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1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
2. But when He will come, we know not; let your walk, therefore, be at all times watchful and sober.
1But of [concerning, περί] the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write [it be written]1unto you: 2for yourselves know perfectly that 3the2 day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when [When]3 they shall say [are saying] 4: Peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon4 them, as [even as, ὥσπερ] travail upon a woman [her that is, τῇ] with child, and they shall not [in no wise]5 escape. 4But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that [the, ἡ] day should overtake you as a thief.6 [For]7 5ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day [all ye are sons of light, and sons of day]:8 we are not of the night [of night, νυκτός], nor of darkness. 6Therefore [So then]9 let us not sleep, as do others [as do also the rest];10 but let us watch and be sober. 7For they that sleep sleep in the night [by night, νυκτός]; and they that be [are] drunken are drunken in the night [by night, νυκτός], 8But let us, who are of the day [being of day],11 be sober, putting on [having put on]12 the breastplate of faith and love, and, for an helmet, the hope 9of salvation. For [Because, ὅτι] God hath not appointed [did not appoint, οὐκ ἔθετο] us to wrath, but to obtain [to the obtaining of, εἰς περιποίησιν] salvation by 10[through, διά] our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for13 us, that, whether we wake or sleep [are watching or sleeping],14 we should live together with Him. 11Wherefore comfort yourselves together [comfort one another, παρακαλεῖτε ], and edify one another [one the other, εἷς τὸν ἕνα], even as also ye do.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
1. (1 Thessalonians 5:1-2.) But concerning the times and the seasons, &c.—Here Paul treats of the Advent from the other side, and exhorts us to be at all times composed and ready for the day of the Lord—equally remote from anxious calculation or impatient expectancy: Now He comes! and from the drowsy security which says: Not for a long time yet! How much of erroneous opinion, if any, existed in Thessalonica (but see 1 Thessalonians 5:2); whether they had caused a question to be put to him, and so forth—on these points we know nothing very precisely. The Second Epistle gives evidence of greater excitement in the church, not as if the First Epistle were responsible for that, but at most the misunderstanding of it, and, in particular, the want of attention to our present section. As here, the two expressions χρόνοι and καιροί stand together at Acts 1:7, and there too the Lord says: οὐχ ὑμῶν ἐστὶν γνῶναι. In like manner Acts 3:19; Acts 3:21 puts the καιροί by the side of the χρόνοι , &c. (Whereas Matthew 24:36 and Mark 13:32 connect ἡμέρα and ὥρα). According to the old lexicographers and general usage (see Wetstein), the difference is that χρόνοι denotes duration, spaces of time, periods; καιροί, points of time, crises, the times appropriate to a decision, the epochs of a catastrophe. The plural is especially worthy of notice, as pointing to the possibility of a repeated alternation of periods of development and crises of decision, and so to a possibly longer duration. On this subject ye have no need that it be written unto you (see on 1 Thessalonians 4:9); at 1 Thessalonians 4:13 the Apostle found it necessary to remedy an ἀγνοεῖν; here is a recurrence merely of the need of confirmation, as at 1 Thessalonians 4:9. They have no need, not because there is no instruction to be given, not because they are already watchful (Bengel), but because, of what was sufficient for them to know, they themselves had already an exact, positive certainty; to wit, not of the when, that being altogether uncertain, but of something quite different, namely, the quality of the Coming, the suddenness of its arrival—the οὕτως, instead of the πότε. The ἀκριβῶς would lead us rather to expect a fixing of the time; there is something surprising in this turn: ye know precisely—that the time cannot be known! Indeed, that lies in the nature of the case; the day is to be a surprise to the whole world. There is no determination of the time—only of the signs of the time. This is implied in the distinction: as a thief in the night; at a time, therefore, when the secure are asleep, resting without care. If, instead of wishing to calculate dates, regard is had (and inquiry directed, 1 Peter 1:11) to the consideration of the signs (Matthew 16:3), this is not forbidden, but required, by the uncertainty of the crisis. The day of the Lord is a synonym of the Advent, 1 Thessalonians 4:15; but the former expression makes more prominent the idea of the judgment-day, and stands opposed to the time preceding, as of prevailing night. Then too it may be of longer duration than a day of earth, so that one can perceive that the Advent brings the dawn of that day. Already the prophets speak of the day of Jehovah, in which He manifests Himself in His Divine glory; Joel 1:15; Joel 2:11; Joel 3:19 [of the Hebrew arrangement; in the English Bible, 14]; Isaiah 2:12; Zephaniah 1:15 (Vulg.: Dies iræ, dies illa); Ezekiel 13:5; Malachi 3:2, 19, 23 [English Bible: Malachi 4:1; Malachi 4:5]. The reference is, indeed, partly to particular, preliminary judgments; but more and more to the conclusive final judgment. In the New Testament Christ is the Lord, who will appear in the day of the Lord, 1 Corinthians 1:8, and often. This day comes—oxymoron: as a thief in the night; so it is said of the day in 2 Peter 3:10; of the Lord Himself, Matthew 24:43 and the parallel passages; Revelation 3:3; Revelation 16:15; ὡς κλέπτης is quite strongly resumed by οὕτως:15 in such a manner it comes; Hofmann: such is the manner of its coming (not, as Bengel would have it: so as the following verse declares). It comes; the suddenness is not implied in the, present (Bengel); that might mean: surely and in the near future; it is better taken as a doctrinal present: such is the manner of it, without regard to the time, as 1 Corinthians 15:35. [Alford: “It is its attribute, to come.” Ellicott: “Its fixed nature and prophetic certainty.”—J. L.] The figure of the thief seems to be an ignoble one; but the Lord is not so nice. The comparison is striking, and describes the coming not merely as something sudden and unexpected, but also as unwelcome, terrifying for the worldly-minded, plundering them of that to which their heart clings, stripping them of their possessions (Hofmann). In the ancient Church there was connected with this comparison the notion, that the Advent would take place in the night, and still more precisely on Easter-night, like the Passover in Egypt; hence the Vigils (Lactantius and Jerome, in Lünemann). It deserves to be noted, how closely the Apostle in his preaching at Thessalonica must have conformed to the eschatological discourses of Christ in Matthew 24:0 and the parallel passages; though there is no evidence for Ewald’s opinion, that Paul had given the church a written document.
2. (1 Thessalonians 5:3.) When they are saying: Peace and safety, amp;c.—“Ὅταν γάρ would explain the κλέπτης; ὅταν δέ would be a transition from κλέπτης to the description of a false peace: But this will happen precisely then. It is best to regard the description as going forward by asyndeton, and as in its very form representing the swiftness of the occurrence. When they are saying—these for whom it comes as a thief, the ungodly-minded, the people who have no everlasting hope (1 Thessalonians 4:0); Christians are people of no such drowsy slumberings (1 Thessalonians 5:4). The human heart longs for peace; but, where it is unreconciled to God, there it lulls itself in treacher ous hopes and semblances of peace, Jeremiah 6:14; Ezekiel 13:10. Peace, and a safety without danger,16 scil. ἐστίν. In the passages just cited from the prophets וָבֶטַח is not added, but in the Sept. Deuteronomy 12:10, and frequently, this word is well translated by ἀσφάλεια. At that very time they are on the point of destruction, which comes on them as a sudden thing (comp. Luke 21:34); as travail (ὠδίν for ὠδίς, Winer, § 9. 2. note 1); οὐ μή, as in 1 Thessalonians 4:15. Very suitable is the comparison to a woman with child, and in the prophets it recurs repeatedly, Isaiah 13:8; Isaiah 21:3; Isaiah 26:4; Jeremiah 6:24, and often. The point of comparison is the sudden, inevitable occurrence of the rending pain, the mortal anguish; also perhaps (Calvin, Rieger): that they bear within themselves the cause of their sorrow; but not (as De Wette would have it) the imminence of the Advent, on the ground that a pregnant woman knows, not indeed the day and hour, but yet the nearness of the period. That is not what Paul would here emphasize, but, on the contrary, worldly men are to be represented as taken altogether at unawares; they might know that it is unavoidable, a little sooner or later; but they do not even think of the matter, it falls on them suddenly; moreover, the signs of warning are for them as if they were not, till of a sudden it becomes manifest that they were pregnant with their own ruin. (The view of the Greek interpreters also does not differ from this.) The figure is applied in another direction, when used to depict the pangs of the new birth with their favorable issue, John 16:21; Luk 17:33.17
3. (1 Thessalonians 5:4-5.) But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, &c.—Ye, in opposition to those who are saying Peace; brethren, blessed society! ἐστέ with οὐκ, not μή, is necessarily indicative. He does not enjoin, but asserts. It is a comforting encouragement: Ye are in such a position, and that by a Divine right, that ye do not have to fear the day as a thief; ye are not in darkness, held fast, abiding. De Wette and others correctly: It is wrong to understand by darkness merely a want of intellectual insight, or simply moral corruption in practice ; both sides cohere throughout in the case of light and darkness. Ye are not therein, ἵνα—this is not equivalent to ὥστε [Jowett, Webster and Wilkinson], not even in Galatians 5:17; though in the Greek of the New Testament the idea of finality appears to be somewhat weakened (Winer, § 53. 6), it is yet everywhere present in some degree. Here it does not, as Lünemann supposes, indicate the purpose of the Divine punishment,18 but, as Hofmann expresses it, that the being in darkness would be required in order to such a surprise;—De Wette: in order to have you overtaken;—it would be the unintentional purpose of being in darkness; comp. εἰς τό, 1 Thessalonians 2:16. Therefore, even if the day does come suddenly, still it brings to you no terror or loss (there is somewhat of greater emphasis in ὑμᾶς, over against the secure ones of 1 Thessalonians 5:3, when, as in a series of uncials, it appears prefixed;19 yet the Vatican and Sinai manuscripts are for the common position after ἡμέρα). Only on such as are in darkness does the day come as a thief; it is no longer said: the day of the Lord; nor yet: as a thief in the night; because now the day (the day of the Lord, it is true) is put simply as the time of light breaking in on the darkness (Hofmann). The various reading ὡς κλέπταΣ (not confirmed by the Sinait.) goes farther. Grotius, Lachmann, De Wette, Ewald, favor it as the more difficult reading, the sense being (De Wette), that the time of light, triumphant truth and righteousness, overtakes thieves, who ply their trade in the night; Ewald: On you the day need not come, as on those who creep in the dark, as if ye yourselves were night-loving thieves, robbing God of His gifts and His glory. The variation, however, is too generally neglected by the other manuscripts, versions, and Fathers, and the change of the thought, likewise, is too abrupt, it being only at 1 Thessalonians 5:5; 1 Thessalonians 5:8 that we find the transition from the narrower to the wider conception of ἡμέρα. The reading is, therefore, properly rejected also by Lünemann and Hofmann.—for (nearly all the uncials give γάρ), confirmatory of the previous negative by the opposite positive declaration: all ye are sons of light. He thus expresses his cheering confidence to a church converted with such wonderful quickness: Ye are so indeed on the assumed premises; saints, entered into a condition of salvation; though still deficient, and therefore not without need of fresh incitement (1 Thessalonians 5:6 sqq.). Sons, בני, is a Hebraism, signifying not merely the fact of belonging to, but descent, a specific nature: who from light have their life, Luke 16:8; John 12:36 (comp. Matthew 8:12, sons of the kingdom, there indeed degenerate). Light is spoken of in another application in the parables of the virgins, and of the servants with their lamps (Matthew 25:0; Luke 12:35).—And sons of day; a strengthening synonym, connected with φῶς also at John 11:9-10; over against night and darkness (chiasmus). It is not generally asked how these synonyms differ. It will be correct to say that day is the time of prevailing light, night the hour of darkness; thus light and darkness denote the nature of the disposition, day and night the corresponding outward circumstances, the ruling power, and so either the kingdom of light (of spiritual discipline) or the dominion of darkness (of ungodliness). Accordingly, where the inner man is in the light, there also is a wakefulness suitable to the dominion of light in bright day; but where in darkness, there he seeks also the night, a dark environment. Here we have the transition from the day of the Lord (1 Thessalonians 5:2) to day in general. Moreover, the day of the Lord is essentially light, before which no darkness endures (Lünemann); it puts an end, at last, to the darkness. The continuous state of day (χρόνος) is by the day of the Lord (as καιρός) brought to its crowning consummation. Only the man, who is a son of day generally, can expect with comfort also the day of the Lord, which is helpful to that, in which consists the nature of the sons of day, in obtaining the victory.—We are not of night, &c.; we Christians generally; the Apostle includes himself with them (ἐστέ, C.1 F. G., is a conformation [to the ἐστέ of the first clause]); the genitive now expresses, according to the Greek idiom, belonging to night (the ruling darkness) or to darkness (in our inner nature); comp. Winer, § 30. 5; 1 Corinthians 6:19; Hebrews 10:39.
4. (1 Thessalonians 5:6-8.) So then let us not sleep, &c.—On his good confidence: God has wrought His work in you, he now rests the powerful exhortation: Let us also, then, not sleep (Ewald: fall asleep). There is cordiality, and encouragement for the readers, in his including himself with them in this. Of the sleep of sin he speaks also in Ephesians 5:14; thereby denoting the sluggish, dull, confused nature, unsusceptible of what is Divine, indifferent to salvation; as it is found in the rest (1 Thessalonians 4:13), those not Christians, the children of darkness.—But let us watch; γρηγορεῖν, a later word, formed from ἐγρήγορα, as (στήκειν from ἕστηκα. What is meant is clearness of spirit, the freshness of the sharpened sense, vigilant waiting for the Lord, circumspection over against the enemy.—And he sober, is frequently joined with watchfulness, 1 Peter 5:8, and often. As intoxication in the literal sense disposes to sleep, so is it here understood in a comprehensive signification. The innate weakness and sluggishness of the flesh of itself inclines to drowsiness (Matthew 26:41); therefore should we avoid what would involve us in the guilt of self-stupefaction, and of thus aggravating this tendency. Already Chrysostom remarks on the other side: Sobriety is the augmentation of watchfulness.—For—extends over 1 Thessalonians 5:7-8, and confirms the summons of 1 Thessalonians 5:6 : truly it becomes us not, to do as the children of night. In the night they sleep and are drunken; the latter referring to the custom of nocturnal symposia. It is too far-fetched, when Koch and Hofmann would from the first understand the night only figuratively: With those who sleep, and get drunk, it is night; no; when it is night, they do so; Bengel: a die abhorrent. But, of course, what is said in the first instance literally is meant as a simile: Where night surrounds them, there they haunt, and indulge their dull, sluggish tendency; nay more, they make the case still worse, by practices which subject them more and more to the power of darkness.—But let us, as belonging to the day, where light rules, walking in day toward the great day, be sober; here on the tide of the positive exhortation, this only is repeated, which it is incumbent on us to do, lest we deprive ourselves of watchfulness.—Having put on; they who watch are also clothed; they who are called to the conflict are equipped with armor. The inward, courageous preparation is the main thing; but that impels to the use of the right means. As those who have put on, &c., we should shun intoxication, which disables the combatant. The Christian, called to the fight of faith (1 Timothy 6:12), must be ready for assaults, and watch as a soldier at his post. To put on the new man (Ephesians 4:24)—the vesture which comes from above, and, remaining not on the outside, swallows up the old nature (1 Corinthians 15:54)—is the same thing as to put on Christ (Romans 13:14). That is his adornment, the covering of his nakedness, the robe of righteousness (Isaiah 61:3; Isaiah 61:10). But, with reference to the conflict, it is his armor (Isaiah 59:17; Romans 13:12; 2 Corinthians 10:4; and especially, for details, Ephesians 6:13 sqq.). In the last passage mention is made of the breastplate of righteousness, and, along with that, of the shield of faith, and the helmet of salvation. In our passage the figure has a somewhat different turn, such figures being developed freely and variously, while the fundamental thought is the same. Here the breastplate is called the breastplate of faith (on which, indeed, rests our righteousness) and love; the genitives are genitives of apposition: consisting in. And, for a helmet (this strictly in apposition), the hope of deliverance, salvation; genitive of the object, as in 1 Thessalonians 1:3; Romans 5:2. Salvation is to be taken comprehensively, a complete redemption from sin and death. The equipment is here carried out only on the defensive side. Sobriety is of no avail, unless we are armed with faith, love, hope. Sobriety keeps us circumspect—shows us what we have to do; but it is only with faith, &c., that we can accomplish it.
