1 Thessalonians 2


The apostle sets forth how the Gospel was brought and preached

to the Thessalonians, in consequence of his being persecuted at

Philippi, 1, 2.

The manner in which the apostles preached, the matter of their

doctrine, and the tenor of their lives, 3-11.

He exhorts them to walk worthy of God, 12.

And commends them for the manner in which they received the

Gospel, 13.

How they suffered from their own countrymen, as the first

believers did from the Jews, who endeavoured to prevent the

apostles from preaching the Gospel to the Gentiles, 14-16.

St. Paul's apology for his absence from them; and his earnest

desire to see them, founded on his great affection for them,



Verse 1. Our entrance in unto you] His first coming to preach

the Gospel was particularly owned of the Lord, many of them having

been converted under his ministry. This consideration gave him a

right to deliver all the following exhortations.

Verse 2. Shamefully entreated-at Philippi] There Paul and

Silas had been beaten with many stripes, shut up in the inner

prison, and their feet made fast in the stocks. See Ac 16:23,

&c.; and the notes there.

With much contention.] The words ενπολλωαγωνι not only

signify, with intense labour and earnestness, but may here mean,

exposed to the greatest danger; at the peril of our lives. The

Greek phrase quoted by Rosenmuller is to the point, αγωνπροφασιν

ουκαναμενει, in danger we must not delay-activity and despatch

are then indispensably necessary.

Verse 3. Our exhortation] The word παρακλησις has a very

extensive meaning; it signifies not only exhortation and teaching

in general, but also encouragement, consolation, and the like.

When the apostles exhorted or admonished men, it was that they

should turn from evil to good, from misery to happiness, from

Satan to God, and from hell to heaven. Their exhortations

having this object, every word was consolatory; and as the truth

which they delivered was unquestionable, therefore their ministry

was a subject of the highest encouragement and joy.

Not of deceit] We did not endeavour to allure you with false

pretences; we did not deceive you, nor were we deceived ourselves.

Nor of uncleanness] Such as the teachings of the Gentile

philosophers were; their supreme gods were celebrated for their

adulteries, fornications, uncleannesses, thefts, barbarities, and

profligacies of the most odious kind. Our Gospel was pure; came

from the pure and holy God; was accompanied with the influences of

the Holy Spirit, and produced purity both in the hearts and lives

of all that received it.

Nor in guile] We had no false pretences, and were influenced

by no sinister motives.

Verse 4. But as we were allowed of God] καθωςδεδοκιμασμεθα.

As we were accounted worthy to be put in trust-as God put

confidence in us, and sent us on his most especial message to

mankind, even so we speak, keeping the dignity of our high calling

continually in view; and, acting as in the sight of God, we speak

not to please or flatter men, though our doctrine is the most

consolatory that can be conceived, but to please that God who

searcheth the heart, and before whom all our motives are

constantly without a veil.

Verse 5. Flattering words] Though we proclaimed the Gospel or

glad tidings, yet we showed that without holiness none should see

the Lord.

Ye know] That while we preached the whole Gospel we never gave

any countenance to sin.

For a cloak of covetousness] We did not seek temporal

emolument; nor did we preach the Gospel for a cloak to our

covetousness: God is witness that we did not; we sought you, not

yours. Hear this, ye that preach the Gospel! Can ye call God to

witness that in preaching it ye have no end in view by your

ministry but his glory in the salvation of souls? Or do ye enter

into the priesthood for a morsel of bread, or for what is

ominously and impiously called a living, a benefice? In better

days your place and office were called a cure of souls; what care

have you for the souls of them by whose labours you are in general

more than sufficiently supported? Is it your study, your earnest

labour, to bring sinners to God; to preach among your heathen

parishioners the unsearchable riches of Christ?

But I should speak to the thousands who have no parishes, but

who have their chapels, their congregations, pew and seat rents,

&c., &c. Is it for the sake of these that ye have entered or

continue in the Gospel ministry? Is God witness that, in all

these things, ye have no cloak of covetousness? Happy is the man

who can say so, whether he has the provision which the law of the

land allows him, or whether he lives on the free-will offerings of

the people.

The faithful labourer is worthy of his hire; for the ox that

treads out the corn should not be muzzled; and they that preach

the Gospel should live, not riot, by the Gospel. But wo to that

man who enters into the labour for the sake of the hire! he knows

not Christ; and how can he preach him?

Verse 6. Nor of men sought we glory] As we preached not for

worldly gain, so we preached not for popular applause; we had what

we sought for-the approbation of God, and the testimony of a good


When we might have been burdensome] They had a right to their

maintenance while they devoted themselves wholly to the work of

the Gospel for the sake of the people's souls. Others understand

the words ενβαρειειναι, to be honourable; we sought no glory of

you nor of others, though we were honourable as the apostles of

Christ. cabod, in Hebrew, to which the Greek βαρος answers,

signifies not only weight but glory; and in both these senses the

apostle uses it, 2Co 4:17.

