1 Thessalonians 5:27
I charge you by the Lord that this letter be read to all the holy brothers.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(27) I charge you.Adjure is much nearer the original word, which is as solemn as can be. What is the cause of such awful solemnity? The question has never been very satisfactorily answered. It certainly seems as if the contempt of discipline and partial alienation of clergy and laity implied in 1Thessalonians 5:12-13, might suggest to St. Paul a doubt whether his Epistle would reach all the Thessalonian Christians. At any rate, the adjuration marks his sense of the extreme importance of the letter; and perhaps the fact that this was his first pastoral letter may have made him more anxious to ensure its reception and success. It amounts to a claim to inspiration. (Comp. 1Thessalonians 4:15.) The emphasis seems to rest on the word “all (“holy” is an interpolation). The reading is of course a public reading in the celebration of the Communion, at which we know from several early Fathers that the writings of the Apostles were read aloud. (Comp. Colossians 4:16; 2Peter 3:15-16.) Baur thought the adjuration a mark of a forger, who wished to gain authority for his cento: Bishop Wordsworth well points out, on the contrary, what a splendid guarantee for the genuineness and integrity of the Epistles this constant recitation constituted.

1 Thessalonians

PAUL’S EARLIEST TEACHING

1 Thessalonians 5:27.

If the books of the New Testament were arranged according to the dates of their composition, this epistle would stand first. It was written somewhere about twenty years after the Crucifixion, and long before any of the existing Gospels. It is, therefore, of peculiar interest, as being the most venerable extant Christian document, and as being a witness to Christian truth quite independent of the Gospel narratives.

The little community at Thessalonica had been gathered together as the result of a very brief period of ministration by Paul. He had spoken for three successive Sabbaths in the synagogue, and had drawn together a Christian society, mostly consisting of heathens, though with a sprinkling of Jews amongst them. Driven from the city by a riot, he had left it for Athens, with many anxious thoughts, of course, as to whether the infant community would be able to stand alone after so few weeks of his presence and instruction. Therefore he sent back one of his travelling companions, Timothy by name, to watch over the young plant for a little while. When Timothy returned with the intelligence of their steadfastness, it was good news indeed, and with a sense of relieved anxiety, he sits down to write this letter, which, all through, throbs with thankfulness, and reveals the strain which the news had taken off his spirit.

There are no such definite doctrinal statements in it as in the most of Paul’s longer letters; it is simply an outburst of confidence and love and tenderness, and a series of practical instructions. It has been called the least doctrinal of the Pauline Epistles. And in one sense, and under certain limitations, that is perfectly true. But the very fact that it is so makes its indications and hints and allusions the more significant; and if this letter, not written for the purpose of enforcing any special doctrinal truth, be so saturated as it is with the facts and principles of the Gospel, the stronger is the attestation which it gives to the importance of these. I have, therefore, thought it might be worth our while now, and might, perhaps, set threadbare truth in something of a new light, if we put this--the most ancient Christian writing extant, which is quite independent of the four Gospels--into the witness-box, and see what it has to say about the great truths and principles which we call the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is my simple design, and I gather the phenomena into three or four divisions for the sake of accuracy and order.

I. First of all, then, let us hear its witness to the divine Christ.

Look how the letter begins. ‘Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians, which is in God the Father, and in the Lord Jesus Christ.’ What is the meaning of that collocation, putting these two names side by side, unless it means that the Lord Jesus Christ sits on the Father’s throne, and is divine?

Then there is another fact that I would have you notice, and that is that more than twenty times in this short letter that great name is applied to Jesus, ‘the Lord.’ Now mark that that is something more than a mere title of human authority. It is in reality the New Testament equivalent of the Old Testament Jehovah, and is the transference to Him of that incommunicable name.

And then there is another fact which I would have you weigh, viz., that in this letter direct prayer is offered to our Lord Himself. In one place we read the petition, ‘May our God and Father Himself and our Lord Jesus direct our way unto you,’ where the petition is presented to both, and where both are supposed to be operative in the answer. And more than that, the word ‘direct,’ following upon this plural subject, is itself a singular verb. Could language more completely express than that grammatical solecism does, the deep truth of the true and proper divinity of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ? There is nothing in any part of Scripture more emphatic and more lofty in its unfaltering proclamation of that fundamental truth of the Gospel than this altogether undoctrinal Epistle.