5. (1 Thessalonians 5:9-10.) Because God did not appoint us to wrath.—He confirms the ἐλπίδα σωτηρίας: we have such a hope; that was the highest point of what was said before. Let us be stoutly prepared, for indeed God wills our salvation. This being God’s will, we may have hope. It is certainly, therefore, a confirmation of 1 Thessalonians 5:8 (against Hofmann, who translates ὅτι by that, and finds in it the substance of the hope, as in Romans 8:21; but there ἐλπίς has not its substance, as here (σωτηρίας), already defined). God did not appoint us, the Hebrew שׂוּם לְ (Judges 1:28, Sept.), ordained, appointed to (John 15:16; 1 Timothy 1:12; 1 Peter 2:8). (Hofmann: brought into being, in order to perish—an unimportant distinction.)—To wrath, that is, to the endurance of it (1 Thessalonians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:16; 1 Thessalonians 4:6). God wills not our destruction, but our salvation. In His entire purpose there is nothing to harm us, and so neither will there be at the appearing of His day.—But to the obtaining of salvation; περιποιεῖν, to make to remain over; in the middle: to save for one’s self (1 Timothy 3:13); hence the substantive: gain, acquisition (2 Thessalonians 2:14; Hebrews 10:39). In a peculiar sense, 1 Peter 2:9 : people of the Divine possession [comp. Ephesians 1:14], Here too Theophylact would understand it thus: that He should keep us as a possession for Himself. But this does not suit the addition of σωηρίας.—Through Jesus Christ, might be connected with ἔθετο, but more obviously with περιποίησιν σωτηρίας; Luther: to possess [besitzen] salvation through Jesus Christ. Hence no anxiety in the expectation of the last things.—Who died for us; that is the foundation of our περιποί. σωτ. as in 1 Thessalonians 4:14 of our hope; He died for us, for our benefit (ὑπέρ), or on our account (περί). Neither one nor the other is precisely equivalent to ἀντί, in our stead. But there may be cases where the ὑπέρ cannot otherwise be accomplished than by a doing ἀντί, e. g. Philemon 1:13; and it is really ἀντί that stands in the discourse, Matthew 20:28 (comp. 1 Timothy 2:6). As the object of Christ’s dying, the final aim of the redemptive work, Paul names a powerful consolation in death (thus closing the discussion begun at 1 Thessalonians 4:13).—That, whether we are watching or sleeping, we should live together with Him. That ἵνα, though after a preterite, governs the subjunctive, is explained by Winer, § 41. b. 1. This reacts on εἴτε—εἴτε, so that here also, as with ἐάν τε—ἐάν τε (Romans 14:8), the subjunctive is used (see Winer, p. 263). It is impossible that the watching and sleeping can here be taken in the previous ethical sense, for in the case of sleeping the ἵςα ζήσωμεν would be forfeited. To understand it literally [Whitby, and others] would yield a poor result: whether at the Advent we are watching in the day-time or lying asleep in the night. It must therefore be equivalent to the ζῶντες περιλείπεσθαι and κοιμᾶσθαι, 1 Thessalonians 4:0; in meaning, the same as Romans 14:8; γρηγορεῖν is in this sense without authority; for καθεύδειν, comp. Matthew 9:24; Daniel 12:2, Sept. De Wette finds in this change of senses a violation of the rule of perspicuity. But what the Apostle means has always been evident. Von Gerlach, in deed, remarks, not without reason, that the sleep of death, under which we still suffer, is itself a part of the curse of the sleep of sin. But provided only that we do not καθεύδομεν in the sense of 1 Thessalonians 5:6, let us securely καθεύδειν κοιμᾶσθαι (1 Thessalonians 4:13). There is in this a certain joyous, triumphant pleasantry: Whether at that time we have our eyes still open, or must previously close them, we are (as the result of Christ’s death) to live together with Him. By ἅμα Bengel would understand: Simul, ut fit adventus; but the necessary supplement would be, not: together, when He comes, but: together, when He lives, and that does not suit. Others (Lünemann) take ἅμα by itself,=יַחַד, all together, one with another (Romans 3:12);20 and separate from it σὺν αὐτῷ; but Hofmann is right in connecting ἅμα σὺν αὐτῷ, as in 1 Thessalonians 4:17; together with Him, united with Him. It may still be asked, whether the statement means: We are now already living in fellowship with Him, and they likewise who are asleep are joined to Him; or: In that day, when His life shall appear, we shall appear as living with Him, whether His coming finds us watching in life, or sleeping in death. But the latter view, it is obvious, brings the thought to a more completely satisfactory termination. Again, as compared with ἐσόμεθα (1 Thessalonians 4:17), the expression ζήσωμεν shows a fine, truly Pauline, advance: To be with Him will be the true life out of death.
6. (1 Thessalonians 5:11.) Wherefore encourage [comfort] one another; as in 1 Thessalonians 4:18; only here, it would seem, the moral incitement to watchfulness is more prominent.21 Lünemann finds the idea of consolation, after 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10, preponderant here also. In the Greek there is no such sundering of the two ideas.—And (as the consequence of the παρακαλεῖν) edify one the other, promote one another’s establishment on the foundation laid. Grotius: Monete verbis, ædificate exemplo; but Judges 20:0 comprehends instruction and example. One another; he does not in the first instance urge official obligation, as if everything was to be turned over on that; rather, that follows first at 1 Thessalonians 5:12. Εἷς τὸν ἕνα, along with ἀλλὴλους, is good Greek. To read εἰς τὸν ἕνα22 is unnecessary, and indeed improper (see, against it, Lünemann).—Even as also ye do, comp. 1 Thessalonians 4:10. Noble young church, where such things can be said! Calvin: With this addition he avoids the appearance of reproving them for negligence; and yet he has exhorted them, because human nature at all times needs the spur. Go on so! A pithy energy, a morning freshness, a joyous hopefulness, are observable throughout the entire section.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. (1 Thessalonians 5:1-3.) In exact accordance with Christ’s teaching, the Apostle declines all close definition or calculation of the times, and points instead to the signs, which the disciples of Christ are required to consider. For those secure in their ungodliness there are no signs; on them the thief comes suddenly, the pangs seize them all at once. But they themselves are for a sign to believers who watch and observe. It is the triumph of the cause of God, that even the despisers must render it the service of their testimony. Stupidity in Divine things, security and self-confidence, increase more and more; as it was, says Christ, in the days of Noah and Lot (Luke 17:26 sqq.). They ate, they drank, they married and were given in marriage; thus Jesus does not once upbraid them with the scandalous crimes which they committed, but with that very thing in their way of life which was commendable, but which becomes hideous, when nothing higher can be told of an age; when its whole life is a worldly life, in which God is no longer taken into the account. A great increase of outward power and culture, reliance on science, industry, the conquest of the external world, lead to an arrogance that no longer admits its dependence on God. Les questions de disette ne sont que des questions de transport, they sometimes say. And because the threatened judgment so long delays, people regard it as a fable; mundum statuent æternum (Bengel). But this is just a fulfilment of the prophecy, which gives previous indication of this very disposition.—Vietor: We will therefore carefully avoid saying: The Lord will come within such and such a time; He will come during our life on earth. But we will just as carefully avoid saying: He will not come during our life on earth.—How great is the injury done to the Christian hope by the first of these errors, in consequence of the rebuffs to which it is inevitably exposed, was made plain to many in the year 1836. It is, moreover, quite conceivable, that the course of historical revelation has somewhat changed the form of faith’s expectation, and accustomed many to think more of the day of the individual’s death than of the day of general judgment. The former, as well as the latter, comes on unavoidable, indeed, but unannounced. In this there is certainly a narrowing of the horizon, when regard to the universal consummation is too much lost. It were improper at each text to distinguish: Here the destruction of Jerusalem is meant; here the day of the individual’s death; &c. The prophetic view rather comprehends all judgment under the figure of one day, and yet itself shows us that the fulfilment is distributed over a series of acts. Thus at one time (Romans 2:16), the prospect of the day of judgment is (without discrimination) held out also to the heathen, who yet, according to the complete scheme in the Apocalypse, do not appear before the judgment-seat till the last resurrection; at another time, on the contrary (John 6:39-40; John 6:44; John 6:54), the ἐσχάτη ἡμέρα (without the distinction of a first resurrection) is described as the day of resurrection for believers also. We say therefore, that with the Advent the last day appears; but how long and how far it shall reach, on that point there is nothing prejudged; and instead of unprofitable, if not pernicious, calculations, it is the observation of the signs that is helpful in the practical life.
2. (1 Thessalonians 5:4-5.) The Scriptural ideas of light and darkness are quite different from those of the world. According to the latter, the thoughts become clear through enlightenment of the understanding, the life serene through art and culture; and very many revile the witnesses of the gospel dullards who binder the light, and the faith as a dark view of life. Now a truly evangelical sense will not shut itself in against any kind of knowledge. But (Heubner). The illumination, of which unbelief makes its boast, is darkness. The light of knowledge in Divine things is inseparably connected in reciprocal influence with the earnestness of sanctification; just as, vice versa, the corruption of the will and the blinding of the perception act reciprocally on each other.—Rieger: To be in darkness is to stick fast in ignorance, security, earthly-mindedness, indifference to the Lord Jesus, enmity against the light, repugnance to having one’s hidden things come to the light, and in this condition to be willing to remain (John 3:19 sqq.). But God is light, and begets us by the word of truth to be children of light, exciting in the hidden man a delight in the truth, which allows the evil there to be reproved by the light, and that which is wrought in God to be made manifest, thus withdrawing itself from the evil, and establishing itself on the good; and in this way is acquired a pure heart, and a single eye, to which the light is pleasant as its element, and so to a believer as a child of light, even the day, which makes all clear, becomes supportable and desirable (1 John 1:5; James 1:17; John 1:4; John 8:12; Romans 13:11 sqq.; 1 Corinthians 3:13; 1 Corinthians 4:5; in the Old Testament, Isaiah 9:1 sqq.; Isaiah 60:1 sqq.).—For Christians the day has already dawned inwardly, though it does not yet prevail without. As children of light, they are now already doing that which shall be their everlasting employment, in the day which will make all things manifest. But there is implied an earnest work of renewing, if a man is to rejoice, and not be alarmed, at such a manifestation (Matthew 10:26).—It is also too little thought of, how great is the dignity of our calling, that is expressed in the fact, that the highest splendor of earthly glory, even of that of the earthly intelligence, is described as dark night, when contrasted with the brightness that shall be revealed in us; ov’ è silenzio e tenebre la gloria che paasò (Manzoni).
3. (1 Thessalonians 5:6-8.) The exhortation: Ye are so and so by a Divine right, and know that ye are so; let us, then, also act accordingly! is peculiarly powerful. Just so Romans 6:11-12; Colossians 3:3; Colossians 3:5. First: Reckon yourselves to be what the operation of God has made of you; the righteousness of faith, which He imputes to you, do ye also impute to yourselves; then: Walk also accordingly. By this resting on the work of God’s grace the Sisyphus-toil of self-righteousness is abolished, and man is cheered, while at the same time his zeal also is stimulated. Here the exhortation is directed towards watchfulness and sobriety. From the tendency of the new nature, which has come into being through the Divine operation, proceeds watchfulness; and the task proposed is, that we cherish it by vigilance over ourselves, and so strive after a symmetrical and stable character. Intoxication, on the other hand, is an aggravation of the bias of the old nature, for which we ourselves are responsible. It arises from giving one’s self up to worldly glory, to the honors and possessions, the enjoyments and cares, the doctrines and tendencies of those who ask not after God. In 1 Corinthians 15:34 the denial of the resurrection is described as a debauch.23 It is a judgment, when God pours out to a people the cup of trembling.24 We should seek for holy, Divine reality, not ideal mist and foam of words. Whoever gives himself up to sleep and stupefaction, seeks for the night; that is, he screens and hides himself in the ruling power of the ungodly nature, attaching himself to companions of his own dark character. Where circumstances are suitable, and it is the hour of darkness, he gives his disposition the reins. An apostolic description of sobriety, on the other hand, we read in 1 Corinthians 7:29 sqq.
4. (1 Thessalonians 5:8.) Under the figure of armor, we have here a recommendation of faith, love, and hope, these three, as in 1 Corinthians 13:0; faith and love, as having a peculiar intimacy of mutual connection, as in 1 Thessalonians 1:3; 1 Thessalonians 3:6. Theophylact refers the love to Christ and our fellow-men; Theodoret only to our neighbors, and in such a relation this might be more in accordance with Paul’s usage (Galatians 5:6; Galatians 5:14; over against 1 John 4:10; 1 John 4:19 sqq.). Faith lays hold of the forgiveness of sins, and the strength of Him who is stronger than the world (1 John 4:4); love overcomes the evil with good (Romans 12:21), and precludes the rise of selfishness, bitterness, wrath, and hatred. The one cannot be without the other. Genuine faith is not a harsh dogmatism; it dwells only in a heart touched by the love of God, so that of necessity love grows out of it. A faith that does not justify itself in the way of love is not the genuine; it is a reliance on notions, instead of a personal trust in the God of grace; and through the inflation of knowledge it lays itself open to the enemy. A love, moreover, that loves not the life that is born of God (1 John 5:1-2), but spares the ungodly nature, is not genuine love. Only where faith and love are really and intimately one, is the Christian heart (the centre of all inward and outward life) secured within the shelter of this breastplate against all condemnation, against all thrusts of the accuser, against all devilish assaults. And that the blows shall not reach the head, that the Christian is able without fainting to carry it aloft in suffering and affliction, that he should have the power, in steadfast endurance and with clear thought, of looking the enemy boldly in the eye—this comes to pass only when he is helmeted with the hope of an eternal consummation of salvation and deliverance. Deliverance from perdition—such is the Christian’s salvation. Without the hope of it, faith and love also would be maimed. For a God that gave man no eternal hope were at the same time a God, that did not make Him the object of His eternal love, and would be no such God as man could personally trust in.
5. (1 Thessalonians 5:9-11.) Here again the work of God and man’s doing are intimately conjoined, the former with the latter (see Note 3). By God’s appointment Christ died for us, that we might live with Him. Through Jesus Christ we may and ought to make salvation our own. He has accomplished it, and on this foundation alone can there be any mention of our obtaining it. We do not, however, realize its benefits as a matter of course, ex opere operato Jesu Christi, but only when we allow what he has done for us to work in us. To this end is mutual exhortation directed.
6. (1 Thessalonians 5:11.) The Scriptural idea of edification is something different from the sickly, effeminate excitement of the feelings, that is spoken of here and there as edifying. The thing to be done is to build the temple of God, to establish it on the right foundation, to fashion and fit stone upon stone (1 Corinthians 3:16; 1Co 8:10;25 Ephesians 2:20 sqq.; 1 Peter 2:4 sqq.; Judges 20:0). Comp. Zahn, Etwas über den biblischen Begriff der Erbauung, Bremen, 1864. The question concerns the dwelling of God in humanity, and the mutual adjustment, therefore, of living stones for a habitation of the Spirit. This is, on the one side, a work of God, which becomes ever more inward; on the other side, it is man’s labor, with an ever-growing fulness of earnestness, and with spiritual means throughout; both directed to the end that it may some day be said: Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men! (Revelation 21:3). By word and by walk should we further one another herein. But it is certain that many an occasion, when without being obtrusive we might exhort, comfort, edify our neighbors, is lost by us through shyness and sluggishness, for want of faith and love.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
1 Thessalonians 5:1. Zwingli: The Lord hides from us His day, that we may continually watch, and never relax through ease and the immoderate desire of pleasure; Calvin: that we may stand ever on the watch; [Burkitt: upon our watch every hour.... No hour when we can promise ourselves that He will not come.—J. L.]—Roos: Men frequently indulge a prying spirit in regard to truth submitted to them, and would know more than is needful for them.—Heubner: An unreasonable curiosity about that, which God has concealed, always betrays a heart not yet occupied with the man’s concern.—Von Gerlach: Nowhere do the Apostles declare that the time is long.—Diedrich: There is here no use in fancies of all sorts, but much harm is easily done.
1 Thessalonians 5:2. Te know perfectly, What? That the time cannot be known.—Quesnel: All knowledge respecting the day of judgment consists in believing, that we cannot know it. With this we must learn to be satisfied; it is really sufficient.—Stockmeyer: That the Lord cometh, let us hold all the more firmly in those very times, when there is the least appearance of such a thing ever happening.—To the careless it might be agreeable to know the hour when the thief comes, that they might sleep quietly till then, and have themselves wakened at the time. For such as love the Lord there is no need of knowing it; for He comes, indeed, unawares to them also, but not as a thief, but as a Friend and Saviour.—[If the approach of this day of the Lord is fitly compared to that of a thief in the night, stealing upon us we know not when, “at even, or at midnight, or at the cock-crowing, or in the morning” (Mark 13:35), this seems to preclude the idea of a thousand years of millennial glory before its arrival.—J. L.]
