1 Thessalonians 2
Vincent's Word Studies
For yourselves, brethren, know our entrance in unto you, that it was not in vain:
Was not in vain (οὐ κενὴ γέγονεν)

More accurately, hath not proved vain. Κενὴ is empty. Ματαία, also rendered vain, is fruitless.

But even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention.
Having suffered before (προπαθόντες)

N.T.o. Although we had suffered.

Having been shamefully entreated (ὑβρισθέντες)

Comp. Matthew 22; Luke 18:32; Acts 14:5. This may have been added because προπαθόντες alone might denote the experience of something good; but it is more probably intended as an expansion and illustration of that word. Paul's sensitiveness to personal indignity appears in the narrative in Acts 16, which gives the historical explanation of the two words. It appears frequently in 2ndCorinthians.

As ye know (καθὼς οἴδατε)

One of the many characteristic expressions of these Epistles which indicate community of experience and sentiment on the part of Paul and his readers. See 1 Thessalonians 1:5, 1 Thessalonians 1:8; 1 Thessalonians 2:1, 1 Thessalonians 2:5, 1 Thessalonians 2:10, 1 Thessalonians 2:11; 1 Thessalonians 3:3, 1 Thessalonians 3:4, 1 Thessalonians 3:12; 1 Thessalonians 4:1, 1 Thessalonians 4:2, 1 Thessalonians 4:6, 1 Thessalonians 4:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:1, 1 Thessalonians 5:11; 2 Thessalonians 2:16; 2 Thessalonians 3:1, 2 Thessalonians 3:2.


See Acts 16:19-40; Philippians 1:1.

We waxed bold (ἐπαρρησιασάμεθα)

Only once elsewhere in Paul, Ephesians 6:20. Frequent in Acts. Always in N.T. in connection with speaking. Derived from πᾶν every, and ῥῆσις speaking. Hence παρρησία boldness, bold speaking out of every word. The noun is very often used adverbially, as παρρησίᾳ boldly or openly, Mark 8:32; see also John 18:20. In Acts always μετὰ παρρησίας with boldness, comp. Hebrews 4:16. Ἑν παρρησίᾳ in boldness, John 7:4; John 16:29; Ephesians 6:19; Philippians 1:20. Both the verb and the noun are found in lxx. See Leviticus 26:13; Proverbs 10:10; Wisd. 5:1; 1 Macc. 4:18; Sir. 6:11.

In our God (ἐν τῷ θεῷ ἡμῶν)

Const. with we waxed bold. Their boldness was not mere natural courage, but was inspired by God. There is a slight emphasis on our God, as contrasted with the idols from which they had turned (1 Thessalonians 1:9). The phrase only here in N.T.

Gospel of God (εὐαγγέλιον τοῦ Θεοῦ)

For the phrase see Mark 1:14; Romans 1:1; Romans 15:16; 2 Corinthians 11:7; 1 Thessalonians 2:8, 1 Thessalonians 2:9; 1 Peter 4:17. It points to the monotheistic character of the gospel.

In much contention (ἐν πολλῷ ἀγῶνι)

Better conflict. Comp. Colossians 2:1; Philippians 1:27; 1 Timothy 6:12; Hebrews 12:1. Ἁγὼν originally of a contest in the arena; but it is used of any struggle, outward or inward.

For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile:
Exhortation (παράκλησις)

See on Luke 6:24 and see on 1 Corinthians 14:3. Exhortation or counsel is Paul's usual sense.

Of deceit (ἐκ πλάνης)

Better, of error. It may imply deceit as accompanying or causing error, but it does not occur in the sense of deceit. Our exhortation did not proceed from any false teaching which we had ourselves received. We were guided by "the spirit of truth"; See 1 John 4:6, and comp. 2 Peter 1:16.

Of uncleanness (ἐξ ἀκαθαρσίας)

Ἀκαθαρσία in Matthew 23:27 of the corruption of the sepulchre. Elsewhere in N.T. of sensual impurity. See Romans 1:24; 2 Corinthians 12:21; Ephesians 4:19. Here in the sense of impurity on the side of sordidness. In Ephesians 4:19, Paul speaks of working uncleanness (ἀκαθαρσίαν) in a spirit of selfish desire (πλεονεξία) which is the spirit of covetousness. In Ephesians 5:3, uncleanness and covetousness are closely associated. Paul means that his exhortation did not proceed from greed for gain or lust for power.

