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Bible Commentaries

International Critical Commentary NT

1 Thessalonians 4

Verses 1-99

IV. EXHORTATIONS (4:1-5:22)

Formally speaking, Paul passes from the superscription (1:1), thanksgiving (1:2-3:10), and prayer (3:11-13) to the exhortations (4:1-5:22); materially speaking, he passes from the defence of his visit (1:2-2:16) and of his failure to return (2:17-3:13) to a tactful (cf. 4:1, 10, 5:11) treatment of the shortcomings of the faith of the readers (3:10; cf. 3:8, 12-13). These exhortations are not haphazard, but are designed to meet the specific needs of the community made known to Paul by Timothy and by a letter which Timothy brought. In fact, it would appear from 4:9, 13, 5:1 (περὶ δε; cf. 1 Corinthians 7:1, 1 Corinthians 7:25, 1 Corinthians 7:8:1, 1 Corinthians 7:12:1, etc.) that the Thessalonians had written specifically for advice concerning love of the brethren, the dead in Christ, and the times and seasons. Three classes of persons are chiefly in mind in 4:1-5:22: (1) The weak (4:3-8; cf. οἱ�


For convenience, we may subdivide the Exhortations as follows: (1) Introduction (4:1-2); (2) True Consecration (4:3-8); (3) Brotherly Love (4:9-10a); (4) Idleness (4:10b-12); (5) The Dead in Christ (4:13-18); (6) Times and Seasons (5:1-11); (7) Spiritual Labourers (5:12-13); (8) The Idlers, The Faint-hearted, and The Weak (5:14a-c); (9) Love (5:14d-15); (10) Joy, Prayer, and Thanksgiving (5:16-18); and (II) Spiritual Gifts (5:19-22).

(1) Introduction to the Exhortations (4:1-2)

In his introductory words, Paul appeals, in justification of his exhortations, not to his own authority but to the authority which both he and his readers recognise as valid, the indwelling Christ (ἐν κυρίῳ, διὰ κυρίο). He insists that he is asking of them nothing new, and that what he urges conforms to the instructions which they have already received and which they know. Finally, in emphasising that they are living in a manner pleasing to God, he can only ask and urge them to abound the more. These opening verses are general; the meaning of τὸ πῶς δει and τίνας παραγγελία becomes specific in 4:3 ff.

1Finally brothers we ask you and urge in the Lord Jesus that, as you have received from us instructions as to how you ought to walk and please God, as in fact you are walking, that you abound the more. 2For you know what instructins we gave you, prompted by the Lord Jesus.

1. λοιπόν,�2 Corinthians 13:11: λοιπόν,�

The reading is uncertain. The prefixed το may be disregarded (Zim); but as P in 2 Corinthians 13:11 so most uncials here (אADEGFKL; WH.mg. Tisch Zim Weiss, Dob.) read λοιπὸν οὖ Weiss (121) thinks that the omission of οὖ in B and in many minuscules and versions is due to a scribal error. Elsewhere, however, Paul uses both λοιπό (1 Corinthians 1:16, 1 Corinthians 1:4:2, 2 Corinthians 13:11) and τὸ λοιπό (1 Corinthians 7:29; plus�Philippians 4:8; or plus�Philippians 3:1). Epictetus prefers λοιπό to τὸ λοιπό (cf. Bultman, Der Stil der Paulinischen Predigt, 1910, 101). If οὖ is read, the reference may still be in general to what has preceded (Lft.; cf. Dob. who notes the οὖ in Romans 12:1, Ephesians 4:1, etc.) and not specifically to 3:13, as many prefer (Ell.; cf. Lillie who remarks: “as working together with God to the same end”). For λοιπὸν οὖ in papyri, see Mill. ad loc. On the interpretation of vv. 1-12, see also Bahnsen, ZWT 1904, 332-358.

ἐρωτῶμεν ὑμᾶς κτλ. “In the Lord Jesus we ask and urge you.” On the analogy of παραγγέλλομεν καὶ παρακαλοῦμεν ἐν κυρίῳ Ἰ. (II 3:12; cf. Romans 14:14, Ephesians 4:17), both verbs are to be construed with ἐν κυπίῳ Ἰησου In fact, ἐρωτᾶ and παρακαλεῖ are virtually synonymous (Œcumenius, apud Lillie: τἀυτόν ἐστιν καὶ ἰσοδυναμει), as the usage in papyri shows (cf. also Philippians 4:2 f. Luke 7:3 f. Acts 16:39). The position of ὑμᾶ, after the first, not after the second verb, suggests not that the converts are in the Lord, which on other grounds is true, but that the apostles are in the Lord, the point being that the exhortation is based not on personal authority but on the authority of the indwelling Christ, which is reognised as valid by both readers and writers.

On the phrase, cf. P. Oxy. 744 (Witk., 97): ἐρωτῶ σε καὶ παρακαλῶ ς; and P Oxy. 294 (Mill. Greek Papyri, 36): ἐρωτῶ δέ σε καὶ παρακαλω Like δεῖσθαι, παρακαλεῖ is used of prayer to Christ (2 Corinthians 12:8); cf. P. Leid. K (Witk., 89): παρακαλῶ δὲ καὶ αὐτὸς τοὺς θεού ἐρωτᾶ like our “ask” and the Hebrew שאל is used in later Gk. for both “ask a question,” “interrogare,” and “ask a favour,” “rogare” (cf. 2 Ezra 5:10, Psalms 136:3). The construction ἐρωτᾶν ἵν, only here in Paul but quite common elsewhere (cf. Mark 7:26, Luke 7:36; P. Oxy. 744:13 f.), is analogous to παρακαλεῖν ἵν (II 3:12, 1 Corinthians 1:10, 1 Corinthians 1:16:12, 2 Corinthians 9:5, 2 Corinthians 12:8). On the ἐ in ἐ (אA insert τῷ) κυρίῳ Ἰησου, cf. Romans 14:14, Philippians 2:19, Ephesians 1:15, and see on 1:1.


ἵν … ἵν. With ἵν, Paul starts to introduce the object of the verbs of exhorting (BMT 201); but before he gets to the goal he reminds the readers tactfully (1) that what he has to say is conformable to what they received from him when he was with them; and (2) that they are in fact walking according to instructions received. When then he comes to the object of the verbs and repeats the ἵν, he can only ask and urge them to abound the more.

Precisely what Paul intended to say when he began with the first ἵν, whether περιπατῆε καὶ�

καθὼς παρελάβετε κτλ The first καθώ clause reminds them tactfully that what he has to say is not new but strictly conformable (καθώ) to the traditions and instructions which they had received (παρελάβετ; cf. Galatians 1:9, 1 Corinthians 15:1; II 3:6, Philippians 4:9, Colossians 2:6), those, namely, as v. 2 notes explicitly, that he had previously commanded διὰ τοῦ κυρίου The teachings are here referred to generally and in the form of an indirect question: “As to how (τὸ πῶ) you ought to walk and so (και) please God” (cf. Colossians 1:10). The και is consecutive and “marks the�

Paul as a Pharisee (Galatians 1:14) and as a Christian has his παραδόσει (II 2:15, 3:6, 1 Corinthians 11:2) or τύπος διδαχῆ (Romans 6:17; cf. 16:17, 1 Corinthians 4:17, Colossians 2:7, Ephesians 4:21). Although he attributes his gospel to the immediate inspiration of the indwelling Christ or Spirit, yet the contents of the gospel are mediated by the Old Testament (e.g. Romans 3:21, Romans 13:9), late Judaism, words of Jesus (4:15), and by the teaching of the primitive church (1 Corinthians 11:23, 1 Corinthians 15:3). On πῶ, see 1:9; on το introducing indirect questions, cf. Romans 8:26 and Bl 47:5; on τὸ πῶ, Acts 4:21; on πῶς δει, II 3:7, Colossians 4:6.


καθὼς Καὶ περιπατεῖτ. This second tactful reminder, introduced by καθὼς και (cf. 3:4), is thoroughly in keeping with v. 10, 5:11, II 3:4, and indicates of itself that the actual exhortation can only be for more such conduct. Hence the object of ἐρωτῶμεν καὶ παρακαλοῦμε is, as expected: ἵνα περισσεύητε μᾶλλο, “that you abound even more in walking according to the intsructions received.”

On�2 Corinthians 3:9, Philippians 1:9. Paul uses regularly the present subj. of περισσεύει (1 Corinthians 14:12, 2 Corinthians 8:7, 2 Corinthians 9:8, Philippians 1:26); but B, et al., here and BD, et al., in Philippians 1:9 read the aorist subj. as in 2 Corinthians 4:15.


2. οἴδατε γάρ κτλ. “For you know what instructions we gave you.” γά strengthens and confirms the point already made in the first clause with καθώ (v. 1). This explicit appeal to the knowledge of the readers shows how concerned Paul is in insisting that he is making no new requests.

“The emphasis, as Lünemann observes, rests on τίνα, and prepares the readers for the following τοῦτ, v. 3” (Ell.). Not until we come to�Galatians 4:13). οἴδατε γά reminds us of the apologetic appeals in 1:5, 2:1, 2, 5, 11, 3:3, 4; here also the reference is apologetic, but in a different sense; Paul would have his converts feel that he is not issuing new and arbitrary orders, but orders already given and prompted by the indwelling Christ (διὰ τοῦ κυρίο). παραγγελί is a military word occurring rarely in Gk. Bib. (literally in Acts 5:28, Acts 5:16:24; of ethical orders, 1 Timothy 1:5. 1 Timothy 1:18 1 Timothy 1:1 Clem. 42:3). διδόναι παρα is a late Gk. periphrasis for παραγγέλλει (a common word in Gk. Bib.; cf. v. 11, II 3:4 ff.) similar to διδόναι ἐντολή for ἐντέλλεσθα (cf., in John 14:31, Bl with אAD).

διὰ τοῦ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ “Prompted by the Lord Jesus” (Lft.); loquente in nobis Spiritu Christi (Vatablus, apud Poole). The δια designates the Lord “as the causa medians through which the παραγγελία were declared; they were not the Apostle’s own commands, but Christ’s (οὐκ ἐμὰ γάρ, φησίν, ἃ παρήγγειλα,�Philippians 4:13). The presence of both ἐνκυρίῳ (v. 1) and διὰ κυρίο is here designed not to emphasise the apostolic authority of the writers but to point the readers to the divine source of authority which both readers and writers recognise as legitimate, the indwelling Christ. To be sure, Paul recognises his apostolic authority (2:6, II 3:9); no doubt it had of itself immense weight with the Thessalonians; but here he insists that just as when he was with them (2:7) so now as he writes he is but one of them, relying as they do on Christ in them as the common source of divine authority.



Schettler, Die paulinische Formel, “Durch Christus,” 1907, gives an exhaustive study of δια with Χριστου and its synonyms, θεου and πνεύματο While pressing his point somewhat rigorously, he succeeds in showing that δια indicates causal agency, and that the phrase “through Christ” denotes the activity of the spiritual Christ as agent in creation and salvation, and as an influence either in general or specifically in the life of prayer and the official legitimation of Paul (cf. AJT 1907, 690 f.). For this δια, cf. 4:14, 5:9, II 2:2. A few minuscules (69. 441-2. 462) read here ἐν χυρίῳ Ἰ (cf. II 3:12 where for ἐν κ. Ἰ. Χ, אc Dc KL, et al., read διὰ κ. Ἰ. Χ); on this interchange of ἐ and δια, see further Romans 5:9 f. 2 Corinthians 1:20, 2 Corinthians 5:18 f. Colossians 1:16. Colossians 1:19 f. On ἐν ὀνόματ (II 3:6, Colossians 3:17) and διὰ τοῦ ὀνόματο (1 Corinthians 1:10), see below on II 3:6.