1 Thessalonians 5:3. Calvin: We regard as fabulous what does not at once meet our eyes.—Their thought is: It will not fare so ill with me; I shall be sure to look out for myself; am sharp enough.—Heubner: The treacherous peace of the unbeliever is founded on an absolute denial of the Divine judgment, or on the hope of its great remoteness. In this peace is involved the shocking consideration, that God is looked upon as an Enemy to be dreaded, with whom one is never happy but when let alone by Him.—Chrysostom: Seest thou how the devil has succeeded in making us our own enemies?—Livingstone found negro tribes who cried: Give us sleep! when they meant peace; and the explanation of it is their dread of nocturnal assaults. But the Christian’s peace must be a wakeful one.—Berlenburger Bibel: There is no surer snare of Satan, than when he is able to suggest mere thoughts of security. Of these is also that: God will not take matters so strictly; He is truly merciful.—Roos: The world would not be helped at all by an exact definition of the seasons and times; it would not believe them, and would sleep on in its darkness.—Stähelin: if, then, thou dost feel no disquiet, and dost perceive no danger, thy misery is so much the greater.—Disquiet the way to true quiet. [Barnes: One of the most remarkable facts about the history of man is, that he takes no warning from his Maker.—J. L.]
Starke: Here in the world the ungodly escape many a deserved punishment, since God looks on, and they who should have punished the wrong often fail to do so; but in that great judgment-day there will be no longer any forbearance.—Heubner: Here man has still the power of withdrawing himself from God, to wit, from God calling, warning, arousing; but whoever thus withdraws himself from Him, will fall into His hands as a Judge and an Avenger.—To flee from God, or to flee to Christ; such is the distinction between a wicked, worldly fear and the salutary fear of God.—Already the precursory judgments are frequently characterized by a sudden precipitation; so the flood, Sodom, Belshazzar.—Rieger: How much better and more advisable is it, to yield one’s self to the salutary pangs of travail, in which a man is born again to a living hope!
[A spirit of indifference to this subject of the Lord’s coming, no proof of piety or Christian wisdom. The topic was full of interest for the children of God in the apostolic age; and the grounds of that interest cannot have been impaired by the lapse of eighteen centuries.—J. L.]
1 Thessalonians 5:4. It is a strong consolation, when one can truly be reminded of the standing of a believer, wherein by the grace of God he is set.—Calvin: Nulla densior caligo quam Dei ignorantia.—Stockmeyer: The Lord’s return breaks in on the horror of the darkness of sin, whether of a more refined or grosser form, like the clear, all-revealing day, when everything appears in the true light just as it is.—Christians, who can claim the Saviour as their own, are able to say: For us, He may come when He will; we are looking for Him all the time.—It is indeed a great thing to be in such a state of readiness, as is independent of all knowledge about the time and the hour.
1 Thessalonians 5:5-6. Stockmeyer: Happy the church, to which it can be said: Ye are all of you children of light and children of day! Am I so likewise? How do we come to be so? no otherwise than by a judgment, when we allow ourselves to be judged by the light of God.—Zwingli: We are ashamed to act badly before men, and are not ashamed to sin before God. Such is our wickedness and folly. Where faith exists in force, we shall be more ashamed before the all-seeing God, who is the Eternal light, than if a man saw us.—He who seeks the darkness involuntarily betrays his inward feeling, that he is not yet hidden (Psalms 139:11-12).—A special characteristic of the darkness is, that sins are no longer called by their own names.—Berlenburger Bibel: Wickedness must no longer be called wicked, but merely an infirmity.—Starke: The man who has not Christ, the Sun of righteousness, walketh in darkness.—But whoever inwardly walks in the light, for him the coming of the Lord serves to perfect his blessed condition with regard also to what is outward.—Stockmeyer: Blessed thought, that the perfect day is coining, when all darkness disappears, and we shall be altogether light.—[W. Jay: Three distinctions may be here made. Heathens are the children of night.… The Jews were all children of the dawn.… Christians are the children of the day.—Leighton: Base night-ways, such as cannot endure the light, do not become you.… O that comeliness which the saints should study, that decorum which they should keep in all their ways, εὐσχημόνως, one action like another, and all like Christ, living in the light... in the company of angels, of God, and Jesus Christ.—J. L.]
1 Thessalonians 5:6. [Watchfulness and sobriety; frequently thus joined together, and commonly also introduced in immediate reference to the coming of the Lord; comp. Matthew 24:42 sqq.; Luke 21:34-36; Romans 13:11-13; Philippians 4:5; Titus 2:11-13; 1 Peter 1:13.—Christian sobriety, not torpor or inactivity.—See John Howe’s sermon on this verse.—J. L.]
1 Thessalonians 5:7. Eph. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 : Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness.—Luke 21:34; 1Co 5:11; 1 Corinthians 6:10; Romans 13:13 : Drunkenness too belongs there; not merely the figurative, but also the literal.—Zwingli: Wine in excess stirs up many a commotion and passion in the body; it is oil in the fire. Similar to it is the deliberate fostering of the passions generally.—Heubner: Drowsiness is contagious.—It drags down like a leaden weight; so likewise in what is spiritual. Criminal outbreaks are not the worst; insensibility for the things of God, forgetfulness of God, proud self-sufficiency are more wicked.
1 Thessalonians 5:8. Roos: Art thou watching? Art thou sober? Is it day or night with thee? What is most required is, that we regard ourselves and all outward things with a spiritual eye, and avoid filling and loading body and soul with eating and drinking, impotent science, proud conceits, cares, &c.
The Christian’s position that of a soldier.—Rieger: With a warrior much depends on the inward courage and the confident self-possession; but, besides that, much also on the equipment assumed, and the use made of it.—Calvin: Against our powerful foe weapons are needed.—The same: Semivictus est qui timide ac dubitanter pugnat.—Chrysostom: Not even for one brief moment are we permitted to sleep; for at that very moment the enemy might come.—Stockmeyer: We are not at liberty to take our ease, to unclasp the breastplate, and lay aside the helmet; otherwise the enemy spies out the unguarded moment,—Zwingli: Munimentum pectoris adeoque vitæ fides est.—Roos: Art thou clothed with the armor of faith, if a trial or a doubt will disconcert thee? and with the armor of love, if an offence will exasperate thee?
Art thou impatient, when thou findest not thy satisfaction in the world? or hast thou put on the helmet of the hope of salvation?
[Faith and love:—An unloving faith, or a love that springs not from faith, no protection.—J. L.]
1 Thessalonians 5:9. Roos: God has not made us Christians, servants of His, partners of His kingdom, that we should still after all experience His wrath.—Stock-meyer: The day of the Lord is one of two things, a day of wrath or a day of salvation. [Burkitt: It is the greatest piece of folly imaginable, from the appointment of the end to infer the refusal or neglect of the means.—W. Jay: He has not appointed us to wrath. He might have done it. We deserved it, &c. But to obtain salvation. Four things with regard to this appointment: the earliness of it—the freeness of it—its efficiency—its appropriation.—J.L.]
1 Thessalonians 5:10. Chrysostom: The mention of Christ’s death shows us whence come our weapons, faith, love, hope.—[W. Jay: How well does the Apostle call the Redeemer “our life”! Three modes of expression: we are said to live by Him—to Him—with Him.—The same: Proof of Christ’s omnipresence and divinity;—the happiness of Christians.… Voltaire more than once says, in his letters to Madame du Deffand, “I hate life, and yet I am afraid to die.” A Christian fears neither of these. He is willing to abide; and he is ready to go. Life is his. Death is his. Whether we wake or sleep, we shall live together with Him.—J. L.]
1 Thessalonians 5:11. Heubner: It is a rare thing to hear aught about people reminding one another of the last day. The warning voices are regarded as importunate disturbers and enthusiasts.—Theophylact: Dost thou object: “I am no teacher”? Teachers alone are not sufficient for the admonition of all.—Stähelin: Blessed therefore are the congregations, which in Christian order devoutly observe this rule. Blessed also the teacher, who is able on this point to commend his hearers.—That contempt for the teacher’s office is not the right thing is shown presently, 1 Thessalonians 5:12.
1 Thessalonians 5:9-11. [The source, the method, and the nature of the gospel salvation.—J. L.]
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11. This section is one of the pericopes for the so rarely occurring 27th Sunday after Trinity.—Heubner: Christian deportment in view of the last day: 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6, its nature; 1 Thessalonians 5:7-8, grounds of obligation; 1 Thessalonians 5:9-11, blessed results.—Kolb: Most men are pleased with themselves. He whose eyes are opened knows that by reason of the fall we are by nature children of darkness, and only through regeneration are to become children of the light. Our high destination is, to go forth from the darkness, and press forward into light. God already looks on that as in existence, which is only in process of growth.
1 Thessalonians 5:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:1.—[ὑμῖν γράφεσθαι. Ellicott, Webster and Wilkinson: ye have no need to be written unto. Vaughan better: that anything be written to you. The impersonal form of the Greek is preserved by most of the Latin, and by several German, versions. Comp. 1 Thessalonians 4:9, Critical Note 1.—Sin.1 Thessalonians 1:0 : τοῦ γράφεσθαι ὑμῖν; but a correction omits τοῦ.—J. L.]
1 Thessalonians 5:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:2.—[Sin. and] most of the old authorities omit [and so Lachmann, Tischendof, Wordsworth, Ellicott. Alford brackets] the article ἡ, without change of the sense; comp. Winer, § 19, 1, 2; Philippians 1:6; Philippians 1:10; Philippians 2:16. (Hofmann correctly against Lünemann.)
1 Thessalonians 5:3; 1 Thessalonians 5:3.—The ὅταν γάρ of the Recepta has in its favor only a few of the older authorities; B. D. E. Sin.2 give ὅταν δέ but the preference is due to ὅταν, A. F. G., Vv., also Sin.1, as the simplest reading, which afterwards received various glosses, [ὅταν is the reading of Griesbach and the critical editors generally, except that Lachmann adds δέ in brackets.—J. L.]
1 Thessalonians 5:3; 1 Thessalonians 5:3.—[λέγωσιν. Comp. E. V., Matthew 6:2; Matthew 6:5-6; Matthew 6:16; Matthew 10:19; Matthew 10:23; &c.—ἐφίσταται; Sin.: ἐπίσταται.—J. L.]
1 Thessalonians 5:3; 1 Thessalonians 5:3.—[οὐ μὴ. Comp. 1 Thessalonians 4:15, Critical Note 8.—J. L.]
1 Thessalonians 5:4; 1 Thessalonians 5:4.—Lachmann has only A. B. and the Coptic for his reading, κλέπτας, which gives no good sense, and has a too one-sided (Alex.) support.
1 Thessalonians 5:5; 1 Thessalonians 5:5.—[Sin. and] almost all the uncials [and critical editors] give γάρ.
1 Thessalonians 5:5; 1 Thessalonians 5:5.—[πάντες γὰρ ὑμεῖς υἱοὶ φωτός ἐστε καὶ υἱοὶ ἡμέπας. The ὑηεῖς is emphatic. For sons, see E. V., 2 Thessalonians 2:3, and generally.—J. L.]
1 Thessalonians 5:6; 1 Thessalonians 5:6.—[ἄρα οὖν. Revision: “Paul’s favorite, though unclassical, ἄρα οὖν—(no one else uses it; and he, I think, 12 times)—serves for the vivid introduction of an immediate (ἄρα. See Hartung, p. 422, &c., and Passow, s. v.) inference (oὖν) from what he has been saying; very much as our Why then! is sometimes employed.”—J. L.]
1 Thessalonians 5:6; 1 Thessalonians 5:6.—καὶ [cancelled by Lachmann, and bracketed by Riggenbach] is wanting in A. B. Sin.1; most of the authorities have it. [Comp. 1 Thessalonians 4:13, Critical Note 4.]
1 Thessalonians 5:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:8.—[ἡμέρας ὄντες. Revision: “Ὄντες, without the article, is not used to specify a class; it rather assumes, as the ground of the exhortation, what had just been asserted, 1 Thessalonians 5:5.”—The same: “Throughout this context the distinction is maintained between ἡμέρα, day, that element of light, and of free, joyous activity, to which Christians now belong, and ἡ ἡμέρα, [ἡ] ἡμέρα Κυρίου, the perfect day, the day of the Lord, for which they are still waiting.”—J. L.]
1 Thessalonians 5:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:8.—[ἐνδυσάμενοι;—Christian sobriety being the result of this gracious endowment. Vaughan: “A single act, never to be undone.”—The words καὶ are wanting in Sin.1, but supplied by correction.—In 1 Thessalonians 5:9, for ἀλλὰ εἰς, the latest editors generally give ἀλλ’ εἰς, with Sin. B. D.3 E. &c.—J. L.]
1 Thessalonians 5:10; 1 Thessalonians 5:10.—Instead of ὑπέρ (for, in Javor of) B. and Sin. give περί (on account of, with reference to). [Sin.1 Thessalonians 2:0 : ὑπέρ.—J. L.]
1 Thessalonians 5:10; 1 Thessalonians 5:10.—[εἴτε γρηλορῶμεν, εἴτε καθεύδωμεν—at the Lord’s coming. The former verb occurs 23 times in the New Testament, and, excepting in this instance, the idea of watchfulness, vigilance, is always expressed in our English version. Here, where the word is used of the believers who shall be living when the Lord returns, it is assumed that they will also be watching for that event.—J. L.]
[The order of the Greek being=The day of the Lord as a thief in the night so cometh.—J. L.]
[Ellicott: “Εἰρήνη betokens an inward repose and security; ἀσφάλεια, a sureness and safety that is not interfered with or compromised by outward obstacles.”—J. L.]
[Luke’s word, indeed, is ζωογονήσει; but in neither of the above texts is there, I conceive, any reference, strictly speaking, to the new birth, but rather to the experience of the regenerate—to the blessed result of Christian sorrow and self-sacrifice.—J. L.]
[Alford: “The purpose in the Divine arrangement: for with God all results are purposed.” Ellicott: “The purpose contemplated by God in His merciful dispensation implied in οὐκ ἐστε ἐν σκότει.... It may be doubted, however, whether we have not here some trace of a secondary force of ἵνα (see on Ephesians 1:17), the eventual conclusion being in some degree mixed up with and observing the idea of finality; comp. notes on Galatians 5:17.”—J. L.]
[ὑμᾶς ἡ ἡμέρα. So A. D. E. F. G. Vulg., &c. Lachmann, Ellicott.—J. L.]
[So Jowett, Alford, Ellicott, with others named in Revision; which see.—J. L.]
(German: sprechet einander zu; whereas at 1 Thessalonians 4:18 the phrase is, tröstel einander. See Revision.—J. L.]
[Revision: “No edition has εἰς τὸν ἔνα, the construction adopted by Faber (ad unum usque, to a man), Whitby (into one body), Rückert (who understands by τὸν ἔνα, Christ).”—J. L.]
[Greek: ἐκνήψατε—“Awake” as from a fit of drunkenness.—J. L.]
[Taumelbecher—Luther’s word at Zechariah 12:2.—J. L.]
[The word which our English Version here renders emboldened is οἰκοδομηθήσεται.—J. L.]
Closing Exhortations: to honor the presidents, to live in peace, to keep themselves free from all bitterness against persecutors, to unite vivacity with sobriety of spirit; ending with the prayer, that God may keep them.
