RPM, Volume 18, Number 43, October 16 to October 22, 2016

Barnes' New Testament Notes

Notes on the New Testament
Explanatory and Practical
Part 76

By Albert Barnes




THESSALONICA was a city and sea-port of Macedonia. It was at the head of tile bay Thermaicus, or the Gulf of Thessalonica, (see the map prefixed to the Notes on the Acts of the Apostles,) and was, therefore, favourably situated for commerce. It was on the great AEgean Way; was possessed of an excellent harbour, and had great advantages for commerce through the Hellespont, and with Asia Minor and the adjacent countries. It was south-west of Philippi and Amphipolis, and a short distance north-east of Berea. Macedonia was an independent country until it was subdued by the Romans. The occasion of the wars which led to its conquest by the Romans was, an alliance which was formed by Philip II. with Carthage, during the second Punic war. The Romans delayed their revenge for a season; but Philip having laid siege to Athens, the Athenians called the Romans to their aid, and they declared war against the Macedonians. Philip was compelled to sue for peace, to surrender his vessels, to reduce his army to 500 men, and to defray the expenses of the war. Perseus, the successor of Philip, took up arms against the Romans, and was totally defeated at Pydna by Paulus AEmilius, and the Romans took possession of the country. Indignant at their oppression, the Macedonian nobility and the whole nation rebelled under Andriscus; but, after a long struggle, they were overcome by Quintus Caecilius, surnamed, from his conquest, Macedonius, and the country became a Roman province, B.C. 148. It was divided into four districts, and the city of Thessalonica was made the capital of the second division, and was the station of a Roman governor and questor. At the time, therefore, that the gospel was preached there, this whole country was subject to Roman authority.

The city, called, when Paul visited it, Thessalonica, was anciently called Therme, and by this name was known in the times of Herodotus, Thucydides, and AEschines. We are informed, by Strabo, that Cassander changed the name of Therme to Thessalonica, in honour of his wife, who was a daughter of Philip. Others have said that the name was given to it by Philip himself, in memory of a victory which he obtained over the armies of Thessaly. In the time of Brutus and Cassius it was a city of so much importance that the promise of being permitted to plunder the city, as the reward of victory, infused new courage into their armies. The city was inhabited by Greeks, Romans, and Jews. It adored many gods, but particularly Jupiter, as the father of Hercules, the alleged founder of its ancient royal family. It had a celebrated amphitheatre, where gladiatorial shows were exhibited for the amusement of the citizens, and a circus for public games. The Roman part of the population was, of course, introduced after the conquest, and it is impossible now to estimate the relative number of the Greeks and the Romans in the time when the gospel was preached there. In common with most of the other cities of Greece, a considerable number of Jews resided there, who had a synagogue at the time when the city was visited by Paul, Ac 17:1. Little is known of the morals of the place, but there is reason to believe that it was somewhat distinguished for dissoluteness of manners. "The females, particularly, could claim little credit on the score of modest, retiring demeanour; for this virtue was in so low estimation in the city, that the place was selected as the scene of the wanton fancies of the satirist." (Lucian.) See Hug. Intro.

The name of the place now is Saloniki. It is a Turkish commercial town, and contains about 70,000 inhabitants. Its situation and appearance are thus described by Dr. Clarke. "The walls of Salonica give a very remarkable appearance to the town, and cause it to be seen at a great distance, being white-washed; and what is still more extraordinary, they are painted. They extend in a semi-circular manner from the sea, enclosing the whole of the buildings within a peribolus, whose circuit is five or six miles; but a great part of the space within the walls is void. It is one of the few remaining cities which has preserved the ancient form of its fortifications; the mural turrets yet standing, and the walls that support them, being entire. The antiquity is, perhaps, unknown, for, though they have been ascribed to the Greek emperors, it is very evident they were constructed in two distinct periods of time: the old Cyclopean masonry remaining in the lower parts of them, surmounted by an upper structure of brickwork. Like all the ancient and modern cities of Greece, its wretched aspect within is forcibly contrasted with the beauty of its external appearance. The houses are generally built of unburnt bricks, and, for the most part, they are no better than so many hovels." It is, however, a flourishing commercial town, from which is exported the corn, cotton, wool, tobacco, bees'-wax, and silk of Macedonia. It is the seat of a pasha, and has still among its population a considerable proportion of Jews. Rabbi Benjamin of Tudela, who visited it in A.D. 1160, describes it, under the name of Salunki, and says that it was built by Seleucus, one of the four Greek nobles who arose after Alexander; and that when he visited it, it was "a large city containing about five hundred Jewish inhabitants." "The Jews," says he, "are much oppressed in this place, and live by the exercise of handicrafts." Itinerary, vol. i. 49, 50. Ed. 1840. He describes it as having, at that time, more Jewish inhabitants than any other town in Greece, Thebes alone excepted. It is said at present to contain about 20,000 Jewish inhabitants. Its favourable situation for commerce is probably the cause of the numerous assemblage of the Jews there. See Asher's Ed. of Benjamin of Tudela, vol. ii. p. 42.


THE gospel was first preached in Thessalonica by Paul and Silas. After their release from imprisonment at Philippi, they passed through Amphipolis and Appollonia, and came to Thessalonica. For some cause they appear not to have paused to preach in either of the first two places, but went at once to the city of Thessalonica. That was a much more important place, and they may have been attracted there particularly because many Jews resided there. It was customary for the apostle Paul, when he came to a place where there were Jews, to preach the gospel first to them; and as there was a synagogue in Thessalonica, he entered it, and, for three Sabbath days, reasoned with the Jews in regard to the Messiah. The points on which he endeavoured to convince them were, that, according to the Scriptures, it was necessary that the Messiah should be put to death, and that he would rise from the dead, and that all the predictions on these points were completely fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth, Ac 17:2,3. A few of the Jews believed, and a much larger number of the `devout Greeks,' and also a considerable number of females of the more elevated ranks. From these converts the church was organized, and the number at the organization would seem to have been large. It is not quite certain how long Paul and Silas remained at Thessalonica. It is known only that they preached in the synagogue for three Sabbaths, and if that were all the time that they remained there, it could not have been more than about three weeks. But it is not certain that they did not remain in the city a longer time. It is possible that they may have been excluded from the synagogue, but still may have found some other place in which to preach. This would seem probable from one or two circumstances referred to in the history and in the Epistle. In the history, Ac 17:5, it appears that Paul and Silas, for a time at least, made the house of Jason their home, and that so large numbers attended on their ministry as to give occasion to great excitement among the Jews. In the epistle, 1 Th 2:9, Paul says that when he was among them, he "laboured night and day, because he would not be chargeable unto any of them, and preached unto them the gospel of God," 2 Th 3:8, which looks as if he had been with them a longer time than the three Sabbaths, and as if he had laboured at his usual occupation for support, before he shared the hospitality of Jason. It appears also, from Php 4:16, that he was there long enough to receive repeated supplies from the church at Philippi. "For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity."

Paul and Silas were driven away from Thessalonica by the opposition of the Jews. A mob was created by them; the house of Jason was assailed; he and 'certain brethren,' who were supposed to have harboured and secreted Paul and Silas, were dragged before the magistrates and accused of receiving those who "had turned the world upside down," and who were guilty of treason against the Roman emperor, Ac 17:5-7. So great was the tumult, and such would be the danger of Paul and Silas if they remained there, that the members of the church judged it best that they should go to a place of safety, and they were conveyed by night to the neighbouring city of Berea. There the gospel was received with more favour, and Paul preached without opposition, until the Jews from Thessalonica, hearing where he was, came thither and excited the people against him, Ac 17:13. It became necessary again that he should be removed to a place of safety, and he was conducted to Athens; while Silas and Timothy remained at Berea. Timothy, it appears, had accompanied Paul, and had been with him, as well as Luke, at Philippi and Thessalonica, though he is not mentioned as present' with them until the arrival at Berea. When Paul went to Athens, he gave commandment to those who conducted him, that Silas and Timothy should come to him as soon as possible; and while he waited for them at Athens, he delivered the memorable speech on Mars' hill, recorded in Ac 17. Their actual arrival at Athens is not mentioned by Luke, Ac 17, but that Timothy came to him there appears from 1 Th 3:1,2. "Wherefore when we could no longer forbear, we thought it good to be left at Athens alone, and sent Timotheus our brother, etc., to comfort you concerning your faith." Timothy appears, therefore, to have been with Paul at Athens but a short time, for he sent him back to Thessalonica, and before his return, Paul had gone to Corinth, whither Timothy followed him, Ac 18:5.


The subscription at tile close of this epistle affirms that it was written at Athens. But these subscriptions are of no authority whatever, (see Notes at the close of I Corinthians;) and in this case, as in several others, the subscription is false. Paul remained but a short time at Athens, and there is internal evidence that the epistle was not written there. In 1 Th 3:1,2, Paul says, that such was his anxiety for them, that he had concluded to remain at Athens alone, and that he had sent Timothy to them from that place to impart to them consolation. In the same epistle, 1 Th 3:6, he speaks of Timothy's return to him before the epistle was written. But, from Ac 17 and Ac 18:5, it is evident that Timothy did not return to Paul at Athens, but that he and Silas came to him after he had left Athens and had gone to Corinth. To that place Paul had gone after his short visit to Athens, and there he remained a year and a half, Ac 18:1. It is further evident that the epistle was not written to the Thessalonians so soon as it would be necessary to suppose, if it were written-from Athens. In Ac 2:17,18, the author says, "But we, brethren, being taken from you a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavoured the more abundantly to see your face with great desire. Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us." From this it is evident that the apostle had repeatedly endeavoured to visit them, but had been hindered. But it is not reasonable to suppose that he had attempted this during the short time that he was in Athens, and so soon after having been driver, away from Berea. It is more probable that this had occurred during his residence at Corinth, and it would seem also from this, that the epistle was written towards the close of his residence there. At the time of writing the epistle, Silas and Timothy were with the apostle, 1 Th 1:1, and we know that they were with him when he was at Corinth, Ac 18:5.

If this epistle were written, at the time supposed, at Corinth, it must have been about the 13th year of the reign of Claudius, and about A.D. 52. That this was the time in which it was written, is the opinion of Mill, of Lardner, of Hug, and is, indeed, generally admitted. It was the first epistle written by the apostle Paul, and, in some respects, may be allowed to excite a deeper interest on that account than any others of his. The Second Epistle to the Thessalonians is supposed to have been written at the same place, and, probably, in the same year. See Lardner, vol. vi. 4—6. Grotius, indeed, supposes that the order of the epistles has been inverted, and that that which is now called the "Second Epistle to the Thessalonians," was, in fact, first sent. But there is no evidence of this.


The church at Thessalonica, at first, was composed of the following classes of persons:—

(1.) Jews, To them Paul preached first; and though the mass of them opposed him, and rejected his message, yet some of them believed, Ac 17:4.

(2.) Greeks who had been proselyted to the Jewish faith, and who seem to have been in attendance on the synagogue, Ac 17:4. They are called 'devout Greeks'— sebomenoi ellhnev, that is, religious Greeks, or those who had renounced the worship of idols, and who attended on the worship of the synagogue. They were probably what the Jews called 'Proselytes of the Gate;' persons who were admitted to many privileges, but who were not proselytes in the fullest sense. There were many such persons usually where a synagogue was established among the Gentiles.

(3.) Females of the more elevated rank and standing in the community, Ac 17:4. They were women of influence, and were connected with distinguished families. Possibly they also may have been of the number of the proselytes.

(4.) Not a few members of the church appear to have been converted from idolatry by the preaching of the apostle, or had connected themselves with it after he had left them. Thus, in 1 Th 1:9, it is said, "For they themselves show of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols, to serve the living and true God."

Though the apostle had been much opposed when there, and the gospel had been rejected by the great body of the inhabitants of Thessalonica, yet it had been most cordially embraced by these different classes, 1 Th 2:13, and they were entirely harmonious in the belief of it. They forgot all their former differences in the cordiality with which they had embraced the gospel. The characteristics of the church there, and the circumstances existing, which gave occasion for the two epistles to the Thessalonians, appear to have been, so far as can be gathered from the history, Ac 17, and the epistles themselves, the following:—-

(1.) The members of the church had very cordially embraced the gospel; they were the warm friends of the apostle; they greatly desired to receive his instruction; and these things prompted him to the earnest wish which he had cherished to visit them, 1 Th 2:17, and now led him to write to them: Comp. 1 Th 1:5,6; 2:8,9,13,19,20.

Paul had for them the strong affection which a nurse has for the children committed to her charge, 1 Th 2:7, or a father for his children, 1 Th 2:11, and hence the interest shown for them by writing these epistles.

(2.) They were disposed not only to embrace the gospel, but to spread it abroad, 1 Th 1:8; and Paul was evidently desirous of commending them for this, and of exciting them to greater love and zeal in doing it.

(3.) They had, at first, embraced the gospel amidst scenes of strife, 1 Th 2:2; they were now opposed, as they had been there, by the Jews, and by their own countrymen, 1 Th 2:14, and they appear to have been called to some peculiar trials, by the loss of some valued members of the church—friends who were peculiarly dear to their hearts, 1 Th 2:3,5; 3:13.

