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Bible Commentaries

McGarvey's Commentaries on Selected Books

1 Thessalonians 2

Verse 1

[In this section, Paul amplifies two statements made in the previous section. In 1 Thessalonians 2:1-13; he enlarges upon the facts set forth in 1 Thessalonians 1:5; and 1 Thessalonians 2:13-16 are a similar enlargement of the matter contained in 1 Thessalonians 2:6] For yourselves [as distinguished from those above mentioned who carried or repeated the news of the work at Thessalonica], brethren, know our entering in unto you, that it hath not been found vain [that Paul’s coming to Thessalonica had not been vain or fruitless was proved by the fact that in this pagan city a church of Christ was now found]:

Verse 2

but having suffered before and been shamefully treated, as ye know, at Philippi, we waxed bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God in much conflict. [The Thessalonians remembered how Paul and Silas had come to them fresh from Philippi, with the evidences of persecution yet apparent on their bodies--a persecution which was indeed shameful because it was wholly undeserved and contrary to law--but they also remembered that they were in no way terrified or deterred either by these present tokens of past suffering, or by the storm of persecution which threatened their speedy repetition, from preaching the gospel boldly.]

Verse 3

For our exhortation is not of error, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile [The word "exhortation" has a double significance--it includes the idea of rousing the slothful, and also that of comforting the sorrowful. Paul here begins to contrast his teaching with that of false teachers with whom the world abounded, and with whom the Thessalonians had been long familiar. The instruction of these teachers, being founded on myths, fables and delusions, was full of error. The purpose of the instruction was to introduce lascivious mysteries and unhallowed rites such as the Bacchic, Isiac, Mythraic, etc.; the manner of the instruction was full of trickery and guile (Acts 8:9; Acts 13:6-10). Paul had not roused the indifferent by proclaiming false dangers, nor comforted the despairing by wakening vain hopes]:

Verse 4

but even as we have been approved of God to be intrusted with the gospel, so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God who proveth our hearts. [Instead of preaching the old falsehoods which had so long pleased the wicked of Thessalonica, Paul had come as a trustee of God commissioned to preach the gospel, and he had preached it realizing his accountability as to the trust imposed upon him.]

Verse 5

For neither at any time were we found using words of flattery, as ye know, nor a cloak of covetousness, God is witness [As to his outward conduct (that it was without flattery) he calls the Thessalonians to witness, and as to his inward desires (that they were without covetousness) he calls God to witness. Self-seeking and flattery were the besetting sins of false teachers (Romans 16:18). Paul had spoken plainly of the sins of his hearers, and had demanded immediate and thorough repentance];

Verse 6

nor seeking glory of men, neither from you nor from others, when we might have claimed authority as apostles of Christ. [As the apostle had not preached for money, neither had he preached for fame. Though he might have stood upon his dignity, and magnified his office as an ambassador of God, yet he had not done even this. He had not preached the gospel because he held high office in the kingdom, and so would be exalted by its enlargement; but he had preached to save souls. Not only at Thessalonica had he done this, but everywhere else.]

Verse 7

But we were gentle in the midst of you, as when a nurse [nourisher; i. e., nursing mother] cherisheth her own children:

Verse 8

even so, being affectionately desirous of you [not yours, but you], we were well pleased to impart unto you, not the gospel of God only [as the sincere milk of the Word], but also [as mothers often do for their new-born babes] our own souls [lives-- 1 John 3:16], because ye were become very dear to us.

Verse 9

For ye remember, brethren, our labor and travail: working night and day [the Hebrew order-- Genesis 1:5], that we might not burden any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God. [The apostle was so intent upon blessing the Thessalonians with the gospel of God that he toiled at night to make up the time spent in teaching them by day.]

Verse 10

Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily [toward God] and righteously [toward man] and unblamably [either toward God or man] we behaved ourselves toward you that believe [Paul here claims not perfection, but consistency of life]:

Verse 11

as ye know how we dealt with each one of you [individually, and without partiality], as a father [as patiently, tenderly and earnestly as a father] with his own children, exhorting you, and encouraging you, and testifying,

Verse 12

to the end that ye should walk worthily of God, who calleth you into his own kingdom and glory. [As those who are called to an honor owe it to the one calling them to walk worthy of the honor, so the Thessalonians, being called to have part in the present kingdom and future glory of God, needed to walk circumspectly. Having thus rehearsed the ministry at Thessalonica, step by step, from the day he entered the city until he departed from it, Paul now turns to tell the effects of that ministry upon the Thessalonians.]

