Meyer's NT Commentary
Παύλου πρὸς Θεσσαλονικεῖς ἐπιστολὴ πρώτη
A B K, א, 3, 37, 80, et al. pler. Copt. Damasc. have Πρὸς Θεσσαλονικεῖς αʹ, the shortest and apparently the oldest title. It is also found in D E, but prefixing Ἄρχεται.
1 Thessalonians 1:1. After εἰρήνη, Elz. Matth. Scholz, Bloomfield (The Greek Testament, with English notes, 9th edit. vol. II., London 1855) add: ἀπὸ Θεοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. Bracketed by Lachm. Correctly erased by Tisch. and Alford (The Greek Testament, with a critically revised text, etc., vol. III., London 1856), according to B F G 47, 73, 115, et al. Syr. Baschm. Aeth. Arm. Vulg. Or. lat. seu Ruf. (dis.) Chrys. (comm.) Theoph. Ambrosiast. Pel. An interpolation, for the sake of completion, taken from the usual commencement of Paul’s Epistles. Recently the addition: ἀπὸ Θεοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, is defended by Bouman (Chartae theologicae, lib. i., Traj. ad Rhen. 1853, p. 61) and Reiche (Commentar. criticus in N. T. tom. II. p. 321 sqq.), but on insufficient grounds. For that the addition might easily have been erroneously overlooked by scribes, on account of the similar preceding words: ἐν Θεῷ πατρὶ καὶ κυρίῳ Ἰησοῦ Χριστῷ, is very improbable on account of the difference in the prepositions and cases of the two forms; that it might have been erased as an inelegant repetition has 2 Thessalonians 1:2 against it, for then there also traces of similar corrections in the critical testimonies would appear; and lastly, that the bare χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη, without any further definition, is not elsewhere found in any of Paul’s writings, would only occasion a doubt, were it in itself unsuitable; but this is not the case here, as, from the directly preceding words ἐν Θεῷ τατρὶ καὶ κυρίῳ Ἰησοῦ Χριστῷ, the specific Christian sense of the formula is self-apparent.—1 Thessalonians 1:2. ὑμῶν, in the Receptus, after μνείαν, is wanting in A B א* 17, et al. It is found in C D E F G K L א****, in almost all min., as well as in many Greek and Latin Fathers. Lachm. and Tisch. 1st ed. erroneously erase it. How easily might ὑμῶν after μνείαν be overlooked on account of ὑμῶν before μνείαν! Comp. Ephesians 1:16, where, in a similar case, there is the same uncertainty of MSS.—1 Thessalonians 1:3. Elz. has ὑμῶν τοῦ ἔργου τῆς πίστεως. Instead of this, D E F G, Syr. Arr. Aeth. Vulg. It. Ambrosiast. have τοῦ ἔργου τῆς πίστεως ὑμῶν. An interpretation from misunderstanding.—1 Thessalonians 1:5. πρὸς ὑμᾶς] Elz. Griesb. Matth. Scholz, Tisch. 2 and 7, Alford, Reiche have εἰς ὑμᾶς. Against A C** D E F G, min. Copt. Chrys. ed. Theoph. ed.
Instead of the Receptus ἐν ὑμῖν, A C א, min. Vulg. MS. have ὑμῖν; but ἐν was absorbed by the last syllable of ἐγενήθημεν.—1 Thessalonians 1:7. τύπον] recommended to consideration by Griesb., received by Lachm. Tisch. and Alford, according to B D* min. Syr. Erp. Copt. Sahid. Baschm. Aeth. Slav. Vulg. Clar. Germ. Ambrosiast. Pel. The Elz. Matth. Scholz, Reiche, read the plural τύπους (from which τύπος, in D** E 49, proceed, which Mill takes for a neuter form, as πλοῦτος), according to A C F G K L א, most min. and many Gr. vss.; but it is a correction the better to adapt the predicate to the collective subject, and thus apparently to strengthen the expressed praise; whilst the plural transfers to individual members of the church what the singular predicates of them in general, considered as a unity. Otherwise Bouman (l.c. p. 62 f.), according to whom τύπους of the Receptus is the original, from which τύπος was erroneously formed, and from it τύπον proceeded, being regarded as an error of the nom. sing., and it was considered the easiest method to correct the mistake by changing the nominative singular into the accusative singular.
καὶ ἐν τῇ is to be received, according to A B C D E F G א, min. Vulg. It. Syr. utr. Theodoret, Ambrosiast. Pel., instead of the Receptus καὶ τῇ; so Lachm. Scholz (with whom it has been omitted by an error of the press), Tisch.—1 Thessalonians 1:8. Elz. has καὶ Ἀχαΐᾳ. So also Tisch. Bloomfield, and Alford. But Griesb. Matth. Lachm. and Scholz have καὶ ἐν τῇ Ἀχαΐᾳ, according to C D E F G K L א, min. plur. Syr. Slav. MS. Vulg. It. Cyr. Damasc. Oec. Ambrosiast. Pelag. Correctly; for the repetition of the preposition and the article is necessary, as Macedonia and Achaia were to be distinguished as separate provinces.
The καί of the Receptus before ἐν παντὶ τόπῳ (defended by Matth. and Scholz, suspected by Griesb.) is to be erased, according to A B C D* F G א, 17, 37, et al. mult. Syr. utr. Copt. Sahid. Baschm. It. Ambrosiast. ed.; so Lachm. Tisch. and Alford. Because, being usually after οὐ μόνον. ἀλλά, it was easily inserted.
ἡμᾶς ἔχειν] correctly changed by Lachm. Scholz, Tisch. and Alford into ἔχειν ἡμᾶς, according to A B C D E F G א, min. perm. Theodoret. The Receptus is an alteration, for emphasis, to contrast ἡμᾶς, 1 Thessalonians 1:8, and αὐτοί, 1 Thessalonians 1:9.—1 Thessalonians 1:9. ἔσχομεν] Elz. has ἔχομεν against preponderating evidence, and devoid of meaning. On account of the similar form with ε in uncial MSS., σ might easily be omitted.—1 Thessalonians 1:10. ἐκ τῶν νεκρῶν] Elz. has ἐκ νεκρῶν, against B D E F G L א, min. plur. and Fathers. The article τῶν was lost in the last syllable of νεκρῶν.
After the address and salutation (1 Thessalonians 1:1), Paul testifies to his readers how in his prayers he constantly thanks God for them all, mentioning without ceasing their faith, love, and hope, being firmly convinced of their election; for, on the one hand, the gospel was preached to them with power and much confidence; and, on the other hand, they, amid many trials, had received it with joyfulness, so that they had become examples to all believers in Macedonia and Achaia: for from them the word of the Lord had spread, and the knowledge of their faith had penetrated everywhere, so that he had not to relate anything about it, but, on the contrary, he hears it mentioned by others what manner of entrance he had to them, and how they had turned from idols to the living and true God (1 Thessalonians 1:2-10).
Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.1 Thessalonians 1:1. It is a mark of the very early composition of the Epistle, and consequently of its authenticity, that Paul does not call himself ἀπόστολος. For it was very natural that Paul, in regard to the first Christian churches to whom he wrote, whom he had recently left, and who had attached themselves with devoted love to him and his preaching, did not feel constrained to indicate himself more definitely by an official title, as the simple mention of his name must have been perfectly sufficient. It was otherwise in his later life. With reference to the Galatians and Corinthians, in consequence of the actual opposition to his apostolic authority in these churches, Paul felt himself constrained to vindicate his full official dignity at the commencement of his Epistles. And so the addition ἀπόστολος, occasioned at first by imperative circumstances, became at a later period a usual designation, especially to those churches which were personally unknown to the apostle (Epistles to Rom. Col. Eph.), among whom, even without any existing opposition, such a designation was necessary in reference to the future. An exception was only natural where, as with the Philippians and with Philemon, the closest and most tried love and attachment united the apostle with the recipients of his Epistles. The supposition of Chrysostom, whom Oecumenius and Theophylact follow, is accordingly to be rejected, that the apostolic title was suppressed διὰ τὸ νεοκατηχήτους εἶναι τοὺς ἄνδρας καὶ μηδέπω αὐτοῦ πεῖραν εἰληφέναι, for then it ought not to be found in the Epistles to the Colossians and Ephesians. Further, the view of Zwingli, Estius, Pelt, and others is to be rejected, that Paul omitted his apostolic title out of modesty, as the same title could not be assigned to Silvanus (and Timotheus); for, not to mention that this reason is founded on a distorted view of the Pauline character, and that the two companions of the apostle would hardly lay claim to his apostolic rank, such a supposition is contradicted by 2 Corinthians 1:1; Colossians 1:1.
καὶ Σιλουνανὸς καὶ Τιμόθεος] Both are associated with Paul in the address, not to testify their agreement in the contents of the Epistle, and thereby to confer on it so much greater authority (Zanchius, Hunnius, Piscator, Pelt), or to testify that the contents were communicated to the apostle by the Holy Ghost (Macknight), but simply because they had assisted the apostle in preaching the gospel at Thessalonica. The simple mention of their names, without any addition, was sufficient on account of their being personally known. By being included in the address, they are represented as joint-authors of the Epistle, although they were so only in name. It is possible, but not certain, that Paul dictated the Epistle to one of them. (According to Berthold, they translated the letter conceived in Aramaic into Greek, and shared in the work.)
Silvanus (as in 2 Corinthians 1:19) is placed before Timotheus, not perhaps because Timotheus was the amanuensis, and from modesty placed his name last (Zanchius), but because Silvanus was older and had been longer with Paul.
Ἐν Θεῷ πατρὶ … Χριστῷ is to be closely united with τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ Θεσσαλονικέων: to the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ,—that is, whose being, whose characteristic peculiarity, consists in fellowship with God the Father (by which they are distinguished from heathen ἐκκλησίαι) and with the Lord Jesus Christ (by which they are distinguished from the Jewish ἐκκλησία). Erroneously, Grotius: quae exstitit, id agente Deo Patre et Christo. The article τῇ is neither to be repeated before ἐν Θεῷ, nor is τῇ οὔσῃ to be supplied (Olshausen, de Wette, and Bloomfield erroneously supply οὔσῃ by itself, without the article; this could not be the construction, as it would contain a causal statement), because the words are blended together in the unity of the idea of the Christian church (see Winer’s Grammar, p. 128 [E. T. 170]). Schott arbitrarily refers ἐν Θεῷ κ.τ.λ. to χαίρειν λέγουσιν, to be supplied before χάρις ὑμῖν; for χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρ. takes the place of the usual Greek salutation χαίρειν λέγουσιν. Hofmann’s view (Die h. Schrift neuen Testaments zusammenhängend untersucht, Part I. Nördl. 1862) amounts to the same as Schott’s, when he finds in ἐν Θεῷ κ.τ.λ. “a Christian extension of the usual epistolary address,” importing that it is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ that the writers address themselves by letter to the churches. Still more arbitrarily Ambrosiaster (not Theophylact) and Koppe, who erase the concluding words: ἀπὸ Θεοῦ κ.τ.λ. (see critical note), have placed a point after Θεσσαλονικέων, and united ἐν Θεῷ … Χριστῷ with χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη. For (1) the thought: χάρις ὑμῖν (ἔστω) ἐν Θεῷ κ.τ.λ., instead of ἀπὸ Θεοῦ κ.τ.λ., is entirely un-Pauline; (2) the placing of ἐν Θεῷ κ.τ.λ. first in so calm a writing as the address of the Epistle, and without any special reason, is inconceivable; (3) 2 Thessalonians 1:1-2 contradicts the idea.
χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη] See Meyer on Romans 1:7. As a Christian transformation of the heathen form of salutation, the words, grammatically considered, should properly be conjoined with the preceding in a single sentence: Παῦλος καὶ Σ … τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ Θ … χάριν καὶ εἰρήνην (sc. λέγουσιν).
We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers;1 Thessalonians 1:2. Εὐχαριστοῦμεν] The plural, which Koppe, Pelt, Koch, Jowett, and others refer to Paul only, is most naturally to be understood of Paul, Silvanus, and Timotheus, on account of 1 Thessalonians 1:1 compared with 1 Thessalonians 2:18, where the apostle, to obviate a mistaken conception of the plural, expressly distinguishes himself from his apostolic helpers.
τῷ Θεῷ] Thanks is rendered to God, because Paul in his piety recognises only His appointment as the first cause of the good which he has to celebrate.
πάντοτε] even if ὑμῶν after μνείαν (see critical note) is omitted, belongs to εὐχαριστοῦμεν, not to μνείαν ποιούμ., as the expression: μνείαν ποιεῖσθαι περὶ τινός, instead of τινός, is un-Pauline. It is not to be weakened (with Koppe) in the sense of πολλάκις, certainly also not (with Zanchius and Pelt) to be limited to the feelings of the apostle, that the εὐχαριστεῖν took place “non actu sed affectu” (comp. already Nicholas de Lyra: semper in habitu, etsi non semper in actu), but to be understood absolutely always; certainly, according to the nature of the case, hyperbolically. Moreover, not without emphasis does Paul say: περὶ πάντων ὑμῶν, in order emphatically to declare that his thanksgiving to God referred to all the members of the Thessalonian church without exception.
μνείαν ὑμῶν ποιούμ. ἐπὶ τῶν προσευχῶν ἡμῶν] These words are conjoined, and to be separated from the preceding by a comma. The clause is no limitation of εὐχαριστοῦμεν πάντοτε: when, or as often as we make mention of you (Flatt, Baumgarten-Crusius, Bisping; on ἐπί, see Meyer on Romans 1:10); but the statement of the manner of εὐχαρ.: whilst we, etc. Only by the addition of this participial clause is the statement of his thanks and prayer for the Thessalonians completed.
Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;1 Thessalonians 1:3. As the apostle has first stated the personal object of his thanksgiving, so now follows a further statement of its material object. 1 Thessalonians 1:3 is therefore a parallel clause to μνείαν … ἡμῶν (1 Thessalonians 1:2), in which μνημονεύοντες corresponds to μνείαν ποιούμενοι, ὑμῶν τοῦ ἔργου … Χριστοῦ to ὑμῶν after μνείαν, and lastly, ἔμπροσθεν … ἡμῶν to ἐπὶ τῶν προσευχῶν ἡμῶν. Schott, Koch, and Auberlen (in Lange’s Bibelwerk, Th. X., Bielef. 1864) incorrectly understand 1 Thessalonians 1:3 as causal; the statement of the cause follows in 1 Thessalonians 1:4.