To console them in view of these afflictions, was one design of the first epistle, and in doing it, the apostle states one of the most interesting views of the resurrection to be found in the Scriptures, 1 Th 4:14-18.

(4.) They had been instructed in reference to the future coming of the Saviour; the day of judgment, and the fact that the appearing of the "day of the Lord" would be like a thief in the night, 1 Th 5:2. But they seem to have inferred that that day was near, and they were looking for the immediate advent of the Redeemer, and the close of the world. To this view they seem to have been led by two things. One was, a misinterpretation of what the apostle says, 1 Th 4:14-18; 5:2,3, about the advent of the Redeemer, which they seem to have understood as if it meant that it would be 'soon;' and the other was, probably, the fact that certain letters had been forged in the name of Paul, which maintained this doctrine, 2 Th 2:2 To correct this view was one of the leading objects of the second epistle, and, accordingly, the apostle in that shows them that events must occur preceding the coming of the Lord Jesus, which would occupy a long time, and that the end of the world, therefore, could not be near, 2 Th 2:3-12.

(5.) An error seems also to have prevailed among them in regard to the resurrection, which was the cause of great uneasiness to those who had lost Christian friends by death 1 Th 4:13. They seem to have supposed, that when the Lord Jesus appeared, they who were alive would have great advantages over those who were deceased: that the living would be allowed to behold his glory, and to participate in the splendours of his personal reign while those who were in their graves would slumber through these magnificent scenes. To correct these views, appears to have been one design of the first epistle. The apostle shows them that at the coming of the Saviour, all the redeemed, whether living or dead, would participate alike in his glory. They who were alive would not anticipate those who were in their graves. In fact, he says, those who were dead would rise before the change would take place in the living that was to fit them to dwell with the Lord, and then all would be taken up to be for ever with him 1 Th 4:15-18.

(6.) It would appear to be not improbable, that, after the departure of the apostle from Thessalonica, he had been accused by the enemies of the gospel there, of a want of courage, and that they had urged this as proof, that he was conscious that the gospel was an imposture. Besides, his leaving the church there without any instructors, in a time when they greatly needed them, may have been urged as a proof that he had no real affection for them, or concern for their welfare. To meet this charge, the apostle urges several things, vindicating his conduct, and showing the strength of his attachment for them. He says,

(1.) that, as they knew, so far from being deterred by persecution from preaching, after a violent persecution at Philippi, he and his fellow-labourers had at once preached the same gospel at Thessalonica, and they had done it there amidst the same kind of opposition, 1 Th 2:2.

(2.) That they themselves were witnesses that it had been done without any appearance of fraud or of guile. They had given them all possible proofs of sincerity, 1 Th 2:3-5.

(3.) That they had given every proof possible that they did not seek glory from men, and that their aims were not selfish. They were willing to have imparted, not the gospel only, but also their own lives; and to show that they had had no selfish aim while with them, they had supported themselves by the labour of their own hands, 1 Th 2:6-9.

(4.) That so far from not feeling any interest in them, he had repeatedly sought to visit them, but had in every instance been prevented, 1 Th 2:17,18 and,

(5.) that, since he was prevented from going to them, he had submitted to the personal sacrifice of parting with Timothy at Athens, and of being left alone there, in order that he might go to them and comfort their hearts, 1 Th 3:1,2.

(7.) In common with other churches, gathered in part or in whole from the heathen, they were in danger of falling into the sins to which they had been addicted before their conversion; and one object of the first epistle is, to put them on their guard against the leading vices to which they were exposed, 1 Th 4:1-7.

(8.) It would seem, also, that there were some in the church who had a spirit of insubordination towards their religious teachers, and who, under pretence of edifying others, were guilty of disorder. To correct this was also one object of the epistle, 1 Th 5:12-14.

From these views, the design of this epistle, and also of the second epistle to the same church, which seems to have been written soon after this, will be apparent. They were the effusions of warm attachment towards a church which the apostle had founded, but from which he had been soon driven away, and which he had been prevented from revisiting when he had earnestly desired it. They are filled with expressions of tender regard; they remind the members of the church of the ardour with which they had at first embraced the gospel; caution them against the dangers to which they were exposed; commend them for their fidelity hitherto, and encourage them in their trials and persecutions. They present some most interesting views of the nature of the gospel, and especially contain statements about the resurrection of the saints, which are not found elsewhere in the New Testament, and views in relation to the great apostasy, and the "man of sin," which demonstrate that the writer was inspired, and which are of inestimable importance in guarding the true church from the power of Antichrist. No one could have drawn the picture of the Papacy in the second chapter of the second epistle, who was not under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost; and no true Christian can be sufficiently grateful that the apostle was thus inspired to reveal the features of that great apostasy, to put the church on its guard against the wiles and the power of him, who "exalteth himself above all that is called God."



THE first chapter of this epistle embraces the following subjects :—

1. The inscription by Paul, Silas, and Timothy, to the Thessalonians, and the usual salutations, 1 Th 1:1.

2. An expression of thanks for their fidelity in the gospel, 1 Th 1:2-4. The apostle says that he made mention of them continually in his prayers; that he remembered their faith, and love, and patience, for by these things they had shown that they were among the elect of God.

3. He reminds them of the manner in which they received the gospel when it was first preached to them,1 Th 1:5,6. The power of God had been manifested among them in a remarkable manner; they had embraced the gospel with strong assurance, and though in the midst of deep afflictions, they had received the word with joy.

4. The effect of the establishment of the church in Thessalonica had been felt far abroad, and had been of the most happy character, 1 Th 1:7-10. They had become examples to all that believed in Macedonia and Achaia. From them the gospel had been sounded abroad throughout Greece, and indeed in all places with which they had connexion by their commercial relations. Those who dwelt in distant places bore witness to the influence of the gospel on them, and to the power of that religion which had turned them from idols to serve the living God. These verses contain a beautiful illustration of the effect of the gospel in a place favourably situated for commerce, and having extensive intercourse with other regions.

Verse 1. Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus. On the reasons why Paul associated other names with his in his epistles, See Barnes "1 Co 1:1; 2 Co 1:1".

Silvanus, or Silas, and Timothy were properly united with him on this occasion, because they had been with him when the church was founded there, Ac 17, and because Timothy had been sent by the apostle to visit them after he had himself been driven away, 1 Th 3:1,2. Silas is first mentioned in the New Testament as one who was sent by the church at Jerusalem with Paul to Antioch, See Barnes "Ac 15:22" and he afterwards became his travelling companion.

Which is in God the Fathers and in the Lord Jesus Christ. Who are united to the true God and to the Redeemer; or who sustain an intimate relation to the Father and the Lord Jesus. This is strong language, denoting that they were a true church. Comp. 1 Jo 5:20.

Grace be unto you, etc. See Barnes "Ro 1:7".

{a} "and Timotheus" 1 Pe 5:12

{b} "the Thessalonians" Ac 17:1

{c} "Grace" Eph 1:2


Verse 2. We give thanks to God always for you all. See Barnes "Ro 1:9".

Making mention of you in our prayers. See Barnes "Eph 1:16".

It may be observed here,

(1.) that the apostle was in the habit of constant prayer.

(2.) That he was accustomed to extemporary prayer, and not to written prayer. It is not credible that "forms" of prayer had been framed for the churches at Thessalonica and Ephesus, and the other churches for which Paul says he prayed, nor would it have been possible to have adapted such forms to the varying circumstances attending the organization of new churches.


Verse 3. Remembering without ceasing. Remembering your faith and love whenever we pray. This is not to be understood literally, but it is language such as we use respecting anything that interests us much. It is constantly in our mind. Such an interest the apostle had in the churches which he had established.

Your work of faith.That is, your work showing or evincing faith. The reference is probably to acts of duty, holiness, and benevolence, which proved that they exercised faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Works of faith are those to which faith prompts, and which show that there is faith in the heart. This does not mean, therefore, a work of their own producing faith, but a work which showed that they had faith.

And labour of love. Labour produced by love, or showing that you are actuated by love. Such would be all their kindness toward the poor, the oppressed, and the afflicted; and all their acts which showed that they loved the souls of men.

And patience of hope. Patience in your trials, showing that you have such a hope of future blessedness as to sustain you in your afflictions. It was the hope of heaven through the Lord Jesus that gave them patience. See Barnes "Ro 8:24".

"The phrases here are Hebraisms, meaning active faith, and laborious love, and patient hope, and might have been so translated." Doddridge.

In our Lord Jesus Christ. That is, your hope is founded only on him. The only hope that we have of heaven is through the Redeemer.

In the sight of God and our Father. Before God, even our Father. It is a hope which we have through the merits of the Redeemer, and which we are permitted to cherish before God; that is, in his very presence. When we think of God; when we reflect that we must soon stand before him, we are permitted to cherish this hope. It is a hope which will be found to be genuine even in the presence of a holy and heart-searching God. This does not mean that it had been merely professed before God, but that it was a hope which they might dare to entertain in the presence of God, and which would bear the scrutiny of his eye.

{d} "work of faith" Joh 6:29; 2 Th 1:11

{e} "labour of love" Heb 6:10

{f} "patience" Ro 12:12


Verse 4. Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God. The margin here reads, "beloved of God, your election." The difference depends merely on the pointing, and that which would require the marginal reading has been adopted by Hahn, Tittman, Bloomfield, and Griesbach. The sense is not materially varied, and the common version may be regarded as giving the true meaning. There is no great difference between "being beloved of God," and "being chosen of God." The sense then is, "knowing that you are chosen by God unto salvation." Comp. See Barnes "Eph 1:4" See Barnes "Eph 1:5" See Barnes "Eph 1:11".

The word "knowing," here refers to Paul himself, and to Silas and Timothy, who united with him in writing the epistle, and in rendering thanks for the favours shown to the church at Thessalonica. The meaning is, that they had so strong confidence that they had been chosen of God as a church unto salvation, that they might say they knew it. The way in which they knew it seems not to have been by direct revelation, or by inspiration, but by the evidence which they had furnished, and which constituted such a proof of piety as to leave no doubt of the fact. Calvin. What this evidence was, the apostle states in the following verses. It was shown by the man- ner in which they embraced the gospel, and by the spirit which they had evinced under its influence. The meaning here seems to be, not that all the members of the church at Thessalonica were certainly chosen of God to salvation—for, as in other churches, there might have been those there who were false professors; but that the church, as such, had given evidence that it was a true church—that it was founded on Christian principles—and that, as a church, it had furnished evidence of its "election by God." Nor can it mean, as Clarke and Bloomfield suppose, that God "had chosen and called the Gentiles to the same privileges to which he chose and called the Jews; and that as they (the Jews) had rejected the gospel, God had now elected the Gentiles in their stead;" for a considerable portion of the church was composed of Jews, Ac 17:4,6; and it cannot, therefore, mean that the Gentiles had been selected in the place of the Jews. Besides, the election of the Gentiles, or any portion of the human family, to the privileges of salvation, to the neglect or exclusion of any other part, would be attended with all the difficulties which occur in the doctrine of personal and individual election. Nothing is gained on this subject in removing the difficulties, by supposing that God chooses masses of men instead of individuals. How can the one be more proper than the other? What difficulty in the doctrine of election is removed by the supposition? Why is it not as right to choose an individual as a nation? Why not as proper to reject an individual as a whole people? If this means that the church at Thessalonica had shown that it was a true church of Christ, chosen by God, then we may learn

(1.) that a true church owes what it has to the "election of God." It is because God has chosen it; has called it out from the world; and has endowed it in such a manner as to be a true church.

(2.) A church may give evidence that it is chosen of God, and is a true church. There are things which it may do, which will show that it is undoubtedly such a church as God has chosen, and such as he approves. There are just principles on which a church should be organized; and there is a spirit which may be manifested by a church which will distinguish it from any other association of men.

(3.) It is not improper to speak with strong confidence of such a church as undoubtedly chosen of God. There are churches which, by their zeal, self-denial, and deadness to the world, show beyond question their "election of God;" and the world may see that they are founded on other principles, and manifest a different spirit, from other organizations of men.

(4.) Every church should evince such a spirit, that there may be no doubt of its "election of God." It should be so dead to the world; so pure in doctrine and in practice, and so much engaged in spreading the knowledge of salvation, that the world will see that it is governed by higher principles than any worldly association, and that nothing could produce this but the influence of the Holy Spirit of God.

{1} "beloved" "beloved of God, your election" THE FIRST EPISTLE TO THE THESSALONIANS - Chapter 1 - Verse 5

Verse 5. For our gospel came not unto you. When first preached, Ac 17:1-3. Paul speaks of it as "our gospel," because it was the gospel preached by him, and Silas, and Timothy. Comp. 2 Th 2:14, 2 Ti 2:8. He did not mean to say that the gospel had been originated by him, but only that he had delivered the good news of salvation to them. He is here stating the evidence which had been given that they were a church "chosen by God." He refers, first, to the manner in which the gospel was received by them, 1 Th 1:5-7; and, secondly, to the spirit which they themselves manifested in sending it abroad, 1 Th 1:8-10.

