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Bible Commentaries

Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

1 Thessalonians 5

Verse 1

1 Thessalonians 5:1 . Περὶ τῶν χρόνων , of the times ) When these things shall happen, which I have mentioned. Καιροί , seasons , are parts χρόνων , of the times . [24] Οὐ ΧΡΕΊΑΝ ἜΧΕΤΕ , ye have no need ) Those who watch do not require to be told when the hour will come; for they are always ready.

[24] Χρόνος gives the notion of indefinite time; Καιρός , the time, the opportune point of time, when a thing should be done. Ammonius says well, ὁ καιρός indicates quality ( ποιότητα ) of time; and χρόνος , quantity ( ποσότητα ). ED.

Verse 2

1 Thessalonians 5:2 . Ὡς κλέπτης , as a thief ) 2 Peter 3:10 . A usual expression with the apostles, agreeing with the parable of the Lord, Matthew 24:43 . ἐν νυκτὶ , in the night ) Refer those words to a thief , just now mentioned [not, the day of the Lord cometh in the night; but, as a thief cometh in the night ]. The night is there, where there is unconcern and quiet; comp. however, Matthew 25:6 . [25] οὕτως ) so , as we shall describe in the following verse. Comp. so after [26] for , Matthew 1:18 , [“The birth of Christ was so; for when His mother Mary was espoused,” etc.: οὕτως ἦν . μνηστευθείσης γὰρ , etc.] ἔρχεται , comes ) The present expressing a sudden event with great emphasis. So 1 Thessalonians 5:3 , Sudden destruction cometh; comp. Luke 21:34 .

[25] “At midnight there was a cry made, Behold the Bridegroom cometh;” which seems to imply that it shall not be merely in a figurative, but in a literal sense, that the Lord shall come in the night. ED.

[26] Here, however, γὰρ , for , is thought to be better omitted by the margin of both Ed. The Germ. Vers., for the sake of connection, puts nemlich . E. B.

AG fg , Iren. 329, Cypr. 326, and Syr. Version, omit γὰρ , and so Tisch. Lachm. reads δὲ , with BD( Δ ), Memph. and later Syr. Rec. Text reads γὰρ . with Vulg. ED.

Verse 3

1 Thessalonians 5:3 . Λέγωσιν , they say ) all the others (the rest, οἱ λοιποί ), who are of darkness , 1 Thessalonians 5:5-6 [ch. 1Th 4:13 ]. εἰρήνη καὶ ἀσφάλεια , peace and safety ) They will regard it as an established fact, that the world is eternal.

Verse 6

1 Thessalonians 5:6 . [28] ΚΑῚ ΝΉΦΩΜΕΝ , and let us be sober ) This denotes the state, ἀνανήφω , ἘΚΝΉΦΩ , the act, 2Ti 2:26 ; 1 Corinthians 15:34 . ΝΉΦΩ is a milder term.

[28] Καὶ οὐ μὴ ἐκφύγωσι , and they shall not escape ) how anxiously soever they might desire it. V. g.

Verse 7

1 Thessalonians 5:7 . Μεθυσκόμενοι μεθύουσιν , those who are drunken, are drunken ) Μεθύσκομαι denotes the act, μεθύω , the state or habit; so in καθεύδοντες καθεύδουσι , the Ploce [29] is apparent. For first, ΚΑΘΕΎΔΟΝΤΕς has the inchoative power, falling into sleep; then καθεύδουσι expresses continuance, they go on in sleep . νυκτὸς ) in the night time , for the most part. Even constant somnolency and drunkenness render the very night worse. Such persons are averse (shrink) from the day.

[29] The figure by which the same word is twice put, once in the simple sense, next to express an attribute of it. Append. ED.

