1 Thessalonians 2:1-20 . HIS MANNER OF PREACHING, AND THEIRS OF RECEIVING, THE GOSPEL; HIS DESIRE TO HAVE REVISITED THEM FRUSTRATED BY SATAN.
11. exhorted and comforted--Exhortation leads one to do a thing willingly; consolation, to do it joyfully [BENGEL], ( 1 Thessalonians 5:14 ). Even in the former term, "exhorted," the Greek includes the additional idea of comforting and advocating one's cause: "encouragingly exhorted." Appropriate in this case, as the Thessalonians were in sorrow, both through persecutions, and also through deaths of friends ( 1 Thessalonians 4:13 ).
charged--"conjured solemnly," literally, "testifying"; appealing solemnly to you before God.
every one of you--in private ( Acts 20:20 ), as well as publicly. The minister, if he would be useful, must not deal merely in generalities, but must individualize and particularize.
as a father--with mild gravity. The Greek is, "his own children."
12. worthy of God--"worthy of the Lord" ( Colossians 1:10 ); "worthily of the saints" ( Romans 16:2 , Greek): ". . . of the Gospel" ( Philippians 1:27 ) ". . . of the vocation wherewith ye are called" ( Ephesians 4:1 ). Inconsistency would cause God's name to be "blasphemed among the Gentiles" ( Romans 2:24 ). The Greek article is emphatical, "Worthy of THE God who is calling you."
hath called--So one of the oldest manuscripts and Vulgate. Other oldest manuscripts, "Who calleth us."
his kingdom--to be set up at the Lord's coming.
glory--that ye may share His glory ( John 17:22 , Colossians 3:4 ).
13. For this cause--Seeing ye have had such teachers ( 1 Thessalonians 2:10-12 ) [BENGEL], "we also (as well as 'all that believe' in Macedonia and Achaia) thank God without ceasing ('always' . . . 'in our prayers,' 1 Thessalonians 1:2 ), that when ye received the word of God which ye heard from us (literally, 'God's word of hearing from us,' Romans 10:16 Romans 10:17 ), ye accepted it not as the word of men, but, even as it is truly, the word of God." ALFORD omits the "as" of English Version. But the "as" is required by the clause, "even as it is truly." "Ye accepted it, not (as) the word of men (which it might have been supposed to be), but (as) the word of God, even as it really is." The Greek for the first "received," implies simply the hearing of it; the Greek of the second is "accepted," or "welcomed" it. The proper object of faith, it hence appears, is the word of God, at first oral, then for security against error, written ( John 20:30 John 20:31 , Romans 15:4 , Galatians 4:30 ). Also, that faith is the work of divine grace, is implied by Paul's thanksgiving.
effectually worketh also in you that believe--"Also," besides your accepting it with your hearts, it evidences itself in your lives. It shows its energy in its practical effects on you; for instance, working in you patient endurance in trial ( 1 Thessalonians 2:14 ; compare Galatians 3:5 , 5:6 ).
14. followers--Greek, "imitators." Divine working is most of all seen and felt in affliction.
in Judea--The churches of Judea were naturally the patterns to other churches, as having been the first founded, and that on the very scene of Christ's own ministry. Reference to them is specially appropriate here, as the Thessalonians, with Paul and Silas, had experienced from Jews in their city persecutions ( Acts 17:5-9 ) similar to those which "the churches in Judea" experienced from Jews in that country.
in Christ Jesus--not merely "in God"; for the synagogues of the Jews (one of which the Thessalonians were familiar with, Acts 17:1 ) were also in God. But the Christian churches alone were not only in God, as the Jews in contrast to the Thessalonian idolaters were, but also in Christ, which the Jews were not.
of your own countrymen--including primarily the Jews settled at Thessalonica, from whom the persecution originated, and also the Gentiles there, instigated by the Jews; thus, "fellow countrymen" (the Greek term, according to Herodian, implies, not the enduring relation of fellow citizenship, but sameness of country for the time being), including naturalized Jews and native Thessalonians, stand in contrast to the pure "Jews" in Judea ( Matthew 10:36 ). It is an undesigned coincidence, that Paul at this time was suffering persecutions of the Jews at Corinth, whence he writes ( Acts 18:5 Acts 18:6 Acts 18:12 ); naturally his letter would the more vividly dwell on Jewish bitterness against Christians.
even as they--( Hebrews 10:32-34 ). There was a likeness in respect to the nation from which both suffered, namely, Jews, and those their own countrymen; in the cause for which, and in the evils which, they suffered, and also in the steadfast manner in which they suffered them. Such sameness of fruits, afflictions, and experimental characteristics of believers, in all places and at all times, is a subsidiary evidence of the truth of the Gospel.