In guile (ἐν δόλῳ)

While uncleanness expresses impure purpose or motive, guile has reference to improper means; plausible but insincere methods of winning converts; suppression of the truth; "huckstering the word of God" (see on 2 Corinthians 2:17); adulterating it for purposes of gain or popularity.

But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.
We were allowed (δεδοκιμάσμεθα)

More correctly, approved. See on 1 Peter 1:7. We came and spoke to you as tested men.

Pleasing (ἀρέσκοντες)

As being those who seek to please. Comp. Galatians 1:10, and ἀνθρωπάρεσκοι man-pleasers, Ephesians 6:6; Colossians 3:22. Comp. lxx, Psalm 52:5 : "God hath scattered the bones of men-pleasers." The fourth Psalm of Solomon is entitled: Against the men-pleasers (ἀνθρωπαρέσκοις).

Who proveth (δοκιμάζοντι)

Word-play with δεδοκιμάσμεθα we were approved.

For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloke of covetousness; God is witness:
Used we flattering words (ἐν λόγῳ κολακίας ἐγενηθήμεν)

Better, were we found using flattering discourse. Very literally and baldly it is, we came to pass in discourse of flattery. It means more than the mere fact that they were not flatterers: rather, they did not prove to be such in the course of their work. Similar periphrases with ἐν are found, Luke 22:44; Acts 22:17; 2 Corinthians 3:7; Philippians 2:7; with εἰς, Matthew 21:42; Mark 12:10; Luke 20:17; Acts 4:11; 1 Thessalonians 3:5. Κολακία flattery, N.T.o. olxx. Rare in Class. Λόγῳ is explained by some as report or rumor. Common report did not charge us with being flatterers. This meaning is admissible, but the other is simpler. Paul says that they had not descended to flattery in order to make the gospel acceptable. They had not flattered men's self-complacency so as to blind them to their need of the radical work which the gospel demands.

Cloke of covetousness (προφάσει πλεονεξίας)

For πρόφασις see on John 15:22. Properly pretext: πρό before, φάσις a word or saying. Others, less probably, from προφαίνειν to cause to shine forth or before. Paul means that he had not used his apostolic office to disguise or conceal avaricious designs.

God is witness (θεὸς μάρτυς)

Comp. Romans 1:9; 2 Corinthians 1:23; Philippians 1:8; 1 Thessalonians 2:10. God or the Lord is witness is a common O.T. formula: see Genesis 31:44, Genesis 31:50; 1 Samuel 12:5, 1 Samuel 12:6; 1 Samuel 20:23, 1 Samuel 20:42; Wisd. 1:6. For testimony to his conduct, he appeals to the Thessalonians (as ye know): for testimony to his motives, he appeals to God. Comp. 1 Thessalonians 2:10, where there is the double appeal.

Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ.
Of men (ἐξ ἀνθρώπων)

To extract glory from men.

When we might have been burdensome (δυνάμενοι ἐν βάρει εἶναι)

Lit. being able to be in weight. The phrase ἐν βάρει in weight is unique in N.T., and does not occur in lxx. The better rendering here is to be in authority. Paul means that his position as an apostle would have warranted him in asserting authority or standing on his dignity, which he did not do. Βάρος weight, in the sense of influence, is found in late Greek. Paul's Epistles were called weighty (βαρεῖαι), 2 Corinthians 10:10 : others explain as referring to the apostolic right to exact pecuniary support.

But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children:
Gentle (ἤπιοι)

This reading is adopted by Tischendorf, Weiss, and the Rev. T. Westcott and Hort read νήπιοι babes. This gives a stronger and bolder image, and one which falls in better with the course of thought, in which Paul is asserting his innocence of guile and flattery, and not of harshness.

Among you (ἐν μέσῳ ὑμῶν)

Better, and more literally, in the midst of you, which implies more intimate intercourse than among you. Comp. Luke 22:27.

Nurse (τροφός)

N.T.o. In Class. sometimes of a mother, and so probably here. See Galatians 4:19.

Cherisheth (θάλπῃ)

Po. Here and Ephesians 5:29. The verb originally means to warm. See lxx, Deuteronomy 22:6.

Her own children

Note the inversion of metaphor. Paul is first the babe, then the nurse or mother. For similar instances see 1 Thessalonians 5:2, 1 Thessalonians 5:4; 2 Corinthians 3:13-16; Romans 7:1 ff. See Introduction to 2 Corinthians, Vol. 3, p. 19.

