1 Thessalonians 2:1
For yourselves, brethren, know our entrance in unto you, that it was not in vain:
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(1) For yourselves brethren, know.—The writers’ purpose is practical, not didactic; they there-fore animate their converts with the stirring memories of their conversion. “We need not go to these foreign witnesses for the tale of how we came to you; for you recollect it as if it were yesterday.” The “for (as in 1Thessalonians 1:8) implies “for in fact,” “for after all.” The thought of 1Thessalonians 1:5; 1Thessalonians 1:9. is here resumed, but with a different purpose: there it was to prove that the work was God’s work; here, “to stir up their pure minds by way of remembrance.”

Not in vain draws a little too much attention to the result of their coming. It should be, not vaini.e., not purposeless and idle. This may be seen from the contrast drawn in the following words.

1 Thessalonians 2:1-2. Yourselves, brethren, know, &c. — What was proposed chap. 1 Thessalonians 1:5-6, is now more largely treated of; concerning Paul and his fellow- labourers, 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12 : concerning the Thessalonians, 1 Thessalonians 2:13-16. Our entrance in unto you — With what demonstration of a divine agency it was attended; that it was not in vain — Or without success, as Dr. Heylin reads; but was attended with most important consequences and effects, which will be everlasting. The original expression, however, ου κενη γεγονεν, is rendered by Dr. Waterland, was not vain; and by Dr. Macknight, was not false, or destitute of truth, judging the apostle’s meaning to be, “that his entrance among the Thessalonians was not the entrance of a deceiver, who, with a view to draw money from his hearers, or to acquire power, or to live in pleasure among them, told them stories which he himself knew to be false. To this interpretation, the reason assigned in the following verse agrees: his sufferings for the gospel being the strongest proof that he himself believed it; whereas, of his not having preached in vain to the Thessalonians his sufferings were no proof. Besides, if the apostle had meant to say that his entrance was not in vain, the expression would have been εις κενον, as in Php 2:16; 1 Thessalonians 3:5.” But after we had suffered — In several places; and were shamefully entreated at Philippi — Being there stripped and scourged by the common beadle, and thrust into prison, where our feet were made fast in the stocks. Scourging with rods was a punishment so ignominious, that the Portian law, among the Romans, forbade it to be inflicted on any Roman citizen. We were bold — Notwithstanding; in our God — Trusting in his assistance; to speak unto you the gospel — Though we are forced to do it with much contention — Meeting with much opposition, or in the midst of inward and outward conflicts of all kinds.

2:1-6 The apostle had no wordly design in his preaching. Suffering in a good cause should sharpen holy resolution. The gospel of Christ at first met with much opposition; and it was preached with contention, with striving in preaching, and against opposition. And as the matter of the apostle's exhortation was true and pure, the manner of his speaking was without guile. The gospel of Christ is designed for mortifying corrupt affections, and that men may be brought under the power of faith. This is the great motive to sincerity, to consider that God not only sees all we do, but knows our thoughts afar off, and searches the heart. And it is from this God who trieth our hearts, that we must receive our reward. The evidences of the apostle's sincerity were, that he avoided flattery and covetousness. He avoided ambition and vain-glory.For yourselves, brethren, know our entrance in unto you - notes, 1 Thessalonians 1:9. Paul appeals to themselves for proof that they had not come among them as impostors. They had had a full opportunity to see them, and to know what influenced them. Paul frequently appeals to his own life, and to what they, among whom he labored, knew of it, as a full refutation of the slanderous accusations of his enemies; compare notes, 1 Corinthians 4:10-16; 1 Corinthians 9:19-27; 2 Corinthians 6:3-10. Every minister of the gospel ought so to live as to be able, when slanderously attacked, to make such an appeal to his people.

That it was not in vain - κενὴ kenē This word means:

(1) "empty, vain, fruitless," or without success;

(2) that in which there is no truth or reality - "false, fallacious;" Ephesians 5:6; Colossians 2:8.

Here it seems, from the connection 1 Thessalonians 2:3-5, to be used in the latter sense, as denoting that they were not deceivers. The object does not appear to be so much to show that their ministry was successful, as to meet a charge of their adversaries that they were impostors. Paul tells them that from their own observation they knew that this was not so.


1Th 2:1-20. His Manner of Preaching, and Theirs of Receiving, the Gospel; His Desire to Have Revisited Them Frustrated by Satan.