1 Thessalonians 5:12-24
12And [Now, or: But]26 we beseech yon, brethren, to know them which labor [those who toil, τοὺς κοπιῶντας] among you, and are over [preside over]27 you in the Lord, and admonish you; 13and to esteem them very highly [very exceedingly]28 14in love for their work’s sake. And be [Be] at peace among yourselves.29 Now [or: But]30 we exhort you, brethren, warn [admonish]31 them that are unruly [the disorderly],32 comfort [encourage]33 the feeble-minded [faint-hearted],34 support the weak, be patient [be long-suffering]35 toward all men [all]. 15See that none render evil for evil unto any man [any one, τινί]; but ever follow [always pursue, πάντοτε … διώκετε] that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all 16men [both toward one another, and toward all]36 Rejoice evermore [always, 17, 18πάντοτε]. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks: for this Isaiah 19:0[is]37 the will of God [God’s will]38 in Christ Jesus concerning you. Quench 20, 21not the Spirit. Despise not prophesyings. Prove [But prove]39 all things; hold fast that which is good. 22Abstain from all appearance [every form]40 of evil. 23And the very God of peace [But may the God of peace Himself]41 sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit, and soul, and body, be preserved blameless unto [and entire may your spirit and soul and body be kept 24without blame at]42 the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He that calleth you; who also will do it.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
1. (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13.) Now [or, But. See Critical Note 1.—J. L.] we beseech you, &c.—The closing section contains exhortations, which are improperly described [De Wette, Lünemann] as miscellaneous. It is no fortuitous selection, but we recognize an order and purpose. It is natural that in the Apostle’s closing exhortations there should always be much that is generally available; but in every case the selection proves to be singularly appropriate to the particular exigency, short and striking, every sentence weighty (comp. Romans 12:0 and other places). In our passage Paul passes (δέ, see Lünemann) from what all ought to do (1 Thessalonians 5:11) to that which peculiarly concerns the presidents, on whom especially devolves the office of exhortation and edification; Chrysostom: that they might not suppose, that he would raise all to the dignity of teachers; Hofmann: but in your activity forget not what you owe to the office; ἐρωτῶμεν, as 1 Thessalonians 4:1; he begs, where the question is about the presidents, whereas he exhorts, 1 Thessalonians 5:14, when urging upon them their own active duties; he has nothing of the hierarchical temper. Perhaps their neglect of the presidents was connected with the excitement of enthusiasm (1 Thessalonians 4:11); he was not willing to have this spread; sobriety (1 Thessalonians 5:6 sqq.) was to be shown in this direction also. The presidents are not designated by their official titles (πρεσβύτεροι or ἐπίσκοποι), but by a brief indication of their functions; who labor, take pains; κοπιᾷν denotes severe labor, whereby one is wearied; for that very reason they deserve recognition. Here it is not added as in 1 Timothy 5:17, in word and doctrine; and without this addition the expression has a wider reach, embracing the performance of all service. Ἐν ὑμῖν can mean on you (Hofmann, Winer, § 48. a. 3) or among you, in your circle; not, in your hearts (Pelt), for that is not man’s business. The κοπιᾷν is defined by what follows; for προΐστασθαι and νουθετεῖν cannot refer to other persons, officers, classes, since participle is joined to participle by a simple καί; under the one article are included statements respecting the same persons; they who labor and preside and admonish are one and the same; the same work is conceived of on different sides: in regard to the exertion of the individuals themselves it is a κοπιᾷν; in its relation to the church, a προΐστασθαι; in application to the erring, a νουθετεῖν. They preside over you in the Lord, since they themselves live in Him; therefore also their work is in Him, in His strength, and a presiding, guiding, overseeing in His behalf; they are no civil magistracy. [Webster and Wilkinson: “ἐν K., added as the highest sanction, and at the same time limitation of their authority.”—J. L.] Unsuitable and not correspondent to the word is the explanation of Chrysostom, Theodoret, and others: who intercede for you with God in prayer; that were rather ἐντυγχάνειν ὑπέρ τινος. Finally, νουθετεῖν is properly to correct one’s ideas, and so to admonish, remind, warn; to this submit yourselves. Nor is that even in later times the business of another office (against Olshausen), but merely a special side of the presidency: the exercise of discipline for the prevention of errors. [Webster and Wilkinson: “By the use of participles instead of nouns of office, ministers as exercising rather than as having certain functions, are represented as the objects of regard.”—J. L.] These men—such is his request—ye ought εἰδέναι, pregnant: respicere, to recognize and acknowledge them as being what they are; like ἐπιγινώσκειν, 1 Corinthians 16:18, and Proverbs 27:23, Septuagint for יָדַע indeed, יָדַע is translated also by εἰδέναι, when the meaning is to interest one’s self in a matter (Genesis 39:6);—no doubt, a different ease from one in which there is a personal object. But it is unquestionably harsher, when Ewald, declining the pregnant signification of εἰδ., supposes that what is to be known about them is first resumed in ἡγεῖσθαι &c. Hofmann understands it thus: You should know how it is with them, what you have in them; Stockmeyer: what position they hold. But Pelt alone introduces the idea of showing gratitude to them by a stipend.43—And to esteem them very exceedingly, &c.; still dependent on ἐρωτῶμεν. According to the two interpretations that are here possible, ἡγεῖσθαι, &c. is somewhat harsh and without any quite analogous example; either (Theodoret, Grotius [and many others]): to esteem them exceeding highly, and that (modal definition of this esteem) in love, therefore not in fear, or such like sentiments; but elsewhere ἡγεῖσθαι (with an accusative) means to take one to be something, not, by itself, to esteem highly; this would require the addition of περὶ πολλοῦ, π. πλείστου, and for that ὑπερεκπερισσοῦ can hardly answer. Besides, it is then quite too tautological with εἰδέναι. Rather, therefore, with Chrysostom: ἡγεῖσθαι αὐτοὺς ἐν , ἡγ. αὐτ. ἀξίους τοῦ (Theophylact: thou lovest him who secures for thee an entrance into the kingdom of heaven), or Pelt: in carissimorum eos loco habete; and just so Lünemann, Hofmann: hold them in love, like ἔχειν τινὰ ἐν ὀργῇ (Thucyd. ii. 18). Thus, along with respect (1 Thessalonians 5:12) he recommends (1 Thessalonians 5:13) the highest love,44 although, nay, rather because, they admonish you.—For their work’s sake; the indolent, therefore, have no claim, but they who faithfully perform the serious work for souls. [Ellicott: “on account both of the importance of the work (Hebrews 13:17), and the earnest and laborious manner in which it was performed; comp. Philippians 1:22; Philippians 2:30.”—J. L.]—Be at peace among yourselves, ἐν ἑαυτοῖς equivalent to ἐν , John 7:35; for the matter, Mark 9:50 is to be compared. The variation ἐν αὐτοῖς (which arose probably from the brevity of the sentence, that seemed unable to stand independently) is followed by Chrysostom, Theodoret (contradict not what they say), Theophylact, Luther (be at peace with them), Zwingli, Calvin and others. Zwingli: Be well content with them; but he proposes also the explanation: In them (through them) ye have peace. But the connection leads us to expect an imperative; had the word been meant to be indicative, it would have been said: ἐν αὐτοῖς γᾶρ εἰρ. But the reference to the teachers is not good; 1. ἐν would not suit well; μετά (as in Romans 12:18) would in that case be the right word; 2. an exhortation to peace with the presidents would almost necessarily imply a previous quarrel with them, which is at least improbable; 3. lastly, towards presidents the question would not be merely to keep the peace, but to be obedient to them in the Lord. Better, therefore, according to the reading, ἐν ἑαυτοῖς; among yourselves. This exhortation is connected indirectly (De Wette) with the preceding. Peace in the church (like brotherly love, 1 Thessalonians 4:9 sqq.) was most threatened, when any showed themselves meddlesome, neglected ἡσυχάζειν, πράσσειν τὰ ἴδια, &c, and for that reason did not, it is probable, sufficiently esteem the presidents. On the other hand, deference to the presidents and compliance with their exhortations promoted the peace of all. Since the foes of peace are within in every heart, such an exhortation was salutary, even though there were no serious disagreements on foot. Undoubtedly that by which peace was most threatened was the ἀτακτεῖν, to which he forthwith proceeds.
2. (1 Thessalonians 5:14.) Now [or, But—see Critical Note 5,—J. L.] we exhort you, &c.—Esteem for their presidents and peace among themselves should and will lead to proficiency in their tasks: 1. in reference to the faults which still cleave to the brethren (1 Thessalonians 5:14); 2. in relation to their enemies (1 Thessalonians 5:15); in both relations he directs them, 3. to the right disposition toward God (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18), and therefore also toward the gifts of His Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19 sqq.).—At 1 Thessalonians 5:14, as at 1 Thessalonians 5:11, he exhorts all the brethren; for it is a mistake to regard the exhortation, with Chrysostom, Theophylact [Conybeare], and others, as addressed to the presidents. Truly spiritually minded Christians will, indeed, yield themselves to the guidance of the presidents (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13), but will themselves also (1 Thessalonians 5:14) assist them in the same spirit The Apostle is far from entertaining extravagant ideas of office. He immediately reverts to what all have to do; the difference from 1 Thessalonians 5:11 consists in this, that Paul now treats particularly of the manner of dealing with the erring, or the in some way weaker members.—Admonish the disorderly; not altogether, in general, those who live in the violation of the commandments of God (Chrysostom: all sinners are ἄτακτοι; Theophylact: he who in any way infringes order, the drunken, the slanderers, the covetous), but here probably in the narrower sense that appears in 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12; also 2 Thessalonians 3:6; 2 Thessalonians 3:11, ἀτάκτως περιπατεῖν, 1 Thessalonians 5:7, ἀτακτεῖν; ἄτακτος (Livy), is the soldier who keeps not his rank and file; then, by transference, whoever forsakes his τάξις, place, rank, station; whoever quits the straight track, driving round irregularly and aimlessly. There were such in this flourishing church.—Encourage (1 Thessalonians 2:11) the faint hearted; ὀλιγοψ., Septuagint for various Hebrew words, Isaiah 54:6; Isaiah 57:15; μικροψυχεῖν also occurs. We think first (so already Theodoret) of those who grieved for the dead (1 Thessalonians 4:13 sqq.); Hofmann will not allow this, because theirs was a case, not of faint-heartedness, but of error; still the error resulted in faint-heartedness, and they therefore needed to be cheered with comforting truth (1 Thessalonians 4:18). No doubt, however, there might be yet other desponding persons, to whom, when under persecution, Christianity seemed too grievous a thing (as in like manner Theodoret; Theophylact: who could not endure trial); or tempted persons, whose thought was: For me there can be no forgiveness.—Support the weak;ἀντέχεσθαι, to hold fast to something, adhærere; Titus 1:9, to cleave to the word; Matthew 6:24, to one’s master; and so here: to the weak, as a precious treasure; but also in Proverbs 4:6 Septuagint for שמר: Wisdom will keep thee, will adhere to thee as a protector. Hofmann: Take pains with them, instead of despising them; a contrast like that in Matthew 6:0 The temptation would be to become weary of the feeble, as people that are continually making new trouble for us, without ever reaching a definite result. But this would be a dangerous self-pleasing (Romans 15:1 sqq.). The word ἀσθενεῖς might mean the sick (1 Corinthians 11:30), but also those without spiritual strength, the weak in faith and conscience, who do not get forward (1 Corinthians 8:10; 1 Corinthians 9:22; Romans 14:1); and to this we are led here by the context; the disorderly and the faint-hearted are single instances, but to be weak shows itself in still another form. It is very conceivable that in so young a church there were yet people who, like young children, easily stumbled, and in whom the old things continued still to work. They might become weakest, when they thought themselves strong (1 Corinthians 8:10). The opposite quality is denoted by ἀνδρίζεσθε, κραταιοῦσθε (1 Corinthians 16:13), or again by the ὑγιαίνειν of the Pastoral Epistles.—The most general precept comes last: Be long-suffering toward all; as love acts (1 Corinthians 13:4; comp. הֶאֶרִיךְ אַפּוֹ, Proverbs 19:11; Sept.). Patience allows time for the growth of the godly man. A necessary exhortation for such as are yet young Christians, who are apt to be young also in their zeal. Toward all—Theodoret, Olshausen, Lünemann [Alford, Ellicott] would understand this, as in 1 Thessalonians 5:15, of all men; Hofmann [Jowett] would take the clause in immediate connection with 1 Thessalonians 5:15. But ὁρᾶτε, &c. indicates a new start, whereby he passes to the true Christian treatment of all men; whereas in 1 Thessalonians 5:14 it is still the behavior of Christians to one another that is spoken of; and so Theophylact even refers the expression (only somewhat too strictly) to the three classes before mentioned. Therefore: Be long-suffering toward all, the disorderly, the faint-hearted, the weak, and whoever else in the church requires your patience (De Wette). Who does not? [Webster and Wilkinson: certain classes required particular treatment, all required patience.—J. L.]
3. (1 Thessalonians 5:15.) See, be careful, be on your guard (Matthew 8:4); βλέπετε also occurs in this sense; see to it, heedfully, for it is not an easy matter (Calvin); that none render evil for evil unto any one (1 Peter 3:9; Romans 12:17; Matthew 5:0). Not merely, therefore, that ye do not violate μακροθυμία, in an excessive, spiritual zeal, but also that no one, as quite commonly happens, give way to the revengeful disposition of the old man; toward any brother or non-Christian, possibly a persecutor. Chrysostom, Theophylact: If we are not to return evil, then so much the less should we begin by giving evil for good.—Alas, that there is ever fresh need of such exhortations! But Paul does not say: μή τις ὑμῶν, and from this De Wette infers that it is taken for granted, that a spirit of revenge is so unworthy of true Christians, that to them it is merely said: Guard against its breaking out elsewhere even in others. This Lünemann rejects, 1. because Paul could not have supposed, that with those who had been heathens vindictiveness was something so entirely laid aside, since it was rather a new, specifically Christian commandment, to avoid it; 2. because, therefore, all needed for themselves the exhortation to vigilance and self-conquest, whereas 3. it is but seldom that one is able to restrain others. Nevertheless it may still be asked: Why does Paul not employ the second person plural? De Wette is somewhat too one-sided; μή τις admits of both applications, to every one for himself, and to the warning of others; Hofmann compares Hebrews 3:12; Hebrews 4:1; Hebrews 12:15; and even among Christians no one is perfectly secure against fits of revengefulness. Accordingly: Let every one look to both himself and others; the discreet is to restrain the passionate. Most judiciously Bengel: He who is incensed by wrongs is prejudiced; therefore should others see to it, and seek to moderate him.45—But always pursue that which is good—not merely what is salutary, useful (Olshausen), what is good for one (Hofmann), alienis commodis (Grotius), nor yet beneficence (Pelt), but what is right before God (the opposite: κακόν), morally good (Romans 12:9; Romans 12:21). Of course, this is also beneficial to one’s neighbor the special application of what is morally good to our neighbor consisting in those offices of love, which are to be rendered to him (Starke). The good is just everything that furthers the triumph of truth and love. Aim at doing this even to him who injures you. Paul does not always move in such generalities and abstractions (to do good for the sake of good, and such like); but to rich, concrete, particular exhortations he subjoins these comprehensive and simplest fundamental principles (comp. 2 Corinthians 13:7, and often). To attain to this (amidst manifestations of enmity) requires a διώκειν. We must pursue that which is good, it does not naturally be long to us; the evil, on the contrary, comes of itself (comp. 1 Corinthians 14:1, follow after charity; Hebrews 12:14, peace and holiness).—Toward one another, that means the brotherly love of Christians (1 Thessalonians 4:9-10); and toward all, even non-Christians (1 Thessalonians 4:12); here the opposition is expressed. What is good; that is still more than what is becoming (1 Thessalonians 4:12).
4. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.) Rejoice always [2 Corinthians 6:10; Philippians 3:1; Philippians 4:4.—J. L.].—Whether you attain the end with your neighbor or not, do you pursue after it, so much as lieth in you (Romans 12:18), and, for your own part, rejoice evermore; Theodoret: even in poverty, sickness, contumely, torture, prison; as those for whom all things work together for good (Romans 8:28). Here he speaks of the right disposition, no longer toward men, but before God. All that goes before is to be attained only when this peace rules within. Should there be a failure of joy because of the difficulty of overcoming evil with good, then raise yourselves above all that depresses you by prayer.—Pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 1:3; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; Romans 1:9). Already Chrysostom and Theophylact recognize the connection: τὴν ὁδὸν ἔδειξε. Without ceasing; this does not mean, with a continual, indolent folding of the hands; as Paul prayed night and day (1 Thessalonians 3:10), so likewise he labored night and day (1 Thessalonians 2:9); and yet he had also intervals of sleep! The next thing is therefore obvious: Never omit the practice of prayer; be as regularly diligent therein as in labor. This then infers a constant spirit of prayer, breathing through the whole life. But in order to the stirring up (2 Timothy 1:6) of this, and so to the quickening of joy, he exhorts further: in everything give thanks; Bengel: even in what seems adverse. Give thanks for the great grace already received (comp. Colossians 4:2; Philippians 4:6). In the last place we find in like manner ἐν παντί. This is not the same thing as πάντοτε (which stands with it at 2 Corinthians 9:8), for καιρῷ should not have been wanting; but it means, in every point, every matter or situation, equivalent to κατὰ πάντα, περὶ παντός, ὑπὲρ πάντων (Ephesians 5:20).—For this Isaiah 46:0 God’s will, &c. (1 Thessalonians 4:3); not the will, since that of course includes more than this one point. The subject is τοῦτο, this, the giving thanks in everything; Grotius [Schott]: prayer and thanksgiving; but in that case we should have to go still a step further, and, with Von Gerlach [Corn. A. Lapide, Jowett, Alford, Möller] bring in also the rejoicing; not quite everything from 1 Thessalonians 5:14, for that is not so homogeneous that it could well be embraced in τοῦτο as one topic. In consideration also of the fact that ἑν παντὶ εὐχαριστεῖτε is added by asyndeton, it may well seem more advisable to refer the τοῦτο, with Bengel, only to the giving of thanks, which indeed is the means of quickening prayer and joy. Hofmann: The interruption of the exhortations takes place, where one of them is specially confirmed. On the predicate Bengel remarks: Voluntas semper bona, semper spectans salutem vestram in Christo. But not as Calvin gives the turn: Of such a nature is God’s gracious will in Christ, that we have therein abundant cause for thanksgiving; but: God’s will is this, that we give thanks, and this will of God is established in Christ, mediated through Him; Christ strengthens us to give thanks, because in Him all things are ours (1 Corinthians 3:21 sqq.), all things work together for good (Romans 8:28), all. things help forward the subdual of the flesh and the relief of the spirit. Finally εἰςὑμᾶς, toward you, in reference to you.
