotherly cordiality 
all the Christian churches in Britain, and wished them God- 
speed in their Christian work ? " (Denney, ad loc). 

11. make a vigorous endeavour] Lit. ' Be anxious of 
distinction, be ambitious' (<fu\oTifieia0ai). In late Greek 
the verb seems to lose the idea of emulation. The exhorta- 
tion to make a quiet life an object of endeavour is among 
the indications that there had been much restlessness among 
the converts. In Rom. xv. 20 and 2 Cor. v. 9, the only 
other passages in the N.T. in which the verb occurs, it is 
used, as here, in a good sense. See Plummer on 2 Cor. v. 9. 
The paradoxical expression, ' be vigorous in keeping quiet,' 
is perhaps made deliberately. Cf. " make a desperate 
effort on behalf of tranquillity of mind " (Arrian, Disc, of 



66 COMMENTARY ON 1 THESSALONIANS [iv n, 12 

Epictetus, ii. 16 sub fin.) ; also " with strenuous yielding " 
(Clement of Rome, Cor. lviii. 2, lxii. 2). 

to keep quiet] With rjavya^iv here contrast irepiep^a^eadai 
2 Thess. hi. 11. 

to work at some handicraft.] It is probable that the 
large majority of the converts worked (ipyd^eaOac) with 
their hands for their living ; 2 Thess. hi. 10-13. These 
two Epistles contain no exhortations to the wealthy, and no 
warnings as to the deceitfulness of riches, although there 
was much wealth in Thessalonica. 

in accordance with the precepts] This applies mainly to 
' work at some handicraft,' as v. 12 shows. The precepts 
were enforced by example ; 2 Thess. hi. 8-12 ; 1 Cor. ix. 12 ; 
2 Cor. vii. 2, xi. 7, 9 ; xii. 13 ; Acts xviii. 3, xx. 34. 

12. so as to be in good report] Or, ' in a comely manner ' 
{eva^fxovw^) ; Rom. xiii. 13 ; 1 Cor. xiv. 40 ; cf. Mk. xv. 43. 
' Honestly ' formerly had this meaning. 

your unbelieving neighbours] Lit. ' the outsiders' (Toi»?e£a>) ; 
1 Cor. v. 12 ; Col. iv. 5 ; Mk. iv. 11. St. Paul is keenly 
alert to the wisdom of giving no handle to the heathen ; 1 
Cor. xiv. 24 ; Col. iv. 5 ; 1 Tim. hi. 7, vi. 1. That the 
idlers begged of the heathen is not implied ; but the heathen 
would see that certain Christians were idlers and sponged 
upon others, especially upon ' the chief women ' (Acts 
xvii. 4). The loafer who was willing to live on the bounty 
of his fellows, and thus brought Christianity into disrepute, 
was not unknown. Lucian tells how easily simple Christians 
were taken in by plausible beggars. 

maintain an honourable independence] Lit. ' be in need 
of nothing,' or possibly, ' be in need of nobody ' (/j.r)8evo<; 
being either neuter or masculine). The meaning is much the 
same in either case.* The Gospel bids us to be glad to give 
where help is required ; but it also bids us to strive not to 
require help and thus burden others. 

* We are told that yu/^Sero's must be neuter, because " to stand 
in need of no man is for man an impossibility." But to stand in 
need of nothing is equally an impossibility. 



v. 13] HORTATORY AND DOCTRINAL 67 

iv. 13-18. Concerning them that fall asleep 

BEFORE THE ADVENT OF THE LORD 

13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concern- 
ing them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which 
have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, 
even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 
15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which 
are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent 
them which are asleep. 16 For the Lord himself shall descend 
from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the Archangel, and with 
the trump of God : and the dead in Christ shall rise first. 17 Then 
we which are alive, and remain, shall be caught up together with 
them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air : and so shall we 
ever be with the Lord. 18 Wherefore, comfort one another with 
these words. 

There is little doubt that one cause of the restlessness and 
idleness of some of the converts at Thessalonica was the 
belief that the Lord's Return was imminent, a belief which 
at several periods in the history of the Church has had an 
unsettling effect on men's minds. Hence the transition 
from the declaration of the necessity of living quietly and 
working steadily to the subject of the Advent. With regard 
to this subject two points are expounded, viz. the lot of 
those who are dying before the Advent, and the time at which 
the Advent may be expected. It is possible that St. Paul, 
during the few months that he preached at Thessalonica, 
was so full of the expectation that Christ would come again 
soon, and had so many other things to teach, that he said 
little about resurrection. It is probable that some deaths 
had taken place since the departure of the missionaries, 
and that in this way discussion and unsettlement had 
arisen. Possibly some converts had been killed in the 
persecution. Had these Christians, by their premature 
deaths, lost all hope of sharing in the glories of the Return 
and of entering the Kingdom ? The dominant note in this 
Epistle is not faith, as in some of the later Epistles, but 
hope, — hope in a bright and glorious future, which maybe 
very near at hand. The fate of those who had lived under 



68 COMMENTARY ON 1 THESSALONIANS [iv. 13 

the miseries of persecution, and had died before this future 
was revealed, seemed to be most pitiable. What was the 
solution of this problem ? 

Salmon (Introd. to N.T., p. 385) points out that the pro- 
blem is evidence of the early date of the Epistle. Only 
at the very beginning of Christianity, when but few Christians 
had died, could this anxiety about their condition have 
arisen. Paley (Home Paulinae) uses a similar argument. 
Mystery-religions and some philosophies offered immor- 
tality, but immortality through the death and destruction 
of the body. Many of the first Christians, and especially 
Gentile Christians, hoped to have immortality without 
dying. To such persons every death of a Christian, as it 
occurred, was a cause of perplexity and distress. See K. 
Lake, Earlier Epistles, p. 92 ; Hastings' DAC. art. ' Escha- 
tology,' p. 362. 

There is nothing here to show that the Thessalonians had 
written to the Apostle, as the Corinthians did (1 Cor. vii. 1), 
asking for a solution of questions which disturbed them. 
More probably Timothy had told Paul and Silvanus that 
these two questions about the Advent were causing un- 
healthy agitation. 

• 13 Now there is a matter, Brethren, about which we do not wish you 
to remain uninformed ; I mean about those among you who are falling 
asleep before the Coming of the Lord ; for we desire to save you 
from sorrowing in the way that the rest of the world cannot fail to 
sorrow, because they have no share in our Christian hope. 14 Our hope 
saves us from such sorrow, for, if we really do believe that Jesus died 
and rose again, so also We are quite sure that God will cause those who 
by the hands of Jesus have been laid to sleep to be brought again with 
Him. 15 We are quite sure of it, for this we say to you on the au- 
thority of the Lord, that we who are alive, who survive the Coming of 
the Lord, will assuredly have no advantage in time over those who 
have fallen asleep before the Coming. 16 We cannot do so, because 
the Lord Himself will come down from heaven with a commanding 
summons, namely, with an archangel's cry, with a trumpet of God ; 
and all who have died and are now in Christ will at once rise again. 
17 Then, and not till then, we who are alive and survive shall, one and 
all, with them be caught up in clouds, for a meeting with the Lord, 
into the air ; and thus for evermore with the Lord shall we be. 18 Where- 



iv. 13] HORTATORY AND DOCTRINAL 69 

fore, in times of doubt and depression, comfort one another by re- 
peating these Words. 



13. We do not wish you to remain uninformed] This is a 
mode of expression which St. Paul frequently uses in his 
earlier letters, especially when he wants to correct an errone- 
ous idea, or to explain what has caused perplexity ; Rom. 
i. 13, xi. 25 ; 1 Cor. x. i, xii. 1 ; 2 Cor. i. 8 ; cf. 1 Cor. xii. 
3 ; Phil. i. 12 ; Col. ii. 1. Similar expressions are found in 
secular letters preserved in papyri ; " I wish you to know " 
(yivoocriceiv ae deXco), like our " I beg to inform you." 

Brethren] As usual, St. Paul adds this affectionate address 
to a form of expression which otherwise might seem to be 
dictatorial or imply reprehensible ignorance in those to 
whom he writes. See on i. 4. 

who are falling asleep] The present participle (icoi/j,co/u,evcov 
is the right reading) indicates a process which is going on. 
The metaphor or euphemism is not of Christian origin, nor 
was it suggested by the hope of a resurrection ; but it was 
probably adopted by Christian writers as harmonizing with 
that hope, and as having been employed by Christ Himself ; 
Mk. v. 39 ; Mt. ix. 24 ; Lk. viii. 52 ; Jn. xi. 11. It is remark- 
able that, while St. Paul uses ' falling asleep ' of Christians, 
whose resurrection lies in the future, he uses ' die ' of Christ 
(iv. 14, v. 10 ; etc.), whose resurrection is a certain fact. 
The metaphor as used in Scripture cannot safely be used in 
theological discussion as throwing light on the doctrine 
of an intermediate state. Cf. Horn. //. xi. 241 ; Virg. 
Aen. vi. 278, x. 745 ; Hor. Od. I. xxiv. 5. Probably not 
many had died at Thessalonica in the short period since 
their conversion, but enough to raise the question and make 
many of the survivors anxious. They had been baptized 
in the full expectation of living until the Lord returned to 
admit them into His Kingdom. What would be the lot of 
those who had failed to live long enough for this ? 

from sorrowing in the way that the rest of the world, etc.] 
Such is probably the way in which St. Paul would have 
explained the language which he uses, had he been asked 

G 



70 COMMENTARY ON 1 THESSALONIANS [iv. 13 

whether all sorrowing for the death of those who are dear 
to us is wrong. The Greek, if treated with exactness, 
implies that the Thessalonians are not to sorrow at all for 
their dead ; and the exact meaning may stand. They are 
not to mourn for the dead, but they may mourn for them- 
selves ; cf. Lk. xxiii. 28. The dead are with Christ, which 
is far better than being with earthly friends, and it is wrong 
to bemoan them as if they had lost much and gained little 
or nothing. This was what the large majority of heathen 
and of Jews did ; they had miserable ideas about life after 
death, if they believed in it at all. But to sorrow for what 
we have lost through the death of those whom we love is 
natural, and this is not forbidden. As Augustine remarks 
(Ep. cclxiii. 3) : " The Apostle Paul did not prohibit 
sorrow altogether, but only such sorrow as the heathen 
manifest who have no hope " ; and Bengel remarks that it is 
a special note of the power of Christianity quod ea desiderium 
mortuorum non tollit aut exacerbat, sed suaviter temperat. 

the rest of the world] This refers chiefly, if not exclusively, 
to ' the heathen who have no knowledge of God,' the unbe- 
lieving neighbours of the converts. See on vv. 5 and 12 
and cf. Rom. xi. 7 ; Eph. i. 18, iv. 4 ; Col. i. 23. The Apostle 
is not thinking of Sadducees. 

have no share in our hope] It is not clear whether hope of 
resurrection or hope of life in Christ is meant. In 1 Cor. xv. 
32 St. Paul points out the inevitable moral result of denying 
a future life ; ' Let us eat and drink etc.' Cf. Is. lvi. 12 ; 
Eccles. ii. 24, hi. 12, v. 18, ix. 7 ; and especially Wisd. ii 6-9. 
It is therefore not surprising to find similar views in heathen 
writers ; Hdt. ii. y8 ; Thuc. ii. 53 ; Eur. Ale. 788 f., 
Iph. Aid. 1252 ; Hor. Od. II. hi. 13 ; Petron. Satyr. 34. 
Numerous passages are quoted to show that the general view 
of the heathen respecting the dead was one of despair ; Plato, 
Phaedr. 64 ; Theocr. iv. 42 ; Lucret. hi. 942 ; Catul. v. 4.* 
It is said that at Thessalonica a sepulchral inscription 

* See Driver on Deut. xiv. 1, 2 respecting heathen methods of 
mourning for the dead which were forbidden for the Chosen People. 



iv. 13] HORTATORY AND DOCTRINAL 71 

" told the bystander that after death there is no revival, 
after the grave no meeting of those who have loved each 
other on earth " (Conybeare and Howson, ch. ix.). The 
hope of seeing one another again in the other world was 
cherished only by those few heathen who believed in the 
immortality of the soul. The fact that a plant or tree 
cut down may sprout again with greater vigour, whereas 
men when cut down cannot do so, seemed to the heathen 
to intimate the inferiority of man to vegetation. Jews 
sometimes had the same thought ; Job xiv. 7-10. To 
the Christian this sprouting seemed to be an intimation 
of resurrection. The contrast has often been pointed 
out between the gloomy despondency of the heathen inscrip- 
tions on the magnificent tombs along the Appian Way, 
and the triumphant hopefulness of the Christian inscriptions 
on the humble graves in the catacombs below the same soil. 
" This is a more striking illustration than any quotations 
from literature " (Lightfoot ad loc). 

Nevertheless, it is right to remind ourselves of heathen 
utterances of a different tenor. There are the well-known 
passages in Plato : Apol. 41, Meno 81, Phaedo 70, 72, 91, 
Rep. x. 608-612, Sym. 208, Laws xii. 958. See also Cicero, 
Book I. of the Tusculan Disputations ; Seneca, Consolatio 
ad Polybium xxviii. 5, Consolatio ad Marciam, xix. 5, Epp. 
xxvi. 9, lvii. 56, cii. 23-30. Even Ovid (Met. xv. 153-9) can 
write thus of death : — 

genus attonitum gelidae formidine mortis, 
Quid Styga, quid tenebras, quid novnina vana timetis, 
Materiem vatum, falsique piacula mundi ? 
Corpora sive rogns flamma, sen tabe vetustas 
Abstulerit, mala posse pati non ulla putetis. 
Morte carent animae : semperque priore relicta 
Sede novis domibus habitant, vivuntque receptae. 

The last two lines are specially impressive ; — 

Souls have no share in death : when their earlier haunt is abandoned, 
They dwell in their new abodes, and live on in the home that receives 
them. 



72 COMMENTARY ON 1 THESSALONIANS [iv. 14 

We have a homily of Chrysostom on this verse and two 
sermons of Augustine. 