(2) True Consecration (4:3-8)

The divine exhortation (ἐν κυρίῳ v. 1) and the divine command (διὰ κυρίο, v. 2) now becomes the divine will (θέλημα τοῦ θεου, v. 3). The meaning of τὸ πῶ (v. 1) and τίνα (v. 2) which are resumed by τοῦτ (v. 3) is first stated generally as “your consecration,” that is, “that you be consecrated.” This general statement is then rendered specific by two pairs of infinitives in apposition to ὁ ἁγιασμὸς ὑμῶ, namely,�

The appeal to the Spirit as the highest sanction in every problem of the moral life is characteristic of Paul; cf. 1 Corinthians 6:19 and McGiffert. Apostolic Age, 263 ff. The reason for presenting the Christian view of consecration involving a Christian view of marriage is to be found not simply in the fact that the converts had as pagans looked upon sexual immorality as a matter of indifference, but also in the fact that such immorality had been sanctioned by their own religious rites (see on�


3God’s will is this, that you be consecrated, that is, that you abstain from fornication, 4that each of you respect his own wife; that each of you get his own wife in the spirit of consecration and honour 5not in the passion of lust, as is the case with the Gentiles who know not God, 6to prevent any one of you from disregarding or taking advantage of his brother in the matter. For the Lord is an avenger for all these matters, as indeed we have predicted and solemnly affirmed; 7for God has not called us Christians for impurity but to be consecrated; 8consequently the rejecter rejects not man but God who puts his Spirit, the consecrating Spirit, into you.

3. τοῦτο γάρ κτλ “Well, to be explicit, God’s will is this.” With the explanatory γάρ, τὸ πῶ and τίνα (v. 2) are resumed by τοῦτ, a predicate probably, placed for emphasis before the subject θέλημα τοῦ θεου; and are further explained in ὁ ἁγιασμὸς ὑμῶ By saying “God’s will,” Paul lays stress once more on the divine sanction already evident in the introduction (vv. 1-2), “in” and “through” the Lord Jesus.

Though ἁγιασμὸς ὑμῶ and�2 Corinthians 8:10, Colossians 3:20, etc. In Paul regularly (except 1 Corinthians 7:37, Ephesians 2:3) and in Lxx frequently, θέλημ refers to the divine will. In Paul we have either τὸ θέλημα τοῦ θεου(Romans 12:2, Ephesians 6:6; with κατα, Galatians 1:4 (cf. 1 Ezra 8:16); or ἐ, Romans 1:10); or θέλημα θεου (5:18; with δια, Romans 15:32, 1 Corinthians 1:1, etc.) like εὐαγγέλιον θεου (Romans 1:1). We expect here either τὸ θέλημα τοῦ θεου (A) or θέλημα θεου (D; so BD in 5:18 where א has θέλημα τοῦ θεου). The omission of only one article here may be due to the influence of the Hebrew construct state (Bl 46:9). But neither here nor in 5:18 is the total will of God in mind; multae sunt voluntates (Bengel). Paul does not use θέλησι; cf. ἡ θέλησις τοῦ θεου (Tob. 12:18, 2 Mac. 12:16).

ὁ ἁγιασμὸς ὑμῶ = τὸ ὑμᾶς ἁγιάζεσθα. God’s will is “your consecration”; that is, either that you may be consecrated or better that you consecrate yourselves. The word ἁγιασμό denotes both the process of consecration (as here) and the state of the consecrated (as vv. 4. 7; see SH on Romans 6:19). The consecrating power is God (5:23), Christ (1 Corinthians 1:2, 1 Corinthians 1:30), or the Spirit (v. 8, II 2:13; cf. Romans 15:16). Though in itself, as Vorstius (apud Poole) observes, ἁγιασμό is a general term, yet the immediate context,�

In the N. T. ἁγιασμό is chiefly in Paul; but only here do we have the article or the personal pronoun (cf. Ezekiel 45:4). On ἐν ἁγιασμῷ, cf. vv. 4, 7 Test. xii, Benj. 10:11 Ps. Sol. 17:33 1 Clem. 35:2; on ἐν ἁγιασμῷ πνεύματο II 2:13, 1 Peter 1:2; on εἰς ἁγιασμό, Romans 6:19. Romans 6:22, Amos 2:11. For ἁγιασμό = ἁγιωσύν, cf. Test. xii, Leviticus 18:7 (πνεῦμα ἁγιασμου) with 18:11 and Romans 1:4 (πνεῦμα ἁγιωσύνη).

ἀπέχεσθα … πορνεία “That you hold aloof from fornication”; for true consecration to God is moral as well as religious. Every kind of impurity is a sin not simply against man but against God (cf. v. 8 and Psalms 50:6: σοὶ μόνῳ ἥμαρτο).

What was unclear in τὸ πῶ (v. 1), τία (v. 2), and τοῦτ (v. 3) and what was still general in ὁ ἁγιασμὸς ὑμῶ, now (vv. 3b-6a) becomes clear and specific in the two pairs of infinitives,�Romans 12:15, Philippians 3:16 and Bl 69:1. In the Lxx�1 Corinthians 7:2) but not πᾶσα πορνεί (so F here); the word itself suggests all forms of sexual immorality. On the generic τῆ, cf. 1 Corinthians 6:13, 1 Corinthians 6:18.

4. εἰδένα … σκεῦο. “That each of you respect his own wife.” Usually εἰδένα is understood in the sense of “learn how to,” “savoir” (Philippians 4:12) and so is construed with κτᾶσθα as its complement: “that each one of you learn how to get (or ‘possess’) his own vessel (‘wife’ or ‘body’) in holiness and honour”; in the light, however, of 5:12 where εἰδένα = “respect,” it is tempting to take it also here = “regard,” “appreciate the worth of.” In this case a comma is to be put after σκεῦο to indicate the separation of κτᾶσθα from εἰδένα With this punctuation, the parallelism of�

εἰδένα here and 5:12, like ἐπιγινώσκει in 1 Corinthians 16:18, Matthew 17:12, is employed in a sense akin to that in the common Lxx phrase εἰδένα (v. 5, II 1:8, Galatians 4:8) or γινώσκει (Galatians 4:9) θεό, the knowledge involving intelligent reverence and obedience; cf. Ign. Smyr. 9:1: θεὸν καὶ ἐπίσκοπον εἰδένα For ἕκαστο, B2 or B3, the Latins, et al. read ἕνα ἕκαστο as 2:11, II 1:3.—(1) In the usual view which takes εἰδένα with κτᾶσθα and which rightly sees in vv. 3b-8 a reference solely to�Philippians 4:12, and as DG, et al., here actually have it, but after; the apparent parallelism of the four infinitives; the fact that εἰδέα … σκεῦο is complete in itself, balancing�

Spitta (Zur Geschichte und Litteratur, I, 1893, 131:2) was evidently the first to suggest the separation of κτᾶσθα from εἰδένα; but his own view that εἰδένα = ירע (Genesis 4:17, etc.) is apparently untenable, for ירע = “know carnally” is rendered in Lxx not by εἰδένα but by γινώσκει (Judges 21:11 is not an exception). Born and Vincent rightly take εἰδένα here as in 5:12 to mean “respect,” but assume for κτᾶσθα the improbable sense (v. infra): “to do business.” Wohl., after taking the position that both impurity and dishonesty in business are discussed in vv. 3b-8, suggests for consideration in a foot-note (90:2) an interpretation similar to the alternative view here proposed, but does not elaborate it.


τὸ ἑαντοῦ σκεῦο. “His own vessel,” that is, “his own wife.” Paul has in mind married men and the temptation to unholy and dishonourable relations with women. The ἑαυτου intimates a contrast between a σκεῦος πορνεία and a σκεῦος γάμον τιμίο As εἰδέναι κτλ, parallel to and explanatory of�

σκεῦο is rare in Paul; it is used literally of a utensil in the household (Romans 9:21), and metaphorically, with some qualifying description, of an implement for some purpose (e.g. Romans 9:22 f. σκεύη ὀργῆς, ἐλέου; 2 Corinthians 4:7 ὀστράκινα σκεύ—“a metaphor from money stored in earthen jars,” as Bigg (ICC on 1 Peter 3:7) notes). The absolute τὸ σκεῦο in a metaphorical sense appears to be unique in the Gk. Bib. (1) On the analogy of the other Pauline passages, the reference here is to a vessel adapted to a purpose; and the emphasis on ἑαυτου and the contrast with πορνεί suggest the woman as the vessel, not, however, for fornication but for honourable marriage. This meaning for σκεῦο has a parallel not in 1 Peter 3:7 (where both the man and the woman are vessels), but in rabbinical literature (cf. Schöttgen, Horae Hebraicae, I, 827), where כלי = σκεῦο = woman. This interpretation of σκεῦο is taken by the Greek Th. Mops. as well as by Augustine and most modern commentators. (2) On the other hand, many commentators (e.g. Tertullian, Chrys., Theodoret, Calv., Grot., Mill., Dibelius) understand σκεῦο as = “body.” In support of this opinion, passages are frequently adduced (see Lün. and cf. Barn. 7:3, 11:19) in which the context rather than the word itself (σκεῦος,�Genesis 4:1), friends (Sir. 6:7), enemies (Sir. 20:23, 29:6), gold (Matthew 10:19), etc.; also “to buy” (Acts 1:18, Acts 8:20, Acts 22:28). The sense “dem Erwerb nachgehen” (Born), “pursue gain-getting” (Vincent) is doubtful, although we have the absolute ὁ κτώμενο “the buyer” (Deuteronomy 28:68, Ezekiel 7:12 f., Ezekiel 8:3); κέκτησθα (not in N. T.) in Lxx as in classic Gk. means “to have gotten” (a wife, Ruth 4:10), “possess” (Proverbs 16:22), “own” (ὁ κεκτημένο, “the owner,” Ep. Jer. 58***). “Cum κτᾶσθα significat acquirere non potest σκεῦο significare corpus suum sed uxorem” (Wetstein). This conclusion, however, is bereft of its force if in Hellenistic Gk. κτᾶσθα = κέκτησθα (so Mill. who quotes P. Tebt. 5:241 ff. and P. Oxy. 259:6; and, following him Dibelius). (2) But the difficulty with ἑαυτου remains: “to possess his own body.” This may be obviated by assuming that here, as often in later Gk., ἑαυτου like ἴδιο (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:2) has “lost much of its emphatic force” (Mill. on ἑαυτῆ, 2:7; and Moult I, 87 ff.). If, however, κτᾶσθα and ἑαυτου retain here their normal meaning, then σκεῦο probably = “woman,” “wife.”

κτᾶσθα. “That each of you get in marriage his own wife” (sc. τὸ ἑαυτοῦ σκεῦο). Wetstein notes Sir. 36:29: ὁ κτώμενος γυναῖκα ἐνάρχεται κτήσεω (cf. also Ruth 4:10). Paul has now in mind unmarried men and the temptation especially to adultery. The ἑαυτου is contrasted with the brother’s wife implied in v. 6. True consecration, which is God’s will, is not simply that a man should marry in order to avoid adultery (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:2: διὰτὰς πορνείας ἕκαστος τὴν ἑαυτοῦ γυναῖκα ἐχέτ), but, as the ἐν ἁγιασμῷ καὶ τιμῇ prescribes, should marry in purity and respect for his wife, and not in the passion of lust. As the clause with εἰδένα explained that the married man is to appreciate his wife and so be kept from fornication, so the clause with τὸ μὴὑπερβαίνει indicates that the unmarried man is to marry in holiness and honour and so be kept from invading the sanctity of his brother’s home.


The subject ἕκαστο and the object τὸ ἑαυτοῦ σκεῦο hold over; cf. Sir. 51:25 (κτήσασθε αὑτοῖς ἄνευ�

πάθο signifies any feeling; to 4 Mac. it consists of ἡδονη and πόνο; in Paul it is always used in a bad sense (Romans 1:26, Colossians 3:5). ἐπιθυμί in Paul has usually a bad sense, but sometimes a good sense (2:17, Philippians 1:23; cf. κακὴ ἐπιθυμί, Colossians 3:5). On καθάπερ και, see 3:6. Ellicott, with his wonted exactness, notes the και as having here “its comparative force and instituting a comparison between the Gentiles and the class implied in ἕκαστον ὑμῶ ” On τὰ μἠ εἰδότα τὸν θεό, a Lxx phrase (Jeremiah 10:25, Psalms 78:6), cf. II 1:8, Galatians 4:8, 1 Corinthians 1:21, and contrast Romans 1:21. If the Thessalonians in their pagan state had held πορνεί to be sanctioned by religion, and had also considered πάθος ἐπιθυμία to be compatible with honourable marriage, the clause with καθάπε would be particularly telling. See Jowett, II, 70 ff. “On the Connexion of Immorality and Idolatry.”