1. For—confirming 1Th 1:9. He discusses the manner of his fellow missionaries' preaching among them (1Th 1:5, and former part of 1Th 2:9) at 1Th 2:1-12; and the Thessalonians' reception of the word (compare 1Th 1:6, 7, and latter part of 1Th 2:9) at 1Th 2:13-16.

yourselves—Not only do strangers report it, but you know it to be true [Alford] "yourselves."

not in vain—Greek, "not vain," that is, it was full of "power" (1Th 1:5). The Greek for "was," expresses rather "hath been and is," implying the permanent and continuing character of his preaching.1 Thessalonians 2:1-12 Paul setteth forth in what manner he had preached the

gospel to the Thessalonians,

1 Thessalonians 2:13-16 and they had received and suffered for it.

1 Thessalonians 2:17,18 He showeth his desire of coming to them, and the

cause which had hitherto prevented him,

1 Thessalonians 2:19,20 testifying his joy and satisfaction in them.

For yourselves; autoi, which some read, they themselves, &c.; and then the words refer to the believers in Macedonia and Achaia, mentioned before, 1 Thessalonians 1:9,10. Or, if we read, ye yourselves, he appeals to their own experience and knowledge.

Know our entrance in unto you, that it was not in vain; kenh, was not vain, or empty, without fruit; our very first preaching had great success. Though the gospel is always either the savour of life unto life, or of death unto death, yet if no good fruit spring from a man’s ministry, it may be said to be vain; as the prophet complains: I have laboured in vain, Isaiah 49:4. Or, as some, our preaching was not about things vain and unprofitable.

For yourselves, brethren, know our entrance in unto you,.... The apostle having observed in 1 Thessalonians 1:9 that those persons to whom the report of the Gospel being preached at Thessalonica, and the success of it there was made, showed everywhere both what manner of entrance he and his fellow ministers had in that place, and the conversion of many souls there; he enlarges upon the latter, and here reassumes the former, and appeals to the Thessalonians themselves, who must know full well, and better than others, what an entrance it was; and which is to be understood not merely of a corporeal entrance into their city and synagogue, but of their coming among them, by the preaching of the Gospel, as the ministers of the word and ambassadors of Christ:

that it was not in vain; it was not a vain show with outward pomp and splendour, as the public entrances of ambassadors into cities usually are; but with great meanness, poverty, reproach, and persecution, having been lately beaten and ill used at Philippi; nor was it with great swelling words of vanity, with the enticing words of man's wisdom, to tickle the ear, please the fancy, and work upon the passions of natural men, in which manner the false teachers came: but the apostle came not with deceit and guile, with flattering words or a cloak of covetousness, or with a view to vain glory and worldly advantage; nor was the message they came with, from the King of kings, a vain, light, empty, and trifling one; but solid and substantial, and of the greatest importance; the doctrine they taught was not comparable to chaff and wind; it was not corrupt philosophy and vain deceit, the traditions and commandments of men, but sound doctrine, the wholesome words of our Lord Jesus Christ: nor was it fruitless and without effect; the word did not return void and empty; but was powerful and efficacious to the conversion of many souls. Christ was with them both to assist them in their ministry, and to bless it to the salvation of men; nor was their coming to Thessalonica an human scheme, a rash enterprise, engaged in on their own heads, on a slight and empty foundation; but upon good and solid grounds, by divine direction and counsel; see Acts 16:9.

For {1} yourselves, brethren, know our entrance in unto you, that it was not in vain:

(1) That which he mentioned before briefly concerning his apostleship, he handles now more at large, and to that end and purpose which we spoke of.

