1. times--the general and indefinite term for chronological periods.
seasons--the opportune times
Time denotes quantity; season, quality. Seasons
are parts of times.
ye have no need--those who watch do not need to be told when the
hour will come, for they are always ready [BENGEL].
cometh--present: expressing its speedy and awful
2. as a thief in the night--The apostles in this image follow the
parable of their Lord, expressing how the Lord's coming shall take men
"The night is wherever there is quiet unconcern"
[BENGEL]. "At midnight" (perhaps figurative: to
some parts of the earth it will be literal night),
The thief not only gives no notice of his approach but takes all
precaution to prevent the household knowing of it. So the Lord
Signs will precede the coming, to confirm the patient hope of
the watchful believer; but the coming itself shall be sudden at last
Lu 21:25-32, 35).
3. they--the men of the world.
1Th 5:5, 6;
"others," all the rest of the world save Christians.
(Jud 18:7, 9, 27, 28;
then--at the very moment when they least expect it. Compare the
case of Belshazzar,
Da 5:1-5, 6, 9, 26-28;
as travail--"As the labor pang" comes in an instant on the woman
when otherwise engaged
shall not escape--Greek, "shall not at all escape." Another awful
feature of their ruin: there shall be then no possibility of shunning it
however they desire it
(Am 9:2, 3;
Re 6:15, 16).
4. not in darkness--not in darkness of understanding (that is,
spiritual ignorance) or of the moral nature
(that is, a state of sin),
that--Greek, "in order that"; with God results are all
that day--Greek, "THE day"; the
day of the Lord
"the day"), in contrast to "darkness."
as a thief--The two oldest manuscripts read, "as (the daylight
Old manuscripts and Vulgate read as English Version.
5. The oldest manuscripts read, "FOR ye are
all," &c. Ye have no reason for fear, or for being taken by surprise,
by the coming of the day of the Lord: "For ye are all sons (so
the Greek) of light and sons of day"; a Hebrew idiom,
implying that as sons resemble their fathers, so you are in
character light (intellectually and morally illuminated in a
spiritual point of view),
are not of--that is, belong not to night nor darkness. The change
of person from "ye" to "we" implies this: Ye are sons of light
because ye are Christians; and we, Christians, are not of night nor
6. others--Greek, "the rest" of the world: the unconverted
"Sleep" here is worldly apathy to spiritual things
ordinary sleep; in
watch--for Christ's coming; literally, "be wakeful." The same
Greek occurs in
be sober--refraining from carnal indulgence, mental or sensual
7. This verse is to be taken in the literal sense. Night is the
time when sleepers sleep, and drinking men are drunk. To sleep by day
would imply great indolence; to be drunken by day, great shamelessness.
Now, in a spiritual sense, "we Christians profess to be day people, not
night people; therefore our work ought to be day work, not night work;
our conduct such as will bear the eye of day, and such has no need of
the veil of night" [EDMUNDS],
8. Faith, hope, and love, are the three pre-eminent graces
We must not only be awake and sober, but also armed; not only
watchful, but also guarded. The armor here is only defensive; in
also offensive. Here, therefore, the reference is to the
Christian means of being guarded against being surprised by the
day of the Lord as a thief in the night. The helmet and
breastplate defend the two vital parts, the head and the heart
respectively. "With head and heart right, the whole man is right"
[EDMUNDS]. The head needs to be kept from error,
the heart from sin. For "the breastplate of righteousness,"
we have here "the breastplate of faith and love"; for the righteousness
which is imputed to man for justification, is "faith working by love"
(Ro 4:3, 22-24;
"Faith," as the motive within, and "love," exhibited in
outward acts, constitute the perfection of righteousness.
the helmet is "salvation"; here, "the hope of salvation." In one
aspect "salvation" is a present possession
in another, it is a matter of "hope"
(Ro 8:24, 25).
Our Head primarily wore the "breastplate of righteousness" and "helmet
of salvation," that we might, by union with Him, receive both.
