2 Thessalonians 3:17
The salutation of Paul with my own hand, which is the token in every letter: so I write.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(17) The salutation.—At this point St. Paul takes the pen out of his secretary’s hand, and adds the closing words himself. The actual salutation does not begin until the benediction of the 18th verse, to which this 17th is intended to attract attention.

Which.—Namely, the autograph addition of a salutation, or valedictory prayer, not the special words in which it was couched.

The token.—Rather, a token—a mark, that is, by which to tell an authentic Epistle of his from those forged letters with which false brethren had troubled the Thessalonian Church (2Thessalonians 2:2). At first sight, it seems to us too audacious for any one to have conceived the thought of writing a letter under the name of St. Paul; but, on the other hand, we must recollect several points. (1) St. Paul’s genuine First Epistle, in spite of its claim to inspiration (1Thessalonians 4:15), could not yet have acquired in the eyes of the Thessalonians the sanctity it wears for us; they had no notion of such a thing as Holy Scriptures, and even if they had, St. Paul was a familiar figure, a mechanic who had just left them, not yet invested with the heroic halo. (2) Such literary forgeries were not uncommon in that age, and scarcely considered reprehensible, unless they were framed to inculcate with authority some heretical teaching. Apocryphal Gospels soon after abounded, under false titles, and works fathered upon St. Clement and other great Church teachers. (3) There need nor always have been a direct intention to deceive the readers as to the authorship, but the renowned name acted as a tempting advertisement for the work, and the theories thus shot forth hit their mark; whether the real authorship were discovered or not mattered little in comparison. Such points must be borne in mind before we accept as genuine any of the early Christian writings.

In every epistle.—That is, naturally, “in every Epistle which I write.” It cannot be narrowly restricted to mean, “in every Epistle which I shall for the future write to you Thessalonians,” though that is, of course, the practical significance. Nor does it imply a formed design of writing other Epistles to other churches. It seems necessary to suppose that St. Paul had already made a practice of concluding Letters with his autograph, though only one Letter of his is now extant of an earlier date than our present Epistle. There is no reason whatever to suppose that all the Letters ever written by St. Paul have been preserved to us (see Dr. Lightfoot’s Philippians, p. 136, et seq.), any more than all the sayings and acts of Jesus Christ (John 21:25); and even when he wrote his First Epistle to Thessalonica he had seen the necessity of giving careful directions about his Letters (1Thessalonians 5:27), and of rousing his correspondents to a reasonable scepticism (1Thessalonians 5:21). The same solicitude re-appears in 1Corinthians 16:21; Galatians 6:11. And the rule which St. Paul had already made he always observed, so far as we can test; for all his extant Epistles, as Bishop Wordsworth points out on 1Thessalonians 5:28, contain his “salutation” at the end.

So I write.—“Such is my handwriting.” It need not mean that the Thessalonians hitherto were unacquainted with his hand; he only calls their attention closely to it. The great bold handwriting (comp. Galatians 6:11) would not easily be mistaken.

3:16-18 The apostle prays for the Thessalonians. And let us desire the same blessings for ourselves and our friends. Peace with God. This peace is desired for them always, or in every thing. Peace by all means; in every way; that, as they enjoyed the means of grace, they might use all methods to secure peace. We need nothing more to make us safe and happy, nor can we desire any thing better for ourselves and our friends, than to have God's gracious presence with us and them. No matter where we are, if God be with us; nor who is absent, if God be present. It is through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that we hope to have peace with God, and to enjoy the presence of God. This grace is all in all to make us happy; though we wish ever so much to others, there remains enough for ourselves.The salutation of Paul with mine own hand; - See the notes, 1 Corinthians 16:21. "Which is the token in every epistle." Greek: "sign." That is, this signature is a sign or proof of the genuineness of the epistle; compare the notes on Galatians 6:11.

So I write - Referring, probably, to some mark or method which Paul had of signing his name, which was well known, and which would easily be recognized by them.

17. The Epistle was written by an amanuensis (perhaps Silas or Timothy), and only the closing salutation written by Paul's "own hand" (compare Ro 16:22; 1Co 16:21; Col 4:18). Wherever Paul does not subjoin this autograph salutation, we may presume he wrote the whole Epistle himself (Ga 6:11).

which—which autograph salutation.

the token—to distinguish genuine Epistles from spurious ones put forth in my name (2Th 2:2).

in every epistle—Some think he signed his name to every Epistle with his own hand; but as there is no trace of this in any manuscripts of all the Epistles, it is more likely that he alludes to his writing with his own hand in closing every Epistle, even in those Epistles (Romans, Second Corinthians, Ephesians, Philippians, First Thessalonians) wherein he does not specify his having done so.

so I write—so I sign my name: this is a specimen of my handwriting, by which to distinguish my geniune letters from forgeries.

