1 Thessalonians 2:2
But even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention.
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(2) Even after “what was enough to have scared others” (Bengel). Such men were not likely to be “vain.” The marks of their ill-treatment at Philippi were fresh upon them at Thessalonica (as ye know). See Acts 16 and Acts 17:1.

In our God.—These words give the ground of their boldness—“in reliance on the God whom we felt to be in union with us.”

With much contention.—Rather, in the midst of much conflict arising from persecution.

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.But even after that we had suffered before - Before we came among you.

And were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi - Acts 16:19 ff. By being beaten and cast into prison. The shame of the treatment consisted in the fact that it was wholly undeserved; that it was contrary to the laws; and that it was accompanied with circumstances designed to make their punishment as ignominious as possible. The Thessalonians knew of this, and Paul was not disposed to palliate the conduct of the Philippians. What was "shameful treatment" he speaks of as such without hesitation. It is not wrong to call things by their right names, and when we have been abused, it is not necessary that we should attempt to smooth the matter over by saying that it was not so.

We were bold in our God - By humble dependence on the support of our God. It was only his powerful aid that could have enabled them to persevere with ardor and zeal in such a work after such treatment The meaning here is, that they were not deterred from preaching the gospel by the treatment which they had received, but at the very next important town, and on the first opportunity, they proclaimed the same truth, though there was no security that they might not meet with the same persecution there. Paul evidently appeals to this in order to show them that they were not impostors, and that they were not influenced by the hope of ease or of selfish gains. People who were not sincere and earnest in their purposes would have been deterred by such treatment as they had received at Philippi.

With much contention - Amidst much opposition, and where great effort was necessary. The Greek word here used is ἀγώνι agōni (agony), a word referring usually to the Grecian games; notes, Colossians 2:1. It means the course, or place of contest; and then the contest itself, the strife, the combat, the effort for victory; and the apostle here means, that owing to the opposition there, there was need of an effort on his part like the desperate struggles of those who contended for the mastery at the Grecian games; compare notes on 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. The triumph of the gospel there was secured only by an effort of the highest kind, and by overcoming the most formidable opposition.

2. even after that we had suffered before—at Philippi (Ac 16:11-40): a circumstance which would have deterred mere natural, unspiritual men from further preaching.

shamefully entreated—ignominiously scourged (Ac 16:22, 23).

bold—(Ac 4:29; Eph 6:20).

in our God—The ground of our boldness in speaking was the realization of God as "OUR God."

with much contention—that is, literally, as of competitors in a contest: striving earnestness (Col 1:29; 2:1). But here outward conflict with persecutors, rather than inward and mental, was what the missionaries had to endure (Ac 17:5, 6; Php 1:30).

Here the apostle begins a new discourse, giving an account more particularly of himself, and of his carriage among them, which he mentions as a subordinate reason why his ministry was so successful; for the evil example of ministers often spoils the success of their ministry. And what he speaks would savour of vain-glory, but that he had therein a holy end; as he excuseth his boasting to the Corinthians and other churches upon the same account. And he first mentions his carriage in the discharge of his ministry among them. A little before his coming to them he had suffered, and was shamefully entreated, at Philippi, where he and Silas were beaten, thrust into an inner prison, and set in the stocks as a couple of villains, Acts 16:23,24; yet this did not damp their spirits, nor discourage their coming and preaching to them.

We were bold; eparrhsiasameya, we used great confidence and liberty of speech, we were not afraid to speak the gospel freely, notwithstanding our sufferings. The same he asserts, 2 Corinthians 3:12. And this becomes the gospel, and will be to the advantage of it, and is most commendable in a time of persecution.

In our God; depending upon his protection and help, who is our God, and who sent and called us to the work of the gospel, and particularly in Macedonia: and to show he was not bold beyond his call and duty, or the rules of truth and sobriety.

To speak unto you the gospel of God; the glad tidings of salvation by Jesus Christ; which gospel, though we have called it ours because preached by us, yet it is the gospel of God, as being the original author and ordainer of it.

With much contention; with much agony: which is either to be taken actively, for their great earnestness and zeal in speaking, as Luke 13:24; or passively, for the perils they encountered therein, Philippians 1:30: by both which the Thessalonians might be induced, though not enabled, to believe. As he elsewhere calls the ministry a warfare, 1 Timothy 1:18, and a fight, 2 Timothy 4:7, (the very word used in the text), with respect to the difficulties and dangers attending it, or the opposition of false teachers; they contending for the faith, Judges 1:3.

