Vincent's Word Studies
The Thessalonian Epistles
The First Epistle
Thessalonica was situated on the Thermaic Gulf, a fine harbor, affording anchorage for large ships directly in front of the city. The situation commanded the trade of the Macedonian waters, and was connected inland with the plain of the Axius, one of the great levels of Macedonia, and with the plain of the Strymon, by a pass across the peninsula of Chalcidice. It was the chief station on the Via Egnatia, the great Roman road which ran from Dyrrhachium through Epirus, Macedonia, and Thrace to Byzantium.
In Paul's day it was a free city, the capital of the whole province and the most populous of its towns. Its extensive trade with all parts of the world accounts in part for the rapid spread of the news of the success of the gospel (1 Thessalonians 1:8). The population consisted of the original Graeco-Macedonian inhabitants, mixed with many Romans and some Jews. The same heathen deities were worshipped as in other Graeco-Roman communities, and the worship of the Cabeiri had been introduced from Samothrace.
Paul's first visit to Thessalonica is related in Acts 17; and the account must be filled out, as far as possible, by means of the references in the two letters. From the Acts it appears that he remained only three weeks; but the first Epistle indicates that a large and flourishing church had been formed, chiefly of Gentiles (1 Thessalonians 1:8, 1 Thessalonians 1:9); and from this, and from the facts that the Philippians, twice during his stay, sent him pecuniary aid (Philippians 4:16), and that he labored for his own support, his visit would seem to have been longer.
According to the narrative in Acts, he secured some converts from among the Jews, but more from the pious Greeks or Proselytes, and many prominent women. Nothing is said of his labors among the heathen. The author of the Acts has, apparently, recorded the least important part of his work, which was evidently begun, according to his usual practice, in the synagogue. The principal part of it, however, was not done in the synagogue.
The cause of Paul's departure from Thessalonica was a persecution instigated by the Jews, who used the vulgar pagan rabble as their instruments. Most of the Christian converts were from the better classes, and the Politarchs were not disposed to interfere actively. But the riot was a serious matter. A powerful, dangerous, lasting sentiment was aroused in the class which fostered it (see 1 Thessalonians 2:14). The charge against Paul was that of treason against the Emperor, and the Politarchs were forced to take active measures lest they should incur the charge of condoning treason. Their course was the mildest for which they could find precedent. The accused were bound over to keep the peace, and as security was exacted from Jason and the leading Christians of Thessalonica, it implied that they were under obligation to prevent Paul from coming to the city again.
Paul, after his departure, was distressed, lest his converts, who had been only partially instructed, might fall from their faith. He had twice made the attempt to revisit them, but in vain. He had sent Timothy to inquire into their condition and to establish and comfort them (1 Thessalonians 3:2). Timothy had now rejoined him at Corinth, and the information which he brought called forth the first letter.
The letter, though official, is not stiff nor condescending. It reveals a quick, intelligent sympathy with the burdens and sufferings of the church, and a full appreciation of their patience and fidelity. They are the subject of the Apostle's thoughts, wishes, and prayers; they are his joy and his crown. The tone of the Epistle, while peculiarly affectionate, is nevertheless decided, and exacting in moral demand. It has nothing of the legal or ecclesiastical character. It is pervaded, in parts, with the tension and anxiety of the interval between Paul's departure from Thessalonica and the reception of Timothy's report. Timothy's news had been substantially good. The church had remained true to the faith against all assaults. But a degree of mistrust had arisen concerning the sincerity of Paul's interest for the church, which must have come from the outside. Accordingly in the second chapter he takes on an apologetic tone. Some lack of religious steadfastness among the members has made itself evident, and some signs of not fully appreciating the relations of their faith to Christian morality. There has arisen a tendency to assume that the second coming of Christ is close at hand, and that all old relations and duties are therefore done away. On the other hand, an opposite tendency has shown itself, a reaction against the enthusiasm evoked by the expectation of the parousia, which calls for the admonitions, "Quench not the spirit: despise not prophesyings: prove all things: hold fast that which is good." Mistakes have become current respecting the lot of such Christians as may die before the Lord's coming. There is a possible hint of strained relations with the church-superintendents (1 Thessalonians 5:12-15) and of occasions given to the enemies of Christianity for malicious criticism (1 Thessalonians 4:12). But the main objects of the letter are, to strengthen the bond between the writer and the church, to detach the church from the errors and abominations of heathen life, and to correct misunderstandings and give comfort as regards the dead in Christ.