In word only. Was not merely spoken; or was not merely heard. It produced a powerful effect on the heart and life. It was not a mere empty sound, that produced no other effect than to entertain or amuse. Comp. Eze 33:32.

But also in power. That is, in such power as to convert the soul. The apostle evidently refers not to any miracles that were wrought there, but to the effect of the gospel on those who heard it. It is possible that there were miracles wrought there, as there were in other places; but there is no mention of such a fact, and it is not necessary to suppose it, in order to see the full meaning of this language. There was great power manifested in the gospel in its leading them to break off from their sins, to abandon their idols, and to give their hearts to God. See this more fully explained See Barnes "1 Co 2:4".

And in the Holy Ghost. Comp. See Barnes "1 Co 2:4".

It is there called the "demonstration of the Spirit."

And in much assurance. That is, with firm conviction, or full persuasion of its truth. It was not embraced as a doubtful thing, and it did not produce the effect on the mind which is caused by anything that is uncertain in its character. Many seem to embrace the gospel as if they only half believed it, or as if it were a matter of very doubtful truth and importance; but this was not the case with the Thessalonians. There was the firmest conviction of its truth, and they embraced it "heart and soul." Col 2:2; Heb 6:11. From all that is said in this verse, it is evident that the power of God was remarkably manifested in the conversion of the Thessalonians, and that they embraced the gospel with an uncommonly strong conviction of its truth and value. This fact will account for the subsequent zeal which the apostle so much commends in them—for it is usually true that the character of piety in a church, as it is in an individual, is determined by the views with which the gospel is first embraced, and the purposes which are formed at the beginning of the Christian life.

As ye know what manner of men, etc. Paul often appeals to those among whom he had laboured as competent witnesses with respect to his own conduct and character. See 1 Th 2:9,10; Ac 20:33-35.

He means here that he and his fellow-labourers had set them an example, or had shown what Christianity was by their manner of living, and that the Thessalonians had become convinced that the religion which they taught was real. The holy life of a preacher goes far to confirm the truth of the religion which he preaches, and is among the most efficacious means of inducing them to embrace the gospel.

{a} "came not unto you" Isa 55:11; Mr 16:20

{b} "power" 1 Co 2:4

{c} "in the Holy Ghost" 2 Co 6:6

{d} "as ye know" Heb 2:3


Verse 6. And ye became followers of us. "You became imitators— mimhtai of us." This does not mean that they became followers of Paul, Silas, and Timothy, in the sense that they had set themselves up as teachers, or as the head of a sect, but that they imitated their manner of living. See Barnes "1 Co 4:16" See Barnes "1 Co 11:1".

And of the Lord. The Lord Jesus. You also learned to imitate him. From this it is evident that the manner in which the Saviour lived was a prominent topic of their preaching, and also that it was one of the means of the conversion of the Thessalonians. It is probable that preaching on the pure and holy life of the Lord Jesus might be made a much more important means of the conversion of sinners than it is. Nothing is better adapted to show them the evil of their own guilty lives than the contrast between their lives and his; and nothing can be conceived better fitted to win them to holy living than the contemplation of his pure and holy deportment.

Having retired the word in much affliction. That is, amidst much opposition from others. See Ac 17:5-8. It was in the midst of these trials that they had become converted—and they seem to have been all the better Christians for them. In this they were imitators of the Saviour, or shared the same lot with him, and thus became his followers. Their embracing and holding fast the truths of religion amidst all this opposition, showed that they were controlled by the same principles that he was, and that they were truly his friends.

With joy of the Holy Ghost. With happiness produced by the Holy Ghost. Though they were much afflicted and persecuted, yet there was joy. There was joy in their conversion, in the evidence of pardoned sin, in the hope of heaven. See Barnes "Ac 8:8".

However great may be the trials and persecutions experienced in receiving the gospel, or however numerous and long the sufferings of the subsequent life in consequence of having embraced it, there is a joy in religion that more than overbalances all, and that makes religion the richest of all blessings.

{e} "followers of us" 2 Co 8:5

{f} "Holy Ghost" Ac 13:52


Verse 7. So that ye were ensamples to all that believe. Examples in reference to the firmness with which you embraced the gospel, the fidelity with which you adhered to it in trials, and the zeal which you showed in spreading it abroad. These things are specified in the previous and subsequent verses as characterizing their piety. The word here rendered ensamples—tupouv—is that from which the word type is derived. It properly denotes anything caused or produced by the means of blows, (from tupouv,) and hence a mark, print, or impression, made by a stamp, or die; and then a resemblance, figure, pattern, exemplar—a model after which anything is made. This is the meaning here. They became, as it were, a model or pattern after which the piety of others should be moulded, or showed what the piety of others ought to be.

In Macedonia. Thessalonica was an important city of Macedonia, (see the Introduction. Comp. See Barnes "Ac 16:9" and of course their influence would be felt on the whole of the surrounding region. This is a striking instance of the effect which a church in a city may have on the country. The influence of a city church may be felt, and will usually be felt afar on the other churches, of a community; just as, in all other respects, a city has an important influence on the country at large.

And Achaia. Achaia proper was the part of Greece of which Corinth was the capital. The word, however, was sometimes so used as to comprehend the whole of Greece, and in this sense it seems to be employed here, as there is no reason to suppose that their influence would be felt particularly in the province of which Corinth was the centre. Koppe observes that Macedonia and Achaia were the two provinces into which all Greece was divided when it was brought under the Roman yoke, the former of which comprehended Macedonia proper, Illyricum, Epirus, and Thessaly, and the other Greece properly so called. The meaning here is, therefore, that their influence was felt on all the parts of Greece; that their piety was spoken of, and the effect of their conversion had been felt m all those places. Thessalonica was a commercial city, and a sea-port. It had intercourse with all the other parts of Macedonia, with Greece, and with Asia Minor. It was partly owing to the advantages of its situation that its influence was thus felt. Its own merchants and mariners who went abroad would carry with them the spirit of the religion of the church there; and those who visited it from other ports would see the effect of religion there. This is just an instance, therefore, of the influence which a commercial town and a sea-port may have in religion on other parts of the world. A revival of religion in such a place will extend its influence afar to other places; and appropriate zeal among the friends of the Redeemer there, may have an important effect on sea-ports, and towns, and lands far remote. It is impossible to over-estimate the importance of such places in regard to the spread of the gospel; and Christians who reside there—be they merchants, mechanics, lawyers, physicians, mariners, or ministers of the gospel, should feel that on them God has placed the responsibility of using a vast influence in sending the gospel to other lands. He that goes forth from a commercial town should be imbued with the spirit of the gospel; and churches located there should be so under the influence of religion that they who come among them from abroad shall bear to their own lands honourable testimony of the power of religion there.


Verse 8. For from you sounded out the word of the Lord. The truths of religion were thus spread abroad. The word rendered, "sounded-out," exhchtai refers to the sounding of a trumpet, (Bloomfield,) and the idea is, that the gospel was proclaimed like the sonorous voice of a trumpet echoing from place to place. Comp. Isa 58:1; Re 1:10. Their influence had an effect in diffusing the gospel in other places, as if the sound of a trumpet echoed and re-echoed among the hills and along the vales of the classic land of Greece. This seems to have been done

(1.) involuntarily; that is, the necessary result of their conversion, even without any direct purpose of the kind of their own, would be to produce this effect. Their central and advantageous commercial position; the fact that many of them were in the habit of visiting other places; and the fact that they were visited by strangers from abroad, would naturally contribute to this result. But

(2.) this does not appear to be all that is intended. The apostle commends them in such a way as to make it certain that they were voluntary in the spread of the gospel; that they made decided efforts to take advantage of their position to send the knowledge of the truth abroad. If so, this is an interesting instance of one of the first efforts made by a church to diffuse the gospel, and to send it to those who were destitute of it. There is no improbability in the supposition that they sent out members of their church—messengers of salvation—to other parts of Macedonia and Greece, that they might communicate the same gospel to others. See Doddridge.

But also in every place. Thessalonica was connected not only with Macedonia and Greece proper, in its commercial relations, but also with the ports of Asia Minor, and not improbably with still more remote regions. The meaning is, that in all the places with which they trafficked, the effect of their faith was seen and spoken of.

Faith to God-ward. Fidelity toward God. They showed that they had a true belief in God, and in the truth which he had revealed.

So that we need not to speak anything. That is, wherever we go, we need say nothing of the fact that you have been turned to the Lord, or of the character of your piety. These things are sufficiently made known by those who come from you, by those who visit you, and by your zeal in spreading the true religion.

{a} "sounded out" Rom 10:18

{b} "place your faith" 2 Th 1:4


Verse 9. For they themselves. They who have visited you, and they whom you have sent out: all persons testify of your piety. The apostle seems to refer to all whom he had met or had heard of "in all places," who said anything about the Thessalonians. They were unanimous in bearing testimony to their fidelity and piety.

Show of us what manner of entering in we had unto you. The testimony which they bear of you is, in fact, testimony of the manner in which we preached the gospel, and demeaned ourselves when we were with you. It shows that we were intent on our Master's work, and that we were not actuated by selfish or sinister motives. The argument is, that such effects could not have been produced among them if Paul, Silas, and their fellow-labourers had been impostors. Their sound conversion to God; their change from idolatry to the true religion, and the zeal which had been the result of their conversion, was an argument to which Paul and his fellow-labourers might appeal in proof of their sincerity and their being sent from God. Paul often makes a similar appeal, Comp. See Barnes "2 Co 3:2, See Barnes "2 Co 3:3".

It is certain that many of the Jews in Thessalonica, when Paul and his fellow-labourers were there, regarded them as impostors, Ac 17:6,8; and there is every reason to suppose that after they left the city, they would endeavour to keep up this impression among the people. To meet this, Paul now says that their own undoubted conversion to life of holiness and zeal under their ministry, was in unanswerable argument that this was not so. How could impostors and deceivers have been the means of producing such effects?

And how ye turned to God from idols. That is, under our preaching. This proves that the church was, to a considerable extent, composed of those who were converted from idolatry under the preaching of Paul. Comp. Intro. paragraph 5. The meaning here is, that they who came from them, or they who had visited them, bore abundant testimony to the fact that they had turned from idols to the worship of the true God. Comp. See Barnes "1 Co 12:2; Gal 4:8".

To serve the living and true God. He is called the "living God" in opposition to idols —who are represented as dead, dumb, deaf, and blind. Comp. Ps 135:15-17. See Barnes "Isa 44:10" and following; See Barnes "Mt 16:16" See Barnes "Joh 5:26" See Barnes "Ac 14:15".

{c} "to God from idols" 1 Co 12:2; Gal 4:8


Verse 10. And to wait for his Son from heaven, It is clear from this and from other parts of these two epistles, that the return of the Lord Jesus to this world was a prominent subject of the preaching of Paul at Thessalonica. No small part of these epistles is occupied with stating the true doctrine on this point, (1 Thess 4, 5) and in correcting the errors which prevailed in regard to it after the departure of Paul. Perhaps we are not to infer, however, that this doctrine was made more prominent there than others, or that it had been inculcated there more frequently than it had been elsewhere; but the apostle adverts to it here particularly because it was a doctrine so well fitted to impart comfort to them in their trials, 1 Th 4:13-18, and because, in that connexion, it was so well calculated to rouse them to vigilance and zeal, 1 Th 5:1-11. He makes it prominent in the second epistle, because material errors prevailed there in reference to it, which needed to be corrected. In the passage before us, he says that the return of the Son of God from heaven was an important point which had been insisted on when he was there, and that their conduct, as borne witness to by all, had shown with what power it had seized upon them, and what a practical influence it had exerted in their lives. They lived as if they were "waiting" for his return. They fully believed in it; they expected it. They were looking out for it, not knowing when it might occur, and as if it might occur at any moment. They were, therefore, dead to the world, and were animated with an earnest desire to do good. This is one of the instances which demonstrate that the doctrine that the Lord Jesus will return to our world, is fitted, when understood in the true sense revealed in the Scriptures, to exert a powerful influence on the souls of men. It is eminently adapted to comfort the hearts of true Christians in the sorrows, bereavements, and sicknesses of life, Joh 14:1-3; Ac 1:11; 1 Th 4:13-18; 2 Pe 3:8,9; to lead us to watchfulness, and to an earnest inquiry into the question whether we are prepared to meet him, Mt 24:37-44; 25:13; to make us dead to the world, and to lead us to act as becomes the children of light, 1 Th 5:5-9; to awaken and arouse impenitent and careless sinners, 1 Th 5:2,3; 2 Pe 3:3-7; and to excite Christians to self-denying efforts to spread the gospel in distant lands, as was the case at Thessalonica. Every doctrine of the gospel is adapted to produce some happy practical effects on mankind; but there are few that are more full of elevated and holy influences than that which teaches that the Lord Jesus will return to the earth, and which leads the soul to wait for his appearing. Comp. See Barnes "1 Co 1:7" See Barnes "Php 3:20".

Whom he raised from the dead. See Barnes "Ac 2:24, also Ac 2:25-32; See Barnes "1 Co 15:4" also 1 Co 15:5-9. Paul probably means to intimate here, that this was one of the great truths which they had received, that the Lord Jesus had been raised from the dead. We know it was a prominent doctrine wherever the gospel was preached.

