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THE FIRST EPISTLE TO THE THESSALONIANS - Chapter 2 - Verse 16

Verse 16. Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles. See Ac 17:5,13. No particular instance is mentioned in the life of Paul previous to this, when they had formally commanded him not to preach to the heathen; but no one can doubt that this was one of the leading points of difference between him and them. Paul maintained, that the Jews and Gentiles were now on a level with regard to salvation; that the wall of partition was broken down; that the Jew had no advantages over the rest of mankind in this respect, and that the heathen might be saved without becoming Jews, or being circumcised, Ro 2:25-29; Ro 3:22-31; See Barnes "Col 1:25".

The Jews did not hold it unlawful "to speak to the Gentiles," and even to offer to them eternal life, (Mt 23:15;) but it was only on condition that they should become proselytes to their religion, and should observe the institutions of Moses. If saved, they held that it would be as Jews—either originally such, or such by becoming proselytes. Paul maintained just the opposite opinion, that heathens might be saved without becoming proselytes to the Jewish system, and that, in fact, salvation was as freely offered to them as to the children of Abraham. Though there are no express instances in which they prohibited Paul from speaking to the Gentiles recorded before the date of this epistle, yet events occurred afterwards which showed what were their feelings, and such as to make it in the highest degree probable that they had attempted to restrain him. See Ac 22:21,22. "And he [Christ] said unto me [Paul,] Depart, for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles. And they [the Jews] gave him audience unto this word, and then lift up their voices and said, Away with such a fellow from the earth, for it is not fit that he should live."

That they might be saved. That is, as freely as others, and on the same terms, not by conversion to Judaism, but by repentance and faith.

To fill up their sins alway. At all times pantote—in every generation. That is, to do now as they have always done, by resisting God and exposing themselves to his wrath. The idea is, that it had been a characteristic of the nation, at all times, to oppose God, and that they did it now in this manner in conformity with their fixed character. Comp. Ac 7:51-53, and See Barnes "Mt 23:32, on the expression, "Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers."

For the wrath is come upon them.This cannot mean that the wrath of God had been then actually poured out upon them in the extreme degree referred to, or that they had experienced the full expressions of the Divine displeasure, for this epistle was written before the destruction of their city and temple, (see the Introduction;) but that the cup of their iniquity was full; that they were, in fact, abandoned by God; that they were the objects, even then, of his displeasure, and that their destruction was so certain, that it might be spoken of as an indubitable fact. The "wrath of God" may be said to have come upon a man when he abandons him, even though there may not be as yet any external expressions of his indignation. It is not punishment that constitutes the wrath of God. That is the mere outward expression of the Divine indignation; and the wrath of God may, in fact, have come upon a man when as yet there are no external tokens of it. The overthrow of Jerusalem and the temple, were but the outward expressions of the Divine displeasure at their conduct. Paul, inspired to speak of the feelings God, describes that wrath as already existing in the Divine mind; Comp. Ro 1:18.

To the uttermost. Gr. eiv telov, to the end; that is, until wrath shall be complete or exhausted; or wrath in the extremest degree. It does not mean "to the end of their race or history;" nor necessarily to the remotest periods of time, but to that which constitutes completion, so that there should be nothing lacking of that which would make indignation perfect: eiv telov—thoroughly, entirely, through and through." Passow. Some have understood this as meaning at the last or at length, as Macknight, Rosenmuller, Koppe, and Wetstein; others as referring to duration, meaning, that it would follow them everywhere; but the more correct interpretation seems to be to refer it to that extremity of calamity and woe which was about to come upon the nation. For an account of this, See Barnes "Mt 24:21".

 

{b} "forbidding" Ac 17:5,13; 18:12

{c} "fill up" Ge 15:16; Mt 23:32 {d} "uttermost" Re 22:11

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