9. For--assigning the ground of our "hopes"
appointed us--Translate, "set"
in His everlasting purpose of love
to--that is, unto wrath.
to obtain--Greek, "to the acquisition of salvation";
said, according to BENGEL, Of One saved out of a
general wreck, when all things else have been lost: so of the elect
saved out of the multitude of the lost
(2Th 2:13, 14).
The fact of God's "appointment" of His grace "through Jesus Christ"
takes away the notion of our being able to "acquire" salvation of
ourselves. Christ "acquired (so the Greek for 'purchased')
the Church (and its salvation) with His own blood"
each member is said to be appointed by God to the "acquiring of
salvation." In the primary sense, God does the work; in the secondary
sense, man does it.
10. died for us--Greek, "in our behalf."
whether we wake or sleep--whether we be found at Christ's coming
awake, that is, alive, or asleep, that is, in our graves.
together--all of us together; the living not
preceding the dead in their glorification "with Him" at His coming
11. comfort yourselves--Greek, "one another." Here he
reverts to the same consolatory strain as in
edify one another--rather as Greek, "edify (ye) the one
the other"; "edify," literally, "build up," namely, in faith, hope, and
love, by discoursing together on such edifying topics as the Lord's
coming, and the glory of the saints
12. beseech--"Exhort" is the expression in
here, "we beseech you," as if it were a personal favor (Paul making the
cause of the Thessalonian presbyters, as it were, his own).
know--to have a regard and respect for. Recognize their office, and
treat them accordingly (compare
with reverence and with liberality in supplying their needs
The Thessalonian Church having been newly planted, the ministers were
which may have been in part the cause of the people's treating them
with less respect. Paul's practice seems to have been to ordain elders
in every Church soon after its establishment
them which labour . . . are over . . . admonish
you--not three classes of ministers, but one, as there is but one
article common to the three in the Greek. "Labor" expresses
their laborious life; "are over you," their pre-eminence as presidents
or superintendents ("bishops," that is, overseers,
"them that have rule over you," literally, leaders,
"pastors," literally, shepherds,
"admonish you," one of their leading functions; the Greek is
"put in mind," implying not arbitrary authority, but gentle, though
(2Ti 2:14, 24, 25;
in the Lord--Their presidency over you is in divine things; not
in worldly affairs, but in things appertaining to the Lord.
13. very highly--Greek, "exceeding abundantly."
for their work's sake--The high nature of their work alone, the
furtherance of your salvation and of the kingdom of Christ, should be a
sufficient motive to claim your reverential love. At the same time, the
word "work," teaches ministers that, while claiming the reverence due to
their office, it is not a sinecure, but a "work"; compare "labor"
(even to weariness: so the Greek),
be at peace among yourselves--The "and" is not in the original. Let
there not only be peace between ministers and their flocks, but also no
party rivalries among yourselves, one contending in behalf of some one
favorite minister, another in behalf of another
1Co 1:12; 4:6).
14. brethren--This exhortation to "warm (Greek,
'admonish,' as in
the unruly (those 'disorderly' persons,
2Th 3:6, 11,
who would not work, and yet expected to be maintained, literally, said
of soldiers who will not remain in their ranks, compare
also those insubordinate as to Church discipline, in relation to those
'over' the Church,
comfort the feeble-minded (the faint-hearted, who are ready to
sink 'without hope' in afflictions,
and temptations)," applies to all clergy and laity alike, though
primarily the duty of the clergy (who are meant in
support--literally, "lay fast hold on so as to support."
the weak--spiritually. Paul practiced what he preached
be patient toward all men--There is no believer who needs not the
exercise of patience "toward" him; there is none to whom a believer
ought not to show it; many show it more to strangers than to their own
families, more to the great than to the humble; but we ought to show it
"toward all men" [BENGEL].
Compare "the long-suffering of our Lord"
unto any man--whether unto a Christian, or a heathen, however
great the provocation.
follow--as a matter of earnest pursuit.
16, 17. In order to "rejoice evermore," we must "pray without
He who is wont to thank God for all things as happening for the