Which delivered us from the wrath to come. Another of the prominent doctrines of Christianity, which was undoubtedly always inculcated by the first preachers of religion. The "wrath to come" is the Divine indignation which will come upon the guilty, Mt 3:7. From that Christ delivers us by taking our place, and dying in our stead. It was the great purpose of his coming to save us from this approaching wrath. It follows from this

(1.) that there was wrath which man had to dread, since Jesus came to deliver us from something that was real, and not from what was imaginary; and

(2.) that the same wrath is to be dreaded now by all who are not united to Christ, since in this respect they are now just as all were before he died; that is, they axe exposed to fearful punishment, from which he alone can deliver. It may be added, that the existence of this wrath is real, whether men believe it or not; for the fact of its existence is not affected by our belief or unbelief.

{d} "wait for his Son" Php 3:20

{e} "wrath to come" Mt 3:7; Ro 5:9


This chapter teaches,

(1.) That it is right to commend those who do well, 1 Th 1:3. Paul was never afraid of injuring any one by commending him when he deserved it; nor was he ever afraid to rebuke when censure was due.

(2.) Christians are chosen to salvation, 1 Th 1:4. Their hope of heaven depends on the "election of God."

(3.) It is possible for a people to know that they are chosen of God, and to give such evidence of it that others shall know it also, 1 Th 1:4. It is possible for a church to evince such a spirit of piety, self-denial, love, and holiness, and such a desire to spread the gospel, as to show that they are "chosen of God," or that they are a true church. This question is not to be determined by their adherence to certain rites and forms; by their holding to the sentiments of an orthodox creed; or by their zeal in defence of the "apostolic succession," but by their bringing forth "the fruits of good living." In determining that the church at Thessalonica was "chosen of God," Paul does not refer to its external organization, or to the fact that it was founded by apostolic hands, or that it had a true ministry and valid ordinances, but to the fact that it evinced the true spirit of Christian piety; and, particularly, that they had been zealous in sending the gospel to others. There were three things to which he referred:

1. That the gospel had power over themselves, inducing them to abandon their sins;

2. that it had such influence on their lives that others recognised in them the evidence of true religion; and,

3. that it made them benevolent, and excited them to make efforts to diffuse its blessings abroad.

(4.) If a church may know that it is chosen or elected of God, it is true of an individual also that he may know it. It is not by any direct revelation from heaven; not by an infallible communication of the Holy Spirit; not by any voice or vision; but it is in the same way in which this may be evinced by a church. The conversion of an individual, or his "election of God," may be certainly known by himself, if,

1. the gospel is received as "the word of God," and induces him to abandon his sins;

2. if it leads him to pursue such a life that others shall see that he is actuated by Christian principles; and,

3. if he makes it his great aim in life to do good and to diffuse abroad, as far as he can, that religion which he professes to love. He who finds in his own heart and life evidence of these things, need not doubt that he is among the "chosen of God."

(5.) The character of piety in the life of an individual Christian, and in a church, is often determined by the manner in which the gospel is embraced at first, and by the spirit with which the Christian life is entered on. See Barnes "1 Th 1:5" See Barnes "1 Th 1:6".

If so, then this fact is of immense importance in the question about organizing a church, and about making a profession of religion. If a church is so organized as to have it understood that it shall be to a considerable extent the patron of worldly amusements—a" half-way house" between the world and religion—that purpose will determine all its subsequent character, unless it shall be counteracted by the grace of God. If it be organized so as to look with a benignant and tolerant eye on gayety, vanity, self-indulgence, ease, and what are called the amusements and pleasures of life, it is not difficult to see what will be its character and influence. How can such a church diffuse far and near the conviction that it is "chosen of God," as the church at Thessalonica did? And so of an individual. Commonly, the whole character of the religious life will be determined by the views with which the profession of religion is made. If there be a propose to enjoy religion and the world too; to be the patron of fashion as well as a professed follower of Christ; to seek the flattery or the plaudits of man as well as the approbation of God, that purpose will render the whole religious life useless, vacillating, inconsistent, miserable. The individual will live without the enjoyment of religion, and will die leaving little evidence to his friends that he has gone to be with God. If, on the other hand, there be singleness of purpose, and entire dedication to God at the commencement of the Christian life, the religious career will be one of usefulness, respectability, and peace. The most important period in a man's life, then, is that when he is pondering the question whether he shall make a profession of religion.

(6.) A church in a city should cause its influence to be felt afar, 1 Th 1:7,9. This is true, indeed, of all other churches, but it is especially so of a church in a large town. Cities will be centres of influence in fashion, science, literature, religion, and morals. A thousand ties of interest bind them to other parts of a land; and thought in fact, there may be, as there often is, much more intelligence in a country neighbourhood than among the same number of inhabitants taken promiscuously from a city; and though there may be, as there often is, far more good sense and capability to appreciate religious truth in a country congregation than in a congregation in a city, yet it is true that the city will be the radiating point of influence. This, of course, increases the responsibility of Christians in a city, and makes it important that, like those of Thessalonica, they should be models of self-denial, and of efforts to spread the gospel.

(7.) A church in a commercial town should make use of its peculiar influence to spread the gospel abroad, 1 Th 1:7-9. Such a place is connected with remote lands, and those who, for commercial purposes, visit distant ports from that place, should bear with them the spirit of the gospel. Such, too, should be the character of piety in the churches in such a city, that all who visit it for any purpose, should see the reality of religion, and be led to bear the honourable report of it again to their own land.

(8.) Such, too, should be the piety of any church. The church at Thessalonica evinced the true spirit of religion, 1 Th 1:7-9. Its light shone afar. It sent out those who went to spread the gospel. Its members, when they went abroad, showed that they were influenced by higher and purer principles than those which actuated them before conversion, and than were evinced by the heathen world. Those who visited them, also, saw that there was a reality in religion, and bore an honourable report of it again to their own lands. Let any church evince this spirit, and it will show that it is "chosen of God," or a true church; and wherever there is a church formed after the primitive model, these traits will always be seen.

(9.) It is our duty and privilege to "wait for the Son of God to return from heaven." We know not when his appearing, either to remove us by death, or to judge the world, will be; and we should therefore watch and be ready. The hope of his return to our world to raise the dead, and to convey his ransomed to heaven, is the brightest and most cheering prospect that dawns on man; and we should be ready, whenever it occurs, to hail him as our returning Lord, and to rush to his arms as our glorious Redeemer. It should be always the characteristic of our piety, as it was that of John, to say, "Even so, come, Lord Jesus," Re 22:20.




The principal subjects embraced in this chapter are the following:—

I. A statement of the conduct of Paul, and his fellow-labourers, when they first preached tile gospel at Thessalonica, 1 Th 2:1-12.

In this statement, the apostle specifies particularly the following things.

(1.) That he and his fellow-labourers had been shamefully treated at Philippi, and had been obliged to encounter much opposition at Thessalonica, 1 Th 2:1,2.

(2.) That in their efforts to convert the Thessalonians they had used no deceit, corruption, or guile, 1 Th 2:3,4.

(3.) That they had not sought the praise of men, and had not used the weight of authority which they might have done as the apostles of Christ, 1 Th 2:6.

(4.) That they had been gentle and mild in all their intercourse with them, 1 Th 2:7,8.

(5.) That, in order not to be burdensome, or to subject themselves to the charge of selfishness, they had supported themselves by labouring night and day, 1 Th 2:9.

(6.) That the Thessalonians themselves were witnesses in what a holy and pure manner they had lived when there, and how they had exhorted them to a holy life, 1 Th 2:10-12.

II. The apostle refers to the manner in which the Thessalonians had received the truth at first, as undoubtedly the word of God, and not as the word of men, 1 Th 2:13.

III. He reminds them of the fact that they had met with the same opposition from the Jews which the churches in Judea had, for that everywhere the Jews had made the same opposition to the messengers of God, killing the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, and forbidding the apostles everywhere to speak to the Gentiles, 1 Th 2:14-16.

IV. In the conclusion of the chapter, the apostle expresses the earnest desire which he had to visit them, and the reason why he had not done it. It was because he had been prevented by causes beyond his control; and now his earnest and sincere wish was, that he might be permitted to see them—for they were his hope, and joy, and crown, 1 Th 2:17-20.

It is reasonable to suppose that the statements in this chapter were designed to meet a certain condition of things in the church there, and if so, we may learn something of the difficulties which the Thessalonians had to encounter, and of the objections which were made to Paul and to the gospel. It is often in this way that we can get the best view of the internal condition of a church referred to in the New Testament—not by direct statement respecting difficulties and errors in it, but by the character of the epistle sent to it. Judging by this rule, we should infer that there were those in Thessalonica who utterly denied the Divine origin of the gospel. This general charge, the apostle meets in the first chapter, by showing that the power of the gospel evinced in their conversion, and its effects in their lives, demonstrated it to be of heavenly origin.

In reference to the state of things as referred to in this chapter, we should also infer the following things:

1. That it was represented by some that the apostle, and his fellow-labourers, sought influence and power; that they were dictatorial and authoritative; that they were indisposed to labour, and were, in fact, impostors. This charge Paul refutes abundantly by his appeal to what they knew of him, and what they had seen of him when he was there, 1 Th 2:1-12.

2. That the church at Thessalonica met with severe and violent opposition from the Jews who were there, 1 Th 2:14-17. This appears to have been a formidable opposition. Comp. Ac 17:5, seq. They would not only be likely to use violence, but it is not improbable that they employed the semblance of argument that might perplex the church. They might represent that they were from the same country as Paul and his fellow-labourers; that they, while pretending to great zeal for religion, were, in fact, apostates, and were engaged in overturning the revealed doctrines of God. It would be easy to represent them as men who, from this cause, were worthy of no confidence, and to urge the fact that those who thus acted in opposition to the religion of their own country, and to the sacred rites of the temple at Jerusalem, could be entitled to no regard. These charges, if they were made, the apostle meets, by assuring the Thessalonians that they were suffering precisely the same things which the churches ill Judea did; that the Jews manifested the same spirit there which they did in Thessalonica; that they had killed alike the Lord Jesus and their own undoubted prophets, and that it was a characteristic of them that they were opposed to all other men. Their opposition, therefore, was not to be wondered at; nut was it to be regarded as ally argument that the apostles, though Jews, were unworthy of confidence, 1 Th 2:15,16§.

3. It was very probably represented by the enemies of Paul and his fellow-labourers, that they had fled from Thessalonica on the slightest danger, and had no regard for the church there, or they would have remained there in the time of peril, or, at least, that they would have returned to visit them. Their continued absence was probably urged as a proof that they had no concern for them. The apostle meets this by stating that they had been indeed "taken from them" for a little time, but that their hearts were still with them, and by assuring them that he had often endeavoured to visit them again, but that "Satan had hindered" him, 1 Th 2:17-20. He had, however, given them the highest proof of interest and affection that he could, for when he was unable to go himself, he had, at great self-denial, sent Timothy to establish them in the faith, and to comfort their hearts, 1 Th 2:1-3. His absence, therefore, should not be urged as a proof that he had no regard for them.

1. For yourselves, brethren, know our entrance in unto you. See Barnes "1 Th 1:9, Paul appeals to themselves, for proof that they had not come among them as impostors. They had had a full opportunity to see them, and to know what influenced them. Paul frequently appeals to his own life, and to what they, among whom he laboured, knew of it, as a full refutation of the slanderous accusations of his enemies. See Barnes "1 Co 4:10-16; 9:19-27; 2 Co 6:3-10.

Every minister of the gospel ought so to live as to be able, when slanderously attacked, to make such an appeal to his people.

That it was not in vain. kenh. This word means

(1.) empty, vain, fruitless, or without success;

(2.) that in which there is no truth or reality—false, fallacious, Eph 5:6; Col 2:8. Here it seems, from the connexion, 1 Th 2:3-5, to be used in the latter sense, as denoting that they were not deceivers. The object does not appear to be so much to show that their ministry was successful, as to meet a charge of their adversaries that they were impostors. Paul tells them that, from their own observation, they knew that this was not so.


Verse 2. But even after that we had suffered before. Before we came among you.

And were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, Ac 16:19, seq. By being beaten and cast into prison. The shame of the treatment consisted in the fact that it was wholly undeserved; that it was contrary to the laws; and that it was accompanied with circumstances designed to make their punishment as ignominious as possible. The Thessalonians knew of this, and Paul was not disposed to palliate the conduct of the Philippians. What was "shameful treatment" he speaks of as such without hesitation. It is not wrong to call things by their right names, and when we have been abused, it is not necessary that we should attempt to smoothe the matter over by saying that it was not so.

We were bold in our God. By humble dependence on the support of our God. It was only his powerful aid that could have enabled them to persevere with ardour and zeal in such a work after such treatment. The meaning here is, that they were not deterred from preaching the gospel by the treatment which they had received, but at the very next important town, and on the first opportunity, they proclaimed the same truth, though there was no security that they might not meet with the same persecution there. Paul evidently appeals to this in order to show them that they were not impostors, and that they were not influenced by the hope of ease or of selfish gains. Men who were not sincere and earnest in their purposes would have been deterred by such treatment as they had received at Philippi.