ἀδιαλείπτως] unceasingly does not belong to the preceding μνείαν ποιούμενοι (Luther, Bullinger, Balduin, Er. Schmid, Harduin, Benson, Moldenhauer, Koch, Bloomfield, Alford, Ewald, Hofmann, Auberlen), for, as an addition inserted afterwards, it would drag, but to μνημονεύοντες (Calvin and others), so that it begins the new clause with emphasis.
μνημονεύειν is not intransitive: to be mindful of (Er. Schmid: memoria repetentes; Fromond: memores non tam in orationibus sed ubique; Auberlen), but transitive, referring to the making mention of them in prayer.
ὑμῶν] is, by Oecumenius, Erasmus (undecidedly), Vatablus, Calvin, Zwingli, Musculus, Hemming, Bullinger, Hunnius, Balduin, regarded as the object of μνημονεύοντες standing alone, whilst ἕνεκα is to be supplied before the genitives τοῦ ἔργου τῆς πίστ. κ.τ.λ. But this union is artificial, and the supposed ellipsis without grammatical justification. It would be better to regard τοῦ ἔργου κ.τ.λ. as a development of ὑμῶν in apposition; but neither is this in itself nor in relation to 1 Thessalonians 1:2 to be commended. Accordingly, ὑμῶν is to be joined to the following substantives, so that its force extends to all the three following points. What Paul approvingly mentions in his prayers are the three Christian cardinal virtues, faith, love, and hope, in which his readers were distinguished, see 1 Thessalonians 5:8; Colossians 1:4-5; 1 Corinthians 13:13. But Paul does not praise them simply in and for themselves, but a peculiar quality of each—each according to a special potency. First their πίστις, and that their ἔργον τῆς πίστεως. Πίστις is faith subjectively. That τὸ ἔργον τῆς πίστεως is not to be understood periphrastically for τῆς πίστεως (Koppe), nor does it correspond with the pleonastic use of the Hebrew דָּבָר, is evident, as (1) such a use of the Greek ἔργον is not demonstrable (see Winer’s Grammar, p. 541 [E. T. 768]); and (2) ἜΡΓΟΝ Τῆς ΠΊΣΤΕΩς must be similarly understood as the two following double expressions, but in them the additions ΚΌΠΟΥ and ὙΠΟΜΟΝῆς are by no means devoid of import. Also Kypke’s explanation, according to which ἜΡΓΟΝ ΠΊΣΤΕΩς denotes veritas fidei, is to be rejected, as this meaning proceeds from the contrast of ἔργον and λόγος, of which there is no trace in the passage. Not less erroneous is it, with Calvin, Wolf, and others, to take ἔργον τῆς πίστεως absolutely as faith wrought, i.e. wrought by the Holy Ghost or by God. An addition for this purpose would be requisite; besides, in the parallel expressions (1 Thessalonians 1:3) it is the self-activity of the readers that is spoken of. In a spiritless manner Flatt and others render ἔργον as an adjective: your active faith. Similarly, but with a more correct appreciation of the substantive, Estius, Grotius, Schott, Koch, Bloomfield, and others: operis, quod ex fide proficiscitur; according to which, however, the words would naturally be replaced by ΠΊΣΤΙς ἘΝΕΡΓΟΥΜΈΝΗ (Galatians 5:6). So also de Wette: your moral working proceeding from faith. Hardly correct, as—(1) ΤῸ ἜΡΓΟΝ can only denote work, not working. (2) The moral working proceeding from faith, according to Paul, is love, so that there would here be a tautology with what follows. Clericus refers τὸ ἔργον τῆς πίστεως to the acceptance of the gospel (Opus … erat, ethnicismo abdicato mutatoque prorsus vivendi instituto, christianam religionem profiteri atque ad ejusdem normam vitam in posterum instituere; quae non poterant fieri nisi a credentibus, Jesum vere a Deo missum atque ab eo mandata accepisse apostolos, ideoque veram esse universam evangelii doctrinam); so also Macknight, according to whom the acceptance of the gospel is called an ἜΡΓΟΝ on account of the victory over the prejudices in which the Thessalonians were nourished, and on account of the dangers to which they were exposed by their acceptance of Christianity. But this reason is remote from the context. Chrysostom (ΤΊ ἘΣΤΙ ΤΟῦ ἜΡΓΟΥ Τῆς ΠΊΣΤΕΩς; ὍΤΙ ΟὐΔῈΝ ὙΜῶΝ ΠΑΡΈΚΛΙΝΕ ΤῊΝ ἜΝΣΤΑΣΙΝ· ΤΟῦΤΟ ΓᾺΡ ἜΡΓΟΝ ΠΊΣΤΕΩς. ΕἸ ΠΙΣΤΕΎΕΙς, ΠΆΝΤΑ ΠΆΣΧΕ· ΕἸ ΔῈ ΜῊ ΠΆΣΧΕΙς, Οὐ ΠΙΣΤΕΎΕΙς), Theodoret, Oecumenius, Theophylact, Calovius, Bisping, and others understand the words of the verification of faith by stedfastness under persecution. This meaning underlying the words appears to come nearest to the correct sense. ὑμῶν τοῦ ἔργου τῆς πίστεως denotes your work of faith; but as ἜΡΓΟΥ has the emphasis (not ΠΊΣΤΕΩς, as Hofmann thinks), it is accordingly best explained: the work which is peculiar to your faith—by which it is characterized, inasmuch as your faith is something begun with energy, and held fast with resoluteness, in spite of all obstacles and oppositions. This meaning strikingly suits the circumstances of the Epistle.
ΚΑῚ ΤΟῦ ΚΌΠΟΥ Τῆς ἈΓΆΠΗς] the second point of the apostle’s thanksgiving. Ἀγάπη is not love to God, or to God and our neighbour (Nicol. Lyr.), also not to Christ, as if τοῦ κυρίου ἡμ. Ἰ. Χ. belonged to ἄγαπης (Cornelius a Lapide), still less love to the apostle and his companions (Natal. Alexander: labores charitatis vestrae, quibus nos ex Judaeorum seditione et insidiis eripuistis, quum apud vos evangelium praedicaremus; Estius, Benson), but love to fellow-Christians (comp. Colossians 1:4). Κόπος τῆς ἀγάπης denotes the active labour of love, which shuns no toil or sacrifice, in order to minister to the wants of our neighbours: not a forbearing love which bears with the faults and weaknesses of others (Theodoret); nor is the genitive the genitive of origin, the work which proceeds from love (so Clericus, Schott, de Wette, Koch, Bloomfield, and most critics); but the genitive of possession, the work which is peculiar to love, by which it is characterized. According to de Wette, ΚΌΠΟς Τῆς ἈΓΆΠΗς might refer also to the labour of rulers and teachers (1 Thessalonians 5:12). Contrary to the context, as 1 Thessalonians 1:3 contains only the further exposition of 1 Thessalonians 1:2; but according to 1 Thessalonians 1:2, the apostle’s thanksgiving extends to all the members of the church (περὶ πάντων ὑμῶν), not merely to individuals among them.