Verse 8

1 Thessalonians 5:8 . Ἐλπίδα σωτηρίας , the hope of salvation ) Refer to this the next verse.

Verse 9

1 Thessalonians 5:9 . Ἔθετο , hath appointed ) So the LXX., Psalms 66:9 , τοῦ θεμένου τὴν ψυχήν μου εἰς ξωήν , who hath placed (holdeth) my soul in life; Judges 1:28 , ἔθετο τὸν Χαναναῖον εἰς φόρον , put the Canaanite to tribute; where indeed the Vatican reading has ἐποίησε , but ἔθετο was a phraseology certainly not unusual with the transcriber. περιποίησιν σωτηρίας ) Salvation of that sort is intended, by which they who are saved are taken out (excepted) from the multitude of those that perish. [30]

[30] See note on Ephesians 1:14 , as to the meaning of περιποίησις . It is said of that which remains, when all else is lost. So here of the elect saved, when all others are lost. ED.

Verse 10

1 Thessalonians 5:10 . Ἀποθανόντος , who hath died ) That appointment for a peculiar preservation ( περιποίησιν σωτηρίας ), consisted in the death of Christ itself. εἴτε καθεύδωμεν , whether we sleep ) as to the body, in natural sleep or in death. ἅμα ) at the same time as the coming takes place. Or are we rather to take it, together with Him, in the same place where, and in the same manner as, He lives? I cannot think so. The whole subject is “concerning the times” ( 1Th 5:1 ), and at the end of the discussion the discourse returns to those things with which it began. They had always set before themselves the coming of Christ as a thing near at hand. So also does Lubinus explain it.

Verse 12

1 Thessalonians 5:12 . Ἐρωτῶμεν , we pray or beseech ) Paul beseeches, making the cause of those labouring in the word as it were his own: another verb follows, viz. παρακαλοῦμεν , we exhort , 1 Thessalonians 5:14 . εἰδέναι ) to know , to have respect and a regard for; a metonymy of the antecedent for the consequent. κοπιῶντας , labouring ) Sometimes one and the same person may labour ), προΐστασθαι , be over or preside , νουθετεῖν , admonish; sometimes different persons, according to the variety of gifts. To labour is not only the genus, but it denotes different functions, which are not comprehended under presiding and admonishing; for example, Romans 16:2 . Phœbe was προστάτις , a superintendent; on the contrary, 1 Thessalonians 5:12 , Tryphœna and Tryphosa had indeed laboured , but they had not been προστάτιδες , they did not preside or act as superintendents. Acting as superintendent implies authority; νουθετεῖν , to admonish , denotes zeal and skill, which one exercises more than another.

Verse 13

1 Thessalonians 5:13 . Ἐν ἐαυτοῖς , among yourselves ) Mutually.

Verse 14

1 Thessalonians 5:14 . Τοὺς ἀτάκτους , the disorderly [ unruly ]) Such persons were not wanting, how flourishing soever that church might be. And ἀταξία , disorder , presently increased, 2 Thessalonians 3:6 ; 2 Thessalonians 3:11 . ἀντέχεσθε ) pay attention to , שמר , ἀντέχεσθαι , to have regard to, Proverbs 4:6 . πρὸς πάντας , to all) There is no believer to whom long-suffering ( μακροθυμία , implied in μακροθυμεῖτε ) may not be shown; none, to whom a believer ought not to show it. Many show it more to strangers than to their own families, more to the powerful than to the more humble; but it should be shown towards all.

Verse 15

1 Thessalonians 5:15 . Ὁρᾶτε , see ) Let every man watch over himself and the other (his neighbour). A person who has received an injury, and is in a passion, sees too much; his neighbours therefore ought to see (for him).

Verse 18

1 Thessalonians 5:18 . Ἐν παντὶ , in every thing) although it may seem adverse; [ and that, too, not only generally, but, like David, in particular cases . V. g.] τοῦτο , this ) that ye should give thanks. θέλημα , will ) which is always good, always keeping in view your salvation in Christ Jesus .

Verse 19

1 Thessalonians 5:19 . Τὸ πνεῦμα ) the Spirit, i.e. spiritual gifts . A Metonymy. μὴ σβέννυτε , quench not ) Where the Spirit is, He burns; therefore He ought not to be quenched, either in ourselves or in the case of others.

Verse 20

1 Thessalonians 5:20 . Προφητείας , prophesyings ) Which should be exercised more than the other gifts; 1Co 14:1 ; 1 Corinthians 14:39 . μὴ ἐξουθενεῖτε , do not despise ) The other gifts were more showy.

