1 Thessalonians 1:4
Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.
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(4) “The reason why the sight delights us is because it proves that God loves you, and has set His heart upon you.”

Beloved.—The proper translation is, knowing brethren who have been so beloved of God, your election, as in the margin: the Greek idiom cannot allow of the Authorised rendering. The tense of the word “beloved” represents not only God’s attitude to them in the present, but the long continuance of it in the past, especially as proved by His election of them. (Comp. Romans 8:28-30, and 2Thessalonians 2:13.)

Election, in the language of (at any rate) St. Paul and St. Peter, seems primarily to refer to a gracious admission into religious privileges in this life. The word implies nothing as to the final condition of the person thus elected (see 2Peter 1:10, and comp. Ephesians 1:4 with Ephesians 5:5-7). God elects us to become members of the Holy Church, and all baptised persons are elect, with heaven in reversion (1Peter 1:2-5); but they may, according as they please, unsettle their election, or make it sure. St. Paul rejoices, because the continued possession of spiritual privileges, used or abused, is an assurance of God’s continued “favour and goodness towards us.” Of course, however, this observation does not much affect the mysterious doctrine of predestination. The question must still remain why God brings some in this life to the knowledge of His truth, and others not; but the observation, at any rate, destroys the notion of an arbitrary damnation and salvation.

1:1-5 As all good comes from God, so no good can be hoped for by sinners, but from God in Christ. And the best good may be expected from God, as our Father, for the sake of Christ. We should pray, not only for ourselves, but for others also; remembering them without ceasing. Wherever there is a true faith, it will work; it will affect both the heart and life. Faith works by love; it shows itself in love to God, and love to our neighbour. And wherever there is a well-grounded hope of eternal life, this will appear by the exercise of patience; and it is a sign of sincerity, when in all we do, we seek to approve ourselves to God. By this we may know our election, if we not only speak of the things of God with out lips, but feel their power in our hearts, mortifying our lusts, weaning us from the world, and raising us up to heavenly things. Unless the Spirit of God comes with the word of God, it will be to us a dead letter. Thus they entertained it by the power of the Holy Ghost. They were fully convinced of the truth of it, so as not to be shaken in mind by objections and doubts; and they were willing to leave all for Christ, and to venture their souls and everlasting condition upon the truth of the gospel revelation.Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God - The margin here reads, "beloved of God, your election." The difference depends merely on the pointing, and that which would require the marginal reading has been adopted by Hahn, Tittman, Bloomfield, and Griesbach. The sense is not materially varied, and the common version may be regarded as giving the true meaning. There is no great difference between "being beloved of God," and "being chosen of God." The sense then is, "knowing that you are chosen by God unto salvation;" compare notes on Ephesians 1:4-5, Ephesians 1:11. The word "knowing" here refers to Paul himself, and to Silas and Timothy, who united with him in writing the Epistle, and in rendering thanks for the favors shown to the church at Thessalonica. The meaning is, that they had so strong confidence that they had been chosen of God as a church unto salvation, that they might say they knew it.

The way in which they knew it seems not to have been by direct revelation or by inspiration, but by the evidence which they had furnished, and which constituted such a proof of piety as to leave no doubt of the fact. Calvin. What this evidence was, the apostle states in the following verses. I was shown by the manner in which they embraced the gospel, and by the spirit which they had evinced under its influence The meaning here seems to be, not that all the members of the church at Thessalonica were certainly chosen of God to salvation - for, as in other churches, there might have been those there who were false professors - but that the church, as such, had given evidence that it was a true church - that it was founded on Christian principles - and that, as a church, it had furnished evidence of its "election by God." Nor can it mean, as Clarke and Bloomfield suppose, that God "had chosen and called the Gentiles to the same privileges to which he chose and called the Jews; and that as they (the Jews) had rejected the gospel, God had now elected the Gentiles in their stead;" for a considerable portion of the church was composed of Jews (see Acts 17:4-5), and it cannot, therefore, mean that the Gentiles had been selected in the place of the Jews. Besides, the election of the Gentiles, or any portion of the human family, to the privileges of salvation, to the neglect or exclusion of any other part, would be attended with all the difficulties which occur in the doctrine of personal and individual election. Nothing is gained on this subject in removing the difficulties, by supposing that God chooses masses of people instead of individuals. How can the one be more proper than the other? What difficulty in the doctrine of election is removed by the supposition? Why is it not as right to choose an individual as a nation? Why not as proper to reject an individual as a whole people? If this means that the church at Thessalonica had shown that it was a true church of Christ, chosen by God, then we may learn:

(1) that a true church owes what it has to the "election of God." It is because God has chosen it; has called it out from the world; and has endowed it in such a manner as to he a true church.

(2) a church may give evidence that it is chosen of God, and is a true church. There are things which it may do, which will show that it is undoubtedly such a church as God has chosen, and such as he approves. There are just principles on which a church should be organized, and there is a spirit which may be manifested by a church which will distinguish it from any other association of people.

(3) it is not improper to speak with strong confidence of such a church as undoubtedly chosen of God. There are churches which, by their zeal, self-denial, and deadness to the world, show beyond question their "election of God," and the world may see that they are founded on other principles and manifest a different spirit from other organizations of people.

(4) every church should evince such a spirit that there may be no doubt of its "election of God." It should be so dead to the world; so pure in doctrine and in practice, and so much engaged in spreading the knowledge of salvation, that the world will see that it is governed by higher principles than any worldly association, and that nothing could produce this but the influence of the Holy Spirit of God.

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).

Another ground of his thanksgiving for them. By the manner of their receiving the gospel, and the evident operation of the graces of God’s Spirit, the apostle knew their election of God. We cannot know election as in God’s secret decree, but as made manifest in the fruits and effects of it. As there is a knowledge of things a priori, when we argue from the cause to the effect, so a posteriori, when we argue from the effects to the cause. And thus the apostle came to know their election. Not, we hope it, or conjecture it, but we know it; and not by extraordinary revelation, but by evident outward tokens. And if the apostle knew this, why should we think they themselves might not know it also; and the words may be read: Ye knowing your election of God. And election imports the choosing of some out of others; for election cannot comprehend all. Some deny all eternal election of particular persons, and make it a temporal separation of persons to God in their conversion; but is not this separation from a pre-existing decree, God doing all things after the counsel of his own will? Ephesians 1:11. Or, they will yield an eternal election of persons, but only conditional; one condition whereof is perseverance to the end. But the apostle asserts their election at present, before he saw their perseverance.

Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God. Which intends not an election to an office, for this epistle is written not to the officers of the church only, but to the whole church; nor to the Gospel, the outward means of grace, since this was common to them with others, and might be known without the evidence after given; nor does it design the effectual calling, sometimes so called for this is expressed in the following verse as a fruit, effect, and evidence of the election here spoken of, which is no other than the eternal choice of, them to everlasting life and happiness: this is of God, an act of God the Father, made in Christ Jesus before the world began, and which springs from his sovereign will, and is the effect of his pure love and free favour; and therefore these persons who are the objects of it are said to be "beloved of God"; for so the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, Arabic, and Ethiopic versions read the words, and which agree with 2 Thessalonians 2:13 for this choice does not arise from the merits of men, or any conditions in them, or from the foresight of their faith, holiness, and good works, but from the free grace and good pleasure of God; and is the source and spring of all grace, and the blessings of it, and even of good works; and is a sure, immutable, and irreversible act of God, being founded on his own will, and not on the works of men; the knowledge they had of this was not what the Thessalonians themselves had, though they might have, and doubtless had the knowledge of this grace, and which may be concluded with certainty from the effectual calling; and is a privilege which many particular believers may, and do arrive unto the knowledge of, without any extraordinary revelation made unto them: but here it intends the knowledge which the apostle and his companions had of the election of the members of this church; not by inspiration of the Spirit of God, but by the manner of the Gospel's coming unto them, and the effects it had upon them, as expressed in the following verses; and from their faith, hope, and love, mentioned in the preceding verse; and which was the ground and foundation of their thanksgiving for them;

see on Gill 2 Thessalonians 2:13.

