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  • ROBERTSON'S NT WORD STUDIES
    & BIBLE COMMENTARY - 1 THESSALONIANS 1

    Colossians 4 - 1 Thessalonians 2 - VINCENT'S STUDY - HELP - FACEBOOK - GR FORUMS - GODRULES ON YOUTUBE    




    1:1 {Paul, and Silvanus, and Timothy} (paulos kai silouanos kai timoqeos). Nominative absolute as customary in letters. Paul associates with himself Silvanus (Silas of Acts, spelled silbanos in D and the papyri), a Jew and Roman citizen, and Timothy, son of Jewish mother and Greek father, one of Paul's converts at Lystra on the first tour. They had both been with Paul at Thessalonica, though Timothy is not mentioned by Luke in Acts in Macedonia till Beroea (#Ac 17:14f.). Timothy had joined Paul in Athens (#1Th 3:1f.), had been sent back to Thessalonica, and with Silas had rejoined Paul in Corinth (#1Th 3:5; Ac 18:5, 2Co 1:19). Silas is the elder and is mentioned first, but neither is in any sense the author of the epistle any more than Sosthenes is co-author of I Corinthians or Timothy of II Corinthians, though Paul may sometimes have them in mind when he uses "we" in the epistle. Paul does not here call himself "apostle" as in the later Epistles, perhaps because his position has not been so vigorously attacked as it was later. Ellicott sees in the absence of the word here a mark of the affectionate relations existing between Paul and the Thessalonians. {Unto the church of the Thessalonians} (tei ekklesiai qessalonikewn). The dative case in address. Note absence of the article with qessalonikewn because a proper name and so definite without it. this is the common use of ekklesia for a local body (church). The word originally meant "assembly" as in #Ac 19:39, but it came to mean an organization for worship whether assembled or unassembled (cf. #Ac 8:3). The only superscription in the oldest Greek manuscripts (Aleph B A) is pros qessalonikeis a ({To the Thessalonians First}). But probably Paul wrote no superscription and certainly he would not write A to it before he had written II Thessalonians (B). His signature at the close was the proof of genuineness (#2Th 3:17) against all spurious claimants (#2Th 2:2). Unfortunately the brittle papyrus on which he wrote easily perished outside of the sand heaps and tombs of Egypt or the lava covered ruins of Herculaneum. What a treasure that autograph would be! {In God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ} (en qewi patri kai kuriwi Jˆsou Christ"i). this church is grounded in (en, with the locative case) and exists in the sphere and power of {God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ}. No article in the Greek, for both qewi patri and kuriwi Jˆsou Christ"i are treated as proper names. In the very beginning of this first epistle of Paul we meet his Christology. He at once uses the full title, "Lord Jesus Christ," with all the theological content of each word. The name "Jesus" (Savior, #Mt 1:21) he knew, as the "Jesus of history," the personal name of the Man of Galilee, whom he had once persecuted (#Ac 9:5), but whom he at once, after his conversion, proclaimed to be "the Messiah," (ho cristos, #Ac 9:22). this position Paul never changed. In the great sermon at Antioch in Pisidia which Luke has preserved (#Ac 13:23) Paul proved that God fulfilled his promise to Israel by raising up "Jesus as Savior" (swtera iesoun). Now Paul follows the Christian custom by adding cristos (verbal from criw, to anoint) as a proper name to Jesus (Jesus Christ) as later he will often say "Christ Jesus" (#Col 1:1). And he dares also to apply kurios (Lord) to "Jesus Christ," the word appropriated by Claudius (_Dominus_, kurios) and other emperors in the emperor-worship, and also common in the Septuagint for God as in #Ps 32:1f. (quoted by Paul in #Ro 4:8). Paul uses kurios of God (#1Co 3:5) or of Jesus Christ as here. In fact, he more frequently applies it to Christ when not quoting the Old Testament as in #Ro 4:8. And here he places "the Lord Jesus Christ" in the same category and on the same plane with "God the father." There will be growth in Paul's Christology and he will never attain all the knowledge of Christ for which he longs (#Php 3:10-12), but it is patent that here in his first epistle there is no "reduced Christ" for Paul. He took Jesus as "Lord" when he surrendered to Jesus on the Damascus Road: "And I said, What shall I do, Lord? And the Lord said to me" (#Ac 22:10). It is impossible to understand Paul without seeing clearly this first and final stand for the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul did not get this view of Jesus from current views of Mithra or of Isis or any other alien faith. The Risen Christ became at once for Paul the Lord of his life. {Grace to you and peace} (caris humin kai eirene). These words, common in Paul's Epistles, bear "the stamp of Paul's experience" (Milligan). They are not commonplace salutations, but the old words "deepened and spiritualised" (Frame). The infinitive (cairein) so common in the papyri letters and seen in the New Testament also (#Ac 15:23; 23:26; Jas 1:1) here gives place to caris, one of the great words of the New Testament (cf. #Joh 1:16f.) and particularly of the Pauline Epistles. Perhaps no one word carries more meaning for Paul's messages than this word caris (from cairw, rejoice) from which carizomai comes. {Peace} (eirene) is more than the Hebrew _shal"m_ so common in salutations. One recalls the "peace" that Christ leaves to us (#Joh 14:27) and the peace of God that passes all understanding (#Php 4:7). this introduction is brief, but rich and gracious and pitches the letter at once on a high plane.