6. τὸ μὴ ὑπερβαίνειν καὶ πλεονεκτεῖ. “To prevent (τὸ μη) any one of you (sc. τινὰ ὑμῶ from ἕκαστον ὑμῶ, v. 4) from disregarding and taking advantage of his brother in the matter.” Just as appreciation of the wife (εἰδένα) is tacitly regarded as a preventive of fornication �

The meaning of τὸ μη is uncertain. Many take it as final in the sense of τοῦ μη (Schmiedel) or ὥστ (Lft.); others regard it as not merely parallel to the anarthrous είδένα but as reverting “to the preceding ἁγιασμό, of which it presents a specific exemplification more immediately suggested by the second part of v. 4” (Ell.); Dob., who inclines to the view of Ell., concludes that the article indicates the beginning of a new and second main point, the matter of dishonesty in business; Dibelius suggests that the article is merely a cæsura in delivery, designed to show that the μη is not parallel to the μη in v. 5, but the beginning of a new clause. On the other hand, τὸ μη (cf. 3:3) may be due to the idea of hindering implied in the clause with κτᾶσθα, a clause thus to be closely connected with τὸ μὴ ὑπερβαίνειν κτλ, as indeed the asyndetical construction itself suggests. In classical Greek, τὸ μη is used with many verbs and expressions which denote or even imply hindrance or prevention (GMT 811, where inter alia the following are noted: Æschylus, Agam. 15: φόβος παραστατεῖ τὸ μὴ βλέγφαρα συμβαλεῖν ὕπνῳ (“stands by to prevent my closing my eyes in sleep”); and Soph. Antig. 544: μήτοι, μʼ�Proverbs 9:18 A), “pass by” (2 Reg. 18:23, Job 9:11); and metaphorically “surpass” (3 Mac. 6:24), “leave unnoticed,” “disregard” (Micah 7:18: ἐξαίρων�2 Corinthians 2:11, 2 Corinthians 7:2, 2 Corinthians 12:17 f.) only Judges 4:11, Ezekiel 22:27, Habakkuk 2:9; it means “get the advantage of,” “defraud,” the context not the word itself indicating the nature of the advantage taken, whether in money, as usually in Paul, or not (2 Corinthians 2:11). Here the object of greediness (cf. πλεονεξί, 2:5) is the brother’s wife as the context as a whole and ἐν τῷ πράγματ particularly suggest.

ἐν τῷπράγματ. “In the matter,” “the meaning of which is sufficiently defined by the context” (Lft.), as in 2 Corinthians 7:11. It is probable that the phrase is not a specific reference either to πορνεί, as if the article were anaphoristic, or to μοιχεί, as if the article referred to the matter immediately in hand, but is “a euphemistic generalisation for all sorts of uncleanness” (Lillie), as περὶ πάντων τούτω in this clause and�

τῷ not the enclitic τῳ, which is without parallel in the N. T., is to be read.—πρᾶγμ like res and ובר is a euphemism for anything abominable. Wetstein cites in point not only 2 Corinthians 7:11, but also Æschines, Timarch, 132 ff. and Isæus, de haered. Cironis, 44; cf. also Pirque Aboth 5:23 and Taylor’s note.—In this connection it may be noted that many commentators (e. g. Calv., Grot., De W., Lün., Born, Vincent, Wohl., Dob.) deny the view of Chrys., Th. Mops., Bengel, and most English interpreters (see the names in Lillie) that Paul in vv. 3b-8 is referring solely to impurity, and assert, either on the ground that Vulg translates ἐν τῷ πράγματ by in negotio or that Paul frequently associates uncleanness with avarice (cf. Test. xii, Benj. 5:1 ἄσωτο and οἱ πλεονεκτοῦντε), that with τὸ μη a new point begins, dishonesty in business (cf. especially Dob. Die urchristlichen Gemeinden, 1902, 283). In this view, πρᾶγμ = “business”; and the article is either anaphoristic, if with Born and Vincent κτᾶσθα = “to do business,” or generic, business in general. Against this opinion is the consideration that “no other adequate example of πρᾶγμ in this sense in the singular has been produced” (Mill.). To obviate this consideration, Dibelius looks beyond 1 Corinthians 6:1 (πρᾶγμα ἔχει) to the papyri for πρᾶγμ in the sense of “case” at court, without explaining τῷ, and refers v. 6 to disputes: “nicht Uebergriffe machen und beim Zwist den Bruder übervorteilen.”—To interpret v. 6 of sexual immorality is considered forced exegesis by Calv. and Dob. On the other hand, Ell. pertinently remarks: “To regard the verse as referring to fraud and covetousness in the general affairs of life is to infringe on the plain meaning of τῷ πράγματ; to obscure the reference to the key-word of the paragraph�

τὸν�1 Corinthians 6:8:�


6b-8. With διότι, γάρ (v. 7) and τοιγαροῦ (v. 8), Paul passes to motives for obeying these commands, not his but God’s commands. First he appeals, as he had done before when he was with them, to the sanction of the judgment when Christ will punish all these sins of the flesh (v. 6b). Next he reminds them that God’s call had a moral end in view, holiness (v. 7). Finally he points out that the indwelling, consecrating Spirit, the gift of God, is the resident divine power in the individual, so that disobedience strikes not at the human but at the divine (v. 8).

διότι ἔκδικος κτλ. διότ = “because” as in 2:8. As a sanction for present obedience to the will of God as specified in vv. 3b-6a, Paul points to the future judgment (2 Corinthians 5:10, Romans 14:10). κύριο is not θεό (GF) but Christ (3:12), as the emphatic ὁ θεό (vv. 7-8) intimates. He is the one who inflicts punishment directly or indirectly (cf. II 1:8), the avenger (ἔκδικο) “for all these things,” that is, for fornication, adultery, and all such uncleanness.

ἔκδικο means here, as always in Gk. Bib. (Romans 13:4, Sir. 30:6 Sap. 12:12, 4 Mac. 15:29; cf. ἐκδικητή Psalms 8:3), “avenger.” This characterisation of God is so common in the Lxx (ἐκδικῶ or ποιῶν ἐκδίκησι, Psalms 98:8, Nahum 1:2, Micah 5:15, etc.), that the phrase ἔκδικος κύριο here need not be a literary allusion to Psalms 93:1: ὁ θεὸς ἐκδικήσεων κύριος, ὁ θεὸς ἐκδικήσεω


καθὼς καὶ προείπαμεν κτλ. Paul tactfully reminds them, as in vv. 1-2, that this eschatological sanction is not new to them. When he was with them he had “predicted” and “solemnly affirmed” that Christ would avenge all manner of unchastity. Apparently neither the temptation nor the exhortation was new. But whether Timothy had brought news of the yielding to temptation in some case or cases, since Paul’s departure, as ὁ�

On the comparative και (A omits) after καθώς see 3:4; the και after ὑμῖ is the simple copula; on the position of ὑμῖ, cf. v. 1 ἐρωτῶμεν ὑμᾶ προείπαμε (cf. Galatians 5:21 where it is contrasted with προλέγ), is predictive as in 3:4; on the mixed aorist (AKL read προείπομεν) see Bl 21:1. διαμαρτύρεσθαι only here in Paul but common elsewhere in Gk. Bib., is possibly stronger than μαρτύρεσθα (2:12; but cf. Kennedy, Sources, 37); it means either “call to witness” (Jeremiah 39:10, 44, Deuteronomy 4:26, Deuteronomy 31:28) or “solemnly affirm or protest”; etiam apud Att. notio testes invocandi evanescit (Blass on Acts 2:40).


7. οὐ γὰρ ἐκάλεσεν κτλ. The γά, parallel to διότ (v. 6), introduces a second motive for obedience, the moral goal of God’s call. “For God called us Christians not that we should be impure (ἐπί denoting the purpose or object) but that we should be holy” (ἐ indicating the state of holiness resulting from the calling). Such being the moral purpose of the call, it would be sin to disregard these commands which express God’s will.

On καλεῖ, which is mediated by the preaching of the gospel (II 2:14), see 2:12; on�Galatians 5:13, Ephesians 2:10 and Bl 43:3; also Sap. 2:23 ὁ θεὸς ἔκτισεν τὸν ἄνθρωπον ἐπʼ�Ephesians 4:4). For ἐ introducing the result of καλεῖ, Colossians 3:15 is pertinent. Other expositors (e. g. Bengel, Hofmann, Riggenbach, Wohl. Dob.) understand ἁγιασμό as an act of God and ἐ as indicating the essential character of the call.


8. τοιγαροῦ. With τοιγαροῦ, “therefore,” “consequently,” Paul draws a sharp inference from vv. 3-7. Since the specific commands, making for a consecration that is moral, are the express will of God who not only judges but calls unto holiness, he that sets aside these injunctions sets aside not man but God, the God who through his Spirit is the energising, consecrating power in the hearts of the believers.

As in Isaiah 21:2 (ὁ�2 Corinthians 12:2) who was God’s spokesman. The contrast between man and God is unqualified (cf. 2:13, Galatians 1:10, Exodus 16:8, Exodus 16:1 Reg. 8:7); it is not a man’s will but God’s will that is here in question. τοιγαροῦ, elsewhere in N. T. only Hebrews 12:1 and a dozen times in Lxx, is similar to but stronger than διὰ τοῦτ (2:13), διο (3:1) or ὥστ (4:18), and like these introduces a logical conclusion from a preceding discussion. Usually it begins the sentence (Hebrews 12:1, Job 22:10; cf. Epictetus); sometimes it is the second word (4 Mac. 13:16, 17:4, Job 24:22, etc.).�Jude 1:8 with 2 Peter 2:10).

τὸν διδόντα κτλ. “Who puts his Spirit, the holy, consecrating Spirit into you,” that is, εἰς τὰς καρδίας ὑμῶ (Galatians 4:6). This addition, phrased in language reminiscent of the Lxx (cf. Ezekiel 37:14: καὶ δώσω τὸ πνεῦμά μου εἰς ὑμᾶς καὶ ζήσεσθ), is a tacit reminder that they as well as Paul are ἐν κυρίῳ (v. 1) and as such responsible for their conduct not to Paul but to God who dwells in them by Christ or the Spirit. Three points are evident in this appended characterisation of God, each of them intimating a motive for obedience. (1) Not only is God the one who calls and judges, he is also the one who graciously puts into their hearts his Spirit whose presence insures their blamelessness in holiness when the Lord comes (3:13). In gratitude for this divine gift, they should be loyally obedient. (2) This indwelling Spirit is a power unto holiness, a consecrating Spirit. Devotion to God must consequently be ethical. (3) The Spirit is put not εἰς ἡμᾶ (A) “into us Christians” collectively, but εἰς ὑμᾶ “into you” Thessalonians, specifically. Hence each of them is individually responsible to God who by the Spirit is resident in them. In despising, the individual despises not a man but God.