Verse 7. But we were gentle among you] Far from assuming the

authority which we had, we acted towards you as a tender nurse or

parent does to a delicate child. We fed, counselled, cherished,

and bore with you; we taught you to walk, preserved you from

stumbling, and led you in a right path.

Instead of ηπιοι, gentle, many MSS., and several versions and

fathers, have νηπιοι, young children. But this never can be

considered the original reading, the scope of the place being

totally opposed to it. It is the Thessalonians whom the apostle

considers as young children, and himself and fellow labourers as

the nurse; he could with no propriety say that he was among them

as a little child, while himself professed to be their nurse.

Verse 8. Being affectionately desirous of you] We had such

intense love for you that we were not only willing and forward to

preach the unsearchable riches of Christ to you, but also to give

our own lives for your sake, because ye were dear, διοτιαγαπητοι

ημιν, because ye were beloved by us. The words used here by the

apostle are expressive of the strongest affection and attachment.

Verse 9. Ye remember-our labour and travail] From this it

appears that St. Paul spent much more time at Thessalonica than is

generally supposed; for the expressions in this verse denote a

long continuance of a constantly exercised ministry, interrupted

only by manual labour for their own support; labouring night and

day, because we would not be chargeable to you. Probably Paul and

his companions worked with their hands by day, and spent a

considerable part of the night, or evenings, in preaching Christ

to the people.

Verse 10. Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily] i.e.,

in reference to GOD; how justly in reference to men; and

unblamably in reference to our spirit and conduct, as ministers

of Christ, we behaved ourselves among you. What a consciousness

of his own integrity must St. Paul have had to use the expressions

that are here! No hypocrite, and none who did the work of the

Lord carelessly, could make such an appeal both to God and man.

Verse 11. How we exhorted] What pastoral care is marked here!

They exhorted-were continually teaching and instructing, the

objects of their charge; this was their general work.

And comforted] They found many under trials and temptations,

and those they encouraged.

And charged] μαρτυρουμενοι. Continued witness to the people

that all the threatenings and promises of God were true; that he

required faith, love, and obedience; that he could not behold sin

with allowance; that Jesus died to save them from their sins; and

that, without holiness, none should see God. And all these things

they did, not in a general way only, but they spoke to every man;

none was left unnoticed, unadmonished, uncomforted. The spirit in

which they performed all these branches of the pastoral care was

that which was most likely to insure success; as a father treats

his children, so they treated every member of the Church.

Verse 12. That ye would walk worthy of God] That they should,

in every respect, act up to their high calling, that it would not

be a reproach to the God of holiness to acknowledge them as his

sons and daughters.

See Clarke on Eph 4:1; "Php 1:27"; and "Col 1:10".

His Kingdom and glory.] His Church here, for that is the

kingdom of God among men; and his glory hereafter, for that is the

state to which the dispensations of grace in his Church lead. The

words, how ever, may be a hendiadys, and signify his glorious


Verse 13. Ye received the word of God] Ye received the

doctrine of God, not as any thing fabricated by man, but as coming

immediately from God himself, we being only his messengers to

declare what he had previously revealed to us. And ye have had

the fullest proof that ye have not believed in vain; for that

doctrine, under the power and influence of the Holy Ghost, has

worked most powerfully in you, filling you with light, life, and


Verse 14. Ye-became followers of the Churches of God] There

is not a word here of the Church of Rome being the model after

which the other Churches were to be formed; it had no such

pre-eminence: this honour belonged to the Churches of Judea; it

was according to them, not the Church at Rome, that the Asiatic

Churches were modelled. The purest of all the apostolic Churches

was that of the Thessalonians, and this was formed after the

Christian Churches in Judea.

Had any pre-eminence or authority belonged to the Church of

Rome, the apostle would have proposed this as a model to all those

which he formed either in Judea, Asia Minor, Greece, or Italy.

Ye also have suffered-of your own countrymen] It is worthy of

remark that, in almost every case, the Jews were the leaders of

all persecutions against the apostles and the infant Church. And

what they could not do themselves, they instigated others to do;

and, by gathering together lewd fellows of the baser sort from

among the Gentiles, they made frequent uproars, and especially at

Thessalonica, where the opposition to the Gospel was very high,

and the persecution of the Christians very hot.

Verse 15. & 16. Who hath killed the Lord Jesus, &c.] What a

finished but just character is this of the Jews! 1. They slew the

Lord Jesus, through the most unprincipled and fell malice. 2.

They killed their own prophets; there was no time in which the

seed of the serpent did not hate and oppose spiritual things, they

slew even their own prophets who declared to them the will of God.