    1:2 {We give thanks} (eucaristoumen). Late denominative verb eucaristew from eucaristos (grateful) and that from eu, well and carizomai, to show oneself kind. See caris in verse #1. "The plural implies that all three missionaries prayed together" (Moffatt). {Always} (pantote). Late word, rare in LXX. So with eucaristew in #2Th 1:3; 2:13; 1Co 1:4; Eph 5:20; Php 1:3. Moffatt takes it to mean "whenever Paul was at his prayers." Of course, he did not make audible prayer always, but he was always in the spirit of prayer, "a constant attitude" (Milligan), "in tune with the Infinite." {For you all} (peri pantwn humwn). Paul "encircled (peri, around) them all," including every one of them and the church as a whole. Distance lends enchantment to the memory of slight drawbacks. Paul is fond of this phrase "you all," particularly in Phil. (#Php 1:3,7). {Making mention} (mneian poioumenoi). Paul uses this very idiom in #Rom 1:9; Eph 1:16; Phm 1:4. Milligan cites a papyrus example of mneian poioumenoi in prayer (B. Y. U. 652, 5). Did Paul have a prayer list of the Thessalonian disciples which he read over with Silas and Timothy? {In} here is epi="in the time of our prayers."Each time that they are engaged in prayers the writers mention the names of the converts" (Frame).

    1:3 {Remembering} (mnemoneuontes). Present active participle of old verb from adjective mnemwn (mindful) and so to call to mind, to be mindful of, used either with the accusative as in #1Th 2:9 or the genitive as here. {Without ceasing} (adialeiptws). Double compound adverb of the _Koin‚_ (Polybius, Diodorus, Strabo, papyri) from the verbal adjective a-dia-leiptos (a privative and dia-leipw, to leave off). In the N.T. alone by Paul and always connected with prayer. Milligan prefers to connect this adverb (amphibolous in position) with the preceding participle poioumenoi rather than with mnemoneuontes as Revised Version and Westcott and Hort rightly do. {Your work of faith} (humwn tou ergou tes pistews). Note article with both ergou and pistews (correlation of the article, both abstract substantives). ergou is genitive case the object of mnemoneuontes as is common with verbs of emotion (Robertson, _Grammar_, pp. 508f.), though the accusative kopon occurs in #1Th 2:9 according to common Greek idiom allowing either case. ergou is the general term for work or business, employment, task. Note two genitives with ergou. humwn is the usual possessive genitive, {your work}, while tˆs pistews is the descriptive genitive, marked by, characterized by, faith, "the activity that faith inspires" (Frame). It is interesting to note this sharp conjunction of these two words by Paul. We are justified by faith, but faith produces works (#Ro 6-8) as the Baptist taught and as Jesus taught and as James does in #Jas 2. {Labor of love} (tou kopou tes agapes). Note article with both substantives. Here again tou kopou is the genitive the object of mnemoneuontes while tˆs agapes is the descriptive genitive characterizing the "labor" or "toil" more exactly. kopos is from koptw, to cut, to lash, to beat the bread, to toil. In #Re 14:13 the distinction is drawn between kopou (toil) from which the saints rest and erga (works, activities) which follow with them into heaven. So here it is the labor that love prompts, assuming gladly the toil. agape is one of the great words of the N.T. (Milligan) and no certain example has yet been found in the early papyri or the inscriptions. It occurs in the Septuagint in the higher sense as with the sensuous associations. The epistle of Aristeas calls love (agape) God's gift and Philo uses agape in describing love for God. "When Christianity first began to think and speak in Greek, it took up agape and its group of terms more freely, investing them with the new glow with which the N.T. writings make us familiar, a content which is invariably religious" (Moffatt, _Love in the New Testament_, p. 40). The New Testament never uses the word erws (lust). {Patience of hope} (tes hupomones tes elpidos). Note the two articles again and the descriptive genitive tˆs elpidos. It is patience marked by hope, "the endurance inspired by hope" (Frame), yes, and sustained by hope in spite of delays and set-backs. hupomone is an old word (hupo, menw, to remain under), but it "has come like agape to be closely associated with a distinctively Christian virtue" (Milligan). The same order as here (ergou, kopos, hupomone) appears in #Re 2:2 and Lightfoot considers it" an ascending scale as practical proofs of self-sacrifice." The church in Thessalonica was not old, but already they were called upon to exercise the sanctifying grace of hope (Denney). {In our Lord Jesus Christ} (tou kuriou hemwn iesou cristou). The objective genitive with elpidos (hope) and so translated by "in" here (Robertson, _Grammar_, pp. 499f.). Jesus is the object of this hope, the hope of his second coming which is still open to us. Note "Lord Jesus Christ" as in verse #1. {Before our God and Father} (emprosqen tou qeou kai patros hemwn). The one article with both substantives precisely as in #Ga 1:4, not "before God and our Father," both article and possessive genitive going with both substantives as in #2Pe 1:1,11; Tit 2:13 (Robertson, _Grammar_, pp. 785f.). The phrase is probably connected with elpidos. emprosqen in the N.T. occurs only of place, but it is common in the papyri of time. The picture here is the day of judgment when all shall appear before God.

