Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
He discusses the manner of his fellow missionaries' preaching among
and former part of
and the Thessalonians' reception of the word (compare
1Th 1:6, 7,
and latter part of
yourselves--Not only do strangers report it, but you know it to
be true [ALFORD] "yourselves."
not in vain--Greek, "not vain," that is, it was full of
The Greek for "was," expresses rather "hath been and is,"
implying the permanent and continuing character of his
2. even after that we had suffered before--at Philippi
a circumstance which would have deterred mere natural, unspiritual men
from further preaching.
shamefully entreated--ignominiously scourged
(Ac 16:22, 23).
in our God--The ground of our boldness in speaking was the
realization of God as "OUR God."
with much contention--that is, literally, as of
competitors in a contest: striving earnestness
(Col 1:29; 2:1).
But here outward conflict with persecutors, rather than
inward and mental, was what the missionaries had to endure
(Ac 17:5, 6;
3. For--The ground of his "boldness"
his freedom from all "deceit, uncleanness, and guile"; guile,
before God, deceit (Greek, "imposture"), towards men
2Co 1:12; 2:17;
uncleanness, in relation to one's self (impure motives of carnal
self-gratification in gain,
or lust; such as actuated false teachers of the Gentiles
2Pe 2:10, 14;
Re 2:14, 15).
So Simon Magus and Cerinthus taught [ESTIUS].
exhortation--The Greek means "consolation" as well as
"exhortation." The same Gospel which exhorts comforts. Its first lesson
to each is that of peace in believing amidst outward and inward sorrows.
It comforts them that mourn (compare
Isa 61:2, 3;
2Co 1:3, 4).
of--springing from--having its source in--deceit, &c.
4. as--according as; even as.
allowed--Greek, "We have been approved on trial," "deemed
fit." This word corresponds to "God which trieth our hearts"
below. This approval as to sincerity depends solely on the grace and
mercy of God
1Ti 1:11, 12).
not as pleasing--not as persons who seek to please men;
characteristic of false teachers
5. used we flattering words--literally, "become (that is, have we been
(the use of) language of flattery"; the resource of those who
try to "please men."
as ye know--"Ye know" as to whether I flattered you; as to
"covetousness," GOD, the Judge of the heart, alone can be "my witness."
cloak of--that is, any specious guise under which I might cloak
6. Literally, "Nor of men (have we been found,
seeking glory." The "of" here represents a different Greek word
from "of" in the clause "of you . . . of
others." ALFORD makes the former (Greek,
"ex") express the abstract ground of the glory; the
latter (apo) the concrete object from which it was to
come. The former means "originating from"; the latter means "on the
part of." Many teach heretical novelties, though not for fain, yet for
"glory." Paul and his associates were free even from this motive
we might have been burdensome--that is, by claiming maintenance
2Co 11:9; 12:16;
As, however, "glory" precedes, as well as "covetousness," the reference
cannot be restricted to the latter, though I think it is not
excluded. Translate, "when we might have borne heavily upon
you," by pressing you with the weight of self-glorifying
authority, and with the burden of our sustenance.
Thus the antithesis is appropriate in the words following, "But we were
gentle (the opposite of pressing weightily) among you"
On weight being connected with authority, compare Note,
"His letters are weighty"
ALFORD'S translation, which excludes
reference to his right of claiming maintenance ("when we might
have stood on our dignity"), seems to me disproved by
which uses the same Greek word unequivocally for "chargeable."
Twice he received supplies from Philippi while at Thessalonica
as the apostles--that is, as being apostles.
7. we were--Greek, "we were made" by God's grace.
gentle--Greek, "mild in bearing with the faults of
others" [TITTMANN]; one, too, who is gentle
(though firm) in reproving the erroneous opinions of others
Some of the oldest manuscripts read, "we became little children"
Mt 18:3, 4).
