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  • VINCENT'S NEW TESTAMENT
    WORD STUDIES - 1THESSALONIANS 1

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    CHAPTER I

    1. The address of the first Epistle is shorter than that of any of the Pauline letters. In the other Epistles Paul either indicates the contents of the letter, or adds details concerning the writer or his correspondents, or amplifies the apostolic greeting. The names of Silvanus and Timothy are added to that of Paul as the senders of the letter. They were with him at Corinth when it was written (Acts xviii. 5; 2 Cor. i. 19). They had assisted him in the foundation of the Thessalonian Church (Acts xvi. 1-3; xvii. 4, 10, 14). Paul's official title; "Apostle" is omitted in the addresses of both Epistles, although in 1 Thess. ii. 6 he uses ajpostoloi apostles, including Silvanus and Timothy under that title. The title appears in all the other Epistles except Philippians and Philemon. The reason for its omission in every case appears to have been the intimate and affectionate character of his relations with the parties addressed, which rendered an appeal to his apostolic authority unnecessary. Paul does not confine the name of apostle to the twelve. 7 Silvanus. The Silas of the Acts, where alone the form Silav occurs. By Paul always Silouanov, of which Silav is a contraction, as Loukav from Loukanov. Similar contractions occur in Class., as Alexav for Alexandrov for Alexandrov, and that for Artemidwrov. Silas first appears in Acts xv. 22, as one of the bearers of the letter to the Gentile Christians at Antioch. He accompanied Paul on his second missionary tour, and was left behind with Timothy when Paul departed from Macedonia after his first visit. He was probably a Jewish Christian (see Acts xvi. 20), and was, like Paul, a Roman citizen (Acts xvi. 37, 38). Hence his Roman name. He cannot with any certainty be identified with the Silvanus of 1 Pet. v. 12.

    Timothy. Appears in all the Pauline Epistles except Galatians and Ephesians. He was associated with Paul longer than any one of whom we have notice. First mentioned Acts 16;1, ii. comp. 2 Tim. iii. 10, 11. He accompanied Paul on his second missionary tour (Acts xvi. 3), and was one of the founders of the churches in Thessalonica and Philippi. He is often styled by Paul "the brother" (2 Cor. i. 1; Col. i. 1; 1 Thessalonians iii. 2; Philemon 1); with Paul himself "a bondservant of Jesus Christ" (Philip. i. 1); comp. 1 Tim. ii. 18; 2 Tim. i. 2. Paul's confidence in him appears in Philip. ii. 19-22, and is implied in his sending him from Athens to the Thessalonian church to establish and comfort its members (1 Thess. iii. 2). Paul sent him again to Macedonia in company with Erastus (Acts xix. 22), and also to Corinth (1 Corinthians iv. 17). To the Corinthians he writes of Timothy as "his beloved and faithful child in the Lord" who shall remind them of his ways in Christ (1 Cor. iv. 17), and as one who worketh the work of the Lord as he himself (1 Cor. xvi. 10). He joined Paul at Rome, and his name is associated with Paul's in the addresses of the letters to the Colossians and Philemon. In every case where he is mentioned by name with Silvanus, the name of Silvanus precedes.

    To the church of the Thessalonians. This form of address appears in 1st and 2nd Corinthians, Galatians, 2nd Thessalonians. The other letters are addressed to "the saints, " "the brethren, " "the saints and faithful brethren." The use of the genitive of the national name is peculiar. Comp. 1 Cor. i. 22; 2 Cor. i. 1; Gal. i. 2; Philip. i. 1; Col. i. 2.

