Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
1. Furthermore--Greek, "As to what remains." Generally used
towards the close of his Epistles
then--with a view to the love and holiness
(1Th 3:12, 13)
which we have just prayed for in your behalf, we now give you
beseech--"ask" as if it were a personal favor.
by, &c.--rather as Greek, "IN the Lord Jesus"; in communion
with the Lord Jesus, as Christian ministers dealing with Christian
as ye . . . received--when we were with you
how--Greek, the "how," that is, the manner.
walk and . . . please God--that is, "and so please God," namely,
by your walk; in contrast to the Jews who "please not God"
The oldest manuscripts add a clause here, "even as also ye do walk"
1Th 4:10; 5:11).
These words, which he was able to say of them with truth, conciliate a
favorable hearing for the precepts which follow. Also the expression,
"abound more and more," implies that there had gone before a
recognition of their already in some measure walking so.
2. by the Lord Jesus--by His authority and direction, not by our
own. He uses the strong term, "commandments," in writing to this Church
not long founded, knowing that they would take it in a right spirit, and
feeling it desirable that they should understand he spake with divine
authority. He seldom uses the term in writing subsequently, when his
authority was established, to other churches.
1Co 7:10; 11:17;
and 1Ti 1:5
where the subject accounts for the strong expression) are the
exceptions. "The Lord" marks His paramount authority, requiring
3. For--enforcing the assertion that his "commandments" were "by
(the authority of) the Lord Jesus"
Since "this is the will of God," let it be your will also.
fornication--not regarded as a sin at all among the heathen, and so
needing the more to be denounced
4. know--by moral self-control.
how to possess his vessel--rather as Greek, "how to acquire (get for himself) his own vessel," that is, that each should have
his own wife so as to avoid fornication
The emphatical position of "his own" in the Greek, and the use
of "vessel" for wife, in
and in common Jewish phraseology, and the correct translation
"acquire," all justify this rendering.
1Co 6:15, 18).
Thus, "his own" stands in opposition to dishonoring his brother by
lusting after his wife
contrasted with "dishonor their own bodies"
5. in the lust--Greek, "passion"; which implies that such a one
is unconsciously the passive slave of lust.
which know not God--and so know no better. Ignorance of true religion
is the parent of unchastity
(Eph 4:18, 19).
A people's morals are like the objects of their worship
Ro 1:23, 24).
6. go beyond--transgress the bounds of rectitude in respect to his
defraud--"overreach" [ALFORD]; "take advantage of"
in any matter--rather as Greek, "in the matter"; a
decorous expression for the matter now in question; the conjugal honor
of his neighbor as a husband,
also confirms this view; the word "brother" enhances the enormity of
the crime. It is your brother whom you wrong (compare
the Lord--the coming Judge
(2Th 1:7, 8).
of all such--Greek, "concerning all these things;" in all
such cases of wrongs against a neighbor's conjugal honor.
testified--Greek, "constantly testified
7. unto uncleanness--Greek, "for the purpose of."
unto--rather as Greek, "in"; marking that "holiness" is the
element in which our calling has place; in a sphere of holiness.
Saint is another name for Christian.
8. despiseth, &c.--Greek, "setteth at naught" such engagements
imposed on him in his calling,
in relation to his "brother,"
He who doth so, "sets at naught not man (as for instance his brother),
is used of despising or rejecting God's minister, it may
mean here, "He who despiseth" or "rejecteth" these our ministerial
who hath also given unto us--So some oldest manuscripts read, but
most oldest manuscripts read, "Who (without 'also') giveth (present)
unto you" (not "us").
his Spirit--Greek, "His own Spirit, the Holy
(One)"; thus emphatically marking "holiness"
as the end for which the Holy (One) is being given. "Unto you," in the
Greek, implies that the Spirit is being given unto, into
(put "into" your hearts), and among you (compare
"Giveth" implies that sanctification is not merely a work once for all
accomplished in the past, but a present progressive work. So the
Church of England Catechism, "sanctifieth (present) all the
elect people of God." "His own" implies that as He gives you that which
is essentially identical with Himself, He expects you should become
9. brotherly love, &c.--referring here to acts of brotherly kindness
in relieving distressed brethren. Some oldest manuscripts support
English Version reading, "YE have"; others, and those the
weightiest, read, "WE have."