διδόντ (BאDEGFI) is a general present participle and timeless; it describes God as the giver of the Spirit (cf. ὁ καλῶν ὑμᾶ, 2:12). δόντ (AKL, Vulg) is due to ἐκάλεσε (v. 7; cf. אA in 2:12, καλέσαντο); the aorist points to the time when God gave (Romans 5:5, 2 Corinthians 1:22, 2 Corinthians 5:5) or sent (Galatians 4:6) the Spirit into their hearts. The new point emphasised by τὸν διδόντ is made explicit by אDGFKL, Vulg et al., which insert και after τό (cf. אGP in II 2:14 which read και before ἐκάλεσεν and A in II 3:3 which inserts και before στηρίξο). Here BAEI omit και, as do BADKL in II 2:14 and אBD and most in 3:8. In our passage, most textual critics including Weiss (112) insert και; but WH. do not allow it even as an alternative reading. The phrase διόόναι πνεῦμα εἴς τιν is apparently found elsewhere in Gk. Bib. only Ezekiel 37:6, Ezekiel 37:14. For διδόναι πνεῦμά τιν, cf. Romans 5:5, Romans 5:11:8, 2 Corinthians 5:5, Ephesians 1:17; Isaiah 42:5; for διδόναι πνεῦμα ἔντιν, cf. 2 Corinthians 1:22, 2 Corinthians 1:3 Reg. 22:23, Ezekiel 36:26 ff., Ezekiel 36:4 Reg. 19:7, 2 Chronicles 18:22; for διδόναι πνεῦμα ἐπί τιν, cf. Numbers 11:29, Isaiah 42:1. The εἰ is for dative or for ἐ; “give to be in,” “put in.”—The whole phrase τὸ πνεῦμα αὐτοῦ τὸ ἅγιο is unusual in Paul; he uses, indeed, τὸ πνεῦμα αὐτου (Romans 8:11), τὸ ἅγιον πνεῦμ (2 Corinthians 13:13), and τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον τοῦ θεου (Ephesians 4:30; cf. 1:13 and Isaiah 63:11); but more often he has simply πνεῦμα ἅγιο (1:5 f., etc.; Ps. Sol. 17:42). On the phrase here, cf. Ps. 142:10; τὸ πνεῦμά σου τὸ ἅγιο, and Isaiah 63:10: αὐτοὶ δὲ ἠπείθησαν καὶ παρώξυναν τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον αὐτου Paul’s emphasis on τὸ ἅγιο is especially appropriate to the theme ἁγιασμό, consecration which is ethical as well as religious. Some codices (AI) put αὐτου before πνεῦμ


(3) Love to the Brothers (4:9-10a)

As the exhortation to ethical consecration (vv. 3-8) recalls�1 Corinthians 7:25, 1 Corinthians 8:1, 1 Corinthians 12:1, 1 Corinthians 16:1 (2 Corinthians 9:1) 16:12) that the Thessalonians had written Paul expressly for advice in this matter. They would scarcely have done so, if there had been no disturbing elements in the brotherhood, namely, as vv. 10b-12 intimate, idleness on the part of some leading to poverty and meddlesomeness in the affairs of the brotherhood. In his reply, Paul at first says (vv. 9-10a) that it is unnecessary for him to write anything about the matter because they have been taught of God to love one another and are, moreover, practising this love among the brethren not only at home but throughout all Macedonia. This excellent practice, however, does not prohibit his exhorting them not simply in general to abound the more in brotherly love (περισσεύειν μᾶλλο) but also in particular to be tranquil in mind, to attend to their own affairs, and work with their hands (vv. 11-12), any more than the fact that they were walking so as to please God (v. 1) prevented his urging them not simply in general to abound the more in such walking (ἵνα περισσεύητε μᾶλλο) but also in particular to abstain from fornication, etc. (vv. 3-8). To affirm, as some do, that although vv. 10b-12 are closely joined syntactically with vv. 9-10a yet exegesis is not justified in joining them materially appears to miss not only the obvious connection of the two sections but also the parallelism of approach already observed between vv. 9-11 and vv. 1-3. It is for convenience only that we subdivide into Love to Brothers (4:9-10a) and Idleness (4:10b-12).


9Now concerning love to the brothers, you have no need of our writing to you, for you yourselves are taught of God to love another; 10in fact you are also doing it toward all the brothers who are in the whole of Macedonia.

9. φιλαδελφία. The brother who is the object of love is not the brother by birth, nationality, or alliance, but the brother ἐν Χριστῷ. Affection for the brotherhood (1 Peter 2:17) does not exclude�

In the Lxx (4 Mac. 13:23. 26, 14:1) as in classical Gk. φιλαδελφί (cf. also φιλάδελφο 2 Mac. 15:14) designates love of the brother by birth (cf.�Romans 12:10, Hebrews 13:1, 1 Peter 1:22, 2 Peter 1:7; cf. 1 Clem. 47:5 48:1). See Kennedy, Sources 95 f.

οὐ χρείαν ἔχετε κτλ. “You have no need that we (sc. ἡμᾶ) write to you.” The explanation of this “simple statement of fact” (Mill.) is then introduced by γά But instead of saying, “for you yourselves know how to love one another” (cf. 5:1) or “for we know that you are loving one another” (cf. 2 Corinthians 9:1), he says “for you yourselves (αὐτοὶ ὑμεῖ contrasting with ἡμᾶ understood before γράφει) are taught of God to love one another,” thus resuming the point made in v. 8 that it is not the apostles who teach but God speaking by the indwelling Spirit or Christ. In virtue of this divine inspiration, they are θεοδίδακτο (Barn. 21:6), that is, διδακτοὶ θεου (Isaiah 54:13) or ὑπὸ τοῦ θεου (Ps. Sol. 17:35).

ἡμᾶ (Riggenbach) not τινα or ἐμε is to be supplied before γράφει The difficulty created by γράφει instead of γράφεσθα (5:1) may account for the reading ἔχετε γράφεσθα (H, et al.; cf. 5:1) and ἔχομεν γράφει (DGF, et al.; cf. 1:8). B (cf. am habuimus) has εἴχομεν which may suggest (Dob.) that Paul had already written a letter, and that he now justifies his failure to mention therein φιλαδελφί If εἴχομεν however interpreted, is original (so Weiss), then ἔχομε is a correction and ἔχετ a conformation to 5:1 as H shows. I seems to read ειχ [τεγρ] φι Most editors read ἔχετ with אAHKL, et al., and γράφει with most uncials. θεοδίδακτο occurs only here in Gk. Bib.; Lft. notes it in the later Barn. 21:6, Athenag. Leg. 11 and Theoph. ad Autol. 2:9. On compounds with θε-, cf. Romans 1:30, 2 Timothy 3:16, 2 Timothy 3:2 Mac. 6:23 and Ignatius. For the idea, see Isaiah 54:13, John 6:45, Jeremiah 31:33 ff. εἰς το limits θεοδίδακτο (cf. Philippians 1:23 and BMT 413). On the characteristic Johannine�Romans 13:8, 1 Peter 1:22.


10. καὶ γὰρ ποιεῖτε κτλ. “For you are also doing it,” that is, τὸ�

On ποιεῖν εἰ, cf. 1 Corinthians 10:31. B alone puts a και before εἰ, marking the advance from�Philemon 1:62 Corinthians 1:1 τοῖς οὖσιν ἐν ὅλῃ τῇ Ἀχαίᾳ The disposition to love all the Macedonian Christians may have expressed itself both in hospitality to visiting brothers, Philippians, Berœans, and others (Dob.), and “in ministering to the necessity of other churches” (McGiffert, EB 5041). Mill. (XLVII) quotes a remark of Jerome, in his commentary on Galatians (Migne, PL. 26, 356), that reveals the charitable disposition of the Macedonians of his day: Macedones in charitate laudantur et hospitalite ac susceptione fratrum.


(4) Idleness (4:10b.12)

Though the readers are practising brotherly love, yet (δε) Paul urges them both generally “to abound the more” (cf. v. 1) in that virtue, and specifically “to strive to be calm, and to mind their own business, and to work with their hands.” This last injunction at least (ἐργάζεσθα) is not new (cf. II 3:10), as he forthwith proceeds to add (καθὼς ὑμῖν παρηγγείλαμε; cf. v. 2); it is repeated here (v. 12) to the end (1) that the readers may behave themselves becomingly, having in mind the opinion of non-Christians, and (2) that they may be dependent on no one for support.

Precisely what the situation is to which Paul speaks, beyond the fact that it has to do with brotherly love, is not clear. It may be assumed that the belief in the coming of the Lord had created in the minds of some of the converts a feeling of restlessness and excitement which manifested itself outwardly in idleness and meddlesomeness in the affairs of the brotherhood. The idlers, we may imagine, being in want, had asked support from the church, and being refused on the ground that they were able to support themselves, had attempted to interfere in the affairs of the group. The peace of the brotherhood was disturbed and Christianity was falling into disrepute with unbelievers. Being in doubt as to how brotherly love was to be exhibited in such a case, the leaders wrote Paul for advice.

The clue to the interpretation of vv. 10b-12 is given in II 3:6-15 without which our verses would remain obscure. But neither I nor II tells us precisely wherein the meddlesomeness, alluded to in πράσσειν τὰ ἴδι and expressed in περιεργάζεσθα (II 3:11), consists. For idleness, while it naturally leads to poverty and to demands upon the brotherhood for support (Theodoret, Estius, Lft.), does not of itself involve interference with the affairs of the church. But as the position of πράσσειν τὰ ἴδι before ἐργάζεσθα intimates, meddlesomeness, the result of idleness, is the disturbing factor. Some light may be thrown on the situation by hints given in 5:12 ff. In 5:12-13, for example, the readers are urged to appreciate the worth of (εἰδένα as v. 4) “those who labour among you,” those, namely, who act as leaders and function as νουθετοῦντε; and to regard them highly in love on account of their work. Furthermore, the readers are commanded to be at peace not with them, but among themselves; and also to warn the idlers (5:14). In 5:19-22 they are exhorted not to quench the operations of the Spirit, not to despise the gift of prophecy; and again are bidden to test all sorts of charismata, holding fast to such as make for edification and holding aloof from every evil kind of charismata. In 5:23 the God of peace is invoked; and in 5:27 this letter is ordered read to all the brethren. From these statements we may surmise that the idlers (οἱ ἄτακτο, 5:14) are the disturbing element in the brotherhood, their idleness being due to a religious cause, namely, the excitement occasioned by the expectancy of the coming of the Lord. They became poor and asked “the workers among them” for assistance, only to be refused on the ground that the applicants were able but unwilling to support themselves, and were thus acting in direct violation of what Paul had taught (II 3:10: εἴ τις οὐ θέλει ἐργάζεσθαι μηδὲ ἐσθιέτ, a passage which suggests that καθὼς ὑμῖν παρηγγείλαμε (I 4:11) is to be restricted to ἐργάζεσθα). The leaders were probably not tactful, as εἰρηνεύετε ἐν ἑαυτοῖ (5:13) implies and II 3:13, 15 confirms. Possibly the demand of the idlers was made “in the Spirit,” on the analogy of Did. 11:12: ὅς δʼ ἂν εἴπῃ ἐν πνεύματι· Δός μοι�

11. φιλοτιμεῖσθαι ἡσυχάζει. “Strive to be calm.” Paul recognises that the source of meddlesomeness and idleness is inward, the excitement created in the minds of some by the expectation that the day of the Lord was at hand. With Lamentations 3:26 he might have said: “It is good that a man should hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord” (Lxx: καὶ ὑπομενεῖ καὶ ἡσυχάσει εἰς τὸ σωτήριον κυρίο). Inward tranquillity once restored, outward idleness and meddlesomeness would cease.

ἡσυχάζει, only here in Paul, is used elsewhere in Gk. Bib. to denote silence after speech (Acts 11:18), rest after labour (Luke 23:56), peace after war (Judges 3:11, etc.), and the like; also tranquillity or peace of mind, the antithesis being expressed (Job 3:26, Proverbs 1:32, Isaiah 7:4) or implied (Exodus 24:14, Lamentations 3:26 and here); cf. II 3:12: μετὰ ἡσυχίας ἐργαζόμενο Many commentators, influenced doubtless by Plato’s Rep. VI, 496 D, where the philosopher retires from public life and pursues his studies in retirement ἡσυχίαν ἔχων καὶ τὰ αὑτοῦ πράττω (cf. Dio Cass. 60:27: τὴν ἡσυχίαν ἄγων καὶ τὰ ἑαυτοῦ πράττω), find the opposite of ἡσυχάζει implied in the opposite of πράσσειν τὰ ἴδι and interpret ἡσυχάζει objectively as leading the quiet life after busying themselves with affairs not their own, as, for example, entering into public life, discussing the Parousia in the market-place and elsewhere, and thus bringing the Christian circle into discredit with the Gentiles (Zwingli, Koppe, Schott, Dob. and others). But the Thessalonians are not philosophers but working people, and the context (περὶ τῆς φιλαδελφία) points to church rather than to public affairs.