Verse 13

And for this cause we also thank God without ceasing [without ever failing to mention it in our prayers], that, when ye received from us the word of the message, even the word of God, ye accepted it not as the word of men, but, as it is in truth, the word of God, which also worketh in you that believe. [The word is the good seed of the kingdom which the heart receives, and from which it brings forth fruit with patience-- Luke 8:11-15]

Verse 14

For ye, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judaea in Christ Jesus: for ye also suffered the same things of your own countrymen, even as they did of the Jews [their countrymen];

Verse 15

who both killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove out us, and please not God, and are contrary to all men;

Verse 16

forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved; to fill up their sins always [Genesis 15:16; Matthew 23:32]: but the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost. [While narrating the course of events at Thessalonica, Paul notes the similarity between the history of the Thessalonian church and that of the Judæan churches, and reviews the latter history for the encouragement of the Thessalonians. Surely the opposition of their pagan countrymen ought not to cause these Thessalonian Christians to doubt that God favored or approved them, for such opposition was to be expected. Even the Jews, though professedly the people of God, had killed God’s prophets and Christ their Lord, and had driven out the apostles and evangelists. Though the Jews were God’s people, their conduct in rejecting God’s Son showed that they did not please God; and that they were haters of their fellow-men was very apparent, for they even forbade Christ’s apostles to attempt to save the Gentiles by preaching the gospel to them. Their opposition to churches either in Judæea or Greece was therefore no evidence that God disapproved these churches: on the contrary, God patiently permitted them to do all this, that their wickedness might be fully ripened and exposed, so that a full and notable punishment might be meted out to them--punishment which began just before the siege of Jerusalem, and continues to this day. Wrath unto the uttermost, or unto the end, signifies a wrath which fully expends itself in executing judgment. It does not mean wrath unto the end of the world-- Romans 11:15; Romans 11:25-26]

Verse 17

But we, brethren, being bereaved of you for a short season [about six months], in presence not in heart [Colossians 2:5], endeavored the more exceedingly to see your face with great desire [Paul had been torn rudely from the Thessalonians by the hand of persecution, so he speaks of being "bereaved" of them, thus using a strong word which indicates both the separation and the sense of desolation which arose from it. Though he had been but about six months absent from them, his heart was filled with desires to return to them]:

Verse 18

because we would fain have come unto you, I Paul once and again [emphatic way of saying twice]; and Satan hindered us. [How Satan hindered, we are not told, but we find that his emissaries had so little disposition to let Paul return that they drove him from Beroea onward to Athens.]

Verse 19

For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of glorying? Are not even ye, before our Lord Jesus at his coming?

Verse 20

For ye are our glory and our joy. [Paul also calls the Philippians his joy and crown (Philippians 4:1), and expresses, as here, a hope of glorying hereafter both in them and in the Corinthians (Philippians 2:16; 2 Corinthians 1:14). Paul usually employs the word "crown" in a figurative sense, the figure being derived from the wreath or chaplets worn by athletes in the Grecian games (1 Corinthians 9:24-27; 2 Timothy 4:7-8), and it is fair to suppose that he does so here. The full thought, then, is this: As an athlete, who, in the absence of his king, had entered the contest, competed for, and won the crown, would, on the king’s appearing, rejoice to lay his trophy at the king’s feet; so Paul, having won the Thessalonians for Christ, hoped that he might joyfully present them to Christ at his coming. The passage is a beautiful but effectual rebuke to the idle fears of some Christians that they will not recognize their friends in the hereafter. If Paul could not recognize the Thessalonians, how could he present them as his crown, or glory in them ?]

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
First published online at The Restoration Movement Pages.
Bibliographical Information
McGarvey, J. W. "Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 2". "J. W. McGarvey's Original Commentary on Acts". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/oca/1-thessalonians-2.html. Transylvania Printing and Publishing Co. Lexington, KY. 1872.