The Apostle does not conceive himself to be telling these men, though they were such raw and recent Christians, anything new when he presupposes the truth that to Him desires and prayers may go. Thus the very loftiest apex of revealed religion had been imparted to that handful of heathens in the few weeks of the Apostle’s stay amongst them. And nowhere upon the inspired pages of the fourth Evangelist, nor in that great Epistle to the Colossians, which is the very citadel and central fort of that doctrine in Scripture, is there more emphatically stated this truth than here, in these incidental allusions.

This witness, at any rate, declares, apart altogether from any other part of Scripture, that so early in the development of the Church’s history, and to people so recently dragged from idolatry, and having received but such necessarily partial instruction in revealed truth, this had not been omitted, that the Christ in whom they trusted was the Everlasting Son of the Father. And it takes it for granted that, so deeply was that truth embedded in their new consciousness that an allusion to it was all that was needed for their understanding and their faith. That is the first part of the testimony.

II. Now, secondly, let us ask what this witness has to say about the dying Christ.

There is no doctrinal theology in the Epistle to the Thessalonians, they tell us. Granted that there is no articulate argumentative setting forth of great doctrinal truths. But these are implied and involved in almost every word of it; and are definitely stated thus incidentally in more places than one. Let us hear the witness about the dying Christ.

First, as to the fact, ‘The Jews killed the Lord Jesus.’ The historical fact is here set forth distinctly. And then, beyond the fact, there is as distinctly, though in the same incidental fashion, set forth the meaning of that fact--’God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ who died for us.’

Here are at least two things--one, the allusion, as to a well-known and received truth, proclaimed before now to them, that Jesus Christ in His death had died for them; and the other, that Jesus Christ was the medium through whom the Father had appointed that men should obtain all the blessings which are wrapped up in that sovereign word ‘salvation.’ I need but mention in this connection another verse, from another part of the letter, which speaks of Jesus as ‘He that delivereth us from the wrath to come.’ Remark that there our Authorised Version fails to give the whole significance of the words, because it translates delivered , instead of, as the Revised Version correctly does, delivereth . It is a continuous deliverance, running all through the life of the Christian man, and not merely to be realised away yonder at the far end; because by the mighty providence of God, and by the automatic working of the consequences of every transgression and disobedience, that ‘wrath’ is ever coming, coming, coming towards men, and lighting on them, and a continual Deliverer, who delivers us by His death, is what the human heart needs. This witness is distinct that the death of Christ is a sacrifice, that the death of Christ is man’s deliverance from wrath, that the death of Christ is a present deliverance from the consequences of transgression.

And was that Paul’s peculiar doctrine? Is it conceivable that, in a letter in which he refers--once, at all events--to the churches in Judea as their ‘brethren,’ he was proclaiming any individual or schismatic reading of the facts of the life of Jesus Christ? I believe that there has been a great deal too much made of the supposed divergencies of types of doctrine in the New Testament. There are such types, within certain limits. Nobody would mistake a word of John’s calm, mystical, contemplative spirit for a word of Paul’s fiery, dialectic spirit. And nobody would mistake either the one or the other for Peter’s impulsive, warm-hearted exhortations. But whilst there are diversities in the way of apprehending, there are no diversities in the declaration of what is the central truth to be apprehended. These varyings of the types of doctrine in the New Testament are one in this, that all point to the Cross as the world’s salvation, and declare that the death there was the death for all mankind.

Paul comes to it with his reasoning; John comes to it with his adoring contemplation; Peter comes to it with his mind saturated with Old Testament allusions. Paul declares that the ‘Christ died for us’; John declares that He is ‘the Lamb of God’; Peter declares that ‘Christ bare our sins in His own body on the tree.’ But all make one unbroken phalanx of witness in their proclamation, that the Cross, because it is a cross of sacrifice, is a cross of reconciliation and peace and hope. And this is the Gospel that they all proclaim, ‘how that Jesus Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,’ and Paul could venture to say, ‘Whether it were they or I, so we preach, and so ye believed.’

That was the Gospel that took these heathens, wallowing in the mire of sensuous idolatry, and lifted them up to the elevation and the blessedness of children of God.