φιλοτιμεῖσθα occurs elsewhere in Gk. Bib. only Romans 15:20, 2 Corinthians 5:9 and 4 Mac. 1:32 (A). In later Gk. it is used absolutely in the sense “love honour,” “be ambitious,” or “act with public spirit” (Mill.); and with a complementary infinitive in the sense of “strive,” “be eager,” “try” (so in papyri (Mill.); cf. Polyb. I, 83:2, where φιλοτιμεῖσθα is balanced by ποιεῖσθαι μεγάλην σπουδή). The meaning here = σπουδάζει in 2:17; see Wetstein, ad loc. and SH on Romans 15:20. On the Pauline phrase παρακαλοῦμε …�Romans 15:30, Romans 15:16:17, 1 Corinthians 1:10, 1 Corinthians 1:16:15; also I 5:12, II 2:1 (where ἐρωτῶμε (v. 1) takes the place of παρακαλοῦμε). With παρακαλεῖ, Paul uses the ἵν clause (v. 1, II 3:12); or the infinitive, either alone or with εἰς το (2:11) or τὸ μη (3:2); or the imperative (5:14, 1 Corinthians 4:16).


πράσσειν τὰ ἴδια καὶ ἐργάζεσθαι κτλ. The outward expression of inward restlessness was meddlesomeness and idleness. Paul refers first not to idleness but to meddlesomeness (περιεργάζεσθα II 3:11) because in this case the disturbing element in the peace of the brotherhood was not simply that some were idle and in their want had asked support from the church, but also that, being refused, they had attempted to interfere in the management of its affairs. Furthermore, in putting second ἐργάζεσθα, the cause of meddlesomeness, he seems to intimate that καθὼς ὑμῖν παρηγγείλαμε is to be taken not with all three preceding infinitives (ἡσυχάζειν, πράσσει, and ἐργάζεσθα) but solely with the last, as indeed the clause of purpose v. 12 (especially μηδενὸς χρείαν ἔχητ) and the parallel II 3:10 (εἴ τις οὐ θέλει ἐργάζεσθαι μηδὲ ἐσθιέτ) suggest. To meet this situation, he urges first that they attend to their own affairs and not interfere with the affairs of the church; and second, repeating an injunction already given, that they work with their hands, that is, support themselves instead of begging assistance from the church (μηδενὸς χρείαν ἔχητε v. 12).

πράσσειν τὰ ἴδι is unique in the Gk. Bib. but common in the classics (see Wetstein); cf. μὴ πολυπραγμονεῖ (Plato, Rep. IV, 433 A) and ἰδιοπραγεῖ (Soph. Lex.). GF. read πράττει ἐργάζεσθαι ταῖς χερσί (1 Corinthians 4:12, Ephesians 4:28; cf. Sap. 15:17) denotes manual labour; but whether skilled or unskilled is not certain. Influenced by ἴδι (Weiss, 91), אAKL, et al., prefix ἰδίαι to χερσί, an unnecessary insertion in view of ὑμῶ In 1 Corinthians 4:12, Ephesians 4:28, where ὑμῶ fails, ἰδίαι is to be read, though B omits it in Ephesians 4:28.


12. ἵνα περιπατῆτε κτλ. The purpose of παρακαλοῦμε is twofold, (1) that the converts may behave themselves becomingly with a view to the opinion of non-Christians (τοὺς ἔξ) the point being that the idleness of some of the Christians tended to bring Christianity into discredit with the unbelievers; and (2) that they may have need of no one to support them, the point being that they should support themselves instead of trespassing on the hospitality of the church.

Ell. thinks that ἵνα περιπατῆτε εὐσχημόνω refers mainly to ἡσυχάζει and πράσσει, and μηδενὸς χρείαν ἔχητ refers to ἐργάζεσθα This reference is due to the fact that ἡσυχάζει is interpreted as leading a quiet life after a bustling interest in public affairs. Ewald and Dob. take the clause with ἵν as the object of παρηγγείλαμε; but the change from the infinitives to ἵν after παρακαλοῦμε strongly intimates that Paul is passing from the object to the purpose of the exhortation cf. 1 Corinthians 10:32 f.: γίνεσθ … καθὼ … ἵν). εὐσχημόνω, which is used elsewhere in the Gk. Bib. only Romans 13:13 (περιπατεῖ) and 1 Corinthians 14:40 (parallel to κατὰ τάξι), denotes “becomingly,” “honestly” in the sense of honeste, so that no exception can be taken; cf. Epictetus, Diss. II, 5:23 εὐσχημόνως�1 Corinthians 5:12 f. Colossians 4:5) indicates non-Christians, irrespective of race (contrast οἱ ἔς, 1 Corinthians 5:12). The Jews had a similar designation for non-Jews; cf. οἱ ἔξωθε (Josephus, Ant. 15:316; also 1 Timothy 3:7) and οἱ ἐκτό (Sir. prol.); and see Schöttgen on 1 Corinthians 5:12 and Levy, Neuhebr. u. Chald. Wörterbuch on חיצון. πρό = “with an eye to,” as in Colossians 4:5; not coram, “in the eyes of.” On the gender of μηδενό, Vorstius (apud Poole) remarks: “perinde est sive μηδενό in neut. gen. sive in masc. accipias.” Nor does it matter logically, for in either case the reference is to dependence upon the brotherhood for support. Grammatically, the usage of χρείαν ἔχει is inconclusive; contextually, the masculine is probable (τοὺς ἔξ) Vulg has nullius aliquid.


(5) The Dead in Christ (4:13-18)

This section is separated from the previous paragraphs “concerning brotherly love” (vv. 9-12) but is closely related to the following question “concerning times and seasons” (5:1-11), as the repetition of ἅμα σύ (v. 17) in 5:10 intimates. The faint-hearted (οἱ ὀλιγόψυχο 5:14) are anxious both about their dead (4:13-18) and about their own salvation (5:1-11).

Since Paul’s departure, one or more of the Thessalonian Christians had died. The brethren were in grief not because they did not believe in the resurrection of the saints, but because they feared that their dead would not have the same advantages as the survivors when the Lord came. Their perplexity was due not simply to the Gentile difficulty of apprehending the meaning of resurrection, but also to the fact that Paul had not when he was with them discussed explicitly the problem of the relation of survivors to dead at the Parousia. Since they had received no instruction on this point (contrast vv. 1-2, 6, 9, 11, 5:2), they write to Paul for advice “concerning the dead.”

That the question is not: Will the Christians who die before the Parousia be raised from the dead? but: Will the Christians who die before the Parousia be at the Parousia on a level of advantage with the survivors? is made plain by the consideration that in v. 14 Paul says not ἐγερει but ἄξει σὺν αὐτῷ (which presupposes resurrection); and that he singles out for emphasis not only in v. 14 but also in the summarised agraphon (v. 15), in the explanation of v. 15 given in vv. 16-17 (as far as�Acts 12:2; also the death of Stephen when Paul was yet a Pharisee); but it is improbable that, because this passage is perhaps the first extant reference in Paul to the resurrection of believers, it is also the first time Paul had expressed himself, let alone reflected, on the subject; but see Lake, Exp 1907, 494-507. In fact, if v. 15 is to be accepted, Jesus himself had given his disciples to understand that the survivors would not anticipate the dead at his coming, thus intimating that some might die before he came (cf. Mark 9:1).


Similar but not identical questions bothered the writers of the Apocalypse of Baruch and Fourth Ezra; but their answers differ from that of Paul. Baruch says (11:6 f.): “Announce in Sheol and say to the dead: Blessed are ye more than we who are living.” Ezra writes (13:16 ff.) that the seer first pronounces woe unto the survivors and more woe unto the dead, but concludes that it is better or happier for the survivors, a conclusion confirmed from on high with the words (13:24): “magis beatifici sunt qui derelicti super eos qui mortui sunt.” Paul’s encouraging word is that living and dead are at the Parousia on a level of advantage, ἅμα σύ (v. 17, 5:10), simul cum.

In replying to the request for information, Paul states that his purpose in relieving their ignorance is that they, unlike the non-Christians who sorrow because they have no hope of being with Christ, should not sorrow at all. The reason for this striking utterance, already tacit in ἔχοντες ἐλπίδ (v. 13), is first expressed in v. 14 where from a subjective conviction, drawn from Christian experience and hypothetically put: “if we believe, as of course we do, that Jesus died and rose again,” he draws directly an objective inference: “so also God will lead on with Jesus those who died through him.” This internal argument from the believers’ mystic experience in Christ, the main purpose of which is to prove that the saints will be σὺν αὐτῷ, is further strengthened by an appeal to the external authority of an unwritten word of the Lord, summarised in Paul’s language, to the effect that the surviving saints will not anticipate the dead at the Parousia (v. 15). Then in apocalyptic language, drawn from tradition but coloured with his own phraseology, Paul explains the word of the Lord by singling out such details in the procedure at the Parousia as bring to the forefront the point to be proved, ἅμα σὺν αὐτοῖ (vv. 16-17 as far as�

13. οὐ φέλομεν δέ κτλ. With δε, and the affectionate,�Romans 11:25) demonstrates.

This phrase, with some variation, is in the N. T. employed only by Paul and serves to emphasise a personal statement within a paragraph (Romans 1:13, 2 Corinthians 1:8), or to introduce a new point in a new paragraph (Romans 11:25, 1 Corinthians 10:1) or section (1 Corinthians 12:1 and here). The positive form θέλω δε (γὰ) ὑμᾶς εἰδένα (1 Corinthians 11:3, Colossians 2:1; cf. Philippians 1:12) is “very common in the papyri” (Mill.). The fact that the clause with οὐ θέλομε in 1 Corinthians 12:1 precedes and here follows (cf. 2 Corinthians 1:8) the clause with περι does not exclude the probability (see v. 9) that the new point “concerning the dead,” unconnected as it is with the preceding “concerning brotherly love,” is a reply to a written request the converts to Paul.

τῶν κοιμωμένω. The present participle is probably timeless, “the sleepers,” that is, the dead, a euphemism not confined to Biblical writers. The word κοιμᾶσθα itself does not throw light on the state of the Christian dead before the Parousia, but it is especially appropriate in Paul who considers the believers as being ἐν Χριστῷ not only before death and at death (1 Corinthians 15:18), but also from death to the Parousia (v. 16 οἱ νεκροὶ ἐν Χριστῷ). At the Parousia, they will be (v. 17) or will live (5:10) σὺν κυρίῳ, the ultimate goal of the Christian hope.

“The designation of death as a sleep did not arise from the resurrection hope; for it is found in books that were unacquainted with this hope” (Charles, Eschat 127, note 1; cf. Volz, Eschat 134). As Paul is not here discussing the intermediate state, it is not certain from what he writes that he shared with Eth. Enoch 51:1 and 4 Ezra 7:32 the view that at death the body went to the grave and the soul to Sheol; or that he regarded the existence in Sheol as “ein trübes Schattenleben” (Schmiedel). Clear only is it that in some sense, not defined, the dead as well as the living are under the power of the indwelling Christ (ἐν Χριστῷ).—κοιμᾶσθα in the N. T. as in the classics (see Liddell and Scott, sub voc.) and Lxx (cf. κοιμᾶσθαι μετὰ τῶν πατέρω Genesis 47:30, Deuteronomy 31:16, Deuteronomy 31:2 Reg. 7:12, 1 Chronicles 17:11, etc.; αἰώνιος κοίμησι Sir. 46:19) is frequently a euphemism for�Psalms 87:6, Daniel 12:2); see especially Kennedy, Last Things, 267 ff. KL (DG) read the perfect part, with 1 Corinthians 15:20; 1912 reads the aorist with v. 14 and 1 Corinthians 15:18. The present is either timeless indicating a class, “the sleepers,” or it designates the act of sleep as in progress (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:30); the aorist views the act of sleep as entered upon in the past without reference to its progress or completion; the perfect regards the act as completed in the past with the added notion of the existing state (see BMT passim and cf. 2 Mac. 12:44 f.); in all cases οἱ νεκροι are meant.

