1 Thessalonians 4:8
He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit.
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(8) “So you see that to act contumeliously in the matter is to act contumeliously not only towards your neighbour, but towards God Himself, and that, too, after He has given you a gift which should have preserved you from these corruptions.”

He . . . that despiseth.—The verb means to treat as insignificant either persons or things. Here the object is not supplied in the first instance, in order to heighten the effect of the second clause. If we were to supply it, it would include all the rights which the unclean liver spurns, “the commandments which we (mere men as you thought us) gave you,” the “brother” whose domestic happiness has been invaded, the unfortunate victim herself, and, finally, the “honour” due to the sinner’s own body. Since it was God who ordered the relations in which we all stand to one another, contempt for these relations is contempt for Him.

Who hath also given.—Mistranslated for “who also gave.” St. Paul is looking back to the day when he confirmed them; for the right reading is not “unto us,” but “unto you,” or more correctly “into you”—i.e., “to enter into you, and dwell there” (John 14:17, and many other places). The word “holy” in the original is very emphatically put:” Who also gave His Spirit—His Holy Spirit—to enter you,” thus bringing out the startling contrast between such foul lives and the holiness which befitted and was possible (Romans 6:14; Romans 8:3-4) for men in whom the Holy Ghost, communicated by the laying on of hands, vouchsafed to dwell.

4:1-8 To abide in the faith of the gospel is not enough, we must abound in the work of faith. The rule according to which all ought to walk and act, is the commandments given by the Lord Jesus Christ. Sanctification, in the renewal of their souls under the influences of the Holy Spirit, and attention to appointed duties, constituted the will of God respecting them. In aspiring after this renewal of the soul unto holiness, strict restraint must be put upon the appetites and senses of the body, and on the thoughts and inclinations of the will, which lead to wrong uses of them. The Lord calls none into his family to live unholy lives, but that they may be taught and enabled to walk before him in holiness. Some make light of the precepts of holiness, because they hear them from men; but they are God's commands, and to break them is to despise God.He therefore that despiseth - Margin, "rejecteth." That is, he who disregards such commands as these which call him to a holy life, is really rejecting and disobeying God. Some might be disposed to say that these were merely the precepts of man, and that therefore it was not important whether they were obeyed or not. The apostle assures them in the most solemn manner, that, though communicated to them by man, yet they were really the commands of God.

Who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit - This is a claim to inspiration. Paul did not give these commands as his own, but as taught by the Spirit of God; compare notes on 1 Corinthians 7:40.

8. despiseth, &c.—Greek, "setteth at naught" such engagements imposed on him in his calling, 1Th 4:7; in relation to his "brother," 1Th 4:6. He who doth so, "sets at naught not man (as for instance his brother), but God" (Ps 51:4) is used of despising or rejecting God's minister, it may mean here, "He who despiseth" or "rejecteth" these our ministerial precepts.

who hath also given unto us—So some oldest manuscripts read, but most oldest manuscripts read, "Who (without 'also') giveth (present) unto you" (not "us").

his Spirit—Greek, "His own Spirit, the Holy (One)"; thus emphatically marking "holiness" (1Th 4:7) as the end for which the Holy (One) is being given. "Unto you," in the Greek, implies that the Spirit is being given unto, into (put "into" your hearts), and among you (compare 1Th 2:9; Eph 4:30). "Giveth" implies that sanctification is not merely a work once for all accomplished in the past, but a present progressive work. So the Church of England Catechism, "sanctifieth (present) all the elect people of God." "His own" implies that as He gives you that which is essentially identical with Himself, He expects you should become like Himself (1Pe 1:16; 2Pe 1:4).

See Poole on "1 Thessalonians 4:7"

He therefore that despiseth,.... The Vulgate Latin adds, "these things"; these exhortations now delivered, the commandments given by the Lord Jesus Christ, and the will of God above declared; he that rejects these things with contempt, takes no notice of them, and acts not according to them,

despiseth not man; not men only, the apostles of Christ, and ministers of the Gospel; for, by despising these exhortations, they themselves were despised, though not alone: but God; Father, Son, and Spirit; God the Father, whose will was their sanctification, even to abstain from fornication, and every act of uncleanness, which, if not attended to, was a despising of him; and the Lord Jesus Christ, by whom, and for whose sake they were entreated and exhorted, and in whose name, and by whose authority the apostle gave them these commandments; wherefore to slight them, was to slight Jesus Christ himself; and, by the way, this is a proof of the true and proper deity of Christ. Moreover, such despisers also, in some sense, do despite unto the spirit of grace, by whom the apostles spake, or who spoke in them these things, as follows,