Others support the English Version reading, which forms a better
1Th 2:6, 7,
and harmonizes better with what follows; for he would hardly, in the
same sentence, compare himself both to the "infants" or "little
children," and to "a nurse," or rather, "suckling mother."
Gentleness is the fitting characteristic of a nurse.
among you--Greek, "in the midst of you," that is, in our
intercourse with you being as one of yourselves.
nurse--a suckling mother.
her--Greek, "her own children" (compare
8. So--to be joined to "we were willing"; "As a nurse
cherisheth . . . so we were willing," &c.
"So," that is, seeing that we have such affection for you.
being affectionately desirous--The oldest reading in the
Greek implies, literally, to connect one's self with
another; to be closely attached to another.
willing--The Greek is stronger, "we were well
content"; "we would gladly have imparted," &c. "even our own
lives" (so the Greek for "souls" ought to be translated);
as we showed in the sufferings we endured in giving you the Gospel
As a nursing mother is ready to impart not only her milk to them, but
her life for them, so we not only imparted gladly the spiritual milk of
the word to you, but risked our own lives for your spiritual
nourishment, imitating Him who laid down His life for His friends, the
greatest proof of love
ye were--Greek, "ye were become," as having become our spiritual
dear--Greek, "dearly beloved."
9. labour and travail--The Greek for "labor" means
hardship in bearing; that for "travail," hardship in doing; the
former, toil with the utmost solicitude; the latter, the being wearied
with fatigue [GROTIUS].
ZANCHIUS refers the former to spiritual (see
the latter to manual labor. I would translate, "weariness (so
the Greek is translated,
and travail" (hard labor, toil).
for--omitted in the oldest manuscripts.
labouring--Greek, "working," namely, at tent-making
night and day--The Jews reckoned the day from sunset to sunset, so
that "night" is put before "day" (compare
Their labors with their hands for a scanty livelihood had to be engaged
in not only by day, but by night also, in the intervals between
because we would not be chargeable--Greek, "with a view to not burdening any of you"
(2Co 11:9, 10).
preached unto you--Greek, "unto and among you." Though
but "three Sabbaths" are mentioned,
these refer merely to the time of his preaching to the Jews in the
synagogue. When rejected by them as a body, after having converted
a few Jews, he turned to the Gentiles; of these (whom he preached to in
a place distinct from the synagogue) "a great multitude believed"
where the oldest manuscripts read, "of the devout [proselytes] and
Greeks a great multitude"); then after he had, by labors continued
among the Gentiles for some time, gathered in many converts, the
Jews, provoked by his success, assaulted Jason's house, and drove him
away. His receiving "once and again" supplies from Philippi, implies a
longer stay at Thessalonica than three weeks
10. Ye are witnesses--as to our outward conduct.
God--as to our inner motives.
unblamably--in relation to ourselves.
behaved ourselves--Greek, "were made to be," namely, by God.
among you that believe--rather, "before (that is, in the eyes
of) you that believe"; whatever we may have seemed in the eyes of the
refers to their outward occupation in the world; so
to their character among believers.
11. exhorted and comforted--Exhortation leads one to do a
thing willingly; consolation, to do it joyfully
Even in the former term, "exhorted," the Greek includes the
additional idea of comforting and advocating one's cause:
"encouragingly exhorted." Appropriate in this case, as the Thessalonians
were in sorrow, both through persecutions, and also through deaths of
charged--"conjured solemnly," literally, "testifying";
appealing solemnly to you before God.
every one of you--in private
as well as publicly. The minister, if he would be useful, must not
deal merely in generalities, but must individualize and particularize.
as a father--with mild gravity. The Greek is,
"his own children."