And if you will read this letter, and think that there had been only a few weeks of acquaintance with the Gospel on the part of its readers, and then mark how the early and imperfect glimpse of it had transformed them, you will see where the power lies in the proclamation of the Gospel. A short time before they had been heathens; and now says Paul, ‘From you sounded out the word of the Lord, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to Godward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak anything.’ We do not need to talk to you about ‘love of the brethren,’ for ‘yourselves are taught of God to love one another, and my heart is full of thankfulness when I think of your work of faith and labour of love and patience of hope.’ The men had been transformed. What transformed them? The message of a divine and dying Christ, who had offered up Himself without spot unto God, and who was their peace and their righteousness and their power.

III. Thirdly, notice what this witness has to say about the risen and ascended Christ. Here is what it has to say: ‘Ye turned unto God . . . to wait for His Son from heaven whom He raised from the dead.’ And again: ‘The Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout.’

The risen Christ, then, is in the heavens, and Paul assumes that these people, just brought out of heathenism, have received that truth into their hearts in the love of it, and know it so thoroughly that he can take for granted their entire acquiescence in and acceptance of it.

Remember, we have nothing to do with the four Gospels here. Remember, not a line of them had yet been written. Remember, that we are dealing here with an entirely independent witness. And then tell us what importance is to be attached to this evidence of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Twenty years after His death here is this man speaking about that Resurrection as being not only something that he had to proclaim, and believed, but as being the recognised and notorious fact which all the churches accepted, and which underlay all their faith.

I would have you remember that if, twenty years after this event, this witness was borne, that necessarily carries us back a great deal nearer to the event than the hour of its utterance, for there is no mark of its being new testimony at that instant, but every mark of its being the habitual and continuous witness that had been borne from the instant of the alleged Resurrection to the present time. It at least takes us back a good many years nearer the empty sepulchre than the twenty which mark its date. It at least takes us back to the conversion of the Apostle Paul; and that necessarily involves, as it seems to me, that if that man, believing in the Resurrection, went into the Church, there would have been an end of his association with them, unless he had found there the same faith. The fact of the matter is, there is not a place where you can stick a pin in, between the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and the date of this letter, wide enough to admit of the rise of the faith in a Resurrection. We are necessarily forced by the very fact of the existence of the Church to the admission that the belief in the Resurrection was contemporaneous with the alleged Resurrection itself.

And so we are shut up--in spite of the wriggling of people that do not accept that great truth--we are shut up to the old alternative, as it seems to me, that either Jesus Christ rose from the dead, or the noblest lives that the world has ever seen, and the loftiest system of morality that has ever been proclaimed, were built upon a lie. And we are called to believe that at the bidding of a mere unsupported, bare, dogmatic assertion that miracles are impossible. Believe it who will, I decline to be coerced into believing a blank, staring psychological contradiction and impossibility, in order to be saved the necessity of admitting the existence of the supernatural. I would rather believe in the supernatural than the ridiculous. And to me it is unspeakably ridiculous to suppose that anything but the fact of the Resurrection accounts for the existence of the Church, and for the faith of this witness that we have before us.

And so, dear friends, we come back to this, the Christianity that flings away the risen Christ is a mere mass of tatters with nothing in it to cover a man’s nakedness, an illusion with no vitality in it to quicken, to comfort, to ennoble, to raise, to teach aspiration or hope or effort. The human heart needs the ‘Christ that died, yea, rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.’ And this independent witness confirms the Gospel story: ‘Now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first-fruits of them that slept.’

IV. Lastly, let us hear what this witness has to say about the returning Christ.

That is the characteristic doctrinal subject of the letter. We all know that wonderful passage of unsurpassed tenderness and majesty, which has soothed so many hearts and been like a gentle hand laid upon so many aching spirits, about the returning Jesus ‘coming in the clouds,’ with the dear ones that are asleep along with Him, and the reunion of them that sleep and them that are alive and remain, in one indissoluble concord and concourse, when we shall ever be with the Lord, and ‘clasp inseparable hands with joy and bliss in over-measure for ever.’ The coming of the Master does not appear here with emphasis on its judicial aspect. It is rather intended to bring hope to the mourners, and the certainty that bands broken here may be re-knit in holier fashion hereafter. But the judicial aspect is not, as it could not be, left out, and the Apostle further tells us that ‘that day cometh as a thief in the night.’ That is a quotation of the Master’s own words, which we find in the Gospels; and so again a confirmation, so far as it goes, from an independent witness, of the Gospel story. And then he goes on, in terrible language, to speak of ‘sudden destruction, as of travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.’