The third point of the apostle’s thanksgiving is the ἘΛΠΊς of his readers, and this also not in and for itself, but in its property of ὙΠΟΜΟΝΉ. ὙΠΟΜΟΝΉ is not the patient waiting which precedes fulfilment (Vatablus), but the constancy which suffers not itself to be overcome by obstacles and oppositions (Chrysostom, Oecumenius, Theophylact). The genitive here also is not the genitive of origin (Clericus, Schott, de Wette, Koch, Bloomfield), but of possession: your endurance of hope; that endurance which belongs to your hope, by which hope is characterized. ἐλπίς is here as usual subjective: hoping (otherwise, Colossians 1:5).
τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰ. Χ.] does not refer to all the three above-mentioned virtues, “in order to show that they are one and all derived from Christ, and instilled into man by the Holy Spirit” (Olshausen), or are directed to Christ as their object (Cornelius a Lapide, Hofmann), but is the object only of ἐλπίδος. The hope refers to Christ, that is, to His advent, because the judgment and retribution will then take place, and the divine kingdom completed in all its glory will commence.
ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ Θεοῦ καὶ πατρὸς ἡμῶν] belongs not to εἰδότες (1 Thessalonians 1:4), which Musculus thinks possible, and as little to τοῦ κυρίου ἡμ. Ἰ. Χ.; for—(1) the article τοῦ before ἔμπροσθεν must then have been omitted, and (2) an entire abnormal representation of Christ would occur; also not to τῆς ὑπομονῆς τῆς ἐλπίδος, or to all the three ideas, to indicate thereby these three virtues as existing before the eyes and according to the judgment of God, and thus as true and genuine (Theodoret, Oecumenius, Aretius, Fromond, Cornelius a Lapide, Baumgarten-Crusius, Auberlen), for in this case the repetition of the article would be expected, and besides, ἐνώπιον τοῦ Θεοῦ and similar expressions have, in the above sense, always an adjective or corresponding clause; but it belongs—which only is grammatically correct—to μνημονεύοντες, so that μνημονεύοντες ἔμπροσθεν κ.τ.λ. corresponds to μνείαν ποιεῖσθαι ἐπὶ τῶν προσευχῶν (1 Thessalonians 1:2).
τοῦ Θεοῦ καὶ πατρὸς ἡμῶν] may mean Him, who is our God and our Father; or Him, who is God, and likewise our Father.
 So in essentials Hofmann, who considers τῆς πίστεως as an epexegetical genitive, and converts the double expression into the unimportant saying: “Their doing or conduct consists in this, that they believed.”
Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.1 Thessalonians 1:4. Εἰδότες is incorrectly referred by many (thus Baur) to the Thessalonians, either as the nominative absolute in the sense of οἴδατε γάρ (Erasmus), or εἰδότες ἐστέ (Homberg, Baumgarten-Crusius); or (Grotius) as the beginning of a new sentence which has its tempus finit. in ἐγενήθητε (1 Thessalonians 1:6), “knowing that ye became followers of us.” Rather, the subject of 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3, thus Paul, Silvanus, and Timotheus, is continued in εἰδότες. It is further erroneous to supply καί before εἰδότες (Flatt), as this participle is by no means similar to the two preceding. Lastly, it is erroneous to make εἰδότες dependent on μνείαν ποιούμενοι (Pelt). Εἰδότες is only correctly joined to the principal verb εὐχαριστοῦμεν (1 Thessalonians 1:2), and adduces the reason of the apostle’s thanksgiving, whilst the preceding participles state only the mode of εὐχαριστοῦμεν.
ὑπὸ Θεοῦ cannot be conjoined with εἰδότες (scientes a deo, i.e. ex dei revelatione), which Estius thinks possible, against which ὑπό instead of παρά is decisive. Nor does it belong to τὴν ἐκλογὴν ὑμῶν, so that εἶναι would require to be supplied, and ἀδελφοὶ ἠγαπημένοι to be taken by itself (Oecumenius, Theophylact, Calvin, Musculus, Hemming, Zanchius, Justinian, Vorstius, Calixtus, Clericus), but to ἠγαπημένοι. For—(1) this union is grammatically the most natural (see 2 Thessalonians 2:13, the Hebrew יְדִידֵי יְהֹוָה, 2 Chronicles 20:7, and ἀγαπητοὶ Θεοῦ, Romans 1:7). (2) By the union of ὑπὸ Θεοῦ τὴν ἐκλογὴν ὑμῶν, a peculiar stress would be put on ὑπὸ Θεοῦ; but such an emphasis is inadmissible, as another ἐκλογή than by God is in Paul’s view a nonentity, and therefore the addition ὑπὸ Θεοῦ would be idle.
Moreover, ἀδελφοὶ ἠγαπημένοι ὑπὸ Θεοῦ is a pure address, and not the statement of the cause of τὴν ἐκλογὴν ὑμῶν (Estius).
ἐκλογή] election or choice, denotes the action of God, according to which He has predetermined from eternity individuals to be believers in Christ. κλῆσις is related to ἐκλογή as the subsequent realization to the preceding determination. Erroneously Pelt: ἐκλογή is electorum illa innovatio, qua per spiritum divinum mutatur interna hominem conditio; and still more arbitrarily Baumgarten-Crusius: ἐκλογή is not “choice among others (church election), but out of the world, with Paul equivalent to κλῆσις, and exactly here as in 1 Corinthians 1:26; not being elected, but the mode or condition of the election” (!), so that the sense would be: “Ye know how ye have become Christians” (!!).
ὑμῶν] the objective genitive to ἑκλογήν: the election of you.
For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.1 Thessalonians 1:5. Bengel, Schott, Hofmann, and others unite 1 Thessalonians 1:5 by a simple comma to the preceding, understanding ὅτι in the sense of “that,” or “namely that,” and thus the further analysis or explication of ἐκλογή, i.e. the statement wherein ἐκλογή consists. But evidently 1 Thessalonians 1:5-6 are not a statement wherein ἐκλογή consists, but of the historical facts from which it may be inferred. Accordingly, ὅτι (if one will not understand it with most interpreters as quia, which has little to recommend it) is to be separated from 1 Thessalonians 1:4 by a colon, and to be taken in the sense of for, introducing the reason on which the apostle grounds his own conviction of the ἐκλογή of his readers. This reason is twofold—(1) The power and confidence by which the gospel was preached by him and his companions in Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 1:5); and (2) The eagerness and joy with which it was embraced by the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 1:6 ff.). Both are proofs of grace, attestations of the ἐκλογή of the Thessalonians on the part of God.
τὸ εὐαγγέλιον ἡμῶν] our gospel, i.e. our evangelical preaching.
