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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

1 Thessalonians 2

Verses 1-20

Verse. 1-3. Ye know our entrance into Thessalonica our exhortation was not of deceit, or error to lead astray the simple, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile, as is the character of the judaizing teachers who sought to destroy us. The apostle’s language here is similar to that in 2 Corinthians 4:1-2, and the case was similar. In both those great cities the jews were strong, and the proselytes numerous. He had therefore to contend with demons transformed into angels of light, whom he calls pleasers of men, and covetous.

1 Thessalonians 2:4-6 . We were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, and made the stewards of celestial riches. He often notices the distinguishing grace of God which counted him faithful, and put him into the ministry. Let all true ministers often revolve the same thought, that they may shun the sins of judaizing teachers, and speak as in the sight of God. We sought not glory of men when we might have been, εν βαρει ειναι , chargeable, or as the Syriac, honourable, as the ambassadors of Christ.

1 Thessalonians 2:7 . But we were gentle among you; επιοι , mites, meek, full of parental affection, even as a nurse or mother, who nourishes her children. So likewise ought we to love the souls gathered under our ministry, and committed to our care. Paul fed the Corinthians with milk, till they could bear stronger food.

1 Thessalonians 2:9 . Labouring day and night, because we would not be chargeable to any of you. The manual labour of Paul and of Barnabas, was an exempt case. The fishermen could not make tents. To this instance of holy emulation and triumph over the jews, and the false apostles, the apostle often appeals. He knew that the first charge of those men would be, that Paul preached for gain. He therefore, at first, having no churches to support him, covered his ministry with garments of purity, and disinterested love. But his manual labours were local and occasional only, for he made frequent excursions to distant places. See more on Acts 20:33-34. 2 Corinthians 12:13.

1 Thessalonians 2:14 . The churches of God in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus. This reference denotes that the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which was in Jerusalem, and in Judea, was regarded in all the primitive ages as the mother and model of all the rest. They were the firstfruits of the apostolic ministry, adorned with grace and truth, and with all the higher endowments of the Holy Ghost. This church had seen the Lord, and knew the truth, and was to others what paradise once was to this desolated earth. From her the gospel law shone out to illuminate the world, from her we receive the model of every active and suffering virtue, from her we receive chiefly the more private rules and advices for the regulation of our conduct, and the discharge of relative duties; rules repeatedly referred to in Paul’s epistles, as existing in all the churches. Such also is the proverb, Keep your rules, and your rules will keep you.

1 Thessalonians 2:18 . We would have come to you once and again, but Satan hindered us, by a succession of troubles and persecutions raised by the jews, stirring up the gentiles to oppress and afflict us in all places, so that in some instances we despaired even of life. Here Satan, the grand adversary, is represented as heading all opposition to the spread of the gospel. On the other hand, Christ has said, Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world.


Paul here speaks like himself. He reviews his labours of purity and love so as to induce the saints the more to love the gospel. It was preached among them by men not intimidated by the barbarous treatment they had recently received at Philippi. And the conduct of Paul, and the brethren, became the more illustrious by a contrast with the lives of their persecutors.

Having a pattern so pure and lovely, let us not shrink from the contest, for the portrait of St. Paul is the grand model to be ever kept before the eyes of all christian ministers. And if once the people know us as true pastors of the flock, they will never leave us in the day of trouble, unless for the moment some cloud of error overspread them in the dark and stormy day. Therefore, let all the ministers of Christ be clothed with gentleness like our apostle, and faint not, though the enemy, like the jewish council, should forbid us to speak the harsher truths of God. And what else can we preach, when all the milder means have failed of effect? Let us be willing to burn out the candle of life illuminating the world, or if in extreme cases such be the will of God, even to offer up life itself, attesting the word of truth.

Let us also pray that in such labours and arduous conflicts we may see revivals of religion, and gather handfuls of the harvest, not to say sheaves, and multitudes to the Lord, as in the first planting of christianity. Then rejoicing with the joy of harvest, we shall say in death, “I have not run, I have not laboured in vain.”

But let us pray for a wise and discerning spirit, to distinguish the commandments of men from the doctrines of God our Saviour. And how much soever Satan may for a time hinder our progress, the overruling providence of God will make bonds and affliction promote and further the work of grace among the people. Let us ever pray for the flock from whom we may be separated, for we shall meet again. They are our crown of rejoicing in the day of the Lord Jesus.

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Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 2". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. 1835.