    The church (ekklhsia). From ejk out, and kalein to call or summon. Originally with a secular meaning, an assembly of citizens regularly summoned. So Acts xix. 39. LXX uses it for the congregation of Israel, either as convened for a definite purpose (1 Kings viii. 65; Deuteronomy iv. 10; xviii. 16), or as a community (2 Chron. i. 3, 5; xxiii. 3; Nehemiah viii. 17). The verbs ejkklhsiazein and ejxekklhsiazein to summon formally, which do not occur in N.T., are found in LXX with sunagwghn gathering, laon people, and presbuterouv elders. Sunagwgh is constantly used in LXX of the children of Israel as a body (Exod. vii. 6, 19, 47; Lev. iv. 13, etc.), and is the more common word in N.T. for a Jewish as distinguished from a Christian assembly; sometimes with the addition of the Jews (Acts viii. 5; xiv. 1; xvii. 1). It is once used of a Christian assembly (Jas. ii. 2). Episunagwgh gathering together, occurs 2 Thessalonians ii. 1; Heb. x. 25. The Ebionites retained sunagwgh in preference to ejkklhsia. The LXX translators found two Hebrew words for "assembly" or "congregation, ": 'edah and qahal, and rendered the former by sunagwgh in the great majority of instances. Ekklhsia does not appear as the rendering of edah. They were not as consistent in rendering qahal, since they used both sunagwgh and ejkklhsia, though the latter was the more frequent: see Lev. iv. 13; Deut. v. 22, etc. The A.V. renders both words by "congregation" and "assembly" indiscriminately. Ekklhsia is only once used in N.T. of a Jewish congregation, Acts vii. 38; yet there are cases where there is an apparent attempt to guard its distinctively Christian sense against being confounded with the unconverted Jewish communities. Hence the addition; ejn Cristw in Christ, Gal. i. 22; ejn qew patri kai, kuriw Ihsou Cristw in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 1 Thess. i. 1; comp. 2 Thess. i. 1. In both Hebrew and N.T. usage, ejkklhsia implies a community based on a special religious idea, and established in a special way. In N.T. it is also used in a narrower sense, of a single church, or of a church confined to a single place. So Rom. xvi. 5, etc.

    In God the Father, etc. Const. with the church, and comp. 2 Thessalonians i. 1. The phrase "the church in God" is peculiar to the Thessalonian Epistles. Elsewhere "of God" (1 Cor. x. 32; xi. 16, 22; xv. 9, etc.); "of the saints" (1 Cor. xiv. 33). Lightfoot suggests that the word ejkklhsia can scarcely have been stamped with so definite a Christian meaning in the minds of these recent and early converts as to render the addition "in God the Father, " etc., superfluous.

    Grace to you and peace (cariv umin kai eirhnh). In Romans, 1st and 2nd Corinthians, (Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, the salutation is, Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Colossians omits the last five words of this: 2 Thessalonians omits our before Father. On the union of the Greek and Jewish forms of salutation, see on 1 Cor. i. 3.

    2. We give thanks (eucaristoumen). According to Paul's habit, a thanksgiving follows the salutation, commonly with the verb ejucaristein as here; but in 2nd Corinthians and Ephesians, eujloghtov oJ qeov blessed be God. The thanksgiving is omitted only in Galatians. The verb eujcaristein occurs only in later Greek, and there but rarely. In LXX only in Apocr. See Judith viii. 25; 2 Macc. i. 11; x. 7; 3 Macc. vii.

    16. In the N.T. Epistles, P o . Originally to do a good turn; hence, to return a favor. The meaning to give thanks is late. The kindred noun eujcaristia giving of thanks, is found often in Paul. As a designation of the Lord's Supper (Eucharist) it is not found in the N.T. Perhaps the earliest instance of its use in that sense is in Ignatius. See Philad. iv.; Smyrn. iv., 8; Ephesians 8, Comp. Just. Mart. Apol. 1, 64, 65.

    In we give thanks, it is not easy to decide whether Paul uses we as plural, or in the sense of I. Rom. iii. 9 seems to be a clear case of the latter usage. In 1 Thess. iii. 1, 2, hujdokhsamen we thought it good, and ejpemyamen we sent, can, apparently, refer only to Paul; and similarly, in 1 Thess. iii. 6, prov hJmav unto us, can hardly include Silvanus who came with Timothy (comp.iii. 5). But it is significant that, in the Epistles which are written in Paul's name alone (Romans, Galatians, Ephesians), only I is used, unless we except Gal. i. 8, which is doubtful. Paul and Timothy appear jointly as correspondents in Philippians, but the first person predominates throughout the letter. The same is true of 1st Corinthians, where Paul and Sosthenes are associated in the address, but the singular pronoun is used almost throughout. (See iv. 10-13; ix. 4, 5, 25, 26). In Colossians Paul and Timothy appear in the address. The plural prevails to i. 23, and alternates with the singular throughout the remainder. The alternations in 2nd Corinthians are very bewildering.