5. (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22.) Quench not the Spirit.—From prayer and thanksgiving he passes to the source from which they flow; a right frame of heart toward God should show itself in the right use of His choicest gifts; in a proper bearing toward the manifestations of the Spirit in the life of the Church;—a supplement to 1 Thessalonians 5:14, where the defects of the church and their proper treatment had been touched upon. The Spirit is He who is received from God (1 Thessalonians 4:8; 1 Corinthians 2:0; Galatians 3:0), and who, working in original fulness and freshness, distributes manifold-gifts (1 Corinthians 12:0); the connection with 1 Thessalonians 5:20 points in this direction. Calvin: Spiritus genus, prophetia species. Quench—literally, extinguish—Him not; the sacred fire; comp. Romans 12:11, τῷ πνεύματι ζέοντες, and 2 Timothy 1:6, ἀναζωπυρεῖν; Theophylact: In the night of this life God gave us the Spirit for a light. But Wetstein shows by many examples that σβέννυμι is used also of the stilling of a wind. The fire is nourished by prayer, thanksgiving, exercise; is quenched by neglect or suppression., by want of wood or by pouring on water; Von Gerlach: by contempt, suspicion, a fleshly mind, contradiction or inattention; Calvin: by unthankfulness. But a still more precise question is this: Does it mean: Stifle not the Spirit in yourselves by impurity of doctrine and life? or suppress not the Spirit’s utterances, when they meet you in the church? The connection with 1 Thessalonians 5:20 leads to the second explanation; it being always understood, that to decline the Spirit’s influences in our own hearts renders us also averse to what we meet with in others of His extraordinary movements. This disaffection might work not only against prophesying, 1 Thessalonians 5:20, but generally against the most various manifestations of the Spirit. But when De Wette conjectures that there were, in particular, timid, pusillanimous presidents, who, because they saw with regret the spiritual excitement, restrained those inspired from coming forward, there is no satisfactory evidence of this. The exhortation is quite general in its tone (1 Thessalonians 5:27 will bring us to a similar question). Altogether unsuitable is Olshausen’s inference from our passage, that Paul can therefore have had no misgiving about the Thessalonians being in danger of becoming a prey to enthusiasm, according to the subsequent indications of the Second Epistle. No; Paul knew how matters stood; he admonished the disorderly; he exhorted to careful examination; but surely he could not write: Quench the Spirit! On the contrary, Hofmann will not allow, that there existed in Thessalonica a partial disinclination to spiritual utterances; Paul, he thinks, would merely regulate their bias towards what was extraordinary, the main emphasis being on the after-clause, prove all things. This may be too exclusive on the other side. How easily, in presence of enthusiasm and even false prophesying, might a distrust of everything out of the common course take possession of other minds! Paul corrects both the one tendency and the other. So already Theodoret: Some wished, on account of the false prophets, to stop also the true.—One particular instance of spiritual manifestations is mentioned in 1 Thessalonians 5:20 : Despise not prophesyings (where they occur). The word stands without the article, in the plural, denoting the Individual cases. Prophesying does not respect the future merely (though this also is not excluded, Acts 21:10 sqq.), but is an utterance of Divine mysteries; mysteriorum retectio et præsentium et futurorum, Pelt; a speaking to the church under a special influence of the Spirit, but with clear conscious ness, and thus distinguished from the speaking with tongues; on the other side, it is not one and the same thing with teaching, the reflective development of thought; but a speaking from Divine inspiration, affecting hearts with a thrilling power, strengthening them with the fulness of consolation, unfolding the mysteries of judgment and of grace in the administration of the kingdom and in the sway of individual hearts. At all times one prophet has connected with the word of another; still mere exposition is not prophesying; to the latter belongs somewhat of originality; but this shows itself as well in the elucidation of the past (prophetic history), as in the spiritual flashes that disclose what is coming (comp. 1 Corinthians 12:10; 1 Corinthians 12:28; 1 Corinthians 14:0, especially 1 Thessalonians 5:24-25; Ephesians 4:11; Romans 12:6; Acts 11:27; Acts 13:1; Acts 15:32; Acts 19:6). This gift despise not, old Greek ἐξουδενεῖν; όω likewise occurs (Mark 9:12, various reading); the Swiss vernüte answers exactly in etymology and import. Other gifts might be more brilliant, although this also, 1Co 14:1; 1 Corinthians 14:39, is especially commended. The disaffection probably proceeded rather in undue resistance from the intellect and love of order; not, as in Corinth, from an overvaluing of the γλῶσσαι. Not to despise, however, does not mean to receive without judgment and blindly. Hence: Prove all things. The variations, πάντα, πάντα δὲ, δοκιμάζοντες, instead of ζετε, and lastly καὶ τὸ καλόν, seem to lead back to the asyndeton, πάντα δοκιμάζετε, as the simplest reading. But should the preponderance of authorities be deemed decisive in favor of the addition of δέ, the sentence would stand in opposition to what goes before, and the two following sentences would be arranged by the trial enjoined into 1. Hold fast that which is good, and 2. Abstain from the evil. Prove, the command is to all Christians, not to a privileged class.47 The object of the trial is to be all things; primarily, according to the context, what the prophets say. The word has come to be a peculiarly trite commonplace, in which the second half of the verse is frequently forgotten: Hold fast that which is good, fair, noble; what furthers you in the Divine life—what amongst the πάντα (primarily in the prophesyings) you find excellent—that hold fast, in opposition to the ἐξουθενωῖν. A point of peculiar importance, however, is, not merely what, according to the Apostle, is to be proved, but especially how. The object is everything that claims to be spiritual, as in 1 Corinthians 14:29 also it is precisely to what the prophets say that the direction applies: διακρινέτωσαν. There is, therefore, no fanatical demand for a blind submission, not even to the apostolic word (1 Corinthians 7:0; 1 Corinthians 10:15). Of so much the greater consequence is it to be certain that we really possess the true Divine criterion. What that is, Paul does not say; but plainly it is none other than what they bad received from him and through the Spirit had made their own, the apostolic word of truth, originating with the Spirit, and sealed by the Spirit (1Th 2:13; 1 Thessalonians 4:1-2; 2 Thessalonians 2:5; 2 Thessalonians 3:4-5); answering to the anointing of 1 John 2:27. The trial of the spirits is a special charism (1 Corinthians 12:10; comp. Hebrews 5:14). See more under the Doctrinal and Ethical head, No. 4.—To πάντα δοκιμάζετε Cyril of Alexandria prefixes the words, γίνεσθε φρόνιμοι τραπεζῖται (money-changers, argentarii, nummularii). In the other Fathers this sentence is, γ. δόκιμοι τραπ. and from this arises a telling contrast: Be proved yourselves, that you may be able to prove (comp. Hänsel, in the Stud., a. Krit, 1836, I.). This expression is ascribed generally to Holy Writ by Clement of Alexandria and the Constit. Apost.; to Jesus in particular, by Jerome, Epiphanius; to the Apostles, by Dionysius of Alexandria; to Paul (in connection with 1 Thessalonians 5:0), by Origen, Basil, and especially by Cyril. Does it come from some apocryphal book? rather, it is a ῥῆμα ἄγραφον. Such is Hänsel’s view, who thinks that it may at any rate have been in the Apostle’s mind, and that δοκιμάζετε is to be explained by the technical language of exchangers, as also εἶδος in 1 Thessalonians 5:22 : Abstain from every sort of bad money. But unless money-changers and coins had been expressly spoken of, it could occur to no one to think of that; especially not, that εἶδος without νομίσματος, and that too in the second member, instead of the first, could signify a kind of money. We therefore hold to the more general signification.—But what is the meaning of 1 Thessalonians 5:22; The Vulgate: ab omni specie mala, is still itself ambiguous. Luther: Avoid every evil appearance; so also Calvin, Grotius [Wordsworth, Webster and Wilkinson]; the English Version, from all appearance of evil; the Dutch, van allen schijn des kuaads; Martin and Ostervald, de toute apparence de mal. This were an altogether beautiful sense: What is finally to be regarded is the εὐσχημόνως περιπατεῖν (comp. 1 Thessalonians 4:12); it is perhaps impossible for the Christian always to avoid every evil appearance, but to the best of his ability he is to do so. Lünemann objects that this would imply on the other side: Hold fast merely the appearance of what is good; but that does not follow, inasmuch as the opposition might include the climax: Even from that which should have only an appearance of evil we are willingly to abstain, in order to give no offence. Rieger: That we may not forfeit the confidence of others; but first we are to accept what is proved to be good. Still this interpretation must be rejected, as violating the expression; that is to say, εἶδος means form, aspect, then kind, species,48 (Jeremiah 15:3, Sept.), as a subdivision of the genus; but not appearance. Then, to avoid an evil appearance would not suit the matter here spoken of, namely the trial of prophesyings. It would be an independent sentence, introducing something altogether new, whereas evidently πονηρός stands opposed to καλός, and ἀπέχεσθε to κατέχετε, as the two sides, the negative and the positive, of δοκιμάζειν. For Lünemann’s idea is plainly too refined, that, because we have not simply ἀπὸ τοῦ πονηροῦ 1 Thessalonians 5:22 cannot form the antithesis to 1 Thessalonians 5:21, but must contain a more general thought. Why should not Paul be able slightly to modify and intensify the expression? We shall see with what good reason. Hilgenfeld is unwilling to understand εἶδος in the sense of kind; that would be too flat; it should rather signify spectacle, figure, and be referred to the shameful and seductive exhibitions of heathenism. Already in like manner Roos thinks that what is meant is an image that seizes the mind, fantasticalness. But in this way also the connection would be given up, and the idea limited to some single matter, of which one does not of one’s own accord readily think; whereas the context lends to the seemingly general idea a more specific import. Still it may be asked whether πονηροῦ, because without the article, belongs as an adjective to εἴδους (Bengel, Schott, Pelt), or as a substantive depending on εἴδους. The former construction would be advisable only in case the expression already implied, of what things the εἶδος, is intended, and those things such as that their good εἶδη are distinguishable from the bad. It is better, therefore, to take it, with De Wette, Lünemann [Jowett, Alford, Ellicott] and others, as a substantive (comp. Hebrews 5:14, πρὸς διάκρισιν καλοῦ τε καὶ κακοῦ, also without article; comp. Joseph. Ant. x. 3. 1, πᾶν εἶδος πονηρίας; Hofmann refers also to Plato, Rep. p. 357 c., ὁρᾷς τε εἶδος [to which may be added Chrysost. Hom. viii. on this Epistle, οὐδέν ἐστιν εἶδος κακίας ὅπερ —J. L.]. So the antithesis is: Hold fast that which is good (the good is one); from every kind of evil abstain (the evil has various εἴδη, and hence the climax); even from the seemingly spiritual kind of evil; Theodoret: as well in doctrine as in conduct. Even that which comes forward as prophesying, or generally as a spiritual gift, is to be proved; even that kind of evil, which asserts itself under sacred pretexts, you are to avoid. There is evil of a human, natural, fleshly sort, but also of a demoniacal (comp. 2 Corinthians 11:14).
6. (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24.) But may the God of peace Himself, &c.—A contrast both as to the subject and the predicate, as 1 Thessalonians 3:11; 1 Thessalonians 4:16; not you alone have to do this, nor could you so accomplish it, but God must effect it; and that not merely here a κατέχειν, and there an ἀπέχεσθαι—not isolated acts merely—but the main comprehensive work of life, your sanctification and preservation to the end. He is called the God of peace, its Lord, Author, Source, Romans 15:33; Romans 16:20; similar combinations in Romans 15:5; Romans 15:13. Everything advanced in 1 Thessalonians 5:14-22 is here taken together, and brought into view as all aiming at true peace. And truly the work of God, whereby he guides us to peace, is our sanctification, and, through that, our preservation to the Advent. Our sanctification is, indeed, His will (1 Thessalonians 4:3; 1 Thessalonians 4:7); our entire surrender to His will and service;—a thing which He alone can achieve, to wit, by His Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 4:8). Already has it begun; in their principles Christians are ἅγιοι; but it is only by slow degrees that perfect sanctification pervades all their powers. And this consummation marks the advance in our passage as compared with 1 Thessalonians 3:13. In what follows Bengel distinguishes between universi (all without exception) et singuli (every one entirely); but that does not lie particularly in the first clause. Ὁλοτελεῖς, in the New Testament ἅπαξλεγ. means either: you as complete, entire, so that no sort of evil is in you; Luther: through and through; or (Pelt and others): May He sanctify you to be a perfect people—accusative of operation; with this verb without example. This word, no less than ὁλόκληρον, may suggest the faultlessness of sacrifice. The latter is equivalent to integer; at James 1:4 it stands with τέλειος; in the Septuagint for &תָּמִים שָׁלֵם; and unhurt, in all parts uninjured, may your spirit, &c. be kept, &c. De Wette, Olshausen, and Lünemann would understand it quantitatively, to distinguish it from ἀμέμπτως: every part by itself entirely, all spotless. But ὁλόκλ. denotes the quality,49 the full healthy life, comp. ὁλοκλμρία in the healing of the lame man (Acts 3:16), and is yet sufficiently distinct from ἀμέμπτως, 1. as a positive expression opposed to the negative; 2. as marking the nature of the subject itself, over against what expresses the verdict of the Judge; and lastly, 3. since ὁλοκλ ρία is a predicate, whereas the adverb ἀμέμπτως is to be understood as qualifying the verb. On the latter point most interpreters do not clearly express themselves, or they take the adverb as if it were an adjective, comparing perhaps 1 Thessalonians 2:10, ἀμέμπτως ἐγεήθημεν, and the breviloquence 1 Thessalonians 3:13 (where, however, we find ἀμέμπτους), as if it were τηρηθείη εἰς τὸ —. But that is too artificial. Lünemann understands the adverb as more closely defining ὁλόκληρον τηρηθεῖη;50 but to be perfect without blame would be a pleonastic description,51 since perfection with blame is something inconceivable. There remains, therefore, only (as recommended also by the order of the words) the reference of the adverb to the verb alone. The τηρηθῆναι, it is true, is the act of God, and so far the adverbial qualification seems to be unsuitable; but since the being kept implies nevertheless a reciprocity between God and man, the prayer is in order: May your spirit, &c. be kept in such away as can incur no blame at the Coming.52 Ὁλόκληρον, standing foremost, belongs as to sense to all the three members; the construction being, therefore, zeugmatic. The phrase, spirit, soul, body, is not a mere rhetorical amplification [De Wette], nor yet of itself a proof of a trichotomy of human nature (Olsh.), borrowed by Paul from Philo (or Plato). The phraseology of Scripture is as exact as it is popular; but it does not favor such a division. Even the texts, Hebrews 4:12; 1 Corinthians 2:14; 1 Corinthians 15:44-46, show indeed incontrovertibly, that Scripture distinguishes between the spirit and the soul, but not necessarily as between constituent parts, substances, but as between two relations, sides, functions of the same essence, according to its upward or downward direction. For πνεῦμα, רוּחַ, is the spiritual nature of man as directed upward, and as capable of living intercourse with God. The power of thought, νοῦς, is not the same thing as πνεῦμα (comp. Romans 7:8); for the νοῦς can be entangled and enchained in the flesh (Colossians 2:18); the πνεῦμα is the essence quickened, emancipated, become dominant through regeneration by the Spirit of God, and that, by means of which man is lord of nature and of the flesh. Of this there is mention here: May your spirit, in which God’s spirit dwells and rules (Romans 7:16; 1 Corinthians 2:11 with 1 Thessalonians 5:12), be kept safe. It cannot be the Holy Spirit Himself, for He can suffer no hurt, and so needs not to be kept; to beware of grieving Him (Ephesians 4:0) is something different. But man’s spirit is threatened with defilement (2 Corinthians 7:1), whereby the divinely renewed life might again become retrograde, so that at last the ψυχικός should (as it were) no longer have any spirit (Judges 19:0).—On the contrary, ψυχή, נֶפֶשׁ, is the spiritual nature as the quickening power of the body, as in animals; hence excitable through the senses, with faculties of perception and feeling. Σῶμα, finally, is the wisely arranged instrument of the soul, and destined, therefore, likewise for the service of the Lord (1 Corinthians 6:13 sqq.); whereas σάρξ, which denotes first the bodily material, is further used to designate the whole man, as he with all his powers is enthralled by the sin-tainted corporeality; comp. בָּשָׂר already in Genesis 6:3.—The Apostle, then, expresses the wish that not merely the spirit may be kept (with reference to what had just preceded) from falling back out of the life of regeneration, but that the soul also in its strivings may be held still under the discipline of the spirit, and thus the body, freed more and more from the dominion of its lusts, become an obedient instrument in the service of sanctification. In this way covetousness, with its violations of brotherly love, will be overcome; believers become one heart and one soul (Acts 4:32); and fornication will ever more completely lose its power of allurement. This will be a sanctifying of the personality in all its powers and functions.—[For additional remarks on the scriptural usage in regard to πνεῦμα and ψυχή, see the Doctrinal and Ethical Note 5.—Dr. Hodge (on 1 Corinthians 15:43-44) denies, like our Author (and comp. Ebrard on Hebrews 4:12), a triplicity of substance in the constitution of man. “The Bible,” he says, “recognizes in man only two subjects or distinct separable substances, the soul and body. And this has ever been a fundamental principle of Christian anthropology.” In like manner Webster, and Wilkinson (Wordsworth) find here “a tripartite division rather of man’s faculties than of his nature.” On the other hand, Dr. Candlish (Life in a Risen Saviour, p. 171) remarks on our text: “There, according to a view of man’s organization, or the constitution of his nature, these commonly received, spirit, soul, body, are specified as its constituent parts or elements. The spirit, or that higher principle of intelligence and thought peculiar to man alone in this world, to which we now usually restrict the name of mind or soul; the soul, or that lower principle of animal life,—with its instincts selfish and social, its power of voluntary motion, its strange incipient dawn of reasoning,—which, common alike to man and beast, is so great a mystery in both; and the body, made to be the material organ and instrument of either principle, the higher or the lower; these three in one, this trinity, is our present humanity.”—Alford: “to τὸ πνεῦμα is the spirit, the highest and distinctive part of man, the immortal and responsible soul, in our common parlance: ἡ ψυχή is the lower or animal soul, containing the passions and desires (αἰτία κινήσεως ζωικῆς ζώων, Plato, Deff. p. 411), which we have in common with the brutes, but which in us is ennobled and drawn up by the πνεῦμα. That St. Paul had these distinctions in mind, is plain (against Jowett) from such places as 1 Corinthians 2:14. The spirit, that part whereby we are receptive of the Holy Spirit of God, is, in the unspiritual man, crushed down and subordinated to the animal soul (ψυχή): he therefore is called ψυχικός, πνεῦμα οὐκ ἔχων, Judges 19:0.”—To which may be added part of Ellicott’s note in loc.: “Distinct enunciation of three component parts of the nature of man: the πςεῦμα, the higher of the two immaterial parts, being the ‘vis superior, agens, imperans in homine’ (Olsh.); the ψυχή, ‘vis inferior quæ agitur, movetur’ (ib,), the sphere of the will and the affections, and the true centre of the personality.” I should say that, on Ellicott’s own theory, this distinction belongs rather to the πνεῦμα.—J. L.… ‘It may be remarked that we frequently find instances of an apparent dichotomy, ‘body and soul’ (Matthew 6:25; Matthew 10:28, al.) or ‘body and spirit’ (1Co 5:3; 1 Corinthians 7:34, al.), but such passages will only be found accommodations to the popular division into a material and immaterial part; the ψυχή, in the former of the exceptional cases, including also the πνεῦμα, just as in the latter case the πνεῦμα also comprehends the ψυχή. ... To assert that enumerations like the present are rhetorical (De W.), or worse, that the Apostle probably attached ‘no distinct thought to each of these words’ (Jowett), is plainly to set aside all sound rules of scriptural exegesis. Again, to admit the distinctions, but to refer them to Platonism (Lünem.), is equally unsatisfactory, and equally calculated to throw doubt on the truth of the teaching. If St. Paul’s words do here imply the trichotomy above described …, then such a trichotomy is infallibly real and true. And if Plato or Philo have maintained (as appears demonstrable) substantially the same views, then God has permitted a heathen and a Jewish philosopher to advance conjectural opinions which have been since confirmed by the independent teaching of an inspired Apostle.”—J. L.]