who hath also given unto us his Holy Spirit; as he did to the prophets of the Old Testament, and therefore what they said was equally by divine inspiration of God; and hence despising them, was despising the Spirit of God that spake by them. The Syriac and Arabic versions read, "who hath given unto you his Holy Spirit"; and so all Stephens's copies; which furnishes out a fresh reason or argument, dissuading from uncleanness, since God had given them his "Spirit" to convince them of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment, so that they were not ignorant of the things warned against; and he had given them his Spirit as an "holy" Spirit, as a Spirit of sanctification, to begin and carry on that work in them, to which uncleanness was very opposite; and he had given his Spirit unto, or "into" them, to dwell in them, as in his temple, and therefore should be careful not to defile it; and to cause them to walk in his statutes, and to assist them to keep his judgments, and do them, and as an earnest of their inheritance, and a sealer of them up unto the day of redemption; wherefore it became them not to grieve him by an impure life; and they were laid under obligations to live in the Spirit, and to walk after him, and not after the flesh.

He therefore that {c} despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit.

(c) These commandments which I gave you.

1 Thessalonians 4:8. An inference from 1 Thessalonians 4:7 (not likewise from 1 Thessalonians 4:3, Flatt), and thereby the conclusion of the matter treated of from 1 Thessalonians 4:3 and onwards.

τοιγαροῦν] (Hebrews 12:1) therefore: not atqui (Koppe, Pelt). See Hartung, Partikell. II. p. 354.

ὁ ἀθετῶν] the rejecter (Galatians 2:21; Galatians 3:15; 1 Corinthians 1:19), stands absolutely (used as a substantive). Comp. Winer, p. 316 [E. T. 444]. What is rejected by him is evident from the context, namely, the above exhortations to chastity and disinterestedness. So already Beza. But the rejection of these exhortations is actual and practical, manifesting itself by the transgression of them. To ὁ ἀθετῶν Koppe erroneously supplies: istam τοῦ ἁγιασμοῦ legem, 1 Thessalonians 4:7; Pelt and Bloomfield: τὴν τοῦ ἁγιασμοῦ κλῆσιν; Ernest Schmid: τὸν τοιαῦτα παραγγέλλοντα; Flatt: ἐμὲ τὸν παρακαλοῦντα. It is decisive against the last two supplements, that hitherto not the person who gave the exhortations to the Thessalonians, but only the contents of those exhortations themselves, are emphatically brought forward (even on ὁ Θεός, 1 Thessalonians 4:7, there is no emphasis). To seek to determine more definitely ὁ ἀθετῶν from the following οὐκ ἄνθρωπον ἀθετεῖ were arbitrary, as the course of thought in 1 Thessalonians 4:8 would be interfered with.

οὐκ ἄνθρωπον ἀθετεῖ ἀλλὰ τὸν Θεόν] rejecteth not man (this may be excused) but God, inasmuch as he who enjoins the readers to avoid lust and covetousness, impresses on them not his own human opinion, accordingly not a mere arbitrary command of man, but delivers to them the solemn and unchangeable will of God.

οὐκἀλλά] is here, as always, an absolute contrast, therefore not to be weakened into “not, but especially,” or, “not only, but also” (Macknight, Flatt, and others). Comp. 1 Corinthians 1:17; Acts 5:4; Winer, p. 440 [E. T. 623]; Klotz, ad Devar. p. 9 f. In the anarthrous singular ἄνθρωπον, moreover, Paul expresses not merely the general idea man in contrast to ὁ Θεός, but there is likewise contained therein an (untranslatable) subsidiary reference to himself, as the person from whose mouth the Thessalonians have heard these commandments. Others incorrectly understand by ἄνθρωπος the defrauded brother (1 Thessalonians 4:6); so Oecumenius: τοιγαροῦν ὁ παρὰ τὴν κλῆσιν πράττων (οὗτος γὰρ ὁ ἀθετῶν) τὸν καλέσαντα ὕβρισε μᾶλλον ἢ τὸν πλεονεκτηθέντα· τοῦτο δὲ εἶπε, δεικνὺς ὡς οὐ μόνον, ἔνθα ὁ ἀδελφὸς ὁ ἀδικούμενος ᾖ, δεῖ φεύγειν τὴν μοιχείαν, ἀλλὰ κἂν ἄπιστος ᾖ κ.τ.λ.; and Pelt: Vestrum igitur quicunque vocationem suam spernit fratremque laedit, quem diligere potius debuisset, is sane non hominem contemnit, sed, etc.; also Alford. In a manner still more mistaken, Hofmann, referring to the whole section 1 Thessalonians 4:3-6, makes ἄνθρωπον denote humanity, against which he sins who misuses the woman for the sake of lust, or injures his brother for the sake of gain; whilst with an entirely inadmissible comparison of the Hebrew בָּגַד, he arbitrarily inserts into ἁθετεῖν the idea of an “act of sin which is a breach of peace, a violation of a holy or righteous relation,” and finds in 1 Thessalonians 4:8 the impossible and wholly abstract thought expressed, that every action which treats man as if there were no duty towards man as such, will accordingly be esteemed as having not man, but God for its object.