οὐκ ἐγενήθη πρὸς ὑμᾶς] was not carried into effect among you, i.e. when it was brought to you. The passive form ἐγενήθη, alien to the Attic, and originally Doric, but common in the κοινή (see Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 108 ff.; Kühner, I. 193; Winer’s Grammar, p. 80 [E. T. 102]), characterizes the being carried into effect as something effected by divine grace, and the additions with ἐν following indicate the form and manner in which the apostolic preaching was carried into effect. From this it follows how erroneous it is with Koppe, Pelt, and others to refer ἐν λόγῳ … πολλῇ to the qualities of the Thessalonians which resulted from the preaching of the apostle. According to Koppe, the meaning is “quantam enim mea apud vos doctrina in animos vestros vim habuerit, non ore tantum sed facto declaravistis.” That the concluding words of 1 Thessalonians 1:5, καθὼς οἴδατε … ὑμᾶς, which apparently treats of the manner of the apostle’s entrance, contains only a recapitulatory statement of ἐν λόγῳ … πολλῇ, appealing to the testimony of the Thessalonians, is a sufficient condemnation of this strange and artificial explanation.
ἐν λόγῳ μόνον] in word only, i.e. not that it was a bare announcement, a bare communication in human words, which so easily fade away. Grotius: Non stetit intra verba. But the apostle says οὐ μόνον, because human speech was the necessary instrument of communication.
ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐν δυνάμει κ.τ.λ.] By δύναμις is not to be understood miracles by which the power of the preached gospel was attested (Theodoret, Oecumenius, Theophylact, Erasmus, Cornelius a Lapide, Grotius, Natalis Alexander, Turretine, etc.); for if so, the plural would have been necessary. Nor is the gospel denoted as a miraculous power (Benson), which meaning in itself is possible. Nor is the efficacy of the preached word among the Thessalonians indicated (Bullinger: Per virtutem intellexit efficaciam et vim agentem in cordibus fidelium). But it forms simply the contrast to λόγος, and denotes the impressive power accompanying the entrance of Paul and his followers.
ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ] Theodoret, Musculus, Cornelius a Lapide, Fromond, B. a Piconius, Natalis Alexander, Benson, Macknight interpret this of the communication of the Holy Spirit to the readers. But the communication of the Holy Spirit is beyond the power of the apostles, as being only possible on the part of God. Besides, ἐν πνεύματι can only contain a statement of the manner in which Paul and his assistants preached the gospel. Accordingly, the meaning is: our preaching of the gospel was carried on among you in the Holy Ghost, that is, in a manner which could only be ascribed to the operation of the Holy Ghost. ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ serves, therefore, not only for the further amplification, but also for the intensification of the idea ἐν δυνάμει. It is therefore incompetent to consider ἐν δυνάμει καὶ ἐν πνεύμ. ἁγίῳ as a ἓν διὰ δυοῖν instead of ἐν δυνάμει πνεύμ. ἁγίου (Calvin, Piscator, Turretine, Bloomfield, and others).
πληροφορία] (comp. Colossians 2:2; Romans 4:21; Romans 14:5) denotes neither the fulness of spiritual gifts which were imparted to the Thessalonians (Lombard, Cornelius a Lapide, Turretine), nor the completeness of the apostolic instruction (Thomasius), nor the completeness with which Paul performed his duty (Estius), nor the proofs combined with his instructions, giving complete certainty (Fromond, Michaelis), nor generally “certitudo, qua Thessalonicenses certi de veritate evangelii ac salute sua redditi fuerant” (Musculus, Benson, Macknight); but the fulness and certainty of conviction, i.e. the inward confidence of faith with which Paul and his assistants appeared preaching at Thessalonica.
καθὼς οἴδατε κ.τ.λ.] a strengthening of ὅτι … πολλῇ by an appeal to the knowledge of his readers (Oecum.: καὶ τί, φησι, μακρηγορῶ; αὐτοὶ ὑμεῖς μάρτυρές ἐστε, οἷοι ἐγενήθημεν πρὸς ὑμᾶς). Pelt, entirely perverting the meaning, thinks that the apostle in these concluding words would hold forth his example for the emulation of his readers. This view could only claim indulgence if Koppe’s connection, which, however, Pelt rejects, were correct. Koppe begins a new sentence with καθώς, considering καθὼς οἴδατε as the protasis and καὶ ὑμεῖς as the apodosis, and gives the sense: qualem me vidistis, quum apud vos essem … tales etiam vos nunc estis. But this connection is impossible—(1) Because οἴδατε cannot mean me vidistis, but has a purely present signification—ye know. (2) Because if there were such an emphatic contrast of persons (qualem me … tales etiam vos), then, instead of the simple ἐγενήθημεν, ἡμεῖς ἐγενήθημεν would necessarily be put. (3) Because ἐγενήθητε does not mean nunc estis, but facti estis. (4) Instead of the asyndeton καθὼς οἴδατε, we would expect a connection with the preceding by some particle added to καθώς. (5) And lastly, the apodosis would not be introduced by καὶ ὑμεῖς, but by οὕτως ὑμεῖς (comp. 2 Corinthians 1:5; 2 Corinthians 8:6; 2 Corinthians 10:7). Pelt’s assertion is also erroneous, that instead of καθὼς οἴδατε οἷοι ἐγενήθημεν, the more correct Greek phrase would have been οἵους οἴδατε ἡμᾶς γεγονότας. For the greatest emphasis is put on οἷοι ἐγενήθημεν, but this emphasis would have been lost by the substitution of the above construction.
οἷοι ἐγενήθημεν] recapitulates the preceding τὸ εὐαγγ.… πολλῇ, but with this difference, that what was before said of the act of preaching is here predicated of the preachers. οἷοι ἐγενήθημεν does not denote the privations which Paul imposed upon himself when he preached the gospel, as Pelagius, Estius, Macknight, Pelt, and others think, making an arbitrary comparison of 1 Thessalonians 2:7; 1 Thessalonians 2:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:8-9; also not κινδύνους, οὓς ὑπὲρ αὐτῶν ὑπέστησαν, τὸ σωτήριον αὐτοῖς προσφέροντες κήρυγμα (Theodoret), nor both together (Natal. Alexander). It also does not mean quales fuerimus (so de Wette, Hofmann, and others), but can only denote the being made for some purpose. It thus contains the indication that the emphatic element in the preaching of the gospel at Thessalonica was a work of divine appointment—of divine grace. Accordingly, διʼ ὑμᾶς, for your sake, that is, in order to gain you for the kingdom of Christ, is to be understood not of the purpose of the apostle and his assistants, but of the purpose of God.
And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost:1 Thessalonians 1:6 contains the other side of the proof for the ἐκλογή of the Thessalonians, namely, their receptivity for the preaching of the gospel demonstrated by facts. 1 Thessalonians 1:6 may either be separated by a point from the preceding (then the proof of 1 Thessalonians 1:6, in relation to 1 Thessalonians 1:4, lies only in thought, without being actually expressed), or it may be made to depend on ὅτι in 1 Thessalonians 1:5 (provided this be translated by for, as it ought). In this latter case καθὼς οἴδατε … διʼ ὑμᾶς, 1 Thessalonians 1:5, is a parenthesis. This latter view is to be preferred, because 1 Thessalonians 1:5-6 appear more evidently to be internally connected, and, accordingly, the twofold division of the argument, adduced for the ἐκλογή of the readers, is more clearly brought forward.
μιμηταί] See 1 Corinthians 4:16; 1 Corinthians 11:1; Php 3:17; Ephesians 5:1; Galatians 4:12.