We need not write, as ye yourselves are taught, and that by God: namely, in the heart by the Holy Spirit
1Jo 2:20, 27).
to love--Greek, "with a view to," or "to the end of your loving
one another." Divine teachings have their confluence in love
10. And indeed--Greek, "For even."
11. study to be quiet--Greek, "make it your
ambition to be quiet, and to do your own business." In
direct contrast to the world's ambition, which is, "to make a
great stir," and "to be busybodies"
(2Th 3:11, 12).
work with your own hands--The Thessalonian converts were, it thus
seems, chiefly of the working classes. Their expectation of the
immediate coming of Christ led some enthusiasts among them to neglect
their daily work and be dependent on the bounty of others. See end of
The expectation was right in so far as that the Church should be always
looking for Him; but they were wrong in making it a ground for
neglecting their daily work. The evil, as it subsequently became worse,
is more strongly reproved in
12. honestly--in the Old English sense, "becomingly," as
becomes your Christian profession; not bringing discredit on it in the
eyes of the outer world, as if Christianity led to sloth and poverty
them . . . without--outside the Christian Church
have lack of nothing--not have to beg from others for the supply of
your wants (compare
So far from needing to beg from others, we ought to work and get the
means of supplying the need of others. Freedom from pecuniary
embarrassment is to be desired by the Christian on account of the
liberty which it bestows.
13. The leading topic of Paul's preaching at Thessalonica having
been the coming kingdom
some perverted it into a cause for fear in respect to friends lately
deceased, as if these would be excluded from the glory which those
found alive alone should share. This error Paul here corrects (compare
I would not--All the oldest manuscripts and versions have "we would not." My fellow labourers (Silas and Timothy) and myself desire
that ye should not be ignorant.
them which are asleep--The oldest manuscripts read present
tense, "them which are sleeping"; the same as "the dead in
to whose bodies
not their souls;
death is a calm and holy sleep, from which the resurrection shall waken
them to glory. The word "cemetery" means a sleeping-place.
Observe, the glory and chief hope of the Church are not to be realized
at death, but at the Lord's coming; one is not to anticipate the other,
but all are to be glorified together at Christ's coming
Death affects the mere individual; but the coming of Jesus the whole
Church; at death our souls are invisibly and individually with the
Lord; at Christ's coming the whole Church, with all its members, in
body and soul, shall be visibly and collectively with Him. As this is
offered as a consolation to mourning relatives, the mutual
recognition of the saints at Christ's coming is hereby implied.
that ye sorrow not, even as others--Greek, "the rest"; all the rest
of the world besides Christians. Not all natural mourning for dead
friends is forbidden: for the Lord Jesus and Paul sinlessly gave way to
(Joh 11:31, 33, 35;
but sorrow as though there were "no hope," which indeed the heathen had
the Christian hope here meant is that of the
Ps 16:9, 11; 17:15; 73:24;
show that the Old Testament Church, though not having the hope so
(Isa 38:18, 19),
yet had this hope. Contrast CATULLUS
[Carmina 5.4], "When once our brief day has set, we must sleep
one everlasting night." The sepulchral inscriptions of heathen
Thessalonica express the hopeless view taken as to those once dead: as
AESCHYLUS writes, "Of one once dead there is no
resurrection." Whatever glimpses some heathen philosophers, had of the
existence of the soul after death, they had none whatever of the body
(Ac 17:18, 20, 32).
14. For if--confirmation of his statement,
that the removal of ignorance as to the sleeping believers would
remove undue grief respecting them. See
"hope." Hence it appears our hope rests on our faith ("if
we believe"). "As surely as we all believe that Christ died and rose
again (the very doctrine specified as taught at Thessalonica,
so also will God bring those laid to sleep by Jesus with
Him (Jesus)." (So the order and balance of the members of the
Greek sentence require us to translate). Believers are laid in
sleep by Jesus, and so will be brought back from sleep with Jesus in
His train when He comes. The disembodied souls are not here spoken of;
the reference is to the sleeping bodies. The facts of Christ's
experience are repeated in the believer's. He died and then rose: so
believers shall die and then rise with Him. But in His case
death is the term used,
1Co 15:3, 6,
&c.; in theirs, sleep; because His death has taken for them the
sting from death. The same Hand that shall raise them is that which
laid them to sleep. "Laid to sleep by Jesus," answers to "dead
15. by the word of the Lord--Greek, "in," that is, in
virtue of a direct revelation from the Lord to me. So
This is the "mystery," a truth once hidden, now revealed, which Paul
(1Co 15:51, 52).