With much contention. Amidst much opposition, and where great effort was necessary. The Greek word here used is agwn (agony,) a word referring usually to the Grecian games. See Barnes "Col 2:1".

It means the course, or place of contest; and then the contest itself, the strife, the combat, the effort for victory; and the apostle here means, that, owing to the opposition there, there was need of an effort on his part like the desperate struggles of those who contended for the mastery at the Grecian games. Comp. Notes on 1 Co 9:24-27. The triumph of the gospel there was secured only by an effort of the highest kind, and by overcoming the most formidable opposition.

{a} "at Philippi we" Ac 16:12

{b} "bold" Ac 17:2,3

{c} "contention" Jude 1:3


Verse 3. For our exhortation. That is, the exhortation to embrace the gospel. The word seems to be used here so as to include preaching in general. The sense is, that the means which they used to induce them to become Christians were not such as to delude them.

Was not of deceit. Was not founded on sophistry. The apostle means to say, that the Thessalonians knew that his manner of preaching was not such as was adopted by the advocates of error.

Nor of uncleanness.—Not such as to lead to an impure life. It was such as to lead to holiness and purity. The apostle appeals to what they knew to be the tendency of his doctrine as an evidence that it was true. Most of the teaching of the heathen philosophers led to a life of licentiousness and corruption. The tendency of the gospel was just the reverse.

Nor in guile. Not by the arts of deceit. There was no craftiness or trick, such as could not bear a severe scrutiny. No point was carried by art, cunning, or stratagem. Everything was done on the most honourable and fair principles. It is much when a man can say that he has never endeavoured to accomplish anything by mere trick, craft, or cunning. Sagacity and shrewdness are always allowable in ministers as well as others; trick and cunning never. Yet stratagem often takes the place of sagacity, and trick is often miscalled shrewdness. Guile, craft, cunning, imply deception, and can never be reconciled with that entire honesty which a minister of the gospel, and all other Christians, ought to possess. See Barnes "2 Co 12:16". Comp. Ps 32:2; 34:13; Joh 1:47; 1 Pe 2:1,22; Re 14:5.

{d} "deceit" 2 Pe 1:16


Verse 4. But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel. Comp. @1 Ti 1:11,12.

Since there had been committed to us an office so high and holy, and so much demanding sincerity, fidelity, and honesty, we endeavoured to act in all respects in conformity to the trust reposed in us. The gospel is a system of truth and sincerity, and we evinced the same. The gospel is concerned with great realities, and we did not resort to trick and illusion. The office of the ministry is most responsible, and we acted in view of the great account which we must render. The meaning is, that Paul had such a sense of the truth, reality, and importance of the gospel, and of his responsibility, as effectually to keep him from anything like craft or cunning in preaching it. An effectual restrainer from mere management and trick will always be found in a deep conviction of the truth and importance of religion. Artifice and cunning are the usual accompaniments of a bad cause; and, when adopted by a minister of the gospel, will usually, when detected, leave the impression that he feels that he is engaged in such a cause. If an object cannot be secured by sincerity and straight-forward dealing, it is not desirable that it should be secured at all.

Even so we speak. In accordance with the nature of the gospel; with the truth and sincerity which such a cause demands.

Not as pleasing men. Not in the manner of impostors, who make it their object to please men. The meaning of the apostle is, that he did not aim to teach such doctrines as would flatter men; as would win their applause; or as would gratify their passions or their fancy. We are not to suppose that he desired to offend men; or that he regarded their esteem as of no value; or that he was indifferent whether they were pleased or displeased; but that it was not the direct object of his preaching to please them. It was to declare the truth, and to obtain the approbation of God, whatever men might think of it. See Barnes "Ga 1:10".

Which trieth our hearts. It is often said to be an attribute of God that he tries or searches the hearts of men, 1 Ch 28:9; 29:17; Jer 11:20; 17:10; Ps 11:4; Ro 8:27.

The meaning here is, that the apostle had a deep conviction of the truth that God knew all his motives, and that all would be revealed in the last day.

{a} "trust with" 1 Ti 1:11,12


Verse 5. For neither at any time used we flattering words. See Barnes "Job 32:21" See Barnes "Job 32:22" See Barnes "2 Co 2:17".

The word here rendered "flattering"—kolakeia—occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. The meaning is, that the apostle did not deal in the language of adulation; he did not praise them for their beauty, wealth, talent, or accomplishments, and conceal from them the painful truths about their guilt and danger, He stated simple truth—not refusing to commend men if truth would admit of it, and never hesitating to declare his honest convictions about their guilt and danger. One of the principal arts of the deceiver on all subjects is flattery; and Paul says, that when preaching to the Thessalonians he had carefully avoided it. He now appeals to that fact as a proof of his own integrity. They knew that he had been faithful to their souls.

Nor a cloke of covetousness. The word rendered "cloke" here— profasiv—means, properly, "what is shown or appears before any one;" i.e., show, pretence, pretext, put forth in order to cover one's real intent, Mt 23:14; Mr 12:40; Lu 20:47.

The meaning here is, that he did not put on a pretence or appearance of piety for the sake of promoting the schemes of covetousness. The evidence of that was not only what their observed of the general spirit of the apostle, but also the fact that when with them he had actually laboured with his own hands for a support, 1 Th 2:9. It is obvious that there were those there, as sometimes there are now, who, under the pretence of great zeal for religion, were really seeking wealth; and it is possible that it may have been alleged against Paul and his fellow-labourers that they were such persons.

God is witness. This is a solemn appeal to God for the truth of what he had said. He refers not only to their own observation, but he calls God himself to witness his sincerity. God knew the truth in the case. There could have been no imposing on him; and the appeal, therefore, is to one who was intimately acquainted with the truth. Learn hence,

(1.) that it is right, on important occasions, to appeal to God for the truth of what we say.

(2.) We should always so live that we can properly make such an appeal to him.

{b} "neither at any time" 2 Co 2:17


Verse 6. Nor of men sought we glory. Or praise. The love of applause was not that which influenced them. See Barnes "Col 1:10".

Neither of you, nor yet of others. Nowhere has this been our object. The love of fame is not that which has influenced us. The particular idea in this verse seems to be, that though they had uncommon advantages, as the apostles of Christ, for setting up a dominion or securing an ascendency over others yet they had not availed themselves of it. As an apostle of Christ; as appointed by him to found churches; as endowed with the power of working miracles, Paul had every advantage for securing authority over others and turning it to the purposes of ambition or gain.

When we might have been burdensome. Marg., "or, used authority." Some understand this as meaning that they might have demanded a support in virtue of their being apostles; others, as Calvin, and as it is in the margin, that they might have used authority, and have governed them wholly in that manner, exacting unqualified obedience. The Greek properly refers to that which is weighty—en barei —heavy, burdensome. Anything that weighs down, or oppresses —as a burden, sorrow, or authority, would meet the sense of the Greek. It seems probable, from the context, that the apostle did not refer either to authority or to support exclusively, but may have included both. In their circumstances it might have been somewhat burdensome for them to have maintained him and his fellow-labourers, though as an apostle he might have required it. Comp. 1 Co 9:8-15. Rather than be oppressive in this respect, he had chosen to forego his right, and to maintain himself by his own labour. As an apostle also he might have exerted his authority, and might have made use of his great office for the purpose of placing himself at the head of churches, and giving them laws. But he chose to do nothing that would be a burden; he treated them with the gentleness with which a nurse cherishes her children, 1 Th 2:7, or a father his sons, 1 Th 2:11, and employed only the arts of persuasion. Comp. See Barnes "2 Co 12:13" See Barnes "2 Co 12:14" See Barnes "2 Co 12:15" See Barnes "2 Co 12:16".

As the apostles of Christ. Though the writer uses the word apostles here in the plural number, it is not certain that he means to apply it to Silas and Timothy. He often uses the plural number where he refers to himself only; and though Silas and Timothy are joined with him in this epistle, 1 Th 1:1, yet it is evident that he writes the letter as if he were alone, and that they had no part in the composition or the instructions. Timothy and Silas are associated with him for the mere purpose of salutation or kind remembrance. That this is so, is apparent from chapter 3. In 1 Th 3:1, Paul uses the plural term also. "When we could no longer forbear, we thought it good to be left at Athens alone." 1 Th 2:5 "For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith? Neither Silas nor Timothy were apostles in the strict and proper sense, and there is no evidence that they had the "authority" which Paul here says might have been exerted by an apostle of Christ.

{c} "men sought" Joh 5:41,44; Ga 1:10

{1} "been burdensome" "used authority"


Verse 7. But we were gentle among you, etc. Instead of using authority, we used only the most kind and gentle methods to win you and to promote your peace and order. The word here rendered "nurse" may mean any one who nurses a child, whether a mother or another person. It seems here to refer to a mother, 1 Th 2:11; and the idea is, that the apostle felt for them the affectionate solicitude which a mother does for the child at her breast.

{*} "cherisheth" "nursing mother"


Verse 8. So, being affectionately desirous of you. The word here rendered "being affectionately desirous" imeirw occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It means to long after, to have a strong affection for. The sense here is, that Paul was so strongly attached to them that he would have been willing to lay down his life for them.

We were willing to have imparted unto you. To have given or communicated, Ro 1:11.

Not the gospel of God only. To be willing to communicate the knowledge of the gospel was in itself a strong proof of love, even if it were attended with no self-denial or hazard in doing it. We evince a decided love for a man when we tell him of the way of salvation, and urge him to accept of it. We show strong interest for one who is in danger, when we tell him of a way of escape, or for one who is sick, when we tell him of a medicine that will restore him; but we manifest a much higher love when we tell a lost and ruined sinner of the way in which he may be saved. There is no method in which we can show so strong an interest in our fellow-men, and so much true benevolence for them, as to go to them and tell them of the way by which they may be rescued from everlasting ruin.

But also our own souls. Or rather lives—qucav. Mt 6:25; 20:28; Lu 12:22,23; Mr 3:4.

This does not mean that the apostle was willing to be damned, or to lose his soul in order to save them; but that, if it had been necessary, he would have been ready to lay down his life. See Joh 3:16. "We ought to lay down our lives for the brethren." Comp. See Barnes "Joh 15:13".

His object seems to be to assure them that he did not leave them from any want of love to them, or from the fear of being put to death. It was done from the strong conviction of duty. He appears to have left them because he could not longer remain without exposing others to danger, and without the certainty that there would be continued disturbances. See Ac 17:9,10.

{a} "have imparted" Ro 1:1

{+} "souls" "lives"


Verse 9. Ye remember, brethren, our labour. Doubtless in the occupation of a tent-maker. See Barnes "Ac 20:34" See Barnes "1 Co 4:12".

And travail. See Barnes "2 Co 11:27".

The word means wearisome labour.

For labouring night and day. That is, when he was not engaged in preaching the gospel. He appears to have laboured through the week, and to have preached on the Sabbath; or, if engaged in preaching in the day time during the week, he made it up by night labour.

We preached unto you the gospel of God. That is, I supported myself when I preached among you. No one, therefore, could say, that I was disposed to live in idleness; no one that I sought to make myself rich at the expense of others.

{b} "labour and travail" Ac 20:34,35; 1 Th 3:7,8

{++} "travail" "toil"


Verse 10. Ye are witnesses. They had a full opportunity of knowing his manner of life.

And God also. See Barnes "1 Th 2:5".

How holily. Piously—observing all the duties of religion.

And justly. In our intercourse with men. I did them no wrong.

And unblameably. This seems to refer to his duties both to God and man. In reference to all those duties no one could bring a charge against him. Every duty was faithfully performed. This is not a claim to absolute perfection, but it is a claim to consistency of character, and to faithfulness in duty, which every Christian should be enabled to make. Every man, professing religion, should so live as to be able to appeal to all who have had an opportunity of knowing him, as witnesses that he was consistent and faithful, and that there was nothing which could be laid to his charge.


Verse 11. How we exhorted. That is, to a holy life.

And comforted. In the times of affliction.

And charged. Gr., testified. The word testify is used here in the sense of protesting, or making an earnest and solemn appeal. They came as witnesses from God of the truth of religion, and of the importance of living in a holy manner. They did not originate the gospel themselves, or teach its duties and doctrines as their own, but they came in the capacity of those who bore witness of what God had revealed and required, and they did this in the earnest and solemn manner-which became such an office.

As a father doth his children. With an interest in your welfare, such as a father feels for his children, and with such a method as a father would use. It was not done in a harsh, dictatorial, and arbitrary manner, but in tenderness and love.


Verse 12. That ye would walk worthy of God etc. That you would live in such a manner as would honour God, who has chosen you to be his friends. See Barnes "Eph 4:1".

A child "walks worthy of a parent" when he lives in such way as to reflect honour on that parent for the method in which he has trained him; when he so lives as to bring no disgrace on him, so as not to pain his heart by misconduct, or so as to give no occasion to any to speak reproachfully of him. This he does, when

(1.) he keeps all his commands;

(2.) when he leads a life of purity and virtue;

(3.) when he carries out the principles of the family into his own life;

(4.) when he honours a father by evincing a profound respect for his opinions; and

(5.) when he endeavours to provide for his comfort, and to promote his welfare. In a manner similar to this, a true Christian honours God. He lives so as not to bring a reproach upon him or his cause, and so as to teach the world to honour him who has bestowed such grace upon him.