    1:4 {Knowing} (eidotes). Second perfect active participle of oida (eidon), a so-called causal participle=since we know, the third participle with the principal verb eucaristoumen, the Greek being fond of the circumstantial participle and lengthening sentences thereby (Robertson, _Grammar_, P. 1128). {Beloved by God} (egapemenoi hupo [tou] qeou). Perfect passive participle of agapaw, the verb so common in the N.T. for the highest kind of love. Paul is not content with the use of adelfoi here (often in this epistle as #2:1,14,17; 3:7; 4:1,10), but adds this affectionate phrase nowhere else in the N.T. in this form (cf. #Jude 1:3) though in Sirach 45:1 and on the Rosetta Stone. But in #2Th 2:13 he quotes "beloved by the Lord" from #De 33:12. The use of adelfoi for members of the same brotherhood can be derived from the Jewish custom (#Ac 2:29,37) and the habit of Jesus (#Mt 12:48) and is amply illustrated in the papyri for burial clubs and other orders and guilds (Moulton and Milligan's _Vocabulary_). {Your election} (ten eklogen humwn). That is the election of you by God. It is an old word from eklegomai used by Jesus of his choice of the twelve disciples (#Joh 15:16) and by Paul of God's eternal selection (#Eph 1:4). The word ekloge is not in the LXX and only seven times in the N.T. and always of God's choice of men (#Ac 9:15; 1Th 1:4; Ro 9:11; 11:5,7,58; 2Pe 1:10). The divine ekloge was manifested in the Christian qualities of verse #3 (Moffatt).