14. if we really do believe] The implication is that of 
course we do believe this ; cf. 1 Cor. xv. 12, 21 ; Gal. hi. 29. 
The writers make this quite clear by the form of the apodosis, 
which runs, not ' we ought to believe also,' but ' so also 
God will, etc' There is no uncertainty, either about our 
belief that Jesus has been raised, or about our being raised 
in due time. Why not about the latter ? Because of the 
reality of the union between Christ and the members of 
His mystical Body. Death does not sever them from Him ; 
and it is incredible that He should die and be raised again, 
but that they should die and never be raised. Here, as 
elsewhere in St. Paul, the death and resurrection of Christ 
are regarded as inseparable. Even where only one is 
mentioned, the other is implied. The two facts are the 
foundation of the Christian faith. 

those who by the hands of Jesus have been laid to sleep] 
Lit. ' those who fell asleep through Jesus ' (rov? Koiixr\6kvra<i 
Bia rov 'Itjctov) This use of ' through ' (8cd cum gen.) 
is difficult, and the exact meaning is uncertain. We should 
expect ' in Christ ' (iv Xpia-ru)), as in v. 16 and 1 Cor. xv. 18. 
' To be raised through Christ ' and ' to live through Christ ' 
would be intelligible enough. Moreover the passage from 
sleep to awakening might give us the idea of ' through. ' But 
that is not what we have here. ' Who fell asleep through 
Jesus ' may possibly mean that it was through Him that 
they passed away peacefully. In that case we are close to 
the idea that they were ' laid to sleep by Him.' This is 
rendered all the more possible because the participle 
(K0L/x7}divTa<i) may be passive in meaning as well as in form. 
See Moulton, Prolegomena, p. 162 ; A.T. Robertson, Gr. of 
Grk. N.T. p. 817. But if we are right in conjecturing that 
ii. 15 implies that some Thessalonians had been put to death 
in the persecution, then ' who fell asleep through Jesus ' 
might have a similar meaning. K. Lake, Earlier Epistles, 
p. 88. For a somewhat similar question see 2 Esdr. v. 
41, 42. 



iv. 14, 15] HORTATORY AND DOCTRINAL 73 

Some translators transfer the puzzling words ' through 
Jesus ' from ' fell asleep ' to ' bring ' ; 'so also we may 
be sure that by means of Jesus God will bring with Him 
those who are asleep.' But this loses the impressive contrast 
between ' Jesus died ' and ' those who fell asleep through 
Jesus.' With this use of Sidci. Rom. i. 8,12 ; 2 Cor. i. 5. 

to be brought again with Him] This must come at the 
end of the sentence, as in the Greek. The verb ' bring ' 
or ' lead ' (ayeiv) implies that they are alive ; 2 Tim. iv. 11 ; 
Acts xvii. 15, 19, etc. If they are alive, they must have 
been raised ; and they are ' with ' Christ, because they have 
never been severed from Him. 

15. For this we say] ' This ' refers to what follows, not 
to what precedes. The last chapter of the Didache re- 
sembles vv. 15-17. 

on the authority of the Lord] Lit. ' in the word of the Lord ' 
(iv \6yq) Kvpiov), i.e. in the power of a word spoken by the 
Lord (1 Kings xiii. 17, 18, xx. 35). Cf. ' Then came the 
word of the Lord (X070? Kvpiov) to Isaiah,' Is. xxxviii. 4. 
The reference may be to a Saying of Christ not preserved 
in the Gospels, like the one in Acts xx. 35, or to a direct 
revelation made to one or more of the writers of the letter, 
such as those recorded Acts xvi. 6, 7, 9, xviii. 9, xx. 23, 
xxi. 11, xxii. 17, xxvii. 23 ; 2 Cor. xii. 1 ; Gal. i. 12, ii. 2. 
The former is perhaps rather more probable ; if so, the case 
is similar to Rom. xiv. 14 and 1 Cor. ix. 14, where there 
may be allusion to words spoken by Christ. Neither ' in 
the word of the Lord ' here, nor ' I received from the Lord ' 
in 1 Cor. xi. 23, necessarily implies a direct revelation. Some 
regard it as an appeal to the Saying which is recorded Mt. 
xxiv. 31 ; which can hardly be correct, for that passage 
says nothing about the point which is in question here, viz. 
the future in store for those who die before the Advent. 
In 2 Esdras xiii. 24 a blessing is promised to those who are 
alive at the Coming of the Messiah. But in any case the 
writers here claim Divine inspiration. What they say 
they say ' on the authority of the Lord.' See Zahn, Introd. 
to N.T., II. p. 382. 



74 COMMENTARY ON 1 THESSALONIANS [iv. 15, 16 

we who are alive.] The Apostle naturally identifies himself 
with the living, who may hope to survive until the Coming. 
Equally naturally this hope became less strong as years 
passed and death became nearer. He nowhere asserts 
that he will live to see the Return, though he believes that 
he may do so. See on the one hand Rom. xiii. 11, 12 ; 1 
Cor. vii. 29-31 ; Phil. iv. 5 ; and on the other 2 Cor. v. 1-10 ; 
Phil. i. 23, iii. 11, 20, 21. Sanday and Headlam, Romans, 
p. 379. It is worth noting that we have here incidental 
evidence of the authenticity of the letter. A forger writing 
after the Apostle's death would not have attributed such 
words as ' we who are alive ' to him. 

will assuredly have no advantage in time] Or, ' certainly 
will not forestall.' We have here the strongest form of 
the Greek negative (ou firj), and the verb (<f>6do-to/j,ev) 
is the same as that which is used in ii. 16 of the wrath of 
God overtaking the ungodly more speedily than they antici- 
pated. The Thessalonians feared that only the living 
would share in the glory and joy of the Return. They are 
assured that the living will not even be the first to share 
in it ; it is the dead in Christ who will have that advantage. 
They will be already with the Lord when He returns. Cf. 
Wisd. vi. 14, xvi. 28 for the use of cfiOdvecv with the accus- 
ative ; and v. 3 ; 1 Cor. viii. 13 ; Gal. v. 16 for the double 
negative. 

those who have fallen asleep] Or, ' have been laid to 
sleep.' The writers harp on this expression, which occurs 
three times in three verses. Those who have passed away 
are not really dead ; they are only asleep. The verse gives 
the impression that those who are alive are a minority ; 
they have to wait. 

16. the Lord Himself] He will not send any agent or 
representative ; He will come in person (avros), and He 
knows all that are His. This emphatic pronoun is frequent 
in the letter ; i. 9, ii. 1, iii. 3, 11, iv. 9, 23. For the personal 
reappearance of Christ to judge the world cf. 2 Thess. i. 10 ; 
Actsi. n ; Mk. xiv. 62 ; Rev. i. 7. The picturesque details 
belong to Jewish apocalyptic ideas ; Exod. xix. 11, 16 ; 



iv. 16] HORTATORY AND DOCTRINAL 75 

Deut. xxxiii. 2 ; Is. xxvii. 13 ; Joel ii. 1 ; Mic. i. 3, 4 ; 
2 Esdr. vi. 23 ; etc. We may regard them as being probably 
symbolical. " There are problems suggested by this primi- 
tive Christian eschatology. It is always difficult to say how 
much of it is figurative. It is quite certain that there is a 
considerable amount which was never intended to be more 
than symbolical. The eschatology of the N.T. puts before 
us certain great truths — resurrection, the recompense of 
good and evil, the final triumph of Divine justice. All these 
it teaches in the language of symbolism. That symbolic 
language has become the inheritance of the Christian Church" 
(Headlam, St. Paul and Christianity, pp. 33-35). 

See Hastings' DCG. II. p. 766. 

a commanding summons] The word (/ceXevo-fia) occurs 
nowhere else in the N.T. It means a shout to command, or 
summon, or encourage others. Here we may understand a 
loud summons to all, whether awake or asleep, to come and 
meet the Lord ; cf. Mt. xxv. 6, 31. It is uttered, not by the 
Lord Himself, but by the attendant archangel.* ' Angels ' 
and ' voices ' and ' trumpets ' are frequent in the Apocalypse. 

St. Paul, like our Lord, makes use of the imagery which 
was current in his day, and we must not quote him as an 
authority for a literal interpretation of such language. 
Without imagery of some kind ideas such -as these cannot 
be made intelligible to either teacher or taught. The 
Apostle's aim is to calm and comfort the Thessalonians, 
not to propound a doctrine of the Last Things. The fact 
that he says ' an archangel's cry ' (4>covfj apxayyeXov) and 
not ' the cry of the archangel ' (ttj (fxovfj tov apxayyeXov) 
is some slight indication that he regards the language as 
symbolical ; but we cannot insist upon this. The cry and 
the trumpet explain the way in which the commanding 
summons was given. 'Archangel ' occurs again Jude 9 of 
Michael; 2 Esdr. iv. 36 of Uriel. f 

* It is a strange idea of B. Weiss that KeXevo-fxa here means " the 
word of command which authorizes Christ to return," and that it 
" proceeds from God." 

t Among curiosities of interpretation is the suggestion that 



76 COMMENTARY ON 1 THESSALONIANS [iv. 16, 17 

with . . . with . . . with] The preposition (iv) marks 
the attendant circumstances in which the descent takes 
place ; it will be accompanied by these sounds. Or we 
might say ' at ' or ' at the time of,' as in 1 Cor. xv. 52, ' at 
the Last trump ' (iv rfj io-^aTr) araXTriyyi). 

a trumpet of GodJ Cf. Exod. xix. 16 ; Ps. xlvii. 6 ; Zech. 
ix. 14 ; Is. xxvii. 13 ; and esp. 2 Esdr. vi. 23. We have 
'harps of God' (/ci0dpa<; rod &eo€), Rev. xv. 2; also 
' musical instruments of God,' 1 Chron. xvi. 42. Instru- 
ments used in God's service is the meaning in each case. 

died and are now in Christ] While dead to us, they are still 
in the care of the risen and glorified Christ. " Whence did St. 
Paul derive this conception ? It is quite as mystical as 
anything which meets us in the writings of St. John ; it 
has no parallel in the O.T. or in secular literature" (Knowling, 
The Testimony of St. Paul to Christ, p. 232). Cf. 2 Thess. 
i. 12 ; Jn. xvii. 1, 10, 21-26 ; and see on v. 18. The phrase 
does not mean ' those who died in Christ,' i.e. believing in 
Him, which is the meaning in 1 Cor. xv. 18 and Rev. xiv. 13. 

shall at once rise again] Lit. ' shall rise first ' ; but this 
translation gives a wrong impression, as appearing to mean 
that others will rise later. The ' first ' means ' before the 
Christians who are alive are caught up into the air.' Rev. 
xx. 5 is not here in point. Like Christ Himself at His 
Resurrection, they will rise to heavenly life. 

17. Then, and not till then] Cf. Gal. i. 18 ; in both places 
the 'then ' (eirena) is very emphatic. Cf. 1 Cor. xv. 28 (totc). 

one and all, with them] We have the same combination 
(cifia avv) v. io ; but a.fia is to be taken separately, ' all 
together,' ' one and all ' ; cf. Rom. iii. 12. It is needless 
to discuss whether the expression is temporal or local, 
' together with them in time ' or ' together with them in 
space.' Both make good sense, and both may be meant.* 
There is a blessed reunion. 

' archangel ' here means the Holy Spirit. In this way we get an 
allusion to the Trinity ; the Son summons, the Spirit cries, the 
Father's trumpet sounds ! 

* Ellicott insists on the temporal meaning as the usual meaning of 



iv. 17] HORTATORY AND DOCTRINAL >jj 

be caught up] Like the Apostle into the third heaven, 
2 Cor. xii. 2, 4 ; cf. Acts viii. 39 ; Rev. xii. 5. There is no 
parallel to this rapture in Jewish literature of similar date. 
Thackeray, The Relation of St. Paul to Contemporary Jewish 
Thought, pp. 107-112 ; Charles, Enc. Bibl. II. 1382. 

in clouds] As a chariot ; Acts i. 9, 11 ; Rev. xi. 12 ; Ps. 
civ. 3 ; 2 Kings ii. 11. Cf. Mt. xxiv. 30, ' on the clouds ' (kirt). 

for a meeting with the Lord] The expression (et'9 airavrricnv 
tov /cvpiov) suggests a ceremonial meeting with a person 
of position ; Mt. xxv. 6 ; Acts xxviii. 15 ; cf. Jn. xii. 13 
(ei<? viravT7)<Jiv avrS). 

It is possible that St. Paul knew the Parable of the Wise 
and the Foolish Virgins, and that he here has it in mind. 
But this is the only point of resemblance ; the rest of the 
imagery is quite different. The phrase is frequent in the 
LXX. 

into the air] To be taken with ' caught up in clouds.' 
The important purpose of the rapture, viz. to meet the 
Lord, is placed between the two expressions. ' Into the air ' 
is an explanatory afterthought added in dictating. It shows 
that these saints have been freed from their terrestrial 
bodies, and have, like the Risen Lord Himself, a transformed 
body. The ' air ' (ar/p) is the atmosphere near the earth, 
as distinct from the ' heaven ' (ovpavos) whence the Lord 
descends ; cf. 1 Cor. xiv. 9 ; Acts xxii. 23 ; Rev. xvi. 17 ; 
Slavonic Enoch iii. 1. Their being caught up into the air is 
against the idea that the Lord is coming down to the earth. 
They have been raised for life in heaven (2 Cor. v. 1), and 
He has come down from heaven to fetch them. As Augus- 
tine points out (De Civ. Dei, XX. xx. 2), we are not to suppose 
that they remain in the air. 

and thus] The natural consequence of this blissful meeting 
with the Lord is that there will be no subsequent parting. 
Nothing is said about their abiding with Him on the earth. 
Place is not mentioned ; the only thing that matters is the 
company, — ' with the Lord.' Nowhere in the Pauline Epp. 

a/m : ' We shall be caught up with them at the same time that 
they shall be caught up.' 



78 COMMENTARY ON 1 THESSALONIANS [iv. 17 

is there any clear intimation of a reign of Christ on earth ; 
cf. 2 Cor. v. 1 ; 2 Tim. iv. 18. Hastings' DB. I. p. 756. 

for evermore] ' At all times ' (-rravroTe), as in i. 2, ii. 16, 
hi. 6, v. 15, 16. It is stronger than ' always ' {aei), which 
St. Paul rarely uses. 

with the Lord] We have crvv here and v. 10, which com- 
monly expresses closer union than fierd (hi. 13 ; 2 Thess. 
i. 7). But the distinction is often ignored in N.T. This 
thought was often in the Apostle's mind ; v. 10 ; 2 
Thess. ii. 1 ; 2 Cor. v. 8 ; Phil. i. 23. But when Philip- 
pians was written his way of looking at this truth had 
changed. Instead of looking for Christ to come down to 
him he is longing to depart and be with Christ. 

shall we be] This closes the momentous statement ; and 
' we ' covers both those that have been raised and the living. 