The language of the letter is simple, taking on a rhetorical character only in certain isolated passages (1 Thessalonians 2:19 f.; 1 Thessalonians 3:8 f.). It is not without picturesqueness (1 Thessalonians 1:8, 1 Thessalonians 1:9; 1 Thessalonians 2:1, 1 Thessalonians 2:6, 1 Thessalonians 2:16, 1 Thessalonians 2:17, 1 Thessalonians 2:19; 1 Thessalonians 3:3, 1 Thessalonians 3:8, 1 Thessalonians 3:11; 1 Thessalonians 4:1, 1 Thessalonians 4:6, 1 Thessalonians 4:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:2, 1 Thessalonians 5:3, 1 Thessalonians 5:5, 1 Thessalonians 5:8, 1 Thessalonians 5:19). There is an occasional tendency to amplification (1 Thessalonians 1:2 f., 8; 1 Thessalonians 2:11, 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Thessalonians 3:2, 1 Thessalonians 3:7, 1 Thessalonians 3:9, 1 Thessalonians 3:10; 1 Thessalonians 3:1, 1 Thessalonians 3:3, 1 Thessalonians 3:5, 23, etc.), and to round off the ends of sentences with adverbial phrases (1 Thessalonians 1:5, 1 Thessalonians 1:6; 1 Thessalonians 2:2, 1 Thessalonians 2:16, 1 Thessalonians 2:17; 1 Thessalonians 3:3, 1 Thessalonians 3:9, etc.). There is to be noted the frequent introduction of expressions which recognize the knowledge and remembrance of the writer's correspondents, as καθὼς οἴδατε even as ye know: also the forms of adjuration and comparison (1 Thessalonians 2:5, 1 Thessalonians 2:10; 1 Thessalonians 3:6). A certain ruggedness and lack of symmetry in the structure of sentences appears at times (1 Thessalonians 1:2 ff., 1 Thessalonians 1:8; 1 Thessalonians 2:10 ff., 1 Thessalonians 2:17 f., 1 Thessalonians 2:19 f.; 1 Thessalonians 4:1 f., 1 Thessalonians 4:3 ff.). The vocabulary is relatively small. Repetitions and similarities of expression occur.
There are no citations from the Old Testament, and no use of apocryphal writings can be shown. The mode of expression is thoroughly Pauline. The character of the Epistle does not lead us to expect many of the technical terms of the Pauline dogmatic; but such as we do find are Pauline, as ἐκλογή election; καλεῖν to call; ἅγιοι saints; ἁγιασμός sanctification; μὴ εἰδότες τὸν Θεόν not knowing God. There are also to be noted the characteristic play of words (1 Thessalonians 2:4); paradox (1 Thessalonians 1:6); mixed metaphor (1 Thessalonians 5:5), and antithesis of prepositions (1 Thessalonians 1:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:7; 1 Thessalonians 2:3, etc.). There are relatively few hapaxlegomena, some peculiar uses of words common in the New Testament; possibly a dozen words and modes of expression which appear only in the deutero-Pauline writings, and a few which are almost exclusively confined to the writings of Luke and the Epistle to the Hebrews.
The authenticity of the Epistle is generally conceded. It has been assailed by Baur, Steck, Holsten, and Loman.
The Second Epistle
The authenticity and genuineness of this Epistle have been challenged since the beginning of the present century. Its integrity has also been questioned on the assumed ground of a combination of a genuine Pauline epistle with interpolated matter (P. W. Schmidt). It has been ascribed to Timothy. Attempts have also been made to prove that it was earlier in date than the first Epistle (Ewald, Baur, Davidson); but there seems to be, on the whole, no sufficient reason for refusing it a place among the genuine Pauline Epistles. The external testimony in its favor is ancient and good, while the resemblances in manner and phraseology to the other Pauline writings cannot be evaded. The vocabulary is Pauline. The list of non-Pauline words is small and not important. As distinguished from all other Pauline letters, the two Thessalonian epistles exhibit a striking relationship, extending to sequences of thought, articulation of sentences, and peculiar expressions and usages. In not a few cases, the same subjects are treated with almost the same words. Both letters have an eschatological drift; both exhibit, without specially emphasizing it, the writer's apostolic consciousness; both treat moral questions from the religious point of view.
