1 Thessalonians 2:6
Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ.
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(6) Gloryi.e., recognition of our splendid position, as in the phrase “giving glory to God,” i.e., “recognising Him for what He is,” John 5:44. (Comp. John 12:43; Romans 2:29; 1Corinthians 4:5.)

Been burdensome.—The marginal reading is on the whole preferable. The original is, might have been in weighti.e., “have dealt heavily with you,” in all the pomp of apostolic dignity, making people acknowledge our “glory.” Although, no doubt, one means of asserting their authority would have been to claim their maintenance from the Church (comp. 1Corinthians 9:1-6), more is meant than the mere obtaining of money.

Apostles of Christ.—The title seems here to be bestowed on St. Silas and St. Timothy just as in Acts 14:14 upon St. Barnabas. As official dignity is here the point, it cannot simply (according to the etymology of the word) mean “Christ’s missionaries,” as we speak of “the Apostle of England,” &c., i.e., the earliest great preacher of the gospel there. The episcopal office (which St. Timothy, at any rate, held somewhat later) may perhaps be here ranked with the apostolate. Thus, in Galatians 1:19, St. James, the Bishop of Jerusalem, wears the title, though it is scarcely probable that he was one of the Twelve. Andronicus and Junias, in Romans 16:7; Epaphroditus, in Philippians 2:25 (where it is wrongly translated “messenger,” as also in 2Corinthians 8:23), are called Apostles. In 1Corinthians 12:28, Ephesians 4:11, probably also in Ephesians 2:20, Revelation 2:2, the first rank in the threefold ministry of the Church seems to be meant, for the reference is to the orderly Organisation of the Society. However, in our present passage it may conceivably be stretched to mean “as an Apostle and his following.” The definite article should be struck out.

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.Nor of men sought we glory - Or praise. The love of applause was not that which influenced them; see the notes on Colossians 1:10.

Neither of you, nor yet of others - Nowhere has this been our object The love of fame is not that which has influenced us. The particular idea in this verse seems to be that though they had uncommon advantages, as the apostles of Christ, for setting up a dominion or securing an ascendancy over others, yet they had not availed themselves of it. As an apostle of Christ; as appointed by him to found churches; as endowed with the power of working miracles, Paul had every advantage for securing authority over others, and turning it to the purposes of ambition or gain.

When we might have been burdensome - Margin, "or, used authority." Some understand this as meaning that they might have demanded a support in virtue of their being apostles; others, as Calvin, and as it is in the margin, that they might have used authority, and have governed them wholly in that manner, exacting unqualified obedience. The Greek properly refers to that which is "weighty" - ἐν βαρέι en barei - "heavy, burdensome." Anything that weighs down or oppresses - as a burden, sorrow, or authority, would meet the sense of the Greek. It seems probable, from the context, that the apostle did not refer either to authority or to support exclusively, but may have included both. In their circumstances it might have been somewhat burden some for them to have maintained him and his fellowlaborers, though as an apostle he might have required it; compare 1 Corinthians 9:8-15. Rather than be oppressive in this respect, he had chosen to forego his right, and to maintain himself by his own labor. As an apostle also he might have exerted his authority, and might have made use of his great office for the purpose of placing himself at the head of churches, and giving them laws. But he chose to do nothing that would be a burden: he treated them with the gentleness with which a nurse cherishes her children (1 Thessalonians 2:7), or a father his sons (1 Thessalonians 2:11). and employed only the arts of persuasion; compare notes on 2 Corinthians 12:13-16.

As the apostles of Christ - Though the writer uses the word apostles here in the plural number, it is not certain that he means to apply it to Silas and Timothy. He often uses the plural number where he refers to himself only; and though Silas and Timothy are joined with him in this Epistle 1 Thessalonians 1:1, yet it is evident that he writes the letter as if he were alone and that they had no part in the composition or the instructions. Timothy and Silas are associated with him for the mere purpose of salutation or kind remembrance. That this is so, is apparent from 1 Thessalonians 3:1-13. In 1 Thessalonians 3:1, Paul uses the plural term also. "When we could no longer forbear, we thought it good to be left at Athens alone; compare 1 Thessalonians 3:5. "For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith." Neither Silas nor Timothy were apostles in the strict and proper sense, and there is no evidence that they had the "authority" which Paul here says might have been exerted by an apostle of Christ.