St. Paul tells the Thessalonians no more than is necessary 
to quiet their anxieties about the Christians who have 
already passed away. Nothing is said about the resurrection 
of the wicked or of the heathen ; nothing about the inter- 
mediate state ; nothing about the judgment of quick and 
dead ; nothing about the change from ' natural ' bodies to 
' spiritual ' bodies ; nothing about the life after the Return, 
except that there will be uninterrupted union with the Lord. 
It may be said of Scripture generally that our natural 
curiosity about the other world is not gratified. Just the 
minimum that is necessary to enable us to shape our lives 
aright, and to cherish hope for ourselves and others, is told 
us, but very little more than that. The inference is that it 
would do us no good, and might do us harm, to know more.* 

* Mr. A. S. Way in his valuable translation of The Letters of 
St. Paul (2nd ed., 1906, p. 11) prints this passage, ' The Lord Him- 
self . . . shall we be,' in poetical form, and calls it "Hymn of the 
Second Coming." He perhaps does not mean that the Apostle 
is here quoting an early Christian hymn, as may well be the case in 
1 Tim. iii. 16 and 2 Tim. ii. 11, 12. He treats v. 2, 3 in a similar 
manner, calling it " Hymn of the Day of the Lord " ; and also 
v. 5&-10, calling it " Hymn of the Watchers." What is true of all 
three passages is probably this : — that the Apostle's glowing thought 
here finds utterance in frequent antitheses which have some resem- 



iv. 18] HORTATORY AND DOCTRINAL 79 

18. Wherefore] Or, ' So then ' (ware), as the result of 
what has just been stated. So far from sorrowing, there 
should be much comfort ; and this is the main purpose of 
the whole section ; v. 13. 

comfort one another] Or, ' encourage one another.' This 
rather than ' exhort ' is here the meaning of the verb {irapa- 
KakeiTe) ; cf. ii. II, hi. 2, iv. 1, 10, v. 11, 14. 

by repeating these words] Lit. ' in these words,' ' by 
means of these words,' viz. by quoting what the Lord has 
made known. This would be done in private intercourse 
and in the public services of the Church. There could be 
no stronger or more convincing authority than a word of the 
Lord. The small amount of consolation which heathen 
were able to offer is shown by papyri. Deissmann, New 
Light on the N. T. p. 76, gives a characteristic letter of consola- 
tion. ''Eirene to Taonnophris and Philon, good cheer! 
I was as much grieved and shed as many tears over Eumoiros 
as I shed for Didymas, and I did everything that is fitting, 
and so did my whole family. But still there is nothing one 
can do in the face of such trouble. So I leave you to comfort 
yourselves. Good-bye." Servius Sulpicius offers consola- 
tion to Cicero for the death of his beloved daughter Tullia in 
these terms : "I received the news of your daughter's 
death with all the concern which it so justly deserves. 
Had I been near you when this fatal event happened, I 
should not only have mingled my tears with yours, but 
assisted you with all the consolation in my power. I am 
sensible, at the same time, that offices of this kind afford 
at best but a miserable relief. Nevertheless, I thought 
that I might suggest a few reflexions, not of course new to 
you, but possibly overlooked in your present distress of mind. 
You must often, in these wretched times, have reflected 
that the lot of those whom death has gently removed 

blance to Hebrew poetry, and in rhythms and cadences which are 
specially pleasing to mind and ear. Cf. 1 Cor. xiii., esp. vv. 4-10, 
xv. 426-57, and Rom. viii. 31-39. See Moffatt, Intr. to the Litera- 
ture of the N.T., pp. 57, 58 ; Ramsay, The First Christian Century, 
pp. 105-107 ; Swete, The Life of the World to Come, pp. 28, 33, 112, 



80 COMMENTARY ON 1 THESSALONIANS [v. i 

from this unhappy scene is by no means to be regretted. 
What is there in the present state of our country which 
could have made life desirable to your daughter ? Remem- 
ber the numbers of our illustrious countrymen who have 
been suddenly cut off (in the civil wars), how the Roman 
Republic has been weakened, and how its provinces have 
been devastated. Can you, with these greater calamities 
in your mind, be so immoderately afflicted for the loss of a 
single individual, a poor little tender woman, who, if she 
had not died now, must in a few fleeting years have sub- 
mitted to the common fate to which she was born ? " 

v. i-ii. The Uncertainty of the Time of the 
Advent and the Need of Watchfulness 

v. x But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no 
need that I write unto you. 2 For yourselves know perfectly that 
the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. 3 For when 
they shall say, Peace and safety ; then sudden destruction cometh 
upon them, as travail upon a woman with child, and they shall not 
escape. 4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day 
should overtake you as a thief. 5 Ye are all the children of light, 
and the children of the day : we are not of the night, nor of dark- 
ness. 6 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others ; but let us watch 
and be sober. 7 For they that sleep, sleep in the night, and they 
that be drunken are drunken in the night. 8 But let us, who are 
of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love ; 
and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. 9 For God hath not ap- 
pointed us to wrath ; but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus 
Christ, 10 Who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we 
should live together with him. u Wherefore comfort yourselves 
together, and edify one another, even as also ye do. 

The condition of Christians who die before the Advent 
was not the only question which Timothy found to be causing 
unsettlement among the Thessalonian converts. Like the 
four disciples on the Mount of Olives, many of them wanted 
to know ' when shall these things be ' (Mk. xiii. 3, 4). The 
Apostle and his colleagues had already'given them what was 
virtually the Lord's answer to a similar question ; ' It is 
not for you to know times and seasons which the Father 
hath set within His own authority ' (Acts i. 7). But this 



v. i] HORTATORY AND DOCTRINAL 81 

had not satisfied them ; and St. Paul once more appeals to 
what they already know. The Day of the Lord will come 
without previous sign, and the wise Christian must be always 
ready ; he must wait patiently, work, and watch.* 

1 Now, as to the times and the circumstances of the Lord's Coming, 
Brethren, you have no need for anything further to be written to you. 
2 For you yourselves know accurately from what We have already 
taught you, that the time of the Coming of the day of the Lord is just 
as uncertain as the coming of a thief in the night. 3 It is just when 
men are saying, " We may feel secure ; we are perfectly safe," then 
in an instant destruction comes upon them, just as travail-pangs 
upon a woman with child, and there is no possibility of escape. 4 But 
you, Brethren, are not living in darkness, so as to let the Day overtake 
you, as daylight overtakes thieves. 5 For all of you are sons of light 
and are sons of day. We Christians have nothing to do with night, nor 
yet with darkness ; 6 surely, therefore, We ought not to slumber, as the 
rest of the world do, but to be awake and be sober. 7 For those who 
slumber, slumber at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. 
8 But, seeing that we are of the day, let us be sober, as is only right 
for men who have just put on faith and love, as a breastplate for our 
hearts; and as a helmet for our heads, hope of salvation. 9 And ours 
is a sure hope, because God did not appoint us to be visited with His 
wrath, but to secure for ourselves salvation through our Lord Jesus 
Christ, 10 who died for us, in order that, whether awake in life or 
slumbering in death at the time of His Coming, one and all with Him 
we should live. u Accordingly, as we said before, comfort one 
another, and build up each the other, as indeed you really are doing. 

I. as to the times and the circumstances] The latter word 
(jcaipoi) is often translated ' seasons/ but it has no exact 
equivalent in English. The former word (xpovoc) refers 
to the date, the latter to the occurrences which will dis- 
tinguish the event as something impossible to mistake. Cf. 
Dan. ii. 21 and Acts i. 7 for the plurals, without articles. 
The Vulgate in rendering fcatpol varies between aetates, 
saecula, and momenta ; the last is best, but Latin has no 
exact equivalent, as Augustine remarks. See Trench, 
Syn. § lvii. In modern Greek xp° v °s is a ' Y ear ' an d 
Kat,po<; is ' weather.' The plurals do not imply considerable 

* See Warfield on the Prophecies of St. Paul, Expositor, 3rd 
Series, IV, pp. 35, 36, 450. 



82 COMMENTARY ON 1 THESSALONIANS [v 1,2 

length of time ; in Greek, as in English, the phrase is a set 
formula. 

Brethren, you have no need] See on i. 4 and iv. 9. In 2 
Thess. ii. 2 this question is again raised, as if by that time 
need had arisen. 

2. For you yourselves know] See on ii. 1. 

accurately] ' Perfectly ' is not the exact meaning. The 
Thessalonians wanted to know precisely (a/cptfiws) the date 
and signs of the Coming. They are reminded that they 
have already been taught ' precisely ' all that it concerns 
them to know, indeed all that the Lord has revealed ; viz. 
that the Return will come suddenly to all, but that believers 
who are watchful will not be taken by surprise. Christ's 
warnings that God has not allowed exact knowledge as 
to the time have never sufficed to prevent curiosity as to 
this subject ; Mk. xiii. 32 ; Mt. xxiv. 36 ; Acts i. 7. Jewish 
apocalyptical writers tried to extract from Jeremiah and 
Daniel a great deal more than can be found in those books, 
and Christians have done the same with the Apocalypse. 
With such imaginations and conjectures St. Paul has no 
sympathy ; but this passage and i. 10, together with much of 

2 Thessalonians, shows that St. Paul must have said a good 
deal about the Return and the Judgment in his preach- 
ing. 

the Day of the Lord] A proverbial expression which 
passed over from the O.T. to the N.T. with some change of 
meaning. It has become a proper name, and in the true 
text here has no article [rj^pa Kvpiov). In the Prophets 
it is very frequent to denote any time when Jehovah inflicts 
signal vengeance on His enemies, and hence comes to mean 
' the great and terrible day ' of final judgment ; Amos 
v. 18 ; Is. ii. 12, xiii. 6 ; Jer. xlvi. 10 ; Ezek. xiii. 5, xxx. 

3 ; Joel i. 15, ii. 31, hi. 14 ; etc. In the N.T. it means the 
Day of the Lord's Return as Judge ; 1 Cor. i. 8, v. 5 ; 2 
Cor. i. 14 ; cf. Lk. xvii. 30. Hence it was called simply 
' that Day ' (2 Thess. i. 10), or ' the Day ' (Rom. xiii. 12). 
See below on v. 4. We have here another instance of the 
easy way in which what in the O.T. is said of Jehovah is 



v. 2, 3] HORTATORY AND DOCTRINAL 83 

transferred in the N.T. to Christ. See Knowling, The 
Witness of the Epistles, pp. 266, 404, and DAC. art. ' Day 
and Night.' 

just as . . . as] We have the same expression of exact 
similarity (w? . . . oi/rco?) ii. 7, 8 and 1 Cor. vii. 17. The 
coming of the Day is treated as a certainty, and hence the 
present tense (epx eTa ')- Cf. x J n - n - J 8, iv. 3. 

a thief in the night] Almost certainly a reference to the 
Saying which is recorded Mt. xxiv. 43 and Lk. xii. 39, and 
which is reproduced 2 Pet. hi. 10 ; Rev. hi. 3, xvi. 15. See 
the Introduction V, p. xxiv., " Reminiscences of Sayings of 
Christ." The addition ' in the night ' is made with a view to 
what follows. It may have come from the prevalent Jewish 
idea that the Messiah would come at midnight ; and it helped 
to produce the primitive belief that the Lord would return 
in the night, and probably on Easter Eve. It is possible 
that the saying was influenced by the Law about the House- 
breaker (Exod. xxii. 2, 3), according to which vital 
difference was made when the thief came in the night. 
Abbott, The Proclamation of the New Kingdom, p. 466. 

' As a thief ' points to the unexpectedness of the great 
event : ' thief ' is emphatic. What may happen at any 
time at last comes to be regarded as not coming now. 

3. just when . . . then] See 1 Cor. xv. 24, where the same 
expression (orav with the pres. subj. and combined with 
rore) is used. It indicates coincidence in time. 

men are saying, We may feel secure] Here also words of 
Christ may be in the Apostle's mind ; Mt. xxiv. 37, 48 ; 
Lk. xvii. 26-36. But cf. Deut. xxix. 19 ; Jer. vi. 14, vii. 
10 ; Ezek. xiii. 10, to which allusion may be made. 

in an instant] Emphatic. Cf. Lk. xxi. 34, the only other 
passage in the N.T. in which the word (a/^j/i'Sto?) occurs. 
There the simile is ' as a snare ' (co?7ra7<'?) or ' a trap.' Cf. 
Wisd. xvii. 15 ; 2 Mace. xiv. 17. This close agreement 
between St. Paul and St. Luke is notable. 

destruction] Cf. 2 Thess. i. 9 ; 1 Cor. v. 5 ; 1 Tim. vi. 9, 
where this word (o\e0po?) is combined with ' perdition ' 
(aTT(o\ua). The exact meaning is uncertain. The order 



84 COMMENTARY ON 1 THESSALONIANS [v. 3, 4 

of the Greek is perhaps worth keeping ; ' there comes on 
them destruction.' 

comes upon them] The verb (tyta-TaTai) is often used of 
comings that are a surprise, and it is a favourite with St. 
Luke (Lk. ii. 9, xxiv. 4 ; Acts iv. 1, xii. 7, etc). See Zahn, 
Introd. to N. T. p. 224. 

just as travail-pangs] This is possibly another reminiscence 
of a Saying of the Lord ; Mk. xiii. 8 ; Mt. xxiv. 8. But 
more probably it comes from the O.T., in which words 
which resemble this passage far more closely are frequent ; 
Ps. xlviii. 6 ; Jer. iv. 31, vi. 24 ; Hos. xiii. 13 ; Mic. iv. 9. 
See especially Is. xiii. 8, 9.* The verse is so unlike St. Paul's 
style, that it is probably either a quotation or an echo of some 
writing or saying. To the ideas of certainty as to event 
and of uncertainty as to time (v. 2) it adds the ideas of pain 
and of impossibility of escape. Cf. Job. xi. 20 ; Prov. 
xix. 5 ; Jer. xi. n. 

Jowett (ad loc. p. 97) remarks : " In different passages of 
Scripture, and even in the same passage, the coming of the 
Kingdom of God is described to us under contradictory 
aspects. It is near, it is not near ; visible and invisible ; 
marked by signs, and yet discernible to God only. It is in 
the clouds of heaven and in the human soul at once. And 
everywhere the thoughts are drawn off from the over-curious 
consideration of its form and manner to the practical lesson 
which may be gathered from it." 

there is no possibility] As in iv. 15, we have the strongest 
form of the negative (ov firj), which occurs only four times in 
the Pauline Epistles. See p. 74. 

4. But you, Brethren] The ' you ' is in emphatic contrast 
to the presumptuous sceptics just mentioned. This passage, 
when compared with Rom. xiii. 11-14, has enough similarity 
to show that both are Pauline, and enough difference to 
show that neither is copied from the other. Cf. Eph. iv. 
20, where we have a similar construction. 

in darkness] In which one may be surprised and over- 

* That, omitting the vowel points, the same Hebrew word might 
mean either ' snare ' or ' travail ' is not here of much moment. 



v. 4,5] HORTATORY AND DOCTRINAL 85 

whelmed, even if one has not fallen asleep. Spiritual 
darkness is meant ; Jn. hi. 19, xii. 35 ; Rom. ii. 19, xiii. 12 ; 
1 Jn. i. 6. The Christian is in the light of knowledge and 
the light of a holy life. His whole being is full of light ; 
Lk. xi. 34. The metaphor is frequent in all moral and 
religious literature. See Hastings' Enc. of Religion and 
Ethics, viii., art. ' Light and Darkness.' 

the Day] A.V. and R.V. have ' that Day,' without au- 
thority. As in 1 Cor. hi. 13 and Heb. x. 25, we have y tj/mepa 
without eKeiviq (2 Tim. i. 12, 18, iv. 8). ' The Day ' 
suffices. 

overtake you] ' You ' is again emphatic : ' you are morally 
alert.' Jn. xii. 35. 

as daylight overtakes thieves] The majority of authorities 
read ' as a thief,' but some important witnesses have ' as 
thieves,' i.e. as thieves are surprised when day dawns and 
they are caught in the act. In ii. 7 we had a sudden inver- 
sion of metaphor from ' children ' to ' mother ' ; and it is 
possible that here we have a similar change from being 
surprised as by a thief to being surprised as thieves are. 
No copyist would deliberately change ' as a thief to ' as 
thieves ' (&>? /cXiim)? to &>? /cXeVra?), whereas the converse 
change would be natural. But the reading ' thieves ' 
might be an accidental slip, caused by the preceding ' you ' 
(vfxa<; &5? /c\e7TTa?). Lightfoot has a good parallel from 
Euripides, Iph. Taur. 1025, 6. 