1 Thessalonians 2:1 is referred by Grotius to a thought to be supplied after 1 Thessalonians 1:10 : Merito illam spem vitae aeternae retinetis. Vera enim sunt, quae vobis annuntiavimus. Arbitrarily, as αὐτοὶ γάρ, emphatically placed first, yea, you yourselves, must contain a contrast of the readers to other persons; and, besides, this view is founded on a false interpretation of οὐ κενὴ γέγονεν (see below). Also 1 Thessalonians 2:1 cannot, with Bengel, Flatt (who, besides, will consider 1 Thessalonians 1:8-10 as a parenthesis), Pelt, Schott, and others, be referred to 1 Thessalonians 1:5-6; nor, with Hofmann, “extending over εἰδότες τὴν ἐκλογὴν ὑμῶν” (1 Thessalonians 1:4) to εὐχαριστοῦμεν τῷ Θεῷ (1 Thessalonians 1:2), the thought being now developed, “what justification the apostle had for making the election of his readers the special object of thanksgiving to God.” But must, with Zanchius, Balduin, Turretin, de Wette, Bloomfield, Alford, and others, be referred back to 1 Thessalonians 1:9. For to 1 Thessalonians 1:9 points—(1) αὐτοὶ γὰρ οἴδατε, by which the Thessalonians themselves are contrasted to the strangers who reported their praise; (2) τὴν εἴσοδον ἡμῶν τὴν πρὸς ὑμᾶς, even by its similarity of sound refers to ὁποίαν εἴσοδον ἔσχομεν πρὸς ὑμᾶς (1 Thessalonians 1:9); (3) the greater naturalness of referring γάρ (1 Thessalonians 2:1) to the preceding last independent sentence. The relation of this reference is as follows: in chap. 1 Thessalonians 2:1 the apostle refers to 1 Thessalonians 1:9, in order to develope the thought expressed there—which certainly was already contained in 1 Thessalonians 1:5-6—by an appeal to the consciousness of the readers. But the thought expressed in 1 Thessalonians 1:9 was twofold—(1) a statement concerning Paul and his assistants, namely, with what energy they preached the gospel at Thessalonica (ὁποίαν εἴσοδον ἔσχομεν πρὸς ὑμᾶς); and (2) a statement concerning the Thessalonians, namely, with what eagerness they received the gospel (καὶ πῶς κ.τ.λ.). Both circumstances the apostle further developes in chap. 2.: first, and most circumstantially, the manner in which he and his assistants appeared in Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 2:1-12); and, secondly, the corresponding conduct of his readers (1 Thessalonians 2:13-16). But the description of himself (1 Thessalonians 2:1-12) was not occasioned by the calumniations of the apostle, and a diminution of confidence in him occasioned thereby (Benson, Ritschl, Hall. A. Lit. Z. 1847, No. 125; Auberlen); also, not so much by the heartfelt gratitude for the great blessings which God had conferred on his ministry at Thessalonica, as by the definite design of strengthening and confirming, in the way of life on which they had entered, the Christian church at Thessalonica,—which, notwithstanding their exemplary faith, yet consisted only of novices,—by a vivid representation of the circumstances of their conversion. How entirely appropriate was the courageous, unselfish, self-sacrificing, and unwearied preaching of the apostle to exhibit the high value of the gospel itself, seeing it was capable of inspiring such a conduct as Paul and his companions had exhibited!

γάρ] yea, or indeed. See Hartung, Partikellehre, I. p. 463 ff.

The construction: οἴδατε τὴν εἴσοδον, ὅτι—where we, according to our idiom, would expect οἴδατε, ὅτι ἡ εἴσοδος κ.τ.λ.—is not only, as Schott and others say, “not unknown” to classical writers, but is a regular construction among the Greeks. See Bernhardy, Syntax, p. 466.

ἡ εἴσοδος ἡ πρὸς ὑμᾶς] denotes here nothing more than our entrance among you.

κενός] is the opposite of πλήρης, and denotes empty, void of contents, null.

οὐ κενὴ γέγονεν] Grotius (whom Hammond follows) translates this by mendax, fallax (שָׁוְא), and gives the sense: non decepturi ad vos venimus. But although κενὸς often forms the contrast to ἀληθὴς (see also Ephesians 5:6), yet it obtains only thereby the meaning falsus, never the meaning fallax; also 1 Thessalonians 2:2 would not suit to the meaning fallax, because then the idea of uprightness would be expected as a contrast. Oecumenius finds in 1 Thessalonians 2:1-2 the contrast of truth and falsehood: οὐ κενὴ γέγονεν· τουτέστιν οὐ ματαία οὐ μῦθοι γὰρ ψευδεῖς καὶ λῆροι τὰ ἡμέτερα κηρύγματα. But he obtains this meaning only by incorrectly laying the chief stress in 1 Thessalonians 2:2 on τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τοῦ Θεοῦ (οὐδὲ ἡμεῖς ἀνθρώπινόν τι ἐκηρύξαμεν εἰς ὑμᾶς ἀλλὰ Θεοῦ λόγους). Similarly to Grotius, but equally erroneously, Koppe (veni ad vos eo consilio et studio, ut vobis prodessem, non ut otiose inter vos viverem) and Rosenmüller (vani honoris vel opum acquirendarum studio) refer οὐ κενὴ γέγονεν to the design of the apostle, interpretations which are rendered impossible by the perfect γέγονεν. With a more correct appreciation of γέγονεν, Estius, Piscator, Vorstius, Turretin, Flatt, and others give the meaning inutilis, fructu carens, appealing to the Hebrew רִיק. This meaning is in itself not untenable, but it becomes so in our passage by the contrast in 1 Thessalonians 2:2; for 1 Thessalonians 2:2 does not speak of the result or effect of the apostle’s preaching at Thessalonica, but of the character of that preaching itself. For the sake of this contrast, therefore, οὐ κενή is equivalent to δυνατή, δεινή (Chrys.: οὐκ ἀνθρωπίνη οὐδὲ ἡ τυχοῦσα), and the meaning is: the apostle’s εἴσοδος, entrance, among the Thessalonians was not weak, powerless, but mighty and energetic. Pelt, Schott, Olshausen, de Wette, and Bloomfield erroneously unite with this idea of οὐ κενὴ the idea of the success of the apostle’s εἴσοδος, which is first spoken of in 1 Thessalonians 2:13 ff.