τὸν καὶ δόντα τὸ πνεῦμα αὐτοῦ τὸ ἅγ. εἰς ὑμᾶς] who besides, etc., an emphatic representation of the greatness of the crime which the Thessalonians would commit, were they to disobey these exhortations. In such a case they would not only set at nought the eternal will of God, but also repay the great grace which God had shown to them with shameful ingratitude. καί has an intensifying force, and brings prominently forward, by an appeal to the conscience of the readers, the inexcusableness of such conduct.

τὸ πνεῦμα αὐτοῦ τὸ ἅγιον] is the Holy Spirit proceeding from God, who transforms the believer into a new personality, and produces extraordinary capabilities and gifts (1 Thessalonians 5:19 f.; 1 Corinthians 12-14).

εἰς ὑμᾶς] is not precisely equivalent to ὑμῖν (Koppe, Flatt, Pelt), but denotes, instead of the mere logical relation which the dative expresses, the communication under the form of locality; accordingly, unto you.


If the present tense διδόντα is read, the communication of the Holy Spirit is represented as something continuing in the present. If, along with διδόντα, the reading of the Receptus, εἰς ἡμᾶς, is retained, this may be either taken in a wide sense, as ἡμᾶς in 1 Thessalonians 4:7, “to us, Christians;” or, in a narrow sense, “to us (me) the apostle.” In the first case, the addition on account of its generality would be somewhat aimless. In the second case, the following thought might be found therein: “but God, who not only commissions us to utter such exhortations, but who has also imparted to us His Holy Spirit, put us in a position to speak every moment the correct thing;” comp. 1 Corinthians 7:40.

But (1) this view is objectionable on account of the many additions and supplements which it requires; (2) τὸν καὶ διδόντα would introduce no new thought which is not already contained in the contrast οὐκ ἄνθρωπονἀλλὰ τὸν Θεόν; for, being commissioned by God to give such exhortations, speaking in His name is one and the same with being qualified for this purpose by God’s Holy Spirit; (3) Lastly, it is generally improbable that the addition τὸν καὶ κ.τ.λ. should contain a statement concerning the apostle, as such a statement is too little occasioned by the preceding. For, in the contrast οὐκ ἄνθρωπονἀλλὰ τὸν Θεόν, the general idea not man is contained in ἄνθρωπον as the main point, whilst the reference to the apostle’s own person in ἄνθρωπον is very slight, and forms only a subsidiary point.

If, on the other hand, εἰς ὑμᾶς be received along with the present participle, this might be explained with de Wette, whom Koch follows, that the apostle for the sake of strengthening his words reminds the Thessalonians how God still continues to communicate to them His Holy Spirit; how this communicated Holy Spirit, partly by inspired persons, partly by the voice of conscience, gives the same exhortations which he, Paul, now enforces. But who does not see that here also the chief matter, by which the addition becomes appropriate, must first be introduced and supplied?

1 Thessalonians 4:8. Elsewhere (1 Thessalonians 1:5-6) ἅγιον simply denotes the divine quality of πνεῦμα as operating in the chosen ἅγιοι of God, but here the context lends it a specific value. Impurity is a violation of the relationship established by the holy God between Himself and Christians at baptism, when the holy Spirit is bestowed upon them for the purpose of consecrating them to live His life (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:16; 1 Corinthians 6:19). The gift of the Spirit here is not regarded as the earnest of the future kingdom (for which immorality will disquality) so much as the motive and power of the new life.—διδόντα = “the giver of,” not implying continuous or successive impartation; present as in ch. 1 Thessalonians 5:24; Galatians 5:8. He not only calls, but supplies the atmosphere and energy requisite for the task.—ἀθετῶν κ.τ.λ. (cf. 1 Thessalonians 2:13) = contemns by ignoring such injunctions (1 Thessalonians 4:2-6) in practical life, deliberately sets aside their authority. Cf. Isaiah 24:16-17 f., οὐαὶ τοῖς ἀθετοῦσιν· οἱ ἀθετοῦντες τὸν νόμον, φόβος καὶ f1βόθυνος καὶ παγὶς ἐφʼ ὑμᾶς (nor shall any escape: cf. below on 1 Thessalonians 5:3). In 2 Samuel 12:9 f. Nathan fixes on the selfishness of David’s adultery and charges him especially with despising the commandment of the Lord.

