John Wesley's Explanatory Notes
Verse 1. But of the precise times when this shall be.
Verse 2. For this in general ye do know; and ye can and need know no more.
Verse 3. When they - The men of the world say.
Verse 4. Ye are not in darkness - Sleeping secure in sin.
Verse 6. Awake, and keep awake - Being awakened, let us have all our spiritual senses about us.
Verse 7. They usually sleep and are drunken in the night - These things do not love the light.
Verse 9. God hath not appointed us to wrath - As he hath the obstinately impenitent.
Verse 10. Whether we wake or sleep - Be alive or dead at his coming.
Verse 12. Know them that, 1. Labour among you: 2. Are over you in the Lord: 3. Admonish you. Know - See, mark, take knowledge of them and their work. Sometimes the same person may both labour, that is, preach; be over, or govern; and admonish the flock by particular application to each: sometimes two or more different persons, according as God variously dispenses his gifts. But O, what a misery is it when a man undertakes this whole work without either gifts or graces for any part of it! Why, then, will he undertake it? for pay? What! will he sell both his own soul and all the souls of the flock? What words can describe such a wretch as this? And yet even this may be "an honourable man!"
Verse 13. Esteem them very highly - Literally, more than abundantly, in love - The inexpressible sympathy that is between true pastors and their flock is intimated, not only here, but also in divers other places of this epistle. See 1 Thessalonians 2:7,8. For their work's sake - The principal ground of their vast regard for them. But how are we to esteem them who do not work at all?
Verse 14. Warn the disorderly - Them that stand, as it were, out of their rank in the spiritual warfare. Some such were even in that church. The feeble-minded - Literally, them of little soul; such as have no spiritual courage.
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Verse 15. See that none|-Watch over both yourselves and each other. Follow that which is good - Do it resolutely and perseveringly.
Verse 16. Rejoice evermore - In uninterrupted happiness in God. Pray without ceasing - Which is the fruit of always rejoicing in the Lord. In everything give thanks - Which is the fruit of both the former. This is Christian perfection. Farther than this we cannot go; and we need not stop short of it. Our Lord has purchased joy, as well as righteousness, for us. It is the very design of the gospel that, being saved from guilt, we should be happy in the love of Christ. Prayer may be said to be the breath of our spiritual life. He that lives cannot possibly cease breathing. So much as we really enjoy of the presence of God, so much prayer and praise do we offer up without ceasing; else our rejoicing is but delusion. Thanksgiving is inseparable from true prayer: it is almost essentially connected with it. He that always prays is ever giving praise, whether in ease or pain, both for prosperity and for the greatest adversity. He blesses God for all things, looks on them as coming from him, and receives them only for his sake; not choosing nor refusing, liking nor disliking, anything, but only as it is agreeable or disagreeable to his perfect will.
Verse 18. For this - That you should thus rejoice, pray, give thanks. Is the will of God - Always good, always pointing at our salvation.
Verse 19. Quench not the Spirit - Wherever it is, it burns; it flames in holy love, in joy, prayer, thanksgiving. O quench it not, damp it not in yourself or others, either by neglecting to do good, or by doing evil!
Verse 20. Despise not prophesyings - That is, preaching; for the apostle is not here speaking of extraordinary gifts. It seems, one means of grace is put for all; and whoever despises any of these, under whatever pretence, will surely (though perhaps gradually and almost insensibly) quench the Spirit.
Verse 21. Meantime, prove all things - Which any preacher recommends. (He speaks of practice, not of doctrines.) Try every advice by the touchstone of scripture, and hold fast that which is good - Zealously, resolutely, diligently practise it, in spite of all opposition.
Verse 22. And be equally zealous and careful to abstain from all appearance of evil - Observe, those who "heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears," under pretence of proving all things, have no countenance or excuse from this scripture.
Verse 23. And may the God of peace sanctify you - By the peace he works in you, which is a great means of sanctification. Wholly - The word signifies wholly and perfectly; every part and all that concerns you; all that is of or about you. And may the whole of you, the spirit and the soul and the body - Just before he said you; now he denominates them from their spiritual state. The spirit - Galatians 6:8; wishing that it may be preserved whole and entire: then from their natural state, the soul and the body; (for these two make up the whole nature of man, Matthew 10:28;) wishing it may be preserved blameless till the coming of Christ. To explain this a little further: of the three here mentioned, only the two last are the natural constituent parts of man. The first is adventitious, and the supernatural gift of God, to be found in Christians only. That man cannot possibly consist of three parts, appears hence: The soul is either matter or not matter: there is no medium. But if it is matter, it is part of the body: if not matter, it coincides with the Spirit.
Verse 24. Who also will do it - Unless you quench the Spirit.
Verse 27. I charge you by the Lord - Christ, to whom proper divine worship is here paid. That this epistle - The first he wrote. Be read to all the brethren - That is, in all the churches. They might have concealed it out of modesty, had not this been so solemnly enjoined: but what Paul commands under so strong an adjuration, Rome forbids under pain of excommunication.