Knowing, brethren beloved, your {a} election of God.

(a) Literally, that your election is of God.

1 Thessalonians 1:4. Εἰδότες is incorrectly referred by many (thus Baur) to the Thessalonians, either as the nominative absolute in the sense of οἴδατε γάρ (Erasmus), or εἰδότες ἐστέ (Homberg, Baumgarten-Crusius); or (Grotius) as the beginning of a new sentence which has its tempus finit. in ἐγενήθητε (1 Thessalonians 1:6), “knowing that ye became followers of us.” Rather, the subject of 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3, thus Paul, Silvanus, and Timotheus, is continued in εἰδότες. It is further erroneous to supply καί before εἰδότες (Flatt), as this participle is by no means similar to the two preceding. Lastly, it is erroneous to make εἰδότες dependent on μνείαν ποιούμενοι (Pelt). Εἰδότες is only correctly joined to the principal verb εὐχαριστοῦμεν (1 Thessalonians 1:2), and adduces the reason of the apostle’s thanksgiving, whilst the preceding participles state only the mode of εὐχαριστοῦμεν.

ὑπὸ Θεοῦ cannot be conjoined with εἰδότες (scientes a deo, i.e. ex dei revelatione), which Estius thinks possible, against which ὑπό instead of παρά is decisive. Nor does it belong to τὴν ἐκλογὴν ὑμῶν, so that εἶναι would require to be supplied, and ἀδελφοὶ ἠγαπημένοι to be taken by itself (Oecumenius, Theophylact, Calvin, Musculus, Hemming, Zanchius, Justinian, Vorstius, Calixtus, Clericus), but to ἠγαπημένοι. For—(1) this union is grammatically the most natural (see 2 Thessalonians 2:13, the Hebrew יְדִידֵי יְהֹוָה, 2 Chronicles 20:7, and ἀγαπητοὶ Θεοῦ, Romans 1:7). (2) By the union of ὑπὸ Θεοῦ τὴν ἐκλογὴν ὑμῶν, a peculiar stress would be put on ὑπὸ Θεοῦ; but such an emphasis is inadmissible, as another ἐκλογή than by God is in Paul’s view a nonentity, and therefore the addition ὑπὸ Θεοῦ would be idle.

Moreover, ἀδελφοὶ ἠγαπημένοι ὑπὸ Θεοῦ is a pure address, and not the statement of the cause of τὴν ἐκλογὴν ὑμῶν (Estius).

ἐκλογή] election or choice, denotes the action of God, according to which He has predetermined from eternity individuals to be believers in Christ. κλῆσις is related to ἐκλογή as the subsequent realization to the preceding determination. Erroneously Pelt: ἐκλογή is electorum illa innovatio, qua per spiritum divinum mutatur interna hominem conditio; and still more arbitrarily Baumgarten-Crusius: ἐκλογή is not “choice among others (church election), but out of the world, with Paul equivalent to κλῆσις, and exactly here as in 1 Corinthians 1:26; not being elected, but the mode or condition of the election” (!), so that the sense would be: “Ye know how ye have become Christians” (!!).

ὑμῶν] the objective genitive to ἑκλογήν: the election of you.

