1 Thessalonians 3:1-5
1. Wherefore, when we could no longer forbear, we thought it good to be left at Athens alone,
1. Quare non amplius sufferentes censuimus, ut Athenis relinqueremur soli:
2. And sent Timotheus, our brother, and minister of God, and our fellow--laborer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith;
2. Et misimus Timotheum fratrem nostrum, et ministrum Dei, et cooperarium nostrum in evangelio Christi, ut confirmaret vos, et vobis animum adderet ex fide nostra,
3. That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto.
3. Ut nemo turbaretur in his afflictionibus: ipsi enim nostis quod in hoc sumus constituti.
4. For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know.
4. Etenim quum essemus apud vos, praediximus vobis quod essemus afflictiones passuri; quemadmodum etiam accidit, et nostis.
5. For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labor be in vain.
5. Quamobrem et ego non amplius sustinens, misi ut cognoscerem fidem vestram: ne forte tentasset vos, is qui tentat, et exinanitus esset labor noster.
1. Wherefore, when we could no longer endure. By the detail which follows, he assures them of the desire of which he had spoken. For if, on being detained elsewhere, he had sent no other to Thessalonica in his place, it might have seemed as though he were not so much concerned in regard to them; but when he substitutes Timothy in his place, he removes that suspicion, more especially when he prefers them before himself. Now that he esteemed them above himself, he shews from this, that he chose rather to be left alone than that they should be deserted: for these words, we judged it good to be left alone, are emphatic. Timothy was a most faithful companion to him: he had at that time no others with him; hence it was inconvenient and distressing for him to be without him. It is therefore a token of rare affection and anxious desire that he does not refuse to deprive himself of all comfort, with the view of relieving the Thessalonians. To the same effect is the word eujdokh>samen, which expresses a prompt inclination of the mind. 1
2. Our brother. He assigns to him these marks of commendation, that he may shew the more clearly how much inclined he was to consult their welfare: for if he had sent them some common person, it could not have afforded them much assistance; and inasmuch as Paul would have done this without inconvenience to himself, he would have given no remarkable proof of his fatherly concern in regard to them. It is, on the other hand, a great thing that he deprives himself of a brother and fellow--laborer, and one to whom, as he declares in Philippians 2:20, he found no equal, inasmuch as all aimed at the promotion of their own interests. In the mean time, 2 he procures authority for the doctrine which they had received from Timothy, that it may remain the more deeply impressed upon their memory.
It is, however, with good reason that he says that he had sent Timothy with this view--that they might receive a confirmation of their faith from his example. They might be intimidated by unpleasant reports as to persecutions; but Paul's undaunted constancy was fitted so much the more to animate them, so as to keep them from giving way. And, assuredly, the fellowship which ought to subsist between the saints and members of Christ extends even thus far--that the faith of one is the consolation of others. Thus, when the Thessalonians heard that Paul was going on with indefatigable zeal, and was by strength of faith surmounting all dangers and all difficulties, and that his faith continued everywhere victorious against Satan and the world, this brought them no small consolation. More especially we are, or at least ought to be, stimulated by the examples of those by whom we were instructed in the faith, as is stated in the end of the Epistle to the Hebrews. (Hebrews 13:7) Paul, accordingly, means that they ought to be fortified by his example, so as not to give way under their afflictions. As, however, they might have been offended if Paul had entertained a fear lest they should all give way under persecutions, (inasmuch as this would have been an evidence of excessive distrust,) he mitigates this harshness by saying--lest any one, or, that no one. There was, however, good reason to fear this, as there are always some weak persons in every society.
3. For ye yourselves know. As all would gladly exempt themselves from the necessity of bearing the cross, Paul teaches that there is no reason why believers should feel dismayed on occasion of persecutions, as though it were a thing that was new and unusual, inasmuch as this is our condition, which the Lord has assigned to us. For this manner of expression--we are appointed to it--is as though he had said, that we are Christians on this condition. He says, however, that they know it, because it became them to fight the more bravely, 3 inasmuch as they had been forewarned in time. In addition to this, incessant afflictions made Paul contemptible among rude and ignorant persons. On this account he states that nothing had befallen him but what he had long before, in the manner of a prophet, foretold.
5. Lest perhaps the tempter has tempted you. By this term he teaches us that temptations are always to be dreaded, because it is the proper office of Satan to tempt. As, however, he never ceases to place ambushes for us on all sides, and to lay snares for us all around, so we must be on our watch, eagerly taking heed. And now he says openly what in the outset he had avoided saying, as being too harsh--that he had felt concerned lest his labors should be vain, if, peradventure, Satan should prevail. And this he does that they may be carefully upon their watch, and may stir themselves up the more vigorously to resistance.