These, then, are the points of this witness’s testimony as to the returning Lord--a personal coming, a reunion of all believers in Him, in order to eternal felicity and mutual gladness, and the destruction that shall fall by His coming upon those who turn away from Him.

What a revelation that would be to men who had known what it was to grope in the darkness of heathendom, and to have new light upon the future!

I remember once walking in the long galleries of the Vatican, on the one side of which there are Christian inscriptions from the catacombs, and on the other heathen inscriptions from the tombs. One side is all dreamy and hopeless; one long sigh echoing along the line of white marbles--’Vale! vale! in aeternum vale!’ {Farewell, farewell, for ever farewell.} On the other side--’In Christo, in pace, in spe.’ {In Christ, in peace, in hope.} That is the witness that we have to lay to our hearts. And so death becomes a passage, and we let go the dear hands, believing that we shall clasp them again.

My brother! this witness is to a gospel that is the gospel for Manchester as well as for Thessalonica. You and I want just the same as these old heathens there wanted. We, too, need the divine Christ, the dying Christ, the risen Christ, the ascended Christ, the returning Christ. And I beseech you to take Him for your Christ, in all the fulness of His offices, the manifoldness of His power, and the sweetness of His love, so that of you it may be said, as this Apostle says about these Thessalonians, ‘Ye received it not as the word of man, but, as it is in truth, as the word of God.’ 1 Thessalonians 5:27-28. I charge you — Greek, ορκιζω υμας, I adjure you, that is, I lay you under the obligation of an oath; that this epistle — The first he wrote; be read to all the holy brethren — Namely, of your church. The reader must observe, that in judicial oaths, the custom among the Jews was not for the person who came under the obligation of an oath to pronounce the words of swearing with his own mouth, but an oath was exacted from him by the magistrate or superior, and so he became bound to answer upon oath, by hearing the voice of swearing or adjuration rather, as the LXX. render it. Here, therefore, a solemn act of divine worship is paid to Christ, taking an oath in the name of God being a branch of his worship. This epistle was doubtless sent to the presidents and pastors of the Thessalonian church, and the command, that the epistle should be read, was delivered to them. “The same course, we may suppose, the apostle followed with respect to all his other inspired epistles. They were sent by him to the elders of the churches, for whose use they were principally designed, with a direction that they should be read publicly by some of their number to the brethren in their assemblies for worship; and that not once or twice, but frequently, that all might have the benefit of the instructions contained in them. If this method had not been followed, such as were unlearned would have derived no advantage from the apostolical writings; and to make these writings of use to the rest, they must have been circulated among them in private, which would have exposed the autographs (or the original copies) to the danger of being corrupted or lost.” But what Paul commands under a strong adjuration, Rome forbids under pain of excommunication, prohibiting the reading of the Scriptures to the common people in their religious assemblies, or enjoining them to be read, if at all, in an unknown tongue; a sufficient proof this, that whatever that church may be besides, it is not apostolical. It is justly observed by Dr. Paley, that “the existence of this clause is an evidence of the authenticity of this epistle: because to produce a letter purporting to have been publicly read in the church at Thessalonica, when no such letter had been read or heard of in that church, would be to produce an imposture destructive of itself. Either the epistle was publicly read in the church at Thessalonica during St. Paul’s lifetime, or it was not. If it was, no publication could be more authentic, no species of notoriety more unquestionable, no method of preserving the integrity of the copy more secure: if it was not, the clause would remain a standing condemnation of the forgery, and, one would suppose, an invincible impediment to its success.” 5:23-28 The apostle prays that they might be sanctified more perfectly, for the best are sanctified but in part while in this world; therefore we should pray for, and press toward, complete holiness. And as we must fall, if God did not carry on his good work in the soul, we should pray to God to perfect his work, till we are presented faultless before the throne of his glory. We should pray for one another; and brethren should thus express brotherly love. This epistle was to be read to all the brethren. Not only are the common people allowed to read the Scriptures, but it is their duty, and what they should be persuaded to do. The word of God should not be kept in an unknown tongue, but transplanted, that as all men are concerned to know the Scriptures, so they all may be able to read them. The Scriptures should be read in all public congregations, for the benefit of the unlearned especially. We need no more to make us happy, than to know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is an ever-flowing and an over-flowing fountain of grace to supply all our wants.I charge you by the Lord - Margin, "adjure." Greek, "I put you under oath by the Lord" - ενορκίζω ὑμᾶς τὸν Κύριον enorkizō humas ton Kurion. It is equivalent to binding persons by an oath; see the notes on Matthew 26:63; compare Genesis 21:23-24; Genesis 24:3, Genesis 24:37.

