Father Callan’s Commentary on 2 Thessalonians 2:16-3:5
Posted by Dim Bulb on October 31, 2010
I’ve included in this post Father Callan’s summaries of 2:12-16 and 3:1-5 to help provide some context. The latter summary appears in the post before the commentary on 3:1.
THANKSGIVING, EXHORTATION AND PRAYER.
A Summary of 2 Thessalonians 2:12-16.
St. Paul now turns away from the thought of the reprobate to think of the elect and the spiritual blessings of which they have been the willing objects, believing in the Gospel and consenting to the truth; and he says that for them who have been chosen by God and sanctified and ordained to eternal life, he and his companions ought always to give thanks to God (ver. 12-13). He exhorts his readers to steadfastness in what they have received from him, whether by preaching or by letter; and then offers a prayer that they may be comforted and strengthened in faith (ver. 14-16).
5. Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God and our Father, who hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation, and good hope in grace,
16. Exhort your hearts, and confirm you in every good work and word.
Since the Thessalonians could not of their own strength continue firm in their faith, St. Paul now prays God to give them the necessary grace.
Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, etc. Our Lord is here mentioned before the Father, as in 2 Cor 13:13 and Gal 1:1, because He is the way to the Father. On these words St. Chrysostom remarks: “Where now are those who say that the Son is less than the Father, because He is named after the Father in the grace of washing?” St. Paul heartens his readers by reminding them that our Lord and God the Father have loved them from all eternity, and have given them “everlasting consolation” in the midst of tribulations through the “good hope” they have of possessing one day the joys of heaven; and this divine love God has for them, as well as the hope He has given them, is “in grace,” i.e., is gratuitous, the result of pure mercy on His part. Therefore the Apostle prays that God would “exhort,” i.e., comfort their hearts in the midst of tribulations, “and confirm,” i.e., strengthen them in the pursuit of every good work. It is to be observed that the verbs “exhort” and “confirm” here are in the singular, following the mention of our Lord and God the Father, which shows that the action of our Lord is identical with that of the Father, and therefore that He is one with the Father in nature and substance.
A Summary of 3:1-5
The Apostle now requests prayers for himself and his companions (ver. 1-2). He assures the Thessalonians of God’s faithfulness and of his own confidence in them (ver. 3-4), and prays once more for them (ver. 5).
1. For the rest, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run, and may be glorified, even as among you;
For the rest. See on 1 Thess 4:1. Father Callan’s comment on that verse: For the rest is a formula of transition often used by St. Paul, directing attention to something else that is to follow.
That the word of the Lord, etc., i.e., that the teaching of the Gospel may spread rapidly without impediment in the world.
And may be glorified, i.e., may be acknowledged and may produce the fruit of life among all men, as it has done “among you.” The Dei of the Vulgate should be Domini, to agree with the Greek.
2. And that we may be delivered from perverse and evil men; for all men have not faith.
St. Paul’s second request is that he and his companions “may be delivered from perverse and evil men,” very likely referring to his Jewish opponents at Corinth at this time (Acts 17:13 ff., 18:6 ff.). It is not surprising that opposition should be encountered, “for all men have not faith,” i.e., comparatively few embrace the faith, and this for two reasons, namely, because faith is first of all a free gift of God, and secondly, because men are indisposed and do not want faith.
3. But the Lord is faithful, who will strengthen and keep you from evil.
After requesting their prayers, the Apostle now turns his thoughts to the Thessalonians themselves, assuring them that, however strong their enemies may be, “the Lord is faithful” to His promises (1 Cor 1:9), and that, having called them to the Gospel, He will not be wanting in His grace to “strengthen” them in the pursuit of good and protect them against the incursions of “evil,” or better, “the evil one,” probably alluding to the last petition of the Lord’s Prayer (Matt 6:13; Luke 11:4).
Again, read Dominus for Deus in the Vulgate.
4. And we have confidence concerning you in the Lord, that the things which we command you both do and will do.
We have confidence concerning you, etc. The Apostle is speaking in the present tense, and seems to be preparing his readers for the more severe counsels he will give them in verse 6. He means to say that he is relying on their good will, assisted by God’s grace which is never wanting to the well-disposed, for he adds, “in the Lord,” the author of all grace.
5. And the Lord direct your hearts into the charity of God and the patience of Christ.
After expressing his confidence in their good will to do all in their power, St. Paul now prays that God will make up to them whatever may be lacking on their part by moving and directing their hearts “in the charity of God, etc.” It is not certain whether there is question here of the love which God has for us and the patience of which Christ gave us an example, or of the love we have for God and the patient expectation of the coming of Christ. The latter opinion is thought to be more probable (Cajetan, Voste).
In charitate et patientia of the Vulgate should be in charitatem et patientiam, according to the Greek.