The second Epistle appears to have been written some months after the first, because of some later information received by Paul, who was probably still in Corinth. The circumstances of the church were substantially the same, although there appears to have been a growth in faith and charity (2 Thessalonians 1:3, 2 Thessalonians 1:4); but the idea of the imminent second coming of the Lord had assumed such proportions as to cause restlessness and impatience, and a measure of social disorganization and fanaticism. A spurious epistle in Paul's name, announcing the immediate advent of the Lord, appears to have been circulated (2 Thessalonians 2:2). The main design of this second letter is to correct false views concerning the second advent, and to rebuke the idleness and disorder into which some of the Thessalonian Christians had fallen.
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 address of the first Epistle is shorter than that of any of the Pauline letters. In the other Epistles Paul either indicates the contents of the letter, or adds details concerning the writer or his correspondents, or amplifies the apostolic greeting. The names of Silvanus and Timothy are added to that of Paul as the senders of the letter. They were with him at Corinth when it was written (Acts 18:5; 2 Corinthians 1:19). They had assisted him in the foundation of the Thessalonian Church (Acts 16:1-3; Acts 17:4, Acts 17:10, Acts 17:14). Paul's official title; "Apostle" is omitted in the addresses of both Epistles, although in 1 Thessalonians 2:6 he uses ἀπόστολοι apostles, including Silvanus and Timothy under that title. The title appears in all the other Epistles except Philippians and Philemon. The reason for its omission in every case appears to have been the intimate and affectionate character of his relations with the parties addressed, which rendered an appeal to his apostolic authority unnecessary. Paul does not confine the name of apostle to the twelve.
The Silas of the Acts, where alone the form Σίλας occurs. By Paul always Σιλουανός, of which Σίλας is a contraction, as Λουκᾶς from Λουκανός. Similar contractions occur in Class., as Ἁλεξᾶς for Ἁλέξανδρος for Ἁλέξανδρος, and that for Ἁρτεμίδωρος. Silas first appears in Acts 15:22, as one of the bearers of the letter to the Gentile Christians at Antioch. He accompanied Paul on his second missionary tour, and was left behind with Timothy when Paul departed from Macedonia after his first visit. He was probably a Jewish Christian (see Acts 16:20), and was, like Paul, a Roman citizen (Acts 16:37, Acts 16:38). Hence his Roman name. He cannot with any certainty be identified with the Silvanus of 1 Peter 5:12.
Appears in all the Pauline Epistles except Galatians and Ephesians. He was associated with Paul longer than any one of whom we have notice. First mentioned Acts 16:1, Acts 16:2; comp. 2 Timothy 3:10, 2 Timothy 3:11. He accompanied Paul on his second missionary tour (Acts 16:3), and was one of the founders of the churches in Thessalonica and Philippi. He is often styled by Paul "the brother" (2 Corinthians 1:1; Colossians 1:1; 1 Thessalonians 3:2; Plm 1:1); with Paul himself "a bondservant of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:1); comp. 1 Timothy 1:18; 2 Timothy 1:2. Paul's confidence in him appears in Philippians 2:19-22, and is implied in his sending him from Athens to the Thessalonian church to establish and comfort its members (1 Thessalonians 3:2). Paul sent him again to Macedonia in company with Erastus (Acts 19:22), and also to Corinth (1 Corinthians 4:17). To the Corinthians he writes of Timothy as "his beloved and faithful child in the Lord" who shall remind them of his ways in Christ (1 Corinthians 4:17), and as one who worketh the work of the Lord as he himself (1 Corinthians 16:10). He joined Paul at Rome, and his name is associated with Paul's in the addresses of the letters to the Colossians and Philemon. In every case where he is mentioned by name with Silvanus, the name of Silvanus precedes.
To the church of the Thessalonians
This form of address appears in 1st and 2nd Corinthians, Galatians, 2nd Thessalonians. The other letters are addressed to "the saints, " "the brethren, " "the saints and faithful brethren." The use of the genitive of the national name is peculiar. Comp. 1 Corinthians 1:22; 2 Corinthians 1:1; Galatians 1:2; Philippians 1:1; Colossians 1:2.