That this epistle be read unto all the holy brethren - To all the church; compare notes on Colossians 4:16. The meaning is, that the Epistle was to be read to the whole church on some occasion. on which it was assembled together. It was not merely designed for the individual or individuals into whose hands it might happen to fall, but as it contained matters of common interest, and was designed for the whole body of believers at Thessalonica, the apostle gives a solemn charge that it should not be suppressed or kept from them. Injunctions of this kind occurring in the Epistles, look as if the apostles regarded themselves as under the influence of inspiration, and as having authority to give infallible instructions to the churches.

27. I charge—Greek, "I adjure you."

read unto all—namely, publicly in the congregation at a particular time. The Greek aorist tense implies a single act done at a particular time. The earnestness of his adjuration implies how solemnly important he felt this divinely inspired message to be. Also, as this was the FIRST of the Epistles of the New Testament, he makes this the occasion of a solemn charge, that so its being publicly read should be a sample of what should be done in the case of the others, just as the Pentateuch and the Prophets were publicly read under the Old Testament, and are still read in the synagogue. Compare the same injunction as to the public reading of the Apocalypse, the LAST of the New Testament canon (Re 1:3). The "all" includes women and children, and especially those who could not read it themselves (De 31:12; Jos 8:33-35). What Paul commands with an adjuration, Rome forbids under a curse [Bengel]. Though these Epistles had difficulties, the laity were all to hear them read (1Pe 4:11; 2Pe 3:10; even the very young, 2Ti 1:5; 3:15). "Holy" is omitted before "brethren" in most of the oldest manuscripts, though some of them support it.

The apostle having now finished the Epistle, lays a solemn charge upon them all, especially their elders and teachers, to have this Epistle published. He now being himself hindered from preaching to them, he sends this Epistle to them to be read to all. He wrote it for public use, and therefore would have none ignorant of it, whereby they might all understand what he had written about his great love and care of them, and the commendations he had given of them, and the instructions, admonitions, exhortations, and comforts that were contained therein, of great use to them all. And his charge herein is in a way of adjuration, Orkizw umav ton Kurion, imposing it on them as by an oath; as Abraham did upon his servant in the case of providing a wife for Isaac, Genesis 24:3. And so the high priest said to Christ: I adjure thee by the living God, & c., Matthew 26:63; answering to the Hebrew word Hishbagnti, I adjure you; Song of Solomon 5:8: I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, & c. It imports the requiring of a thing in the name and authority of God, with a denunciation of vengeance if it be not done. And all this charge is about the reading of this Epistle; as he commands the Epistle to the Colossians to be read in the church of the Laodiceans, and that from Laodicea to be read to them, Colossians 4:16, but not with that solemn charge as this is. Hence we may gather the duty of reading the Scriptures in the church assemblies, as the law of Moses was read in the synagogues. And, very early in the Christian churches there were some appointed to be readers. Julian the Apostate was a reader in the church at Nicomedia. And if this was the first Epistle written by the apostle, as some suppose it, he lays this solemn charge first for the reading of this, to show the duty of the several churches to the rest of the Scriptures, as they should come to their hand. The word of God should dwell richly and plentifully in the people, and therefore reading it is necessary, together with expounding and applying it. And we hence also may prove against the papists, it ought to be made known to the people, even all the holy brethren, and not confined to the clergy; and to be read in their own tongue, for so, without question, was this Epistle read in a language which the people understood. The apostle was not for confining of knowledge, and keeping the people in ignorance, as those are who make it the mother of devotion. I charge you by the Lord,.... Or "I adjure by the Lord"; by the Lord Jesus: it is in the form of an oath, and a very solemn one; and shows that oaths may be used on certain and solemn occasions:

