Confraternity Bible: New Testament and Supplemental Commentary

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1 THESSALONIANS - Chapter 2

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1 Thessalonians 2

Supplemental Commentary:

I.  PAUL'S PAST RELATIONS AND PRESENT INTEREST  2, 1 -- 4, 12

2, 1-12:  His Mission among Them.    1.  Not in vain: refers to the fruitful effects of his preaching and not to the effort which his preaching cost him.  Cf. 2, 15.    2.  Shameful treatment at Philippi: cf. Acts 16, 22-24.  And amid much anxiety: the tumult stirred up against Paul and his converts by the Jews.  Cf. Acts 17, 5-10.    3.  Nor from impure motives: the impurity referred to is that of intention, and not of doctrine.  No defective motives prompted his ministry of preaching, his motives were pure and disinterested.    4-6.  Paul replies to specific charges made against him.  In his preaching, a task imposed on him by God, he seeks only God's approval.    7.  Nurse: his conduct towards them was as gentle and kind as that of a mother for her infants.  He acted towards them both as a father (11) and a mother.    8.  Our own souls: he was prepared to lay down his life for them.    9.  Cf. 2 Thess. 3, 8.  Paul's trade was that of tentmaking.  Cf. Acts 20, 34; 1 Cor. 4, 12.    12.  His kingdom and glory: the call to the faith has its culmination in the life of glory in heaven.

2, 13-20:  Thanksgiving for Their Constancy.    13-16.  Paul thanks God for the constancy of the Thessalonians under the persecution which they suffered from their own countrymen.    13.  Who works in you: the Vulgate "who" refers to God.  The Greek relative pronoun can be rendered either "who" or "which," accordingly as one refers it to "God" or "word."  In either case God's grace in a man is rendered fruitful by co-operation.    14.  The pagan hostility stirred up by the Jews against the Christians of Thessalonica did not cease with the departure of Paul (cf. Acts 17, 5-10), but became more widespread.    16.  Always filling up the measure of their sins: they continue to increase their guilt, and, therefore, render themselves even more deserving of eternal punishment.  The wrath of God: cf. 1, 10 and 5, 9.  The severest kind of punishment God can inflict on the unbelieving Jews is eternal damnation.  Possibly Paul also had in mind two other manifestations of God's anger towards the Jews, namely, the destruction of Jerusalem, which was to occur about twenty years later, and the exclusion of the Jews as a nation from the Church.  The latter is not to be final, inasmuch as Israel will enter the Church after the fullness of the Gentiles.  Cf. Rom. 11, 25-27.

17.  More than ordinary efforts to hasten: literally, have hastened more abundantly.    18.  Satan hindered us: "us" refers not to Silvanus and Timothy, but to Paul.  Satan using evil men, such as Paul's Jewish and Gentile opponents, prevented him from returning.  Or it may be that Satan by causing illness prevented Paul's return.  Cf. 2 Cor. 12, 7.    19.  Paul regards his converts as trophies of victory.  Cf. 2 Cor. 1, 14; Phil. 4, 1.  It will give him intense joy to present them to Christ on the last day.  Coming: i.e., "parousia," a word used four times in 1 Thess. (3, 13; 4, 15; 5, 23), occurs here for the first time.  Literally, it means "presence," used in profane literature of the official visit of a ruler, but in the New Testament it is a technical term for the Second Advent or Coming of Christ, which forms the principal subject of the two Epistles to the Thessalonians.



Confraternity Bible:

His Mission among Them  1 For you yourselves, brethren, know that our coming among you was not in vain.  2 But although we had previously experienced suffering and shameful treatment at Philippi, as you know, we had confidence in our God to preach to you the gospel of God amid much anxiety.  3 For our exhortation was not from error, nor from impure motives, nor from guile.  4 But as approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak not as pleasing men, but God, who proves our hearts.  5 For at no time have we used words of flattery, as you know, nor any pretext for avarice, God is witness, 6 nor have we sought glory from men, neither from you nor from others.  7 Although as the apostles of Christ, we could have claimed a position of honor among you, still while in your midst we were as children: as if a nurse were cherishing her own children, 8 so we in our love for you would gladly have imparted to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own souls; because you had become most dear to us.

9 For you remember, brethren, our labor and toil.  We worked night and day so as not to be a burden to any of you while we preached to you the gospel of God.  10 You are witnesses and God also, how holy and just and blameless was our conduct towards you who have believed; 11 inasmuch as you are aware of how we entreated and comforted each one of you, acting towards you as a father towards his children, 12 declaring to you that you should walk worthily of God, who called you unto his kingdom and glory.

Thanksgiving for Their Constancy  13 Therefore we too give thanks to God without ceasing, because when you heard and received from us the word of God, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but, as it truly is, the word of God, who works in you who have believed.  14 For you, brethren, have become imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus, in that you also have suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they have from the Jews, 15 who both killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and have persecuted us.  They are displeasing to God, and are hostile to all men, 16 because they hinder us from speaking to the Gentiles, that they may be saved.  Thus they are always filling up the measure of their sins, for the wrath of God has come upon them to the utmost.

17 But we, brethren, being bereaved of you for a short time, in sight, not in heart, have made more than ordinary efforts to hasten to see you, so great has been our desire.  18* For we wanted to come to you---I, Paul, more than once---but Satan hindered us.  19* For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of glory, if not you before our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?  20 Yes, you are our glory and joy.
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*

18: Satan hindered us: i.e., through evil men who served as his agents to interfere with Paul's ministry.

19: Coming: i.e., parousia.  The word, used four times in 1 Thess.  Literally it means "presence," but in the New Testament it is a technical term for the Second Coming of Christ.