1 Thessalonians 4:12
That you may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that you may have lack of nothing.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(12) Honestly.—Not in our modern sense of the word, but “honourably,” “creditably.”

Toward—i.e., ”in reference to,” “in your connection with.” The heathen were certain to be watching the conduct of the members of the new religion, and it would bring down political suspicion if they were seen to be acting more like agitators for a secret society than honest citizens who worked at their handicraft and calling.

Of nothing.—Right: the marginal version is hardly consistent with the Greek. Two purposes will be fulfilled by their industry: (1) to allay heathen suspicion; (2) to be well supplied themselves. It seems as if they had been reduced to begging of other Churches in return for their own expensive charities.

4:9-12 We should notice in others what is good, to their praise, that we may engage them to abound therein more and more. All who are savingly taught of God, are taught to love one another. The teaching of the Spirit exceeds the teachings of men; and men's teaching is vain and useless, unless God teach. Those remarkable for this or any other grace, need to increase therein, as well as to persevere to the end. It is very desirable to have a calm and quiet temper, and to be of a peaceable and quiet behaviour. Satan is busy to trouble us; and we have in our hearts what disposes us to be unquiet; therefore let us study to be quiet. Those who are busy-bodies, meddling in other men's matters, have little quiet in their own minds, and cause great disturbances among their neighbours. They seldom mind the other exhortation, to be diligent in their own calling, to work with their own hands. Christianity does not take us from the work and duty of our particular callings, but teaches us to be diligent therein. People often by slothfulness reduce themselves to great straits, and are liable to many wants; while such as are diligent in their own business, earn their own bread, and have great pleasure in so doing.That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without - Out of the church; comp notes on Colossians 4:5. The word rendered honestly, means "becomingly, decorously, in a proper manner;" Romans 13:13; 1 Corinthians 14:40. It does not refer here to mere honesty in the transaction of business, but to their general treatment of those who were not professing Christians. They were to conduct themselves toward them in all respects in a becoming manner - to be honest with them; to be faithful to their engagements; to be kind and courteous in their conversation; to show respect where it was due, and to endeavor in every way to do them good. There are few precepts of religion more important than those which enjoin upon Christians the duty of a proper treatment of those who are not connected with the church.

And that ye may have lack of nothing - Margin, no man. The Greek will bear either construction, but the translation in the text is probably the correct one. The phrase is to be taken in connection not merely with that which immediately precedes it - as if "their walking honestly toward those who were without" would preserve them from want - but as meaning that their industrious and quiet habits; their patient attention to their own business, and upright dealing with every man, would do it. They would, in this way, have a competence, and would not be beholden to others. Learn hence, that it is the duty of a Christian so to live as not to be dependent on others, unless he is made so by events of divine Providence which he cannot foresee or control. No man should be dependent on others as the result of idle habits; of extravagance and improvidence; of the neglect of his own business, and of intermeddling with that of others. If by age, losses, infirmities, sickness, he is made dependent, he cannot be blamed, and he should not repine at his lot. One of the ways in which a Christian may always do good in society, and honor his religion, is by quiet and patient industry, and by showing that religion prompts to those habits of economy on which the happiness of society so much depends.

12. honestly—in the Old English sense, "becomingly," as becomes your Christian profession; not bringing discredit on it in the eyes of the outer world, as if Christianity led to sloth and poverty (Ro 13:13; 1Pe 2:12).

them … without—outside the Christian Church (Mr 4:11).

have lack of nothing—not have to beg from others for the supply of your wants (compare Eph 4:28). So far from needing to beg from others, we ought to work and get the means of supplying the need of others. Freedom from pecuniary embarrassment is to be desired by the Christian on account of the liberty which it bestows.

He enforceth his commands by a twofold reason, the former is ab honesto, the other is ab utili. First:

That ye may walk honestly, or decently, as the word is rendered, 1 Corinthians 14:40.