5. For all of you] This is a twofold advance on v. 4 ; 
' all of you ' is more than ' you,' and ' sons of light ' is 
more than ' not in darkness.' 

sons of light] The absence of the article {viol <£<wto? 
makes a reference to the Saying recorded in Lk. xvi. 8 
(tovs ut'ou? tov <£a>To?) precarious. A reference to Christ 
as the Light is more probable ; Jn. xii. 36 (Trio-Teuere et? 
to </>w<?, Lva viol (fccoTos yevijaOe). But the metaphor 
being so common, there is no need to suppose reference to 
any particular Saying. Cf. Eph. v. 8. 13, 14. ' Sons of 
Light ' belong to the light, and the light belongs to them ; 
it is their natural home, and also their patrimony to which 

H 



86 COMMENTARY ON 1 THESSALONIANS [v. 5-7 

they have a natural right. Cf. Rom. xiii. 12 ; Jn. xi. 9. 
See Deissmann, Bible St. p. 165. 

Sons of day] ' Day ' here does not mean the ' Day of the 
Lord ' ; it refers to the passage of the Thessalonians out of 
the night of heathenism into the daylight of the Gospel. 
There should be a full stop here. What follows belongs to 
v. 6 and should have been included in v. 6. With the 
existing division there should be only a semicolon at the end 
of v. 5. The change from ' you ' to ' we ' shows the true 
division of the sentences. 

We have nothing to do with night, nor yet with darkness] 
That is true of the ideal Christian. Note the chiasmus ; 
' light, day — night, darkness.' The arrangement is rather 
frequent in Paul ; 1 Cor. iii. 17, iv. 10, viii. 13, xiii. 2 ; 
2 Cor. iv. 3, vi. 8, ix. 6, x. 12, etc. 

6. surely, therefore] An argumentative inference from 
the last sentence of v. 5. The introductory combination 
of particles (apa ov\>) is frequent in Paul and is peculiar 
to him in the N.T. ; 2 Thess. ii. 15 ; Rom. v. 18, vii. 25, 
viii. 12, etc. 

to slumber] To be idle and morally inert ; a different 
verb (tcadevSeiv) from that which is used of the sleep of 
death (Koijudadai) iv. 13-15. Cf. Eph. v. 14 ; Mk. xiii. 36. 

the rest of the world] the heathen ; cf. iv. 5. 

be awake and be sober] The same verbs (ypiyyopeiv and 
vrffpeiv) are combined 1 Pet. v. 8 in reverse order. It is 
possible that here also we have a reminiscence of a Saying 
of Christ ; Mt. xxv. 13, xxvi. 41 ; Mk. xiv. 38. See on vv. 
13, 15. ' Be sober ' means more than abstention from intoxi- 
cation. It excludes all excess in self-indulgence and all 
unhealthy excitement, such as that at Thessalonica about 
the Lord's Return. Cf. 2 Tim. iv. 5 ; 1 Pet. i. 13, iv. 7 ; 
Rom. xiii. 13. 

7. For those who slumber, etc.] The expressions are 
to be understood literally, not in a spiritual sense. It is quite 
in St. Paul's manner to use words first in a metaphorical 
and then in a literal sense, or vice versa, as he does here 
with day and night, light and darkness, being alert and 



v. j, 8] HORTATORY AND DOCTRINAL 87 

slumbering, being sober and drunken. In some places 
we are not sure which sense is uppermost. Of course those 
who are sons of light and of day must be awake and sober, 
for the opposite behaviour is associated with the darkness 
of night. Slumbering by day and getting drunk by day are 
marks of extreme laziness and depravity.* 

8. ' We Christians, who live in the presence of Him who 
is the Light of the World, are specially bound to be alert 
and sober. We have taken arms in His service ; and for 
soldiers to sleep or be drunk on duty is a monstrous offence.' 
The change from the present tense (ovre?) to the past 
(ivSvad/xevot) must be observed : and the meaning may be 
that wakefulness and sobriety are not enough ; we must 
also be armed. 

breastplate . . . helmet] Is. lix. 17 seems to be in St. 
Paul's mind, and possibly Wisd. v. 17-19. That he was 
familiar with the Book of Wisdom can hardly be doubted. 
The idea of Christian armour is often in his mind, but he is 
not careful always to give the same meaning to the different 
pieces ; Rom. vi. 13, xiii. 12-14 ; 2 Cor. vi. 7, x. 4 ; Eph. 
vi. n-17. Cf. the military words in iv. 16. The comparison 
of the life of the Christian to that of a soldier is so obvious, 
especially to one who had seen so much of military life as St. 
Paul had done, that he would probably have made it without 
any suggestions from the LXX. The initiated in mystery 
religions were sometimes regarded as sacred cohorts in the 
service of the god or goddess ; the Stoics compared life to a 
warfare, and the man who loyally accepted his lot was 
sometimes called a soldier of Destiny. It has been noticed 
that no backpiece is mentioned, not even in Eph. vi. 11-17. 



* It is doubtful whether any distinction is intended here between 
[AeOvo-KeaOai and fxeOvuv : but as there is a change of verb in the 
Greek it is worth while to make some change in the English ; ' get 
drunk . . . are drunk.' The Vulgate has ebrii sunt for both. Cf. 
Mt. xxiv. 49; Lk. xii. 45; Acts ii. 15; Eccles. x. 16. Even the 
heathen recognized that revelry in the morning was disgraceful ; 
Cicero, Phil. ii. 41 ; Juvenal i. 49, 50 ; Catul. xlvii. 5, 6. 



88 COMMENTARY ON 1 THESSALONIANS [v. 9, 10 

The Christian may sometimes avoid a conflict ; but once 
engaged he does not turn to flight. Hastings' DAC. art. 
' Armour.' 

faith, love, hope] See on i. 3, where we have the same order, 
as also Col. i. 4, 5 ; cf. Gal. v. 5, 6. Faith and love are 
naturally combined, for faith without loving activity is 
worthless. Faith may start action, but without love the 
action will not last. In this life hope may be a stronger 
motive than love ; it is when eternity is added that the 
supremacy of love is seen. 

hope of salvation] This hope can be made a certainty if 
the right means are taken, and therefore there is no need 
to be despondent. 

9. appoint us to] Cf . 1 Pet. ii. 8 ; Acts xiii. 47. 
His wrath] See on i. 10 and ii. 16. 

to secure for ourselves] Cf. 2 Thess. ii. 14 and Heb. x. 39, 
where the same expression (et? ireptirolriaiv) occurs. It has 
the meaning of ' securing ' there, and no other meaning 
need be sought here. The Vulgate has in acquisitionem in 
all three places. Cf . the use of the cognate verb {-irepnroieiv) 
Is. xliii. 21. 

10. died for us] It was ' about us ' [irepl rjpav) that He 
was thinking when He willed to die. He died a death in 
which we had a special interest. This is the only passage 
in 1 and 2 Thessalonians in which our interest in the death 
of Christ is mentioned ; and " it is the most vague expression 
that could have been used to signify that Christ's death 
had something to do with our salvation " (Denney, ad loc. 
p. 196). Cf. v. 25. Elsewhere we have ' on behalf of ' {virep), 
2 Cor. v. 15 ; Gal. hi. 13 ; etc. Sometimes also ' instead of ' 
{avrCj, Mk. x. 45 ; Mt. xx. 28. But in late Greek the clas- 
sical distinctions between prepositions are not fully main- 
tained, and it is rash to build theories upon such distinctions. 
The purpose of the death is clearly stated. He died in order 
that (iva) we should share His life. In some way His 
death wins life for us. This simple statement implies much 
previous instruction. 

whether awake ... or slumbering] The same verbs are 



v. io, ii] HORTATORY AND DOCTRINAL 89 

used as in v. 6, but with an obvious change of meaning. 
Cf. Rom. xiv. 9. 

one and all with Him we should live] This is the grand 
result, placed, with emphasis, at the end ; and, as in iv. 
17, we have <rvv. The concluding word is ' live' (ty}<ra>/xev). 
Thus we have a sure hope of salvation. For ' one and all ' 
see on iv. 17. On the general import of this verse, and its 
position in St. Paul's teaching, see Lightfoot, Biblical 
Essays, pp. 230 f. 

11. Accordingly] As in hi. 1 (Bto). Because God has 
appointed us to the salvation which Christ has made it 
possible for us to win, and which is equally secure, whether 
or no we are alive when He returns. 

as we said before] In iv. 18 ; see on ii. 11, iv. 1, 10. 

build up each other] A favourite metaphor with St. Paul, 
especially in 1 Corinthians (oIko8o/h€iv, olKohofjurj, eiroiico- 
Bo/xetv). In most of the places ' build up ' is a better 
rendering than ' edify.' This building up is of universal 
obligation. The care of souls is not the privilege of a class, 
but the duty of all. The Church is a building of which each 
Christian is a stone, and each Christian is also a building ; 
and in both cases the building is a temple of the Holy 
Spirit. The metaphor is found in all four groups of the 
Pauline Epistles, but this is the only occurrence of it in the 
earliest group. It denotes spiritual progress of the most 
comprehensive kind. Cf. 1 Cor. hi. 9-17, vi. 19 ; 2 Cor. 
vi. 16 ; Gal. ii. 18 ; Eph. ii. 20-22, iv. 12, 16, 29 ; 1 Tim. 
hi. 15 ; 2 Tim. ii. 19 ; and see DAC. art. ' Edification.' 

each the other] Lit. ' one the one ' (eh rov eva, not ew 
rbv eva, as has been suggested) ; cf. 1 Cor. iv. 6. The 
change from ' one another ' (dXX^Xou?) to the much less 
common expression is made for the sake of variety and 
perhaps some increase of force. 

as indeed you really are doing] As in iv. 1, 10, the writers 
are anxious to avoid seeming to be finding fault. They are 
not blaming the Thessalonians, who have acted nobly under 
persecution, but are exhorting them to maintain their 
virtues and improve upon them ; cf. 2 Thess. hi. 4. Even 



90 COMMENTARY ON 1 THESSALONIANS [v. 12 

when he has a great deal to blame in his various converts, 
the Apostle generally finds something to praise, for which 
he thanks God. 



v. 12-22. Exhortations respecting Church 
Discipline and Holiness of Life 

12 And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour 
among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you ; 
13 And to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. 
And be at peace among yourselves. 14 Now we exhort you, brethren, 
warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the 
weak, be patient toward all men. 15 See that none render evil for 
evil unto any man ; but ever follow that which is good, both among 
yourselves, and to all men. 16 Rejoice evermore : 17 Pray without 
ceasing : 18 In every thing give thanks : for this is the will of God 
in Christ Jesus concerning you. 19 Quench not the spirit : 20 Des- 
pise not prophesyings : 21 Prove all things ; hold fast that which 
is good. 22 Abstain from all appearance of evil. 

The link with what precedes is not very close ; but there 
is a natural passage from the special topic of matters con- 
nected with the subject of Christ's Coming to duties con- 
nected with Church Order and Christian life in general 
during the interval of waiting for the Coming. The object 
of the section is to promote an increase in healthy modes of 
life by orderly, cheerful, and devout conduct. The series 
of brief injunctions which it contains forms a code of standing 
orders for all Christians. 

' 12 And now we ask you as friends, Brethren, to recognize the au- 
thority of those who toil among you and preside over you in the Lord and 
admonish you. 13 We ask you to regard them with love in the most 
fervent degree in appreciation of the amount and value of their work. 
And, while you pay respect to them, be at peace among yourselves. 

14 Now we exhort you, Brethren, to admonish those who are 
disorderly ; give encouragement to the fainthearted ; give support 
to the weak ; be forbearing and longsuff ering towards all men. 15 See 
to it that no one pays back to anybody evil in return for evil : on the 
contrary, on all occasions make it your practice to seek eagerly after 
that which is beneficial, both with regard to one another and to all 
men. 16 On all occasions rejoice ; 17 unceasingly cherish a spirit 
of prayer ; 18 in all that happens to you be thankful ; we charge you 



v. 12] HORTATORY AND DOCTRINAL 91 

to do all this because it is God's will with regard to you, manifested 
in the power of Christ Jesus. 19 When the Spirit kindles any of you, 
beware of quenching it ; 20 when it inspires any to speak, do not set 
at naught its suggestions. 21 Nevertheless, do not give heed without 
testing. Test all things ; hold fast only that which is sound and good ; 
22 abstain from every visible form of evil.' 

12. ask you as friends, Brethren] See on iv. 1 and i. 4. 
With the general sense cf. 1 Cor. xvi. 15, 16. 

recognize the authority of] ' Know them (elBivai) for 
what they are,' appreciate their character and treat them 
with respect. Cf. the similar use of ' acknowledge ' 
(eTTvyivcacnceTe) 1 Cor. xvi. 18. 

That the Apostle had already ordained presbyters in so 
infantile a Church is improbable. On the other hand, it is 
unlikely that he had made no provision for organization. 
" The Church of Christ can no more hold together without 
officers, rules, and institutions than any other society of 
men " (Schaff, Apostolic Christianity , II., page 487). See 
Lightfoot, The Christian Ministry, sub init. 

toil] A favourite verb (kottlolv) found in all four groups of 
the Apostle's Epistles. It is one of the many Pauline words 
which are found in Luke's report of the speech at Miletus, 
Acts xx. 35 ; see on ii. 12, iv. 6, v. 8. It implies working 
with effort and consequent weariness. In i. 3 we have the 
cognate substantive («o7ro?). As in iv. 16 the ' archangel's 
cry ' and the ' trumpet of God ' explain the manner of the 
' commanding summons,' so here the ' presiding ' and 
' admonishing ' explain the manner of the ' toil.' It is the 
Church-workers who take the lead and check disorder. The 
fact of their being workers is mentioned first ; — an indirect 
rebuke to idlers (iv. 11) ; and we may surmise that it was 
through their efficiency as workers that they came to preside 
and had the right to admonish. 

preside over you] The word {irpola-TafLevov^) implies some 
kind of leaders, but it can hardly be a technical title for a 
particular rank, like ' presbyter ' or ' deacon.' It describes 
function rather than designates rank, activity rather than 
an office ; and it implies protection and care. Cf. Rom. 



92 COMMENTARY ON 1 THESSALONIANS [v. 12 

xii. 8. These workers who guide and admonish no doubt 
owed their leading position to personal gifts ; and when 
official appointments began to be made, persons whom 
experience had proved to be specially gifted were chosen to 
be ' presbyters ' or ' elders ' in the technical sense. It is 
certainly incorrect to suppose that we have here three 
classes of officials ; and it is therefore futile to conjecture 
that they are the catechists, the presbyters, and the evangel- 
ists. The same persons work, preside, and admonish, as 
is shown by the one article (rovs) which brackets the three 
functions. With ' those who preside over you ' may be 
compared the equally vague expression ' those who have the 
rule over you ' (ol riyov/xevoi), Heb. xiii. 7, 17, 24 ; and 
with the triplet here may be compared the triplet in ii. n. 

