Address: Salutation: His Prayerful
Thanksgiving for Their Faith, Hope, and
Love. Their First Reception of the
Gospel, and Their Good Influence on All Around.
1. Paul—He does not add "an apostle,"
because in their case, as in that of the Philippians (see on Php 1:1), his apostolic authority needs not any
substantiation. He writes familiarly as to faithful friends, not but
that his apostleship was recognized among them (1Th 2:6). On the other hand, in writing to the
Galatians, among whom some had called in question his apostleship, he
strongly asserts it in the superscription. An undesigned propriety in
the Epistles, evincing genuineness.
Silvanus—a "chief man among the
brethren" (Ac 15:22),
and a "prophet" (Ac 15:32),
and one of the deputies who carried the decree of the Jerusalem council
to Antioch. His age and position cause him to be placed before
"Timothy," then a youth (Ac 16:1; 1Ti 4:12). Silvanus (the Gentile expanded form of
"Silas") is called in 1Pe 5:12, "a
faithful brother" (compare 2Co 1:19).
They both aided in planting the Thessalonian Church, and are therefore
included in the address. This, the first of Paul's Epistles, as being
written before various evils crept into the churches, is without the
censures found in other Epistles. So realizing was their Christian
faith, that they were able hourly to look for the Lord Jesus.
unto the church—not merely as in the
Epistles to Romans, Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians, "to the
saints," or "the faithful at Thessalonica." Though as yet they do not
seem to have had the final Church organization under
permanent "bishops" and deacons, which appears in the later
Epistles (See on Php 1:1; 1 and 2 Timothy). Yet
he designates them by the honorable term "Church," implying their
status as not merely isolated believers, but a corporate body with
spiritual rulers (1Th 5:12; 2Co 1:1; Ga 1:2).
in—implying vital union.
God the Father—This marks that they
were no longer heathen.
the Lord Jesus Christ—This marks that
they were not Jews, but Christians.
Grace be unto you, and peace—that ye
may have in God that favor and peace which men withhold [Anselm]. This is the salutation in all the
Epistles of Paul, except the three pastoral ones, which have "grace,
mercy, and peace." Some of the oldest manuscripts support, others omit
the clause following, "from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."
It may have crept in from 1Co 1:3; 2Co 1:2.
2. (Ro 1:9; 2Ti 1:3.) The structure of the sentences in this
and the following verses, each successive sentence repeating with
greater fulness the preceding, characteristically marks Paul's
abounding love and thankfulness in respect to his converts, as if he
were seeking by words heaped on words to convey some idea of his
exuberant feelings towards them.
We—I, Silvanus, and Timotheus. Ro 1:9 supports Alford in translating, "making mention of you in our
prayers without ceasing" (1Th 1:3).
Thus, "without ceasing," in the second clause, answers in parallelism
to "always," in the first.
3. work of faith—the working reality
of your faith; its alacrity in receiving the truth, and in
evincing itself by its fruits. Not an otiose assent; but a
realizing, working faith; not "in word only," but in one
continuous chain of "work" (singular, not plural, works), 1Th
1:5-10; Jas 2:22. So "the
work of faith" in 2Th 1:11
implies its perfect development (compare Jas 1:4). The other governing substantives
similarly mark respectively the characteristic manifestation of the
grace which follows each in the genitive. Faith, love, and
hope, are the three great Christian graces (1Th 5:8; 1Co
labour of love—The Greek
implies toil, or troublesome labor, which we are
stimulated by love to bear (1Th 2:9; Re 2:2). For instances of self-denying
labors of love, see Ac 20:35; Ro 16:12. Not here ministerial labors.
Those who shun trouble for others, love little (compare Heb 6:10).
of hope"; the persevering endurance of trials which flows from
15:4 shows that "patience"
also nourishes "hope."
hope in our Lord Jesus—literally,
"hope of our Lord Jesus," namely, of His coming (1Th 1:10): a hope that looked forward beyond all
present things for the manifestation of Christ.
in the sight of God and our
Father—Your "faith, hope, and love" were not merely such as
would pass for genuine before men, but "in the sight of God,"
the Searcher of hearts [Gomarus]. Things
are really what they are before God. Bengel takes this clause with "remembering."
Whenever we pray, we remember before God your faith,
hope, and love. But its separation from "remembering" in the order, and
its connection with "your … faith," &c., make me to prefer
the former view.
and, &c.—The Greek implies,
"in the sight of Him who is [at once] God and our Father."
4. Knowing—Forasmuch as we know.
your election of God—The Greek
is rather, "beloved by God"; so Ro 1:7; 2Th 2:13. "Your election" means that God has
elected you as individual believers to eternal life (Ro
11:5, 7; Col 3:12; 2Th 2:13).