Toward them that are without; that is, Gentiles, infidels, so they are described, 1 Corinthians 5:12 Colossians 4:5; as those that were received into the church of Christ are said to be within. The apostle would have them honour the gospel before the heathen in such moral actions which they did approve of, and were able to judge of, not understanding the higher mysteries of faith and gospel holiness; which he calls walking in wisdom totoards them that are without, Colossians 4:5. The other reason is ab utili:

That ye may have lack of nothing; or, of no man, have no need to beg of any man. It might offend and be a stumblingblock to the Gentiles, to see Christians to beg of any, and especially of themselves, for their necessary relief. Or, of nothing; that you may by your own labour be able to subsist, and not depend upon others, and so not be a burden to friends, or a scandal to strangers. For every man to subsist by his own labour, was the primitive law to Adam, Genesis 3:19, commended often by Solomon in his Proverbs, and enjoined by the apostle to believing Christians, 2 Thessalonians 3:10. That ye may walk honestly,.... Decently, in good credit and reputation, providing things honest in the sight of all men, for themselves and families, and honestly paying every man his own; on which account it became them to mind their own business, and work at their trades; otherwise their walk and conversation would be scandalous, and not honest and honourable:

toward them that are without: the men of the world, who were without the church; see 1 Corinthians 5:12 profane sinners, unconverted Gentiles, that were without Christ and hope, and God in the world, and were aliens and strangers; and yet care should be taken that no occasion be given to such to reproach the name of God, the ways of Christ, and the doctrines of the Gospel:

and that ye may have lack of nothing; but have wherewith to supply the necessaries of life, and give to them also that stand in need, which is more blessed and honourable than to receive; or might not need any such instruction and exhortation, or any reproof for sloth and idleness; or not stand in need of "any man", as the Syriac version renders it; of the help and assistance of any, of any of those that are without, which would be dishonourable; or of them that are within, of the church, which might be burdensome. The Vulgate Latin version renders it, "that ye may not desire anything of anyone"; as the slothful man covets greedily all the day long what is another's, and this desire kills him, Proverbs 21:25 he covets an evil covetousness, and craves in a scandalous way the bread of others; when it would be more honourable for him to work with quietness, and eat his own bread got by honest labour, and not be beholden to another.

That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
is not the statement of an inference (Baumgarten-Crusius), but of a purpose: dependent, however, neither on παρηγγείλαμεν, nor on what has hitherto been said, including the precept to φιλαδελφία, 1 Thessalonians 4:10 (Flatt), but on 1 Thessalonians 4:11, and in such a manner that the first half of 1 Thessalonians 4:12 refers to φιλοτιμεῖσθαι ἡσυχάζειν καὶ πράσσειν τὰ ἴδια, and the second half to ἐργάζεσθαι ταῖς χερσὶν ὑμῶν

1 Thessalonians 4:12 is not the statement of an inference (Baumgarten-Crusius), but of a purpose: dependent, however, neither on παρηγγείλαμεν, nor on what has hitherto been said, including the precept to φιλαδελφία, 1 Thessalonians 4:10 (Flatt), but on 1 Thessalonians 4:11, and in such a manner that the first half of 1 Thessalonians 4:12 refers to φιλοτιμεῖσθαι ἡσυχάζειν καὶ πράσσειν τὰ ἴδια, and the second half to ἐργάζεσθαι ταῖς χερσὶν ὑμῶν.

εὐσχημόνως] well-becoming, honourably, Romans 13:13; 1 Corinthians 7:35; 1 Corinthians 14:40. The opposite is ἀτάκτως, 2 Thessalonians 3:6.

πρός] not coram (Flatt, Schott, Koch), but in relation to, or in reference to those who are ἔξω. Comp. Bernhardy, Syntax, p. 265.

οἱ ἔξω] those who are without (sc. the Christian community), those who are not Christians, whether Jews or Gentiles. Comp. Colossians 4:5; 1 Corinthians 5:12-13, 1 Timothy 3:7. Already among the Jews οἱ ἔξω (חיצונים) was the usual designation of Gentiles. See Meyer on 1 Corinthians 5:12.