Who hath called you. See Barnes "1 Co 1:9".

{c} "walk worthy" Eph 4:1

{d} "who hath" 1 Co 1:9


Verse 13. For this cause also thank we God. In addition to the reasons for thankfulness already suggested, the apostle here refers to the fact, that they received the truth, when it was preached, in such a way as to show that they fully believed it to be the word of God.

Not as the word of men. Not of human origin, but as a Divine revelation. You were not led to embrace it by human reasoning, or the mere arts of persuasion, or from personal respect for others, but by your conviction that it was a revelation from God. It is only when the gospel is embraced in this way, that religion will show itself sufficient to abide the fiery trials to which Christians may be exposed. He who is convinced by mere human reasoning, may have his faith shaken by opposite, artful reasoning; he who is won by the mere arts of popular eloquence, will have no faith which will be proof against similar arts in the cause of error; he who embraces religion from mere respect for a pastor, parent, or friend, or because others do, may abandon it when the popular current shall set in a different direction, or when his friends shall embrace different views; but he who embraces religion as the truth of God, and from the love of the truth, will have a faith, like that Of the Thessalonians, which will abide every trial.

Which effectually worketh also in you that believe. The word rendered "which" here—ov—may be referred either to "truth" or to "God." The grammatical construction will admit of either, but it is not material which is adopted. Either of them expresses a sense undeniably true, and of great importance. The meaning is, that the truth was made efficacious in the minds of all who became true Christians. It induced them to abandon their sins, to devote themselves to God, to lead pure and holy lives, and enabled them to abide the trials and temptations of life. Comp. See Barnes "Php 2:12, See Barnes "Php 2:13" See Barnes "Heb 13:21".

The particular illustration here is, that when they embraced the gospel, it had such an efficacy on their hearts as to prepare them to meet all the terrors of bitter persecution without shrinking.

{e} "not as" Mt 10:40; 2 Pe 3:2

{f} "worketh also" Jas 1:18; 1 Pe 1:23


Verse 14. For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judea are in Christ Jesus. Which are united to the Lord Jesus, or which are founded on his truth: that is, which are true churches. OF those churches they became imitators mimhtai— to wit, in their sufferings. This does not mean that they were founded on the same model; or that they professed to be the followers of those churches, but that they had been treated in the same way, and thus were like them. They had been persecuted in the same manner, and by the same people—the Jews; and they had borne their persecutions with the same spirit. The object of this is, to comfort and encourage them, by showing them that others had been treated in the same manner, and that it was to be expected that a true church would be persecuted by the Jews. They ought not, therefore, to consider it as any evidence that they were not a true church that they had been persecuted by those who claimed to be the people of God, and who made extraordinary pretensions to piety.

For ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen; Literally, "of those who are of your fellow, tribe, or fellow-clansmen," sumfuletwn. The Greek word means "one of the same tribe," and then a fellow-citizen, or fellow-countryman. It is not elsewhere used in the New Testament. The particular reference here seems not to be to the heathen, who were the agents or actors in the scenes of tumult and persecutions, but to the Jews by whom they were led on, or who were the prime-movers in the persecutions which they had endured. It is necessary to suppose that they were principally Jews who were the cause of the persecution which had been excited against them, in order to make the parallelism between the church there and the churches in Palestine exact. At the same time, there was a propriety in saying that, though this parallelism was exact, it was by the "hands of their own countrymen" that it was done; that is, they were the visible agents or actors by whom it was done—the instruments in the hands of others. In Palestine, the Jews persecuted the churches directly, out of Palestine, they did it by means of others. They were the real authors of it, as they were in Judea; but they usually accomplished it by producing an excitement among the heathen, and by the plea that the apostles were making war on civil institutions. This was the case in Thessalonica. "The Jews which believed not, moved with envy, set all the city on an uproar." "They drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying These that have turned the world upside down have come hither also," Ac 17:5,6. The same thing occurred a short time after at Berea. "When the Jews of Thessalonica had knowledge that the word of God was preached of Paul at Berea, they came thither also, and stirred up the people," Ac 17:13; Comp. Ac 14:2. "The unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles, and made their minds evil-affected against the brethren." "The epistle, therefore, represents the case accurately as the history states it. It was the Jews always who set on foot the persecutions against the apostles and their followers." Paley, Hor. Paul. in loc. It was, therefore, strictly true, as the apostle here states it,

(1.) that they were subjected to the same treatment from the Jews as the churches in Judea were, since they were the authors of the excitement against them; and

(2.) that it was carried on, as the apostle states, "by their own countrymen;" that is, that they were the agents or instruments by which it was done. This kind of undesigned coincidence between the epistle and the history in the Acts of the Apostles, is one of the arguments from which Paley (Hor. Paul.) infers the genuineness of both.

As they have of the Jews. Directly. In Palestine there were no others but Jews who could be excited against Christians, and they were obliged to appear as the persecutors themselves.

{*} "followers" "imitators"


Verse 15. Who both killed the Lord Jesus. See Barnes "Ac 2:23".

The meaning here is, that it was characteristic of the Jews to be engaged in the work of persecution, and that they should not regard it strange, that they who had put their own Messiah to death, and slain the prophets, should now be found persecuting the true children of God.

And their own prophets. See Barnes "Mt 21:33, and following; See Barnes "Mt 23:20-37, and following; See Barnes "Ac 7:52".

And have persecuted us. As at Iconium, (Ac 14:1,) Derbe, and Lystra, (Ac 14:6) and at Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea. The meaning is, that it was characteristic of them to persecute, and they spared no one. If they had persecuted the apostles themselves, who were their own countrymen, it should not be considered strange that they should persecute those who were Gentiles.

And they please not God. Their conduct is not such as to please God, but such as expose them to his wrath, 1 Th 2:16. The meaning is, not that they did not aim to please God—whatever may have been the truth about that—but that they had shown, by all their history, that their conduct could not meet with the Divine approbation. They made extraordinary pretensions to being the peculiar people of God, and it was important for the apostle to show that their conduct demonstrated that they had no such claims. Their opposition to the Thessalonians, therefore, was no proof that God was opposed to them, and they should not allow themselves to be troubled by such opposition. It was, rather, proof that they were the friends of God—since those who now persecuted them had been engaged in persecuting the most holy men that had lived.

And are contrary to all men. They do not merely differ from other men in customs and opinions—which might be harmless— but they keep up an active opposition to all other people. It was not opposition to one nation only, but to all; it was not to one form of religion only, but to all, even including God's last revelation to mankind; it was not opposition evinced in their own country, but they carried it with them wherever they went. The truth of this statement is confirmed, not only by authority of the apostle and the uniform record in the New Testament, but by the testimony borne of them in the classic writers. This was universally regarded as their national characteristic, for they had so demeaned themselves as to leave this impression on the minds of those with whom they had intercourse. Thus Tacitus describes them as "cherishing hatred against all others"—adversus omnes alios hostile odium, Hist. v. 5. So Juvenal, (Sat. xiv. 103, 104,) describes them.

Non monstrare vias eadem nisi sacra colenti, Quasitum ad fontem solos deducere verpos.

"They would not even point out the way to any one except of the same religion; nor, being asked, guide any to a fountain except the circumcised." So they are called by Appollonius, "atheists and misanthropes, and the most uncultivated barbarians"—ayeoi kai misanyrwpoi kai afuestatoi twn barbarwn Josephus Con. Ap. ii, 15. So Diodorus Sicuhs, (xxxiv. p. 524,) describes them as "those alone among all the nations who were unwilling to have any intercourse [or intermingling—epimixiav] with any other nation, and who regarded all others as enemies"—kai polemiouv upolambanein pantav-. Their history had given abundant occasion for these charges.

{a} "their own prophets" Ac 7:52

{1} "persecuted us" "chased us out"

{+} "contrary to all men" "Against all men"


Verse 16. Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles. See Ac 17:5,13. No particular instance is mentioned in the life of Paul previous to this, when they had formally commanded him not to preach to the heathen; but no one can doubt that this was one of the leading points of difference between him and them. Paul maintained, that the Jews and Gentiles were now on a level with regard to salvation; that the wall of partition was broken down; that the Jew had no advantages over the rest of mankind in this respect, and that the heathen might be saved without becoming Jews, or being circumcised, Ro 2:25-29; Ro 3:22-31; See Barnes "Col 1:25".

The Jews did not hold it unlawful "to speak to the Gentiles," and even to offer to them eternal life, (Mt 23:15;) but it was only on condition that they should become proselytes to their religion, and should observe the institutions of Moses. If saved, they held that it would be as Jews—either originally such, or such by becoming proselytes. Paul maintained just the opposite opinion, that heathens might be saved without becoming proselytes to the Jewish system, and that, in fact, salvation was as freely offered to them as to the children of Abraham. Though there are no express instances in which they prohibited Paul from speaking to the Gentiles recorded before the date of this epistle, yet events occurred afterwards which showed what were their feelings, and such as to make it in the highest degree probable that they had attempted to restrain him. See Ac 22:21,22. "And he [Christ] said unto me [Paul,] Depart, for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles. And they [the Jews] gave him audience unto this word, and then lift up their voices and said, Away with such a fellow from the earth, for it is not fit that he should live."

That they might be saved. That is, as freely as others, and on the same terms, not by conversion to Judaism, but by repentance and faith.

To fill up their sins alway. At all times pantote—in every generation. That is, to do now as they have always done, by resisting God and exposing themselves to his wrath. The idea is, that it had been a characteristic of the nation, at all times, to oppose God, and that they did it now in this manner in conformity with their fixed character. Comp. Ac 7:51-53, and See Barnes "Mt 23:32, on the expression, "Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers."

For the wrath is come upon them.This cannot mean that the wrath of God had been then actually poured out upon them in the extreme degree referred to, or that they had experienced the full expressions of the Divine displeasure, for this epistle was written before the destruction of their city and temple, (see the Introduction;) but that the cup of their iniquity was full; that they were, in fact, abandoned by God; that they were the objects, even then, of his displeasure, and that their destruction was so certain, that it might be spoken of as an indubitable fact. The "wrath of God" may be said to have come upon a man when he abandons him, even though there may not be as yet any external expressions of his indignation. It is not punishment that constitutes the wrath of God. That is the mere outward expression of the Divine indignation; and the wrath of God may, in fact, have come upon a man when as yet there are no external tokens of it. The overthrow of Jerusalem and the temple, were but the outward expressions of the Divine displeasure at their conduct. Paul, inspired to speak of the feelings God, describes that wrath as already existing in the Divine mind; Comp. Ro 1:18.

To the uttermost. Gr. eiv telov, to the end; that is, until wrath shall be complete or exhausted; or wrath in the extremest degree. It does not mean "to the end of their race or history;" nor necessarily to the remotest periods of time, but to that which constitutes completion, so that there should be nothing lacking of that which would make indignation perfect: eiv telov—thoroughly, entirely, through and through." Passow. Some have understood this as meaning at the last or at length, as Macknight, Rosenmuller, Koppe, and Wetstein; others as referring to duration, meaning, that it would follow them everywhere; but the more correct interpretation seems to be to refer it to that extremity of calamity and woe which was about to come upon the nation. For an account of this, See Barnes "Mt 24:21".

{b} "forbidding" Ac 17:5,13; 18:12

{c} "fill up" Ge 15:16; Mt 23:32

{d} "uttermost" Re 22:11


Verse 17. But we, brethren, being taken from you. There is more implied in the Greek word here rendered, "being taken from you"— aporfanisyentev—than appears from our translation. It properly has relation to the condition of an orphan, (comp. See Barnes "Joh 14:18,) or one who is bereaved of parents. Then it is used in a more general sense, denoting to be bereaved of; and in this place it does not mean merely that he was "taken from them," but there is included the idea that it was like a painful bereavement. It was such a state as that of one who had lost a parent. No word, perhaps, could have expressed stronger attachment for them.

For a short time. Gr., "For the time of an hour;" that is, for a brief period. The meaning is, that when he left them he supposed it would be only for a short time. The fact seems to have been, (Ac 17:10,) that it was supposed, when Paul was sent to Berea, that things would soon be in such a state that he could safely return to Thessalonica. He was "sent" there by those who thought it was necessary for the safety of some of his friends at Thessalonica, and he evidently purposed to return as soon as it could properly be done. It had, in fact, however, turned out to be a long and painful absence.

In presence, not in heart, My heart was still with you. This is an elegant and touching expression, which we still use to denote affection for an absent friend.

Endeavoured the more abundantly to see your face. Made every endeavour possible. It was from no want of affection that I have not done it, but from causes beyond my control.

With great desire. Comp. See Barnes "Lu 22:15".


Verse 18. Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul. The phrase "even I Paul," seems to be used by way of/emphasis, lie had a special desire to go himself. He had sent Timothy to them, (1 Th 3:2,6,) and perhaps some might have been disposed to allege that Paul was afraid to go himself, or that he did not feel interest enough in them to go, though he was willing to send one to visit them. Paul, therefore, is at much pains to assure them that his long separation from them was unavoidable.