So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us.
Being affectionately desirous (ὁμειρόμενοι)

N.T.o. Once in lxx, Job 3:21. The figure of the nursing mother is continued. She is not satisfied with nursing the child, but interests herself affectionately in all that concerns it.

We were willing (ηὐδοκοῦμεν)

Better, we were pleased. Imperfect tense: we continued to entertain and manifest our affectionate solicitude. The verb occasionally in later Greek, and often in lxx. In N.T. it is used of God's decrees, as Luke 12:32; 1 Corinthians 1:21; Galatians 1:15; Colossians 1:19; and of the free determination and plans of men, as Romans 15:26; 2 Corinthians 5:8; 1 Thessalonians 3:1.

Souls (ψυχάς)

Better lives. See on Romans 11:3; see on 1 Corinthians 15:45; see on Mark 12:30.

For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God.
Labor - travail (κόπον - μόχθον)

The two words are associated in 2 Corinthians 11:27; 2 Thessalonians 3:8. Μόχθος travail, Po. Frequent in lxx. Κόπος emphasizes fatigue, μόχθος hardship.

Because we would not be chargeable (πρὸς τὸ μὴ ἐπιβαρῆσαι)

Incorrect. Rend. that we might not burden. Put you to expense for our support. Comp. 2 Thessalonians 3:8.

Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe:
Holily - justly - unblameably (ὁσίως - δικαίως - ἀμέμπτως)

For δικαίως holily, see on Luke 1:75; for δικαίως justly or righteously, see on Romans 1:17; see on Romans 5:7. Ἁμέμπτως unblameably, only in these Epistles. See 1 Thessalonians 3:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:23. For the distinction between ὅσιος and δίκαιος see Plato, Gorg. 507.

As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children,
Comforted (παραμυθούμενοι)

The A.V. renders the three participles in this verse as finite verbs, we exhorted, etc. Rev. retains the participial construction. Better than comforted, persuading. Persuasion is the form which the exhortation assumed. Παράκλησις exhortation, and παραμύθιου persuasion, are associated in Philippians 2:1. The verb παραμυθέομαι, to persuade occurs only four times in N.T. See on Philippians 2:1. Neither verb nor noun in lxx.

Charged (μαρτυρόμενοι)

Rev. testifying; but the A.V. is more correct. Rend. charging. The verb means to conjure, or appeal to by something sacred. So Ephesians 4:17. Comp. Acts 20:26; Galatians 5:3, and διαμαρτύρομαι I charge, 1 Timothy 5:21; 2 Timothy 2:14; 2 Timothy 4:1. Comp. Thucyd. vi. 80.

That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.
Walk (περιπατεῖν)

By Paul exclusively in the metaphorical sense of behaving or conducting one's self. Similarly in Hebrews. In the Synoptic Gospels, with one exception (Mark 7:5), of the physical act. Both senses in the Fourth Gospel, but only the metaphorical sense in John's Epistles. Once in the metaphorical sense in Acts, Acts 21:21. In lxx almost exclusively literal; but see 2 Kings 20:23; Proverbs 8:20; Ecclesiastes 11:9. The phrase ἀξίως περιπατεῖν to walk worthily, in Ephesians 4:1; Colossians 1:10.

Worthy of God (ἀξίως θεοῦ)

Better worthily. For ἀξίως comp. lxx, Wisd. 7:15; 16:1; Sir. 14:11. The formula ἀξίως θεοῦ is found among the Pergamum papyri. A priest of Dionysus is described as having performed his sacred duties ἀξίως θεοῦ. A priestess of Athene as having served ἀξίως τῆς θεοῦ καὶ τῆς πατρίδος worthily of the goddess and of her fatherland. A chief herdsman as having conducted the divine mysteries. ἀξίως τοῦ καθηγεμόνος Διονύσου worthily of his chief, Dionysus. The dates of these papyri are from 141 b.c. to the beginning of the first century a.d.