prevent--that is, "anticipate." So far were the early Christians
from regarding their departed brethren as anticipating them in
entering glory, that they needed to be assured that those who remain to
the coming of the Lord "will not anticipate them that are asleep." The
"we" means whichever of us are alive and remain unto the coming
of the Lord. The Spirit designed that believers in each successive age
should live in continued expectation of the Lord's coming, not knowing
but that they should be among those found alive at His coming
It is a sad fall from this blessed hope, that death is looked
for by most men, rather than the coming of our Lord. Each successive
generation in its time and place represents the generation which shall
actually survive till His coming
1Pe 4:5, 6).
The Spirit subsequently revealed by Paul that which is not inconsistent
with the expectation here taught of the Lord's coming at any time;
namely, that His coming would not be until there should be a "falling
(2Th 2:2, 3);
but as symptoms of this soon appeared, none could say but that still
this precursory event might be realized, and so the Lord come in his
day. Each successive revelation fills in the details of the general
outline first given. So Paul subsequently, while still looking mainly
for the Lord's coming to clothe him with his body from heaven, looks
for going to be with Christ in the meanwhile
Php 1:6, 23; 3:20, 21; 4:5).
EDMUNDS well says, The "we" is an affectionate
identifying of ourselves with our fellows of all ages, as members of
the same body, under the same Head, Christ Jesus. So
"God spake with us in Beth-el," that is, with Israel.
"We did rejoice," that is, Israel at the Red Sea
Though neither Hosea, nor David, was alive at the times referred to,
yet each identifies himself with those that were present.
16. himself--in all the Majesty of His presence in person, not by
descend--even as He ascended
with--Greek, "in," implying one concomitant circumstance attending
shout--Greek, "signal shout," "war shout." Jesus is represented
as a victorious King, giving the word of command to the hosts of heaven
in His train for the last onslaught, at His final triumph over sin,
death, and Satan
the voice of . . . archangel--distinct from the
"signal shout." Michael is perhaps meant
to whom especially is committed the guardianship of the people of God
trump of God--the trumpet blast which usually accompanies God's
manifestation in glory
here the last of the three accompaniments of His appearing: as the
trumpet was used to convene God's people to their solemn convocations
(Nu 10:2, 10; 31:6),
so here to summon God's elect together, preparatory to their
glorification with Christ
shall rise first--previously to the living being "caught up." The
"first" here has no reference to the first resurrection, as
contrasted with that of "the rest of the dead." That reference occurs
(Mt 13:41, 42, 50;
1Co 15:23, 24;
Re 20:5, 6);
it simply stands in opposition to "then,"
FIRST, "the dead in Christ" shall rise,
THEN the living shall be caught up. The
Lord's people alone are spoken of here.
17. we which are alive . . . shall be caught up--after
having been "changed in a moment"
(1Co 15:51, 52).
Again he says, "we," recommending thus the expression to Christians of
all ages, each generation bequeathing to the succeeding one a
continually increasing obligation to look for the coming of the Lord.
together with them--all together: the raised dead, and changed
living, forming one joint body.
in the clouds--Greek, "in clouds." The same honor is
conferred on them as on their Lord. As He was taken in a cloud at His
so at His return with clouds
they shall be caught up in clouds. The clouds are His and their
ELLICOTT explains the Greek, "robed round
by upbearing clouds" [Aids to Faith].
in the air--rather, "into the air"; caught up into
the region just above the earth, where the meeting (compare
Mt 25:1, 6)
shall take place between them ascending, and their Lord descending
towards the earth. Not that the air is to be the place of their
lasting abode with Him.
and so shall we ever be with the Lord--no more parting, and no more
His point being established, that the dead in Christ shall be on terms
of equal advantage with those found alive at Christ's coming, he leaves
undefined here the other events foretold elsewhere (as not being
necessary to his discussion), Christ's reign on earth with His saints
(1Co 6:2, 3),
the final judgment and glorification of His saints in the new heaven
18. comfort one another--in your mourning for the dead