12. worthy of God--"worthy of the Lord"
"worthily of the saints"
Greek): ". . . of the Gospel"
". . . of the vocation wherewith ye are called"
Inconsistency would cause God's name to be "blasphemed among the
The Greek article is emphatical, "Worthy of
THE God who is calling you."
hath called--So one of the oldest manuscripts and Vulgate. Other
oldest manuscripts, "Who calleth us."
his kingdom--to be set up at the Lord's coming.
glory--that ye may share His glory
13. For this cause--Seeing ye have had such teachers
[BENGEL], "we also (as well as 'all that believe'
in Macedonia and Achaia) thank God without ceasing ('always'
. . . 'in our prayers,'
that when ye received the word of God which ye heard from us
(literally, 'God's word of hearing from us,'
Ro 10:16, 17),
ye accepted it not as the word of men, but, even as it is truly, the
word of God." ALFORD omits the "as" of English
Version. But the "as" is required by the clause, "even as it is
truly." "Ye accepted it, not (as) the word of men (which it
might have been supposed to be), but (as) the word of God,
even as it really is." The Greek for the first
"received," implies simply the hearing of it; the Greek of the
second is "accepted," or "welcomed" it. The proper object of faith, it
hence appears, is the word of God, at first oral, then for
security against error, written
(Joh 20:30, 31;
Also, that faith is the work of divine grace, is implied by
effectually worketh also in you that believe--"Also," besides your
accepting it with your hearts, it evidences itself in your lives. It
shows its energy in its practical effects on you; for instance,
working in you patient endurance in trial
Ga 3:5; 5:6).
14. followers--Greek, "imitators." Divine working is most of
all seen and felt in affliction.
in Judea--The churches of Judea were naturally the patterns to
other churches, as having been the first founded, and that on the very
scene of Christ's own ministry. Reference to them is specially
appropriate here, as the Thessalonians, with Paul and Silas, had
experienced from Jews in their city persecutions
similar to those which "the churches in Judea" experienced from Jews in
in Christ Jesus--not merely "in God"; for the synagogues of the
Jews (one of which the Thessalonians were familiar with,
were also in God. But the Christian churches alone were not only
in God, as the Jews in contrast to the Thessalonian idolaters
were, but also in Christ, which the Jews were not.
of your own countrymen--including primarily the Jews settled at
Thessalonica, from whom the persecution originated, and also the
Gentiles there, instigated by the Jews; thus, "fellow countrymen" (the
Greek term, according to Herodian, implies, not the
enduring relation of fellow citizenship, but sameness of country
for the time being), including naturalized Jews and native
Thessalonians, stand in contrast to the pure "Jews" in Judea
It is an undesigned coincidence, that Paul at this time was suffering
persecutions of the Jews at Corinth, whence he writes
(Ac 18:5, 6, 12);
naturally his letter would the more vividly dwell on Jewish bitterness
even as they--
There was a likeness in respect to the nation from which
both suffered, namely, Jews, and those their own countrymen; in
the cause for which, and in the evils which, they
suffered, and also in the steadfast manner in which they
suffered them. Such sameness of fruits, afflictions, and experimental
characteristics of believers, in all places and at all times, is a
subsidiary evidence of the truth of the Gospel.
15. the Lord Jesus--rather as Greek, "Jesus
THE LORD." This enhances the
glaring enormity of their sin, that in killing Jesus they killed the
Ac 3:14, 15).
their own--omitted in the oldest manuscripts.
(Mt 21:33-41; 23:31-37;
persecuted us--rather as Greek (see Margin), "By persecution
drove us out"
please not God--that is, they do not make it their aim to
please God. He implies that with all their boast of being God's
peculiar people, they all the while are "no pleasers of God," as
certainly as, by the universal voice of the world, which even they
themselves cannot contradict, they are declared to be perversely
"contrary to all men." JOSEPHUS [Against
Apion, 2.14], represents one calling them "Atheists and
Misanthropes, the dullest of barbarians"; and
TACITUS [Histories, 5.5], "They have a
hostile hatred of all other men." However, the contrariety to all
men here meant is, in that they "forbid us to speak to the
Gentiles that they may be saved"
16. Forbidding--Greek, "Hindering us from speaking," &c.
to fill up their sins alway--Tending thus "to the filling up (the
full measure of,
their sins at all times," that is, now as at all former times.
