15 million Ukrainian are displaced by Russia's war.
Millions miss a meal or two each day.
Help us change that! Click to donate today!

Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

1 Thessalonians 3

Verse 1

5. St. Paul’s sending Timothy (from Athens?) to visit and confirm his Thessalonians, 1 Thessalonians 3:1-5.

1. Forbear The old Greek word for this signified first to cover, afterward to contain, and finally to contain or restrain one’s self.

Thought it good Note on the noun of this verb, Ephesians 1:5. Alford remarks here that the word does not carry with it any signification of pleasure except so far as we say “it was our pleasure,” referring merely to the resolution of the will. But “pleasure,” in the ordinary English sense of the word, signifying merely emotional agreeableness, never belongs to the words. The Greek term is compounded of ευ , well, or right, and δοκεω , to seem or appear, or to think. Hence, when used in public decrees, it means, such is the right-seeming unto us, the authorities. That right-seeming claims to be the just ground of the decree. It is an absolutely just right-seeming when the authority is an absolutely just one. When such an authority in English uses the phrase, it is our pleasure, as equivalent to the Greek phrase, the word pleasure has not its sense of mere gratification, but of right-seeming; and of decree accordant with that right-seeming. Paul’s right-seeming was the right-seeming of a right-minded thinker.

Left at Athens alone By Timothy. When Paul embarked for Athens from Berea, he sent back command for Silas and Timothy to follow him to Athens. Acts 17:15. This Timothy may have obeyed, and thus St. Paul and Timothy may have been briefly together in Athens. But in time, as here narrated, Paul’s anxiety for his Thessalonians became so great that he concluded to send Timothy back again to them. though he would be thereby left at Athens alone. It does not appear that Silas came to Athens. But both joined St. Paul at Corinth. Acts 18:5.

Verse 2

2. Brother… minister… fellow labourer Such are the terms in which St. Paul commends Timothy to Thessalonica. While at Philippi and Thessalonica Timothy seems to have been a silent servitor to the apostle. But he was every day growing. In spite of youth and modesty, St. Paul knew that he was competent to be not only a messenger, but a gentle confirmer of the waning faith of the tried Thessalonians.

Verse 3

3. These afflictions The persecutions encountered from their countrymen. 1 Thessalonians 2:14.

Appointed thereunto To suffer these persecutions is the very mission to which we as Christians are appointed. They are the severe yet glorious lot of our sacred profession.

Verse 4

4. We told you before Of that hard but holy mission you were fairly forewarned.

Verse 5

5. For this cause Their afflictions: an earnest repetition. It was not for cause of mere homesick longing for them; but for cause of their trials and the persistence of their faith, and the surety of their eternal salvation, that he could no longer forbear.

The tempter Satan, 1 Thessalonians 2:18, by himself or his human agents.

Verse 6

6. Timothy’s return and report; and St. Paul’s consequent feeling and present prayer for them, 1 Thessalonians 3:6-13.

6. From Thessalonica Timothy returns and reports to St. Paul at Corinth. See note, Acts 18:4. The apostle, who up to that arrival had hardly been himself at Corinth, takes new life. The rich outburst of exultation here is a delightful commentary on Luke’s account of his then revolution of feeling.

Good tidings The Greek word for gospel. Timothy’s report was a very evangel to our apostle. Three delightful facts Timothy reported:

their faith, or firm persistence, spite of persecution, in Christian truth; their love, evincing the beauty of Christian goodness; their remembrance of their apostle, to which remembrance his mindful love was responsive.

Verse 7

7. Comforted… in all our affliction Both in his anxiety for them and his depression, as to Corinth. Note on Acts 17:4-5.

Verse 8

8. We live We were lifeless, dead, until your life and love revived us.

Verse 9

9. Thanks… render Our apostle now first describes his thanks, his joy, his nightly and daily prayers over the news from Thessalonica; and, then, breaks forth into one of those same prayers in their behalf.

Verse 10

10. See your face Repeatedly St. Paul did pass through Thessalonica and confirm and make powerful that future stronghold of Christian faith.

Lacking Literally, the lackings, deficiencies, or falterings of your faith, whether of belief in Christian truth or firmness of Christian profession.

Verse 11

11. How And now the prayer flows forth. It is three prayers in one: first, for a divinely directed way unto them; second, a perfecting of love; and, third, an unblameable fitness for the coming of Christ. The first is impliedly in order to the second, and both expressly in order to the third. May God himself accomplish what I have in vain attempted, namely, direct, etc. It is a striking fact that both here and in 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17, the verb is singular in the Greek with God and Christ for the nominative; a striking proof of the apostle’s assumption of their oneness.

Unto you Not simply in order to gratify our affection, but in order to your Christian confirmation and perfection.

Verse 12

12. Abound in love… toward all As the central Christian grace, which includes or implies all others.

Verse 13

13. Unblameable in holiness Not as Olshausen interprets, that holiness which consists in Christ in us, invisible here but made visible hereafter; nor in the perfect keeping of the Christless law; but in a personal holiness wrought in us by Christ, whereby we are enabled so to avoid sin and so to live in a perfect repentance for all infirmities as to receive the ever continuing, forgiving power of Christ’s blood, and a continuous uncondemning acceptance with God.

At the coming And this personal holiness, wrought by the cross of Christ, can stand scrutiny at the throne of Christ. He who is in perpetual forgiveness of us here, will not condemn us there. Since he will see that all our blamelessness, though attained by us, is wrought by him.

With all his saints Bringing their blessed spirits from Paradise to the resurrection scene. But in the Old Testament, as Olshausen remarks, the term for saints, holy ones, “undeniably means angels, as in Psalms 89:7; Zechariah 14:5; Daniel 8:13; Daniel 9:20. Besides, angels are named as accompanying Christ in his advent. Matthew 16:27; Mat 25:31 ; 2 Thessalonians 1:7; Jude 1:14.”

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 3". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.