1 Thessalonians 3:11
Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way to you.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(11) God himself and our Father.—Better, our God and Father Himself. If we are to find any special person with whom the word “Himself” is intended to enforce a contrast, the contrast is probably not so much with the baffled efforts of St. Paul, as with Satan, who had hindered the journey. But the word is probably added without such specific reference: “May God Himself direct us; for in that case who could hinder?”

And our Lord . . .—An important theological passage. From the use of the singular in the verb “direct” (which of course the English cannot express), some divines argue in favour of the Catholic doctrine of “homoüsion,” or substantial unity of the Son with the Father: it must not, however, be too strongly pressed, or it might otherwise lead to the false notion of a personal unity between Them. Nevertheless, we may admit that the prayer (or, rather, wish) implies the equality of the two Persons, and that it would have been inconceivable for a Catholic Christian to have used the verb in the plural. (See 2Thessalonians 2:17.)

3:11-13 Prayer is religious worship, and all religious worship is due unto God only. Prayer is to be offered to God as our Father. Prayer is not only to be offered in the name of Christ, but offered up to Christ himself, as our Lord and our Saviour. Let us acknowledge God in all our ways, and he will direct our paths. Mutual love is required of all Christians. And love is of God, and is fulfilling the gospel as well as the law. We need the Spirit's influences in order to our growth in grace; and the way to obtain them, is prayer. Holiness is required of all who would go to heaven; and we must act so that we do not contradict the profession we make of holiness. The Lord Jesus will certainly come in his glory; his saints will come with him. Then the excellence as well as the necessity of holiness will appear; and without this no hearts shall be established at that day, nor shall any avoid condemnation.Now God himself - This is evidently a prayer. He earnestly sought of God that he might be permitted to visit them, and that he would so prepare the way that he might do it.

And our Father - Even our Father. The reference is particularly to the "Father," the First Person of the Trinity. It does not refer to the divine nature in general, or to God as such, but to God as the Father of the Lord Jesus. It is a distinct prayer offered to him that he would direct his way to them. It is right therefore to offer prayer to God as the First Person of the Trinity.

And our Lord Jesus Christ - This also is a prayer, as much as the former was, for it can be understood in no other way. What can be its meaning, unless the apostle believed that the Lord Jesus had power to direct his way to them, and that it was proper for him to express this wish to him; that is, to pray to him? If this be so, then it is right to pray to the Lord Jesus, or to worship him; see the John 20:28 note; Acts 1:24 note. Would Paul have prayed to an angel to direct his way to the church at Thessalonica?

Direct our way unto you - Margin, "guide." The Greek word - κατευθύνω kateuthunō - means, to guide straight toward or upon anything. It is rendered "guide," in Luke 1:79, and "direct" here and in 2 Thessalonians 3:5. It does not elsewhere occur in the New Testament. The idea is that or conducting one straight to a place, and not by a round-about course. Here the petition is, that God would remove all obstacles so that he could come directly to them.

11. Translate, "May God Himself, even our Father (there being but one article in the Greek, requires this translation, 'He who is at once God and our Father'), direct," &c. The "Himself" stands in contrast with "we" (1Th 2:18); we desired to come but could not through Satan's hindrance; but if God Himself direct our way (as we pray), none can hinder Him (2Th 2:16, 17). It is a remarkable proof of the unity of the Father and Son, that in the Greek here, and in 2Th 2:16, 17, the verb is singular, implying that the subject, the Father and Son, are but one in essential Being, not in mere unity of will. Almost all the chapters in both Epistles to the Thessalonians are sealed, each with its own prayer (1Th 5:23; 2Th 1:11; 2:16; 3:5, 16) [Bengel]. Paul does not think the prosperous issue of a journey an unfit subject for prayer (Ro 1:10; 15:32) [Edmunds]. His prayer, though the answer was deferred, in about five years afterwards was fulfilled in his return to Macedonia. Here his prayer is expressed. The person to whom he prays is God himself, personally considered as God the Father, and relatively, when he styles him our Father: so ought believers to address themselves to God, not absolutely, but as to their Father. So Christ taught his disciples to pray: Our Father; and so the Spirit of adoption doth prompt the saints to pray: we come to God with greater freedom and confidence when we can come to him as a Father. And he prays also to Christ, whom he styles our Lord Jesus Christ. Whence we may have an argument that Christ is God, else he could not be the object of Divine worship: not that we are to present our prayers distinctly to the Son without considering his union with the Father, nor to the Father distinctly from the Son, but to the Father in and by the Lord Jesus Christ; for so only we can consider him as our Father in prayer. And he speaks of Christ also in his relation to his people: our Lord Jesus Christ. And the thing he prays for is, that God would direct his way unto them; that the hinderances of Satan, whatsoever they were, might be removed, and the providence of God open him a way to come to them: the word direct signifies in the Greek to make straight, and, 2 Thessalonians 3:5, is applied to the heart: The Lord direct your hearts, & c., which is setting the heart straight towards God; answering to the Hebrew word Jashar, which signifies to be upright, and is often used in the Old Testament. The French read it, address our way. And hence we learn our duty by the apostle’s practice to pray to have our way in all cases directed by God. Now God himself, and our Father,.... The Oriental versions leave out the copulative "and", and read, "God himself, our Father" the first person in the Trinity, who is God himself, truly and properly so; and who is a God that hears prayer; and who is omnipotent, and able to do more than the saints can ask or think; and omniscient, and knows their persons and cases, and what is proper for them, and how and when to help and supply them; and he is also the God of all grace, the author and giver of it, and who is able to make it abound, and increase it, and so a very proper object of prayer: and who is likewise the Father of Christ, and of all the saints, not only by creation, in which sense he is the Father of all men, but by adopting grace; and which is mentioned to encourage freedom and boldness in prayer, which children may use with a father, and to raise an expectation of succeeding and receiving an answer; for if earthly parents hear their children, and give good things to them, how much more will not our heavenly Father give his Holy Spirit, and all other good gifts, unto his children? And this shows that the apostle prayed to God in the manner Christ directed, Matthew 6:9