Their hindrance of the Gospel preaching to the Gentiles was the last
measure added to their continually accumulating iniquity, which made
them fully ripe for vengeance.
for--Greek, "but." "But," they shall proceed no further, for
"the" divine "wrath has (so the Greek) come upon
(overtaken unexpectedly; the past tense expressing the speedy certainty
of the divinely destined stroke) them to the uttermost"; not merely
partial wrath, but wrath to its full extent, "even to the finishing
stroke" [EDMUNDS]. The past tense implies that
the fullest visitation of wrath was already begun. Already in A.D. 48, a tumult had occurred at the Passover in
Jerusalem, when about thirty thousand (according to some) were slain; a
foretaste of the whole vengeance which speedily followed
(Lu 19:43, 44; 21:24).
17. But we--resumed from
in contrast to the Jews,
1Th 2:15, 16.
taken--rather as Greek, "severed (violently,
from you," as parents bereft of their children. So "I will not leave
you comfortless," Greek, "orphanized"
for a short time--literally, "for the space of an hour." "When we
had been severed from you but a very short time (perhaps alluding to the
suddenness of his unexpected departure), we the more abundantly
(the shorter was our separation; for the desire of meeting again is the more
vivid, the more recent has been the parting) endeavored," &c.
He does not hereby, as many explain, anticipate a short separation from
them, which would be a false anticipation; for he did not soon revisit
them. The Greek past participle also forbids their view.
18. Wherefore--The oldest manuscripts read, "Because," or "Inasmuch
we would--Greek, "we wished to come"; we intended to come.
even I Paul--My fellow missionaries as well as myself wished to
come; I can answer for myself that I intended it more than once.
His slightly distinguishing himself here from his fellow missionaries,
whom throughout this Epistle he associates with himself in the plural,
accords with the fact that Silvanus and Timothy stayed at Berea when
Paul went on to Athens; where subsequently Timothy joined him, and was
thence sent by Paul alone to Thessalonica
Satan hindered us--On a different occasion "the Holy Ghost, the
Spirit of Jesus" (so the oldest manuscripts read),
Ac 16:6, 7,
forbad or hindered them in a missionary design; here it is
Satan, acting perhaps by wicked men, some of whom had already
driven him out of Thessalonica
(Ac 17:13, 14;
or else by some more direct "messenger of Satan--a thorn in the flesh"
In any event, the Holy Ghost and the providence of God overruled
Satan's opposition to further His own purpose. We cannot, in
each case, define whence hindrances in good undertakings arise;
Paul in this case, by inspiration, was enabled to say; the
hindrance was from Satan. GROTIUS thinks Satan's
mode of hindering Paul's journey to Thessalonica was by instigating the
Stoic and Epicurean philosophers to cavil, which entailed on Paul the
necessity of replying, and so detained him; but he seems to have left
(Ac 17:33, 34; 18:1).
The Greek for "hindered" is literally, "to cut a trench between
one's self and an advancing foe, to prevent his progress"; so Satan
opposing the progress of the missionaries.
19. For--giving the reason for his earnest desire to see them.
Are not even ye in the presence of . . .
Christ--"Christ" is omitted in the oldest manuscripts. Are not even
ye (namely, among others; the "even" or "also," implies that not
they alone will be his crown) our hope, joy, and crown of
rejoicing before Jesus, when He shall come
Php 2:16; 4:1)?
The "hope" here meant is his hope (in a lower sense), that these his
converts might be found in Christ at His advent
Paul's chief "hope" was JESUS
20. Emphatical repetition with increased force. Who but ye and our
other converts are our hope, &c., hereafter, at Christ's
coming? For it is ye who ARE
now our glory and joy.