It is unreasonable to look for a settled order of govern- 
ment and a regularly organized clergy in a period during 
which Christ's Return was expected almost daily. Spiritual 
functions, and the names for them, were alike fluid. Les 
fideles sont classes par le don sftirituel qu'ils exercent (Renan, 
p. 238). See Hort, Christian Ecclesia, 1897, p. 126 ; Hast- 
ings' DAC. art. ' Church Government.' Harnack re- 
marks ; " It is obvious that in Galatia and at Corinth no 
organization whatever existed for a decade, or even longer " 
[Mission and Expansion, I. p. 434). Von Dobschiitz says 
much the same ; '' To discharge all this labour of love there 
were in the beginning no responsible officials on whom the 
burden might be shifted : it was the brotherly duty of 
every Christian " (The Apostolic Age, p. 79). There were 
certainly none at Corinth when St. Paul complained that 
' brother goeth to law with brother, and that before unbe- 
lievers,' and when he rebuked, not officials, but the congre- 
gation, for the monstrous desecration of the Lord's Supper. 
See essays on the Christian Ministry by Sanday, Harnack, 
Salmon, Simcox, and others in the Expositor, 3rd Series, 
V. and VI. 

in the Lord] Added, as in iv. 1, to show the source of the 
authority to preside and admonish ; viz. the Lord who 
gave the qualifying gifts. It would hardly be necessary to 



v. 12, 13] HORTATORY AND DOCTRINAL 93 

remind the Thessalonians that it is spiritual and not political 
rulers who are meant. There is no hint that St. Paul had 
appointed them. 

admonish] Lit. ' put in mind ' (vovOerovvTas) , but always 
used of calling attention to faults or defects ; 2 Thess. iii. 
15 ; Rom. xv. 14 ; 1 Cor. iv. 14 ; Col. i. 28, iii. 16. Else- 
where in the N.T., Acts xx. 31 only, where it occurs in St. 
Paul's speech at Miletus ; see last note on iv. 6. Here 
we have the rudiments of Church discipline. Teaching, 
especially of doctrine, was done mainly by the Apostle and 
his colleagues ; but from the first there must be provision 
for the maintenance of morality and order. 

13. regard them with love in the most fervent degree] 
The construction is uncertain, whether the adverb (virep- 

eKirepccraov) belongs to what precedes it (rjyelcrdai 
avTovs), or to what follows (iv ayd-mr)). ' Esteem them very 
highly in love ' may be right. In either case we have an 
unusual mode of expression, but either makes good sense. 
The persons whose gifts have brought them into prominence 
would be of the same social class as those whom they had 
led and admonished, and therefore might easily be regarded 
with jealousy and suspicion by the latter. The large 
majority of the Thessalonian converts belonged to the 
labouring classes, and these are apt to resent dictation from 
persons who " are no better than we are." Christ Himself 
suffered from this spirit ; Mk. vi. 2-4. In any case these 
leaders were new to their position, which was new also to 
those whom they endeavoured to lead. Compare Didache* 
xv. 2 ;" Therefore despise them not, for they are those that 
are the honoured men among you with the prophets and 
teachers." 

in appreciation of the amount and value of their work] 
Lit. ' because of (Sid) their work,' which was very laborious 
(Ko-moivTa?) and beneficial (vov8erovvTa<;). By manifesting 
respect and affection the Thessalonians would show that 
they appreciated all this. 

be at peace among yourselves] This follows closely on what 
precedes. They could not be on good terms with one 



94 COMMENTARY ON 1 THESSALONIANS [v. 13, 14 

another, if some of them were ignoring the directions of the 
generally recognized leaders. Here again we have a parallel 
in the Didache ; " Reprove one another not in wrath, but in 
peace, and with every one that transgresses against another 
let no one talk, nor yet hear a word from you, until he 
repents ' (xv. 3). The reading ' among them ' (eV avrots 
for iv eavroh), i.e. among the leaders, can hardly be right, 
and, if right, it could hardly mean ' in your dealings with 
them.' ' Be at peace ' (eiprivevere) means ' continue to 
maintain peace.' It does not imply that quarrels exist ; 
Rom. xii. 18 ; 2 Cor. xiii. n. The charge may be an echo 
of another of Christ's Sayings ; Mk. ix. 50, the only passage 
in which the verb occurs outside the Pauline Epistles. Cf. 
vv. 2, 5, 6 and ii. 16. 

14. Now we exhort you, Brethren, to admonish] It is not 
clear whether the writers continue to address the whole 
congregation or turn to the leaders in particular. The use 
of the verb ' admonish ' is rather in favour of the second 
alternative ; and it is obvious that those who are to be 
admonished, or encouraged, or supported are not addressed. 
In that case the connecting particle (Se) might be rendered 
' But.' On the other hand, the preceding ' Be at peace 
among yourselves ' is certainly addressed to the whole 
congregation ; and why should ' Brethren ' in this verse be 
different in meaning from ' Brethren ' in v. 12 ? In this 
case the connecting particle might be ' And.' ' Now ' 
would suit either view. Cf. hi. 11. 

those who are disorderly] The term is a military one 
(tou? ard/cTovs), ' those who leave the ranks.' This might 
mean either the insubordinate, who disobey orders, or the 
careless, who march and drill in a slovenly manner. The 
latter is probably the idea here. In papyri the cognate 
verb (draicTeiv) is often used as interchangeable with ' to 
be idle ' (dpyelv). We know of no actual rebellion against 
authority at Thessalonica, but there were many who neg- 
lected their duties and wasted their time, thinking that the 
Return was imminent ; iv. n. These excited ' loafers ' 
needed to be kept in order. The next two classes are 



v. 14, 15] HORTATORY AND DOCTRINAL 95 

depressed in character and need encouragement and 
support. Cf. 2 Thess. iii. 6, 11. 

the fainthearted] An O.T. word (oXiyoyJrvxovf) ; Is. xxv. 
5, xxxv. 4, liv. 6, lvii. 15 ; Prov. xviii. 14 ; Ecclus. vii. 10. 
It is used of those who are broken in spirit and have lost 
confidence in themselves. This might be the result of the 
persecution to which they had been subjected, or to the 
delay of the Return, which made them anxious about the 
condition of those who had died and about their own 
prospects. Cf. ii. II, iv. 18. 

give support to the weak] ' Lay hold of them {avTe^eaOe) 
and help them to stand firm ' ; used Tit. i. 9 of holding on 
to the faithful word. The verb is always middle in the 
N.T. and almost always in the O.T. In the O.T., as in 
Tit. i. 9, it is used of laying hold in order to support oneself ; e.g. 
laying hold of wisdom (Prov. iii. 18, iv. 6), of salvation, 
righteousness, and My covenant (Is. lvi. 2, 4, 6), the Law 
(Jer. ii. 8). ' Cling to ' has this double meaning in English. 
Cf. Mt. vi. 24 ; Lk. xvi. 13. ' The weak ' means those who 
are feeble in spiritual insight and character ; 1 Cor. viii. 
10, ix. 22. 

be forbearing and longsuffering] Not quick-tempered, but 
long-tempered (fiaKpodv/noc, longanimes) . It implies patience 
of injuries and irritations, without paying back in act or 
word. We all of us need this forbearance, and we all of us 
can show it. Opportunities, both ways, abound. Cf. 1 Cor. 
xiii. 4 ; Gal. v. 22 ; Mt. xviii. 26, 29. 

towards all men] Not only towards disorderly, and faint- 
hearted and weak Christians, who will often be provoking 
enough, but also (as in iii. 12) towards Jews and heathen, 
whether persecutors or not. This is plain from what is 
added in v. 15. Such longsuffering is a specially Divine 
characteristic. God is patiens quia aeternus ; He can afford 
to wait. 

15. that no one pays back evil in return for evil] All 
members of the congregation are to see to this. The charge 
shows that there was danger of retaliation, possibly in 
consequence of the persecution. It is not clear whether 



96 COMMENTARY ON 1 THESSALONIANS [v. 15, 16 

each person is to see to himself, or all are to see to each. 
What follows is in favour of the former. We have the same 
expression (/ca/cbv <zvtI kcikov airohihovai) Rom. xii. 17 
and 1 Pet. iii. 9. It looks like another reminiscence of one 
of Christ's Sayings ; Mt. v. 39, 44 ; Lk. vi. 27-29. Even 
the Jews had seen that the lex talionis needed modification ; 
Exod. xxiii. 4, 5 ; Deut. xxii. 1 ; Job xxxi. 29 ; Prov. 
xxiv. 17, xxv. 21 ; Ecclus. xxviii. 1-7. See Introduction, V. 

on all occasions] See on iv. 17. 

make it your practice to seek eagerly] As in the preceding 
sentences, we have the present imperative, and the verb 
itself [SimKere) implies steady pursuit of some end, a 
meaning which is specially common in Paul ; Rom. ix. 31, 
xii. 13, xiv. 19 ; 1 Cor. xiv. 1 ; etc. 

that which is beneficial] Lit. ' the good ' (to ayaOov). But 
' evil ' (naKov) in the previous sentence means that which 
is injurious, and therefore ' the good ' here means that which 
is the reverse of injurious. See on iii. 8. 

to one another] Here, as in iii. 12, there may possibly be a 
suggestion of strained relations between Gentile and Jewish 
converts. But in neither place is any such explanation of 
the words necessary. 

all men] While ' one another ' refers to fellow-Christians, 
' all men,' as in v. 14, includes Jews and heathen. 

16. On all occasions rejoice] For the sixth time in this 
short letter we have the favourite adverb (iravTore), which 
is rarely used by other N.T. writers, excepting St. John. 
The repetition of the adverb points to some connexion 
between this injunction and the previous one. ' On all 
occasions seek to benefit some one, and then on all occasions 
you will have joy.' But there is more in it than that. Joy 
is in the front rank among the gifts of the Spirit ; Gal. v. 
22 ; Rom. xiv. 17, xv. 13 ; Phil. ii. 18. Cf. Jn. xv. 11, 
xvi. 22, xvii. 13 ; etc. The injunction must have seemed 
startling to converts who were suffering much persecution ; 
but the Apostle dares to give it both to these and to other 
Macedonians ; Phil. ii. 18, iii. 1, iv. 4. He knew that he 
was not asking for what was impossible, for he practised 



v. i6, 17] HORTATORY AND DOCTRINAL 97 

this virtue himself ; 2 Cor. vi. 10, vii. 4 ; Phil. ii. 2. It is 
not more paradoxical than the Beatitudes, and the next 
injunction shows how it may be accomplished. One who 
has acquired the habit of converse with God will always 
have cause for joy. In all these three injunctions (vv. 16, 
17, 18) the adverbial expression is placed first with emphasis ; 
it is better to keep it first in English. All three injunctions 
are specially needed in times of trouble, such as persecution. 
Cf. Exod. xxii. 23, 27 ; Job xxxiv. 28. 

17. Unceasingly cherish a spirit of prayer] Something of 
this kind is the meaning of the charge ' Unceasingly pray.' 
Cf. Rom. xii. 12 ; Eph. vi. 18 ; Col. iv. 2 ; Acts i. 14, ii. 42, 
vi. 4 ; Mk. xiv. 38 ; Lk. xxi. 36. The charge certainly 
means more than ' Never discontinue your daily prayers.' 
On the other hand it cannot mean ' Never cease saying 
prayers,' for any attempt to do that would soon make the 
repetition of the words as mechanical as a prayer-wheel. 
It is the keeping constantly in mind the presence of God, and 
one's dependence on Him, that is meant. Augustine 
(Eft. 130, To Proba, ix. 18) interprets thus ; '' Desire, without 
intermission, from Him who alone can give it, a happy life ; 
and happy no life can be but that which is eternal. This, 
therefore, let us desire continually from the Lord our God ; 
and thus let us pray continually." Origen (Horn. Sam. i. 9) 
confesses that " once, when he read it, he asked how it could 
possibly be fulfilled ; and discussing it in several passages 
he concludes that a spiritual rather than a temporal ' ceas- 
ing ' is contemplated, and that the whole of the Christian's 
life, even eating, drinking, and sleeping, may be regarded 
as a stream of prayer, offered to God's glory" (Abbott, 
The Founding of the New Kingdom, p. 233). " In all true 
praying we have the cry of an inward hunger for better 
being and doing. . . . There is the wistful reaching forth 
towards something higher and more perfect. Wherever, 
then, improvement is being desired and sought (not improve- 
ment in our surroundings, but in ourselves ; not improve- 
ment in what we have, but in what we are and do), there is 
prayer, even though it may not be breaking out at the time 



g8 COMMENTARY ON 1 THESSALONIANS [v. 17,18 

in any cry to God, since there is the very same spirit which 
breathes in the cry of prayer" (Hastings' Great Christian 
Doctrines. Prayer, p. 420). Jerome (Ep. 22, To Eus- 
tochium, yj) says that "to the saints their very sleep is 
supplication," but, nevertheless, there must be fixed times 
for daily prayer in which the habitual yearning finds expres- 
sion in words. 

" Prayer is the soul's sincere desire 
Uttered or unexpressed, 
The motion of a hidden fire 

That trembles in the breast " {Montgomery?) 

St. Paul laboured night and day with his hands ; yet he 
was constantly praying, especially for his converts ; see 
2 Thess. i. 11 ; Eph. i. 16 ; Col. i. 9 ; cf. i. 3. 

18. In all that happens to you be thankful] In every 
circumstance of life (eV iravrC) ; 2 Cor. vii. 11, 16, ix. 8, 
11, xi. 6, 9 ; Phil. iv. 2. '' The precept is universal in 
sphere, as the two before it are continuous in time ' ' (Eadie, 
ad loc.) ; cf. 2 Cor. vi. 4 f. Even in persecutions, sicknesses, 
bereavements, and other trials, thanksgiving is due ; ev^apw- 
rovvres Travrore virep irdvrwv Eph. v. 20 ; cf. Col. i. 12, 
ii. 7, hi. 17, iv. 2 ; Jas. i. 2 ; Prov. hi. 11, 12 ; Ecclus. ii. 
1-11. The combination of prayer and thanksgiving is 
frequent ; hi. 9, 10 ; Phil. iv. 6 ; Col. iv. 2 ; 1 Tim. ii. 1. 
In the stocks of the inner prison at Philippi the outraged 
Paul and Silas prayed and sang hymns to God ; Acts xvi. 25. 
The duty of giving thanks to God is often insisted upon by 
St. Paul ; Rom. xiv. 6 ; 2 Cor. i. 11, iv. 15, ix. 11, 12 ; and 
the references given above. It is one of the defects of the 
Book of Common Prayer that the element of thanksgiving 
is somewhat small as compared with that of supplication. 

to do all this] ' This ' possibly refers to all three of the 
injunctions and not to the last one only. It may seem to be 
impossible to do all these things. But it cannot really be 
impossible ; for God wills it, and He does not require us to 
do impossibilities. We have here an anticipation of Kant's 
" We ought, therefore we can.'* The confident belief that 



v. 18-20] HORTATORY AND DOCTRINAL 99 

the Lord would return, and return soon, rendered the 
acceptance of these exacting principles possible and even 
natural. Une immense esperance donnait a ces preceptcs dc 
religion pure I'efficacite qu'ils n'ont jamais eue par eux- 
memes (Renan, p. 248). 

in the power of Christ Jesus] ' In Christ ' or ' in Christ 
Jesus ' (seldom ' in Jesus ' or ' in Jesus Christ ') is frequent 
in Paul, and always in reference to the Glorified Christ. 
The phrase, therefore, requires to be expanded in English 
in order to make this clear ; iv. 16 ; Rom. hi. 24, viii. 1, 2, 
xii. 5, xv. 17 ; etc., etc. Where ' Lord ' is added the 
meaning is clear without expansion ; e.g. i. 1 ; Rom. viii. 
39 ; 1 Cor. xv. 31 ; etc. See Sanday and Headlam on Rom. 
vi. 11. 

