2 Thessalonians 1:3
We are bound to thank God always for you, brothers, as it is meet, because that your faith grows exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other abounds;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(3) We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren.—The thanksgiving is regarded as a positive debt incurred, which it would be a dishonesty not to pay.

Because.—This assigns the reason for saying that it was “meet,” and does not merely follow after “thank God:” in which case, the words “as it is meet” would have been rather weak, as containing no more than is involved in “we are bound.” The best paraphrase would be: “We feel the obligation to give thanks for you; and, in point of fact, it is but meet that we should, because,” &c.

Groweth exceedingly.—An enthusiastic word in the original: “is out-growing all bounds.” It is a metaphor from vegetable or animal growth. This was one of the very points about which St. Paul was anxious the last time that he had written: then there were deficiencies in their faith (1Thessalonians 3:10).

Charity.—Here, too, St. Paul remembers what he had said to them in the last Epistle, in which he had devoted a whole section to the love of the brethren “toward each other.” “Of every one of you all” is a very noticeable expression, as showing the individual solicitude of the Apostles for their converts. Just as the apostolic instructions were given to each Christian privately (1Thessalonians 2:11), so news has been brought how each several Christian is progressing. The differences which had called forth such passages as 1Thessalonians 3:12; 1Thessalonians 4:6-10; 1Thessalonians 5:12-14, had apparently all ceased, and mutual love was multiplying.

2 Thessalonians 1:3-5. We are bound to thank God — It is highly observable that the apostle here wraps up his praise of men in praise to God, giving him the glory of the increase of grace which was manifest in the Thessalonian believers. That your faith groweth exceedingly — Notwithstanding all that is done by your enemies to prevent its increase, and even to destroy it. Probably he had heard from them since he sent them the former letter. And the charity — Or love rather, of every one of you aboundeth — Like water that overflows its banks, and yet increases still more. Their faith, it appears, derived new confirmation from their sufferings, and their sense of them engaged them tenderly to pity, and do their utmost for the relief of, those who shared in those sufferings, and at the same time endeared to them that one body, that church of Christ, which the carnal world so cruelly hated, and so maliciously endeavoured to destroy. So that we ourselves glory in you — Or boast of you; in the churches of God — “This passage shows us what is a principal occasion of joy to faithful ministers; it is the faith and love, patience and constancy, of the people to whom they minister. The apostle’s address here is admirable. He excited the emulation of other churches by boasting of the Thessalonians to them. And he quickened the Thessalonians by telling them how much he had praised them in the hearing of the churches.” — Macknight. In all your persecutions and tribulations — Arising probably both from the Jews and their own countrymen. Concerning the particulars of these persecutions we have no information. Which is — Or shall be; a manifest token — Ενδειγμα, proof, or demonstration, of the righteous judgment of God — Of the equity of the divine judgment, which shall be fully manifested in due time by God’s amply rewarding you, and punishing your enemies; that ye may be counted worthy — That it may appear by the integrity, faith, and patience, the meekness and superiority to this transitory world, which you manifest under these severe trials, that you are fit to be admitted into that glorious kingdom of God for which you suffer.1:1-4 Where there is the truth of grace, there will be an increase of it. The path of the just is as the shining light, which shines more and more unto the perfect day. And where there is the increase of grace, God must have all the glory. Where faith grows, love will abound, for faith works by love. It shows faith and patience, such as may be proposed as a pattern for others, when trials from God, and persecutions from men, quicken the exercise of those graces; for the patience and faith of which the apostle gloried, bore them up, and enabled them to endure all their tribulations.We are bound to thank God always for you; - See the notes on 1 Thessalonians 1:2. "As it is meet." Since it is fit or proper. "Because that your faith groweth exceedingly." It would seem probable from this that Paul had heard from them since his First Epistle was written. He had doubtless received intelligence of the error which prevailed among them respecting his views of the coming of the Lord Jesus, and of the progress which the truth was making, at the same time. "And the charity of every one of you all toward each other." Your mutual love. 3. We are bound—Greek, "We owe it as a debt" (2Th 2:13). They had prayed for the Thessalonians (1Th 3:12) that they might "increase and abound in love"; their prayer having been heard, it is a small but a bounden return for them to make, to thank God for it. Thus, Paul and his fellow missionaries practice what they preach (1Th 5:18). In 1Th 1:3, their thanksgiving was for the Thessalonians' faith, love, and patience"; here, for their exceeding growth in faith, and for their charity abounding. "We are bound" expresses the duty of thanksgiving from its subjective side as an inward conviction. "As it is meet," from the objective: side as something answering to the state of circumstances [Alford]. Observe the exact correspondence of the prayer (1Th 3:12, "The Lord make you to abound in love") and the answer, "The love of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth" (compare 1Th 4:10).

meet—right.