Verse 21

1 Thessalonians 5:21 . Πάντα [31] ) all things , viz. spiritual things, which, without any carelessness and undue curiosity, you may be liable to consider as in any way belonging to you, and as not exceeding your ability.

[31] The Germ. Vers., following the decision of the 2d Ed., subjoins the word δὲ . E. B.

Lachm. adds δὲ , with BD( Δ )G fg Vulg, and later Syr. But Tisch. omits it, with A, Orig. 4, 289 c (3, 825 c ). ED.

Verse 22

1 Thessalonians 5:22 . Ἀπὸ παντὸς εἴδους πονηροῦ , from every bad species or kind of thought, act, or word) Species , in the sense, “appearance of evil” [as Engl. Vers.], would be εἶδος ΤΟΥ πονηροῦ , with the article, which TO καλὸν , that which is good , has, 1 Thessalonians 5:21 . But εἶδος πονηρὸν is a bad kind or species: εἶδος , species , Germ. Gattung; LXX., Jeremiah 15:3 [“I will appoint over them four kinds the sword the dogs the fowls the beasts”]; Sir 23:21 (16), 25:(2) 3. We ought to abstain from every species of evil [evil species of thing], lest we be deceived. The whole genus of good is simple, belonging to the “spirit, soul, and body,” [ 1Th 5:23 ]; the species or kinds of evil are many, 2 Corinthians 7:1 ; comp. the antithesis in the following verse.

Verse 23

1 Thessalonians 5:23 . Αὐτὸς ) [ The very ] Himself . You will be defended, says Paul, not by my zeal, but by the Divine protection. ὁ Θεὸς τῆς εἰρήνης , the God of peace ) who gives all that is good, and takes away all that is evil: εἰρήνη and ὁλοτελὴς , in the Hebrew שלם , are conjugates. [Therefore the following prayer shows what this title implies (involves in it). V. g.] ὁλοτελεῖς ὁλόκληρον ) He wishes that collectively ( ὁλοτελεῖς ) and as individuals ( ὁλόκληρον ) they should be claimed for God [as His], and being so claimed, should abide in Him: collectively, all the Thessalonians without exception, so that no one should fail; individually, every one of them, with “spirit, soul, and body.” The exposition of this verse will perhaps be more matured in course of time. There might be supposed an elegant Chiasmus, and if ὁλόκληρον were taken adverbially, it would cast new light on the exposition. [32] If we give the passage another sense, ὁλόκληρον ὑμῶν , would constitute the genus and the whole; the three following words ( πνεῦμα , σῶμα , ψυχὴ ) would be the parts. ὑμῶν τὸ πνεῦμα καὶψυχὴ καὶ τὸ σῶμα , your spirit and soul and body ) You; he just before has called them universally: and the same persons he now denominates from their spiritual condition, my wish being, saith he, that your spirit ( Gal 6:18 ) may be preserved ὁλόκληρον , whole and entire; then from their natural condition, and soul and body , for the nature of the whole man absolutely consists of these two parts, my wish is, that it may be preserved blameless . [33] The mention of the body agrees with the preceding discussion, 1 Thessalonians 4:4 , note 16.

[32] The Chiasmus would make ὁλόκληρον answer to σῶμα , and πνεῦμα to ψυχή : meaning, May your body be wholly preserved, as also your spirit and soul! ED.

[33] The Germ. Vers. exhibits on the marg. this periphrasis of the passage: “May your Spirit, i.e . you yourselves be most fully preserved according to your spiritual state, which you have attained in respect both of soul and body.” In accordance with this view, I may observe, is the fact, that πνεῦμα is a heavenly principle the life from above linking us to a higher order of beings, and imparted by “the second Adam,” who, in 1 Corinthians 15:47 , is called ζωοποιοῦν πνεῦμα , “a quickening Spirit.” Hence πνεῦμα is seldom if ever found associated with unbelievers. Passages are found where this word is used of good and bad alike “yielding up the Ghost.” But these mean rather “breathed their last,” πνεῦμα being used simply of the breath . Ψυχὴ , anima , on the other hand, is the inferior principle, common to bad and good, linking us to the first Adam, the ζῶσα ψυχή , living soul; from which we derive the σῶμα ψυχικὸν , the natural or animal body a body animated by the ψυχή , as contrasted with the σῶμα πνευματικὸν , body animated with the Spirit, spiritual , which shall be given to the believer hereafter, 1 Corinthians 15:44-47 . Comp. Romans 8:11 ; Jude 1:19 , ψυχικοί . ED.