This the apostle addeth after he had finished his Epistle, and taken his farewell, as a proof that the Epistle was genuine, and came from himself; because it may be there were some then who did counterfeit his Epistles, as there have been many since who have counterfeited creeds, liturgies, gospels, writings of the fathers, &c., and he knew it might be of dangerous consequence to the churches, to have his writings counterfeited. Heretics in several ages, and the Church of Rome particularly, have herein been deeply guilty. And though it is probable the body of this Epistle was written by some amanuensis, as is evident of the Epistle to the Romans, that it was written by one Tertius, Romans 16:22; and when he tells the Galatians, Galatians 6:11, he wrote their Epistle with his own hand, so Philemon 1:19, it implies sometimes he did not so; yet this salutation he wrote with his own hand, which he practised not only in this, but in all his other Epistles, as he here affirmed. And he wrote it in such characters whereby his own hand might be known; else it was an easy matter for any impostor to write the same words. And the words of it are here set down, but elsewhere explained, and therefore nothing is further needful here. The salutation of Paul with mine own hand,.... In writing his epistles, the body and substance of them he used an amanuensis, but the salutation he wrote with his own hand:

which is the token in every epistle; by which they might be known to be true and genuine, and be distinguished from counterfeit ones: and the rather he mentions this, that they might be troubled neither by word, nor by spirit, nor by epistle, as from them, as they had been, 2 Thessalonians 2:2 for it seems that this wicked practice of counterfeiting the epistles of the apostles, or carrying about spurious ones, under their name, began so early; to prevent which, the apostle took this method,

so I write, as follows:

{16} The salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle: so I write.

(16) The apostle writes the conclusion of his letter with his own hand, so that false letters might not be brought and put in place of true ones.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2 Thessalonians 3:17-18. Autographic salutation, with a repeated benediction. Paul had not written the letter with his own hand, but dictated it Comp. Romans 16:22; 1 Corinthians 16:21; Colossians 4:18.

] does not stand by attraction for ὅς, nor also does it bring forward a simple special point from the foregoing (so Wieseler on Galatians 6:11; and Laurent in the Stud. u. Krit. 1864, p. 639; Neutestam. Studien, Gotha 1866, p. 5: “which, namely, the autographic writing”), but it refers to the whole preceding idea: which circumstance of the salutation now written.

σημεῖον] a sign, i. e. a mark of authenticity. Comp. 2 Thessalonians 2:2. Chrysostom, Theodoret, Theophylact, Bullinger, Estius, Piscator, Menochius, Cornelius a Lapide, Er. Schmid, Beza, Joachim Lange, Harduin, Benson, Bengel, Moldenhauer, Zachariae, Baur (Paulus, p. 489), Hofmann, Riggenbach, and most critics, incorrectly find this mark in the addition of the words following in 2 Thessalonians 3:18; for the autographic salutation is expressly designated as this mark. But a salutation and a benediction are different from each other.

ἐν πάσῃ ἐσιστολῇ] in every Epistle, can only be referred to all the Epistles which the apostle has, perhaps, at a later period, still to write to the Thessalonians. For only for the Thessalonians, who had already been actually deceived by a false Pauline Epistle, and led into error, was such a precaution of practical importance against a new deception. Besides, if ἐν πάσῃ ἐπιστολῇ is to be understood absolutely instead of relatively, the autographic salutation would be found in all the Epistles of the apostle. But it is only found in 1 Corinthians 16:21 and Colossians 4:18.