The church (ἐκκλησίᾳ)
From ἐκ out, and καλεῖν to call or summon. Originally with a secular meaning, an assembly of citizens regularly summoned. So Acts 19:39. lxx uses it for the congregation of Israel, either as convened for a definite purpose (1 Kings 8:65; Deuteronomy 4:10; Deuteronomy 18:16), or as a community (2 Chronicles 1:3, 2 Chronicles 1:5; 2 Chronicles 23:3; Nehemiah 8:17). The verbs ἐκκλησιάζειν and ἐξεκκλησιάζειν to summon formally, which do not occur in N.T., are found in lxx with συναγωγὴν gathering, λαόν people, and πρεσβυτέρους elders. Συναγωγὴ is constantly used in lxx of the children of Israel as a body (Exodus 12:6, Exodus 12:19, Exodus 12:47; Leviticus 4:13, etc.), and is the more common word in N.T. for a Jewish as distinguished from a Christian assembly; sometimes with the addition of the Jews (Acts 8:5; Acts 14:1; Acts 17:1). It is once used of a Christian assembly (James 2:2). Ἑπισυναγωγὴ gathering together, occurs 2 Thessalonians 2:1; Hebrews 10:25. The Ebionites retained συναγωγὴ in preference to ἐκκλησία. The lxx translators found two Hebrew words for "assembly" or "congregation,": עֵדָה and קָהָל, and rendered the former by συναγωγὴ in the great majority of instances. Ἑκκλησία does not appear as the rendering of עֵדָה. They were not as consistent in rendering קָהָל, since they used both συναγωγὴ and ἐκκλησία, though the latter was the more frequent: see Leviticus 4:13; Deuteronomy 5:22, etc. The A.V. renders both words by "congregation" and "assembly" indiscriminately. Ἑκκλησία is only once used in N.T. of a Jewish congregation, Acts 7:38; yet there are cases where there is an apparent attempt to guard its distinctively Christian sense against being confounded with the unconverted Jewish communities. Hence the addition; ἐν Χριστῷ in Christ, Galatians 1:22; ἐν θεῷ πατρὶ και, κυρίῳ Ἱησοῦ Χριστῷ in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 1 Thessalonians 1:1; comp. 2 Thessalonians 1:1. In both Hebrew and N.T. usage, ἐκκλησία implies a community based on a special religious idea, and established in a special way. In N.T. it is also used in a narrower sense, of a single church, or of a church confined to a single place. So Romans 16:5, etc.
In God the Father, etc.
Const. with the church, and comp. 2 Thessalonians 1:1. The phrase "the church in God" is peculiar to the Thessalonian Epistles. Elsewhere "of God" (1 Corinthians 10:32; 1 Corinthians 11:16, 1 Corinthians 11:22; 1 Corinthians 15:9, etc.); "of the saints" (1 Corinthians 14:33). Lightfoot suggests that the word ἐκκλησία can scarcely have been stamped with so definite a Christian meaning in the minds of these recent and early converts as to render the addition "in God the Father," etc., superfluous.
Grace to you and peace (χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη)
In Romans, 1st and 2nd Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, the salutation is, Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Colossians omits the last five words of this: 2 Thessalonians mits our before Father. On the union of the Greek and Jewish forms of salutation, see on 1 Corinthians 1:3.
We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers;
We give thanks (εὐχαριστοῦμεν)
According to Paul's habit, a thanksgiving follows the salutation, commonly with the verb ἐυχαριστεῖν as here; but in 2nd Corinthians and Ephesians, εὐλογητὸς ὁ θεός blessed be God. The thanksgiving is omitted only in Galatians. The verb εὐχαριστεῖν occurs only in later Greek, and there but rarely. In lxx only in Apocr. See Judith 8:25; 2 Macc. 1:11; 10:7; 3 Macc. 7:16. In the N.T. Epistles, Po. Originally to do a good turn; hence, to return a favor. The meaning to give thanks is late. The kindred noun εὐχαριστία giving of thanks, is found often in Paul. As a designation of the Lord's Supper (Eucharist) it is not found in the N.T. Perhaps the earliest instance of its use in that sense is in Ignatius. See Philad. iv.; Smyrn. iv., viii.; Ephesians 8. Comp. Just. Mart. Apol. i., 64, 65.