ἵνα μὴ λυπῆσθε κτλ. The purpose of οὐ θέλομεν�Philippians 1:21 ff.). In view of this glorious consummation, present grief, however natural, is excluded (cf. John 14:28).

In the light of the context which lays stress not on resurrection as such but on being with Christ, it is probable that the hope which the unbelievers do not have is not resurrection or immortality as such but the hope of being with Christ. It is striking that Paul seems to overlook the belief in immortality exemplified in the mysteries “especially of the orphic circles, but also in the cult of Attis, Isis, and Mithra, perhaps in that of the Cabiri as well” (Dob. 188). This oversight may be due either to the fact that neither the Jewish nor the pagan hope is a hope of εἶναι σὺν Χριστῷ, or to the fact that he has chiefly in mind the despair of the common people among the pagans whose life and aspirations he knew so well. In the latter case, a second-century papyri confirms Paul’s estimate: “Irene to Taonnōphris and Philo, good comfort. I was as sorry (ἐλυπήθη) and wept over the departed one as I wept for Didymas. And all things whatsoever were fitting, I did, and all mine, Epaphroditus and Thermuthion and Philion and Apollonius and Plantas. But, nevertheless, against such things one can do nothing. Therefore comfort ye one another (παρηγορεῖτε οὖν ἑαυτού)”; see Deiss. Light, 164; and cf. Mill. Papyri, 96, and Coffin, Creed of Jesus,1907, 114-138. With this average pagan view may be contrasted the following from a contemporary Christian apologist, Aristides (noted by Dob.): “And if any righteous man among them passes from the world, they rejoice and offer thanks to God; and they escort the body as if he were setting out from one place to another near” (translation of D. M. Kay in Ante-Nicene Fathers, IX, 277). οἱ λοιποι used absolutely here and 5:6, Romans 11:7, 1 Corinthians 7:12, 1 Corinthians 7:15:37, 2 Corinthians 13:2, 2 Corinthians 1:13, gets its meaning from the context; here it probably = οἱ ἔξ (v. 12) and denotes non-Christians in general. On μὴ ἔχοντες ἐλπίδ, cf. Ephesians 2:12; on και in comparisons, rare after negations, cf. v. 6; with λυπεῖσθα (Romans 14:15, Ephesians 4:30, 2 Corinthians 2:2 ff. 2 Corinthians 2:6:10, 2 Corinthians 7:8 ff.) indicating inward grief, contrast κλαίειν, θρηνεῖν, κόπ τεσθα and πενθεῖ and (Luke 6:25, Luke 8:52, Luke 23:27).


14. εἰ γὰρ πιστεύομεν κτλ. The γά introduces the reason for ἵνα μὴ λυπῆσθ, already hinted at in ἔχοντες ἐλπίδ (v. 13): “for if we believe that Jesus died and rose, so also God will lead on those who fell asleep through Jesus along with him.” The Greek sentence runs smoothly (cf. 1:8), but there is an obvious compression of thought. Since οὕτως και in the apodosis suggests a comparison, Paul might have said: “As we are convinced that Jesus died and that God raised him from the dead, so also must we believe, since the indwelling Christ is the guarantee of the resurrection of the believer, that God will raise from the dead those who died through Jesus and will lead them on along with him.” There are, however, compensations in the compactness, for from a subjective conviction based on experience and stated conditionally, “if we believe, as we do, that Jesus died and rose,” Paul is able to draw directly an objective inference, “so also God will,” etc.

The fact of fulfilment lies not in the form of the condition but in the context (BMT 242). The context here indicates that the Thessalonians are perplexed by doubts not as to the fact of the resurrection of the dead but as to whether the dead will have equal advantage with the survivors at the Parousia. By the insertion of ὁ θεό in the protasis, Paul makes clear that it is God who raised Jesus from the dead (1:10, 1 Corinthians 6:14, 2 Corinthians 4:14, Romans 8:11, Romans 10:9, etc.). On πιστεύει in the sense of conviction, cf. πιστεύειν ὅτ in Romans 6:8, Romans 10:9.

ἀπέθανεν καὶ�Galatians 2:19, Romans 6:3 ff. Colossians 2:20, Colossians 3:1 ff.). The presence of Christ or the Spirit in the Christian guarantees that when he actually dies ἐν Χριστῷ (1 Corinthians 15:18) or διὰ Χριστου (here), he will continue ἐν Χριστῷ (v. 16) during the interval between death and resurrection, and will at the Parousia be raised from the dead by God through the power of the same indwelling Christ or Spirit (Romans 8:11), and will attain the ultimate goal of Christian hope, εἶναι σὺν Χριστῷ. This characteristically Pauline idea is the probable link that unites the protasis and apodosis of our verse.

Paul regularly uses ἐγείρειν (ἐξεγείρει 1 Corinthians 6:14) for the resurrection; he uses�Ephesians 5:14, a quotation, and below v. 16 in an utterance distinctly traditional in flavour. On the other hand, he uses�Philippians 3:11), but not ἔγερσι (Matthew 27:53). On the name Ἰησοῦ, see 1:10 and cf. Romans 8:11, 2 Corinthians 4:14. For οὕτως και without an expressed correlative, cf. Galatians 4:3, Romans 6:11, 1 Corinthians 2:11, 1 Corinthians 2:9:14, 1 Corinthians 2:14:9, 1 Corinthians 2:12, 1 Corinthians 2:15:42, 45. The reading of B, et al., οὕτως ὁ θεὸς και brings out the point that as God raised Jesus, so also he will raise the believers; cf. 1 Corinthians 15:18: ἄρα καὶ οἱ κοιμηθέντες ἐν Χριστῷ, where not only the dead but also (και) the living (ὑμεῖς)�Galatians 1:6), yet the και is placed here (cf. v. 10) by B to mark the connection with τοὺς κοιμηθέντα (Weiss, 136).

τοὺς κοιμηθέντας διὰ τοῦ Ἰησου. “Those who fell asleep through Jesus,” that is, through the indwelling power of that Jesus who died and rose again, the causal energy which operates in the believers from baptism to actual resurrection from the dead (v. supra on�1 Corinthians 15:18 (cf. v. 1 ἐν κυρίῳ with v. 3 διὰ κυρίο).


Those who join διὰ τοῦ Ἰησου with the participle (e. g. Ephr., Chrys., Calv., Grot., Ell., Lft., Mill., Dob., Dibelius) do so on various grounds. Calvin (apud Lillie) says: “dormire per Christum is to retain in death the union (coniunctionem) which we have with Christ; for they who by faith are engrafted into Christ have their death in common with him. that they may be partners in his life.” Lake (The Earlier Epistles of St. Paul, 1911, 88) thinks it probable “that it means martyrdom rather than a natural death”; so before him Musculus (apud Lillie): “The faithful die through Christ, when on his account they are slain by the impious tyrants of the world.” Lake further conjectures that the reference to the death “of the Lord Jesus and of the prophets” (2:15) certainly suggests that persecution in Thessalonica “had already led to the martyrdom of some Christians” (loc. cit). Dob. contents himself with a general statement: “Sie sind gestorben, indem ein Verhältniss zu Jesus dabei war.” For Dibelius, the Pauline conception revealed in v. 14 “wurzelt in den Mysterien.”—On the other hand, many expositors (e. g. Th. Mops., De W., Lü., Lillie, Schmiedel, Born, Wohl., Schettler, Moff.) join διὰ τοῦ Ἰησου with ἄξε The reasons adduced are (1) that it is unnecessary to designate the dead as Christian and (2) that δια is made equivalent to ἐ In reply it is urged that we have οἱ νεκροὶ ἐν Χριστῷ (v. 16) and that the equivalence between δια and ἐ is not grammatical but conceptual. In this alternative view, Jesus is God’s agent in both resurrection and ἄγει (Th. Mops. and finally Schettler (op. cit. 57): “Gott wind sick bedienen, um die Toten zu erwecken und die Erweckten zu sammeln).”—The view that joins διὰ τοῦ Ἰησου with κοιμηθέντα is preferable not simply because it gives a distinctively Pauline turn to the passage but also because it is grammatically better. On the latter point, Ell. remarks vigorously: “The two contrasted subjects Ἰησοῦ and κοιμηθέντας διὰ τοῦ Ἰησου thus stand in clear and illustrative antithesis, and the fundamental declaration of the sentence ἄξει σὺν αὐτῷ remains distinct and prominent, undiluted by any addititious clause.”

ἄξει σὺν αὐτῷ In these words, the “fundamental declaration” of Paul’s reply (vv. 11-18), just supported by an appeal to the internal evidence of the believer’s experience of the indwelling Christ, is succinctly stated. The believers are not to sorrow; for the departed saints, as well as the survivors, will at the Parousia be in the company of Christ and follow his lead. What is added in v. 15 confirms the same declaration on the external evidence of a summarised word of the Lord. How it is that the survivors will not anticipate the dead (v. 15) is then further explained in vv. 16-17 where Paul selects from a traditional description of the Parousia such points as bring into prominence his central contention, εἶναι σὺν αὐτῷ

Since σὺν αὐτῷ (v. 17, 5:10, 2 Corinthians 13:4, Philippians 1:23) is the goal of ἐν Χριστῷ (Deiss. Neutestamentliche Formel “in Christo Jesu,” 126), ἄγει refers to the final act when Jesus the victor over enemies (II 2:8, 1 Corinthians 15:24 ff.), accompanied by his saints, leads the way heavenward to hand over the kingdom to God the Father. The resurrection and ἐπισυναγωγη (II 2:1), the redemption, change, or transformation of the body (Romans 8:23, 1 Corinthians 15:51, Philippians 3:21), and the judgment are all presupposed. Paul is not here concerned with the details; even in the description vv. 16-17 only such pertinent features are sketched as prepare the readers for the conclusion which he draws: καὶ οὕτως πάντοτε σὺν κυρίῳ ἐσόμεθ It is thus unnecessary to take σὺν αὐτῷ = εἰς τὸ εἶναι αὐτοὺς σὺν αὐτῷ, as Th. Mops. does: “quoniam et illos suscitabit per Jesum ita ut et sint cum eo”; for σὺν αὐτῷ begins both for living and for dead immediately at the Parousia and continues forever (πάντοτ v. 17).

15. τοῦτο γάρ κτλ To confirm and explain, by an appeal to external authority, what was stated in v. 14. on the basis of religious experience, Paul proceeds: “This that follows, we, the writers of the letter, tell you, not on our own authority but in (the sphere of, by means of; cf. 1 Corinthians 2:7, 1 Corinthians 14:6) a word of the Lord, namely, that we (ἡμεῖ, including both the writers and their Christian contemporaries) who live, that is, who survive until the coming of the Lord, shall by no means anticipate the dead.”

Since γά gives not a second reason for v. 13 but explains and confirms the point of v. 14 on a new ground, τοῦτ is to be taken not with the preceding but with the following, and ὅτ is not causal (Zahn, Introd. I, 223) but resumptive as in 1 Corinthians 1:12.

ἐν λόγῳ κυρίο. In this verse it is probable that the point only of the word of the historical Jesus is given, not the word itself; cf. Romans 14:14, 1 Corinthians 9:14. In the light of Mark 9:1, it is not unlikely that Jesus may have expressed the opinion that those who survived until the coming of the Son of Man would not anticipate the dead. Since, however, no such “word of the Lord” exists in extant gospels (cf. Zahn, Introd. I, 224), the utterance here summarised in Paul’s own words is an agraphon.