Kingdom and glory

The only instance of this collocation. God's kingdom is here conceived as present - the economy of divine grace to which the readers are called as Christians. Glory is the future consummation of that kingdom. For βασιλεία kingdom, see on Luke 6:20. Δόξα glory is not used in N.T. in its primary, classical sense of opinion or notion. It signifies reputation, John 12:43; Romans 2:7, Romans 2:10 : brightness or splendor, Acts 22:11; Romans 9:4; 1 Corinthians 15:40. Glory of God expresses the sum total of the divine perfections. The idea is prominent in redemptive revelation: see Isaiah 60:1; Romans 5:2; Romans 6:4. It expresses the form in which God reveals himself in the economy of salvation: see Romans 9:23; Ephesians 1:12; 1 Timothy 1:11. It is the means by which the redemptive work is carried on: see 2 Peter 1:3; Romans 6:4; Ephesians 3:16; Colossians 1:11. It is the goal of Christian hope: see Romans 5:2; Romans 8:18, Romans 8:21; Titus 2:13.

For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.
Also - we

Also may point to an expression of thanksgiving in a letter from the Thessalonians to Paul. You say "we give thanks to God." We also give thanks. Comp. 1 Thessalonians 1:2.

When ye received the word of God which ye heard of us (παραλαβόντες λόγον ἀκοῆς παρ' ἡμῶν τοῦ θεοῦ)

Rend. when ye received the word of the message (which came) from us, even the word of God. The words the word of the message from us form one conception, governed by παραλαβόντες having received or when ye received; therefore from us is not to be taken as depending on having received, as Rev. when ye received from us the word, etc. Of God (supply the word) is added in order to correct any possible false impression made by from us. Ἁκοή in N.T. means the sense of hearing, as Matthew 13:14; 1 Corinthians 12:17; 2 Peter 2:8 : or the organ of hearing equals ear, as Mark 7:35; Luke 7:1 : or a thing heard, a report, rumor, as John 12:38; Romans 10:16. The phrase λόγος ἀκοῆς or τῆς ἀκοῆς the word of hearing, or word of the message, signifies the word which is heard. Comp. Hebrews 4:2. See on the fame, Luke 4:37.

Effectually worketh (ἐνεργεῖται)

Referring to the word, not to God. Comp. Philippians 2:13. In the middle voice as here, used only by Paul and James, and only of things. See Ephesians 3:20; Colossians 1:29; James 5:16, and footnote on Colossians 1:29. The noun ἐνέργεια, Po. It means power in exercise, and is used only of superhuman power.

For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews:
In Christ Jesus

Seems to be added to distinguish the Christian churches in Judaea from the synagogues of the Jews, which would claim to be churches of God. Comp. Galatians 1:22, and see on 1 Thessalonians 1:1. In Christ Jesus, in Christ, in Jesus, in the Lord, in him, are common Pauline formulas to denote the most intimate communion with the living Christ. These phrases are not found in the Synoptic Gospels. Ἑν ἐμοί in me (Christ) is frequent in the Fourth Gospel. The conception is that of a sphere or environment in which a Christian or a church lives, as a bird in the air, or the roots of a tree in the soil.

Countrymen (συμφυλετῶν)

N.T.o. olxx. Not in pre-Christian Greek writers. Lit. belonging to the same tribe or clan. The reference is to the Gentile persecutors who were instigated by the Jews.

Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men:
Persecuted (ἐκδιωξάντων)

Rev. more literally and correctly, drave out. The word only here, though it occurs as an alternative reading, Luke 11:49. Probably with special reference to his own expulsion from Thessalonica. Acts 17:5-10.

Contrary to all men

Tacitus (Hist. v. 5) describes the Jews as stubborn in their faith, prompt in kindly offices to each other, but bitterly hostile toward everybody else: Juvenal (Sat. xiv. 102 f.) says that they observe and respect whatever Moses has taught in his mystical volume; not to show the way except to one who practices the same rites, and to show the well only to the circumcised.

Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.
To speak - that they might be saved (λαλῆσαι ἵνα σωθῶσιν)

Not, to speak to the Gentiles in order that they might be saved, but to tell the Gentiles that they might be saved. Comp. 1 Corinthians 10:33.

To fill up (ἀναπληρῶσαι)

The verb means the making up of what is lacking to perfect fulness; the filling of a partial void. Comp. Philippians 2:30. Once in lxx of filling up of sins, Genesis 15:16. Always blind and stubborn, the Jews filled up the measure of their sins by their treatment of Christ and his apostles.

Alway (πάντοτε)

Emphatically placed at the end of the sentence. At all times - before Christ, in Christ's time, now - the Jews by their resistance to the divine word fill up their sins.