19. From Pentecost onwards the operation of the Spirit is 
spoken of as analogous to the action of fire. Spiritus, ubi est 
ardet. It kindles men's hearts and makes them glow, and 
those who receive it and respond to it are said to be fervent. 
Hence the warning against ' quenching the Spirit.' If it 
stood alone, we should understand it as a general caution 
against causing the influence of the Spirit to cease by 
habitual neglect of it. Augustine [Ep. xcviii. 3) takes it in 
this sense ; •' The Apostle says, Quench not the Spirit ; not 
that He can be quenched, but that those who act as if 
they wished to have Him quenched are deservedly spoken 
of as quenchers of the Spirit." But what follows seems to 
show that, in the general unsettlement at Thessalonica, the 
special charismatic gifts of the Spirit were being ignored, 
and the manifestations of them were being repressed. If 
disregard of these Divine endowments continued, they 
might be withdrawn altogether. Hence the charge, ' Cease 
to quench the Spirit.' For the various manifestations see 
1 Cor. xii. 8-10, xiv. 26. 

20. The charge against ' setting prophesyings at naught ' 
looks like an explanation of the more general charge in v. 19, 
or at any rate as an example of what is there condemned. 
By ' prophesying ' is meant the inspired utterance of Divine 
truths for the edification of others, and prediction of the 



ioo COMMENTARY ON 1 THESSALONIANS [v.20, 21 

future is not necessarily included. At Corinth this invalu- 
able gift was despised in comparison with the much less 
valuable gift of ecstatic utterance for the edification of 
oneself ; 1 Cor. xiv. There is no evidence of ecstatic utter- 
ances at Thessalonica ; but apparently inspired preachings 
were for some reason not treated with proper respect. There 
may have been impostors or fanatics, who caused all pro- 
phesying to be suspected. Cf. 2 Thess. ii. 2, which implies 
something of the kind. Hence the charge, ' Cease to set 
them at naught.' For the verb cf. Rom. xiv. 3, 10 ; 1 Cor. 
i. 28 ; Gal. iv. 14. 

21. Nevertheless] It is possible that the conjunction (Si) 
ought to be omitted. In that case the meaning may be, 
' Do not reject what seems to be a manifestation of the 
Spirit ; nay rather, test everything (however unpromising), 
and keep what is really good.' ' Do not reject without 
testing.' 

Test all things] See on ii. 4, where the same verb is used ; 
also Trench, Syn. § lxxiv. Not all who come forward as 
prophets are really inspired. Some may be deluded, some 
may wish to delude. The congregation must make a 
practice of testing all such claims ; 1 Cor. xii. 2, xiv. 32 ; 
Eph. v. 10 ; 1 Jn. iv. 1 ; Mt. vii. 15, 16 ; xxiv. 11, 24. The 
kind of test that is to be applied is not stated ; but ' By 
their fruits ye shall know them.' It is spiritual discernment 
rather than intellectual sagacity that is required. There 
was a gift for discerning spirits (1 Cor. xii. 10, xiv. 29), 
and there may be allusion to it here. See Didache xi. 1-12, 
esp. 12. But the injunction may mean more than ' test 
all spirits and all utterances which profess to be inspired.' 
It may mean ' Find out the spiritual value of everything, and 
hold fast to it, or hold aloof from it, accordingly.' Yet 
the testing of spiritual gifts is primarily meant. Cf. Rev. 
ii. 2.* 

hold fast] Cf. 1 Cor. xi. 2, xv. 2 ; Rom. i. 18. 

* Twice in his Letters {Epp. lxi. 1, lxxxiv. 7) Jerome quotes the 
Apostle as saying ' Read all things,' and applies the words to the 
writings of Origen. 



v. 21,22] HORTATORY AND DOCTRINAL 101 

sound and good] Able to stand all tests, being really 
valuable in itself, independently of all results (to koKov) ; 
Rom. vii. 18 ; Jas. iv. 17 ; Job xxxiv. 4. 

Many of the Fathers connect this injunction with a Saying 
which is frequently attributed to Christ, but once or twice 
to St. Paul, jiveade hoKijAoi Tpwrre^lrai. It is impossible 
to find a satisfactory English translation. ' Show yourselves 
tried bankers,' ' Prove yourselves to be sound money- 
changers,' ' Become approved exchangers ' are all of them 
literal, and are all unsatisfying. ' Put your talents to good 
use,' ' Make the best use of your opportunities,' is the 
meaning which is suggested by the words. In connexion 
with this passage they might mean, ' Become experts in 
discerning spiritual values.' See Lightfoot ad loc. and West- 
cott, Intr. to the Study of the Gospels, Appendix C ; also 
Suicer, Tpaire^irri^. 

The punctuation in the A.V. is faulty. There should be 
only a comma or semicolon at the end of v. 21. Both 
' hold fast ' and ' abstain ' are closely connected with 
' test.' Cf. Rom. xii. 9, where we have a similar alternative. 

22. abstain from every visible form of evil] The construction 
is uncertain, and also the exact signification of ' form ' 
(a7ro iravTo<i ei8ov<; irovr\pov aire^eade). ' Evil ' may be 
an adjective ; ' abstain from every evil form ' : and ' form ' 
may mean either ' outward appearance,' or ' semblance,' or 
' kind.' Of these three, ' outward appearance ' (without 
any idea of unreality) is probably right. ' Semblance ' 
is almost certainly wrong ; the evil to be avoided is really 
evil. ' Kind ' or ' species ' is possibly right. Although 
this meaning is not found elsewhere in the N.T., it is found in 
the LXX, Ecclus. xxiii. 16, xxv. 2 ; and Josephus (Ant. 
X. iii. 1) has trav elSo? Trovrjpias. It makes little differ- 
ence whether we take ' evil ' as a substantive or an adjective ; 
but to take it as a substantive makes a better antithesis to 
' that which is good.' Cf. Rom. xii. 9, where, however, 
we have to irov^pov and rw ayadq). In Didache iii. 1 we 
have what looks like a reminiscence of this charge ; " Flee 
from every evil and from every thing that is like it " 

1 



102 COMMENTARY ON 1 THESSALONIANS [v. 22, 23 

{<f>ev<ye cltto 7t<zvto9 irovrjpov Kal ajrb ttclvtos 6/jlolov avrov). 
It is of more importance to note that the ' evil ' is of a 
malignant kind (irovrjpov, not kclkov) ; absolute badness, as 
in the case of the evil one. Cf. Job. i. 1, ii. 3, and see 
Trench, Syn. § lxxxiv. ' Abstain from ' may remind us, 
and was perhaps intended to remind the Thessalonians, 
of the charge given in iv. 3. The idea of base metal — 
' stick to the genuine metal ; have nothing to do with the 
base' — is not suggested by the wording, the meaning of 
which is quite general. See DAC. art. ' Abstinence,' p. 9. 

v. 23, 24. Prayer for the Thessalonians 

23 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly ; and I pray 
God your whole spirit, and soul, and body be preserved blameless 
unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Faithful is he that 
calleth you, who also will do it. 

The way in which the Apostle's exhortations so often shade 
off into prayer illustrates the meaning of his injunction to 
' pray without ceasing.' The spirit of prayer is always in 
the background ; hi. 11 ; 2 Thess. ii. 16, hi. 16. As Chrysos- 
tom says, like a true teacher, he helps his disciples not only 
with counsels, but with prayers. Where there is no actual 
prayer, there is often a recognition of his and his converts' 
entire dependence upon Divine support for all the good that 
has been effected or can be attained ; i, 2, 9, ii. 2, 4, 13, iii. 
9, v. 25, 28 ; 2 Thess. i. 3, 5, 12, etc. Similar features 
are found in other letters. 

' 23 Now may the God of peace Himself help you to do this : may 
He sanctify you so that you may become complete in holiness ; and 
in complete entirety may your spirit and soul and body be preserved 
free from reproach at the Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 This 
prayer for your sanctification is well founded. He who calls you to 
be holy is faithful. He not only calls you, He will also do His part 
towards making the call effectual.' 

23. Now] These pregnant exhortations to continue and 
increase in holiness of life (12-22) having been given, the 
Apostle passes on (Si) to an indispensable condition of their 



v. 23] HORTATORY AND DOCTRINAL 103 

being effectual ; they must be aided by the blessing of God. 
This being the connexion, ' Now ' or ' And,' rather than 
' But,' gives the force of the conjunction. Cf. the prayer 
in hi. 11-13, which begins with the same words {Avto? he 6 
Oeost), and where both A.V. and R.V. have ' Now ' to mark 
the transition. 

the God of peace] A Pauline expression, especially common 
in similar contexts ; Rom. xv. 33, xvi. 20 ; Phil. iv. 9 ; 
cf. Heb. xiii. 20 ; 1 Cor. xiv. 33. We have ' the Lord of 
peace,' 2 Thess. hi. 16 ; ' the God of love and peace,' 2 
Cor. xiii. 11 ; ' the God of hope,' Rom. xv. 13 ; ' the God 
of all comfort,' 2 Cor. i. 3 ; ' the God of patience and of 
comfort,' Rom. xv. 5. The characterizing genitive is in 
each case determined by the context. The unsettled and 
excited Thessalonians need peace for the establishment of a 
Christian life. Cf. the charge in v. 13. 

Himself] Emphatic, as in iii. 11 : nothing less will serve. 
God's help is contrasted with their own efforts. 

sanctify you] ' Make you in effect what He called you to 
be — saints ' ; 1 Cor. i. 2 ; cf. Exod. xxxi. 13 ; Lev. xi. 44 ; 
xx. 7,8. 

complete in holiness] So that no part of their nature is 
left unsanctified. This idea (oKoreXeU) is repeated in a 
slightly different form by ' in complete entirety,' or ' in 
unbroken totality ' (6\6/c\r)pov). See Trench, Syn. § xxii. 
The latter expression belongs to all three of the words which 
follow, not to the first alone. The rendering ' your whole 
spirit ' is in this respect misleading. Each of the three 
constituents of human nature is to be preserved in its 
entirety. 

spirit and soul and body] The three are placed in order of 
merit, which is sometimes reversed, with the highest last. 
Origen has both arrangements. Man's nature is commonly 
regarded as of two parts, one material and the other not, 
body and soul or flesh and spirit. This division is found in 
heathen and in Jewish writers as well as in the N.T. In the 
N.T. ' spirit ' and ' soul ' are sometimes synonymous, as in 
the first verse of the Magnificat. But sometimes, as here, 



104 COMMENTARY 0N 1 THESSALONIANS [v.23,24 

' spirit ' (Trvevfia) is the higher, and ' soul ' (tyvxn) is the 
lower element in the immaterial part. Cf. 1 Cor. ii. 14, 15, 
xv. 44-46, and see Westcott's Additional Note on Heb. iv. 12 ; 
also Augustine, Conf. VII. xvii. 23, 25. 

This diversity of usage shows that we are not justified in 
claiming any one passage of Scripture as giving inspired 
authority for any psychological system. Here the Apostle is 
not committing himself to a trichotomist theory ; still less 
is he declaring that such a theory is certainly true. He is 
praying that the whole being of the Thessalonians, in the 
most comprehensive sense, may be sanctified and preserved.* 

Brightman [Journal of Theol. Studies. Jan. 1901, p. 
273) has shown that this trichotomy is very common in the 
Egyptian liturgies, but always in the strange order, ' soul, 
body, spirit,' and that this order occurs elsewhere in liturgies, 
though not often. Tertullian (Marcion. v. 15) has this order 
reversed, spiritus noster et corpus et anima. It is difficult to 
account for it. 

be preserved free from reproach] ' Be kept so as to be free 
from reproach.' See on ii. 10, where we have the same 
adverb (afikfiirrmst). The reproach implied by the adverb 
is that of being defective or faulty, rather than that of 
being utterly wrong ; and the reproach has reference to the 
Judgment, at which it is prayed that the Thessalonians 
may be found blameless. 

at the Coming] ' Unto the Coming ' is wrong as a transla- 
tion (iv TrapovaLa), and gives a wrong impression as to 
what is desired. Cf. Wisd. x. 5, where the Divine Wisdom 
is said to have preserved the righteous Abraham blameless 
unto God (irripr)crev avrov a/ie/x7TTov @e<Z). 

There is no sufficient reason for rejecting kcu 6\6/c\r}pov 
. . . T7]pr)8etij as an interpolation, unless the fact that v. 24 
would fit on well to the first sentence of v. 23 be regarded 
as such. 

24. He who calls you] The preceding verse shows what is 

* But we can hardly infer from this that at this period St. Paul 
did not contemplate any transformation of the earthly body into 
a heavenly or spiritual body. There is no evidence either way. 



v.24,25] CHARGES AND BENEDICTION 105 

meant. ' He who calls you to be saints, has an interest in 
your sanctification.' ' Calls,' not ' called ' (0 koXwv, not 
6 KaXeaas). He is their Caller, their Inviter ; that is His 
relation to the converts. See on ii. 12 and cf. 1 Cor. i. 9. 
is faithful] He will therefore be true to His character as 
one who calls men to a holy life ; iv. 7. He does not call 
and then leave those who are called to fail for want of His 
help. If they strive to respond to His invitation, they 
are sure to be sanctified and preserved. Cf. Deut. vii. 9, 
xxxii. 4 ; Is. xlix. 7, 15-17. ' Faithful ' is emphatic by posi- 
tion. The verse has the ring of a magnificent confidence. 
Cf. 2 Thess. iii. 3 ; 1 Cor. i. 9, x. 13. 

v. 25-28. CONCLUDING CHARGES AND 
BENEDICTION 

25 Brethren, pray for us. 26 Greet all the brethren with an holy- 
kiss . 27 1 charge you by the Lord that this Epistle be read unto all 
the holy brethren. 2S The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with 
you. Amen. 

The letter draws rapidly to a close. After three brief 
injunctions the farewell blessing is given. The first injunc- 
tion may have been suggested by the preceding prayer. 
The writers have just been interceding for the Thessalonians. 
They now ask for their prayers. But St. Paul so often asks 
for the prayers of those whom he addresses, and so often 
prays for them, that there is no need to assume any con- 
nexion in this case between the prayer and the request. 