Faithful is he who calleth you; not disappointing confidence, worthy of credit; Theodoret: ἀληθής. The participle is in the present: He does so continually (1 Thessalonians 2:12; Galatians 5:8); or as a substantive: Such is His nature (Galatians 1:17 [Galatians 1:12]); He ever lets operate the drawing of His Spirit.—Who also will do it, the sanctifying and keeping, positively; through grace is not irresistible, yet so that there is no failure on His part. The little word also gives prominence to the idea, that the keeping will answer to the calling of the faithful God, as carrying it out even to the end. He perfects His entire work (Ps. 22:32 [Psalms 22:31]; Psalms 37:5). The Epistle began with thanksgiving to God and His ἐκλογή; it closes with praise of His faithfulness to the end.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13.) In all churches, however young, πρεσβύτεροι were soon appointed (Acts 15:23), without whom a church could not exist as such. God is a God of order (1 Corinthians 14:33); and, without regulated guidance, the πράσσειν τὰ ἴδια must have been neglected, and the περιεργάζεσθαι must have prevailed (1 Thessalonians 4:11). In the earliest Epistles, however, the presidents have certainly as yet very little prominence; the προϊστάμενος (Romans 12:8) and the κυβερνήσεις (1 Corinthians 7:28) occupying a modest position behind other gifts and functions. Government, command, is not in the Church of Christ the first thing. In this place teaching is not yet attached to superintendency, but stands beside it as a special free gift. Nor even for the exercise of discipline (for example, 1 Corinthians 5:0) is the office at all described as exclusively authorized, and so responsible; and quite as little is obedience to the bishops commended, as in the Ignatian Epistles, as a panacea; rather the Apostle foresees the possibility of corruptions even among the elders (Acts 20:20). But a due esteem for faithful and laborious presidents is for the welfare of the church. The simple way in which our Epistle speaks of these relations, marks it as one of the earliest. But if at a later date we meet with fuller instructions (Ephesians 4:11, and especially in the Pastoral Epistles), still nowhere are the presidents clothed in the post-apostolic fashion with a character of absolute authority, as if they had an exclusive dignity different from the general priesthood of Christians (1 Peter 2:9). Their rule is rather conceived of always as standing in necessary connection with the Holy Spirit ruling in the whole Church (comp. 1 Peter 5:3); the spiritually minded members of the church must exercise the ministry of office, that it may really appear to be spiritual work, and not merely an acting of hierarchical supremacy, or even of a paid office. Nor does even the abuse of the περιεργάζεσθαι drive the Apostle to a narrow and anxious one-sidedness in putting life into official chains—a proceeding, indeed, to which Moses himself was averse.—As regards the designation of office-bearers, the opinion that has most widely prevailed is, that in the earliest period πρεσβύτερος (elder) and ἐπίσκοπος (overseer) are synonymous; and this is, in fact, favored by such texts as Acts 20:11; Acts 20:28; Titus 1:5; Titus 1:1, Yet the view of Gundert (in Rudelbach and Guericke’s Zeitschrift, 1854, p. 56, sqq.) is worthy of examination, that in the earliest period πρεσβύτρος was the general title of honor for all church functionaries, who fell apart into 1. ἐπίσκοποι and 2. διάκονοι, the two divisions that meet us Philippians 1:1 and in the Pastoral Epistles; James 5:14 speaks of those who waited on the sick, and calls them πρεσβύτεροι;53 on the other hand, Acts 20:0 and Titus 1:0 speak only of the higher class of presbyters, the bishops;54 whereas 1 Timothy 5:17 distinguishes amongst the elders those who labor in the word and doctrine from others who do not, and yet 1 Thessalonians 3:2 requires from every ἐπίσκοπος that he be apt to teach. Those κοπιῶντες, therefore, amongst the elders would probably be bishops. If one desired to maintain, even in the passage of the 5th chapter, the identity of bishops and elders generally, he would have to find in κοπιῶντες the description of those who take pains therein; but in that, case would the others who proved deficient be nevertheless worthy of double honor?55 With the teaching bishop, and under his direction, there might be developed the richest abundance of spiritual gifts, which were not confined to office (1 Corinthians 14:26-32). The mode of election, finally, is not yet constitutionally regulated. Roos: There was at that time no disputing about the right of patronage.—If the Apostle requires that a bishop must have a good report even of them which are without (1 Timothy 3:7), so much the less, certainly, would presidents have been forced on a church, in whom it had no confidence. The Apostles could allow the churches large scope, for they could trust them, that they yielded themselves to the guidance of Christ’s Spirit. But where this prerequisite should not exist, to think of helping the Church by committing to the congregations comprehensive rights of government—this were a proceeding for which there could, at least, be no appeal to the Apostles. It is certain that the Apostles would have laid hands on no one of whom they had known: He stands not in our doctrine, which we have received from the Lord (comp. Acts 2:42; 1 Timothy 5:22).
2. (1 Thessalonians 5:13-15.) Respect for the presidents is connected with the peace of the church; and, on the other hand, peace relieves for them the burden of office. Peaceableness, however, must not be a corrupt allowance of all disorder. A true keeping of the peace does not exclude, but includes, discipline. It is a morbid symptom of our time, that it can so little endure discipline. It is true that to administer it in a proper way is a delicate matter, requiring both inwardly and outwardly much wisdom, love, patience, and self-denial. But it is none the less a false lenity and a criminal selfishness, listlessly to allow others, who are intrusted to us, to go to ruin. If a man is willing, not merely to deliver lordly admonitions to others, but to begin with the beam in his own eye, and also not to sin against his brother by neglecting to admonish him (Leviticus 19:17; Ezekiel 3:17 sqq.), but to warn him at whatever risk of suffering for it, he can in this way maintain peace even amidst the assaults of enemies.
3. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.) The gospel produces no joyless sullenness, but true joy for all people (Luke 2:10), in hope (Romans 12:12), in the Holy Ghost (Romans 14:17), in the Lord (Philippians 4:1 ). When vexed with temptations, we cannot, indeed, feel it as joy, but we should so account it (James 1:2). Whatever occasion of sadness is contained in affliction (1 Thessalonians 1-3), it nevertheless promotes our salvation; and the man who not merely seeks, but has the Lord, in him is the fulness of joy (John 15:11; John 16:24; John 17:13). Prayer is the means to this end. Prom fear of mechanism in prayer, some would regard merely its free spirit. But the likely result of that is a yielding to hindrances. We are not so free from corruption, that we should be able to leave the matter to our inclination. Practice, when attended to not as a legal penalty, but in hearty fidelity, awakens the right disposition; only in this way can one καιρός assist another, so that the intervening χρόνος shall be filled with the spirit of prayer, and prayer become the keynote of the soul. Pelag.: Si jugiter non potes lingua, tamen corde. Who acts thus? who not? why not? Comp. Luke 18:1; Romans 12:12; Ephesians 6:18. If, for the quickening of devotion, the Apostle counsels us to give thanks, it is but the other side of the same truth, when the counsel of an experienced Christian was: Still repent! for that only is true thanksgiving, which confesses: Of Thy favor I am not worthy; and that only true repentance, which utters itself in thanksgiving, that God is nevertheless our God.
4. (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22.) It is a real trial of the spirit, the way in which a man treats the manifestations of spiritual gifts, and also their excesses. How easily do we fall either into a temper of undue excitement, whereby the limits of propriety and discretion are broken through, or, in opposition to this, into an uneasy or haughty, cold distrust of everything unusual! In movements of the stronger sort there is, indeed, an element of discomfort, disturbance, offence; they contain a presumption of abandoning the common track, and the danger is imminent, that with confused or even impure minds every path of order may be despised, and that what began in the Spirit may find its sad end in the flesh. By word and example the Apostle shows us, that we are neither blindly to assent to everything, nor suspiciously to reject everything. Quench not the Spirit. What is really spirit, should develop itself in a free and living way. The only thing required is, that it stand the proof that it is really spirit from the Spirit of God. In that case, though it may be strange and troublesome to the world, a spiritual man confesses it. It is owing to the narrowness of our hearts, that we are so annoyed by whatever is not according to our way. On the other hand, there, may be a large-heartedness that neglects to try whether something is of Divine quality, and that perhaps just while a false appeal is made to the apostolic word: Prove all things. On this point Rieger has already remarked, that that has come to be a huntsman’s halloo, as if in every heap of rubbish we must look for pearls. When, for example, one asks us to inquire whether there is not more truth in the Chinese religion than in the Christian, that has nothing at all to do with the word of the Apostle. According to this, as according to that of John (1 John 4:1), the question is, to try the spirits, whether they are of God. But there are, spirits which are not so; false prophets (2 Thessalonians 2:0); deceivers or deceived; nay, with an honest intention erroneous human inferences may be drawn from what the Spirit saith (comp. Acts 21:4; Acts 21:11-14). There is really nowhere a formula, in which a man can comfortably rest. The matter must therefore be tried; but how? The great thing is to try by the right test, and not mere cavils and idle talk. Even in the things of this world it is folly to, criticise aught without knowledge; much more, then, in Divine things. There we must be sure that we actually have the Divine rule. Even entrance into the faith does not take place blindly and without proof (John 7:17); the knowledge, that the gospel is what our deepest necessity requires, admits of systematic development as a branch of apologetic science. But here Paul speaks of a trial, where a standing within the evangelical faith is already presupposed, and the question now is, whether this or that novelty is in accordance therewith. On what assurance of the truth the Apostle himself proceeds is shown by Galatians 1:8. A trial, therefore, in the Apostle’s sense proceeds on the certainty of the fundamental apostolic truth. Even De Wette does not claim, that the rationalistic first principle, as to natural reason being the judge of Divine revelation, is to be derived from our passage. For, 1. he says that the object of the trial is not revelation itself, but its reproduction, application, appropriation, by those Christianly inspired; and, 2. that the rule is not to be the rationalistic reason (that unknown x), but the Christian πνεῦμα; a legitimate trial requiring faith as a prerequisite. But then De Wette himself again in some measure introduces rationalism, when he says, 1. that in Scripture we have simply the apostolic reproduction of the original revelation (as if the latter were not thus reduced to an x!), and, 2. that man carries in himself the germ of the πνεῦμα, the reason, which, indeed, is first unbound and unfolded through Christ; Christians, consequently, would have to test by means of the Christian consciousness awakened in them, with the Christianly enlightened reason. But Christian consciousness is too weak an expression for the πνεῦμα according to the sense of Scripture. For this supposes, not merely illumination, but regeneration, and so a real, practical process of sanctification in submission to the word. At all events, we attain to the πνεῦμα in quite another way than that of criticism. Whoever has received it, bears in himself the witness that the Spirit is truth, and that this spiritual life is attained in no other way than from this source. Comp. Gess, Das Zeugniss des Heil. Geites in the Apologetische Beiträge of Gess and Riggenbach, Basel, 1863. Hence follows the right treatment of the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit in different directions. The prophetic element, awakenings amongst the people, and such like, should not, alongside of the regular ministry, be despised, or suppressed, but tested, and held to a steady sobriety. And so, on the other hand, with regard to the gift of γνῶσις, a profounder scientific research and knowledge, against which there easily arises in excited circles a spirit of contempt and distrust. The gospel, however, is no dead letter, but itself invites to ever-new labor of thought. Nor is the right of examination limited to teachers, or even to a council of bishops. According to 1 Corinthians 12:10 the διάκρισις πνευμάτων is a peculiar charism, a kind of receptive prophesying, incapable, therefore, of producing, but of inestimable value as a sound counterpoise to possible irregularities; a mark of the ὁλοκληρία of an apostolic church. This gift must show itself by its connection with the truth of God; only one in whom God’s word is a living, sanctifying power gives evidence of the ability to test; and it is then a spiritual labor of no slight character, nor to be reached through external regulation. To train the laity to a Christian self-dependence is the aim of a truly evangelical ministry. Where that gift is present, there is possible a wise, confident treatment of intellectual and spiritual movements; people then stop saying to one another what the Würtemberg superintendent Weber heard from the peasant Michael Hahn: “How comes it that our parsons are always preaching that men ought to be converted, and, when one is converted, they cannot bear it?” to which, after being silent for some time, he replied, “God knows he is right!” None the less mindful, however, are we still of the truth, that it is not everything claiming to be Divine that is so; as the lady Von Krüdener confessed on her deathbed: “Often have I taken for the voice of God what was nothing but the fruit of my fancy and my pride.” Yet she was able to add: “What good I have done will remain; what evil I have done, God’s mercy will blot out.”