3. They persecuted the apostles; showing the same spirit of

enmity to the Gospel which they had shown to the law. 4. They did

not please God, nor seek to please him; though they pretended that

their opposition to the Gospel was through their zeal for God's

glory, they were hypocrites of the worst kind. 5. They were

contrary to all men; they hated the whole human race, and judged

and wished them to perdition. 6. They forbade the apostles to

preach to the Gentiles, lest they should be saved; this was an

inveteracy of malice completely superhuman; they persecuted the

body to death, and the soul to damnation! They were afraid that

the Gentiles should get their souls saved if the Gospel was

preached to them! 7. They filled up their sins always; they had

no mere purposes or outlines of iniquity, all were filled up;

every evil purpose was followed, as far as possible, with a wicked

act! Is it any wonder, therefore, that wrath should come upon

them to the uttermost? It is to be reckoned among the highest

mercies of God that the whole nation was not pursued by the Divine

justice to utter and final extinction.

Verse 16. See Clarke on 1Th 2:15.

Verse 17. Being taken from you for a short time] Through the

persecution raised by the Jews, see Acts xvii., he was obliged to

leave Thessalonica, and yield to a storm that it would have been

useless for him to have withstood.

Being taken from you-in presence, not in heart] The apostle

had compared himself to a parent or nurse, 1Th 2:7, 11; and the

people he considered as his most beloved children; here he

represents himself as feeling what an affectionate father must

feel when torn from his children; for this is the import of the

word απορφανισθεντες, bereft of children, which we tamely

translate being taken from you.

Endeavoured the more abundantly] His separation from them did

not destroy his parental feelings, and the manner in which he was

obliged to leave them increased his desire to visit them as soon

as possible.

Verse 18. Even I Paul] He had already sent Timothy and Silas

to them; but he himself was anxious to see them, and had purposed

this once and again, but Satan hindered; i.e., some adversary, as

the word means, whether the devil himself, or some of his

children. There was, however, such a storm of persecution raised

up against him, that his friends did not think it prudent to

permit him to go till the storm had been somewhat allayed.

Verse 19. For what is our hope] I can have no prospects from

earth; I have forsaken all for the Gospel; and esteem every thing

it can afford as dross and dung, that I may gain Christ. Why then

should I continually labour at the risk of my life, preaching the

Gospel? Is it not to get your souls saved, that ye may be my

crown of rejoicing in the day of Christ? For this I labour; and,

having planted the Gospel among you, I wish to take every

opportunity of watering it, that it may grow up unto eternal life.

Verse 20. For ye are our glory and joy.] Ye are the seal of

our apostleship; your conversion and steadiness are a full proof

that God hath sent us. Converts to Christ are our ornaments;

persevering believers, our joy in the day of judgment.

1. IN the preceding chapter we have the character and marks of

a genuine pastor laid down in such a manner as not to be

misunderstood. Every man who preaches the Gospel should carefully

read this chapter and examine himself by it. Most preachers, on

reading it conscientiously, will either give up their place to

others, or purpose to do the work of the Lord more fervently for

the future. He who expects nothing but the approbation of Christ,

will labour for Christ; and he, who has the glory of his Master

only in view, will ever have his Master's presence and blessing.

Those who enter into this work for human applause or secular

emolument, may have their reward; but in that, one smile of

approbation from Christ is not included.

2. God, for reasons best known to himself, often permits the

most pious and benevolent purposes of his servants to be

frustrated for a time. It is well that the good purpose was in

the heart; but God knows the fittest time and place to bring it to

effect. Satan is ever opposing all that is pure, good, and

benevolent and he appears frequently to succeed; but this is not

really the case: if at any time he prevents the followers of God

from bringing a pious purpose into effect, that was the time in

which it could not have been done to secure its full effect. Let

the purpose be retained, and the best time and place will be duly

provided. As Satan constantly endeavours to oppose every good

work, no wonder he is found opposing a good purpose, even at the

very time that God sees it improper to bring it to the intended

effect. Man proposes, but God disposes.

3. The apostle speaks of the wrath coming upon the Jews: it was

about twenty years after this that their city was destroyed, their

temple burnt, more than a million of them destroyed, their civil

polity utterly subverted, and what remained of this wretched

nation scattered to all the winds of heaven; and in this state,

without a nation, without a temple, without worship, and

apparently without any religion, they continue, to this day, a

monument of God's displeasure, and a proof of the Divine

inspiration both of the prophets and apostles, who, in the most

explicit manner, had predicted all the evils which have since

befallen them. Their crimes were great; to these their punishment

is proportioned. For what end God has preserved them distinct

from all the people of the earth among whom they sojourn, we

cannot pretend to say; but it must unquestionably be for an object

of the very highest importance. In the meantime, let the

Christian world treat them with humanity and mercy.

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