The request shows us one great difference, to which no 
attention is called in Scripture, between St. Paul and Christ. 
The Apostle prays for himself and for his disciples, and he 
charges them to pray for themselves and for others, and in 
particular for himself. Christ prays for Himself and for 
His disciples, and He charges them to pray for themselves 
and for others ; but He never asks them to pray for Him. 

After the request to the Thessalonians to pray for their 
three instructors in the faith the Apostle seems to take up 
the pen. This is plainly stated in 2 Thess. iii. 17 as his 
habitual practice : he writes, not merely the benedictions 



106 COMMENTARY ON 1 THESSALONIANS [v. 25, 26 

but the final salutations also, with his own hand.* This 
letter is concluded in the 1st person singular. It is no longer 
' we ' but I. The salutation in v. 26 and the concluding 
benediction come from the Apostle singly as well as the 
strong charge in v. 27. 

1 25 Brethren, pray for us. 

26 Convey my salutations to all the brethren with a holy kiss. 2 " I 
adjure you solemnly in the name of the Lord to see to it that this 
letter be read to all the brethren. 

28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.' 

25. Brethren] See on i. 4, ii. 1. 

pray for us] The same preposition as in v. 10 (nepl vp&v). 
We have similar requests 2 Thess. hi. 1 ; Rom. xv. 30 ; 
Eph. vi. 19 ; Col. iv. 3 ; and what are virtually such requests 
2 Cor. i. 11 ; Phil. i. 19, Philem. 22. Here we perhaps ought 
to add ' as well as for yourselves ' ; but the «at which 
implies this is omitted in some important authorities. 
Its absence in 2 Thess. iii. 1 might lead to its omission here. 
Its appropriateness might cause its insertion in either 
passage, and it has not been inserted in 2 Thess. iii. 1. 

Those who retain kcli sometimes explain it as meaning, 
' as we have just prayed for you,' referring to v. 23. But 
' for us also ' {koi vrepl rjfx&v) would naturally mean ' for 
us as well as for yourselves,' and this would be a reference 
to v. 17. 

26. Convey my salutations] A comparison of the other 
passages in which a ' holy kiss ' is enjoined (see below) con- 
firms the impression that the salutation is from the Apostle 
himself and not from all three writers. It is equivalent to 

* For his habit of dictating his letters see Rom. xvi. 22 ; 1 Cor. 
xvi. 21 ; Gal. vi. 11 ; Col. iv. 18. Possibly his hands were so stiff 
with toil, or his sight was so bad, that writing was specially irksome 
to him. But probably the chief reason was that he could express 
himself with more freedom when he dictated. His adding a few 
words in his own handwriting is analogous to our signing a letter 
written for us by another person. See Deissmann, Light from the 
Ancient East, pp. 153, 158 ; Bevan, S. Paul in the Light of To-Day, 
PP- 53-55- 



v.26,27] CHARGES AND BENEDICTION 107 

our " Give my love to all ; kiss them for me." And the 
salutation is addressed, apparently, to all the members of 
the Church in Thessalonica. There is little to indicate that 
a sudden turn is made from the whole Church, who are 
certainly addressed in vv. 25 and 28, to those who preside 
over it ; but it is possible that vv. 26 and 27 are addressed 
to the first recipients of the letter. The Apostle sends a 
holy kiss to each Christian, and the delivery of this affection- 
ate message is to strengthen in all of them affection for one 
another. Similar messages are found in the secular letters 
of the period. 

a holy kiss] The use of this special mark of affection (<pl\yfia 
aycov) is enjoined Rom. xvi. 16 ; 1 Cor. xvi. 20 ; 2 Cor. 
xiii. 12 ; also 1 Pet. v. 14, where it is called ' a kiss of love : 
((f)L\rjfAa aya7rr)<;). The adjective or genitive is added to 
distinguish this kiss from that which is the expression of 
ordinary affection. We do not know that the use of it 
had already become liturgical. A century later it had cer- 
tainly become so ; Justin Mart. Apol. i. 65 ; Tertull. De 
Orat. 14 and 18, Ad Uxor. ii. 4. It is often mentioned by 
later writers. See Robertson and Plummer on 1 Cor. xvi. 
20 ; Plummer on 2 Cor. xiii. 12 ; Diet. Chris. Ant. I. p. 902 ; 
Suicer, a<nra<r/x6<; and (piXrjfia ; E. A. Abbott, The Law 
of the New Kingdom, pp. 378 f. He points out that nothing, 
except Lk. vii. 45, is quoted as showing any Jewish or 
Gentile practice that might explain it. 

27. I adjure you solemnly] St. Paul here speaks with full 
Apostolic authority, and it is the only place in the letter in 
which he separates himself from his two colleagues and does 
so ; ii. 18 and hi. 5 are not parallel. The expression {evopKi%a> 
Vftas) is a rare one, and it is probably a strong form of ' I 
adjure ' (6ptc%a>), which occurs Mk. v. 7 and Acts xix. 
13, and, as here, is followed by two accusatives. There is 
a remarkable parallel at the end of the Apocalypse -of 
Baruch (lxxxvi. 1-3) ; " When, therefore, ye receive this 
my epistle, read it in your congregations with care. And 
meditate thereon, above all on the days of your fasts. 
And bear me in mind by means of this epistle, as I also bear 
you in mind in it ; and always fare ye well." 



108 COMMENTARY ON 1 THESSALONIANS [v. 27 

It is by no means clear why St. Paul gives this injunction 
in such very strong language. It is suggested that he had 
a suspicion that his statements about the Lord's Coming 
might be misrepresented ; and 2 Thess. ii. 2 seems to imply 
that this had been the case. He therefore insisted that every 
one should hear exactly what he said. Another suggestion 
is that he feared that the disorderly persons mentioned in v. 
14 might try to avoid hearing the contents of the letter. 
A third suggestion, made by Harnack and adopted by 
K. Lake, is that there were two congregations at 
Thessalonica, one Gentile and the other Jewish, and that 
this letter is to be read to both. Of this Jewish congregation 
we have no evidence in the letter ; * nor have we any means 
of deciding which of these suggestions, if any, is correct. 

to see that the letter be read] The question is again raised 
whether this verse, at any rate, must not be addressed to 
those who preside. There is no ' must.' The letter would 
be received by a small minority ; and whoever receive it are 
to take care, not merely that it be passed round, but that 
it be read publicly to the whole congregation. Subtle 
calumnies and insinuations had been circulated against the 
missionaries, and it was absolutely necessary that all should 
hear the answers to them. There were serious shortcomings 
in the lives of the converts, and it was equally necessary 
that all should be warned of them and encouraged to do 
better. It is not likely that all the converts could read ; 
probably the majority could not ; and ' read ' {avayLvcoatceiv) 
here, as in Eph. iii. 4 and Col. iv. 16, must mean ' read 
aloud.' Cf. 1 Mace. xiv. 19. It is of course probable that 
the letter, in the first instance, was delivered to leading 
members of the congregation. The question is not of 
great moment. 

It is more important to notice that this reading aloud in 
the congregation led to certain writings being regarded as of 
special authority, and became one of the chief marks which 

* Chrysostom remarks that at Thessalonica there were many 
churches both Jewish and Hellenic : but he is speaking of ' the 
church ' in each household ; Philem. 2. 



v. 27,28] CHARGES AND BENEDICTION 109 

distinguish canonical from uncanonical writings. We are 
not to suppose that St. Paul meant that this letter was to be 
read repeatedly in public worship ; * still less that he ex- 
pected that it would ever be regarded as Scripture ; although 
both these things have happened. See Sanday, Inspiration 
(Bampton Lectures), p. 360 ; Swete on Rev. i. 3. 

to all the brethren] The Christians in Thessalonica are 
meant, not those in all Macedonia, still less those in all the 
Churches. The insertion of ' holy ' before ' brethren ' in 
some texts is probably an intentional or mechanical assimi- 
lation to ' holy kiss.' 

28. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you] 
This is the normal form of the Apostle's concluding bene- 
diction ; 2 Thess. iii. 18 ; Gal. vi. 18 ; Rom. xvi. 24. He 
sometimes says ' with you all ' or ' with your spirit ' instead 
of ' with you ' ; and he sometimes omits ' our ' or ' Christ ' 
or both. The fullest form is the Trinitarian one in 2 Cor. 
xiii. 13. The shortest form, ' Grace be with you,' is found 
in the later Epistles ; Col. iv. 18 ; 1 Tim. vi. 21 ; 2 Tim. 
iv. 22 ; to which ' all ' is added, Tit. iii. 15. The liturgical 
use of the ' Grace ' is of course taken from St. Paul. On the 
other hand the ' Amen ' at the end of it is here, as in most 
places in the N.T., an addition borrowed from the liturgies. 
It is probably genuine Gal. vi. 18 and Jude 25. 

This concluding benediction takes the place of the ordinary 
' Fare ye well ' {eppwaOe, Acts xv. 29) or ' Farewell ' (eppaxro, 
which many authorities insert Acts xxiii. 30) . Other forms 
are ' I wish you, or thee, farewell ' (ippcoaOai u/^a?, or ere 
evxofiai). Cf. 3 Jn. 2. 

The subscription, ' First unto Thessalonians,' is a late 
addition ; and ' was written from Athens ' is a still later 
addition which states what is incorrect. The letter was 
written from Corinth. See Introduction, p. xiii. 

* The aorist (dvayvwaOrjvai) could not mean this. Hence there 
is more point than fairness in Bengel's comment, Quod Paulus cum 
adjuratione jubet, id Roma sub anathemate prohibet. 



Indexes 



INDEX I. GENERAL 



Abbott, E. A., 7, 51, 54, 83, 97, 107 

Achaia, 12 

Acts, 1 Thessalonians independent 

of, xii, 24, 43 
Advent, Second, 8, 14, 41, 67, 104 
Affliction, the lot of Christians, 8, 

11, 45 

The problem of, 46 
Air, 77 
Alford, xxvii 
Alliteration, 7 
Amen, 54, 109 

Analysis of the Epistle, xix, xx 
Angels, 54, 75 

Apocalypse of Baruch, 16, 17, 107 
' Apostle,' Title of, 1, 2, 22 
Apostolic Decree, 59 
' Appeal,' 20 
Appian Way, 71 
Archangel, 75 
Arrian, 65 
Article, Absence of the, 75, 82, 85 

Force of the, vii, 7, 63 

Repetition of the, 63 
Arthur, King, 41 
' Asia,' Meaning of, v 
Asleep, Falling, 69, 74 
Assembly, 3, 30 
Athanasius, 52 
Athens, xvii, 43 

Speech at, xiv, 14 
Augustine, 22, 60, 70, 72, 77, 97, 

99. 104 
Authenticity of 1 Thessalonians, 

x-xii, 2, 43, 74 
Avenger, Christian, 62 
A.V., Defects in the, 9, 15, 30, 32, 

43. 45. 62, 82, 104 
Bacon, B. W., xi 

Baruch, Apocalypse of, 16, 17, 107 
Baur, F. C, x, 43 



Benediction, Concluding, 1, 109 
Bengel, 23, 26, 40, 61, 70, 109 



Berkeley, Bishop, v 
Beroea, xvi, xvii, 43, 65 
Bigg, C, 60 
Bleek, 44 

Body, The human, 60 
Bondservants, 13, 14 
Bornemann, xi, xxviii 
Brethren, 9, 19, 24, 94 
Brightman, 104 
Brother, 19, 61 
Brooke, A. E., 42 
Building as a metaphor, 89 
Burkitt, F. C, 35 
Burton, E. de W., ix 

Cabiri, Worship of the, ix, 21 
Cassander, Founder of Thessa- 

lonica, viii 
Chase, F. H., xv, 20 
Chiasmus, 86 
Christ Jesus, 30 
Christology, xxvi, 4, 15, 52, 62 
Chrysostom, 3, 8, 13, 25, 35, 45, 48, 

52, 59, 60, 64, 72, 102, 108 
Church workers, 91 
Cicero, 58. 71, 87 
Clement of Rome, xi, 66 
Climax, Inverted, 33 
Clouds, 77 
Comfort, 49, 79 

Coming, Second, 8, 14, 41, 67, 104 
Commentaries, xxvi, xxvii 
Compound verbs, 13, 32, 38, 43, 

49, 50, 62, 107 
Congregation, Reading to the, 108 
Constructions, Broken. 37, 40, 41 
Converts in Thessalonica, xv, xvi, 

3, 11, 13, 24, 26, 49, 51, 65, 

66, 67 
Conybeare and Howson, ix, 71 
Contradictory aspects in Scripture, 

27, 84 
Corinth, xiii, 63 
Coverdale, 3, 22 
Crown, Different kinds of, 40 



111 



112 



INDEX 



Dalman, 27 

Darkness, 85 

Date of 1 Thessalonians, xiii, 68 

Dative, Possessive, 26 

' Day of the Lord,' 82 

' Day, The,' 85 

Dead, Sorrowing for the, 69-71 

Deissmann, 19, 39, 42, 79, 86, 106 

Denney, xxvii, 65, 88 

Destruction of Jerusalem, 35 

' Devout ' heathen, xvi, 15, 24 

De Wette, 32, 34 

Dictation of letters, 37, 41, 106 

Didache, 59, 73, 93, 94, 100, 101 

Divine witness, Appeal to, 8, 25, 

41. 50, 54 
Dobschiitz, vii, xi, xxviii, 92 
Driver, 70 
Duration of the mission to the 

Thessalonians, xvi, 13, 24, 53 

Election, 9 

Ellicott, xxvii, 76 

Emphasis, 7, 42, 50, 51, 54, 63, 65, 

8 3- 84, 85, 103, 105 
Endurance, 8 
Enoch, Secrets of, 35, 77 
Epictetus, 66 
Erasmus, 9 

Eschatology symbolical, 75 
Realistic, 28 

Findlay, xxvii, 4 
First person plural, 7, 21, 23, 39 
Forgeries, Early Christian, xii 
Forgery, 1 Thessalonians not a, 

xii, 2, 43, 74 
Frame, J. E., xi, xxvii 

Galatians, Date of, xiii 

Genitive, Characterizing, 29, 40, 

103 
Genitives, Accumulation of, 8 
' God, Our,' 20, 50 
' God-fearers,' xvi, 15, 24 
Gospel, 10 

' Gospel of Christ,' 45 
' Gospel of God,' 20 
Gospels not written when St. Paul 

wrote, xxiii, 10 
Grace, 109 
'Grace and peace,' 4 

Harnack, xi, xxiii, 13, 92, 108 
Headlam, 75 
Heart or hearts, 21 



Heathen, Instruction to the, xiv 

Hopelessness, 70, 71 

Immorality, 21, 58, 61 

Ignorance of God, 61 
Heaven or heavens, 15 
Hermas, xi 
Hilgenfeld, xi 
' Holy ones,' 54 
Holy Spirit, 63, 76 
Hope, the dominant note in the 

Epistle, 8, 14, 41, 67, 70, 88 
Hort, 3, 32, 92 
Hymns in the N.T., 78 
Hyperbole, 13 

Idolatry, 7, 13, 14, 20, 21 
Imitation of the Apostle, 11, 30 
Importance of this Epistle, xiii-xv 
Impurity, Warnings against, 58-64 
Interpolations, 4, 54, 109 

wrongly suspected, 32, 58, 104 
Irenaeus, xi 

Jacquier, 13 

Jason, xvi, 40 

Jerome, 98, 100 

Jewish apocalyptic, 74, 75 

Jewish and Gentile converts, 53, 

108 
Jews, at Thessalonica, xvi, 13 
Hostility of, xvi, xvii, 1 7, 20, 3 1 , 

33 
Josephus, 101 
Jowett, B., xi, xii, xxvii, 6, 41, 50, 

58, 84 
Joy, Christian, 96, 97 
Jubilees, Book of, 35 
Judgment, 14, 41, 42, 74 
Julicher, xi, 32, 40 
Justin Martyr, 107 
Juvenal, 33, 87 

Kant, 98 

Kennedy, H. H. A., 44 

' Kingdom of God,' 27, 67 

' Kiss, Holy,' 107 

Knowledge, Appeals to, 10, 19, 26 

Knowledge of God, 61 

Knowling, 16, 76, 83 

Lake, K, 61, 63, 68, 72, 108 
Letter from the Thessalonians 

improbable, xviii, 29, 43, 48, 

64, 68 
Lewin, xiii 
Lightfoot, xxiii, xxviii, 14, 29, 40, 

52, 60, 71, 85, 89, 91, 101 



INDEX 



ii3 



Lock, W., xxviii 

'Lord, The' (of Christ), 4, 11, 53, 

62 
' Love of the brethren,' 64 
Lucian, 66 

Macedonia, viii, 12 

Macedonians, Character of the, v, 

vi, 64 
St. Paul's affection for the, 57 
McGiffert, xi, xii, xxviii 
Marcion, xi 
Mark, Gospel of, unknown to St. 