5. (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24.) Peace is here properly to be taken in its fulness of meaning, Hebr. שָׁלוֹם, life unimpaired (comp. ὁλόκληρος, שָׁלֵם), the full feeling of life in the strength of the atonement. With this agrees also the opposite, confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33). This peace alone makes joy possible even in suffering, and thanksgiving even in distress and affliction. But God alone brings us to the enjoyment of a true peace, not only with one another (1 Thessalonians 5:13), but first in and with Himself. This comes to pass through an all-pervading sanctification. Spirit and soul—the two designations may be used indifferently, when the question is not about diversity of functions, but solely about the one and the same substance; thus ψυχή stands with σῶμα, Matthew 10:28; and again πνεῦμα with σῶμα, 1 Corinthians 7:34 (whereas here the point is, not simply the preservation of life, but sanctification and the service of God); πνεῦμα with σάρξ (1 Peter 3:18-19; 2 Corinthians 7:1) denotes the two ruling principles. But where the exact testing and sifting of the motives of action are spoken of, whether they proceed from above or from beneath, there it is said that the word of God, as a two-edged sword, pierces to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit (Hebrews 4:12). And so here the discourse regards the sanctifying and keeping of all man’s functions. For the spirit cannot truly serve God, if soul and body continue in their natural state of estrangement from the life that is of God, but they too must (slowly, gradually, with conflict and trial, with daily mortifying of the σάρξ, and yet with carefulness for the σῶμα) be drawn into the sanctifying process, and that must be inwrought into them. Otherwise our reason apologizes for sin; it savoreth not the things that be of God, but those that be of men; the conscience is lulled to sleep; the emotions and feelings of the soul sway up and down; the body is allowed to go unchecked in its wants and impulses. The whole must be changed. Very well Von Gerlach: The spirit of man is sanctified and kept, when God’s Spirit dwells in it and rules it; the soul is sanctified, when the Divinely sanctified spirit controls it, when all its feelings, all its longings and strivings, however necessary to the maintenance in man of his proper life, and to the exertion thereby of an influence also on the world around, are yet perfectly subordinated to God and the spirit. The body is sanctified, when its instincts and wants are ruled and regulated by the spirit through the soul, and its members are made altogether instruments of holiness. It might seem as if in the sanctification of the spirit the sanctification of the soul and the body were already included. But it is of importance that the latter also is mentioned here and frequently, to guard us against the dangerous error, that possibly the spirit might serve God, whilst the soul and the body persist in serving sin.—The Apostle here, as throughout the entire Epistle (1 Thessalonians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:19; 1 Thessalonians 3:13; 1 Thessalonians 4:15), directs our view toward the coming of the Lord. Then only will the true judgment be held, as never once before the private conscience (1 Corinthians 4:3-5).
No peace, therefore, with sin! In order to our standing in that judgment, we need to place our reliance not on ourselves, but solely on the faithfulness of God. Having begun His work in us, He will also perfect it (Philippians 1:6; 1 Corinthians 1:9; 1 Corinthians 10:13; 1 Peter 1:5). Human exhortations and resolutions, necessary as they are, and though an emanation from God’s faithfulness, an instrument in His hand, an occasion of growth in a varied experience, yet do not carry within themselves the guarantee of success. Only that which the grace of God supplies is a pledge of the greater gift: He will not forsake His own work. This alone secures for us the possibility of reaching perfection. Am I already holy? perfectly holy? who would dare to make such an assertion, in presence of Philippians 3:12; James 3:2; 1 John 1:8-10? and still we are not at liberty to indulge ourselves in a comfortable repose. Certainly the last text shows us, how little 1 John 3:9 is to be explained in the sense of a frightfully erroneous perfectionism. Even the maturest Christians, when dying, draw their comfort from the thought, not how holy they are, but that they are in Christ. The holiness of the Saviour covers their sins and imperfections. But this new garment consumes the old man. Faith, which, apprehended by Christ, apprehends Christ [Philippians 3:12], is no idle amusement of vain hopes, but a going forth out of ourselves, and a casting of ourselves with all our powers on Christ. To be kept in Christ with spirit, soul, and body, that is to be kept indeed. The man who stands there is not yet, it is true, perfectly holy, but that is the point, nevertheless, toward which he will strive heartily. Such is the evangelical doctrine of perfection. On the certainty of salvation, comp. the Apolog. Beiträge of Gess and Riggenbach, pp. 230–233.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
1 Thessalonians 5:12-13. Heubner: Paul beseeches. A sentiment of cordial esteem and gratitude is something so tender, that it does not at all admit of the coercion of a command; especially esteem for our teachers.—Berlenburger Bibel: What the Holy Spirit might command, for that He beseeches and implores.—The same: Know them; that it may not be said: They knew nothing of Joseph.—Who labor amongst (or on) you; Zwingli: Non enim est otiandum, non stertendum. Et labor arduus est, prædicare verbum Dei.—Calvin: From the number of masters must be excluded all slow bellies [Titus 1:12].—Berlenburger Bibel: Teachers are not called to laziness, nor yet to an animal (mere outward bodily) activity. Spiritual labor is the soul’s earnest painstaking, wrestling, and searching, not only for one’s self, but for others; a laboring in prayer and patience (comp. 2 Corinthians 11:0; also Colossians 1:29; Colossians 2:1; Galatians 4:19).—Heubner: Teachers desire to make something of men; this labor is a great thing; but it is not always recognized as such.—To choose laboring for souls as one’s exclusive calling is a service that requires effort, and in which at the same time the heart of faithful labor shuns admeasurement.—Calvin: It is not in vain that these marks are noted; by them believers are to distinguish the true pastors.—Chrysostom has already very unapostolic effusions on ill-will towards the priests, through whom alone we receive admission to the kingdom of heaven and its tremendis mysteriis.—Heubner: To misapprehend those who wish us well, and to frustrate their labor, brings us sensible damage.—Berl. Bib.: The labor divided into presiding and exhorting.—If thou observest defects in the presidents, do not withdraw from them thy loving intercession.—To preside is not to domineer (1 Peter 5:3; 2 Corinthians 1:24).—The same: To preside is to lead the way, not haughtily to tyrannize.—A legitimate presidency is exercised in the Lord, therefore not in one’s own name. It is subject to the trial of spirits. But the presidents are not merely the mouths by which the church speaks; they serve the church as belonging to Christ; they serve Christ in it.—Admonition is not the pleasantest duty, but the severest.—The same: Presidents must learn to have zeal with knowledge, to correct with wisdom, to rebuke in love.—The same: Exhortation includes all Divine methods of admonition, encouragement, excitation. It is the particular application of the word to this and that person; not merely publicly, but in private.
Heubner: The love of an honest teacher has no price; only warm love is its worthy reward.
Diedrich: Quarrels and divisions easily, occur, when the preacher’s office is not honored.—On the other hand, where there is a tendency to strife, there the warnings of the presidents are disregarded.—[Vaughan: Subordination is peace.—J. L.]
[M. Henry: Ministers should rather, mind the work and duty they are called to, than affect venerable and honorable names they may be called by.—J. L.]
[Lectures: Christian liberty not an anarchy.—All Church organization finds its warrant, vitality, and blessing in Christ. The whole relation of pastor and people grows out of their joint relation to Him.—Thiersch: The Church, although composed of members who are all called to be filled with the Holy Ghost, has yet been from the beginning not mere Spirit, but the very Body of Christ, in which every part has that place and duty which have been assigned to it by God, and no other. The Church is the most perfect of all organizations, and Christianity the completion of all ordinances.—J. L.]
1 Thessalonians 5:14. Heubner: It is the duty of all to further the teacher’s work, and to take part in his cares.—Rieger: There is nothing more unhandsome, than when one will be everything, and is afraid of missing aught through the co-operation of others; whatever God grants to another to perform, that we ought to enjoy as really a common good.—Zwingli: It is the duty of all to exhort one another, and so much the less to be displeased, when others perform it.—By no means should we leave exhortation to teachers, and ourselves maintain a sluggish peace. It is not to maintain peace, when no one dares to say aught, and no one allows aught to be said to him. True peace exists, only where the truth sanctifies all.—Every one is known by his neighbors better than by his minister, from whom much is concealed.
Calvin: Remedia morbis sunt accommodanda.—Heubner: It is truly a Christ-like work [ein wahres Jesuswerk], to interest one’s self in souls for which others regard labor as lost. Rude persons, who will submit to no order, need earnest correction, reproofs, challenges; faint-hearted ones, the class opposite to the rude, despondent, never satisfied with themselves, need comfort; the weak, failing often, doing their part imperfectly, need help and support; every man needs patience, because every man has something about him that others find troublesome and repugnant.—The sooner exhortation is given, the easier it goes.—To comfort may prove wearisome, especially when what is desired is not the evangelical comfort, to be still under the hand of God.—Calvin: When with one or two attempts at consolation we do not reach our end, we easily become annoyed.—Berl. Bib.: We must not take on airs with the lowly, but put ourselves on their level.—Those weak in understanding, faith, love, inclination to holiness, we must so much the less abandon to themselves.—Patience is not indifference, for it endures what it recognizes as evil; therefore is it a grace, to be able to be patient (1 Peter 2:19).56 Impatience is weakness.—Starke: This Divine disposition (to be slow to wrath) we too should have in ourselves; as a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22).—Every Christian has yet his faults; what is there in me that others have to bear (Ephesians 4:32)? Let us therefore exercise patience towards the members of our family, and not merely towards strangers; towards those in a humble position, and not merely towards the eminent.
1 Thessalonians 5:15. Heubner: It is the duty of Christians to maintain the spirit of love in the Church, and destroy all seeds of bitterness.—Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, is a principle of Divine justice; but selfishness would execute it in an arbitrary style.—Starke: To requite good with evil is devilish; to requite evil with evil is heathenish.; to requite good with good is commendable; to requite evil with good is Christian.—Chrysostom: What harm can be done to the man, who is able even to requite evil with good? Whereas the bee, along with its sting, parts with its life.—Abigail knew how to warn David. Zinzendorf said, that his chief aim was to love those who injured him.
1 Thessalonians 5:12-15. Stockmeyer: The Apostle is concerned about two things, that there be mutual exhortation, and that peace be maintained. Both are important; both must go hand in hand. Neither should be a hindrance in the way of the other. The one can prosper only when the other does; and the welfare of the Church, only when both are duly regarded.
1 Thessalonians 5:16. Heubner: The Christian is always under the cross, and always in joy. Christianity the way to true gladness. But the gladness of a Christian is inward, deep, silent. And the path to this gladness lies only through sorrow. Res severa verum gaudium.—There is much sorrow in the world; but it is only true mourning that is blessed (Matthew 5:4). The work of God’s grace is the most glorious that can gladden the heart of man. Joy likewise belongs to the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22).—Rieger: We may even be assailed by a variety of fortune; only the foundation of hope, as the proper source of Christian joyousness, should under all changes remain the same.—Berl. Bib.: Many suppose that there is not in the world a more wretched, unhappy man than a true Christian; in this way the devil disheartens people.—But prayerful joy alone is true joy.—[Barrow’s Sermon on this text opens thus: “Rejoice evermore! O good Apostle, how acceptable rules dost thou prescribe! O gracious God, how gracious laws dost Thou impose!”—See also a Sermon by Dr. Donne, and four by Dr. Gale.—J. L.]
1 Thessalonians 5:17. Zwingli: True prayer is the lifting of the heart to God, not empty, wordy babble.—Luther, in Starke: The whole life of a genuine Christian goes on continually in prayer. For, though he is not constantly moving his lips or multiplying words, yet the heart, like the artery and heart in the body, goes on beating unceasingly with sighs, and the more that blows, vexation, and distress become severely afflictive and urgent, with so much the greater force does this sighing and praying proceed, even orally, so that you can as little find a Christian without prayer as a living man without a pulse, which stands never still, though the man is sleeping or doing something else, and he is not aware of it.—Rieger: To pray without growing weary, without yielding to hindrances, without despairing of the salvation of God, is to pray without ceasing. All sayings of Scripture must be reduced to practice also in that Spirit by whom they were uttered; under whose auspices we never take aim too high, nor is any indulgence given to the sluggishness of the flesh.—When you do not at once receive the thing prayed for, do not therefore give over; hold on (Romans 12:12).—Berl. Bib.: Four great hindrances to prayer: 1. too much outward business uncommanded by God; 2. too little subduing of the body; 3. too little privacy; 4. too great slothfulness.—The same: If thou wouldst not cease to pray, cease not to desire. The fervor of love is the cry of the heart. [Augustine, as quoted by Wordsworth: Continuous desire is continuous prayer. If you cease to desire, you are dumb, you have ceased to pray.—J. L.]—Kündig (in the Erfahrungen am Kranken- und Sterbebette, p. 218) does not allow the validity of the complaint: I cannot pray; as you have complained thus to me, a man, you can just as certainly sigh to God, and say: Alas, O God, I can no longer pray! and so you are already engaged in prayer.—[See two Sermons by Barrow on this verse.—J. L.]
1 Thessalonians 5:18. That man is very unthankful to God, to whom the righteousness of Christ and the hope of eternal life are not of so much consequence, that he can rejoice in the midst of sorrow. Thanksgiving is a bridle on our desires. We are indeed permitted to pray earnestly, yet so that God’s will be dearer to us than our own.—Rieger: One finds always occasion for thanksgiving, when we learn to understand how even that which, seems adverse is thus well, arranged for the quelling of the flesh and its disposition, and for the relief of the Spirit.—Berl. Bib.: The best thanksgiving is expressed in obedience, so that we again present to Him all that we have received from Him.—Chrysostom: Hast thou suffered some evil thing? Why, if thou dost so choose, there is nothing evil in it. Give God thanks, and then it is changed into a blessing. With Chrysostom it was an axiom: There is but one calamity, sin. And after many sorrows he died with the words: God be praised for everything! [δόξα τῷ Θεῷ πάντων ἕνεκεν]—To the thankful there is ever imparted an increase of blessing, Psa 50:2357 [A beautiful hymn on this verse by Mrs. Meta Heusser, see in Schaff’s German Hymn-Book, Philad. 1859, No. 30.]
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. Stockmeyer: In what way may we attain to the ability of complying with the summons to be always joyful? The will of God is first of all, that thou too shouldst be in Christ. Then hast thou God for thy Father; then is thy whole life in God and with God, with a heart that ever prays, that is, is ever directed toward God. Then art thou joyful in God (Psalms 73:25 sqq.), though not always triumphing aloud. When in the very depths of the soul is a still unreconciled conscience, no man can be truly glad; but let the peace of God dwell in the heart’s depths, and it is possible for thee, as a child of God, to weep as if thou wept not—to be sorrowful, and yet always rejoicing. 2. But how shall we attain to this sure and constant communion through Christ with God? There are very many interruptions to the course of our prayers; pleasure and sorrow find us often unprepared. Now even that must incite us to prayer, and also to thanksgiving. If still unable to give thanks for everything, we may nevertheless in all things, at least for the earlier blessings already received; not as if all that was to go for nothing; till we learn also to give thanks even for chastisement itself. But especially is that, which God in Christ has done in thee, worthy of the loftiest praise. To be still uncertain as to our gracious state is a heart-trouble, sorer than all suffering. Whereas to have found mercy makes temporal afflictions light. We perceive also how little salutary would be a time of undisturbed prosperity, in which the heart would become corrupted and ever more greedy. Not till sin and infirmity lie wholly behind us, will our whole life be everlasting devotion and unspeakable joy.—Comp. Paul Gerhardt’s Hymn, Nicht so traurig, nicht so sehr, &c.
1 Thessalonians 5:19. Stähelin: The Holy Spirit in His gracious workings is quenched by the pious against their will through carelessness, so that the light of joy and strength declines in them, and they have to rekindle it with ardent sighs; but the ungodly suppress the Holy Spirit’s knocking by wanton resistance.—Berl. Bib.: Check the power of the Spirit neither in yourselves nor in others. By dissipation amongst vanities we quench the Spirit in ourselves. We should always resist ourselves rather than others.—Rieger: In things of the Spirit we do not exercise as much reasonableness as in the affairs of civil life, where we know how to turn to use the gifts and intelligence of every citizen; whilst in spiritual things, on account of the apprehended abuse, we attempt an utter extinction.—Von Gerlach: One main cause of the decay of our Church is, that the activity of the laity, the manifestation of the gifts vouchsafed to them for the common advantage, has no regular sphere of operation (comp. 1 Corinthians 14:0).—There the life is contracted and withered.
1 Thessalonians 5:20. Heubner: Prophesyings are, strictly speaking, considered by the Christian; he is not a sceptic, nor an unbeliever, but neither is he credulous.—Prophets appear even along with the written word; only not in opposition to it; they are rather those in whom the word becomes living, and through them also for others. The Reformers were the prophets of their century; Spener one of those of the century that followed. Nor was there wanting to them also the stamp of the hatred which they had to endure (Matthew 5:11-12).—Berl. Bib.: We should duly regard the manner in which God works wondrously even in novices, and give the glory to Him alone.
[On 1 Thessalonians 5:16-20 Bishop Beveridge has Brief Notes, and a Sermon on 1 Thessalonians 5:18.—J. L.]