In we give thanks, it is not easy to decide whether Paul uses we as plural, or in the sense of I. Rom 3:9 seems to be a clear case of the latter usage. In 1 Thessalonians 3:1, 1 Thessalonians 3:2, ηὐδοκήσαμεν we thought it good, and ἐπέμψαμεν we sent, can, apparently, refer only to Paul; and similarly, in 1 Thessalonians 3:6, πρὸς ἡμᾶς unto us, can hardly include Silvanus who came with Timothy (comp. 1 Thessalonians 3:5). But it is significant that, in the Epistles which are written in Paul's name alone (Romans, Galatians, Ephesians), only I is used, unless we except Galatians 1:8, which is doubtful. Paul and Timothy appear jointly as correspondents in Philippians, but the first person predominates throughout the letter. The same is true of 1st Corinthians, where Paul and Sosthenes are associated in the address, but the singular pronoun is used almost throughout. (See 1 Corinthians 4:10-13; 1 Corinthians 9:4, 1 Corinthians 9:5, 1 Corinthians 9:25, 1 Corinthians 9:26). In Colossians Paul and Timothy appear in the address. The plural prevails to Colossians 1:23, and alternates with the singular throughout the remainder. The alternations in 2nd Corinthians are very bewildering.
On the whole, I think that occasional instances of the epistolary plural must be granted. It is not, however, Paul's habitual usage. We is often employed as in ordinary correspondence or argument, where the writer or speaker associates himself with his readers or hearers. Abundant illustrations of this may be seen in Romans 6 and 8; but in other cases, when Paul speaks in the plural, he usually associates his fellow-ministers, mentally, with himself.
Making mention (μνείαν ποιούμενοι)
For the phrase see Romans 1:9; Ephesians 1:16; Plm 1:4. Always in connection with prayer. In the sense of remember it appears in lxx, Job 14:13. In Psalm 111:4, to make a memorial. See further, on without ceasing, 1 Thessalonians 1:3.
In my prayers (ἐπὶ)
When engaged in offering my prayers. Επὶ here blends the local with the temporal sense.
The more general term, and limited to prayer to God; while δέησις petitionary prayer, supplication, may be addressed to man. Paul alone associates the two words. See Philippians 4:6; Ephesians 6:18. In classical Greek the word does not occur in the sense of prayer. It is found in later Greek, meaning a place for prayer, in which sense it appears in Acts 16:13, Acts 16:16. It signified either a synagogue, or an open praying-place outside of a city.
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;
Without ceasing (ἀδιαλείπτως)
Po. In lxx see 1 Macc. 7:11; 2 Macc. 3:26; 9:4; 8:12; 15:7; 3 Macc. 6:33. Should be construed with making mention, not with remembering, as A.V. and Rev. The salutations of Paul reproduce ordinary conventional forms of greeting. Thus the familiar Greek greeting χαίρειν be joyful, hail, welcome, appears in χάρις grace. This was perceived by Theodore of Mopsuestia (350-428 a.d.), who, in his commentary on Ephesians, says that in the preface to that letter Paul does very much as we do when we say "So and so to So and so, greeting" (ὁ δεῖνα τῷ δεῖνι χαίρειν). Deissmann gives some interesting parallels from ancient papyri. For instance, a letter dated 172 b.c., from an Egyptian lady to her brother or husband: "Isias to her brother Hephaestion, greeting (χαίρειν). If you are well, and other things happen as you would wish, it would be in accordance with my constant prayer to the gods. I myself am well, and the boy; and all at home make constant remembrance of you. Comp. Romans 1:9; Ephesians 1:16; Plm 1:4. Again: "Ammonios to his sister Tachnumi, abundant greeting (τὰ πλεῖστα χαίρειν). Before all things, I pray that you may be in health; and each day I make the act of worship for you." In these specimens the conventional salutations in correspondence include the general greeting (χαίρειν) and the statement that prayer is made for the correspondent's welfare; and the words constant and daily are attached to the act of prayer. It is further to be noticed that many passages of Paul's Epistles give evidence of having been shaped by expressions in letters received by him from the parties he is addressing. In his answer he gives them back their own words, as is common in correspondence. Thus, making mention of you and remembering your work, etc., together with the statement that Timothy reports that you have a good remembrance of us (1 Thessalonians 3:6), all together suggest that Paul had before him, when writing to the Thessalonians, a letter which Timothy had brought from them. Other instances will be noted as they occur.
