1 Thessalonians 3:4
For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know.
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(4) For verily, when . . .—To appreciate the nature of the argument, see the passages referred to in the margin.

3:1-5 The more we find pleasure in the ways of God, the more we shall desire to persevere therein. The apostle's design was to establish and comfort the Thessalonians as to the object of their faith, that Jesus Christ was the Saviour of the world; and as to the recompence of faith, which was more than enough to make up all their losses, and to reward all their labours. But he feared his labours would be in vain. If the devil cannot hinder ministers from labouring in the word and doctrine, he will, if possible, hinder the success of their labours. No one would willingly labour in vain. It is the will and purpose of God, that we enter into his kingdom through many afflictions. And the apostles, far from flattering people with the expectation of worldly prosperity in religion, told them plainly they must count upon trouble in the flesh. Herein they followed the example of their great Master, the Author of our faith. Christians were in danger, and they should be forewarned; they will thus be kept from being improved by any devices of the tempter.For verily, when we were with you, we told you before ... - It is not mentioned in the history Acts 17 that Paul thus predicted that special trials would come upon them, but there is no improbability in what is here said. He was with them long enough to discourse to them on a great variety of topics, and nothing can be more probable, than that in their circumstances, the subjects of persecution and affliction would be prominent topics of discourse. There was every reason to apprehend that they would meet with opposition on account of their religion, and nothing was more natural than that Paul should endearour to prepare their minds for it beforehand,

That we should suffer tribulation - We who preached to you; perhaps also including those to whom they preached.

Even as it came to pass, and ye know - When Paul, Silas, and Timothy were driven away, and when the church was so much agitated, by the opposition of the Jews; Acts 17:5-8.

4. that we should suffer—Greek, "that we are about (we are sure) to suffer" according to the appointment of God (1Th 3:3).

even as—"even (exactly) as it both came to pass and ye know"; ye know both that it came to pass, and that we foretold it (compare Joh 13:19). The correspondence of the event to the prediction powerfully confirms faith: "Forewarned, forearmed" [Edmunds]. The repetition of "ye know," so frequently, is designed as an argument, that being forewarned of coming affliction, they should be less readily "moved" by it.

The apostle having said that they knew they were appointed to sufferings, tells them here they knew it because he had told them of it. Paul, by some extraordinary instinct or revelation, often foresaw his sufferings, and God more generally told him of them at his first conversion, Acts 9:16; and he told them of them that they might reckon upon sufferings. A faithful minister will not only tell the people of the crown, but of the cross of Christ. And what he foretold of his sufferings, he tells them

came to pass; whereby they might be strengthened further in their faith about the gospel he had preached to them, and not be offended at his sufferings, being foretold to them, as well as appointed of God.

For, verily, when we were with you,.... In presence, in person, as they then were in heart and affection; when they were first among them, and preached the Gospel to them:

we told you before; before it came to pass;

that we should suffer tribulation: which they might say by virtue of Christ's prediction to all his disciples, that they should have tribulation in the world; and upon its being the common case of God's people, and the usual way through which they enter the kingdom; and the Apostle Paul might foretell this, upon the discovery that was made to him how many things he should suffer for the sake of Christ, and which therefore he always, and in every place expected; and he might have a particular revelation of the disturbance and opposition he was to meet with at Thessalonica:

even as it came to pass, and ye know; referring to the tumult and uproar in Acts 17:5, and which should be considered so far from being a discouragement, that it was a great confirmation of the truth of their mission and ministry; nor could it be so surprising to them as it might have been had they had no previous taste of it.

For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know.
1 Thessalonians 3:4. Reason of αὐτοὶ γὰρ οἴδατε.

πρὸς ὑμᾶς] The accusative, as in Galatians 1:18; Galatians 2:5; 1 Corinthians 16:7, etc.

Also μέλλομεν is neither to be restricted to Paul (Oecumenius, Estius, Osiander, Nat. Alexander, Macknight), nor to Paul and his companions (Hofmann), nor to Paul and the Thessalonians (Grotius, Koppe); but, as κείμεθα 1 Thessalonians 3:3, to be taken generally: we Christians in general. Μέλλομεν θλίβεσθαι however, is distinguished from the simple future—it characterizes the sufferings as inevitable, as predetermined in the counsels of God.

οἴδατε] from your own experience. Baumgarten-Crusius incorrectly refers it to προελέγομεν.

1 Thessalonians 3:4. Cf. Acts 17:3; Acts 17:6; Acts 17:13 f.

4. For verily, when we were with you, we told you before] More precisely, used to tell you; this was no single warning, but one repeated and familiar. For other references to the apostles’ previous instruction, see ch. 1 Thessalonians 2:11-12; 1 Thessalonians 4:1-2; 2 Thessalonians 2:5; 2 Thessalonians 2:15; 2 Thessalonians 3:10.

that we should suffer tribulation] So rendered again in 2 Thessalonians 1:4; 2 Thessalonians 1:6, and elsewhere in the A.V.; but the word is the same as that used in 1 Thessalonians 3:3; 1 Thessalonians 3:7, and ch. 1 Thessalonians 1:6affliction (R. V.). The A.V. too often breaks the connection of the sacred writer’s thought by needless variations of this sort.

should is made clearer by the Revised are to suffer: this was matter of certainty in the future, being Divinely appointed (1 Thessalonians 3:3),—a thing one might count upon. And so the event proved: even as it came to pass, and ye know.

All this is recalled to the minds of the readers and dwelt on with iteration, not to justify the Apostle’s foresight—for it needed no gift of prophecy to anticipate persecution at Thessalonica—but to make them realise how well they had been prepared for what they are now experiencing, and so far to reconcile them to it; comp. John 14:29; 1 Peter 4:12, “Beloved, count it not strange.” Dr Jowett gives an admirable analysis of the causes of persecution in the Apostolic times in his notes upon this Chapter (The Epp. of St Paul to the Thessalonians, &c., pp. 70–73, 2nd edition), from which we extract the following sentences:—“The fanatic priest, led on by every personal and religious motive; the man of the world, caring for none of these things, but not the less resenting the intrusion on the peace of his home; the craftsman, fearing for his gains; the accursed multitude, knowing not the law, but irritated at the very notion of this mysterious society of such real, though hidden strength, would all work together towards the overthrow of those who seemed to them to be turning upside down the political, religious, and social order of the world.… The actual persecution of the Roman government was slight, but what may be termed social persecution and the illegal violence employed towards the first disciples unceasing.”

Verse 4. - For; assigning the reason why they should not be moved by these afflictions. Verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we; here also Christians in general. Should suffer. Not a simple future, but denoting that it was thus appointed in the counsels of God - that their tribulation was the result of the Divine purpose. Tribulation (affliction); even as it came to pass, and ye know; that is, from your own experience. The affliction, then, was not some strange thing which had befallen them. 1 Thessalonians 3:4
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