Is come (ἔφθασεν)

The verb not frequent in N.T. and used mostly by Paul. See on 2 Corinthians 10:14, and comp. Romans 9:31; Philippians 3:16.

To the uttermost (εἰς τέλος)

This is not the meaning of the phrase in N.T. It is to the end: see Matthew 10:22; Matthew 24:13; Luke 18:5; John 13:1. The wrath of God had not come upon them to the uttermost. The meaning is that the divine wrath had reached the point where it passed into judgment.

But we, brethren, being taken from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavoured the more abundantly to see your face with great desire.
Being taken from you (ἀπορφανισθέντες)

N.T.o. olxx. Rev. better, being bereaved of you. From ὀρφανός bereft. See Mark 12:40, John 14:18; James 1:27. The word suggests the intimate personal fellowship of the writer with his readers. The separation was like that between parents and children. Comp. 1 Thessalonians 2:7, 1 Thessalonians 2:8.

For a short time (πρὸς καιρὸν ὥρας)

N.T.o. Lit. for the season of an hour. Comp. Lat. horae momentum. Stronger than the usual phrase πρὸς ὥραν for an hour: see 2 Corinthians 7:8; Galatians 2:5; Plm 1:15. Comp. πρὸς καιρὸν for a season, Luke 8:13; 1 Corinthians 7:5.

The more abundantly (περισσοτέρως)

Rev. the more exceedingly. Paul uses this adverb very freely, and outside of his letters it appears only Hebrews 2:1; Hebrews 13:19. He is much given to the use of comparatives, and sometimes heaps them together: see Romans 8:37; 2 Corinthians 7:13; 2 Corinthians 4:17; Ephesians 3:20; Philippians 1:23.

Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us.
We would (ἠθελήσαμεν)

Implying more than a mere inclination or desire. It was our will to come. See on Matthew 1:19.


Not implying any less desire on the part of his associates, but emphasizing his own. See on the use of the epistolary plural, 1 Thessalonians 1:2.

Satan (Σατανᾶς)

From the Aramaic Satana, adversary. In the canonical lxx the name appears only three times, 1 Kings 11:14, 1 Kings 11:23, 1 Kings 11:25, and in each case is applied to a man. In lxx διάβολος is used, almost without exception, as the translation of the Hebrew Satan. Of 22 instances of διάβολος only 9 are outside of the book of Job. From the more general conception of an adversary, there is, in the O.T., a gradual development toward that of an evil personality. For instance, in 2 Samuel 24:1, the numbering of the people is ascribed to the anger of the Lord. The later historian, in 1 Chronicles 21:1, ascribes the act to Satan. See also Job, Wisd. 2:24; Zechariah 3:1. The specialising of the conception was due, in part, to the contact of the Jews with the religions of Babylon and Persia. In N.T. Satan appears as the personal spirit of evil - the same who is called the devil, the wicked one, the prince of the power of the air, the prince of this world, the serpent, the God of this world, the tempter. He tempts to evil, opposes God's work, inspires evil dispositions, torments God's people. The word Satan occurs only once in the Fourth Gospel, not in the Epistles, but often in Revelation. Mark never uses διάβολος, Matthew never Satan. Paul seldom διάβολος, often Satan. Satan alone in Pastorals. Luke uses both. It is clear that Paul here as elsewhere employs the word in a personal sense; but any attempt to base the doctrine of a personal devil on this and similar passages is unsafe.

Hindered (ἐνέκοψεν)

See on 1 Peter 3:7.

For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?

Used of the object of hope, as Colossians 1:5; 1 Timothy 1:1; Hebrews 6:18.

Joy - crown (χαρὰ - στέφανος)

Comp. Philippians 4:1. The phrase crown of rejoicing or boasting, in Proverbs 16:31; Ezekiel 16:12; Ezekiel 23:42. Comp. Isaiah 62:3, στέφανος κάλλους crown of beauty, and Soph. Aj. 465, στέφ εὐκλείας crown of renown. The Thessalonians were "a chaplet of victory of which Paul might justly make his boast in the day of the Lord" (Ellicott). For στέφανος see on Revelation 4:4.

Coming (παρουσίᾳ)

See on Matthew 24:8, and see on ἐπιφάνεια appearing, 1 Timothy 6:14 and see on 2 Thessalonians 2:8.

For ye are our glory and joy.
Vincent's Word Studies, by Marvin R. Vincent [1886].
Text Courtesy of Internet Sacred Texts Archive.

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