ἐγενήθητε denotes here also the having become as a having been made, i.e. effected by the agency of God.
καὶ τοῦ κυρίου is for the sake of climax. Erroneously Bullinger: Veluti correctione subjecta addit: et domini. Eatenus enim apostolorum imitatores esse debemus, quatenus illi Christi imitatores sunt.
The Thessalonians became imitators of the apostle and of Christ, not in δύναμις, in πνεῦμα ἅγιον, and in πληροφορία, as Koppe thinks; but because they received the evangelical preaching (τὸν λόγον, comp. Galatians 6:6, equivalent to κήρυγμα), allowed it an entrance among them, in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost, i.e. not merely that they received the λόγος (here the tertium comparationis would be wanting), but that they received it ἐν θλίψει πολλῇ μετὰ χαρᾶς πνεύμ. ἁγίου.
δεξάμενοι τὸν λόγον] The reception of the gospel corresponds to its announcement brought to the readers (1 Thessalonians 1:5), whilst μίμησις is explained by ἐν θλίψει … ἁγίου. The chief emphasis is on the concluding words: μετὰ χαρᾶς πνεύματος ἁγίου, containing in themselves the proper tertium comparationis between Christ and the apostle on the one hand, and the Thessalonians on the other; but ἐν θλίψει πολλῇ is placed first to strengthen it, and for the sake of contrast, inasmuch as δέχεσθαι τὸν λόγον μετὰ χαρᾶς πν. ἁγ. is something high and sublime, but it is something far higher and more sublime when this joy is neither disturbed nor weakened by the trials and sufferings which have been brought upon believers on account of their faith in Christ.
ἐν θλίψει πολλῇ] Erroneously Clericus: Subintelligendum ὄντα, quum acceperitis verbum, quod erat in afflictione multa, h. e. cujus praecones graviter affligebantur. The θλίψις of the Thessalonians had already begun during the presence of the apostle among them (Acts 17:6 ff.), but after his expulsion it had greatly increased (1 Thessalonians 2:14, 1 Thessalonians 3:2-3; 1 Thessalonians 3:5). The apostle has in view both the commencement and the continuance of the persecution (comp. 1 Thessalonians 1:7, and the adjective πολλῇ attached to θλίψει), against which δεξάμενοι is no objection, as the two points of time are united as the spring-time of the Christian church.
χαρὰ πνεύματος ἁγίου] is not joy in the Holy Ghost, but a joy or joyfulness which proceeds from the Holy Ghost, is produced by Him (comp. Romans 14:17; Galatians 5:22; Acts 5:41). In reality, it is not to be distinguished from χαίρειν ἐν κυρίῳ (see Meyer on Php 3:1).
So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.1 Thessalonians 1:7. The Thessalonians had so far advanced that they who were formerly imitators had now become a model and an example to others.
τύπον] The singular is regular, as the apostle considers the church as a unity (see Winer’s Grammar, p. 164 [E. T. 218]; Bernhardy, Syntax, p. 60; Kühner, II. p. 27).
πᾶσιν τοῖς πιστεύουσιν] not to all believers (de Wette), but to the whole body of believers. See Winer, p. 105 [E. T. 137]. πᾶσιν augments the praise given. οἱ πιστεύοντες are believers, Christians (comp. Ephesians 1:19). Chrysostom, whom Oecumenius, Theophylact, and most interpreters (also Pelt and Schott) follow, takes πιστεύουσιν in the sense of πιστεύσασιν, finding in 1 Thessalonians 1:7 the idea that the Thessalonians converted at a later period were further advanced in the intensity of their faith than those who had been earlier believers: Καὶ μὴν ἐν ὑστέρῳ ἦλθε πρὸς αὐτούς· ἀλλʼ οὕτως ἐλάμψατε, φησίν, ὡς τῶν προλαβόντων γενέσθαι διδασκάλους … Οὐ γὰρ εἶπεν, ὥστε τύπους γενέσθαι πρὸς τὸ πιστεῦσαι, ἀλλὰ τοῖς ἤδη πιστεύουσι τύπος ἐγένεσθε. But this view would contain a historical untruth. For in Europe, according to the Acts (comp. also 1 Thessalonians 2:2), only the Philippians were believers before the Thessalonians; all the other churches of Macedonia and Achaia were formed afterwards. The present participle is rather to be understood from the standpoint of the apostle, so that all Christians then present in Macedonia and Achaia, that is, all Christians actually existing there at the time of the composition of the Epistle, are to be understood.
ἐν τῇ Μακεδονίᾳ καὶ ἐν τῇ Ἀχαΐᾳ] Comp. Romans 15:26; Acts 19:21 : the twofold division of Greece usually made after its subjection to the Romans (comp. Winer, Realwörterb. 2d ed. vol. I. p. 21). The emphasis which Theodoret puts on the words (Ηὔξησε τὴν εὐφημίαν, ἀρχέτυπα αὐτοὺς εὐσεβείας γεγενῆσθαι φήσας ἔθνεσι μεγίστοις καὶ ἐπὶ σοφίᾳ θαυμαζομένοις) is not contained in it. Baur’s (p. 484) assertion, that what is said in 1 Thessalonians 1:7 is only suitable for a church already existing for a longer time, is without any justification. For to be an example to others depends on the behaviour; the idea of duration is entirely indifferent.
For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing.1 Thessalonians 1:8. Proof of the praise in 1 Thessalonians 1:7. See on the verse, Storr, Opusc. III. p. 317 ff.; Rückert, locorum Paulinorum 1 Thessalonians 1:8 et 1 Thessalonians 3:1-3, explanatio, Jen. 1844.
Baumgarten-Crusius arbitrarily assumes in 1 Thessalonians 1:8 ff. an address, not only to the Thessalonians, but also to the Philippians, in short, to “the first converts in Macedonia.” For ὑμῶν (1 Thessalonians 1:8) can have no further extension than ὑμᾶς (1 Thessalonians 1:7).
ἀφʼ ὑμῶν] does not import vestra opera, so that a missionary activity was attributed to the Thessalonians (Rückert), also not per vos, ope consilioque vestro, so that the sense would be: that the gospel might be preached by me in other parts of Macedonia and Achaia, has been effected by your advice and co-operation, inasmuch as, when in imminent danger, my life and that of Silvanus was rescued by you (Schott, Flatt). For in the first case ὑφʼ ὑμῶν would be required, and in the second case διʼ ὑμῶν, not to mention that the entire occasion of the last interpretation is invented and artificially introduced. Rather ἀφʼ ὑμῶν is purely local (Schott and Bloomfield erroneously unite the local import with the instrumental), and denotes: out from you, forth from you, comp. 1 Corinthians 14:36. Yet this cannot be referred, with Koppe and Krause, to Paul: from you, that is, when I left Thessalonica, I found in the other cities of Macedonia and Achaia a favourable opportunity for preaching the gospel. For (1) this would have been otherwise grammatically expressed, perhaps by ἀφʼ ὑμῶν γὰρ ἀπελθόντι θύρα μοι ἀνέῳγε μεγάλη εἰς τὸ κηρύσσειν τὸν λόγον τοῦ κυρίου; add to this (2), which is the chief point, that the logical relation of 1 Thessalonians 1:8 to 1 Thessalonians 1:7 (γάρ) does not permit our seeking in 1 Thessalonians 1:8 a reference to the conduct of the apostle, but indicates that a further praise of the Thessalonians is contained in it.
