For what is our hope, or joy
The apostle here gives a reason why they were so concerned at parting with the Thessalonians, and were so desirous of seeing them again, and attempted it so often, cause they were their "hope"; not the foundation of it, which was Christ; nor the thing hoped for, which was eternal life; nor the ground of their hope, which was the blood, righteousness, and sacrifice of Christ; but they were persons whom they hoped well of, and of whom their hope was steadfast; as of their election of God, of their redemption by Christ, of their effectual calling, of their perseverance in faith and holiness, notwithstanding all reproach and persecution; and of meeting the Lord, and being together with him for ever: and they were also their "joy"; their conversion was a matter of joy to them, because of the glory of God, Father, Son, and Spirit, displayed therein; because of the abundant grace bestowed on these persons; and because that hereby the kingdom of Satan was weakened, and the kingdom of Christ enlarged and his churches increased and beautified; and their own ministry was blessed and confirmed, and their hearts and hands strengthened, and they encouraged to go on in it: and they continued to be their joy, inasmuch as they stood fast in the Lord, walked on in the truth, and had their conversations as became the Gospel of Christ; and they were persuaded would be their joy hereafter, at the second coming of Christ; when they should give up their account of them with joy, and not with grief: and it is added,
or crown of rejoicing;
or of "glorying", or "boasting"; not that they gloried in them, for they gloried not in men, but in the Lord, in his righteousness, riches, wisdom, strength, and grace, in the person, blood, and cross of Christ; but they gloried of them, as trophies of divine grace, as a prey taken out of the hand of the mighty, and as lawful captives delivered from the power of Satan, and of darkness, and translated into the kingdom of Christ. The Alexandrian copy reads, as we render it,
crown of rejoicing:
which is but a stronger phrase, to press the joy they had in their conversion and perseverance, in allusion to crowns wore at times of rejoicing, as at marriage feasts, and the like: hence we read F9 of the crowns of the bridegrooms, and of the brides, which were forbidden the use of in the war of Vespasian; the latter were made of gold, in the form of the city of Jerusalem, and from thence called golden cities F11; and the former, some say, were made of salt and sulphur, to put them in mind of the destruction of the Sodomites, for their unnatural lusts F12; others of a salt stone as clear as crystal, or of the stone Bdellium, painted in the colour of sulphur F13; and some were made of myrtles and roses, but in the war of Vespasian only those made of reeds were used F14; these crowns at weddings seem to be the "beautiful crowns" in ( Ezekiel 23:42 ) where the Septuagint use the same phrase as here, (stefanon kauchsewv) , "a crown of rejoicing", or "glorying": the Hebrew phrase (trapt trje) , may be rendered "a crown of glory", as the phrase here is by the Vulgate Latin and Arabic versions; but does not mean the crown of glory, life, righteousness, and immortality, the apostle expected at the hands of Christ another day; nor that his being an instrument of the conversion of these persons was the ground of such an expectation, or was what entitled him to such a crown; since he knew that conversion work was owing to the powerful grace of God, and the crown of eternal life was his free gift; but that it would be an honour to him, and give him abundant joy and pleasure at the coming of Christ, to be encircled with such a number of souls he had been useful to, and who were his spiritual children; just as children's children are the crown of old men, ( Proverbs 17:6 ) all this is put by way of question, which strongly affirms,
In the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?
to judge the quick and dead, when both they and these should meet him, and stand before him with confidence, being clothed with his righteousness, and clad with robes of immortality and glory.
F9 Misna Sota. c. 9. sect. 14.
F11 Maimon. in Misna Sota, & in Sabbat, c. 6. sect. 1.
F12 Ez Hechaim M. S. apud Wagenseil in Sota ib.
F13 Bartenora in Misna Sota, c. 9. sect. 14.
F14 T. Bab. Sota, fol. 49. 2.