6. Literally, "Nor of men (have we been found, 1Th 2:5) seeking glory." The "of" here represents a different Greek word from "of" in the clause "of you … of others." Alford makes the former (Greek, "ex") express the abstract ground of the glory; the latter (apo) the concrete object from which it was to come. The former means "originating from"; the latter means "on the part of." Many teach heretical novelties, though not for fain, yet for "glory." Paul and his associates were free even from this motive [Grotius], (Joh 5:44).

we might have been burdensome—that is, by claiming maintenance (1Th 2:9; 2Co 11:9; 12:16; 2Th 3:8). As, however, "glory" precedes, as well as "covetousness," the reference cannot be restricted to the latter, though I think it is not excluded. Translate, "when we might have borne heavily upon you," by pressing you with the weight of self-glorifying authority, and with the burden of our sustenance. Thus the antithesis is appropriate in the words following, "But we were gentle (the opposite of pressing weightily) among you" (1Th 2:7). On weight being connected with authority, compare Note, see on [2443]2Co 10:10, "His letters are weighty" (1Co 4:21). Alford's translation, which excludes reference to his right of claiming maintenance ("when we might have stood on our dignity"), seems to me disproved by 1Th 2:9, which uses the same Greek word unequivocally for "chargeable." Twice he received supplies from Philippi while at Thessalonica (Php 4:16).

as the apostles—that is, as being apostles.

Nor of men sought we glory: this is the third vice he vindicates his ministry from. The word glory first signifies some excellency in any subject; secondly, this excellency as displaying and manifesting itself; thirdly, the opinion and esteem thereof in the minds of men, as the Greek word imports, and so taken in the text: we did not seek men’s honour, high esteem, or applause; we sought them not in the inward bent of our thoughts, or the studies of our mind, nor in the outward course of our ministry and conversation, to form them so as to gain glory from men. Though honour and esteem was their due from men, yet they did not seek it. Honour is to follow men, men not to follow it. This Christ reproved in the scribes and Pharisees, that in their prayers, alms. fasting, affected habits, and titles, they sought the praise of men, Matthew 6:1-34. How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only? John 5:44. Every man ought, with reference to actions honourable and praiseworthy, and a good name is a blessing; but to seek honour, that is the evil. And as the apostle did not seek it himself, so he forbids it to others, Galatians 5:26: Let us not be desirous of vain-glory, & c.; and notes some false teachers as guilty of it, 2 Corinthians 10:12. It is a vice directly opposite to humility, unbecoming a man as man, and highly dishonourable to God, and contrary to the gospel. The heathens cherished it as the spur to great achievements, it is one of Tully’s rules for the institution of princes; but the Christian religion, that gives all glory to God, condemns it. And yet we may seek the vindication of our name, when thereby we may provide for the honour of the name of God, as the apostle Paul often did.

Neither of you, nor yet of others; he adds this to show that this was their general practice among others as well as these Thessalonians; they were not guilty of flattery, covetous designs, or seeking the glory of men among any churches, or in any place; their practice in their ministry was uniform, and in all places upright and sincere.

When we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ; or, we were able to be in, or for, a burden, a Hebraism. By burden some understand authority: q.d. We might have used our ministerial authority more than we did, whereby to get greater honour and respect to our persons among you. And indeed all authority and honour have their weight and burden. Others by burden understand maintenance. And then he means, we might have been chargeable to you, according to the power given by Christ to his apostles to reap carnal things from them to whom they sowed spiritual things. And at the first sending them forth in Judea, it was so ordained by Christ, that they should be maintained at the people’s charge: see 1 Corinthians 9:1-27. But they were so far from covetousness, that they took not all that was their due, and what they might of their outward substance, and from seeking their own honour, that they did not use what authority they might to procure it among them; for they laboured with their hands night and day, that they might not be chargeable, 1 Thessalonians 2:9; though they might have challenged not only maintenance, but honourable maintenance, 1 Timothy 5:17. Nor of men sought we glory,.... Honour, esteem, and popular applause; for though there is an honour that is due to the faithful ministers of the word, who are highly to be esteemed for their works' sake, and as ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God; and especially there was an honour and glory that belonged to the apostles of Christ as such, who were set in the highest office and place in the church; yet they did not seek after it as the Pharisees and false teachers did, who received honour one of another, and sought not that which comes from God only: but so did not the apostles; they took no steps this way to procure glory and esteem among men, but all the reverse; they preached doctrines which were not of men, nor according to men, nor agreeable to them; and these they delivered in a disagreeable way, not with enticing words of men's wisdom, they did not seek to please men, but spoke and did everything that rendered them mean and despicable in their eyes; so that they looked upon them as the filth of the world, and the offscouring of all things: nor was this any disappointment to them, for to gain the favour of men was not their end and view; they did not seek for glory neither of the men of the world,

neither of you; the church at Thessalonica, and the inhabitants of that place:

nor yet of others; of other men, and churches elsewhere:

when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ: or "have used authority", which was given them, though not for destruction, but for edification; put on a magisterial air, and made use of the apostolic rod; appeared with some severity and rigour, and so have commanded awe, respect, and reverence: or "have been in honour"; insisted upon being treated in an honourable way, as the apostles of Christ, his ambassadors, who were sent and came in his name, and represented his person; and therefore to be received as he himself; though the phrase may rather have regard to an honourable maintenance, as in 2 Corinthians 11:9 which as the apostles of Christ they might have required as their due, but they chose rather to relinquish their right, and labour with their own hands, that they might not be chargeable: and so "glory" in the former clause may mean the same, even great and glorious things for themselves, a maintenance answerable to their high character and office, which they did not seek; but were content with a poor pittance, and such as they could get with their own hand labour; in which sense the phrase, "double honour", seems to be used in 1 Timothy 5:17 as appears by the reason given in the next verse.

{5} Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been {e} burdensome, as the apostles of Christ.

(5) To submit himself even to the basest, to win them, and to avoid all pride.

(e) When I might lawfully have lived upon the expenses of the churches.

1 Thessalonians 2:6. Nor have the apostle and his associates had to do in the publication of the gospel with external honour and distinction. Comp. John 5:41; John 5:44.

ζητοῦντες] sc. ἐγενήθημεν.

ἐξ ἀνθρώπων] emphatic. Oecumenius: καλῶς δὲ ἐξ ἀνθρώπων· τὴν γὰρ ἐκ Θεοῦ (sc. δόξαν) καὶ ἐζήτουν καὶ ἐλάμβανον.

According to Schott and Bloomfield, the preposition ἐκ refers to the direct and ἀπό to the indirect origin,—a distinction in our passage impossible, as ἐξ ἀνθρώπων is the general expression which is by οὔτεοὔτε divided into subordinate members, or specialized. See Winer, p. 365 [E. T. 512].[34]

A new sentence is not to be begun with δυνάμενοι, so that either, with Flatt, ἮΜΕΝ would have to be supplied; or, with Calvin, Koppe, and others, ΔΥΝΆΜΕΝΟΙ Κ.Τ.Λ. would have to be considered as the protasis, and ἈΛΛʼ ἘΓΕΝΉΘΗΜΕΝ (1 Thessalonians 2:7) as the apodosis belonging to it; or, with Hofmann, ἈΛΛʼ ἘΓΕΝΉΘΗΜΕΝ ἬΠΙΟΙ ἘΝ ΜΈΣῼ ὙΜῶΝ as an exclamatory interruption of the discourse in its progress, distinctions chiefly occasioned by the misunderstanding of ἘΝ ΒΆΡΕΙ. But ΔΥΝΆΜΕΝΟΙ is subordinate to ζητοῦντες (sc. ἐγενήθημεν) and limits it, on account of which it is inappropriate to enclose δυνάμενοιἀπόστολοι, with Schöttgen and Griesbach, in a parenthesis. The meaning is: Also in our entrance to you our motive was not in anywise to be honoured or distinguished by men, although we certainly might have demanded external honour. Theodoret, Musculus, Camerarius, Estius, Beza, Grotius, Calixtus, Calovius, Clericus, Turretin, Whitby, Baumgarten, Koppe, Flatt, Ewald, Hofmann, and others take ἐν βάρει εἶναι in the sense of being burdensome (sc. by a demand of maintenance from the church), and thus equivalent to ἐπιβαρεῖν (1 Thessalonians 2:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:8; and ΚΑΤΑΒΑΡΕῖΝ, 2 Corinthians 12:16; comp. ἈΒΑΡῆ ἘΜΑΥΤῸΝ ἘΤΉΡΗΣΑ, 2 Corinthians 11:9); but this is an arbitrary assumption from 1 Thessalonians 2:9—arbitrary, because ΖΗΤΟῦΝΤΕς ΔΌΞΑΝ and ἘΝ ΒΆΡΕΙ ΕἾΝΑΙ must correspond; but in the first half of 1 Thessalonians 2:6 Paul’s custom of not suffering himself to be supported by the church, but gaining his maintenance by working with his own hands, is not indicated by a single syllable. On account of this correspondence of ἘΝ ΒΆΡΕΙ with ΔΌΞΑΝ, the explanation of Lipsius (Stud. u. Krit. 1854, 4, p. 912) is wholly untenable: “As the apostles of Christ we did not at all need glory among men, but were rather in a position to endure trouble and burden,—that is, to endure with equanimity persecutions and trials of all kinds which men inflict upon us,” not to mention that the idea of “not at all needing,” and the emphatic “rather,” are first arbitrarily interpolated. Heinsius, after the example of Piscator (who, however, wavers), understands ἐν βάρει εἶναι of severitas apostolica: Se igitur, ἐν βάρει εἶναι δυνάμενον, quum severitatem exercere apostolicam posset, lenem fuisse, eo fere modo, quo ἘΝ ῬΆΒΔῼ ἘΛΘΕῖΝ ΚΑῚ ἘΝ ἈΓΆΠῌ ΠΝΕΎΜΑΤΊ ΤΕ ΠΡΑΰΤΗΤΟς, 1 Corinthians 4:21, opponit. But thus ἘΝ ΒΆΡΕΙ and ἬΠΙΟΙ will be erroneously opposed to each other. (See on 1 Thessalonians 2:7.) ΒΆΡΟς, heaviness, weight, occurs even among classical writers, as the Latin gravitas, in the sense of distinction, dignity (see Wesseling, ad Diodor. Sicul. IV. 61). ἐν βάρει εἶναι accordingly means to be of weight, to be of importance, i.e. to be deserving of outward honour and distinction. Thus Chrysostom, Oecumenius and Theophylact (both, however, undecidedly), Ambrosiaster, Erasmus, Calvin, Hunnius, Wolf, Moldenhauer, Pelt, Schott, Olshausen, de Wette, Koch, Bisping, Alford, Auberlen, and others.