ἐξήχηται] Comp. Sir 40:13; Joel 3:14; an ἅπαξ λεγόμενον in N. T. is sounded out, like the tone of some far-sounding instrument, i.e. without a figure: was made known with power.
ὁ λόγος τοῦ κυρίου] is not the word from the Lord, or the report of what the Lord has done to you (so, as it seems, Theodore Mopsuest. [in N. T. commentariorum, quae reperiri potuerunt. Colleg., Fritzsche, Turici 1847, p. 145]: Λόγον κυρίου ἐνταῦθα οὐ τὴν πίστιν λέγει, οὐ γὰρ ἡ πίστις ἀπʼ αὐτῶν ἔλαβε τὴν ἀρχήν, ἀλλʼ ἀντὶ τοῦ πάντες ἔγνωσαν ὅσα ὑπὲρ τῆς πίστεως ἐπάθετε, καὶ πάντες ὑμῶν τὸ βέβαιον θαυμάζουσι τῆς πίστεως, ὥστε καὶ προτροπὴν ἑτέροις γενέσθαι τὰ ὑμέτερα), but the word of the Lord which He caused to be preached (subjective genitive), i.e. the gospel (comp. 2 Thessalonians 3:1; Colossians 3:16); thus similar to the more usual expression of Paul: ὁ λόγος τοῦ Θεοῦ. But the meaning is not: The report of the gospel, that it was embraced by you, went forth from you, and made a favourable impression upon others (de Wette); but the knowledge of the gospel itself spread from you, so that the power and the eclat which was displayed at the conversion of the Thessalonians directed attention to the gospel, and gained friends for it.
The words οὐ μόνον have given much trouble to interpreters. According to their position they evidently belong to ἐν τῇ Μακεδονίᾳ καὶ ἐν τῇ Ἀχαΐᾳ, and form a contrast to ἐν παντὶ τόπῳ. But it does not agree with this view that a new subject and predicate are found in the contrast introduced with ἀλλά, because the emphasis lies (as the position of οὐ μόνον … ἀλλά appears to demand) only on the two local statements, so that only ἀφʼ ὑμῶν … τόπῳ should have been written, and ὥστε μὴ κ.τ.λ. should have been directly connected with them. This double subject and predicate could only be permissible provided the phrases: ἐξήχηται ὁ λόγος τοῦ κυρίου, and: ἡ πίστις ὑμῶν ἡ πρὸς τ. Θεὸν ἐξελήλυθεν were equivalent, as de Wette (also Olshausen and Koch) assumes (“the fame of your acceptance of the gospel sounded forth not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place the fame of your faith in God is spread abroad”); but, as is remarked above, de Wette does not correctly translate the first member of the sentence. Zanchius, Piscator, Vorstius, Beza, Grotius, Koppe, Storr, Flatt, Schrader, Schott, Baumgarten-Crusius, and others have felt themselves obliged to assume a trajection, uniting οὐ μόνον not with ἐν τῇ Μακεδονίᾳ καὶ ἐν τῇ Ἀχαΐᾳ, but with ἐξήχηται, and thus explain it as if the words stood: ἀφʼ ὑμῶν γὰρ οὐ μόνον ἐξήχηται κ.τ.λ. But this trajection is a grammatical impossibility. Bloomfield has understood the words as a mingling of two different forms of expression. According to him, it is to be analyzed: “For from you sounded the word of the Lord over all Macedonia and Achaia; and not only has your faith in God been well known there, but the report of it has been disseminated everywhere else.” But that which is united by Paul is thus forcibly severed, and arbitrarily moulded into an entirely new form. Lastly, Rückert has attempted another expedient. According to him, the apostle, after having written the greater part of the sentence, was led by the desire of making a forcible climax so to alter the originally intended form of the thought that the conclusion no longer corresponded with the announcement. Thus, then, the sense would be. Vestra opera factum est, ut domini sermo propagaretur non solum in Macedonia et Achaja, sed etiam—immo amplius quid, ipsa vestra fides ita per famam sparsa est, ut nullus jam sit locus, quem ejus nulla dum notitia attigerit. But against this is—(1) that ἡ πίστις ὑμῶν, on account of its position after ἐν παντὶ τόπῳ, cannot have the principal accent; on the contrary, to preserve the meaning maintained by Rückert, it ought to have been written ἀλλʼ αὐτὴ ἡ πίστις ὑμῶν ἡ πρὸς τὸν Θεὸν ἐν παντὶ τόπῳ ἐξελήλυθεν; (2) that the wide extension of the report of the πίστις of the readers is not appropriate to form a climax to their supposed missionary activity expressed in the first clause of the sentence. However, to give οὐ μόνον … ἀλλά its proper force, and thereby to avoid the objection of the double subject and predicate, there is a very simple expedient (now adopted by Hofmann and Auberlen), namely, another punctuation; to put a colon after κυρίου, and to take together all that follows. According to this, 1 Thessalonians 1:8 is divided into two parts, of which the first part (ἀφʼ ὑμῶν … κυρίου), in which ἀφʼ ὑμῶν and ἐξήχηται have the emphasis, contains the reason of 1 Thessalonians 1:7, and of which the second part (οὐ μόνον … λαλεῖν τι) takes up the preceding ἐξήχηται, and works it out according to its locality.
From the fact that οὐ μόνον … ἀλλά serves to contrast the local designations, it follows that ἐν παντὶ τόπῳ is not to be limited (with Koppe, Storr, Flatt, Schott, and others) to Macedonia and Achaia (ἐν παντὶ τόπῳ τῆς Μακεδονίας καὶ τῆς Ἀχαΐας), but must denote every place outside of Macedonia and Achaia, entirely apart from the consideration whether Paul and his companions had already come in contact with those places or not (against Hofmann), thus the whole known world (Chrysostom: τὴν οἰκουμένην; Oecumenius: ἅπαντα τὸν κόσμον); by which it is to be conceded that Paul here, as in Romans 1:8, Colossians 1:6; Colossians 1:23, expresses himself in a popular hyperbolical manner.
ἡ πίστις ὑμῶν ἡ πρὸς τὸν Θεόν] your faith, that is, your believing or becoming believers in God (πίστις thus subjective); the unusual preposition πρός instead of εἰς is also found in Philemon 1:5. That here God, and not Christ, is named as the object of faith does not alter the case, because God is the Father of Christ and the Author of the salvation contained in Him. But the unusual form ἡ πρὸς τὸν Θεόν is designedly chosen, in order to bring prominently forward the monotheistic faith to which the Thessalonians had turned, in contrast to their former idolatry.