Verse 24

1 Thessalonians 5:24 . [34] Ὁ καλῶν ὑμᾶς ) He, who has called you , so that He will not even now change His [purpose of grace in] calling you. This verse exhibits much of a triumphant spirit. ποιήσει , will do it ) will preserve you , 1 Thessalonians 5:23 . So that His calling of you may attain its designed end, Philippians 1:6 ; 1 Peter 5:10 ; Romans 8:30 .

[34] πιστὸς , faithful ) In this short clause the whole summary of consolation is included. If you will enjoy your calling, rejoice in the faithfulness of Him who will do it. V. g.

Verse 25

1 Thessalonians 5:25 . Περὶ ἡμῶν , for us ) as we for you, 1 Thessalonians 5:23 . [ Paul begs the same thing in the second epistle to the Thessalonians, also in the epistle to the Romans, Ephesian, Colossians, and Philemon, and in passing, in the second epistle to the Corinthians, as well as to the Philippians. He does not make this request in the epistle to Timothy and Titus, because he either addressed them as sons or was sure of their spontaneous intercessions. He did not indeed ask this of the Corinthians in his first epistle, nor of the Galatians; for he required to rebuke them in the exercise of his paternal authority . V. g.]

Verse 27

1 Thessalonians 5:27 . Ὁρκιζω ὑμᾶς , I adjure you ) In the Old Testament Moses and the prophets were publicly read. In the New Testament this epistle, as being the first of all that Paul wrote, is, as a sample of what they should do in the case of the others, recommended to be publicly read, as afterward the Apocalypse, ch. Revelation 1:3 . This was the very important reason, why Paul so adjured the Thessalonians [ and these too so greatly beloved by him . V. g.]; and there had been some danger, lest they should think, that the epistle should be concealed on account of the praises given to themselves. τὸν Κύριον , the Lord ) Christ. The divine worship of invocation is presented to Him, Ps. 63:12 ( Psa 63:11 ). πᾶσι , to all ) at Thessalonica, or even in the whole of Macedonia. ἀδελφοῖς , the brethren ) The dative, in the strict force of it. The epistle was to be read, whilst all gave ear to it [in the hearing of all], especially those, who could not read it themselves; women and children not being excluded. Comp. Deuteronomy 31:12 ; Joshua 8:33-34 . What Paul commands with an adjuration, Rome forbids under a curse . [ Those who stealthily take away the Scripture, and render the reading of the word of God so difficult to the common people, beyond all doubt deal unfairly in their own treatment of it (they must themselves in their mode of handling it evade its meaning by subterfuges and perversions); they therefore are shunners of the light. But how sadly will they be struck dumb, when the Judge shall inquire, Why have you so violently forbidden others to read My word? Why did you take it from those, who would have used it better than yourselves? “It would be desirable ( and this is the remark of a Wittemberg divine of high character ) that in many places, and those too of a more exalted condition, instead of the sacred prayers, which seem to be often more numerous than was suitable, the reading of certain chapters of sacred Scripture should be appointed in the Church, and should be a solemn and regular usage,” etc., Franz. de Interpret. , p. 47. That would be indeed quite right. At present it is so much the more our duty to lament, that many esteem the dignity of the public assemblies of the Church to be greater only in proportion as the regard paid to Scripture is the less . V. g.] [35]

[35] Bengel, J. A. (1860). Vol. 4 : Gnomon of the New Testament (M. E. Bengel & J. C. F. Steudel, Ed.) (J. Bryce, Trans.) (189 211). Edinburgh: T&T Clark.

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Bibliographical Information
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 5". Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. 1897.