8. He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God] Therefore should stand first, as in R. V.; it gathers up and re-affirms with emphasis the charge of 1 Thessalonians 4:2-7 : Wherefore then.

For despiseth read rejecteth (A. V. margin, and R. V.), as this word is rendered in Luke 10:16; in Galatians 2:21 we read it, “I do not make void the grace of God.” It points to some authority set at nought, or engagement nullified. It was God’s call which had summoned the Thessalonians to their new life; His voice, not man’s, had reached them by the Gospel (see ch. 1 Thessalonians 2:12-13). It will be God’s authority therefore, not man’s, that they defy, if this charge is disregarded; comp. 1 Thessalonians 4:1, “how you ought to please God;” and 1 Thessalonians 4:3, “This is God’s will.”

And the God Whom they would thus set at nought, is He who gives His Holy Spirit unto you. The Greek text of this clause is doubtful in several points. The Revisers are probably right in reading giveth in place of hath also given (A. V.); and you in place of us (A. V.), this word closing the sentence with emphasis.

The preposition is strictly into you, implying beyond the mere fact of the impartation of the Holy Spirit, His entrance into the soul. There is probably a reminiscence of Ezekiel 37:6, where the LXX represents the Lord as saying to the dry bones, “I will give (Hebrew, put) My Spirit into you, and you shall live, and shall know that I am the Lord.” Similarly in Galatians 4:6, “God sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts;” and in Ephesians 3:16, “strengthened through His Spirit (entering) into the inward man.” The gift of the Holy Spirit of God, bestowed to dwell within the soul of him who believes in Christ, is the peculiar distinction and the essential blessing of Christ’s religion. “I will pray the Father,” said Jesus, “and He will give you another Paraclete, that He may be with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth. He abideth with you, and shall be in you” (John 14:16-17; comp. Luke 11:13). The whole grace of the Gospel is summed up by St Paul in “the promise of the Spirit,” received “through faith” (Galatians 3:14). Through His indwelling we know the love of God, and are conscious of being sons of God and heirs of life eternal (Romans 5:5; Romans 8:14-17; Galatians 4:6-7; Ephesians 1:13-14).

Now the unchaste act or thought is an affront to the Holy Ghost, Who dwells as Guest in the soul and body of the Christian. This final warning seals the Apostle’s charge. He appeals to the presence of the Holy Spirit, of Whose continued visitations and influence his readers were sensible. To “reject the God Who gives” this gift would be for the Thessalonians to sin against the light that was in them. We are reminded again of 1 Corinthians 6:19, “Know you not that your body is a temple of the Holy Ghost Which is in you, Which you have from God?”

“Gentle, awful, holy Guest,

Make Thy temple in each breast,

There supreme to reign and rest,

Comforter Divine.”

1 Thessalonians 4:8. Ὁ ἀθετῶν) he who despiseth this thing.—τὸν καὶ δόντα, Who has also given) The word also intimates that a new importance is here added to what immediately precedes.—τὸ Πνεῦμα αὐτοῦ τὸ ἅγιον εἰς ὑμᾶς, His Holy Spirit to you) Ephesians 4:30.[13]

[13] Ὑμᾶς is the reading of BDGfg: “in vobis” is that of g and Vulg.; but ἡμᾶς of A and Rec. Text.—ED.

Verse 8. - He therefore that despiseth; or, as it is in the margin, rejecteth (R.V.). What is rejected is either the above commands to moral purity, or the Christian calling to holiness, or, better still, Paul himself, as the organ of God. Despiseth; or, rejecteth. Not man; that is, not me, as if the commands were given from myself - were of mere human origin. But God; the Giver of these commands. So also Peter said unto Ananias, "Thou hast not lied unto man, but unto God" (Acts 5:4); and our Lord says, "He that rejecteth you rejecteth me" (Luke 10:16). Who hath also given unto us his Holy Spirit. If this is the correct reading, then the apostle here again asserts his own inspiration, and that in the strongest and plainest terms. The best manuscripts, however, read, "who giveth his Holy Spirit unto you" (R.V.) - a strong enforcement of holiness, inasmuch as the Holy Spirit was given them for the express purpose of producing holiness within them. 1 Thessalonians 4:8Despiseth (ἀθετῶν)

Better, rejecteth. Setteth aside. Comp. Galatians 2:21; Galatians 3:15; 1 Corinthians 1:19. Used in N.T. both of persons and things.

His Holy Spirit (τὸ πνεῦμα αὐτοῦ τὸ ἅγιον)

Solemn and emphatic: His Spirit, the holy. Similarly, Acts 15:8, Acts 15:28; Acts 19:6; Acts 20:23; Ephesians 1:13; Ephesians 4:30.

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