But even after that we had suffered before,.... Before they came to Thessalonica, which they would not have done, had their ministry been a light and empty one in itself, and unprofitable to others; and especially had this been the case, they would never have rashly engaged in it again, and exposed themselves to fresh sufferings and dangers, as they did:

and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi; being beaten with many stripes, and put into prison, and their feet made fast in the stocks, at the instigation of the masters of the damsel that had a spirit of divination, by whom they got much gain, and which Paul dispossessed; see Acts 16:16

we were bold in our God to speak unto you the Gospel of God with much contention: and which still made it more manifestly appear, that the errand they came upon was a matter of importance, and that they did not proceed on a slight foundation: what they spoke was "the Gospel", salvation by Christ, and not by the works of the law; the pure Gospel, and not a mixed one, free from the mixture of all human doctrines and inventions of men, without any adulteration and inconsistency; the whole of the Gospel, and not a part of it only; they declared the whole counsel of God, and kept back nothing that might be profitable: and this is styled the Gospel of God, to distinguish it from the Gospel of men, or that which the false teachers taught, and which was called the Gospel, though it was not so; and to express the excellency of it, from the author of it, who is God, it being the produce of his wisdom and grace; and from the matter of it, it containing the good will of God to men, setting forth the grace of God in election, redemption, justification, pardon, adoption, regeneration, and glorification, and expressing things relating to the kingdom of God, a meetness for it, and a right unto it; and it being so called shows it to be something divine, a message sent from God to sinful men; and gives a reason why the apostles were so bold to speak it, because it was not of men, but God. The Syriac version renders it the "Gospel of Christ"; see Romans 1:16 and it being so, they "were bold to speak it"; or they spoke it both with liberty of mind, the Spirit of God being with them, and with freedom of speech, a door of utterance being opened for them; as also with great courage and intrepidity, notwithstanding what they had suffered before, and the ill treatment they had met with at Philippi; and though they knew that the Gospel they spoke was contrary to the Jews, was a stumblingblock to them, and they had an inveterate prejudice against it; and was foolishness to the Greeks, and was derided by them, and they were sure to meet with reproach and persecution on account of it: yet they boldly and faithfully preached it, fearing not the face of men, nor their revilings: though it was

with much contention; referring to the tumult raised by the baser sort, who, instigated by others, assaulted Jason and the brethren, where the apostles were, Acts 18:5 or to the disputes which they had with the unbelieving Jews, who contradicted and blasphemed what they said; or to the division the Gospel made, as through the corruption of nature it makes wherever it comes, between the nearest relations and friends, some being for it, and others against it; or this may be expressive of the zeal with which the apostles preached, who earnestly contended for it, as persons in a combat or agony; they fought the good fight of faith valiantly, they endured hardness as good soldiers of Christ, and gave not way to the enemy, no, not for an hour: and all this was "in our God"; or "by the confidence" of our God, as the Syriac version renders it; trusting in him and relying upon him, being assisted by his grace, and strengthened by his power, and receiving much encouragement from a view of him as a covenant God; faith in God as a covenant God, will make a man bold in his cause; see Daniel 3:17.

{2} But even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in {a} our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention.

(2) The virtues of a true pastor are freely without fear to preach the Gospel, even in the midst of dangers.

(a) Through God's gracious help.

1 Thessalonians 2:2. Calvin makes 1 Thessalonians 2:2 still dependent on ὅτι of 1 Thessalonians 2:1; but without grammatical justification.

προπαθόντες] although we suffered before. προπάσχειν in the N. T., an ἅπαξ λεγόμενον, denotes the sufferings previous to the time spoken of (comp. Thucyd. iii. 67; Herod. vii. 11). As, however, the compound as well as the simple verb is a vox media, and so may denote the experience of something good (comp. Xen. Mem. ii. 2. 5), Paul fitly adds καὶ ὑβρισθέντες, and were insolently treated (comp. Demosth. adv. Phil. iii., ed. Reisk, p. 126; Matthew 22:6; Acts 14:5), by which προπαθόντες is converted in malam partem, and likewise the idea of πάσχειν strengthened. (For the circumstance, see Acts 16)

καθὼς οἴδατε] although αὐτοὶ γὰρ οἴδατε had just preceded, is involuntarily added by Paul, by reason of the lively feeling with which he places himself, in thought, in the time whereof he speaks.

ἐπαῤῥησιασάμεθα] is not, with de Wette, to be referred to the bold preaching of the gospel, and to be translated: “we appeared with boldness,” but is to be rendered: “we had confidence.” παῤῥησιάζεσθαι, indeed, primarily denotes speaking with boldness (Ephesians 6:20), then, also, acting with boldness and confidence.