The presence of ἐν λόγῳ κυρίο of itself intimates that Paul has in mind not a general suggestion of the Risen Lord (Galatians 1:12, Galatians 1:2:2, 2 Corinthians 13:3, Ephesians 3:3) given by revelation (so Chrys., De W., Lün., Ell., Lft., Mill., Dob., Moff., and others) but a definite word of the historical Jesus (so Calv., Drummond, Wohl. Dibelius, and others). Even if he had written simply ἐν κυρίῳ (Ephesians 4:17), the content of the inward revelation would have an historical basis, as Romans 14:14, with its allusion to Mark 7:15, suggests: οἶδα καὶ πέπεισμαι ἐν κυρίῳ Ἰησοῦ ὅτι οὐδὲν κοινὸν δἰ ἐαυτου Furthermore the analogy both of Romans 14:14 and of 1 Corinthians 9:14 (where Paul alludes to but does not literally cite Matthew 10:10, Luke 10:17 = 1 Timothy 5:18), and the fact that Paul does not affirm that the Lord says “we who live,” etc. (contrast Acts 20:35: τῶν λόγων τοῦ κυρίου Ἰησου (cf. 1 Timothy 6:3) ὅτι αὐτὸς εἶπε) but affirms that “we tell you on the strength of a word of the Lord that we who live,” etc., conspire to make probable that here as in Romans 14:14, 1 Corinthians 9:14 we have not a citation of but an allusion to a word of the Lord. The exact form of the agraphon is not recoverable unless it is embedded in vv. 16-17 (Ropes, Dibelius).

Schmiedel, in an excellent note, after remarking that the word of the Lord does not come from Matthew 24:29-31 or from 4 Ezra 5:41 ff. (as Steck once held), observes that it is not to be found in v. 16 a (as von Soden held, SK 1885, 280 f.), or in v. 16 without πρῶτο (so Stähelin, J. d. Th. 1874, 193 f.), or hardly in v. 15 alone, since vv. 16-17 are too detailed, or in vv. 16-17, since its beginning after the previous formulation in v. 15 would not be sufficiently accentuated, but in vv. 15-17. If, however, it is admitted that v. 15 gives the point of the agraphon, the only question at issue is whether it is actually cited in vv. 16-17. At first sight, the “concrete and independent character” of these verses (Ropes) does suggest a citation, even if it is granted that the citation is free (the Pauline phraseology being evident in αὐτὸς ὁ κύριο and ἐν Χριστῷ). On the other hand, it is noteworthy that the salient point of vv. 16-17, the ἅμα σύ, does not explicitly appear in the summary of the word v. 15. The impression, difficult to escape, is that Paul, remembering a traditional description of the Parousia, selects such points as explain the basal declaration of the summarised word of the Lord in v. 15. On the question, see Ropes, Die Sprüche Jesu, 1896, 15:2 ff. and HDB V, 345; Titius, Neutestamentliche Lehre von der Seligkeit 1895, I, 24; Resch, Paulinismus, 338-341; Mathews, Messianic Hope in N. T. 1905, 73; and Askwith, Exp 1911, 66.


ἡμεῖς οἱ ζῶντες κτλ. The insertion of ἡμεῖ and the presence of εἰ denoting the temporal limit make clear that the exact contrast here is not between the living and dead at the Parousia; not between “we Christians who are alive” at the Parousia and the dead; but between “we Christians who live,” that is, “who continue to survive until the Parousia,” and the dead. Paul thus betrays the expectation that he and his contemporary Christians will remain alive until Christ comes.

Paul’s personal belief that the advent is at hand is constant (1 Corinthians 10:11, 1 Corinthians 16:22, Romans 13:11, Philippians 4:5), a conviction shared also by other Christians of the first century (1 Peter 4:7, Hebrews 10:25, James 5:8, 1 John 2:18) and apparently by the Master himself (Mark 9:1). In our passage, Paul speaks, as often, without qualifications. If questioned, he would probably have admitted that he himself as well as other Christians might taste of death before the Lord came. Such cases, however, would have been to him exceptional. His hope is fixed not on a far-off divine event; not on the fact that “each several generation, at whatever period existing, occupies during that period the position of those who shall be alive at the Lord’s coming” (Bengel), but on the nearness of the Parousia, even if the exact day and hour be unknown. Calvin tacitly admits the obvious force of ἡμεῖ in observing that Paul by using it makes himself as it were one of the number of those who will live until the last day. But Paul does this, Calvin ingeniously explains, “to rouse the expectation of the Thessalonians, and so to hold all the pious in suspense, that they shall not count on any delay whatever. For even supposing him to have known himself by special revelation that Christ would come somewhat later, still this was to be delivered as the common doctrine of the church that the faithful might be ready at all hours” (quoted by Lillie, ad loc.). Apart from Grotius and, less clearly, Piscator, most of the older expositors found difficulty in admitting that Paul at this point shared the views of his time. Origen (Cels. V, 17), for example, in the only extant quotation from his commentary on our letters, namely, on I 4:15-17 (cf. Turner, HDB V, 496), allegorises; Chrys. Th. Mops. and others so interpret οἱ περιλειπόμενο as to exclude Paul; still others think that the ἡμεῖ is not suited to Paul, although Olshausen protests against this enallage personae or�


οἱ περιλειπόμενοι κτλ. The living are further defined as those who continue to survive until the Parousia. With reference to these survivors including Paul, it is asserted on the strength of the Lord’s utterance that they will by no means take temporal precedence over the dead.

The participle περιλειπόμενο is present, the action being viewed as going on to the limit of time designated by εἰ; contrast ἐν τῇ παρουσίᾳ 2:19, 3:13, 5:23, 1 Corinthians 15:23. The word περιλείπεσθα occurs elsewhere in N. T. only v. 17; cf. 4 Mac. 13:18, 12:6. φθάνει here, but not in 2:16, is used classically in the sense of προφθάνει (Matthew 17:25), “praevenire, ” “precede,” “anticipate.” On οὐ μη with aorist subj. as the equivalent of an emphatic future indic. (so K here), cf. 5:3 and BMT 172. For κυρίο after καρουσία, B reads Ἰησου, conforming to v. 14 (Weiss, 81).


16. ὅτι αὐτὸς ὁ κύριο. With ὅτ “because,” parallel to γά (v. 15; cf. 2:14), the word of the Lord summarised in v. 15 is explained and elaborated. The point of the Pauline phrase αὐτὸς ὁ κύριο (cf. 3:11) is apparently that the very Jesus under whose control the believers stand in life, at death (τοὺς κοιμηθέντας δια, v. 14), and from death to resurrection (οἱ νεκποὶ ἐν Χριστῷ), and whose indwelling spiritually guarantees their resurrection, is the Lord who at the resurrection functions as the apocalyptic Messiah.

ἐν κελεύσματι κτλ. The descent of the Lord from heaven is characterised by three clauses with ἐ Unlike the three disconnected clauses with ἐ in 1 Corinthians 15:52, the second and third are here joined by και, a fact suggesting that these two clauses are in some sense an epexegesis of the first. “At a command, namely, at an archangel’s voice and at a trumpet of God.” Precisely what Paul has in mind is uncertain. It is conceivable that God who raises the dead (v. 14), or Christ the agent in resurrection, commands the archangel Michael to arouse the dead; and that this command is executed at once by the voice of the archangel who speaks to the dead (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:52) through a divine trumpet. But whatever the procedure in detail may be, the point is clear that at the descent of the Lord from heaven, the dead are raised first of all, and then the survivors and the risen dead are together and simultaneously (ἅμα σύ) snatched up and carried by means of clouds to meet the Lord in the air.


Kabisch (Die Eschatologie des Paulus, 1893, 231) thinks that God gives a command to Christ and that the archangel is only the messenger, the voice which God makes use of (cf. Kennedy, Last Things, 190). Teichmann (Die paulinischen Vorstellungen von Auferstehung und Gericht, 1896, 23) imagines that Christ on his way to earth commands the dead (who through the cry of the archangel and the blowing of the trumpet of God are awakened from their slumber) really to arise. Paul’s statement, however, is general; how far he would subscribe to the precise procedure read into his account from extant Jewish or Christian sources, no one knows.

Most commentators agree with Stähelin (J. d. Th. 1874, 189) in taking the ἐ of attendant circumstance as in 1 Corinthians 4:21; but it may mean “at the time of” as in 1 Corinthians 15:52 ἐν τῇ ἐσχάτῃ σάλπιγγι, κέλευσμ, found in Gk. Bib. here and Pr. 24:62, is used classically (cf. Wetstein, ad loc.) in various applications, the command of a χελευστή to his rowers, of an officer to his men, of a hunter to his dogs, etc. Ell. quotes Philo (de praem et poen. 19) as using it of God’s assembling the saints. The σάλπιγ, like other touches in the description, appears in the account of the theophany on Mt. Horeb (Exodus 19:16-19; cf. Briggs, Messiah of the Apostles, 88); here the trumpet, as in 1 Corinthians 15:52, is used not to marshal the hosts of heaven, or to assemble the saints (Matthew 24:31, which adds to Mark μετὰ σάλπιγγος μεγάλη; Bengel says: tuba Dei adeoque magna), but to raise the dead.—The�Jude 1:9) may be Michael as in Jude; cf. Eth. En. 9:1, 20:6. On Michael, see Lueken, Der Erzengel Michael; Bousset, Relig 2 374 ff.; Everling (op. cit. 79 ff.) and Dibelius, Die Geisterwelt, etc. 32 ff.

καὶ οἱ νεκροὶ ἐν Χριστῷ κτλ. With και of simple narration, the results of the descent of the Lord are stated; first (πρῶτο) the resurrection of the dead saints, which removes their disadvantage by putting them on a level with the living; and then (ἔπειτ, v. 17), the rapture of both the risen dead and the survivors, presumably in changed, transformed, redeemed bodies (1 Corinthians 15:51, Philippians 3:21, Romans 8:23), to meet the Lord in the air. Striking here is it that Paul says not simply�Isaiah 26:19) but οἱ νεκροὶ ἐν Χριστῷ This phrase designates not “those who died in Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:18) but “the dead who are in Christ”; and intimates, without defining precisely the condition of the believers in the intermediate state, that as in life and at death so from death to the Parousia, the believer is under the control of the indwelling Christ or Spirit. This indwelling spiritual Christ, whose presence in the believer guarantees his resurrection, is also the very enthroned (Romans 8:34) Lord himself (ὅτι αὐτὸς ὁ κύριο) who comes down from heaven to raise the dead.

17. ἔπειτ … ἁρπαγησόμεθα κτλ. “Then, presumably at no great interval after the resurrection, ἡμεῖς οἱ ζῶντες οἱ περιλειπόμενο (as in v. 13; it is unnecessary here to add εἰς τὴν παρουσίαν τοῦ κυρίο) shall be caught up simultaneously (ἅμ) with the risen saints (σὺν αὐτοῖ) and carried by clouds to meet the Lord in the air.” The rapture is a supernatural act as in Acts 8:39, Revelation 12:5; cf. 2 Corinthians 12:2 ff. The means (ἐ), not the agent (ὑπο; cf. Baruch 4:26), by which the rapture is executed is the clouds which, as in Elijah’s case (4 Reg. 2:11), are conceived as a triumphal chariot. Slavonic Enoch 3:1 ff. (ed. Morfill and Charles; noted also by Mill.) is in point: “These men (that is, angels) summoned me and took me on their wings and placed me on the clouds. And lo, the clouds moved. And again, going still higher, I saw the ether and they placed me in the first heaven.”