The apostle begins this Epistle as the former, with thanksgiving; only there he gave thanks for their faith, hope, and love, here he only mentions their faith and love; there for the efficacy of their grace, here for the growth of it. There he said only: We give thanks here he addeth:

We are bound, and as it is meet; as if he was obliged to give thanks for them now somewhat more than before, perceiving their grace did not only yet abide, notwithstanding all their persecutions, but increase and grow. But the apostle’s thanksgiving here respects particularly these Thessalonians’ growth. Not only the beginning, but growth of grace is from God; else why doth the apostle give thanks for it? As Philippians 1:6. Hence he is styled the God of all grace, 1 Peter 5:10, weak and strong, first or second. The manner of its growth, whether by infusion of new degrees, as the first grace is infused, or by co-operating only with it, and so it is increased by exercise, is a question I leave to the schoolmen. However, growth is a duty, and commendable in churches. And the apostle mentions particularly:

1. Their growth in faith; and that a great degree, uperauzanei, it groweth exceedingly; it grows over and above, above the ordinary rate of growth, or the common pitch of faith. Their progress was from faith to faith, their assent to the doctrine of the gospel grew more firm and rooted, and the persuasion of their happy state in Christ was much confirmed and strengthened, with a more confident reliance on him; or their faith was extended to more objects by the increase of their knowledge.

2. Their increase in love; which he also expresseth by an emphatical word, pleonazei, which signifies increasing to more and more; their love grew in the habit, and abounded in the fruits of it. And this love he sets forth by the universality of it, and the reciprocalness of it, it was the love of all to each other; they all did love, and were all beloved of one another: there was no schism among them, as in some other churches.

Faith and love are two sister graces, and are always more or less together; only in the order of nature, faith is first, and worketh by love; but not first in time; and then afterwards, when it brings forth, love is fides formata, faith formed, as the papists speak. Hence some have said, that there was not one hypocrite or false Christian in this whole church. Now the apostle and his fellow ministers hereupon judged themselves bound to give thanks. Christians are obliged to give God thanks for the grace of God in others as well as in themselves; and especially the ministers of the gospel, for the people that have been converted by them, or are committed to them. Hereby the apostle’s joy was increased at present, and his future glory might be advanced also. We are bound to thank God,.... Since all blessings, temporal and spiritual, come from him: and that always: seeing he is ever giving out fresh favours, or continuing former ones; and because those, especially which are of a spiritual nature, always abide, such as faith and love; which the apostle particularly takes notice of, the members of this Church had, and were increasing in them: for it was not for himself, but for them he gives thanks,

for you, brethren: who were so, not in a natural or civil relation, but in a spiritual one, being the children of God, and brethren of Christ; and to do this for them, he looked upon himself with others under an obligation:

as it is meet; just, proper, and fitting; it not only becomes the persons who have received mercies from God to be thankful for them; but it is very right for others to join with them in it, and especially the ministers of the Gospel, who are bound, and whom it becomes: it is agreeable to their office and profession to give God the praise and glory of all the grace, and the increase of it, which those, who attend their labours, are favoured with, since this is not of them, but of God; and it was for an increase of grace the apostle here gives thanks, as he judged he was obliged to do, and it was fit he should.