1 Thessalonians 2:1-12. An apologia pro vita et labors suo.

1. For yourselves, brethren, know our entrance in unto you] entering in (R.V.), same word as in ch. 1 Thessalonians 1:9; see note. And the “For” of this verse is parallel to the “for” of ch. 1 Thessalonians 1:9 : what “they themselves (other people, strangers in different places) report of us” is confirmed by what “you yourselves know” of the successful entrance the Gospel had won at Thessalonica. Both these fors, and all that the Apostle has written since 1 Thessalonians 2:4 of ch. 1, go to sustain his assurance of God’s loving “choice” of the Thessalonian believers. We must not allow the artificial division of chapter and verse to break the thread of the writer’s thoughts.

The appeal made to the recollections and experience of the readers is characteristic of these letters, see 1 Thessalonians 2:2; 1 Thessalonians 2:5; 1 Thessalonians 2:10-11; ch. 1 Thessalonians 1:5, &c.; and comp. Introd. p. 35.

Concerning the “entrance” of the missionaries amongst them the Thessalonians know better than anyone else, that it hath not been found vain (R. V.). The Greek perfect tense (see note on ch. 1 Thessalonians 1:8) implies a settled result: not merely did the coming of Christ’s servants produce a striking impression at the time; their work has proved thoroughly successful. Its fruit is permanent.

Vain is lit. empty, void of substance and power. So the apostles’ “labour” would “turn out,” if “the Tempter” should destroy the Thessalonians’ faith (ch. 1 Thessalonians 3:5); so his “preaching” and his hearers’ “faith” at Corinth, if Christ’s resurrection were not a fact (1 Corinthians 15:14). “Not empty” echoes the “power” and “much fulness” of ch. 1 Thessalonians 1:5.

This verse might be rendered somewhat more freely in English idiom: For you know of yourselves, brethren, that our coming amongst you has not proved vain.

section ii

The Apostle’s Conduct at Thessalonica. Ch. 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12Analysis. The ministry of Paul and his colleagues at Thessalonica had been unmistakably genuine, 1 Thessalonians 2:1. This appeared (1) by their boldness in the conflict amid which their work began, 1 Thessalonians 2:2; (2) by their sincerity and freedom from personal ambition, 1 Thessalonians 2:3-6; (3) by their gentleness and tender affection toward the Thessalonians, 1 Thessalonians 2:7-8; (4) by their extreme and self-denying labours, 1 Thessalonians 2:9; (5) by the purity of their life, 1 Thessalonians 2:10; and (6) by the fidelity and high spiritual aim of their teaching, 1 Thessalonians 2:11-12. Four words resume the whole: courage, purity, love, fidelity. Here is a mirror for ministers of Christ, and an ideal for all His servants. The service of Christ called into exercise in Paul and his companions the highest and finest qualities of mainly character. And this is still the case, especially on missionary fields of labour, where similar dangers are encountered and the same powers of leadership required.

This section is of the nature of a self-defence, called forth (see Introd. pp. 23, 24) by the calumnies of St Paul’s enemies at Thessalonica. But there blends with his self-defence the lofty strain of thanksgiving in which the letter commenced, and which breaks forth again distinctly in 1 Thessalonians 2:13 and Is pursued to the end of ch. 3; so that this paragraph grows naturally out of the last.

The Apostle continues to identify Silas and Timothy with himself writing in the plural,—

1 Thessalonians 2:1. Γὰρ, for) This refers to ch. 1 Thessalonians 1:5-6; for what was there laid down as the proposition, is now taken up again to be discussed, and that, too, regarding Paul and his companions, 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12; regarding the Thessalonians, 1 Thessalonians 2:13-16.—οὐ κενὴ, not vain) but full of power.

Verse 1. - For yourselves, brethren; in contrast to other persons. Not only do strangers report the power and efficacy of our preaching among you, but you yourselves arc experimentally acquainted with it. Know our entrance in unto you; referring, not merely to the mere preaching of the gospel to the Thessalonians, but to the entrance which the gospel found into their hearts - to its coming, not in word only, but also in power (1 Thessalonians 1:5). That it was not in vain; not empty, useless, to no purpose, - descriptive of the character of the apostolic entrance among them. Our entrance among you was not powerless, unreal; on the contrary, it was mighty, energetic, powerful. The reference is chiefly to the manner or mode in which Paul and his companions preached the gospel, though not entirely excluding the success of the gospel among the Thessalonians (comp. l Corinthians 15:14, "And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain"). 1 Thessalonians 2:1Was not in vain (οὐ κενὴ γέγονεν)

More accurately, hath not proved vain. Κενὴ is empty. Ματαία, also rendered vain, is fruitless.

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