that this epistle be read unto all the holy brethren; to all the members of the church, who are called "holy", because they were sanctified or set apart by God the Father in election; and were sanctified by the blood of Christ, or their sins were expiated, or atoned for by the sacrifice of Christ in redemption; and were sanctified or made holy by the Spirit of God in regeneration; and were enabled by the grace of God to live holy lives and conversations. Now this epistle being directed only to some of the principal members of the church, it may be to one or more of their elders; lest he or they should be tempted on any account to conceal it, the apostle in a very solemn manner adjures, that it be read publicly to the whole church whom it concerned, that all might hear, and learn, and receive some advantage from it; from whence we may learn, as is observed by many interpreters, that the sacred Scriptures, neither one part nor another, nor the whole of them, are to be kept from private Christians, but may be read, and heard, and used by all.

I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read unto all the holy brethren.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1 Thessalonians 5:27. This command has not its reason in any distrust of the rulers of the church; nor, as Chrysostom, Oecumenius, and Theophylact think, in the yearning love of the apostle, who, in compensation of his bodily absence, wished this letter read to all; nor, as Hofmann supposes, in the anxiety of the apostle lest they should not properly value a mere epistle which he sent, instead of coming in person to Thessalonica: but simply because Paul regarded the contents of his Epistle of importance for all without exception. How, moreover, Schrader can infer from 1 Thessalonians 5:27 that the composition of the Epistle belongs to a time when already a clerus presided in the churches, surpasses comprehension. Completely groundless and untenable is also Baur’s opinion (p. 491), that “the admonition so emphatically given in 1 Thessalonians 5:27 was written from the opinions of a time which no longer saw in the apostolic Epistles the natural means of spiritual communication, but regarded them as sacred objects, to which due reverence was to be shown by making their contents known as accurately as possible, particularly by public reading. How could the apostle himself have judged it necessary so solemnly to adjure the churches, to which his Epistles were directed, not to leave them unread? An author could only say this who did not write from the natural pressure of existing circumstances, but in writing placed himself in an imagined situation, and sought to vindicate for his pretended apostolic Epistle the consideration which the apostolic Epistles received in the practice of a later age.” But does the author adjure the church to leave his Epistle not unread? What a mighty difference is there between such a command and his urgent desire that the contents of the Epistle should be made known to all the members of the church! If the former were objectionable, the latter is natural and unobjectionable. And further, how is it possible that 1 Thessalonians 5:27 is the reflex of a time in which the apostolic Epistles were valued as sacred objects, and to which due honour must be paid by public reading, since ἀναγυωσθῆναι is in the aorist, and accordingly a single and exclusive act of reading is referred to! And what a wrong method would the post-apostolic author have employed to secure for his letter the consideration of an apostolic Epistle, when he did not select the infinitive of the present, and did not fail to add πασῖν!

τὸν κύριον] Comp. Mark 5:7; Acts 19:13; LXX. Genesis 24:3. See Matthiae, p. 756. On the Greek idiom ἐνορκίζω, see Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 360 ff.

ἀναγνωσθῆναι] that it be read to (Luke 4:16; 2 Corinthians 3:15; Colossians 4:16), not that it be read by. Incorrectly also Michaelis, appealing to 2 Thessalonians 2:2 (!): there is here intended the recognition of the Epistle as a genuine Pauline Epistle, by means of a conclusion added by his own hand.

τὴν ἐπιστολήν] comp. Romans 16:22; Colossians 4:16.

πᾶσιν τοῖς ἀδελφοῖς] to the whole of the brethren, sc. in Thessalonica; not also in all Macedonia (Bengel, Flatt); still less also in neighbouring Asia (Grotius), or even the churches of all Christendom (Seb. Schmid).27. I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read unto all the holy brethren] Holy is probably an erroneous insertion of the copyists, due to Php 4:21, or Hebrews 3:1.

