Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
RECEPTION OF THE
1. Paul--He does not add "an apostle," because in their case, as
in that of the Philippians (see on
his apostolic authority needs not any substantiation. He writes
familiarly as to faithful friends, not but that his apostleship was
recognized among them
On the other hand, in writing to the Galatians, among whom some had
called in question his apostleship, he strongly asserts it in the
superscription. An undesigned propriety in the Epistles, evincing
Silvanus--a "chief man among the brethren"
and a "prophet"
and one of the deputies who carried the decree of the Jerusalem council
to Antioch. His age and position cause him to be placed before
"Timothy," then a youth
Silvanus (the Gentile expanded form of "Silas") is called in
"a faithful brother" (compare
They both aided in planting the Thessalonian Church, and are therefore
included in the address. This, the first of Paul's Epistles, as being
written before various evils crept into the churches, is without the
censures found in other Epistles. So realizing was their Christian
faith, that they were able hourly to look for the Lord Jesus.
unto the church--not merely as in the Epistles to Romans,
Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians, "to the saints," or "the faithful
at Thessalonica." Though as yet they do not seem to have had the
final Church organization under permanent "bishops" and
deacons, which appears in the later Epistles (See on
Yet he designates them by the honorable term "Church," implying their
status as not merely isolated believers, but a corporate body with
in--implying vital union.
God the Father--This marks that they were no longer heathen.
the Lord Jesus Christ--This marks that they were not Jews, but
Grace be unto you, and peace--that ye may have in God that
favor and peace which men withhold
[ANSELM]. This is the salutation
in all the Epistles of Paul, except the three pastoral ones, which have
"grace, mercy, and peace." Some of the oldest manuscripts support,
others omit the clause following, "from God our Father and the Lord
Jesus Christ." It may have crept in from
The structure of the sentences in this and the following verses, each
successive sentence repeating with greater fulness the preceding,
characteristically marks Paul's abounding love and thankfulness in
respect to his converts, as if he were seeking by words heaped on words
to convey some idea of his exuberant feelings towards them.
We--I, Silvanus, and Timotheus.
supports ALFORD in translating, "making mention of
you in our prayers without ceasing"
Thus, "without ceasing," in the second clause, answers in parallelism
to "always," in the first.
3. work of faith--the working reality of your faith; its alacrity
in receiving the truth, and in evincing itself by its fruits. Not
an otiose assent; but a realizing, working faith; not "in word only,"
but in one continuous chain of "work" (singular, not plural,
So "the work of faith" in
implies its perfect development (compare
The other governing substantives similarly mark respectively the
characteristic manifestation of the grace which follows each in the
genitive. Faith, love, and hope, are the three great Christian
labour of love--The Greek implies toil, or
troublesome labor, which we are stimulated by love to bear
For instances of self-denying labors of love, see
Not here ministerial labors. Those who shun trouble for others,
love little (compare
patience--Translate, "endurance of hope"; the
persevering endurance of trials which flows from "hope."
shows that "patience" also nourishes "hope."
hope in our Lord Jesus--literally, "hope of our Lord Jesus,"
namely, of His coming
a hope that looked forward beyond all present things for the
manifestation of Christ.
in the sight of God and our Father--Your "faith, hope, and love"
were not merely such as would pass for genuine before men, but
"in the sight of God," the Searcher of hearts
[GOMARUS]. Things are really what they are before
God. BENGEL takes this clause with "remembering."
Whenever we pray, we remember before God your faith,
hope, and love. But its separation from "remembering" in the order, and
its connection with "your . . . faith," &c., make me to
prefer the former view.
and, &c.--The Greek implies, "in the sight of Him who is
[at once] God and our Father."
4. Knowing--Forasmuch as we know.
your election of God--The Greek is rather, "beloved by
"Your election" means that God has elected you as individual
believers to eternal life
(Ro 11:5, 7;
5. our gospel--namely, the Gospel which we preached.
came--Greek, "was made," namely, by God, its Author and Sender.