1 Thessalonians 1:4. The practical evidence of the Spirit in their lives showed that God had willed to enrol them among His chosen people (note the O.T. associations of beloved by God and election), just as the same consciousness of possessing the Spirit gave them the sure prospect of final entrance into the Messianic realm—an assurance which (1 Thessalonians 1:6) filled them with joy amid all their discomforts. The phenomenon of the Spirit thus threw light backwards on the hidden purpose of God for them, and forwards on their prospect of bliss.—Recollections depend on knowledge; to be satisfied about a person implies settled convictions about his character and position. The apostles feel certain that the Thessalonian Christians had been truly chosen and called by God, owing to (a) the genuineness and effectiveness of their own ministry at Thessalonica, where they had felt the gospel going home to many of the inhabitants, and (b) the genuine evidence of the Thessalonians’ faith; (a) comes first in 1 Thessalonians 1:5, (b) in 1 Thessalonians 1:6 f. In 1 Thessalonians 2:1 f. Paul reverts to (a), while in 1 Thessalonians 2:13-16 (b) is again before his mind. As the divine ἐκλογή manifested itself in the Christian qualities of 1 Thessalonians 1:3, Paul goes back to their historical origin.

4. knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God] Better, following the A. V. margin and R. V., knowing, brethren beloved by God, your election: comp. 2 Thessalonians 2:13, “brethren beloved by the Lord.”

The Apostle thinks of his readers as brethren, for he has just been carrying them in his thoughts in prayer “before our God and Father.” The knowledge that God their Father loves them and has chosen them for His own, gives confidence to the Apostle’s prayers for them and inexpressible joy to his thanksgivings. Comp. 2 Thessalonians 2:13 : “We are bound to give thanks always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you,” &c.; and Ephesians 1:3-5, “Blessed be God …, Who blessed us in every spiritual blessing, … according as He chose us in Christ,” &c.

The participle “beloved” is not however present in tense, as though the Thessalonians were simply loved now, in consequence of their newly-acquired Christian worth; it is in the Greek perfect tense, signifying a love existing in the past and realised in the present, the antecedent and foundation of their goodness. So in 1 John 3:1 : “Behold what manner of love the Father hath given us, that we should be called sons of God!”

The Christian excellence of the Thessalonians, therefore, moved the Apostle and his companions to thanksgiving (1 Thessalonians 1:2-3), not simply on its own account, but because it marked them out as the objects of God’s loving choice. The word election, here occurring for the first time in St Paul’s Epistles, and expressing one of his most important doctrines, needs to be carefully studied. The N. T. use of the word originates in the O. T. idea of Israel as God’s “peculiar possession,” “the people whom He chose for His inheritance” (see Psalm 33:12; Psalm 135:4; Deuteronomy 14:2; Isaiah 43:1-7; &c.). Such “election” implies two things—(1) selection out of others, nations or men, who are not thus chosen—“the rest” (ch. 1 Thessalonians 4:13, 1 Thessalonians 5:6); and (2) appropriation by God for His own love and service. Since Israel as a people now rejected Christ, St Paul was compelled to distinguish between national Israel and the true “election,” the spiritual kernel of the chosen people, who were the real objects of God’s favour: “the election obtained what Israel seeks after, but the rest were hardened” (Romans 11:7). With this true election, through Christ all believing Gentiles are identified—“wild olive shoots, grafted into the good olive-tree” (Romans 11:17-24). So the national gives place to a spiritual election—the “Israel of God” (Galatians 6:16); and the Apostle Paul applies the term, as in this place, to Jewish and Gentile members of the Church indiscriminately. This transference is strikingly expressed in 1 Peter 2:9 : “You (who believe in Christ) are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation.” God’s election no longer marks out a nation or body of men as such, but it concerns individuals, each believer in Christ being the personal object of this loving choice—the “election of grace” (Romans 11:5). The end for which God in His grace so chooses men, appears in 2 Thessalonians 2:13, “God chose yon unto salvation,” i.e. final deliverance from death and all evil, to be brought about by the return of Christ from heaven (1 Thessalonians 1:10): the same end is set forth in the words of 1 Thessalonians 2:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10—“God calleth you to His own kingdom and glory;” He “appointed you not to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.” And the means toward this end are stated in 2 Thessalonians 2:13,—“in sanctification of spirit and faith in the truth” (see note ad loc.). Similarly in Ephesians 1:4, “He chose us to be holy and without blemish before Him.” In later Epistles (Romans 8:28-30; Ephesians 1:4-5) St Paul’s teaching on this subject receives two further extensions: (1) it is to sonship toward God that Christian believers are predestined; and (2) their election is carried back to eternity, “before the foundation of the world.” It is questionable whether “from the beginning” in 2 Thessalonians 2:13 points back so far as this (see note ad loc.) The “election” of Thessalonian believers goes back at any rate as far as the Divine love of which they are the objects—“beloved by God.” But the Apostle’s mind is occupied with the event of the conversion of his readers, when God’s love to them and choice of them were practically manifest.

