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1 Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Ver. 1. Paul and Sylvanus ] Otherwise called Silas, Acts 15:40 , as Jehoshuah the high priest is called Joshua, Ezra 3:2 ; Ezra 5:2 . It is not therefore unlawful to abbreviate names.
Unto the church of the Thessalonians ] Thessalonica, the chief city of Macedonia, is now known by the name of Salonicks, and is under the Turk. For the plantation of a church here, see Acts 17:1-9 . See Trapp on " Act 17:1 " &c. There are 30 churches of Christians in it this day, and but three of Mahometans.
2 We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers;
Ver. 2. We give thanks to God ] Thus he beginneth most of his Epistles with thanksgiving; this being held to be the first that ever he wrote to any of the Churches, the beginning of his strength, as Reuben (Jacob’s firstborn), and the excellency of dignity, Genesis 49:3 .
3 Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;
Ver. 3. Remembering without ceasing ] A good memory is required to assiduity in prayer. All the faculties are exercised, and the whole man hard wrought.
Your work of faith ] We believe not without much conflict. When faith goes about to lay hold on Christ, the devil raps her on the fingers, and would beat her off. Hence the believer hath such ado to believe.
And labour of love ] Every man’s love is as his labour is, Hebrews 6:10 . Therefore also love and labour are of one root in Latin, because love is diligent and laborious.
And patience of hope ] To wait the accomplishment of God’s promises. Thus every Christian virtue hath its proper distinctive character, to difference it from that which is counterfeit.
In the sight of God ] True grace will stand to God’s trial, which false grace cannot abide; as alchemy gold cannot pass the seventh fire; nor doth it comfort the heart as true gold doth.
4 Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.
Ver. 4. Knowing, brethren beloved of God ] Knowing it by the judgment of charity, not of infallibility. He that believeth hath the witness in himself, 1 John 5:10 . But the white stone, the new name, and the hidden man of the heart are not certainly known to any, but to such as have them. Howbeit, holy men in some degree are known one to another, to make the communion of saints the sweeter. Strong confidence one may have of another’s salvation; but no certainty either of sense or of science, much less of faith, or immediate revelation.
5 For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.
Ver. 5. For our gospel came not ] Hence he collects their election, according to Acts 13:48 . The ministry sent to a place is an argument of some elect there. A husbandman would not send his servant with his sickle to reap thistles and nettles only.
As ye know what manner ] The Church is endued with the spirit of discerning; and ministers should approve themselves spiritual in word and conversation, 2 Corinthians 12:10 .
6 And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost:
Ver. 6. Followers of us and of the Lord ] The apostles walked in Christ,Colossians 2:6; Colossians 2:6 ; as Christ, 1 John 2:6 ; their lives were a commentary upon his life, 1 Peter 2:9 .
Received the word in much affliction ] Opposition is (as Calvin wrote to the French king) Evangelii genius, the black angel that dogs the gospel at the heels. To preach (saith Luther) is nothing else but to get the ill will of the world.
With joy of the Holy Ghost ] Which bore them up above all persecutions, as blown bladders bear a man up aloft all waters.
7 So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.
Ver. 7. So that ye were ensamples ] Gr. τυποι , types, moulds, patterns of piety, to those that were in Christ long before them. A brave commendation, and not every man’s happiness. Affliction to some is like a growing ague, or as a warm rain to garden herbs, that maketh them shoot up sensibly in one night.
8 For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing.
Ver. 8. For from you sounded out ] A vobis diffamatus est sermo. Remigius, commenting upon this place, telleth us that the apostle here speaketh somewhat improperly, by saying diffamatus for divulgatus. This man knew not (belike) that St Paul wrote in Greek and not in Latin; so great was the ignorance of that ninth age. The Greek word importeth that from the Thessalonians the word of the Lord sounded out as a trumpet, and resounded as an echo, εξηχηται . A vobis ebuccinatus est sermo Domini; so Vatablus rendereth it.
So that we need not to speak ] A good people may ease their pastor of a great deal of pains.
9 For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God;
Ver. 9. What manner of entering in, &c. ] The pastor hath his part and share in the people’s commendation. If they grow famous, he cannot lie obscured.
Ye turned to God from idols ] They gave not the half turn only from east to south, but the whole turn, from the east to west, from idols to God, Hosea 6:4 . Ephraim shall say, "What have I to do any more with idols?" Hosea 14:8 ; those Balaam blocks, those mawmets and monuments of idolatry, those images of jealousy? Ephraim is now no longer as a cake half-baked, as a speckled bird, Jeremiah 12:9 . Better be a Papist than an atheist, a gross idolater than a profligate professor, a carnal gospeller.
10 And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.
Ver. 10. And to wait for his Son ] This is pinned as a badge to the sleeve of every true believer, that he looketh and longeth for Christ’s coming to judgment. The old character of God’s people was, they waited for the consolation of Israel, Christ’s first coming; so is it now, the earnest expectation of his second coming.
Which delivered us from the wrath to come ] This is the Etymon, the notation of his name Jesus, a Saviour. Salvation properly betokeneth the privative part of man’s happiness, but includeth the positive too. King Alphonsus, when he saw a poor man pulling his beast out of a ditch, he put to his hand to help him. Is it not more that Christ should stoop so low as to help us (who were in worse condition than the beasts that perish) out of the ditch of destruction? The devil is said to be λεων ωρυομενος , a roaring lion, but our comfort is, that the Lion of the tribe of Judah is οο ρυομενος he that delivereth us from the wrath to come. The Sun of righteousness (as Pelbartus saith, allegorizing God’s covenant signified by a rainbow) falling into a cloud of passion, is our security against a deluge of damnation.
The wrath to come ] There is a present wrath that men suffer; and who knoweth the power of this wrath? Even according to a man’s fear, so is God’s wrath, Psalms 90:11 . Let a man fear never so much, he shall be sure to feel more, when God’s wrath falls upon him. A timerous man can fancy vast and terrible fears; fire, sword, racks, scalding lead, boiling pitch, running bell metal. Yet all this is but as a painted fire to the wrath to come, that eternity of extremity, which graceless persons shall never be able to avoid or to abide.
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 1". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany