Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample to you to follow us.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Power.—Rather, authority, which is power plus legitimacy, How jealously St. Paul guards the rights of the Apostolate! not for himself, but for the brethren of the Lord and Cephas (1Corinthians 9:5), perhaps for Silas and Timothy (1Thessalonians 2:6, Note), and for futurity. The unbounded claims of spiritual fatherhood seem copied from the Roman law of patria potestas. (Comp. Philemon 1:8; Philemon 1:19.)
To make.—Literally, in order that we might give. It was not without thought and design that they had adopted the plan.
An ensample.—The same word as in 1Thessalonians 1:7. Literally, a model. The argument is a strong à fortiori. Whatever reason these Thessalonians might have for giving up work, St. Paul had the same, and more. He looked for the Advent, as they did; he spent his time in going about among the brethren, as they did; and over and above, he had the apostolic right to maintenance, which they had not. Why should not he have left off work, if they could justify themselves in so doing? If he thought right to work, à fortiori, it must be their duty to work too.1 Corinthians 9:6, 1 Corinthians 9:12, 1 Corinthians 9:14.
power. It may be claimed by authority from Christ, though it should not be commanded by any laws from men. As the priests under the law had their maintenance settled upon them by the law of God; so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel, 1 Corinthians 9:14 Galatians 6:6. And though this power may be claimed, yet in some cases it is to be denied, as the apostle did, 1 Corinthians 9:12: We have not used this power; lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ. And so he did here, to make himself an example, tupon, which signifies any mark that is cut or engraven to stamp things into its own likeness; oft used in the New Testament, and variously applied.
But to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us: it is desirable to follow good examples, but more to become a good example: and as the old verse is true, Regis ad exemplum, & c., so the old proverb, "Like priests, like people"; and to follow them is to imitate them, as 1 Corinthians 11:1: Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ. He is the first pattern, and others are to be regulated by it; and so far, and no further, to be imitated. As ministers ought to be patterns, Titus 2:7 1 Peter 5:3; so the people ought to be followers, and their sin will be the greater if they follow not their doctrine, when it is exemplified in their practice. 1 Corinthians 9:4. This the apostle says to preserve their right of claim, when and where they should think fit to make use of it; and lest other ministers of the word, who could not support themselves as they did, should be hurt by such an example; and lest covetous men should make use of it to indulge their sin, and improve it against the maintenance of Gospel ministers: wherefore the apostle observes to them, that they did not do this, as conscious that they had no right to demand a supply from them,
but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us; for it seems there were many idle lazy persons among them, who either had no callings or trades, or did not attend to them; wherefore the apostles wrought with their own hands, to set an example, who could not for shame but work, when they saw persons in so high an office, and of such a character, working with labour and travail, night and day, among them.Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)2 Thessalonians 3:9. Paul has indeed the right to be maintained by the churches, but he freely renounces this right, in order to present believers with a good example. Comp. 1 Corinthians 9:4 ff.
οὐχ ὅτι] My meaning is by no means that; by no means as if. A restriction of the previous statement, in order to prevent a possible misunderstanding. Comp. 2 Corinthians 1:24; 2 Corinthians 3:5; Php 3:12; Php 4:11; Php 4:17; Hartung, Partikellehre, II. p. 153 f.
ἐξουσίαν] power or authority, sc. τοῦ δωρεὰν φαγεῖν ἄρτον.
ἀλλʼ] sc. ἐν κόπῳ καὶ μόχθῳ νύκτα καὶ ἡμέραν ἐργαζόμενοι ἄρτον ἐσθίομεν.
On ἑαυτούς, comp. Bernhardy, Syntax, p. 272; Winer, p. 136 [E. T. 187].2 Thessalonians 3:9. The apostles had the right to be maintained by the church, but in this case they had refused to avail themselves of it. The Thessalonians are not to misconstrue their action.9. not because we have not power] Better, have not the right (moral power, authority)—viz., “to lay the charge of our maintenance upon the Church;” see note on 1 Thessalonians 2:6. In the other Epistle St Paul refers to this matter in order to prove his earnest care for the Thessalonian Church; but here, for the sake of making his behaviour an example to them. Similarly in 1 Corinthians 10:33; 1 Corinthians 11:1; and Acts 20:34-35; compare with 2 Corinthians 12:14-15.
but to make ourselves an ensample unto you, &c.] Or, more freely rendered: to furnish you with an example in ourselves, so that you might imitate us. The apostles sacrificed their own rights and comfort for the benefit of the Thessalonians (comp. 1 Thessalonians 2:8, also 2 Thessalonians 1:5), wishing to supply them with the kind of example most suitable for their imitation; and we learnt from 1 Thessalonians 1:5-7, that this purpose had in most respects been realised.
On example (or pattern), see note to 1 Thessalonians 1:7; and on imitate (follow, A.V.), 1 Thessalonians 1:6, and 2 Thessalonians 3:7 above.Verse 9. - Not because we have not power; that is, to demand support. Paul, as an apostle, had the right of maintenance from the Churches among whom he laboured. This right of support he insists upon in the First Epistle to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 9:1-18). But for the sake of his converts, to give them an example of diligent working, and to remove every impediment to the progress of the gospel, he often waived his rights. Thus he did at Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 2:6, 9), at Corinth (Acts 18:3; 2 Corinthians 11:9), and at Ephesus (Acts 20:340; in all these places he laboured for his maintenance as a tent maker. But - we acted so - to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow - imitate - us.
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