    1:5 {How that} (hoti). It is not certain whether hoti here means "because" (quia) as in #2Th 3:7; 1Co 2:14; Ro 8:27 or declarative hoti "how that," knowing the circumstances of your election (Lightfoot) or explanatory, as in #Ac 16:3; 1Th 2:1; 1Co 16:15; 2Co 12:3f.; Ro 13:11. {Our gospel} (to euaggelion hemwn). The gospel (see on ¯Mt 4:23; Mr 1:1,15 for euaggelion) which we preach, Paul's phrase also in #2Th 2:14; 2Co 4:3; Ro 2:16; 16:25; 2Ti 2:8. Paul had a definite, clear-cut message of grace that he preached everywhere including Thessalonica. this message is to be interpreted in the light of Paul's own sermons in Acts and Epistles, not by reading backward into them the later perversions of Gnostics and sacramentarians. this very word was later applied to the books about Jesus, but Paul is not so using the term here or anywhere else. In its origin Paul's gospel is of God (#1Th 2:2,8,9), in its substance it is Christ's (#3:2; 2Th 1:8), and Paul is only the bearer of it (#1Th 2:4,9; 2Th 2:14) as Milligan points out. Paul and his associates have been entrusted with this gospel (#1Th 2:4) and preach it (#Ga 2:2). Elsewhere Paul calls it God's gospel (#2Co 11:7; Ro 1:1; 15:16) or Christs (#1Co 9:12; 2Co 2:12; 9:13; 10:14; Ga 1:7; Ro 15:19; Php 1:27). In both instances it is the subjective genitive. {Came unto you} (egeneqe eis humas). First aorist passive indicative of ginomai in practically same sense as egeneto (second aorist middle indicative as in the late Greek generally). So also eis humas like the _Koin‚_ is little more than the dative humin (Robertson, _Grammar_, p. 594). {Not only--but also} (ouk--monon, alla kai). Sharp contrast, negatively and positively. The contrast between logos (word) and dunamis (power) is seen also in #1Co 2:4; 4:20. Paul does not refer to miracles by dunamis. {In the Holy Spirit and much assurance} (en pneumati hagiwi kai pleroforiai pollei). Preposition en repeated with logwi, dunamei, but only once here thus uniting closely {Holy Spirit} and {much assurance}. No article with either word. The word pleroforiai is not found in ancient Greek or the LXX. It appears once in Clement of Rome and one broken papyrus example. For the verb pleroforew see on ¯Lu 1:1. The substantive in the N.T. only here and #Col 2:2; Heb 6:11; 10:22. It means the full confidence which comes from the Holy Spirit. {Even as ye know} (kaqws oidate). Paul appeals to the Thessalonians themselves as witnesses to the character of his preaching and life among them. {What manner of men we showed ourselves toward you} (hoioi egeneqemen humin). Literally, {What sort of men we became to you}. Qualitative relative hoioi and dative humin and first aorist passive indicative egeneqemen, (not emeqa, we were). An epexegetical comment with {for your sake} (di' humas) added. It was all in their interest and for their advantage, however it may have seemed otherwise at the time.

    1:6 {Imitators of us and of the Lord} (mimetai hemwn kai tou kuriou). mimetes (-tes expresses the agent) is from mimeomai, to imitate and that from mimos (mimic, actor). Old word, more than "followers," in the N.T. only six times (#1Th 1:6; 2:14; 1Co 4:16; 11:1; Eph 5:1; Heb 6:12). Again Paul uses ginomai, to become, not eimi, to be. It is a daring thing to expect people to "imitate" the preacher, but Paul adds "and of the Lord," for he only expected or desired "imitation" as he himself imitated the Lord Jesus, as he expressly says in #1Co 11:1. The peril of it all is that people so easily and so readily imitate the preacher when he does not imitate the Lord. The fact of the "election" of the Thessalonians was shown by the character of the message given them and by this sincere acceptance of it (Lightfoot). {Having received the word} (dexamenoi ton logon). First aorist middle participle of decomai, probably simultaneous action (receiving), not antecedent. {In much affliction} (en qliyei pollei). Late word, pressure. Tribulation (Latin _tribulum_) from qlibw, to press hard on. Christianity has glorified this word. It occurs in some Christian papyrus letters in this same sense. Runs all through the N.T. (#2Th 1:4; Ro 5:3). Paul had his share of them (#Col 1:24; 2Co 2:4) and so he understands how to sympathize with the Thessalonians (#1Th 3:3f.). They suffered after Paul left Thessalonica (#1Th 2:14). {With joy of the Holy Spirit} (meta caras pneumatos hagiou). The Holy Spirit gives the joy in the midst of the tribulations as Paul learned (#Ro 5:3). " this paradox of experience" (Moffatt) shines along the pathway of martyrs and saints of Christ.

    1:7 {So that ye became} (hwste genesqai humas). Definite result expressed by hwste and the infinitive genesqai (second aorist middle of ginomai) as is common in the _Koin‚_. {An ensample} (tupon). So B D, but Aleph A C have tupous (plural). The singular looks at the church as a whole, the plural as individuals like humas. tupos is an old word from tuptw, to strike, and so the mark of a blow, print as in John #20:25. qen the figure formed by the blow, image as in #Ac 7:43. qen the mould or form (#Ro 6:17; Ac 23:25). qen an example or pattern as in #Ac 7:44, to be imitated as here, #Php 3:17, etc. It was a great compliment for the church in Thessalonica to be already a model for believers in Macedonia and Achaia. Our word _type_ for printers is this same word with one of its meanings. Note separate article with both Macedonia (tei makedoniai) and Achaia (tei acaiai) treated as separate provinces as they were.