Because that your faith groweth exceedingly. Their faith was not a faith of miracles, nor a mere historical faith, or a counterfeit and temporary one, but the faith of God's elect; which is the evidence of things not seen, of an unseen Christ, and the glories of another world; that grace by which a man goes out of himself to Christ for righteousness, life, and salvation; by which he is justified, and by which he lives on Christ, and walks on in him as he has received him. This was theirs; it was not of themselves, the produce of nature, or the fruit of their natural power and free will; but it was the gift of God, and of his operation; a fruit of the Spirit of God, and of which Christ was the author and finisher; and was only theirs, as being given unto them, implanted in them, and exercised by them under the influence of the Spirit of God, and for their use, comfort, and advantage. This was, at first, but like a grain of mustard seed, very small, but gradually increased, and grew exceedingly; and from seeing of Christ, and looking at him, and which at first might be very dim and obscure, it proceeded to going or coming to him; and which might be in a very feeble manner, and was not without being drawn and led, and great encouragements, many invitations, and large assurances; and from thence to a laying hold upon him, though it may be but in a trembling way, and not without being called to stretch forth the hand of faith, and be no more faithless, but believing; and from thence to a leaning and relying on him, trusting in him with all, and for all; and from thence to claiming an interest in him, saying, my Lord, and my God, which is the full assurance of faith; and when it is come to this, it is grown exceedingly, which might be the case of these Thessalonians; which the apostle knew by the aboundings of their love, for faith works by love; and by their patience, firmness, and resolution in suffering for Christ; all which are in proportion to faith, and the growth of it; and for this he gives thanks to God, for faith is a precious thing; and as that itself, so the increase of it is from God, and therefore to him the praise belongs:

and the charity of everyone of you towards each other aboundeth; as their faith in Christ, so their love to one another was increasing, and showed itself in serving one another both in temporals and spirituals; and this was not the case of a few only, or of the greater part, but of everyone of them; which made their communion with one another very comfortable and delightful. For what is more pleasant than for brethren to dwell together in unity?

{1} We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith {a} groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth;

(1) The first part of the epistle, in which he rejoices that through the grace of God, they have bravely sustained all the assaults of their enemies. And in this he strengthens and encourages them, moreover showing with what gifts they must mainly fight, that is, with faith and charity, which must daily increase.

(a) That whereas it grew up before, it does also receive some increase every day more and more.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2 Thessalonians 1:3. Ὀφείλομεν] namely, I Paul, together with Silvanus and Timotheus.

καθὼς ἄξιόν ἐστιν] as it is meet, as it is right and proper, is usually considered as a mere parenthesis, resuming ὀφείλομεν, so that ὅτι is considered in the sense of that dependent on εὐχαριστεῖν. However, as the discourse afterwards follows quickly on ὅτι, so καθὼς ἄξιόν ἐστιν would sink into a mere entirely meaningless interjection and parenthesis; but as such, on account of the preceding ὀφείλομεν, it would be aimless and superfluous. In direct contrast to this view, Schott places the chief emphasis on καθὼς ἄξιόν ἐστιν, which he rightly refers back to εὐχαριστεῖν instead of to ὀφείλομεν. According to Schott, καθώς is designed to denote “modum eximium, quo animus gratus declarari debeat,” and the thought to be expressed is “oportet nos deo gratias agere, quales conveniant praestantiae beneficii, i. e. eximias.”[32] But neither can this interpretation be the correct one. For (1) καθώς is never used as a statement of gradation; (2) it is hardly conceivable that Paul should have concentrated the emphasis of the sentence on καθὼς ἄξιόν ἐστιν. If he had wished to do so, he would at least have written Εὐχαριστεῖν ὀφείλομεν τῷ Θεῷ περὶ ὑμῶν, καθὼς ἄξιόν ἐστιν, but would not have inserted πάντοτε and ἀδελφοί. Taking this insertion into consideration, we are obliged to decide that after ἀδελφοί a certain pause in the discourse commences, so that Εὐχαριστεῖνἀδελφοί is placed first as an independent general expression, to which καθὼς ἄξιόν ἐστιν is added as a connecting clause, for the explanation and development of the preceding by what follows. But from this it follows that ὅτι belongs not to εὐχαριστεῖν, but to καθὼς ἄξιόν ἐστιν, and denotes not that, but because. The meaning is: We ought to thank God always on your behalf, as it (sc. the εὐχαριστεῖν) is right and proper, because, etc. As by this interpretation καθὼς ἄξιόν ἐστιν is neither unduly brought forward nor unduly placed in the shade, so also every appearance of pleonasm vanishes. For ὀφείλομεν expresses the duty of thanksgiving from its subjective side, as an internal conviction; καθὼς ἄξιόν ἐστιν, on the other hand, from the objective side, as something answering to the state of circumstances, since it is meet, since it is fit and proper, to give thanks to God for the divine proof of His grace.