ἐν τῷ Θεῷ ἡμῶν] in our God, by means of fellowship and union with Him, belongs to ἐπαῤῥησιάζεσθαι, and indicates wherein this confidence was founded—in what it had its ground. Oecum.: διὰ τὸν ἐνδυναμοῦντα Θεὸν τοῦτο ποιῆσαι τεθαῤῥήκαμεν. ἡμῶν does not denote: eundem ipsis, idolorum quondam cultoribus, deum esse ac ipsi (Pelt), but is the involuntary expression of the internal bond which unites the speakers with God, with their God; comp. Romans 1:8; 1 Corinthians 1:4; Php 1:3; Php 4:19; Philemon 1:4.

λαλῆσαι] cannot be united with ἐπαῤῥησιασάμεθα in the sense of μετὰ παῤῥησίας ἐλαλοῦμεν (Koppe, Flatt, Pelt); nor is it the statement of design (Schott: summa dicendi libertate usi sumus, ut vobis traderemus doctrinam divinam laeta nuntiantem); nor is it an epexegetical infinitive (Ambrosiaster: exerta libertate usi sumus in deo nostro, loquendo ad vos evangelium dei in magno certamine; Fritzsche, ad 2 Cor. diss. II. p.102: non frustra vos adii (1 Thessalonians 2:1), sed … libere deo fretus doctrinam div. tradidi, ut vel magnis cum aerumnis conflictans evangelium apud vos docerem; de Wette: “so that we preached the gospel to you amid much contention;” Koch); but it is the statement of the object attached to ἐπαῤῥησιασάμεθα, as this gives to our passage a dependent sense, and only introduces the infinitive clause, thus: we had the confidence to preach to you the gospel of God amid much contention. From this it follows that the chief stress is not to be laid on ἐπαῤῥησιασάμεθα (1 Thessalonians 2:2); and thus the unbroken boldness of the apostle does not form the contrast to οὐ κενὴ γέγονεν, as de Wette thinks, but οὐ κενὴ γέγονεν has its contrast in λαλῆσαι τὸ εὐ. ἐν πολλῷ ἀγῶνι. It is only thus that a real relation exists between the thoughts in 1 Thessalonians 2:1-2 (and also only thus a real relation of 1 Thessalonians 2:3 to 1 Thessalonians 2:2; see below); for that the preaching of the apostle in Thessalonica was so powerful and energetic (οὐ κενή), was by no means proved by the boldness of his preaching at Thessalonica, though a boldness unbroken by the persecutions which he suffered elsewhere shortly before; but rather this was something great, and demonstrated the power and energy of the apostle’s preaching, that he and his companions, though they had just undergone suffering and persecution at Philippi, nevertheless had the courage and confidence even in Thessalonica to preach the gospel amid sufferings and persecutions.

εὐαγγέλιον τοῦ Θεοῦ] The genitive denotes not the object of the gospel, but its author; comp. Romans 1:1. Moreover, εὐαγγέλιον τοῦ Θεοῦ is the usual form; and therefore, although Θεῷ precedes, εὐαγγέλιον αὐτοῦ is not put.

ἐν πολλῷ ἀγῶνι] in much contention. ἀγών is to be understood neither of the cares and anxieties of the apostle (Fritzsche), nor of his diligence and zeal (Moldenhauer), but of external conflicts and dangers.

1 Thessalonians 2:2. “Though we had suffered—aye and suffered outrage” in one town, yet on we went to another with the same errand; a practical illustration of Matthew 10:23.

2. but even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi] More exactly, having suffered before, and been shamefully entreated (R. V.), or though we had already suffered and were shamefully treated at Philippi. “Entreated” is older English for treated, as in Matthew 22:6 and Luke 18:32 (spitefully entreated). Shamefully treated is one word in the Greek,—outraged. It implies insult and injury combined, such as constituted a legal crime. This accords with the protest of Paul and Silas against the Philippian magistrates (Acts 16:37): “They have beaten us, publicly, uncondemned, being Romans!” Such indignities the Apostle felt keenly; they added a distinct element to his sufferings.

As to the circumstances of the missionaries’ visit to Philippi and their experience there, read carefully Acts 16, and comp. Introd. Chap. II. “As ye know,” for the Apostle had doubtless told his Thessalonian friends of his treatment at Philippi. Moreover, this town was but three days’ journey east of Thessalonica along the Via Egnatia, and news of all kinds readily passed between them (Introd. Chap. I.).

Instead of being daunted by the violence they suffered, Paul and Silas at Philippi “sang praises to God at midnight, with their feet fast in the stocks.” And God there signally vindicated His servants and turned their shame to honour. So we are not surprised to read of the holy confidence with which they declared their message at Thessalonica: we waxed bold (R. V.)—or, took courage in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God amid much conflict.

The last words of the clause explain the first, on which the emphasis rests. The “conflict” that broke out at Philippi continued under another form at Thessalonica, and the apostles needed all their courage and faith in God to sustain them in entering on their ministry in this new city. Throughout this first European mission it required a hard struggle to win for the Gospel a footing anywhere. There was much conflict.