    1:8 {From you hath sounded forth} (af' humwn execetai). Perfect passive indicative of execew, late compound verb (ex, ecos, ecw, ece, our echo) to sound out of a trumpet or of thunder, to reverberate like our echo. Nowhere else in the N.T. So "from you" as a sounding board or radio transmitting station (to use a modern figure). It marks forcibly "both the clear and the persuasive nature of the logos tou kuriou" (Ellicott). this phrase, the word of the Lord, may be subjective with the Lord as its author or objective with the Lord as the object. It is both. It is a graphic picture with a pardonable touch of hyperbole (Moffatt) for Thessalonica was a great commercial and political center for disseminating the news of salvation (on the Egnation Way). {But in every place} (all' en panti topwi). In contrast to Macedonia and Achaia. The sentence would naturally stop here, but Paul is dictating rapidly and earnestly and goes on. {Your faith to God-ward} (he pistis humwn he pros ton qeon). Literally, {the faith of you that toward the God}. The repeated article makes clear that their faith is now directed toward the true God and not toward the idols from which they had turned (verse #10). {Is gone forth} (exeleluqen). Second perfect active indicative of old verb exercomai, to go out, state of completion like execetai above. {So that we need not to speak anything} (hwste me creian ecein hemas lalein ti). hwste with the infinitive for actual result as in verse #7. No vital distinction between lalein (originally to chatter as of birds) and legein, both being used in the _Koin‚_ for speaking and preaching (in the N.T.).

    1:9 {They themselves} (autoi). The men of Macedonia, voluntarily. {Report} (apaggellousin). Linear present active indicative, keep on reporting. {What manner of entering in} (hopoian eisodon). What sort of entrance, qualitative relative in an indirect question. {We had} (escomen). Second aorist active (ingressive) indicative of the common verb ecw. {And how} (kai pws). Here the interrogative adverb pws in this part of the indirect question. this part about "them" (you) as the first part about Paul. The verb epistrefw is an old verb for turning and is common in the Acts for Gentiles turning to God, as here from idols, though not by Paul again in this sense. In #Ga 4:9 Paul uses it for turning to the weak and beggarly elements of Judaism. {From idols} (apo twn eidolwn). Old word from eidos (figure) for image or likeness and qen for the image of a heathen god (our _idol_). Common in the LXX in this sense. In #Ac 14:15 Paul at Lystra urged the people {to turn from these vain things to the living God} (apo toutwn twn mataiwn epistrefein epi qeon zwnta), using the same verb epistrefein. Here also Paul has a like idea, {to serve a living and true God} (douleuein qewi zwnti kai aleqinwi). No article, it is true, but should be translated "the living and true God" (cf. #Ac 14:15). Not "dead" like the idols from which they turned, but alive and genuine (aleqinos, not aleqes).

    1:10 {To wait for his Son from heaven} (anamenein ton huion autou ek twn ouranwn). Present infinitive, like douleuein, and so linear, to keep on waiting for. The hope of the second coming of Christ was real and powerful with Paul as it should be with us. It was subject to abuse qen as now as Paul will have to show in this very letter. He alludes to this hope at the close of each chapter in this epistle. {Whom he raised from the dead} (hon egeiren ek [twn] nekrwn). Paul gloried in the fact of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead of which fact he was himself a personal witness. this fact is the foundation stone for all his theology and it comes out in this first chapter. {Jesus which delivereth us from the wrath to come} (iesoun ton ruomenon hemas ek tes orges tes ercomenes). It is the historic, crucified, risen, and ascended Jesus Christ, God's Son, who delivers from the coming wrath. He is our Savior (#Mt 1:21) true to his name Jesus. He is our Rescuer (#Ro 11:26, ho ruomenos, from #Isa 59:20). It is eschatological language, this coming wrath of God for sin (#1Th 2:16; Ro 3:5; 5:9; 9:22; 13:5). It was Paul's allusion to the day of judgment with Jesus as Judge whom God had raised from the dead that made the Athenians mock and leave him (#Ac 17:31f.). But Paul did not change his belief or his preaching because of the conduct of the Athenians. He is certain that God's wrath in due time will punish sin. Surely this is a needed lesson for our day. It was coming qen and it is coming now.

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