God's having made our preaching among you to be attended with such
"power," is the proof that you are "elect of God"
in power--in the efficacy of the Holy Spirit clothing us with power
(see end of verse;
Ac 1:8; 4:33; 6:5, 8)
in preaching the Gospel, and making it in you the power of God unto
As "power" produces faith; so "the Holy Ghost," love; and
full persuasion), hope
resting on faith
So faith, love, and hope
as ye know--answering to the "knowing," that is, as
your character as the elect of God, so YE
know ours as preachers.
for your sake--The purpose herein indicated is not so much that of
the apostles, as that of God. "You know what
God enabled us to be . . . how mighty in preaching the word . . . for
your sakes . . . thereby proving that He had chosen
you for His own" [ALFORD]. I think, from
that, in "what manner of men we were among you," besides the power
in preaching, there is included also Paul's and his fellow
missionaries' whole conduct which confirmed their preaching; and
in this sense, the "for your sake" will mean "in order to win you."
This, though not the sole, yet would be a strong, motive to holy
circumspection, namely, so as to win those without
6. And ye--answering to "For our Gospel,"
followers--Greek, "imitators." The Thessalonians in their
turn became "ensamples"
for others to imitate.
of the Lord--who was the apostle of the Father, and taught the
word, which He brought from heaven, under adversities
[BENGEL]. This was the point in which they
imitated Him and His apostles, joyful witness for the word in
much affliction: the second proof of their election of God
is the first (see on
received the word in much affliction--
(1Th 2:14; 3:2-5;
joy of--that is, wrought by "the Holy Ghost." "The oil of
gladness" wherewith the Son of God was "anointed above His fellows"
is the same oil with which He, by the Spirit, anoints His fellows too
(Isa 61:1, 3;
1Jo 2:20, 27).
7. ensamples--So some of the oldest manuscripts read. Others,
"ensample" (singular), the whole Church being regarded as one. The
Macedonian Church of Philippi was the only one in Europe converted
before the Thessalonians. Therefore he means their past conduct is an
ensample to all believers now; of whom he specifies those "in Macedonia"
because he had been there since the conversion of the Thessalonians, and
had left Silvanus and Timotheus there; and those in "Achaia," because he
was now at Corinth in Achaia.
8. from you sounded . . . the word of the Lord--not
that they actually became missionaries: but they, by the report
which spread abroad of their "faith" (compare
and by Christian merchants of Thessalonica who travelled in various
directions, bearing "the word of the Lord" with them, were
virtually missionaries, recommending the Gospel to all within
reach of their influence by word and by example
In "sounded," the image is that of a trumpet filling with its
clear-sounding echo all the surrounding places.
to God-ward--no longer directed to idols.
so that we need not to speak any thing--to them in praise of your
they themselves" (the people in Macedonia, Achaia, and in every place)
know it already.
9. Strictly there should follow, "For they themselves show of
you," &c.; but, instead, he substitutes that which was the instrumental
cause of the Thessalonians' conversion and faith, "for they themselves
show of us what manner of entering in we had unto you"; compare
which corresponds to this former clause, as
corresponds to the latter clause. "And how ye turned from idols to
serve the living . . . God," &c. Instead of our having
"to speak any thing" to them (in Macedonia and Achaia) in your praise
"they themselves (have the start of us in speaking of you, and)
announce concerning (so the Greek of 'show of' means) us,
what manner of (how effectual an) entrance we had unto you"
(1Th 1:5; 2:1).
the living and true God--as opposed to the dead and
false gods from which they had "turned." In the English
"of the devout Greeks a great multitude," no mention is made, as
here, of the conversion of idolatrous Gentiles at Thessalonica;
but the reading of some of the oldest manuscripts and Vulgate
singularly coincides with the statement here: "Of the devout AND of Greeks (namely, idolaters) a great
multitude"; so in
"the devout persons," that is, Gentile proselytes to Judaism, form a
separate class. PALEY and LACHMANN, by distinct lines of argument, support the
10. This verse distinguishes them from the Jews, as
from the idolatrous Gentiles. To wait for the Lord's coming is a
sure characteristic of a true believer, and was prominent amidst the
graces of the Thessalonians
(1Co 1:7, 8).
His coming is seldom called his return
because the two advents are regarded as different phases of the same
coming; and the second coming shall have features altogether new
connected with it, so that it will not be a mere repetition of the
first, or a mere coming back again.
his Son . . . raised from the dead--the grand proof of
His divine Sonship
delivered--rather as Greek, "who delivereth us." Christ has
once for all redeemed us; He is our Deliverer
wrath to come--