Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
JOY AT THE
1. Wherefore--because of our earnest love to you
forbear--"endure" the suspense. The Greek is literally applied
to a watertight vessel. When we could no longer contain ourselves in our
yearning desire for you.
left at Athens
This implies that he sent Timothy from Athens, whither the
latter had followed him. However, the "we" favors ALFORD'S view that the determination to send Timothy was
formed during the hasty consultation of Paul, Silas, and Timothy,
previous to his departure from Berea, and that then he with them
"resolved" to be "left alone" at Athens, when he should arrive there:
Timothy and Silas not accompanying him, but remaining at Berea. Thus
will express that the act of sending Timothy, when he arrived at
Athens, was Paul's, while the determination that Paul should be
left alone at Athens, was that of the brethren as well as himself, at
Berea, whence he uses,
"we." The non-mention of Silas at Athens implies that he did not follow
Paul to Athens as was at first intended; but Timothy did. Thus the
Ac 17:14, 15,
accords with the Epistle. The word "left behind" (Greek) implies
that Timothy had been with him at Athens. It was an act of
self-denial for their sakes that Paul deprived himself of the presence
of Timothy at Athens, which would have been so cheering to him in the
midst of philosophic cavillers; but from love to the Thessalonians, he
is well content to be left all "alone" in the great city.
2. minister of God and our fellow labourer--Some oldest manuscripts
read, "fellow workman with God"; others, "minister of God." The former
is probably genuine, as copyists probably altered it to the latter to
avoid the bold phrase, which, however, is sanctioned by
The English Version reading is not well supported, and is
plainly compounded out of the two other readings. Paul calls Timothy
"our brother" here; but in
"my son." He speaks thus highly of one so lately ordained, both
to impress the Thessalonians with a high respect for the delegate sent
to them, and to encourage Timothy, who seems to have been of a timid
(1Ti 4:12; 5:23).
"Gospel ministers do the work of God with Him, for Him,
and under Him" [EDMUNDS].
establish--Greek, "confirm." In
GOD is said to "stablish": He is the true
establisher: ministers are His "instruments."
concerning--Greek, "in behalf of," that is, for the furtherance of your faith. The Greek for "comfort" includes also the idea,
"exhort." The Thessalonians in their trials needed both
3. moved--"shaken," "disturbed." The Greek is literally said of
dogs wagging the tail in fawning on one. Therefore
it, "That no man should, amidst his calamities, be allured by the
flattering hope of a more pleasant life to abandon his duty." So
BENGEL, "cajoled out of his faith." In afflictions, relatives
and opponents combine with the ease-loving heart itself in flatteries,
which it needs strong faith to overcome.
yourselves know--We always candidly told you so
None but a religion from God would have held out such a trying prospect
to those who should embrace it, and yet succeed in winning converts.
appointed thereunto--by God's counsel
4. that we should suffer--Greek, "that we are about (we
are sure) to suffer" according to the appointment of God
even as--"even (exactly) as it both came to pass
and ye know"; ye know both that it came to pass,
and that we foretold it (compare
The correspondence of the event to the prediction powerfully confirms
faith: "Forewarned, forearmed" [EDMUNDS]. The
repetition of "ye know," so frequently, is designed as an argument,
that being forewarned of coming affliction, they should be less readily
"moved" by it.
5. For this cause--Because I know of your "tribulation" having
when I--Greek, "when I also
(as well as Timothy, who, Paul
delicately implies, was equally anxious respecting them, compare "we,"
could no longer contain myself (endure the suspense)."
I sent--Paul was the actual sender; hence the "I" here: Paul,
Silas, and Timothy himself had agreed on the mission already, before
Paul went to Athens: hence the "we," (see on
to know--to learn the state of your faith, whether it stood the
lest . . . have tempted . . . and
. . . be--The indicative is used in the former sentence,
the subjunctive in the latter. Translate therefore, "To know
. . . whether haply the tempter have tempted
you (the indicative implying that he supposed such was the case), and
lest (in that case) our labor may prove to be in vain"
Our labor in preaching would in that case be vain, so far as ye
are concerned, but not as concerns us in so far as we
have sincerely labored
6. Join "now" with "come"; "But Timotheus having just now
come from you unto us" [ALFORD]. Thus it
Paul is writing from Corinth.
your faith and charity--
whence it seems their faith subsequently increased still more).