    On the whole, I think that occasional instances of the epistolary plural must be granted. It is not, however, Paul's habitual usage. We is often employed as in ordinary correspondence or argument, where the writer or speaker associates himself with his readers or hearers. Abundant illustrations of this may be seen in Romans 6 and 8; but in other cases, when Paul speaks in the plural, he usually associates his fellow-ministers, mentally, with himself. 8 Making mention (mneian poioumenoi). For the phrase see Rom. i. 9; Eph. i. 16; Philemon 4. Always in connection with prayer. In the sense of remember it appears in LXX, Job xiv. 13. In Psalm cxi. 4, to make a memorial. See further, on without ceasing, ver. 3.

    In my prayers (epi). When engaged in offering my prayers. Epi here blends the local with the temporal sense.

    Prayers (proseucwn). The more general term, and limited to prayer to God; while dehsiv petitionary prayer, supplication, may be addressed to man. Paul alone associates the two words. See Philip. iv. 6; Ephesians vi. 18. In classical Greek the word does not occur in the sense of prayer. It is found in later Greek, meaning a place for prayer, in which sense it appears in Acts xvi. 13, 16. It signified either a synagogue, or an open praying-place outside of a city. 9

    3. Without ceasing (adialeiptwv). P o . In LXX see 1 Macc. vii. 11; 2 Macc. iii. 26; ix. 4; viii. 12; xv. 7; 3 Maccvi. 33. Should be construed with making mention, not with remembering, as A.V. and Rev. The salutations of Paul reproduce ordinary conventional forms of greeting. Thus the familiar Greek greeting cairein be joyful, hail, welcome, appears in cariv grace. This was perceived by Theodore of Mopsuestia (350-428 A.D.), who, in his commentary on Ephesians, says that in the preface to that letter Paul does very much as we do when we say "So and so to So and so, greeting" (o deina tw deini cairein). Deissmann gives some interesting parallels from ancient papyri. For instance, a letter dated 172 B.C., from an Egyptian lady to her brother or husband: "Isias to her brother Hephaestion, greeting (cairein). If you are well, and other things happen as you would wish, it would be in accordance with my constant prayer to the gods. I myself am well, and the boy; and all at home make constant remembrance of you. Comp. Rom. i. 9; Eph. i. 16; Philemon 4. Again: "Ammonios to his sister Tachnumi, abundant greeting (ta pleista cairein). Before all things, I pray that you may be in health; and each day I make the act of worship for you." In these specimens the conventional salutations in correspondence include the general greeting (cairein) and the statement that prayer is made for the correspondent's welfare; and the words constant and daily are attached to the act of prayer. It is further to be noticed that many passages of Paul's Epistles give evidence of having been shaped by expressions in letters received by him from the parties he is addressing. In his answer he gives them back their own words, as is common in correspondence. Thus, making mention of you and remembering your work, etc., together with the statement that Timothy reports that you have a good remembrance of us (ch. iii. 6), all together suggest that Paul had before him, when writing to the Thessalonians, a letter which Timothy had brought from them. Other instances will be noted as they occur. 10 Work - labor - patience (eprgou - kopou - upomonhv). Ergon work, may mean either the act, the simple transaction, or the process of dealing with anything, or the result of the dealing, - as a book or a picture is called a work. Kopov labor, from koptein to strike or hew; hence, laborious, painful exertion. Upomonh patience, patient endurance and faithful persistence in toil and suffering. See on 2 Pet. i. 6; Jas. v. 7. The genitives, of faith, love, hope, mark the generating principles of the work and labor and patience, which set their stamp upon each; thus, work which springs from faith, and is characteristic of faith. The phrase patience of hope is found only here; but see Rom. v. 4; viii. 25; xv. 4; 1 Cor. viii. 7; Heb. vii. 11, 12. uJpomonh in LXX, see 1 Chron. xxix. 15; Job xiv. 19; Psalm ix. 18; xxxviii. 7; Jeremiah 1 iv. 8. We have here the great triad of Christian graces, corresponding to 1 Corinthians 8. Hope is prominent throughout the two Epistles. The triad appears, 1 Thess. v. 8; Gal. v. 5, 6; 1 Cor. viii. 13; Eph. iv. 2-5; Col. i. 4, 5; Heb. x. 22-24; 1 Pet. i. 21-22. Comp. 1 Thess. ii. 9; v. 8; 2 Thesselonians iii. 5, 8; 1 Corinthians xv. 10, 58; 2 Cor. xi. 27; Apoc. ii. 2.