But Satan hindered us. Comp. See Barnes "2 Co 12:7".

In what way this was done is unknown, and conjecture would be useless. The apostle recognised the hand of Satan in frustrating his attempt to do good, and preventing the accomplishment of his strong desire to see his Christian friends. In the obstacles, therefore, to the performance of our duty, and in the hindrances of our enjoyment, it is not improper to trace the hand of the great enemy of good. The agency of Satan may, for aught we can tell, be employed ill the embarrassments that we meet with in life. The hindrances which we meet with in our efforts to do good, when the providence of God seems to favour us, and his word and Spirit seem to call us to a particular duty, often look very much like the work of Satan. They are just such obstructions as a very wicked being would be glad to throw in our way.


Verse 19. For what is our hope. That is, "I had a strong desire to see you; to assist you; to enjoy your friendship; for you are my hope and joy, and my absence does not arise from a want of affection." The meaning, when he says that they were his "hope," is, that their conversion and salvation was one of the grounds of his hope of future blessedness. It was an evidence that he was a faithful servant of God, and that he would be rewarded in heaven.

Or joy. The source of joy here, and in heaven.

Or crown of rejoicing. Marg., as in Gr., glorying; that is, boasting, or exulting. The allusion is, probably, to the victors at the Grecian games; and the sense is, that he rejoiced in their conversion, as the victor there did in the garland which he had won. See Barnes "1 Co 9:24-27".

Are not even ye. Or, will not you be?

In the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming. "When the Lord Jesus appears at the end of the world, then our highest source of happiness and honour will be your conversion and salvation." Then their salvation would be a proof of his fidelity. It would fill his soul with the highest happiness, that he had been the means of saving them from ruin.

{1} "rejoicing" "glorying"

{a} "in the presence" 2 Co 1:14; Php 4:1

{b} "of our Lord Jesus Christ" Jude 1:24

{c} "at his coming" Re 1:7


Verse 20. For ye are our glory and joy. The meaning is, that the source of happiness to a minister of the gospel in the day of judgment will be the conversion and salvation of souls. The object of the apostle in dwelling on this, in a manner so tender and affectionate, is, to show them that his leaving them, and his long absence from them, Were not caused by any want of affection for them.

REMARKS on 1st Thessalonians Chapter 2

(1.) Ministers of the gospel should be entirely sincere, and without guile. They should attempt to carry no measure—not even the conversion of sinners—by trick or management, 1 Th 2:3-5.

(2.) They should not make it a point to please men, 2 Th 2:4. If they do please men; or if their ministry is acceptable to men, they should not regard it, indeed, as proof that they are unfaithful, for they "should have a good report of them that are without;" nor should they make it a point to displease men, or consider it a proof that because men are offended, therefore they are faithful; but it should not be their leading aim or purpose to gratify men. They should preach the truth; and if they do this, God will take care of their reputation, and give them just as much as they ought to have. The same principle should operate with all Christians. They should do right, and leave their reputation with God.

(3.) Ministers of the gospel should be gentle, tender, and affectionate. They should be kind in feeling, and courteous in manner —like a father or mother, 2 Th 2:7,11. Nothing is ever gained by a sour, harsh, crabbed, dissatisfied manner. Sinners are never scolded either into duty or into heaven. "Flies are not caught with vinegar." No man is a better or more faithful preacher because he is rough in manner, coarse or harsh in his expressions, or sour in his intercourse with mankind. Not thus was the Master, or Paul. There is no crime in being polite and courteous; none in observing the rules of good-breeding, and paying respect to the sensibilities of others; and there is no piety in outraging all the laws which society has found necessary to adopt to promote happy intercourse. What is wrong we should indeed oppose, but it should be in the kindest manner towards the persons of those who do wrong; what is true and right we should maintain and defend—and we shall always do it more effectually if we do it kindly.

(4.) Ministers should be willing to labour in any proper calling, if it be necessary for their own support, or to do good, 1 Th 2:9. It is, indeed, the duty of a people to support the gospel, but there may be situations where they are not able to do it; and a minister should be able to earn something in some other way, and should be willing to do it. Paul made tents; and if he were willing to do that, a minister should not feel himself degraded if he be obliged to make shoes, or to hoe corn, or to plough, or to keep cattle. He had better not do it, if he can avoid it well, for he needs his time for his more important work; but he should feel it no dishonour if he be obliged to do it, and should feel that it is a privilege to preach the gospel even if he be obliged to support himself by making either tents or shoes. It is no dishonour for a minister to work hard; and it is not well for a man to enter the ministry wholly unacquainted with every other way of procuring an honest living.

(5.) Every minister should be able to appeal to the people among whom he has laboured in proof that he is an honest man, and lives consistently with his profession, 1 Th 2:1,9-11.

The same remark applies to all other Christians. They should so live that they may at once refer to their neighbours in proof of the uprightness of their lives, and their consistent walk. But to be enabled to do this, a man should live as he ought; for the world generally forms a very correct estimate of character.

(6.) The joy of a minister in the day of judgment will be measured by the amount of good which he has done, and the number of souls which he has been the means of converting and saving, 1 Th 2:19. It will not be the honour which he has received from men; the titles which they have conferred on him; the commendation which he has received for eloquence or talent, or the learning which he has acquired; but it will be found in the number of those who have been converted from the error of their ways, and in the evidence of the good which he did on the earth. And will not the same thing be substantially true of all others who bear the Christian name? Will it then be a source of joy to them that they were richer than their neighbours; or that they were advanced to higher honours; or that they had a more splendid mansion; or were able to fare more "sumptuously?" The good that we do will be remembered certainly with pleasure in the day of judgment: of how many other things which now interest us so much, can the same thing be said?

(7.) Paul expected evidently to recognise the Thessalonian Christians at the day of judgment, for he said that they would be then his "joy and crown of rejoicing," 1 Th 2:19. But this could not be, unless he should be able to know those who had been converted by his instrumentality. If he expected then to recognise them, and to rejoice with them, then we also may hope to know our pious friends in that happy world. Nothing in the Bible forbids this hope; and we can hardly believe that God has created the strong ties which bind us to each other, to endure for the present life only. If Paul hoped to meet those who had been converted by his instrumentality, and to rejoice with them there, then the parent may hope to meet the child over whose loss he mourned; the husband and wife will meet again; the pious children of a family will be re-assembled; and the pastor and his flock will be permitted to rejoice together before the Lord. This hope, which nothing in the Bible forbids us to entertain, should do much to alleviate the sorrow of the parting pang, and may be an important and powerful inducement to draw our own thoughts to a brighter and a better world. Of many of the living it is true that the best and dearest friends which they have are already in heaven—and how should their own hearts pant that they may meet them there !




THIS chapter is a continuation of the course of thought pursued in the previous chapter, and seems designed to meet the same state of feeling existing in Thessalonica, and the same objections which some there urged against the apostle. The objection seems to have been, that he had really no attachment for them, and no regard for their welfare; that he had fled from them on the slightest danger, and that when the danger was passed, he had not returned, but had left them to bear their afflictions alone. It appears to have been inferred from his long absence, that he had no solicitude for their welfare, and had brought them into difficulties, to escape from which, or to bear which, he was now indisposed to render any assistance. It was important, therefore, for him to remind them of what he had actually done, and to state his real feelings towards them. He refers them, therefore, to the following things as proof of his interest in them, and his affection for them:—

(1.) He had sent Timothy to them at great personal inconvenience, when he could not go himself, 1 Th 3:1-5.

(2.) He had been greatly comforted by the report which Timothy had brought of their steadfastness in the faith, 1 Th 3:6-8. Every expression of their attachment to him had gone to his heart, and their faith and charity had been to him in his trials the source of unspeakable consolation. His very life depended, as it were, on their fidelity; and he says he should live and be happy if they stood fast in the Lord, 1 Th 3:8.

(3.) He expresses again the earnest desire which he had to see them; says that it had been to him the subject of unceasing prayer night and day, and beseeches God again now that he would be pleased to direct his way to them, 1 Th 3:9-11.

(4.) As a proof of affection, the chapter is closed with a fervent prayer that God would cause them to abound more and more in love, and would establish their hearts unblameable before him, 1 Th 3:12,13. The Thessalonians well knew the apostle Paul. They had had abundant proof of his love when he was with them; and if his enemies there had succeeded in ally degree in causing their affection towards him to become cool, or to excite suspicions that he was not sincere, their love must have been rekindled, and their suspicions must have been entirely allayed by the expressions of attachment in this chapter. Language of warmer love, or of deeper interest in the welfare of others, it would not be possible to find anywhere.

Verse 1. Wherefore. 1 Th 2:18. This particle (dio) is designed here to refer to another proof of his affection for them. One evidence had been referred to in his strong desire to visit them, which he had been unable to accomplish, (1 Th 2:18;) and he here refers to another—to wit, the fact that he had sent Timothy to them.

We could no longer forbear. That is, when I could not, (1 Th 3:5,) for there is every evidence that Paul refers to himself only, though he uses the plural form of the word. There was no one with him at Athens after he had sent Timothy away, (Ac 17:15; 18:5;) and this shows that when, in 1 Th 2:6, he uses the term apostles in the plural number, he refers to himself only, and does not mean to give the name to Timothy and Silas. If this be so, Timothy and Silas are nowhere called "apostles" in the New Testament. The word rendered here could forbear, (stegontev,) means, properly, to cover, to conceal; and then to hide or conceal anger, impatience, weariness, etc.,; that is, to hold out as to anything, to bear with, to endure. It is rendered suffer in 1 Co 9:12; beareth, 1 Th 3:1,5. It is not elsewhere used in the New Testament. It means that he could no longer bear up under, hide, or suppress his impatience in regard to them, his painful emotions, his wish to know of their state; and he therefore sent Timothy to them.

We thought it good. I was willing to suffer the inconvenience of parting with him in order to show my concern for you.

To be left at Athens alone. Paul had been conducted to Athens from Berea, where he remained until Silas and Timothy could come to him, Ac 17:15. It appears from the statement here, that Timothy had joined him there, but such was his solicitude for the church at Thessalonica, that he very soon after sent him there, and chose to remain himself alone at Athens. Why he did not himself return to Thessalonica, is not stated. It is evidently implied here that it was a great personal inconvenience for him thus to part with Timothy, and to remain alone at Athens, and that he evinced the strong love which he had for the church at Thessalonica by being willing to submit to it. What that inconvenience consisted in, he has not stated, but it is not difficult to understand.

(1.)He was among total strangers, and, when Timothy was gone, without an acquaintance or friend.

(2.) The aid of Timothy was needed in order to prosecute the work which he contemplated. He had requested that Timothy should join him as soon as possible when he left Berea, (Ac 17:15;) and he evidently felt it desirable that in preaching the gospel in that city he should have all the assistance he could obtain. Yet he was willing to forego those comforts and advantages in order to promote the edification of the church at Thessalonica.

{*} "forbear" "bear"


Verse 2. And sent Timotheus. That is, evidently, he sent him from Athens—for this is the fair construction of the passage. But in the history Ac 17 there is no mention that Timothy came to Athens at all, and it may be asked how this statement is reconcilable with the record in the Acts? It is mentioned there that "the brethren sent away Paul [from Berea] to go as it were to the sea: but Silas and Timotheus abode there still. And they that conducted Paul brought him to Athens," Ac 17:14,15. The history further states, that after Paul had remained some time at Athens, he went to Corinth, where he was joined by Timothy and Silas, who came to him "from Macedonia," Ac 18:5. But, in order to reconcile the account in the Acts with the statement before us in the epistle, it is necessary to suppose that Timothy had come to Athens. In reconciling these accounts, we may observe, that though the history does not expressly mention the arrival of Timothy at Athens, yet there are circumstances mentioned which render this extremely probable. First, as soon as Paul reached Athens, he sent a message back to Silas, and Timothy to come to him as soon as possible, and there is every probability that this request would be obeyed, Ac 17:15. Secondly, his stay at Athens was on purpose that they might join him there. "Now whilst Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred within him," Ac 17:16. Thirdly, his departure from Athens does not appear to have been in any sort hastened or abrupt. He had an opportunity of seeing the city, Ac 17:23. He disputed in the synagogue and in the market "daily," Ac 17:17; he held a controversy with the philosophers, Ac 17:18-22; he made converts there, Ac 17:34; and "after these things" he calmly went to Corinth. There was no tumult or excitement, and it is not suggested that he was driven away, as in other places, because his life was in danger. There was, therefore, ample time for Timothy to come to him there—for Paul was at liberty to remain as long as he pleased, and as he stayed there for the express purpose of having Timothy and Silas meet him, it is to be presumed that his wish was in this respect accomplished. Fourthly, the sending back of Timothy to Macedonia, as mentioned in the epistle, is a circumstance which will account for the fact mentioned in Ac 18:5, that Timothy came to him "at Corinth," instead of at Athens. He had given directions for him to meet him at Athens, Ac 17:15, but the history mentions only that he met him, after a long delay, at Corinth. This delay, and this change of place, when they rejoined each other for the purpose of labouring together, can only be accounted for by the supposition that Timothy had come to him at Athens, and had been immediately sent back to Macedonia, with instructions to join him again at Corinth. This is one of the "undesigned coincidences" between the history in the Acts of the Apostles and the epistles of Paul, of which Paley (Hor. Paul.) has made so good use in demonstrating the genuineness of both. "The epistle discloses a fact which is not preserved in the history; but which makes what is said in the history more significant, probable, and consistent. The history bears marks of an omission; the epistle furnishes a circumstance which: supplies that omission."

