1 Thessalonians 2
Paul’s Ministry in Thessalonica1 For you yourselves know, brothers and sisters, ▼ about our coming to you – it has not proven to be purposeless. ▼
▼ Grk “has not become empty.” Paul is defending himself against the charge that he lacked earnestness and personal concern for them, but appeared in their city out of greed or egotism. In his defense he appeals to what they recall of his ministry and what has become of it since he left, all of which demonstrates his God-given earnestness and effectiveness.2 But although we suffered earlier and were mistreated in Philippi, ▼ as you know, we had the courage in our God to declare to you the gospel of God ▼
▼ The genitive in the phrase τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τοῦ θεοῦ (to euangelion tou qeou, “the gospel of God”) could be translated as either a subjective genitive (“the gospel which God brings”) or an objective genitive (“the gospel about God”). Either is grammatically possible. This is possibly an instance of a plenary genitive (see ExSyn 119–21; M. Zerwick, "Biblical Greeks, ##36–39). If so, an interplay between the two concepts is intended: The gospel which God brings is in fact the gospel about himself. This same phrase occurs in vv. 8 and 9 as well.in spite of much opposition. 3 For the appeal we make ▼ does not come ▼
▼ Grk “[is] not” (the verb “to be” is implied in the Greek construction).from error or impurity or with deceit, 4 but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we declare it, not to please people but God, who examines our hearts. 5 For we never appeared ▼
▼ Or “came on the scene,” “came.”with flattering speech, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed – God is our witness – 6 nor to seek glory from people, either from you or from others, 7 ▼
▼ Punctuating vv. 6 and 7 is difficult. One must consider the difficult textual problem of v. 7 (see [V] note on the word “children” in that verse) as well as the grammar of the verse. In the translation above, “little children” is understood to be a predicate nominative connected to the verb “became.” This allows a full stop to be placed at the end of v. 6 and before the phrase “like a nursing mother” in v. 7. This separates the two metaphors which impact the textual problem and allows for greater clarity in the way the sentence is read.although we could have imposed our weight as apostles of Christ; instead we became ▼
▼ Or “were,” “proved to be.”little children ▼
▼ The variant ἤπιοι (ēpioi, “gentle”) has fair support (א2 A C2 D2 Ψc 0278 33 1739 1881 Maj.), but νήπιοι (nēpioi, “little children”) has significantly stronger backing (Ƥ65 א* B C* D* F G I Ψ* pc it bo). It is not insignificant that the earliest Alexandrian and Western witnesses in support of ἤπιοι are actually not Alexandrian or Western; they are the second correctors of Alexandrian and Western mss. Such correctors generally follow a Byzantine Vorlage. The reading νήπιοι is thus superior externally. Further, νήπιοι is much harder in this context, for Paul mixes his metaphors (“we became little children in your midst…Like a nursing mother…”). Thus, the scribes would naturally alter this reading to the softer ἤπιοι (“we became gentle…”). Paul is not known for his consistency of figures, however (cf., e.g., Gal 4:19); hence, the intrinsic evidence points to νήπιοι as original. On the other hand, it is possible that νήπιοι was caused by dittography with the preceding -μεν (-men). It is even possible that νήπιοι was caused by an error of hearing right from the beginning: The amanuensis could have heard the apostle incorrectly. But such a supposition cuts both ways; further, Paul would no doubt have corrected the reading in the ms before it was sent out. If so, one would surely have expected both earlier witnesses on the side of ἤπιοι and perhaps a few first correctors to have this reading. The reading “little children” thus stands as most probably original. (For an extended discussion of this problem, see J. A. D. Weima, “‘But We Became Infants Among You’: The Case for NHPIOI in 1 Thess 2.7,” NTS 46 : 547-64; T. B. Sailors, “Wedding Textual and Rhetorical Criticism to Understand the Text of 1 Thessalonians 2.7,” JSNT 80 : 81-98.)among you. Like a nursing mother caring for her own children, 8 with such affection for you ▼
▼ Grk “longing for you in this way.”we were happy ▼
▼ Or “we are happy.” This verb may be past or present tense, but the context favors the past.to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us. 9 For you recall, brothers and sisters, ▼ our toil and drudgery: By working night and day so as not to impose a burden on any of you, we preached to you the gospel of God. 10 You are witnesses, and so is God, as to how holy and righteous and blameless our conduct was toward you who believe. 11 As you know, we treated each one of you as a father treats his own children, 12 exhorting and encouraging you and insisting that you live in a way worthy of God who calls you to his own kingdom and his glory. 13 And so ▼ we too constantly thank God that when you received God’s message that you heard from us, ▼
▼ Grk “God’s word of hearing from us.”you accepted it not as a human message, ▼
▼ Paul’s focus is their attitude toward the message he preached: They received it not as a human message but a message from God.but as it truly is, God’s message, which is at work among you who believe. 14 For you became imitators, brothers and sisters, ▼ of God’s churches in Christ Jesus that are in Judea, because you too suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they in fact did from the Jews, 15 who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets ▼
▼ ἰδίους (idious, “their own prophets”) is found in D1 Ψ Maj. sy McionT. This is obviously a secondary reading. Marcion’s influence may stand behind part of the tradition, but the Byzantine text probably added the adjective in light of its mention in v. 14 and as a clarification or interpretation of which prophets were in view.and persecuted us severely. ▼ They are displeasing to God and are opposed to all people, 16 because they hinder us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. Thus they constantly fill up their measure of sins, ▼
▼ Grk “to fill up their sins always.”but wrath ▼ ▼ has come upon them completely. ▼
▼ Or “at last.”
Forced Absence from Thessalonica17 But when we were separated from you, brothers and sisters, ▼ for a short time (in presence, not in affection) ▼
▼ Grk “in face, not in heart.”we became all the more fervent in our great desire ▼
▼ Grk “with great desire.”to see you in person. ▼
▼ Grk “to see your face.”18 For we wanted to come to you (I, Paul, in fact tried again and again) ▼
▼ Or “several times”; Grk, “both once and twice.” The literal expression “once and twice” is frequently used as a Greek idiom referring to an indefinite low number, but more than once (“several times”); see L&N 60.70.but Satan thwarted us. 19 For who is our hope or joy or crown to boast of ▼ before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not of course you? 20 For you are our glory and joy!
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