5. our gospel—namely, the Gospel which
came—Greek, "was made," namely,
by God, its Author and Sender. God's having made our preaching among
you to be attended with such "power," is the proof that you are "elect
of God" (1Th
in power—in the efficacy of the Holy
Spirit clothing us with power (see end of verse; Ac 1:8; 4:33;
6:5, 8) in preaching the
Gospel, and making it in you the power of God unto salvation (Ro 1:16). As "power" produces
faith; so "the Holy Ghost," love; and "much assurance"
2:2, full persuasion),
hope (Heb 6:11),
resting on faith (Heb 10:22).
So faith, love, and hope (1Th 1:3).
as ye know—answering to the "knowing,"
that is, as WE know (1Th 1:4) your character as the elect of
God, so YE know ours as
for your sake—The purpose herein
indicated is not so much that of the apostles, as that of God. "You
know what God enabled us to be … how mighty in preaching the
word … for your sakes … thereby proving that He had
chosen (1Th 1:4) you
for His own" [Alford]. I think, from
2:10-12, that, in "what
manner of men we were among you," besides the power in
preaching, there is included also Paul's and his fellow
missionaries' whole conduct which confirmed their preaching; and
in this sense, the "for your sake" will mean "in order to win you."
This, though not the sole, yet would be a strong, motive to holy
circumspection, namely, so as to win those without (Col 4:5; compare 1Co 9:19-23).
6. And ye—answering to "For our
The Thessalonians in their turn became "ensamples" (1Th 1:7) for others to imitate.
of the Lord—who was the apostle of the
Father, and taught the word, which He brought from heaven, under
adversities [Bengel]. This was the point
in which they imitated Him and His apostles, joyful witness for
the word in much affliction: the second proof of their
election of God (1Th 1:4);
1Th 1:5 is the first (see on 1Th 1:5).
received the word in much
affliction—(1Th 2:14; 3:2-5; Ac 17:5-10).
joy of—that is, wrought by "the
Holy Ghost." "The oil of gladness" wherewith the Son of God was
"anointed above His fellows" (Ps 45:7), is the same oil with which He, by the
Spirit, anoints His fellows too (Isa 61:1, 3; Ro
14:17; 1Jo 2:20, 27).
7. ensamples—So some of the oldest
manuscripts read. Others, "ensample" (singular), the whole Church being
regarded as one. The Macedonian Church of Philippi was
the only one in Europe converted before the Thessalonians. Therefore he
means their past conduct is an ensample to all believers now; of whom
he specifies those "in Macedonia" because he had been there since the
conversion of the Thessalonians, and had left Silvanus and Timotheus
there; and those in "Achaia," because he was now at Corinth in
8. from you sounded … the word of the
Lord—not that they actually became missionaries: but they, by
the report which spread abroad of their "faith" (compare Ro 1:8), and by Christian merchants of
Thessalonica who travelled in various directions, bearing "the word of
the Lord" with them, were virtually missionaries, recommending
the Gospel to all within reach of their influence by word and by
1:7). In "sounded," the image
is that of a trumpet filling with its clear-sounding echo all the
to God-ward—no longer directed to
so that we need not to speak any
thing—to them in praise of your faith; "for (1Th 1:9) they themselves" (the people in
Macedonia, Achaia, and in every place) know it already.
9. Strictly there should follow, "For they
themselves show of you," &c.; but, instead, he substitutes that
which was the instrumental cause of the Thessalonians' conversion and
faith, "for they themselves show of us what manner of entering in we
had unto you"; compare 1Th 1:5, which corresponds to this former
clause, as 1Th 1:6
corresponds to the latter clause. "And how ye turned from idols to
serve the living … God," &c. Instead of our having "to
speak any thing" to them (in Macedonia and Achaia) in your praise
1:8), "they themselves
(have the start of us in speaking of you, and) announce
concerning (so the Greek of 'show of' means) us, what manner
of (how effectual an) entrance we had unto you" (1Th 1:5; 2:1).
the living and true God—as opposed to
the dead and false gods from which they had "turned." In
the English Version reading, Ac 17:4, "of the devout Greeks a great
multitude," no mention is made, as here, of the conversion of
idolatrous Gentiles at Thessalonica; but the reading of some of
the oldest manuscripts and Vulgate singularly coincides with the
statement here: "Of the devout AND of
Greeks (namely, idolaters) a great multitude"; so in Ac 17:17, "the devout persons," that is,
Gentile proselytes to Judaism, form a separate class. Paley and Lachmann,
by distinct lines of argument, support the "AND."
10. This verse distinguishes them from the
Jews, as 1Th 1:9 from
the idolatrous Gentiles. To wait for the Lord's coming is a sure
characteristic of a true believer, and was prominent amidst the graces
of the Thessalonians (1Co 1:7, 8).
His coming is seldom called his return (Joh 14:3); because the two advents are regarded
as different phases of the same coming; and the second coming shall
have features altogether new connected with it, so that it will not be
a mere repetition of the first, or a mere coming back again.
his Son … raised from the
dead—the grand proof of His divine Sonship (Ro 1:4).
delivered—rather as Greek, "who
delivereth us." Christ has once for all redeemed us; He
is our Deliverer ALWAYS.
wrath to come—(1Th 5:9; Col