The Greek verb (waxed-bold) implies the undaunted bearing and address of the missionaries, the outspokenness with which they faced their opposers in the delivery of God’s message. This was more than natural courage: “we waxed bold in our God.” God’s presence and the consciousness that His Spirit was with them (ch. 1 Thessalonians 1:5, see note) made them fearless. “It is not ye that speak,” said Jesus, “but the Spirit of your Father that speaketh in you … Fear them not therefore” (Matthew 10:16-32). Besides, it was “the gospel of God” which they proclaimed: God had put the message into their lips. This is the secret of St Paul’s heroism. The highest moral courage, such as that of President Lincoln or General Gordon in modern times, springs from faith in God.

The evangelists addressed themselves to their work at Thessalonica with a high degree of confidence, and under the fullest sense of Divine direction. Contrast with this the “weakness and fear and much trembling in” which the Apostle shortly afterwards “was with” the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 2:3-5). St Paul’s mood as a preacher was not always the same; circumstances depressed or elated him.

1 Thessalonians 2:2. Προπαθόντες, having suffered before) that which might have deterred others from preaching.

Verse 2. - But even after we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated. As the word here rendered "suffered before" does not in itself imply that the sufferings were unjust, the apostle adds, "and were shamefully entreated." As ye know, at Philippi. We are informed, in the Acts of the Apostles, that Paul and Silas were publicly scourged and cast into prison; and scourging with rods was regarded as an ignominious punishment, and therefore was forbidden to be inflicted on Roman citizens, such as Paul and Silas were. "They have beaten us openly uncondemned, being Romans, and have cast us into prison" (Acts 16:37). We were bold in our God to speak unto you. The word here rendered "bold" denotes boldness or freedom of speech; and hence some render the clause, "We were bold of speech in our God, so as to speak unto you" (Ellicott). Perhaps, however, as the verb "to speak" follows, it is better to render the clause," We were confident in our God to speak;" or "emboldened to speak" (R.V., "we waxed bold"). This boldness or confidence was in our God, that is, on account of our fellowship or union with him. The gospel of God. The genitive of origin, denoting, not merely that God was the Object, but that he was the Author of the gospel. With much contention; or, in much conflict (R.V.), alluding to the peril and danger with which Paul preached the gospel in Thessalonica. 1 Thessalonians 2:2Having suffered before (προπαθόντες)

N.T.o. Although we had suffered.

Having been shamefully entreated (ὑβρισθέντες)

Comp. Matthew 22; Luke 18:32; Acts 14:5. This may have been added because προπαθόντες alone might denote the experience of something good; but it is more probably intended as an expansion and illustration of that word. Paul's sensitiveness to personal indignity appears in the narrative in Acts 16, which gives the historical explanation of the two words. It appears frequently in 2ndCorinthians.

As ye know (καθὼς οἴδατε)

One of the many characteristic expressions of these Epistles which indicate community of experience and sentiment on the part of Paul and his readers. See 1 Thessalonians 1:5, 1 Thessalonians 1:8; 1 Thessalonians 2:1, 1 Thessalonians 2:5, 1 Thessalonians 2:10, 1 Thessalonians 2:11; 1 Thessalonians 3:3, 1 Thessalonians 3:4, 1 Thessalonians 3:12; 1 Thessalonians 4:1, 1 Thessalonians 4:2, 1 Thessalonians 4:6, 1 Thessalonians 4:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:1, 1 Thessalonians 5:11; 2 Thessalonians 2:16; 2 Thessalonians 3:1, 2 Thessalonians 3:2.


See Acts 16:19-40; Philippians 1:1.

We waxed bold (ἐπαρρησιασάμεθα)

Only once elsewhere in Paul, Ephesians 6:20. Frequent in Acts. Always in N.T. in connection with speaking. Derived from πᾶν every, and ῥῆσις speaking. Hence παρρησία boldness, bold speaking out of every word. The noun is very often used adverbially, as παρρησίᾳ boldly or openly, Mark 8:32; see also John 18:20. In Acts always μετὰ παρρησίας with boldness, comp. Hebrews 4:16. Ἑν παρρησίᾳ in boldness, John 7:4; John 16:29; Ephesians 6:19; Philippians 1:20. Both the verb and the noun are found in lxx. See Leviticus 26:13; Proverbs 10:10; Wisd. 5:1; 1 Macc. 4:18; Sir. 6:11.

In our God (ἐν τῷ θεῷ ἡμῶν)

Const. with we waxed bold. Their boldness was not mere natural courage, but was inspired by God. There is a slight emphasis on our God, as contrasted with the idols from which they had turned (1 Thessalonians 1:9). The phrase only here in N.T.

Gospel of God (εὐαγγέλιον τοῦ Θεοῦ)


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