ὑπεραυξάνει] grows above measure, exceedingly. The compound verb is an ἅπαξ λεγόμενον in the N. T. But Paul loves such intensifying compounds with ὑπέρ. They are an involuntary expression of his overflowing feelings. Comp. Fritzsche, ad Rom. I. p. 351. Olshausen certainly represents it otherwise. He finds in the compound verb a forbearing allusion to the fact that the Thessalonians were guilty of extravagance in their religious zeal,—an allusion which, as at all events it would contain a certain degree of irony, it is impossible to assume here, where Paul speaks of the reasons of his thanksgiving to God. Such an interpretation is not ingenious, as Baumgarten-Crusius judges, but meaningless.

ἑνὸς ἑκάστου πάντων ὑμῶν] instead of the simple ὑμῶν, emphatically strengthens the praise bestowed. Fromond.: non tam totius ecclesiastici corporis, sed uniuscujusque membri, quod mirum est et rarissimae laudis. But Hofmann, in a strangely erroneous manner, thinks that πάντων ὑμῶν does not depend on ἑνὸς ἑκάστου, but is in apposition to it.

εἰς ἀλλήλους] does not belong to πλεονάζει. It is the further objective specification of ἀγάπη, as ἑνὸς ἑκ. πάντ. ὑμ. is the subjective. ἀλλήλους denotes the fellow-Christians in Thessalonica. Therefore erroneously, Pelt: Nec vero sine causa Paulus tam multus est in commendanda eorum caritate in omnes effusa; quum enim sciret, quam facile turn temporis accideret, ut Christiani se invicem diligerent, exteros vero aspernarentur, hac potissimum laude ad omnium hominum amorem eos excitare studuit.[33]

[32] Comp. already Ambrosiaster: ut non qualecumque esse debitum ostenderet, sicut dignum est, ait, ut pro tam infinito dono magnas gratias referendas deo testarentur.—Oecumenius: , ὅτι φησὶ δίκαιόν ἐστι, νοήσεις· ἢ τὸ μεγάλως ἐξακουστεόν, ἵνα ᾖ μεγάλως καθὼς ἄξιον τῷ μεγάλα παρέχοντι.—Theophylact: ἢ ὅτι καὶ διὰ λόγων καὶ διʼ ἔργων· αὕτη γὰρ ἡ ἀξία εὐχαριστία. Comp. also Erasmus’ paraphrase, and Fromond.

[33] So also arbitrarily Schrader: from the limitation of love to Christians is to be inferred an abhorrence of Gentiles.

2 Thessalonians 1:3-12. Introduction of the Epistle. Commendatory recognition of the progress of the church in faith and love, as well as in the stedfastness which proved itself anew under persecution (2 Thessalonians 1:3-4), a comforting and encouraging reference to the recompense commencing at the advent of Christ (2 Thessalonians 1:5-10), and an assurance that the progress and completion of the Thessalonians in Christianity was continually the subject of the apostle’s prayer (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12).2 Thessalonians 1:3. περὶ ὑμῶν: Your thankless situation (4 f.) only throws into more brilliant relief your personal character and bearing under adverse circumstances. ὅτι is best represented by our colloquial “because,” which includes both the causal and the objective senses of the word; what forms matter for thanksgiving is naturally the reason for thanksgiving. ἀγάπη κ.τ.λ., a period of strain tires mutual gentleness (see on Revelation 2:4) as well as patience towards God (2 Thessalonians 1:4), since irritation and lack of unselfish consideration for others (cf. 2 Thessalonians 3:6 f.) may be as readily produced by a time of tension and severe anxiety as an impatient temper of faith. Paul is glad and grateful that suffering was drawing his friends together and binding them more closely to their Lord, instead of stunting the growth of their faith and drying up the flow of their mutual charity. Praise comes as usual before blame. Paul is proud of his friends, because suffering has not spoiled their characters, as suffering, especially when due to oppression and injustice, is too apt to do.—ὀφείλομεν (so Cic. ad. Fam., xiv. 2, gratiasque egi, ut debui; Barn. 2 Thessalonians 1:3, vii. 1), the phrase is unexampled in Paul, but not unnatural (cf. Romans 15:1, etc.); “the form of duty is one which all thoughts naturally take in his mind” (Jowett).3. We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren] The case is put in the same way in ch. 2 Thessalonians 2:13 (“we are bound to give thanks”), and nowhere else in St Paul. The Apostle feels himself under a special debt of gratitude to God for that which His grace had wrought in the Thessalonians. This is explained by 1 Thessalonians 3:6-9 (see notes), where it appears that the faithfulness of this Church had cheered and sustained the Apostle in a season of peculiar trial, perhaps even of discouragement to himself; comp. Acts 18:9-10; 1 Corinthians 2:3 : “Now we live, if you stand fast in the Lord!”