οὕτως γράφω] thus—that is to say, in such characters as are given in 2 Thessalonians 3:17-18I write. The handwriting of the apostle was accordingly still unknown to the readers. From this it follows, that also the First Epistle to the Thessalonians was not written by the apostle’s own hand. Moreover, Zeltner (de monogrammate Pauli, Altorfii 1721), Bengel, and Moldenhauer erroneously—because transferring a modern custom into antiquity—consider that we are here to think on characters artificially twisted into a monogram by the apostle and rendered incapable of imitation. Against Zeltner, see Wolf, p. 402 ff.2 Thessalonians 3:17-18. Conclusion. Paul now takes the pen from his amanuensis, to add the salutation in his own handwriting for the purpose of authenticating the epistle (otherwise in 1 Corinthians 16:21). This, he observes, is the sign-manual of his letters (cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:2), i.e., the fact of a personal written greeting at the close, not any form of words (like 2 Thessalonians 3:18), or the use of the word “grace,” or “certum quendam nexum literarium” (Grotius). The precaution is natural, in view of his suspicion about unauthorised communications. Compare “the σεσημείωμαι (generally contracted into σεση) with which so many of the Egyptian papyrus-letters and ostraca close” (Milligan, p. 130), or the postscript in one’s own handwriting (ξύμβολον) which guaranteed an ancient letter (Deissmann: Licht vom Osten, 105). μετά (cf. 2 Thessalonians 3:16), the divine presence is realised through the experience of Christ’s grace.17. The salutation of Paul with mine own hand] Lit., The salutation with my own hand—of PAUL. In the last word the Apostle’s formal signature is attached. Pen in hand, he adds the brief concluding sentences to the letter, lying now all but complete before him.

The Apostle commonly employed one of his helpers as amanuensis. “I Tertius, who wrote this letter,” e.g., in Romans 16:22; comp. Galatians 6:11, Philemon 1:19, where he notifies his writing sua manu. But it was needful that he should sign his name, with a few words of greeting written by himself, in order to authenticate the Epistle. In other Epistles we find the autograph conclusion without the final signature, which was not usual in ancient letters. There is no reference of this kind at the close of his First Epistle; but since that time his written authority had been alleged for statements he had never made (ch. 2 Thessalonians 2:2). He is careful to guard against this possibility in writing to Thessalonica a second time. He calls attention, as he pens this attestation, to his handwriting, and gives notice that no document bearing his name will be genuine without this seal: which is the token in every epistle (“Paul’s mark,” as one might say)—thus I write.

There was something peculiar and noticeable in the Apostle’s penmanship, which could not he mistaken. Some infer from Galatians 6:11 that St Paul’s script was distinguished by its large and bold appearance; but it may be that he used large characters in that passage for the sake of emphasis. Further allusions to the autograph conclusion are found in 1 Corinthians 16:21, and Colossians 4:18.2 Thessalonians 3:17. Τῇ ἐμῇ χειρὶ, with my own hand) Therefore the greater part of the epistle had been written by another hand.—σημεῖον, token) We have reason to believe that Paul [with a view to guard against fraud of every kind, ch. 2 Thessalonians 2:2.—V. g.] distinguished, by a peculiar and inimitable painting (tracing) and formation of the letters, the words of the salutation, grace, etc., 2 Thessalonians 3:18.—ἐν πάσῃ ἐπ στολῇ, in every epistle) He had at that time, therefore, already written more.—οὕτω, so) not otherwise. He hereby meets any doubt.[31]

[31] Bengel, J. A. (1860). Vol. 4: Gnomon of the New Testament (M. E. Bengel & J. C. F. Steudel, Ed.) (J. Bryce, Trans.) (213–237). Edinburgh: T&T Clark.Verse 17. - The salutation of Paul with mine own hand. The apostle usually dictated his Epistles to an amanuensis, but wrote the concluding words with his own hand. Thus Tertius was his amanuensis when he wrote the Epistle to the Romans (Romans 16:22). Probably the Epistle to the Galatians is an exception (Galatians 6:11), and also the Epistle to Philemon on (Philemon 1:19). The same authentication expressed in the same words is found in the First Epistle to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 16:21), and in the Epistle to the Colossians (Colossians 4:18). Which; referring, not to the salutation, but to the whole clause; which circumstance. Is the token; the mark of authentication. Of every Epistle. Such authentication was especially necessary in the case of the Thessalonians, as it would seem that a forged epistle had been circulated among them (2 Thessalonians 2:2). Some restrict the words to the Epistles which the apostle would afterwards write to the Thessalonians (Lunemann); but they are rather to be understood of a caution which the apostle practised, or was to practise, in all his Epistles. Some refer the token to the words, "The salutation of Paul with mine own hand," and although these words are only found in two other Epistles, yet it is asserted that the other Epistles were otherwise sufficiently authenticated. But it appears better to understand by the salutation the benediction which follows; and a similar salutation or benediction is found at the close of all Paul's Epistles (see 1 Thessalonians 5:28). The salutation of Paul with mine own hand (ἀσπασμὸς τῇ ἐμῇ χειρὶ Παύλου)

Rev. properly, "the salutation of me Paul." The genitive of me is contained, according to a familiar Greek idiom, in the possessive pronoun my. Paul had apparently been employing an amanuensis.

In every epistle

Comp. 1 Corinthians 16:21; Colossians 4:18.

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