Paul, xxiii, 10 
Miletus, Speech at, 26, 63, 93 
Military metaphors, 87 
Mission at Thessalonica, Duration 

of the, xvi, 3, 24, 53 
Missionary centres, vi, vii, 65 
Moffatt, xi, xii, 79 
Mommsen, vi 
Montefiore, xiv, xv 
Montgomery, 98 
Moulton, 72 

Muratorian fragment, xi 
Mystery-religions, 68 

Nearness of the Advent, 1 6, 67, 74, 

83 
Negative, Strong form of, 74, 84 
Neo-Platonism, 60 
' Night and day,' 24 

Occasion and Object of the Epistle, 

xv— xviii 
O.T., Echoes of the, xx-xxii, 21, 

61, 62, 64, 76, 82, 84, 87, 95 
Origen, 2, 97, 100, 103 
' Orthodox City, The,' viii 
Ovid on death, 71 

Paley, 68 

Papyri, 7, 40, 69, 94 
Paradox, 65 

Parallels in 2 Corinthians, 31, 49 
' Parousia,' 42, 104 
Paul, St., Nowhere in the Epistles 
called ' Saul,' 39 
Affection for his converts, 9, 26, 

36, 5°. 57. 6 9 
Methods of instruction, xiv 
Tactfulness, 11, 58, 69, 89 
Indignation against the Jews, 

31-35 
Reticence, 78 
Handicraft, 24, 25 
View of the Mission to Europe, v 
Hope about the Coming, 74 



Peace, 4, 93, 103 

Perfect tense, Force of the, 12, 13, 

19, 21 
Persecution, xvi, 8, 11, 32, 41, 67, 

72 
Philippi, v, 19, 98 

Why chosen as a starting-point, 

vi 
Plato, 71 
Pleasing God, 33 
' Pledge ' of Jason, xvi, 40 
Plotinus, 60 
Politarchs, ix, xvi, 47 
Polycarp, xi 
Possessive dative, 26 
Prayer, 7, 52, 97, 102, 105 
Preposition, Repetition of, 12 

Change of, 21, 63 
Presbyters, 92 

Present participle, 15, 27, 69, 105 
Present tense, Prophetic, 83 
Pronouns, Emphatic, 10, 19, 34, 

42, 43- 50. 52, 53. 74. 84, 85, 

103 
Prophesying, 99 
Prophets, Christian, 100 

Jewish, 32 
Psychology, 104 
Punctuation, Questions of, 40, 86, 



' Q,' Had St. Paul seen, xxiii, 10 
Quotations from the O.T., xx-xxii, 
21, 62, 64, 76, 82, 84, 87, 95 

Rackham, xvii, 40 
Ramsay, W., xiii, 39, 79 
Reading to the congregation, 108 
Readings, Various, 4, 12, 23, 44, 

54, 57, 64, 85, 94, 100, 106, 109 
Renan, xi, 24, 49, 53, 59, 92, 99 
Rendall, xiii 

Resurrection, 15, 69, 72, 76 
Return, Christ's, 8, 14, 41, 67, 104 
Robertson, A., 28, 107 
Robertson, A. T., 8, 14, 39, 72 
Robinson, J. A., 4, 21, 30 
Ropes, 19, 30, 40, 44 
R.V., Defects in the, 9, 15, 32, 43, 

45 

Sabatier, xi, 15 
Saints, 3, 54 
Salmon, x, 68, 92 
Salutations, 1, 4, 106 
Salvation open to all, 33 
Sanday, xxviii, 4, 31, 92, 109 



U4 



INDEX 



Sanday and Headlam, 4, 15, 74, 99 

Satan, xvii, 40, 47, 53 

Sayings of Christ, Resemblances to, 

xxii-xxvi, 11, 27, 33, 45, 54, 

63. 73. 85, 86, 94, 96 
Schaff, 91 

Schmiedel, xi, xxviii 
Secrets of Enoch, 35, 77 
Seneca, 27, 46, 61, 71 
Sensuality disclaimed by St. Paul, 

21 
Septuagint, Reminiscences of the, 

xx-xxii, 21, 61, 62, 64, 76, 82, 

84. 87, 95 
Servius Sulpicius, 79 
' Shortcomings,' 51 
Sibylline Oracles, 61 
Silas, xv, xvii, 43, 47 

Identity with Silvanus, 2 
Simcox, W, 92 
Singular or plural, 12, 85 
' Son of God,' 15 
' Sons of light,' 85 
Sorrowing for the dead, 69, 70 
Spiritual gifts, 93, 99 
Stephen's speech, Parallel to, 32 
Subscription, 43, 109 
Suicer, 101 

Swete, xx, 3, 16, 79, 109 
Symbolism, 75 
Synagogues and Christian missions, 



Tacitus, 33 

' Tempter, The,' 47 

' Tentmaker,' 24 

Tertullian, 104, 107 

Testaments of the XII Patriarchs, 

35- 42 
Testing, 21, 100 
Thackeray, 77 



Thankfulness, 50, 98 
Thanksgiving in letters, 5, 16, 29 
Theodore of Mopsuestia, 60 
Theodoret, 9 
Theodosius, 45 
Therma, vii 

Thessalonica, vii-x, xvi, 58, 66 
Length of the mission to, xvi, 13, 

24 

Afflictions of, 45 

Immorality of, 24, 25, 66 
Timothy, xvii, 2, 29, 43, 44, 47 
Tozer, ix 
Travail-pangs, 84 
Trench, 3, 8, 19, 22, 57, 102, 103 
' True God,' 14 
' Trumpet of God,' 76 
Turner, C. H., xiii, xxvi 

' Vessel,' 59, 60 

Via Egnatia, vi, vii, xv, 13, 65 

Vulgate, 23, 57, 62, 87 

Defects in, 23, 28, 30, 81, 87 

Warfield, 81 

Way, A. S., xxvii, 78 

Weinel, 11,25 

Weiss, B., 75 

Wendt, xi 

Westcott, 1 01, 104 

Wette, De, 32, 34 

Will of God, 59, 98 

Witness, Appeals to Divine, 8, 25, 

4i. 50. 54 
Wohlenberg, xxviii, 34 
Women converts, viii, ix, xvi, 25 
' Word of the Lord,' 73 
' Wrath,' 15, 34 

Zahn, x, xiii, 2, 7, 23, 45, 48, 73, 84 
Zeller, ix 



INDEX II. GREEK 



dyados, 48, 96 
dydiri], 64 
dyawr)Tbs, 23 
&yeii>, 73 
ayia.(Tfj.6s, 59 
#7101, 54 
dyiwcrvvri, 54 
070!!', 20 
d8e\<pos, 24, 44 
d5taXet7TTws, 7 
<W, 34, 78 
<"7P, 77 
dfleTeii/, 63 
al(pvl5ios, 83 
dKadapvia, 21 

dicpiftws, 82 

d\?;^tj'6s, 14 

a/ia, 76 

dfx£p.irTWs, 25, 104 

dvayivwcTKeiv, 1 08 

d^d^/CT;, 49 

dva.tr\7)povv, 34 

dpraTToSowcu, 50 

dvr£x e ^Oai, 95 

dVW, 38, 96 

dTrd^TTjcrtj, 77 

d7ro5t56cat, 96 

diropcpavL^eiVy 38 

dirwXeta, 16, 83 

dpa o5i>, 86 

dprt, 48 

dra/cros, 94 

7dp, 19, 42 
ylvevdcu, II, 26 
ypriyopetv, 86 

S<?, 38, 52, 64, 94, 102 
deofj-tvoi, 51 
8<?x°M a ', 30 
did (c. ace), 29, 50, 93 

(<r. gen.), 58, 72 
didSrjfxa, 40 
SidKovos, 44 
8ia/xapH'p€<r0ai, 62 
5t5acrxa\fa, 20 
StSaxJ?, 20 
BiKaiut, 25 
5«5, 89 



diwKeiv, 32, 96 
doKifidfeiv, 21, IOO 
SouXetfeti', 13 
St/va^tus, 10 

^dv (c. indie.), 50 
eldivai, 9 1 
eTSos, 101 
elpt)vetieiv % 94 

eis Kei^y, 47 

eis Trept.Trol-q<riv t 88 

e£s tAos, 34 

eis t6, 34 

ei's u/zds, 64 

els rdy eVa, 89 

ei'croSos, 19 

e«, 15 

^K TrXdi'TjS, 20 

£k8iwk(iv, 32 

€KK\7]aia, 3, 30 

€k\o7T7, 9 

ev, 3, IO, 21, 76 

^v pdpei, 22 

ev /i^<ry, 23 

^ wdXXrj eTndvfJ.(<}, 39 

^j/ 7raiTt, 98 

& rdxa, 16 

evtpyelcrdai, 30 

ivKOwreiv, 40 

i^XV Tal > I2 
e7rt (c. gen.), 7 

f«r. <&/.)> 6 3 

(f. arc), 34 

lirifiapeiv, 2$ 
iiri6v/j.ta, 39, 6 1 
€Tri<?Tpt<t>ei.v, 13 
epydfecrdai, 66 
Zpyov, 8 
epwTav, 57 
ei)a77e\ifw, 48 
evcrxwdews, 66 
£t)xap<0"'"e«', 5 
ei>XapiOT/a, 5, 50 
((picrrdvat, 84 

rip.£pa KVpiov, 82 
T/cri'xdfa!', 66 

daX-reiv, 23 
115 



n6 



INDEX 



6&VCLT0S, 16 

dtXrifia. rov GeoO, 59 
6eo5i8a.KTos, 65 
Geo's, 6; 7, 13, 30 
Oipfia, vii. 
0\i\J/is, 49 

Kaddwep, 49, 6 1 

Kadevdeiv, 86 

Kaddis, 10, 21, 31, 61 

/ca£, doubled, 31, 32 
intensive, 41 
responsive, 29 

Kal ydp, 46 

Kcup6s, 38, 81 

ko.k6v dvrl kcikov, 96 

KaXaV, 27, 105 

ko\6s, IOI 

Kapdia, 39, cf. 21, 54 

Ka.Take«j)dr)vai, 43 

KaTaprlfciv, 51 

K<XTev0!ji>eiv, 53 

k£kti)ct9<u, 60 

K^\evcr/J.a, 75 

Ktvos, 19, 47 

KOL/xdadai, 69, 72 

A'oXa/ce^a, 22 

KOiriav, 91 

kottos, 8, 24 

KToiffOai, 60 

Xoyos Kvplov, 73 
Xot7r6^, 57 

fj.aicp6dvpt.os, 95 
ix-aWov, 58 
/xaprvpeTcrOai, 26 
/jl^Wcj, 16 
ju&> without 5^, 39 
yuerd, 78 

y577Ttot, 23 
vf)<f>eiv t 86 
poi/0ere?i', 93 
i/Ov, 48 

ot'Sare, 10, 1 9 
choSofietv, 89 
6\edpos, 16, 83 
6\iy6\f/vxos, 95 
6\6k\t]pos, 103 
oXoreXijs, 103 
6<r/ws, 25 
^'rav . . . t6t6 
fir*, 9 

oy /*??, 74, 84 
0^, 57 
cvpavds, 77 



7rd0os, 61 

7rd^T0Te, 34, 48, 78, 96 
7ra/)a7yeXfa, 58 
irapaKa.\eii>, 26, 45, 49, 57 
■7rap&K\7jGis, 20, 26 
Trapa\a/j.(3&peu>, 29 
irapovcria, 42 
■jretpdfwf, 6, 47 
Tre/Ji, 64, 88, 106 
TrepnroLrjcris, 88 
7ritrTeii^^cai, 21 
irXavr), 20 
TrXeoveKTeiV, 6 1 
7rXeoye^a, 22 
■jrXrjpotpopla, 10 
irveviia, 104 
TroXirapxai, ix 
■Kovqpbi, 102 
iropvda, 59 
npayiia, 62 
TrpoKTrdfievoi, 91 
wpos Kaipbv upas, 38 
TT/Oos i^tas, 46 
TrpocrevxVi vi 
irpdawirov, 39, 51 
vpocpacns, 22 

pvo/ievos, 6, 15 

aalveadai, 45 
ffKevos, 59 
trriyeiv, 43 
aricpavos, 40 
(rrriKeiv, 50 
cvfJ.<pv\4Tat, 31 
ffifr, 76, 78, 89 
(rwepyds, 44 

TOtyapoOv, 63 

T157TOS, 12 
Ttp=TlPl, 62 

t/toi <p(i)r6s, 85 
uWp, 45, 88 
virepfiaiveiv, 61 
virepeKTepiacroO, 5 1 
vironovr), 8 
vuTiprj/xa, 51 

00di/w, 34, 35, 74 
4>i\a5e\<pla, 64 
<pi\yjfj.a &yiov, 107 
<pi\onne?(r6at, 65 

X<*<P<*. 4 
X/wvoi, 8l 

^Xi7, 103 

lis . . . oirrws, 83 



Printed in Great Britain for Robert Scott, Publiiher, Pateb»osteb How, Loudon, E.C„ 

*y_BUTLEB & TAXKEH, FBOHB 




wlii§§ 
IBlll