even as it is meet] For this thanksgiving is matter of intrinsic fitness, not due from personal feeling only. “Your growth in grace deserves such acknowledgement to God.” Comp. Php 1:7, “even as it is right for me to think this of you all;” and the pleonasm of the Liturgy, “It is very meet, right, and our bounden duty.”

because that your faith groweth exceedingly] This was the essential point, about which St Paul was anxious when he sent Timothy “to establish you and exhort you about your faith,” and on which Timothy had brought back reassuring news (see notes on 1 Thessalonians 3:2; 1 Thessalonians 3:6); subsequent tidings confirmed Timothy’s report, and testified to an extraordinary growth in Thessalonian faith. This was due to two causes: (1) to the practical and energetic character of their faith from the beginning (see note on “work of faith,” 1 Thessalonians 1:3); and (2) to the persecution they had undergone. Great trials, if they do not destroy faith, strengthen it, as storms make the oak take deeper root.

“So fed by each strife won, each strenuous hour,

The strong soul grows, its patience ends in power.”

We are not surprised that the Apostle adds: and the love of each one of you all toward one another aboundeth (R. V.). This is at once a consequence and cause of growth in faith. Faith and Love are the chief, sister graces of St Paul’s theology; and Hope appears in the next verse, under the guise of “patience,” to complete the trio; comp. notes on 1 Thessalonians 1:3; 1 Thessalonians 5:8; also 1 Corinthians 13:13, and Galatians 5:5-6.

In this fundamental quality of Love the Thessalonian Church excelled; see 1 Thessalonians 4:9-10,—where the Apostle, acknowledging their excellence, had exhorted them to “abound yet more in love.” This they are doing, and he is “bound to thank God” for it. He dwells on the universal prevalence of mutual love in this admirable Church—“the love of each one of you all!”Verse 3. - We. Not to be restricted to Paul, the plural being used for the singular, as is elsewhere the case (1 Thessalonians 2:8; 1 Thessalonians 3:1); but inclusive of Silas and Timothy, inasmuch as they are mentioned directly before (see note to 1 Thessalonians 1:2). Are bound; feel ourselves morally constrained. To thank God always for you, brethren (comp. 1 Thessalonians 1:2). The apostle first praises his converts for what good was in them, before he censures them for their faults, and in this manner he secures their attention. As it is meet; as it is right and proper in the circumstances of the case. The words are not to be considered as a parenthetic clause, far less as a tautological expression (Jowett); but they state that the reason of the apostle's thanksgiving arose from the spiritual condition of the Thessalonians; "with the acknowledgment of personal obligation, Paul joins a recognition of the circumstances of the case" (Hofinann). Because that your faith groweth exceedingly - superabounds - and the charity of every one of you all. The subject of the apostle's thanksgiving was the increase of the faith and love of the Thessalonians: faith here being faith in Christ, and love being love to man. Faith and love contain in themselves the whole of the Christian life; faith is its commencement, its source; love is not only its outcome, its spiritual action, but its completion; the climax of the Christian life is to be made perfect in love. Here, however, love is restricted by the context to love to believers, or brotherly love. Toward each other; that is, toward your fellow Christians in Thessalonica. Love is not a mere general affection, but is to be specially manifested - "toward each believer." Aboundeth; increaseth in intensity. We are bound - as it is meet

The accumulation of cognate expressions indicates the apostle's earnestness.

Groweth exceedingly (ὑπεραυξάνει)

N.T.o. See on 1 Thessalonians 3:10.

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