    In our Lord, etc. (tou kuriou).Lit. of our Lord. For a similar use of the genitive, see John v. 42; 1 John ii. 5, 15; Acts ix. 31; Rom. i. 5;iii. 18, 22, 26, etc. Connect with hope only.

    Before our God and Father. Const. with remembering, and comp. ch.ii. 19; iii. 9.

    4. Election of God. Incorrect. Const. of or by (upo) God with beloved. Eklogh election, in N.T., mostly by Paul. Elsewhere only Acts ix. 15, and 2 Pet. i. 10. This, and the kindred words, ejklegein to choose, and ejklektov chosen or elect, are used of God's selection of men or agencies for special missions or attainments; but neither here nor elsewhere in the N.T. is there any warrant for the revolting doctrine that God has predestined a definite number of mankind to eternal life, and the rest to eternal destruction. 11 The sense in this passage appears to be defined by the succeeding context. The Thessalonians had been chosen to be members of the Christian church, and their conduct had justified the choice. See vv. 5-10.

    5. For (oti). Incorrect. Rend. how that. It is explanatory of your election. For similar usage see 1 Cor. i. 26.

    Our gospel. The gospel as preached by Paul and his colleagues. Comp. Rom. ii. 16; xvi. 25; Gal. i. 11; ii. 2; 1 Thess. ii. 4. My gospel is sometimes used in connection with an emphasis upon some particular feature of the gospel, as in Rom. ii. 16, where Paul is speaking of the judgment of the world by Christ; or in Rom. xvi. 25, where he is referring to the extension of the messianic kingdom to the Gentiles.

    In word (en logw). The gospel did not appeal to them as mere eloquent and learned discourse.

    In power (en dunamei). Power of spiritual persuasion and conviction: not power as displayed in miracles, at least not principally, although miraculous demonstrations may be included. Paul rarely alluded to his power of working miracles.

    Assurance (plhroforia). Assured persuasion of the preacher that the message was divine. The word not in pre-Christian Greek writers, nor in LXX. Only in one other passage in Paul, Col. ii. 2. See Hebrews vi. 11; x. 22.

    We were (egenhqhmen). More correctly, we shewed or proved ourselves.

    6. Followers (mimhtai). More literally and better, imitators. Only once outside of Paul's writings, Heb. vi. 12. Comp. 1 Thess. iii. 9; 2 Thessalonians 7; 1 Cor. iv. 16; xi. 1; Gal. iv. 12; Philippians iii. 17; iv. 9.

    And of the Lord. Guarding against any possible imputation of self-assertion or conceit. Comp. 1 Cor. xi. 1.

    Tribulation (qliyei). See on Matt. xiii. 21. Referring especially to persecutions at the hands of the Jews (Acts xvii. 5 ff.), which probably continued after Paul's departure from Thessalonica.

    7. An ensample (tupon). See on 1 Pet. v. 3.

    Macedonia and Achaia. Shortly after 146 B.C., all Greece south of Macedonia and Epirus was formed into a Roman province under the name of Achaia, and Macedonia with Epirus into another province called Macedonia.

    8. Hath sounded forth (exhchtai). N.T.o . LXX Joel iii. 14; Sir. xl. 13, of thunder; 3 Macc. iii. 2, of a report. It means a loud, unmistakable proclamation.