God’s choice of men for His purposes must, of course, precede their choice of Him and of His salvation; but it in no way precludes human choice and freedom of will—nay rather anticipates and prepares for our free volition (comp. Romans 8:28-30), and invites us to be “workers together” with it for our salvation: “work out your own salvation, … for it is God that worketh in you” (Php 2:12-13). It rests on the Divine foreknowledge of men (“whom He foreknew, He foreordained”), and seeks from their coming into life its destined objects (see Galatians 1:15-16). But “Prescience, as prescience, hath in itself no causing efficacy” (Hooker). Observe that Scripture does not speak of any choice of men to believe in Christ, but of the choice of (assumed) believers to receive salvation. The consistency of man’s free-will with God’s sovereignty forms an insoluble mystery, which does not belong to the doctrine of election alone, but runs through the whole of life and religion.

The Apostle writes “knowing your election,” not that he is absolutely sure of the final salvation of every one to whom he writes—ch. 1 Thessalonians 3:5 speaks otherwise; but from what he knows and remembers of them, he is practically certain that the circle of his readers belongs to God’s elect and that they will attain Christ’s heavenly kingdom (see ch. 1 Thessalonians 2:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:8-11; 1 Thessalonians 5:24).

The evidence of this to his mind was twofold, lying (1) in the power given to himself and his companions in preaching at Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 1:5), and (2) in the zeal and devotion with which the Thessalonians had embraced the gospel (1 Thessalonians 1:6).

1 Thessalonians 1:4. Εἰδότες, [we] knowing) Construed with we give thanks, 1 Thessalonians 1:2.—ἀδελφοὶ ἠγαπήμενοι ὑπὸ Θεοῦ, brethren beloved by God) Comp. 2 Thessalonians 2:13.—ἐκλογὴν, election) 1 Corinthians 1:27, note.

Verse 4. - Knowing; that is, not the Thessalonians themselves, but we, Paul and Silvanus and Timotheus; knowing, being well assured cf. Brethren beloved, your election of God; or rather, as it is in the margin and in the R.V., Knowing brethren, beloved of God, your election. By election is meant that act of free grace by which God destines individuals to become believers in Christ. Thus the Thessalonian converts were chosen or elected by God from among their heathen countrymen to become Christians. The ultimate reason of their Christianity was their election of God. 1 Thessalonians 1:4Election of God

Incorrect. Const. of or by (ὑπὸ) God with beloved. Ἑκλογὴ election, in N.T., mostly by Paul. Elsewhere only Acts 9:15, and 2 Peter 1:10. This, and the kindred words, ἐκλέγειν to choose, and ἐκλεκτὸς chosen or elect, are used of God's selection of men or agencies for special missions or attainments; but neither here nor elsewhere in the N.T. is there any warrant for the revolting doctrine that God has predestined a definite number of mankind to eternal life, and the rest to eternal destruction. The sense in this passage appears to be defined by the succeeding context. The Thessalonians had been chosen to be members of the Christian church, and their conduct had justified the choice. See 1 Thessalonians 1:5-10.

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