15. the Lord Jesus--rather as Greek, "Jesus THE LORD." This enhances the glaring enormity of their sin, that in killing Jesus they killed the LORD (Compare Acts 3:14 Acts 3:15 ).
their own--omitted in the oldest manuscripts.
prophets--( Matthew 21:33-41 , 23:31-37 , Luke 13:33 ).
persecuted us--rather as Greek (see Margin), "By persecution drove us out" ( Luke 11:49 ).
please not God--that is, they do not make it their aim to please God. He implies that with all their boast of being God's peculiar people, they all the while are "no pleasers of God," as certainly as, by the universal voice of the world, which even they themselves cannot contradict, they are declared to be perversely "contrary to all men." JOSEPHUS [Against Apion, 2.14], represents one calling them "Atheists and Misanthropes, the dullest of barbarians"; and TACITUS [Histories, 5.5], "They have a hostile hatred of all other men." However, the contrariety to all men here meant is, in that they "forbid us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved" ( 1 Thessalonians 2:16 ).
16. Forbidding--Greek, "Hindering us from speaking," &c.
to fill up their sins alway--Tending thus "to the filling up (the full measure of, Genesis 15:16 , Daniel 8:23 , Matthew 23:32 ) their sins at all times," that is, now as at all former times. Their hindrance of the Gospel preaching to the Gentiles was the last measure added to their continually accumulating iniquity, which made them fully ripe for vengeance.
for--Greek, "but." "But," they shall proceed no further, for ( 2 Timothy 3:8 ) "the" divine "wrath has (so the Greek) come upon (overtaken unexpectedly; the past tense expressing the speedy certainty of the divinely destined stroke) them to the uttermost"; not merely partial wrath, but wrath to its full extent, "even to the finishing stroke" [EDMUNDS]. The past tense implies that the fullest visitation of wrath was already begun. Already in A.D. 48, a tumult had occurred at the Passover in Jerusalem, when about thirty thousand (according to some) were slain; a foretaste of the whole vengeance which speedily followed ( Luke 19:43 Luke 19:44 , 21:24 ).
17. But we--resumed from 1 Thessalonians 2:13 ; in contrast to the Jews, 1 Thessalonians 2:15 1 Thessalonians 2:16 .
taken--rather as Greek, "severed (violently, Acts 17:7-10 ) from you," as parents bereft of their children. So "I will not leave you comfortless," Greek, "orphanized" ( John 14:18 ).
for a short time--literally, "for the space of an hour." "When we had been severed from you but a very short time (perhaps alluding to the suddenness of his unexpected departure), we the more abundantly (the shorter was our separation; for the desire of meeting again is the more vivid, the more recent has been the parting) endeavored," &c. (Compare 2 Timothy 1:4 ). He does not hereby, as many explain, anticipate a short separation from them, which would be a false anticipation; for he did not soon revisit them. The Greek past participle also forbids their view.
18. Wherefore--The oldest manuscripts read, "Because," or "Inasmuch as."
we would--Greek, "we wished to come"; we intended to come.
even I Paul--My fellow missionaries as well as myself wished to come; I can answer for myself that I intended it more than once. His slightly distinguishing himself here from his fellow missionaries, whom throughout this Epistle he associates with himself in the plural, accords with the fact that Silvanus and Timothy stayed at Berea when Paul went on to Athens; where subsequently Timothy joined him, and was thence sent by Paul alone to Thessalonica ( 1 Thessalonians 3:1 ).
Satan hindered us--On a different occasion "the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of Jesus" (so the oldest manuscripts read), Acts 16:6 Acts 16:7 , forbad or hindered them in a missionary design; here it is Satan, acting perhaps by wicked men, some of whom had already driven him out of Thessalonica ( Acts 17:13 Acts 17:14 ; compare John 13:27 ), or else by some more direct "messenger of Satan--a thorn in the flesh" ( 2 Corinthians 12:7 ; compare 2 Corinthians 11:14 ). In any event, the Holy Ghost and the providence of God overruled Satan's opposition to further His own purpose. We cannot, in each case, define whence hindrances in good undertakings arise; Paul in this case, by inspiration, was enabled to say; the hindrance was from Satan. GROTIUS thinks Satan's mode of hindering Paul's journey to Thessalonica was by instigating the Stoic and Epicurean philosophers to cavil, which entailed on Paul the necessity of replying, and so detained him; but he seems to have left Athens leisurely ( Acts 17:33 Acts 17:34 , 18:1 ). The Greek for "hindered" is literally, "to cut a trench between one's self and an advancing foe, to prevent his progress"; so Satan opposing the progress of the missionaries.
19. For--giving the reason for his earnest desire to see them.
Are not even ye in the presence of . . . Christ--"Christ" is omitted in the oldest manuscripts. Are not even ye (namely, among others; the "even" or "also," implies that not they alone will be his crown) our hope, joy, and crown of rejoicing before Jesus, when He shall come ( 2 Corinthians 1:14 , Philippians 2:16 , 4:1 )? The "hope" here meant is his hope (in a lower sense), that these his converts might be found in Christ at His advent ( 1 Thessalonians 3:13 ). Paul's chief "hope" was JESUS CHRIST ( 1 Timothy 1:1 ).
20. Emphatical repetition with increased force. Who but ye and our other converts are our hope, &c., hereafter, at Christ's coming? For it is ye who ARE now our glory and joy.