    The word of the Lord (o logov tou kuriou). The phrase in Paul only in these Epistles. Comp. 2 Thess. iii. 1; iv. 15. Comparatively frequent in Acts. Paul has logov Qeou or tou Qeou word of God, eight times, and logov tou cristou word of the Christ, once, Col. iii. 16. The meaning here is the gospel, regarded either as the message proceeding from the Lord, or concerning him. It is the eujaggelion qeou the gospel of God: see ch. 2, 8, 9; Rom. i. 1; xv. 16; 2 Cor. xi. 7; As Professor Sanday remarks on Rom. i. 1, "it is probably a mistake in these cases to restrict the force of the genitive to one particular aspect: all aspects are included in which the gospel is in any way related to God and Christ." In every place. A rhetorical exaggeration, signifying the whole known world. It is explained by the extensive commercial relations of Thessalonica. Comp. Rom. i. 8; Col. i. 6, 23, 2 Cor. ii. 14. Is spread abroad (exelhluqen). Lit.and better, has gone forth. 12

    9. They themselves shew (autoi apaggellousin). They themselves in contrast with we, ver. 8. We need not speak of anything: they themselves volunteer testimony to your faith. Shew, more correctly announce or report. 13 Entering in (eisodon). Comp. ch. ii. 1. The thought of ver. 5 is resumed. The repetition of the word in ch. ii. 1, and of in vain in ch. iii. 5, may point to expressions in a letter of the Thessalonians.

    Unto you (prov). The preposition combines with the sense of direction that of relation and intercourse. Comp. Matt. xiii. 56; Mark ix. 16; John i. 1; Acts iii. 25; Col. iv. 5; Heb. ix. 20.

    Ye turned unto God (epestreyate prov ton Qeon). Comp. Acts xiv. 15. The exact phrase only here. The verb is common in LXX, with both kurion Lord and qeon God.

    Idols. See on 1 Cor. viii. 3. The word would indicate that the majority of the converts were heathen and not Jews.

    Living and true (zwnti kai alhqinw). The only instance in N.T. of this collocation. It does not occur in O.T. For ajlhqinov genuine, see on John i. 9; iv. 37; vii. 28. Mostly in the Johannine writings.

    10. To wait for (anamenein). N.T.o . Several times in LXX, as Job ii. 9; vii. 2; Isa. lix. 11. Paul's usual word is ajpekdecomai: see Rom. viii. 19, 28, 25; 1 Cor. i. 7; Philip. iii. 20.

    From heaven (ek twn ouranwn). Lit. from the heavens. Comp. 1 Corinthians xv. 47; 1 Thess. iv. 16; 2 Thess. i. 7. Paul uses the unclassical plural much oftener than the singular. Although the Hebrew equivalent has no singular, the singular is almost universal in LXX, the plural occurring mostly in the Psalm. Oujranov is from a Sanscrit word meaning to cover or encompass. The Hebrew shamayirn signifies height, high district, the upper regions. Similarly we have in N.T. ejn uJyistoiv in the highest (places), Matt. xxi. 9; L. ii. 14; ejn uJyhloiv in the high (places), Heb. i. 3. Paul's usage is evidently colored by the Rabbinical conception of a series of heavens: see 2 Cor. xii. 2; Eph. iv. 10. Some Jewish teachers held that there were seven heavens, 14 others three. The idea of a series of heavens appears in patristic writings, in Thomas Aquinas's doctrine of the celestial hierarchies, and in Dionysius the Areopagite, Through the scholastic theologians it passed into Dante's Paradiso with its nine heavens. 15 The words to await his Son from heaven strike the keynote of this Epistle.

    Jesus which delivered (Ihsoun ton ruomenon). More correctly, delivereth. See on Matt. i. 21. Ruesqai to deliver, mostly in Paul. Lit. to draw to one's self. Almost invariably with the specification of some evil or danger or enemy. Swzein to save is often used in a similar sense, of deliverance from disease, from sin, or from divine wrath: see Matthew i. 21; Mark vi. 56; L. viii. 36; Acts ii. 40; Rom. v. 9: but swzein is a larger and more comprehensive term, including not only deliverance from sin and death, but investment with all the privileges and rewards of the new life in Christ.

    The wrath to come (thv orghv thv ercomenhv).Lit. the wrath which is coming. The wrath, absolutely, of the wrath of God, as Rom. v. 9 vii. 19; 1 Thess. ii. 16. Sometimes for the punishment which wrath inflicts, as Rom. xii. 4; Eph. v. 6; Col. iii. 6. See on J. iii. 36. The phrase wrath to come is found in Matt. iii. 7; L. iii. 7. Coming does not necessarily imply the thought of speedy or imminent approach, but the general tone of the Epistle points in that direction.

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