ἅμα σύ occurs in Gk. Bib. only here and 5:10; Vulg has here simul rapiemur cum; in 5:10, am. fuld. omit simul. In Gk. Bib. ἅμ is regularly an adverb (Proverbs 22:18, etc.); in Matthew 13:29, Matthew 20:1, it is a preposition. Ell. remarks: “We shall be caught up with them at the same time that they shall be caught up, ἅμ marking as usual connection in point of time.” The phrase gives the most precise statement of the equality of advantage that we have; it does not appear in the summary of the agraphon in v. 15. GF m Ambst omit οἱ περιλειπόμενο; B has οι περιλειμενο In the syn. gospels, the cloud appears, apart from the transfiguration and Luke 12:54, only in connection with the Parousia of the Son of Man. The influence of Daniel 7:13 is felt where Lxx has ἐπὶ τῶν νεφελῶ (Matthew 24:30, Matthew 26:64) and Th. μετα (Mark 14:62; cf. Revelation 1:7). The ἐ, however, is given by Mark 13:26 = Luke 21:27; see further Revelation 11:12 (ἐ), 4 Ezra 13:3 (cum), and Exodus 34:5 (κατέβη κύριος ἐν νεφέλῃ); and cf. Acts 1:11 with 1:9.

εἰς�Ephesians 3:1 ff. quoted above. As it is probably to the air, not to the earth that the Lord descends from heaven, so it is into the air that all the saints are caught up into the company of the Lord and from the air that God will lead them on with Jesus (ἄξει σὺν αὐτῷ v. 14) to heaven where the fellowship with Christ begun in the air will continue forever; for, in summing up the point intended in the description of vv. 16-17, he says not καὶ ἐκει (“and there,” as if the air were the permanent dwelling-place; so apparently Kabisch (op. cit. 233) alluding to Ass. Mos. 10:9) but καὶ οὕτω, drawing the conclusion from vv. 16-17, implicit in v. 14 (σὺν αὐτῷ), with the added emphasis upon the permanence of the fellowship, πάντοτε σὺν κυρίῳ ἐσόμεθ

In the Lxx συνάντησις,�Matthew 25:6, Matthew 27:32, Acts 28:15; also Matthew 8:34, Matthew 25:1, John 12:13. Here DGF read εἰς ὑπάντησιν τῷ Χριστῷ Moulton (I 14:3), who notes BGU, 362 (πρὸς�Exodus 19:17 εἰς συνάντησιν τοῦ θεοῦ—The εἰ before�Psalms 17:12) by�Ephesians 3:1-2, Ascen. Isaiah 7:9, Isaiah 7:13, Isaiah 7:10:2; and see Moses Stuart in Bibliotheca Sacra, 1843, 139 ff. and Ezra Abbot in Smith’s DB, I, 56 f.

καὶ οὕτως κτλ. “And so (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:17, Romans 11:25 f.), as the result of the resurrection, the rapture, and the meeting of the Lord in the air, we shall be with the Lord, not for the moment only but forever” (πάντοτ), the point of v. 14 and the fruition of the Christian hope.

For σὺν κυρίῳ, B reads ἐν χυρίῳ which is “ganz gedankenlos” (Weiss, 56); cf. Philippians 1:23. The belief in the nearness of the coming of Christ is constant in Paul, but there is less emphasis on the traditional scenery in the letters subsequent to our epistles. Even in 1 Corinthians 15:24-26 where there is an allusion to the last conflict (cf. II 2:8), the concrete imagery is less conspicuous (cf. Romans 8:18 ff. 2 Corinthians 5:1-10). In the epistles of the imprisonment, the eschatology is summed up in hope (Colossians 1:5, Colossians 1:23; cf. Ephesians 1:18, Ephesians 4:4), the hope of being with Christ (Colossians 3:3 f. Philippians 1:23; cf. 2 Corinthians 13:4). On καὶ οὕτω … ἐσόμεθ, Moff. remarks: “This is all that remains to us, in our truer view of the universe, from the naïve λόγος χυρίο of the Apostle, but it is everything.”


18. ὥστε παρακαλεῖτε κτλ. “So then,” as the result of the conviction drawn from the religious experience in Christ (v. 14), from the summarised word of the Lord (v. 15), and from the confirmatory description of the Parousia (vv. 16-17), do not grieve (v. 13), but “encourage one another (5:11) with these (τούτοι not τοιούτοι) words,” the very words that have been used.

On ὥστ = διο (5:11) = τοιγαροῦ (4:8) = διὰ τοῦτ (3:7) with imperative, cf. 1 Corinthians 10:12, 1 Corinthians 11:33, 1 Corinthians 14:39, 1 Corinthians 15:58, Philippians 2:12, Philippians 4:1. Paul does not simply offer encouragement; he bids them actively to encourage one another (cf. 2 Corinthians 1:3 ff).—It is obvious that vv. 16-17 do not pretend to give a description in detail of the Parousia. Of the points not mentioned, we may assume that Paul would admit the following: the assembling of the saints; the redemption, change, or transformation of the body (Romans 8:23, 1 Corinthians 15:51, Philippians 3:21); and the judgment on all men (Romans 14:10, 2 Corinthians 5:10) without the resurrection of the wicked. On the other hand, since Paul does not elsewhere indicate a belief in the intermediate kingdom (cf. Charles, Eschat. 389 ff.), it is not to be looked for between πρῶτο and ἔπειτ here (cf. Vos, Pauline Eschatology and Chiliasm, in the Princeton Theol. Rev. for Jan. 1911). It is, however, probable that after the meeting of the Lord in the air, the Lord with his saints go not to earth but to heaven, as ἄξει σὺν αὐτῷ (v. 14) suggests, the permanent abode of Christ and the believers. Even in this description of the Parousia it is worth noting that the interest centres in the ultimate form of the hope, εἶναι σὺν χυρίῳ and that only such elements are singled out for mention as serve to bring this religious hope to the forefront. Like the Master, Paul, out of the treasures of apocalyptic at his disposal, knows how to bring forth things new and old.










Grot Hugo de Groot (Grotius).

Ambst Ambrosiaster.

Zim F. Zimmer, Der Text der Thessalonicherbriefe (1893).

P P (a p r). Cod. Porphyrianus, saec. ix, now at St. Petersburg. Edited by Tischendorf (1865). Contains I and II except I 3:5 μηκετι—ημεις οι 4:17.

אԠא (e a p r). Cod. Sinaiticus, saec. iv, now at St. Petersburg. Edited by Tischendorf, its discoverer, in 1862. Photographic reproduction by H. and K. Lake, Oxford, 1911. Contains I and II complete.

A A (e a p r). Cod. Alexandrinus, saec. v, now in the British Museum. Edited by Woide in 1786. Facsimile by E. M. Thompson, 1879. Contains I and II complete.

D D (p). Cod. Claromontanus, saec. vi, Graeco-Latin, now in the National library at Paris. Edited by Tischendorf in 1852. Contains I and II complete.

E E Cod. Sangermanensis, saec. ix, now at St. Petersburg. A copy of D.

G G (p). Cod. Boernerianus, saec. ix, now in the Royal Library at Dresden. “It is closely related to F, according to some the archetype of F” (Souter). Edited by Matthaei, 1791. Im Lichtdruck nachgebildet, Leipzig (Hiersemann), 1909. Contains I and II complete.

F F (p). Cod. Augiensis, saec. ix, Graeco-Latin, now in the Library of Trinity College, Cambridge. An exact transcript by Scrivener, 1859. Contains I and II complete.

K K (a p). Cod. Mosquensis, saec. ix, now at Moscow. Collated by Matthaei, 1782. Contains I and II complete.

L L (a p). Cod. Angelicus, saec. ix, now in the Angelican Library at Rome. Collated among others by Tischendorf (1843) and Tregelles (1845). Contains I and II complete.

WH The New Testament in the Original Greek (1881; I, Text, II, Introduction and Appendix).

Tisch Tischendorf.

Weiss B. Weiss in TU. XIV, 3 (1896).

Dob Ernst von Dobschütz,

B B (e a p r). Cod. Vaticanus, saec. iv, now in the Vatican Library. Photographic reproduction by Cozza-Luzi, Rome, 1889, and by the Milan firm of Hoepli, 1904. Contains I and II complete.

Lft Lightfoot.

Ell Ellicott.

Lillie John Lillie, Epistles of Paul to the Thessalonians, Translated from the Greek, with Notes (1856).

Mill George Milligan.

ZWT Zeitschrift für Wissenschaftliche Theologie.

Witk St. Witkowski, Epistulæ Privatæ Græcæ (1906).

BMT E. D. Burton, Syntax of the Moods and Tenses in N. T. Greek (18983).

Bl F. Blass, Grammatik des neutestamentlichen Griechisch (1896, 19022).

AJT The American Journal of Theology (Chicago).

De De Wette.

Lxx The Old Testament in Greek (ed. H. B. Swete, 1887-94).

SH Comm. on Romans in ICC. by W. Sanday an A. C. Headlam.

Born Bornemann.

Vincent M. R. Vincent, Word Studies in the N. T., vol. IV, 1900.

Wohl Wohlenberg.

ICC International Critical Commentary.

Th. Mops Theodore of Mopsuestia, in epistolas Pauli commentarii (ed. H. B. Swete, 1880-82).

Chrys Chrysostom.

Calv Calvin.

Lün Lünemann.

Moult James Hope Moulton, A Grammar of N. T. Greek, I (1906).

Moff James Moffatt.

GMT W. W. Goodwin, Syntax of the Moods and Tenses of the Greek Verb (1890).

Vulg Vulgate.

I I (p). Cod. Saec. v. Ms. 4 in the Freer Collection at Detroit, Michigan. This manuscript is a “badly decayed fragment, now containing many short portions of the epistles of Paul. It is written on parchment in small uncials and probably belongs to the fifth century. … Originally contained Acts and practically all of the epistles but not Revelation. … While no continuous portion of the text remains, many brief passages from Eph. Phil. Col. Thess. and Heb. can be recovered” (H. A. Sanders, Biblical World, vol. XXI, 1908, 142; cf. also Gregory, Das Freer-Logion, 1908, 24). The fragments of Thess., a collation of which Prof. Sanders kindly sent me, contain I 1:1-2, 9-10 2:7-8, 14-16 3:2-4, 11-13 4:8-9, 16-18 5:9-11, 23-26 II 1:1-3, 10-11 2:5-8, 15-17 3:8-10.

Kennedy, Sources of N. T. Greek (1895).

H H (p). Cod. Saec. vi. Most of the forty-one leaves now known are in the National Library at Paris; the remainder are at Athos, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kiev, and Turin. The fragments at Kiev contain 2 Corinthians 4:2-7, 1 Thessalonians 2:9-13 (μνημονευετε … εστιν αληθως) and 4:4-11 (εαντον σκενος … φιλοτιμισθαι); cf. H. Omont, Notice sur un très ancien manuscrit, etc. 1889.


am am Vulgate codex Amiatinus (saec. viii).

C C (e a p r). Cod. Ephraemi Rescriptus, saec. v, now in the National Library at Paris. The N. T. fragments were edited by Tischendorf in 1843. Contains I 1:2 ευχαριστουμεν—2:8 εγενηθητε.

EB The Encyclopædia Biblica (London, 1899-1903; ed. J. S. Black and T. K. Cheyne).

Exp The Expositor (London; ed. W. R. Nicoll).

Charles, R. H. Charles, Eschatology, Hebrew, Jewish, and Christian (1899).

Volz, Paul Volz, Jüdische Eschatologie von Daniel bis Akiba (1903).

Kennedy, H. A. A. Kennedy, St. Paul’s Conceptions of the Last Things (1904).

Deiss. A. Deissmann, Light from the Ancient East (1910) = Licht vom Osten (19093).

Ephr Ephraem Syrus.

SK Studien und Kritiken.

HDB Hastings’ Dictionary of the Bible (1898-1904).

Bousset, W. Bousset, Die Religion des Judentums im neutestamentlichen Zeitalter (19062).

fuld fuld Vulgate codex Fuldensis (saec. vi).

m m Citations of the Speculum (edited by Weihrich in the Vienna Corpus, xii, 1887; contains I 2:1-14 1-16 5:6-22 II 1:3-12 3:6-15)



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Bibliographical Information
Driver, S.A., Plummer, A.A., Briggs, C.A. "Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 4". International Critical Commentary NT. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/icc/1-thessalonians-4.html. 1896-1924.