and our Lord Jesus Christ: who is equally the object of prayer with God his Father and ours; who is sometimes distinctly prayed unto, as in Acts 7:59 and often in conjunction with his Father, as in all those places in the epistles, where grace and peace are wished for from them both; see Romans 1:7, and sometimes he is set before the Father, as in 2 Thessalonians 2:16 to show the entire equality between them, and that he is equally addressed as he, being truly and properly God, who knows all things, and is the Almighty, and whose grace is sufficient for us, and therefore rightly applied unto, as here: the petition put up to them both is, that they would

direct our way unto you: a journey is not to be taken without the will of God, without seeking to know it, without submission to it, and dependence on it; nor is there any prosperous one, but by it; see James 4:13. Men may devise their own ways, but God directs their goings; especially a good man's steps are ordered by the Lord, and particularly ministers; who, as they are often directed to subjects and matter, in a very providential way, so to places, and are ordered both where and when to go; see Acts 16:6. The apostle was aware, that there were obstacles in his way of coming to Thessalonica, for he had attempted it once and again, but Satan, and his emissaries, hindered; and therefore he desires that God and Christ would remove them out of the way, and make his way straight and plain, as the word signifies, that he might once more see their faces.

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

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

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

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

πρὸς ὑμᾶς] belongs not to τὴν ὁδὸν ἡμῶν, but to κατευθύναι.1 Thessalonians 3:11. κατευθύναι (optative), as already (Acts 16:8-10; Acts 17:1). The singular (cf. II., 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17) implies that God and Jesus count as one in this connection. The verb is common (e.g., Ep. Arist., 18, etc.) in this sense of providence directing human actions.11. Now God himself and our Father] Now may our God and Father Himself (comp. ch. 1 Thessalonians 1:3), and our Lord Jesus (R. V.). For this title of Christ, see notes on ch. 1 Thessalonians 2:15; 1 Thessalonians 2:19. The copyists have added Christ.

Literally the verse begins, But may our God, &c. There is a transition, by way of contrast, from the thought of Paul’s own (human) wish and longing, that has been so fervently uttered, to the thought of God, Who alone can fulfil His servant’s desire. The prayers of ch. 1 Thessalonians 5:23 and 2 Thessalonians 2:16 begin in the same style.

direct our way unto you] Lit., make straight. This verb is rendered “guide our feet into the way of peace” in Luke 1:79; 2 Thessalonians 3:5 gives the only remaining example of it in the N.T. It is frequent in the Septuagint; see, e.g., Psalm 37:23, “The steps of a good man are ordered (Greek, directed) by the Lord; and He delighteth in his way.” Perhaps this verse of the Psalm was running in the Apostle’s mind.

It is notable that the Greek verb of the prayer is singular, though following a double subject; similarly in 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 (comp. the Salutation, ch. 1 Thessalonians 1:1). For Christ is one with the Father in the prerogative of hearing and answering prayer. This belief was derived from our Lord’s own teaching: see John 5:17; John 5:19; John 10:30; John 10:38; John 14:13-14; Matthew 28:18—“I and the Father are one … If ye shall ask Me (R. V.) anything in My name, I will do it,” &c.

The prayer of 1 Thessalonians 3:11 has its goal in 1 Thessalonians 3:13. “Our Lord Jesus” is He whose “coming” Paul and his readers are looking for. And He, together with the Father, is desired to “direct” the Apostle’s steps to Thessalonica, with the aim, ultimately, of furthering their preparation for His coming (comp. ch. 1 Thessalonians 5:23; also 1 Thessalonians 1:10).1 Thessalonians 3:11. Αὐτὸς, Himself) Both epistles to the Thessalonians have almost all the several chapters singly sealed and distinguished by single breathings of prayer [each chapter sealed with its own prayer], ch. 1 Thessalonians 5:23; 2 Thessalonians 1:11; 2 Thessalonians 2:16; 2 Thessalonians 3:5; 2 Thessalonians 3:16.—Ἰησοῦς, Jesus) Prayers and vows are also addressed to Jesus Christ; for the word κατευθύναι, direct, extends both to Him [as the subject] and to the Father: comp. 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17.Verse 11. - Now God himself and our Father; or, as we would express it according to the English idiom, God himself, our Father, omitting the conjunction. And our Lord Jesus Christ. Some suppose that the three Divine Persons of the sacred Trinity are here expressly named: God the Holy Ghost, and the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ; but the words in the original will not bear this sense: "God himself and our Father" is the same Divine Person. Direct. It is to be observed that the verb "direct" is in the Greek in the singular, thus denoting a unity between God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. At all events, we have an express prayer directed to Christ, thus necessarily implying his Divine nature. Our way unto you. Direct (κατεύθυναι)

Lit. make straight. Only in Paul and Luke. See on Luke 1:79, and comp. 2 Thessalonians 3:5. Frequent in lxx.

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