Our brother. See Barnes "Col 1:1".

The mention of his being a "brother" is designed to show his interest in the church there. He did not send one whose absence would be no inconvenience to him, or for whom he had no regard. He sent one who was as dear to him as a brother.

And minister of God. Another circumstance showing his affection for them. He did not send a layman, or one who could not be useful with him or to them, but he sent one fully qualified to preach to them, and to break to them the Bread of life One of the richest tokens of affection which can be shown to any people, is to send to them a faithful minister of God.

And our fellow-labourer in the gospel of Christ. A third token of affectionate interest in their welfare. The meaning is, "I did not send one whom I did not want, or who could be of no use here, but one who was a fellow-labourer with me, and whose aid would have been of essential service to me. In parting with him, therefore, for your welfare, I showed a strong attachment for you. I was willing to endure personal inconvenience, and additional toil, in order to promote your welfare,"

To establish you. To strengthen you; to make you firm sthrixai. This was to be done by presenting such considerations as would enable them to maintain their faith steadfastly in their trials.

And to comfort you concerning your faith. It is evident that they were suffering persecution on account of their faith in the Lord Jesus; that is, for their belief in him as a Saviour. The object of sending Timothy was to suggest such topics of consolation as would sustain them in their trials—that is, that he was the Son of God; that the people of God had been persecuted in all ages; that God was able to support them, etc.

{a} "Timotheus" Ac 17:15


Verse 3. That no man should be moved. The word rendered moved (sainw) occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It properly means to wag, to move to and fro, as of dogs which wag their tails in fondness, (Hom. Od.K. 216. AEl. A.N.x. 7. Ovid, xiv. 258;) then to caress, to fawn upon, to flatter; then to move or waver in mind—as from fear; to dread, to tremble. See Passow and Wetstein. Here the sense is, to be so moved or agitated by fear, or by the terror of persecution, as to forsake their religion. The object of sending Timothy was, that they might not be thus moved, but that amidst all opposition they might adhere steadfastly to their religion.

These afflictions. See Barnes "1 Th 2:14".

For yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto. It is not quite certain whether by the word "we" here the apostle refers to himself; or to himself and the Thessalonians; or to Christians in general. On either supposition what he says is true, and either would meet the case. It would be most to the purpose, however, to suppose that he means to state the general idea that all Christians are exposed to persecution, and could not hope to avoid it. It would then appear that the Thessalonians had partaken only of the common lot. Still there may have been a special reference to the fact that Paul and his fellow-labourers there were subjected to trims; and if this be the reference, then the idea is, that the Thessalonians should not be "moved" by their trials, for even their teachers were not exempt. Even their enemies could not say that the apostle and his co-workers were impostors, for they had persevered in preaching the gospel when they knew that these trials were coming upon them. The phrase, "we are appointed thereunto," means that such was the Divine arrangement. No one who professed Christianity could hope to be exempted from trial, for it was the common lot of all believers. Comp. See Barnes "1 Co 4:9" See Barnes "2 Ti 3:12".

{b} "no man" Eph 3:13

{c} "we are appointed" Joh 16:2; 2 Ti 3:12; 1 Pe 2:12


Verse 4. For verily, when we were with you, we told you before, etc. It is not mentioned in the history Ac 17 that Paul thus predicted that peculiar trials would come upon them, but there is no improbability in what is here said. He was with them long enough to discourse to them on a great variety of topics, and nothing can be more probable, than that, in their circumstances, the subjects of persecution and affliction would be prominent topics of discourse. There was every reason to apprehend that they would meet with opposition on account of their religion, and nothing was more natural than that Paul should endeavour to prepare their minds for it beforehand.

That we should suffer tribulation. We who preached to you; perhaps also including those to whom they preached.

Even as it came to pass, and ye know. When Paul, Silas, and Timothy were driven away, and when the church was so much agitated, by the opposition of the Jews, Ac 17:5-8.


Verse 5. For this cause. Since I knew that you were so liable to be persecuted, and since I feared that some might be turned from the truth by this opposition.

When I could no longer forbear. See Barnes "1 Th 3:1".

I sent to know your faith. That is, your fidelity, or your steadfastness in the gospel.

Lest by some means. Either by allurements to apostasy, set before you by your former heathen friends; or by the arts of false teachers; or by the severity of suffering. Satan has many methods of seducing men from the truth, and Paul was fearful that by some of his arts he might be successful there.

The tempter. Satan; for though the Jews were the immediate actors in those transactions, yet the apostle regarded them as being under the direction of Satan, and as accomplishing his purposes. He was, therefore, the real author of the persecutions which had been excited. He is here called the "Tempter," as he is often, (comp. Mt 4,) and the truths taught are;

(1.) that Satan is the great author of persecution; and

(2.) that in a time of persecution—or of trial of any kind—he endeavours to tempt men to swerve from the truth, and to abandon their religion. In persecution, men are tempted to apostatize from God, in order to avoid suffering. In afflictions of other kinds, Satan often tempts the sufferer to murmur and complain; to charge God with harshness, partiality, and severity, and to give vent to expressions that will show that religion has none of its boasted power support the soul in the day of trial. Comp. Job 1:9-11. In all times of affliction, as well as in prosperity, we may be sure that the Tempter" is not far off, and should be on our guard against his wiles.

And our labour be in vain. By your being turned from the faith. See Barnes "Ga 4:11".

{a} "when I could" 1 Th 3:1

{*} "forbear" "bear"

{b} "lest by" 2 Co 11:2,3

{c} "labour be in vain" Ga 4:11


Verse 6. But now when Timotheus came from you unto us. To Corinth, after he had been sent to Thessalonica, Ac 18:5. Comp. See Barnes "1 Th 3:2".

And brought us good tidings. A cheerful or favourable account. Gr., "evangelizing;" that is, bringing good news.

Of your faith. Of your faithfulness or fidelity. Amidst all their trials they evinced fidelity to the Christian cause.

And charity. Love. See Barnes "1 Co 13:1".

And that ye have good remembrance of us always. That is, probably, they showed their remembrance of Paul by obeying his precepts, and by cherishing all affectionate regard for him, notwithstanding all the efforts which had been made to alienate their affections from him.

Greatly desiring to see us, as we also to see you. There was no disposition to blame him for having left them, or because he did not return to them. They would have welcomed him again as their teacher and friend. The meaning of this is, that there was between him and them a strong mutual attachment.

{+} "charity" "love"

{d} "desiring greatly" Php 1:8


Verse 7. We were comforted over you. See Barnes "2 Co 1:3" and following; See Barnes "2 Co 7:6, See Barnes "2 Co 7:7".

The sense here is, that their steadfastness was a great source of comfort to him in his trials. It was an instance where the holy lives and the fidelity of a people did much, as will always be the case, to lighten the burdens and cheer the heart of a minister of the gospel. In the inevitable trials of the ministerial office there is no source of comfort more rich and pure than this.

{e} "comforted" 2 Co 7:6,7

{++} "over you" "concerning"


Verse 8. For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord. This is equivalent to saying, "My life and comfort depend on your stability in the faith, and your correct Christian walk." Comp. Martial vi. 70. Non est vivere, sed valere, vita—" Life consists not merely in living, but in the enjoyment of health." See, also, Seneca, Epis. 99, and Manilius, iv. 5, as quoted by Wetstein. The meaning here is, that Paul now enjoyed life; he had that which constituted real life, in the fact that they acted as became Christians, and so as to show that his labour among them had not been in vain. The same thing here affirmed is true of all faithful ministers of the gospel. They feel that they have something that may be called life, and that is worth living for, when those to whom they preach maintain a close walk with God.

{f} "fast" Eph 6:13,14; Php 4:1


Verse 9. For what thanks can we render to God again. That is, what expression of thanksgiving can we render to God that shall be an equivalent for the joy which your holy walk has furnished, or which shall suitably express our gratitude for it.


Verse 10. Night and day. Constantly.

Praying exceeedingly. Gr., abundantly; that is, there was much more than ordinary prayer. He made this a special subject of prayer; he urged it with earnestness, and without intermission. Comp. 1 Th 2:17.

And might perfect that which is lacking in your faith. Might render it complete, or fill up anything which is wanting. The word here used, (katartisai,) means, properly, to make fully ready, to put full in order, to make complete. See Barnes "Ro 9:22" See Barnes "2 Co 13:9" See Barnes "Ga 6:1".

It is rendered mending, Mt 4:21; Mr 1:19. Perfect and perfected. Mt 21:16; Lu 6:40; 2 Co 13:11; 1 Th 3:10; Heb 13:21; 1 Pe 5:10.

Fitted, Ro 9:22. Perfectly joined together, 1 Co 1:10. Restore, Ga 6:1. Prepared, Heb 10:5; and framed, Heb 11:3. It is not elsewhere used in the New Testament. The meaning here is, that whatever was deficient in their views of religious doctrine the apostle desired to Supply. It is to be remembered that he was with them but a comparatively short time before he was compelled to depart to Berea, and it is reasonable to suppose that there were many subjects on which he would be glad to have an opportunity to instruct them more fully.

{g} "perfect" 2 Co 13:9,11; Col 4:12

{&} "lacking in your faith" "wanting in your faith"


Verse 11. Now God himself. This is evidently a prayer, he earnestly sought of God that he might be permitted to visit them, and that he would so prepare the way that he might do it.

And our Father. Even our Father. The reference is particularly to the 'Father,' the First Person of the Trinity. It does not refer to the Divine nature in general, or to God as such, but to God as the Father of the Lord Jesus. It is a distinct prayer offered to him that he would direct his way to them. It is right, therefore, to offer prayer to God as the First Person of the Trinity.

And our Lord Jesus Christ. This also is a prayer, as much as the former was, for it can be understood in no other way. What can be its meaning, unless the apostle believed that the Lord Jesus had power to direct his way to them, and that it was proper for him to express this wish to him; that is, to pray to him? If this be so, then it is right to pray to the Lord Jesus, or to worship him. See Barnes "Joh 20:28" See Barnes "Ac 1:24".

Would Paul have prayed to an angel to direct his way to the church at Thessalonica?

Direct our way unto you. Marg., guide. The Greek word kateuyunw means, to guide straight towards or upon anything. It is rendered guide, in Lu 1:79, and direct here and in 2 Th 3:5. It does not elsewhere occur in the New Testament. The idea is that of conducting one straight to a place, and not by a round-about course. Here the petition is, that God would remove all obstacles so that he could come directly to them.

{1} "direct" "guide"


Verse 12. And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love. Comp. See Barnes "2 Co 9:8".

The word "Lord" here probably refers to the Lord Jesus, as this is the name by which he is commonly designated in the New Testament. See Barnes "Ac 1:24".

If this be so, then this is a petition to the Lord Jesus as the fountain of all grace and goodness.

{h} "love one another" 1 Jo 4:7-12


Verse 13. To the end he may establish your hearts. That is, "May the Lord cause you to increase in love, 1 Th 3:12, in order that you may be established, and be without blame in the day of judgment." The idea is, that if charity were diffused through their hearts, they would abound in every virtue, and would be at length found blameless.

Unblameable. See Barnes "1 Th 2:10" See Barnes "Php 2:15" See Barnes "Php 3:6" See Barnes "Heb 8:7".

Comp. See Barnes "Lu 1:6" See Barnes "1 Th 5:23".

The meaning is, so that there could be no charge or accusation against them.

In holiness. Not in outward conduct merely, or the observance of rites and forms of religion, but in purity of heart.

At the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. To judge the world. See Barnes "1 Th 1:10".

As we are to appear before him, we should so live that our Judge will find nothing in us to be blamed.

With all his saints. With all his holy ones twn agiwn. The word includes his angels who will come with him, Mt 25:31, and all the redeemed who will then surround him. The idea is, that before that holy assemblage it is desirable that we should be prepared to appear blameless. We should be fitted to be welcomed to the goodly "fellowship" of the angels, and to be regarded as worthy to be numbered with the redeemed who "have washed their robes, and have made them pure in the blood of the Lamb." When we come to appear amidst that vast assemblage of holy beings, the honours of the world will appear to be small things; the wealth of the earth will appear worthless, and all the pleasures of this life beneath our notice. Happy will they be who are prepared for the solemnities of that day, and who shall have led such a life of holy love—of pure devotion to the Redeemer—of deadness to the world—and of zeal in the cause of pure religion—of universal justice, fidelity, honesty, and truth, as to be without reproach, and to meet with the approbation of their Lord.

{i} "unblameable" 2 Th 2:17; 1 Jo 3:20,21

{j} "coming" Zec 14:5; Jude 1:14

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