ἐξελήλυθεν] has gone forth, has spread forth, namely, as a report. Comp. on ἐξέρχεσθαι in this sense, Matthew 9:26; Luke 8:17, etc. Probably the report had spread particularly by means of Christian merchants (Zanchius, Grotius, Joach. Lange, Baumgarten, de Wette), and the apostle might easily have learned it in the great commercial city of Corinth, where there was a constant influx of strangers. Possibly also Aquila and Priscilla, who had lately come from Rome (Acts 18:2), brought with them such a report (Wieseler, p. 42). At all events, neither a longer existence of the Thessalonian church follows from this passage (Schrader, Baur), nor that Paul had in the interval been in far distant places (Wurm). As, moreover, ἐξελήλυθεν is construed not with εἰς, but with ἐν, so not only the arrival of the report in those regions is represented, but its permanence after its arrival (see Winer, p. 385 [E. T. 514]; Bernhardy, Synt. p. 208).
ὥστε μὴ χρείαν ἔχειν ἡμᾶς λαλεῖν τι] so that we have no need to say anything of it (sc. of your πίστις; erroneously Michaelis, “of the gospel;” erroneously also Koch, “something considerable”), because we have been already instructed concerning it by its report; although this is contained in ἐξελήλυθεν, yet it is impressively brought forward and explained in what follows.
For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God;1 Thessalonians 1:9. Αὐτοί] not: sponte, αὐτομαθῶς, of themselves (Pelt), but emphatically opposed to the preceding ἡμᾶς: not we, nay they themselves, that is, according to the well-known constructio ad sensum (comp. Galatians 2:2): οἱ ἐν τῇ Μακεδονίᾳ καὶ ἐν τῇ Ἀχαΐᾳ καὶ ἐν παντὶ τόπῳ. See Bernhardy, Syntax, p. 288; Winer, p. 137 [E. T. 181]. Beza erroneously (though undecidedly) refers αὐτοί to πάντες οἱ πιστεύοντες (1 Thessalonians 1:7).
περὶ ἡμῶν] is not equivalent to ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν, in our stead (Koppe), but means: concerning us, de nobis; and, indeed, περὶ ἡμῶν is the general introductory object of ἀπαγγέλλουσιν, which is afterwards more definitely expressed by ὁποίαν κ.τ.λ.
ἡμῶν, however, refers not only to the apostle and his assistants, but also to the Thessalonians, because otherwise καὶ πῶς ἐπεστρέψατε in relation to ἡμῶν would be inappropriate. This twofold nature of the subject may be already contained in ἡ πίστις ὑμῶν ἡ πρὸς τὸν Θεόν (1 Thessalonians 1:8); as, on the one hand, the producing of πίστις by the labours of the apostle is expressed, and, on the other hand, its acceptance on the part of the Thessalonians.
ὁποίαν εἴσοδον ἔσχομεν πρὸς ὑμᾶς] what sort of entrance we had to you, namely, with the preaching of the gospel, i.e. (comp. 1 Thessalonians 1:5) with what power and fulness of the Holy Spirit, with what inward conviction and contempt of external dangers (Chrysostom, Oecumenius, Theophylact erroneously limit ὁποίαν to danger), we preached the gospel to you. Most understand ὁποίαν εἴσοδον (led astray by the German Eingang) of the friendly reception, which Paul and his companions found among the Thessalonians (indeed, according to Pelt, εἴσοδος in itself without ὁποία denotes facilem aditum); and accordingly some (Schott, Hofmann) think of the eager reception of the gospel, or of its entrance into the hearts of the Thessalonians (Olshausen). The first view is against linguistic usage, as εἴσοδον ἔχειν πρός τινα can only have an active sense, can only denote the coming to one, the entrance (comp. 1 Thessalonians 2:1); as also in the classics εἴσοδος is particularly used of the entrance of the chorus into the orchestra (comp. Passow on the word). The latter view is against the context, as in πῶς ἐπεστρέψατε κ.τ.λ. the effect of the apostle’s preaching is first referred to.
πῶς] how, that is, how joyfully and energetically.
ἐπιστρέφειν] to turn from the false way to the true.
πρὸς τὸν Θεόν] to be converted to God: a well-known biblical figure. It can also denote to return to God; for although this is spoken of those who once were Gentiles, yet their idolatry was only an apostasy from God (comp. Romans 1:19 ff.).
δουλεύειν] the infinitive of design. See Winer, p. 298 [E. T. 408].
Θεῷ ζῶντι] the living God (comp. אֱלֹהִים חַי, 2 Kings 19:4; 2 Kings 19:16, and Acts 14:15), in contrast to dead idols (Habakkuk 2:19).
ἀληθινός] true, real (comp. אֱלֹהִים אֶמֶת, 2 Chronicles 15:3; John 17:3; 1 John 5:20), in contrast to idols, which are vain and unreal. The design intended by δουλεύειν Θεῷ ζῶντι καὶ ἀληθινῷ contains as yet nothing specifically Christian; it is rather δουλεία consecrated to the living and true God, common to Christians and Jews. The specific Christian mark, that which distinguishes Christians also from Jews, is added in what immediately follows.
And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.1 Thessalonians 1:10. It may surprise us that this characteristic mark is given not as faith in Christ (comp. Acts 20:21; also John 17:3), but the hope of His advent. But, on the one hand, this hope of the returning Christ presupposes faith in Him, as also ῥυόμενον clearly points to faith as its necessary condition and presupposition; and, on the other hand, in the circumstances which occasioned the composition of this Epistle, the apostle must have been already led to touch in a preliminary manner upon the question, whose more express discussion was reserved to a later portion of his Epistle.
ἀναμένειν] here only in the N. T.; in 1 Corinthians 1:7, Php 3:15, etc., ἀπεκδέχεσθαι stands for it. Erroneously Flatt: to expect with joy. The idea of the nearness of the advent as an event, whose coming the church might hope to live to see, is contained in ἀναμένειν.
ἐκ τῶν οὐρανῶν] belongs to ἀναμένειν. A brachyology, in the sense of ἀναμένειν ἐκ τῶν οὐρανῶν ἐρχόμενον, see Winer, p. 547 [E. T. 775].
ὃν ἤγειρεν ἐκ τῶν νεκρῶν] is emphatically placed before Ἰησοῦν, as God by the resurrection declared Christ to be His υἱός (comp. Romans 1:4). Hofmann strangely perverts the passage, that Paul by ὃν ἤγειρεν ἐκ τῶν νεκρῶν assigns a reason for ἐκ τῶν οὐρανῶν, because “the coming of the man Jesus from where He is with God to the world where His saints are, has for its supposition that He has risen from where He was with the dead.” There is no emphasis on ἐκ τῶν οὐρανῶν, its only purpose is for completing the idea of ἀναμένειν.
τὸν ῥυόμενον] The present participle does not stand for τὸν ῥυσόμενον (Grotius, Pelt); it serves to show that ῥύεσθαι is not begun only at the judgment, but already here, on earth, inasmuch as the inward conviction resides in the believer that he, by means of his fellowship with Christ, the σωτήρ, is delivered from all fears of a future judgment.
τὸν ῥυόμενον] stands therefore as a substantive. See Winer, p. 331 [E. T. 443].
ὀργή] wrath, then the activity of wrath, punishment. It has also this meaning among classical writers. See Kypke, in den Obss. sacr., on Romans 2:5.
Also τῆς ἐρχομένης] is not equivalent to ἐλευσομένης (Grot., Pelt, and others), but refers to the certain coming of the wrath at the judgment, which Christ will hold at His advent (comp. Colossians 3:6).