Charge should be the much stronger adjure (A.V. margin, and R. V.). It is as much as to say, “I put you on your oath before the Lord to do this:” an extraordinary expression, and one difficult to account for. There is no appearance of such jealousy or party spirit existing in this Church as could lead to the letter being intentionally withheld from any of Its members. Two circumstances, however, occur to one’s mind which might occasion in some cases neglect of the Epistle,—(1) the extreme desire that was felt for St Paul’s presence at Thessalonica (ch. 1 Thessalonians 3:6), and the disappointment caused by his failure to return, to which he addressed himself so fully in chaps. 2 and 3. This feeling might lead some to say, “O, it is only a letter from him! We do not want that. Why does he not come himself?” (2) Further, amongst the bereaved members of the Church, some in consequence of their recent and deep sorrow (ch. 1 Thessalonians 4:13) might be absent from the Church meetings, so that unless the Epistle were carried to them and read in their hearing, they would miss the consolation designed especially for them. It must be remembered, too, that this is the first Apostolic letter extant, and that the custom of reading such letters officially to the whole Church had yet to be established.

Observe the repetition of “all the brethren” in 1 Thessalonians 5:26-27. The same love which dictates the salutation to “all” without distinction, even though some had incurred censure (1 Thessalonians 5:14), prompts the anxiety that “all” should hear this letter read, which contains so much of the Apostle’s mind and heart.1 Thessalonians 5:27. Ὁρκιζω ὑμᾶς, I adjure you) In the Old Testament Moses and the prophets were publicly read. In the New Testament this epistle, as being the first of all that Paul wrote, is, as a sample of what they should do in the case of the others, recommended to be publicly read, as afterward the Apocalypse, ch. Revelation 1:3. This was the very important reason, why Paul so adjured the Thessalonians [and these too so greatly beloved by him.—V. g.]; and there had been some danger, lest they should think, that the epistle should be concealed on account of the praises given to themselves.—τὸν Κύριον, the Lord) Christ. The divine worship of invocation is presented to Him, Ps. 63:12 (Psalm 63:11).—πᾶσι, to all) at Thessalonica, or even in the whole of Macedonia.—ἀδελφοῖς, the brethren) The dative, in the strict force of it. The epistle was to be read, whilst all gave ear to it [in the hearing of all], especially those, who could not read it themselves; women and children not being excluded. Comp. Deuteronomy 31:12; Joshua 8:33-34. What Paul commands with an adjuration, Rome forbids under a curse. [Those who stealthily take away the Scripture, and render the reading of the word of God so difficult to the common people, beyond all doubt deal unfairly in their own treatment of it (they must themselves in their mode of handling it evade its meaning by subterfuges and perversions); they therefore are shunners of the light. But how sadly will they be struck dumb, when the Judge shall inquire, Why have you so violently forbidden others to read My word? Why did you take it from those, who would have used it better than yourselves? “It would be desirable (and this is the remark of a Wittemberg divine of high character) that in many places, and those too of a more exalted condition, instead of the sacred prayers, which seem to be often more numerous than was suitable, the reading of certain chapters of sacred Scripture should be appointed in the Church, and should be a solemn and regular usage,” etc., Franz. de Interpret., p. 47. That would be indeed quite right. At present it is so much the more our duty to lament, that many esteem the dignity of the public assemblies of the Church to be greater only in proportion as the regard paid to Scripture is the less.—V. g.][35]

[35] Bengel, J. A. (1860). Vol. 4: Gnomon of the New Testament (M. E. Bengel & J. C. F. Steudel, Ed.) (J. Bryce, Trans.) (189–211). Edinburgh: T&T Clark.Verse 27. - I charge you; namely, the presbyters. By the Lord; namely, Christ, an indirect proof of his Divinity, the adjuration being in his Name. The reason of this solemn charge was, not on account of any remissness on the part of the presbyters, but was occasioned by the earnestness of the apostle and by his consciousness that what he wrote was most important to the Thessalonians, and was the command of the Lord Jesus Christ. That this Epistle be read unto all the holy brethren; unto the Church of Thessalonica. I charge (ἐνορκίζω)

N.T.o. Rev. stronger and more literal, I adjure. oClass. This strong appeal may perhaps be explained by a suspicion on Paul's part that a wrong use might be made of his name and authority (see 2 Thessalonians 2:2), so that it was important that his views should be made known to all. Lightfoot refers to 2 Thessalonians 3:17, as showing a similar feeling in his anxiety to authenticate his letter.

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