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4For we know, brothers and sisters beloved by God, that he has chosen you,

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4 Knowing, brethren beloved. The participle knowing may apply to Paul as well as to the Thessalonians. Erasmus refers it to the Thessalonians. I prefer to follow Chrysostom, who understands it of Paul and his colleagues, for it is (as it appears to me) a more ample confirmation of the foregoing statement. For it tended in no small degree to recommend them — that God himself had testified by many tokens, that they were acceptable and dear to him.

Election of God. I am not altogether dissatisfied with the interpretation given by Chrysostom — that God had made the Thessalonians illustrious, and had established their excellence. Paul, however, had it in view to express something farther; for he touches upon their calling, and as there had appeared in it no common marks of God’s power, he infers from this that they had been specially called with evidences of a sure election. For the reason is immediately added — that it was not a bare preaching that had been brought to them, but such as was conjoined with the efficacy of the Holy Spirit, that it might obtain entire credit among them.

When he says, in power, and in the Holy Spirit, it is, in my opinion, as if he had said — in the power of the Holy Spirit, so that the latter term is added as explanatory of the former. Assurance, to which he assigned the third place, was either in the thing itself, or in the disposition of the Thessalonians. I am rather inclined to think that the meaning is, that Paul’s gospel had been confirmed by solid proofs, 500500     “A l’este comme seellé et ratifié par bons tesmoignages et approbations suffisantes;” — “Had been there, as it were, sealed and ratified by good testimonies and sufficient attestations.” as though God had shewn from heaven that he had ratified their calling. 501501     “Et en estoit l’autheur;” — “And was the author of it.” When, however, Paul brings forward the proofs by which he had felt assured that the calling of the Thessalonians was altogether from God, he takes occasion at the same time to recommend his ministry, that they may themselves, also, recognize him and his colleagues as having been raised up by God.

By the term power some understand miracles. I extend it farther, as referring to spiritual energy of doctrine. For, as we had occasion to see in the First Epistle to the Corinthians, Paul places it in contrast with speech 502502     See Calvin on the Corinthians, vol. 1, pp. 100, 101. — the voice of God, as it were, living and conjoined with effect, as opposed to an empty and dead eloquence of men. It is to be observed, however, that the election of God, which is in itself hid, is manifested by its marks—when he gathers to himself the lost sheep and joins them to his flock, and holds out his hand to those that were wandering and estranged from him. Hence a knowledge of our election must be sought from this source. As, however, the secret counsel of God is a labyrinth to those who disregard his calling, so those act perversely who, under pretext of faith and calling, darken this first grace, from which faith itself flows. “By faith,” say they, “we obtain salvation: there is, therefore, no eternal predestination of God that distinguishes between us and reprobates.” It is as though they said — “Salvation is of faith: there is, therefore, no grace of God that illuminates us in faith.” Nay rather, as gratuitous election must be conjoined with calling, as with its effect, so it must necessarily, in the mean time, hold the first place. It matters little as to the sense, whether you connect ὑπὸ with the participle beloved or with the term election 503503     “Au reste, les mots de ceste sentence sont ainsi couchez au texte Grec de Sainct Paul, Scachans freres bien-aimez de Dieu, vostre election: tellement que ce mot de Dieu, pent estre rapporté a deux endroits, ascauoir Bien-aimez de Dieu, ou vostre election estre de Dieu: mais c’est tout vn comment on le prene quant au sens;” — “Farther, the words of this sentence are thus placed in the Greek text of St. Paul; knowing, brethren beloved of God, your election: in such a way, that this phrase of God may be taken as referring to two things, as meaning beloved of God, or, your election to be of God; but it is all one as to the sense in what way you take it.”




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