μηδενός] is by most considered as masculine, being understood partly of Christians only (so Flatt), partly of unbelievers only (Luther, Camerarius, Ernest Schmid, Wolf, Moldenhauer, Pelt), partly both of Christians and unbelievers (Schott, de Wette,—who, however, along with Koch, thinks that there is a chief reference to Christians,

Hofmann, Riggenbach). But to stand in need of no man, is for man an impossibility. It is better therefore, with Calvin, Estius, Grotius, Bengel, Baumgarten-Crusius, Alford, to take μηδενός as neuter, so that a further purpose is given, whose attainment is to be the motive for fulfilling the exhortations in 1 Thessalonians 4:10 : to have need of nothing, inasmuch as labour leads to the possession of all that is necessary for life, whereas idleness has as its inevitable consequence, want and need.12. that ye may walk honestly toward them that are without] Honestly is rather honourably, honestè (Vulgate)—in decent, comely fashion, in such manner as to “adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour” (Titus 2:10), and to win for Christian faith respect even from those who did not embrace it. in 1 Timothy 3:7 this is laid down as a condition specially important hi the case of men appointed to office in the Church, that they should “have a good testimony from them that are without.”

Those without—“outsiders,” as we say—is an established phrase, used by contrast with “those within” the fold of Christ, or the walls of the city of God; see 1 Corinthians 5:12-13; Colossians 4:5, “Walk in wisdom toward those outside;” also Mark 4:11. In a thriving commercial town like Thessalonica, indolence or unfitness for the common work of life would bring great discredit on the new society.

and that ye may have lack of nothing] Better, need of nothing (R. V.), or of no one (no man, A.V. margin). As much as to say: “That every one, inside or outside the Church, may respect you, and you may be no man’s dependents.”

The sense of honourable independence was strong in St Paul (see ch. 1 Thessalonians 2:6; 1 Thessalonians 2:9, and again 2 Thessalonians 3:8): he desires to see it in all his people. The Church was already in danger of having its charities abused by the indolent, so as to foster a spirit of pauperism. In Ephesians 4:28 the Apostle enlists on the side of diligent secular work the spirit of charity, in addition to that of self-respect—“that he may have to give to him that needeth;” comp. Acts 20:34-35, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” And in 1 Timothy 5:8 he includes under the necessities to be met by honest labour those of the man’s household, condemning the neglecter of these claims as “denying the faith” and “worse than an unbeliever.”1 Thessalonians 4:12. Εὐσχημόνως, becomingly) Lest men should be able to say that Christianity leads to sloth and poverty. The opposite is the disorderly (unruly), 1 Thessalonians 5:14; 2 Thessalonians 3:6.—μηδενὸς) of nothing, which you require to solicit from those without. This is the highest degree of εὑπορία, i.e. freedom from entanglement in matters of property, and is to be desired by a Christian, on account of the liberty which it bestows.Verse 12. - That ye walk honestly; that is, honorably; seemly. Toward them that are without; without the pale of the Christian Church, toward those who are not Christians, whether Jews or Gentiles, the unbelieving world. So also, in another Epistle, the apostle says, "Walk in wisdom toward them that are without" (Colossians 4:5). That ye may have lack of nothing; either neuter, of no thing; or perhaps rather masculine, of no man; that ye be under no necessity of asking assistance either from heathens or from fellow-Christians; inasmuch as working with your hands will put you in possession of what is necessary for life; whereas idleness necessarily involves poverty and dependence on others. Honestly (εὐσχημόνως)

Po. Better, seemly. From εὐ well and σχῆμα figure or fashion. The literal sense is suggested by the familiar phrase in good form. The contrast appears in ἀτάκτως disorderly, 2 Thessalonians 3:6. Paul has in view the impression to be made by his readers on those outside of the church. See on Romans 13:13, and comp. 1 Corinthians 14:40.

Of nothing (μηδενὸς)

Either neuter, of nothing, or masculine, of no man. In the latter case it would refer to depending upon others for their support, which some, in view of the immediately expected parousia, were disposed to do, neglecting their own business.

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