Paul annexes the justification of such an ἐν βάρει εἶναι by the words Ὡς ΧΡΙΣΤΟῦ ἈΠΌΣΤΟΛΟΙ] i.e. not sicut apostoli alii faciunt (1 Corinthians 9:6; Grotius), but in virtue of our character as the apostles of Christ. ἀπόστολοι is, however, to be used in its wider sense, as Paul not only speaks of himself, but also of Silvanus and Timotheus, as in Acts 14:14.

[34] If a distinction between the two prepositions is to be assumed, we can only say, with Bouman (Charact. theolog. I. p. 78): “δόξα ἐξ ἀνθρώπων universe est ἀνθρωπίνη, quae humanam originem habet, ex hominibus exsistit: δόξα ἀφʼ ὑμῶν, quae singulatim a vobis, vestro ab ore manat ac proficiscitur;” or, with Alford, “ἐκ belongs to the abstract ground of the δόξα, ἀπό to the concrete object, from which it was in each case to accrue.”1 Thessalonians 2:6. To put a full stop after ἄλλων, and begin a new sentence with δυνάμενοι (so e.g., Vulgate, Calvin, Koppe, Weizsäcker, H. J. Gibbins, Exp. Ti., xiv. 527), introduces an awkward asyndeton, makes ἀλλὰ follow a concessive participle very awkwardly, and is unnecessary for the sense.6. nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others] This clause continues 1 Thessalonians 2:5, and is so construed in the R. V.: nor (were we found) seeking glory of men, neither from you, nor from others. “Of men” points to the general source of such “glory,” indicating its character; “from you,” &c., to the particular quarter whence, conceivably, it might have been sought.

The motive of ambition—“that last infirmity of noble minds”—rises above the selfishness just disclaimed; but it is just as warmly repudiated, for it is equally inconsistent with the single-mindedness of men devoted to the glory of God. Our Lord finds in superiority to human praise the mark of a sincere faith: “How can ye believe,” He asks, “which receive honour one of another, and the glory that cometh from the only God ye seek not?” (John 5:44).

when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ] Lit., as apostles of Christ, without the definite article. St Paul is speaking for himself and Silas and Timothy; and the latter were not of the Apostles, but they were, in common with himself, “apostles of Christ.”

“Apostle” signifies by derivation emissary, or envoy,—one “sent out” by authority with some message or commission. The term was probably in current use amongst the Jews, when Jesus adopted it for His chosen Twelve. Bit it obtained in the early Church a wider application, concurrently with its stricter reference to the Twelve (including Paul, afterwards recognized as being of the same order, 1 Corinthians 9:1; Galatians 1:1; Galatians 1:17; Galatians 2:7, &c.). Of this we have examples in Barnabas and Paul, Acts 14:4; Acts 14:14; Andronicus and Junias, “amongst the apostles,” Romans 16:7; Titus and others, “apostles of the churches,” 2 Corinthians 8:23; Judean emissaries, “false apostles,” 2 Corinthians 11:13; Epaphroditus, sent from the Philippian Church to Paul in prison at Rome, Php 2:25; also in Revelation 2:2; Hebrews 3:1 (Christ Himself is “the Apostle,” being sent forth from God), John 13:16. In John 17:18; John 20:21 we find the fundamental idea of the word and the basis of its larger application: “As Thou didst send Me forth into the world, even so I have sent forth them.” In this more general use, apostle did not differ much from our word missionary. The title belonged to men who were sent out in Christ’s name by particular Churches—either with a specific and limited mission, or with a general commission to preach the gospel—as well as to those directly appointed by Jesus Himself and charged with His full authority. But after N.T. times the designation came to be reserved, with slight exceptions, to the Twelve and Paul. See Bishop Lightfoot’s detached note on the Name and Office of an Apostle in his Commentary on Galatians, pp. 92 ff.; and Huxtable’s very valuable Dissertation in the Pulpit Commentary on Galatians, pp. xxiii.–1. St Paul certainly possessed the lower apostleship (see Acts 13:1-3), and there was no need for him in this letter to claim the higher, nor to distinguish himself from his missionary companions. His friend Luke puts the Apostle, in the early stage of his ministry, on a level with Barnabas (Acts 14:4; Acts 14:14). The time came when he was compelled to assume the highest Apostolic powers and to assert his equality with Peter and the Twelve (Galatians 1:1; Galatians 2; 1 Corinthians 9:1-2; 1 Corinthians 15:7-11; 2 Corinthians 12:11-13; 2 Corinthians 13:3-10); but it was not yet.

“Burdensome” is lit. in (or in our idiom, of) weight—an ambiguous phrase, whose sense is interpreted by 1 Thessalonians 2:9 : “that we might not burden any of you.” These “apostles of Christ”—according to Paul’s maxim, “They which preach the gospel should live of the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:14)—might have claimed their maintenance from the Thessalonian Church. Had they been “seeking glory of men,” they would certainly have done so; it was both the easier and the more dignified course. “Weight” suggests the secondary sense of honour, glory: R. V. margin, claimed honour (comp. 2 Corinthians 4:17, “weight of glory”: weight and glory are one word in Hebrew). Not because they were apostles (as though this were a privilege peculiar to the name), but “as Christ’s apostles”—sent on His errand, preaching His word: “so hath the Lord ordained” (1 Corinthians 9:14; Luke 10:7). We find that the Apostle, while in Thessalonica at this time, did receive help twice over from his Philippian friends, and gratefully remembered it (Php 4:15-16). So afterwards, at Corinth, he allowed contributions to be sent him “from Macedonia” (2 Corinthians 11:9).1 Thessalonians 2:6. Ἀπʼ ἄλλων, from others) those, to wit, who would have admired us, if we had treated you more haughtily.—δυνάμενοι) when we might have, although we might have.—ἐν βάρει εἶναι, [Engl. Vers. been burdensome] been in honour and authority) כבד βάρος, weight, dignity, authority; the splendour which the majesty of the Lord communicates to His ambassador. Δόξα, glory, in the preceding verse, is nearly akin to it; comp. βάρος δόξης, 2 Corinthians 4:17. Brightness produces a weighty or powerful effect (gravis) on the sight, as a weight upon the sense of touch, and a loud sound on the hearing; and hence such things are said to be borne or not to be borne,[5] Hebrews 12:20. The conjugate, ἐπιβαρῆσαι, presently occurs, 1 Thessalonians 2:9. Both ideas, weight [authority], and a burden, must be included. But the apostles refrained from both.

[5] ουκ ἔφερον, they were not able to bear, properly said of a weight.—ED.Verse 6. - Nor of (or, from) men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome. These words admit of two meanings. The apostle may refer to his refusal to seek maintenance from the Thessalonians, and in this sense become a burden to them. But such a meaning does not suit the context; and besides: this refusal of maintenance is afterwards alluded to by the apostle. The reference here is not to maintenance, but to glory: we did not seek glory from you, when we might have been burdensome, when we might have done so. Hence the word is to be taken in the sense of honor, importance; when we might have claimed honor. As - in virtue of our character as - the apostles of Christ. Paul does not speak of himself alone, but he includes Silas and Timothy, and therefore the word "apostles" is to be taken, not in its restricted, but in its wider meaning. Of men (ἐξ ἀνθρώπων)

To extract glory from men.

When we might have been burdensome (δυνάμενοι ἐν βάρει εἶναι)

Lit. being able to be in weight. The phrase ἐν βάρει in weight is unique in N.T., and does not occur in lxx. The better rendering here is to be in authority. Paul means that his position as an apostle would have warranted him in asserting authority or standing on his dignity, which he did not do. Βάρος weight, in the sense of influence, is found in late Greek. Paul's Epistles were called weighty (βαρεῖαι), 2 Corinthians 10:10 : others explain as referring to the apostolic right to exact pecuniary support.

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