Faith was the solid foundation: charity the cement which
held together the superstructure of their practice on that foundation.
In that charity was included their "good (kindly) remembrance"
of their teachers.
desiring greatly--Greek, "having a yearning desire for."
we also--The desires of loving friends for one another's presence
7. over you--in respect to you.
in--in the midst of: notwithstanding "all our distress
(Greek, 'necessity') and affliction," namely, external trials at
Corinth, whence Paul writes (compare
with Ac 18:5-10).
8. now--as the case is; seeing ye stand fast.
we live--we flourish. It revives us in our affliction to hear of
if--implying that the vivid joy which the missionaries "now" feel,
will continue if the Thessalonians continue steadfast. They still
therefore he subjoins the conditional clause, "if ye," &c.
9. For what thanks--what sufficient thanks?
render . . . again--in return for His goodness
for you--"concerning you."
for all the joy--on account of all the joy. It was "comfort,"
now it is more, namely, joy.
for your sakes--on your account.
before our God--It is a joy which will bear God's searching eye: a
joy as in the presence of God, not self-seeking, but disinterested,
sincere, and spiritual (compare
10. Night and day--(See on
Night is the season for the saint's holiest meditations and prayers
praying--connected with, "we joy"; we joy while we pray; or else
as ALFORD, What thanks can we render to God
while we pray? The Greek implies a beseeching
exceedingly--literally, "more than exceeding abundantly" (compare
that which is lacking--Even the Thessalonians had points in which
they needed improvement [BENGEL],
Their doctrinal views as to the nearness of Christ's coming, and as to
the state of those who had fallen asleep, and their practice in some
points, needed correction
Paul's method was to begin by commending what was praiseworthy, and
then to correct what was amiss; a good pattern to all admonishers of
11. Translate, "May God Himself, even our Father
(there being but one article in the Greek, requires this
translation, 'He who is at once God and our Father'), direct," &c. The
"Himself" stands in contrast with "we"
we desired to come but could not through Satan's hindrance; but
if God Himself direct our way (as we pray), none can hinder Him
(2Th 2:16, 17).
It is a remarkable proof of the unity of the Father and Son,
that in the Greek here, and in
2Th 2:16, 17,
the verb is singular, implying that the subject, the Father and
Son, are but one in essential Being, not in mere unity of will.
Almost all the chapters in both Epistles to the Thessalonians are
sealed, each with its own prayer
2Th 1:11; 2:16; 3:5, 16)
[BENGEL]. Paul does not think the prosperous issue
of a journey an unfit subject for prayer
(Ro 1:10; 15:32)
[EDMUNDS]. His prayer, though the answer was
deferred, in about five years afterwards was fulfilled in his return to
12. The "you" in the Greek is emphatically put first; "But"
(so the Greek for "and") what concerns "YOU,"
whether we come or
not, "may the Lord make you to increase and abound in love," &c. The
Greek for "increase" has a more positive force; that for
"abound" a more comparative force, "make you full (supplying
'that which is lacking,'
and even abound." "The Lord" may here be the Holy Spirit; so the Three
Persons of the Trinity will be appealed to (compare
So the Holy Ghost is called "the Lord"
"Love" is the fruit of the Spirit
and His office is "to stablish in holiness"
13. your hearts--which are naturally the spring and seat of
before God, even our Father--rather, "before Him who is at once God
and our Father." Before not merely men, but Him who will not be deceived
by the mere show of holiness, that is, may your holiness be such as will
stand His searching scrutiny.
coming--Greek, "presence," or "arrival."
with all his saints--including both the holy angels and the holy elect
The saints are "His"
We must have "holiness" if we are to be numbered with His holy ones or
"saints." On "unblameable," compare
This verse (compare
shows that "love" is the spring of true "holiness"
God is He who really "stablishes"; Timothy and other ministers are but