1 Thessalonians 5:21. Zwingli: Prove all things; that holds good of things that are still doubtful, and respecting which the judgment is still unsettled.—Berl. Bib.: It is one thing, to prove; another, to destroy. For the trial there is needed the Spirit of God, and a humble mind, that will bend and bow.—Whatever novelty presents itself is to be proved by the already authenticated gospel. We are required to discern, not only ungodly spirits, but likewise human admixtures with the truth. We are to allow ourselves to be proved by the Spirit of God (Psalms 139:0). Human reason judges differently in different individuals, so long as we are unenlightened (1 Corinthians 2:14); the Apostle’s exhortation is directed to such as stood in the faith.
[Benson: What a glorious freedom of thought do the Apostles recommend! And how contemptible in their view is a blind and implicit faith!—Waterland’s Sermon on this verse: I. Care and discretion in choosing; II. Firmness and steadiness in retaining.—J. L.]
1 Thessalonians 5:22. Verum index sui el falsi.—Heidelberg Catechism, Quest. 1Th 114: (We should) with earnest purpose begin to live, not only according to some, but all, the commandments of God.—Stockmeyer: Shun evil of every kind, even when there is no intention of evil; when it is not a lie, but an error; even when it is found in an otherwise well-enlightened, respectable, beloved person; even when it is proposed in connection with what is true and good; even when it has much that is plausible and attractive. Whatever conflicts with the word of God is of evil, let it seem never so obvious.
1 Thessalonians 5:23. Without peace no sanctification [Charnock: God is first the God of peace, before He be the God of sanctification.—J. L.], without sanctification no peace.—Rieger: Man can indeed do nothing without God; but God also will do nothing without man, and the proof of his obedience at every step.—Starke: Blessed the man, to whom God is a God of peace in Christ, and not a God of vengeance out of Christ.58—The God of peace has thoughts of peace toward us.—Rieger: Peace with God is first of all the atonement, effected on the cross by the blood of Jesus, and received by us in faith. But here the idea is still broader, and embraces likewise everything whereby God holds us in subjection to Himself, so that all striving and cavilling against God ceases, and on the contrary everything in man submits itself contentedly under God, passes under the easy yoke of Christ, is kept by a cheerful and willing spirit to a joyful life according to the will of God, and so peace with God and in God rules in the heart. This God of peace, drawing us thus entirely to Himself, by the very same means sanctifies us. For truly our sanctification is the willing and contented surrender to God, to His will and service, and cleaving to Him forever.—This requires on our side pursuit and effort, but in the strength which God furnishes (Philippians 2:12 sq.). Therefore, no peace with sin, not even with any favorite sin; entire sanctification is the aim.—Berl. Bib.: By the fall we are wholly corrupted; the sanctifying process would take possession of us wholly. Presently we are afraid that we may become too holy.—[Bishop Wilson: spirit, soul, body. All these have been defiled, and all must be regenerated.—J. L.]
1 Thessalonians 5:24. Bengel: In this brief word is contained the sum of all consolation.—Berl. Bib.: We must not rest in the best of rules, but betake ourselves to God Himself. Otherwise an idolatry grows out of the rules.
[Vaughan: God not only speaks, but will do. With Him words are never disjoined from deeds, nor promises from their performance.—J. L.]
1 Thessalonians 5:23-24. Stockmeyer: From the Apostle’s benediction, as earnest as it is comforting, we may see that the question concerns a thorough sanctification; 1. What is it? Not a superficial transformation here and there, but a renovation of our entire nature; 2. Why is it so highly necessary? Because that will be the subject of inquiry and judgment on the day of judgment and decision of our eternal destiny; 3. How is it possible? Not in our own strength; nor are we referred to ourselves, where we should find only weakness and corruption, but to the steadfast, gracious will, and the thoughts of peace, of Almighty God.—[Irenæus, in Wordsworth: What reason had the Apostle to pray for a perfect preservation of those elements (soul, body, and spirit), unless he knew the reunion of all three, and that there is one salvation for them all? They will be perfect, who present all three blameless to God.—J. L.]
1 Thessalonians 5:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:12—[δέ; transitional, or with a slightly adversative suggestion of the special urgency of this particular precept.—J. L.]
1 Thessalonians 5:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:12.—[προϊσταμένους (Sin. A.: προϊσταμένους), stand before; Germ, vorstehen.—J. L.]
1 Thessalonians 5:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:13.—It is of no consequence, as regards the sense, whether we read with the Elzevir (also Sin.) ὑπερεκπερισσοῦ, or-σῶς (with B. D.1 F. G.). [Lachmann, Tischendorf, Alford, Ellicott.]
1 Thessalonians 5:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:13.—The codd. A. B. D.3 E. K. L., many minuscules, Copt, Goth., &c., give ἐν ἐαυτοῖς; but Sin., D.1 F. G., Syz., Vulg. cum eis, &c.,ἐν αὐτοῖς; Sin., primâ manu, even καὶ εἰρην, (the corrector cancels καὶ.—J. L]. See the exposition.
1 Thessalonians 5:14; 1 Thessalonians 5:14.—[δέ; opposed perhaps to the idea, that peace (1 Thessalonians 5:13) was to be sought at the expense of purity and mutual fatihfulness, or that the duty of admonition was confined to church officers (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13).—J, L.]
1 Thessalonians 5:14; 1 Thessalonians 5:14.—[νουθετεῖτε; the same word as in 1 Thessalonians 5:12; 2 Thessalonians 3:15; &c.—J. L.]
1 Thessalonians 5:14; 1 Thessalonians 5:14.—[τοὺς ; Revision: “The only instance of ἄτατκς in the N. T., as our Second Epistle contains the only instance also of the kindred verb and adverb. E. V. margin; comp. 2 Thessalonians 3:6-7; 2 Thessalonians 3:11.”—J. L.]
1 Thessalonians 5:14; 1 Thessalonians 5:14.—[παραμυθεῖσθε; comp. 1 Thessalonians 2:11, Critical Note 22.—J. L.]
1 Thessalonians 5:14; 1 Thessalonians 5:14.—[ὀλιγοψύχους. Revision; “Another N. T. ἄπαξ λεγόμενον, though common in the Sept.”—J. L.]
1 Thessalonians 5:14; 1 Thessalonians 5:14.—[μακροθυμεῖτε. Comp. E. 1 Thessalonians 5:0 :2 Peter 3:9; 1 Corinthians 13:4. The noun is almost always in our Version longsuffering.—J. L.]
1 Thessalonians 5:15; 1 Thessalonians 5:15.—[καὶ εὶς .] Before εἰς B. K. L. Sin.2 [most of the cursives, Tischendorf’s later editions, Alford, Wordsworth) give καὶ; hut it is wanting in Sin.1 A. D. E. F. G., versions, [Scholz, Schott, Lachmann, Ellicott.—The ἀποδοῖ of Sin,1 was corrected in Sin.2—J. L.]
1 Thessalonians 5:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:18.—[ Revision “Lachmann alone reads γάρ ἐστιν”—J. L.]
1 Thessalonians 5:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:18.—[θέλημα θεοῦ (Sin.1; τοῦ θεοῦ)=one part of the Divine will; comp. 1 Thessalonians 4:3.—J. L.]
1 Thessalonians 5:21; 1 Thessalonians 5:21.—δέ after πάντα is given by most of the uncials [and critical editors; Riggenbach brackets it]: it is wanting only in A. Sin.1, Copt., Syz., &c. See the exposition.
1 Thessalonians 5:22; 1 Thessalonians 5:22.—[παντὸς εἴδους. Sec the exposition.—J. L.]
1 Thessalonians 5:23; 1 Thessalonians 5:23.—[Αὐτὸς δὲ ὁ θεὸς τῆς εὶρήνης. Comp. 1 Thessalonians 3:11, Critical Note 8, and the foot-note to Exeg. Note 9; also here Exeg. Note 6.—J. L.]
1 Thessalonians 5:23; 1 Thessalonians 5:23.—[καὶ ὁλόκληρον (found again at James 1:4; here belongs to the predicate) ὐμῶν τὸ πνεῦμα καὶ ἡ ψυχὴ καὶ τὸ σῶμα … τηρηθείη. On this last word it is remarked in my Revision of Judges 1:0 : “The verb τηρέω occurs 75 times in the N. T.....and in E. V. Isaiah 58:0 times rendered to keep; only here and 1 Thess. 1 Thessalonians 5:23, to preserve. Wherever, as in this verse, it is used of believers, I prefer to translate it to keep, not so much on the general ground of uniformity, as on account of the large use of that term in the same connection in our Lord’s high-priestly prayer (John 17:0). The present safety of the Church is the Father’s answer to the Son.”—J. L.]
[Ellicott: “To know, regard, recognize fully. No instance of a similar or even analogous usage has, as yet, been adduced from classical Greek.”—Revision: “Be not strangers to them—their calling and work—their necessities and trials. What follows in 1 Thessalonians 5:13 would be the result of the knowledge. There is no need, therefore, of straining the common meaning of the verb into acknowledge, recognize, care for, take an interest in, regard with favor, reverence, &c., as is commonly done in the commentaries, versions, and lexicons. The other ordinary references, in behalf of this alleged Hebraism in the use of εἰδέναι, will be found on examination to be, very often at least, delusive.… Indeed, the Hebrew יָדַע itself is frequently misinterpreted in the same direction.”—J. L.]
[And so Lünemann, Ellicott;—but the accuracy of the remark depends on the real import of εἰδέναι.—J. L.]
[Bengel’s own Latin: Quisque custodiat et se et alterrum. Læsus, qui in fervore est, nimium videt; ergo proximi videre debent.—J. L.]
Only Lachmann reads γάρ ἐστιν—J. L.]
[Ellicott would apply it “more restrictedly to those who had the special gift” of the discernment of spirits. But the limitation is not in the text, nor is it required. The church might properly be exhorted to do as a church what she was enabled to do effectively in the exercise of her own special endowments.—J. L.]
[So the great majority of the best interpreters. See Revision.—J. L.]
[Alford (Webster and Wilkinson): “ὁλοτελεῖς seems to refer to the entireness of sanctification, which is presently expressed in detail.…=ὅλους.” Ellicott: “The aspect of the former word is (here especially) mainly quantitative, of the latter, mainly qualitative.”—J. L.]
[Ellicott in like manner thus: “The adverbial predication of quality, appended to τηρηθείη, involving that of quantity.”—J. L.]
[Such pleonasms, however, are common enough with Paul; comp. especially Ephesians 1:4, εἶναι ὑμας ἁγίους καὶ .—J. L. ]
[This, again, restricts the ἀμέμπτως altogether to the human and less important elements in the τηρηθῆναι.—J. L.]
[The presbyters whom James speaks, of are not represented as in regular attendance on the sick, hut as called in on an emergency for the performance of their appropriate ecclesiastical functions; and besides, the article—τοὺς πρεσβυτέρους—shows that the body of presbyters, as such, is intended, and not any supposed inferior class.—That the deacons were at any time regarded as presbyters is an utterly arbitrary suggestion, though made by others before Gundert (see Mosheim’s Historical Commentaries, Cent. I. § 37), and is, indeed, at variance with all the indications of the New Testament.—J. L.]
[But to say that in the. Church of Ephesus there existed a plurality of diocesan or monarchical bishops, or that Paul left Titus in Crete to ordain, a number of such functionaries in every city, would he self-evidently absurd.—J.L]
[The most natural inference from 1 Timothy 5:17 is, that at the time when that Epistle was written there were elders who ruled, hut did not teach, and who, if they ruled well, were to be accounted worthy of double honor; while this honor was especially due to those of the elders, who, whether by a higher official appointment, or by agreement amongst the elders themselves, not only ruled, and ruled well, but labored also in the word and doctrine; just as on the very same principle it might be said, that double honor was still more emphatically due to such elders of the Church Catholic, as discharged also apostolic functions (1 Peter 5:1). The other text, 1 Timothy 3:2, when taken in connection with all the texts which demonstrate the identity of the bishop and presbyter, can prove nothing more than that at this period the former title was confined to the teaching presbyters.—J. L.]
[Τοῦτο γὰρ χάρις, κ.τ.λ.—J. L.]
[According to Luther’s version: “Wer Denk opfert, der preiset mich; und da ist der Weg, dass ich ihm zeige das Heil Gottes.”—J. L.]
[It is a still more serious thought, that as the God of vengeance, no less than as the God of peace. God is in Christ; John 5:22; Acts 17:31; Revelation 19:11-21; &c.—J. L.]
Conclusion of the Epistle with Salutation and Benediction
1 Thessalonians 5:25-28.
25, 26, 27Brethren, pray for us. Greet all the brethren with a holy kiss. I charge [adjure]59 you by the Lord, that this [the, τήν] epistle be read unto all the holy60 brethren. 28The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.61
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
1. (1 Thessalonians 5:25.) Brethren, pray for us (καὶ περί, B. D.1, is unsuitable [Lachmann inserts the καί in brackets.—J. L.]). The closing words are concise and hearty. First, he solicits intercession in behalf of his apostolic calling; this he frequently does, laying stress upon it, and humbly suing for it (2 Thessalonians 3:1; Romans 15:30; Colossians 4:3; Ephesians 6:18-19; Philemon 1:22).62 Bengel notes that in the Epistle to the Galatians and in the First to the Corinthians he does not do so, because he was there compelled to admonish his readers with fatherly severity.63
2. (1 Thessalonians 5:26.) Greet all the brethren with a holy kiss; φίλημα, a love-token (Romans 16:16; 1 Corinthians 16:20; 2 Corinthians 13:12); φίλημα (1 Peter 5:14); in the Latin Fathers, and first Tertullian, osculum pacis [signaculum pacis.—J. L.], also simply pax. The kiss, a general mark of salutation, especially in the East, was here to be hallowed as an expression of brotherly love, and of the common joy in the Lord. It had its place especially after prayer, and before taking the Holy Supper, &c. According to Tertullian it was omitted on Good Friday (on account of the kiss of Judas). Later ecclesiastical rules (with a view particularly to cutting off every pretext for heathen calumnies) insisted that only men should kiss men, and women women. The custom remained till the middle ages, and it still prevails in the East at Easter (comp. Augusti, Handbuch der chr. Archäol., II. p., 718 sqq.). Because in the other Pauline passages it is said: ἀσπάσασθε , but here: τοὺς , De Wette and Lünemann infer that the Epistle, received and read in public by the presidents, requires them, first of all, to salute and kiss all the brethren in the Apostle’s name. Ewald even asserts that 1 Thessalonians 5:25-27, beginning so abruptly, were plainly added by Paul in his own hand for the authentication of the letter, according to 2 Thessalonians 3:17 (in pursuance of the untenable hypothesis, that our First Epistle was rather the Second); and that these words, accordingly, were intended first for the presidents; Timothy having probably informed him that our Second Epistle (which was rather the First) had not been duly read in public before the assembled church. But even the appeal to 3 John 1:9 has no power to lift all this out of the category of utterly groundless hypotheses. In opposition to it Hofmann properly reminds us, that the invitation in 1 Thessalonians 5:25 is addressed to all the Thessalonians, and therefore also the next 1 Thessalonians 5:26; hence: Deliver my salutation (in connection with the holy kiss) to all the brethren—this the Thessalonians did collectively, when on hearing these words they kissed one another.
3. (1 Thessalonians 5:27.) I adjure you, &c.; δρκίζω or ἐνορκίζω has also a different construction from
1 Thessalonians 5:27; 1 Thessalonians 5:27.—A. B. D.1 E. ἐνορκίζω, [found nowhere else]; Sin. and most others, ὁρκίζω which is, indeed, more common in the New Testament [Mark 5:7; Acts 19:13;—the only other instances], and therefore, perhaps, in the present instance merely a correction. [Lachmann, Tischendorf, Alford, Ellicott edit ένορκ.—Nearly all versions and commentaries give the full force of the Greek verb, as E. V. does in the other instances, and here in the margin.—J. L.]
1 Thessalonians 5:27; 1 Thessalonians 5:27.—ἁγίοις is wanting in B. D. E. F. G. and in Sin. primâ manu; but is found in A. K. L., Sin. secundâ manu, and in most of the versions. De Wette is probably right in holding, that it was omitted as being unusual and apparently superfluous, rather than it was added; it is found also at Hebrews 3:1. [It is omitted by Lachmann, Tischendorf, Alford. Riggenbach brackets it in his version.—J. L.]
1 Thessalonians 5:28; 1 Thessalonians 5:28.—ἀμήν at the close is wanting in B. D.1 F. G.; most of the authorities have it, and so Sin. [The critical editors generally omit it; Riggenbach brackets.—J. L.]
[Comp. 2 Corinthians 1:11; Philippians 1:19; Hebrews 13:18.—J. L.]
[Bengel also remarks that this request is wanting likewise in the Epistles to Timothy and Titus, either because Paul addressed them as his sons, or because he could already count on having their intercession.—J. L.]
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition available at BibleSupport.com. Public Domain.
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 5". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26