Work - labor - patience (ἔπργου - κόπου - ὑπομονῆς)
Ἔργον work, may mean either the act, the simple transaction, or the process of dealing with anything, or the result of the dealing, - as a book or a picture is called a work. Κόπος labor, from κόπτειν to strike or hew; hence, laborious, painful exertion. Ὑπομονὴ patience, patient endurance and faithful persistence in toil and suffering. See on 2 Peter 1:6; see on James 5:7. The genitives, of faith, love, hope, mark the generating principles of the work and labor and patience, which set their stamp upon each; thus, work which springs from faith, and is characteristic of faith. The phrase patience of hope is found only here; but see Romans 5:4; Romans 8:25; Romans 15:4; 1 Corinthians 8:7; Hebrews 7:11, Hebrews 7:12. ὑπομονὴ in lxx, see 1 Chronicles 29:15; Job 14:19; Psalm 9:18; Psalm 38:7; Jeremiah 1 Jeremiah 4:8. We have here the great triad of Christian graces, corresponding to 1 Corinthians 8:1-13. Hope is prominent throughout the two Epistles. The triad appears, 1 Thessalonians 5:8; Galatians 5:5, Galatians 5:6; 1 Corinthians 8:13; Ephesians 4:2-5; Colossians 1:4, Colossians 1:5; Hebrews 10:22-24; 1 Peter 1:21-22. Comp. 1 Thessalonians 2:9; 1 Thessalonians 5:8; 2 Thessalonians 3:5, 2 Thessalonians 3:8; 1 Corinthians 15:10, 1 Corinthians 15:58; 2 Corinthians 11:27; Revelation 2:2.
In our Lord, etc. (τοῦ κυρίου)
Before our God and Father
Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.
Election of God
Incorrect. Const. of or by (ὑπὸ) God with beloved. Ἑκλογὴ election, in N.T., mostly by Paul. Elsewhere only Acts 9:15, and 2 Peter 1:10. This, and the kindred words, ἐκλέγειν to choose, and ἐκλεκτὸς chosen or elect, are used of God's selection of men or agencies for special missions or attainments; but neither here nor elsewhere in the N.T. is there any warrant for the revolting doctrine that God has predestined a definite number of mankind to eternal life, and the rest to eternal destruction. The sense in this passage appears to be defined by the succeeding context. The Thessalonians had been chosen to be members of the Christian church, and their conduct had justified the choice. See 1 Thessalonians 1:5-10.
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.
Incorrect. Rend. how that. It is explanatory of your election. For similar usage see 1 Corinthians 1:26.
The gospel as preached by Paul and his colleagues. Comp. Romans 2:16; Romans 16:25; Galatians 1:11; Galatians 2:2; 1 Thessalonians 2:4. My gospel is sometimes used in connection with an emphasis upon some particular feature of the gospel, as in Romans 2:16, where Paul is speaking of the judgment of the world by Christ; or in Romans 16:25, where he is referring to the extension of the messianic kingdom to the Gentiles.
In word (ἐν λόγῳ)
The gospel did not appeal to them as mere eloquent and learned discourse.
In power (ἐν δύναμει)
Power of spiritual persuasion and conviction: not power as displayed in miracles, at least not principally, although miraculous demonstrations may be included. Paul rarely alluded to his power of working miracles.
Assured persuasion of the preacher that the message was divine. The word not in pre-Christian Greek writers, nor in lxx. Only in one other passage in Paul, Colossians 2:2. See Hebrews 6:11; Hebrews 10:22.
We were (ἐγενήθημεν)
More correctly, we shewed or proved ourselves.
And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost:
More literally and better, imitators. Only once outside of Paul's writings, Hebrews 6:12. Comp. 1 Thessalonians 3:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:7; 1 Corinthians 4:16; 1 Corinthians 11:1; Galatians 4:12; Philippians 3:17; Philippians 4:9.
And of the Lord
Guarding against any possible imputation of self-assertion or conceit. Comp. 1 Corinthians 11:1.
So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.
An ensample (τύπον)
See on 1 Peter 5:3.
Macedonia and Achaia
Shortly after 146 b.c., all Greece south of Macedonia and Epirus was formed into a Roman province under the name of Achaia, and Macedonia with Epirus into another province called Macedonia.
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.
Hath sounded forth (ἐξήχηται)
N.T.o. lxx Joel 3:14; Sir. 40:13, of thunder; 3 Macc. 3:2, of a report. It means a loud, unmistakable proclamation.
The word of the Lord (ὁ λόγος τοῦ κυρίου)
The phrase in Paul only in these Epistles. Comp. 2 Thessalonians 3:1; 1 Thessalonians 4:15. Comparatively frequent in Acts. Paul has λόγος Θεοῦ or τοῦ Θεοῦ word of God, eight times, and λόγος τοῦ χριστοῦ word of the Christ, once, Colossians 3:16. The meaning here is the gospel, regarded either as the message proceeding from the Lord, or concerning him. It is the εὐαγγέλιον θεοῦ the gospel of God: see 1 Thessalonians 2:2, 1 Thessalonians 2:8, 1 Thessalonians 2:9; Romans 1:1; Romans 15:16; 2 Corinthians 11:7. As Professor Sanday remarks on Romans 1:1, "it is probably a mistake in these cases to restrict the force of the genitive to one particular aspect: all aspects are included in which the gospel is in any way related to God and Christ."
In every place
A rhetorical exaggeration, signifying the whole known world. It is explained by the extensive commercial relations of Thessalonica. Comp. Romans 1:8; Colossians 1:6, Colossians 1:23, 2 Corinthians 2:14.
Is spread abroad (ἐξελήλυθεν)
Lit. and better, has gone forth.
For they themselves shew 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;
They themselves shew (αὐτοὶ ἀπαγγέλλουσιν)
They themselves in contrast with we, 1 Thessalonians 1:8. We need not speak of anything: they themselves volunteer testimony to your faith. Shew, more correctly announce or report.
Entering in (εἴσοδον)
Comp. 1 Thessalonians 2:1. The thought of 1 Thessalonians 1:5 is resumed. The repetition of the word in 1 Thessalonians 2:1, and of in vain in 1 Thessalonians 3:5, may point to expressions in a letter of the Thessalonians.
Unto you (πρὸς)
Ye turned unto God (ἐπεστρέψατε πρὸς τὸν Θεὸν)
Comp. Acts 14:15. The exact phrase only here. The verb is common in lxx, with both κύριον Lord and θεὸν God.
See on 1 Corinthians 8:3. The word would indicate that the majority of the converts were heathen and not Jews.
Living and true (ζῶντι καὶ ἀληθινῷ)
And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.
To wait for (ἀναμένειν)
From heaven (ἐκ τῶν οὐρανῶν)
Lit. from the heavens. Comp. 1 Corinthians 15:47; 1 Thessalonians 4:16; 2 Thessalonians 1:7. Paul uses the unclassical plural much oftener than the singular. Although the Hebrew equivalent has no singular, the singular is almost universal in lxx, the plural occurring mostly in the Psalm. Οὐρανός is from a Sanscrit word meaning to cover or encompass. The Hebrew shamayim signifies height, high district, the upper regions. Similarly we have in N.T. ἐν ὑψίστοις in the highest (places), Matthew 21:9; Luke 2:14 : ἐν ὑψηλοῖς in the high (places), Hebrews 1:3. Paul's usage is evidently colored by the Rabbinical conception of a series of heavens: see 2 Corinthians 12:2; Ephesians 4:10. Some Jewish teachers held that there were seven heavens, others three. The idea of a series of heavens appears in patristic writings, in Thomas Aquinas's doctrine of the celestial hierarchies, and in Dionysius the Areopagite, Through the scholastic theologians it passed into Dante's Paradiso with its nine heavens. The words to await his Son from heaven strike the keynote of this Epistle.
Jesus which delivered (Ἱησοῦν τὸν ῥυόμενον)
More correctly, delivereth. See on Matthew 1:21. Ῥύεσθαι to deliver, mostly in Paul. Lit. to draw to one's self. Almost invariably with the specification of some evil or danger or enemy. Σώζειν to save is often used in a similar sense, of deliverance from disease, from sin, or from divine wrath: see Matthew 1:21; Mark 6:56; Luke 8:36; Acts 2:40; Romans 5:9 : but σώζειν is a larger and more comprehensive term, including not only deliverance from sin and death, but investment with all the privileges and rewards of the new life in Christ.
The wrath to come (τῆς ὀργῆς τῆς ἐρχομένης)
Lit. the wrath which is coming. The wrath, absolutely, of the wrath of God, as Romans 5:9 Romans 7:19; 1 Thessalonians 2:16. Sometimes for the punishment which wrath inflicts, as Romans 12:4; Ephesians 5:6; Colossians 3:6. See on John 3:36. The phrase wrath to come is found in Matthew 3:7; Luke 3:7. Coming does not necessarily imply the thought of speedy or imminent approach, but the general tone of the Epistle points in that direction.