The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Father Callan’s Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 2:3-13

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 14, 2017

This post opens with Father Callan’s Summary on 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12 followed by his notes on verse 3-13.


A Summary of 1 Thess 2:1-12~After recalling the abundant spiritual fruit of the Apostles’ preaching at Thessalonica, which was due to the grace of God, St. Paul now turns to a defence of his own and of his companions’ motives and conduct while there. His Jewish opponents, who had driven the missionaries from Thessalonica, had doubtless circulated calumnies and stories about them; and so the Apostle in these verses replies to their charges. He tells how he and his helpers labored there in spite of persecution, how free they were from self- interest, and how tenderly they cared for their converts.

3. For our exhortation was not of error, nor of uncleanness, nor in deceit;
4. But as we were approved by God that the gospel should be committed to us: even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God, who proveth our hearts. 
5. For neither have we used, at any time, the speech of flattery as you know; nor taken an occasion of covetousness, God is witness:
6. Nor sought we glory of men, neither in you, nor of others,
7. Whereas we might have been burdensome to you, as the apostles of Christ; but we became little ones in the midst of you, as a nurse cherishing her children:
8. So desirous of you, we would gladly impart unto you not only the gospel of God, but also our own souls, because you were become most dear unto us.

In these verses the Apostles’ preaching at Thessalonica is further explained. Their appeal arose not from “error” or delusion; nor was it prompted by “uncleanness,” i.e., unworthy and sordid motives and purposes, as was often the case with the worship of the heathen (e.g., the worship of Aphrodite at Corinth, where St. Paul was now writing); nor was “deceit” or fraud used to carry and enforce their message. The Apostles discharged their ministry as men “approved by God” and entrusted by Him with the preaching of the Gospel, who sought above all things to please God, the Judge of their hearts. They did not try to gain the favor of men by “flattery,” nor make their ministry the occasion of material gain or of the praise of men, though they had a right to support for their labors and to respect and honor as “apostles of Christ.” Instead of asserting their authority and making demands on the Thessalonians, the Apostles conducted themselves as children among them, and were desirous of communicating to their converts, not only the Gospel, but even their own lives, if that had been necessary. In verse 7 “little ones” (νηπιοι) is according to the best Greek reading, instead of ηπιοι, which means “gentle.” The sense is the same in either case.

1 Th 2:9. For you remember, brethren, our labor and toil: working night and day, lest we should be chargeable to any of you, we preached among you the gospel of God.
1 Th 2:10. You are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and without blame we have been to you that have believed:

Again St. Paul Invokes the testimony of the Thessalonlans themselves to prove the sincerity of purpose with which the Apostles preached the Gospel to them, how, namely, in addition to the fatigue of the ministry, they worked with their own hands for their temporal support, so as not to be a burden to their converts, and how blameless at the same time their conduct was.

1 Th 2:11. As you know in what manner, entreating and comforting you (as a father doth his children),
1 Th 2:12. We testified to every one of you, that you would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.

In verse 7 above St. Paul compared his tender care of the Thessalonians to that of a nurse mother, lovingly watching over her children; and now he likens the solicitude he had for them to the vigilance of a father, exhorting, encouraging, and adjuring each and all of them to live lives worthy of the God who has called them to membership in His Church here on earth and to a participation of His unveiled glory hereafter in heaven. Such conduct on the part of the Apostles while they were at Thessalonica should convince his readers of the sincerity and purity of their aims in preaching to them.

1 Th 2:13 Therefore, we also give thanks to God without ceasing: because, when you received from us the word of the hearing of God you received it not as the word of men, but (as it is indeed) the word of God, which worketh in you that have believed.

Therefore we also, etc. The Thessalonians were witnesses of the zealous labors of the Apostles, and now the Apostles thank God for the generous response to their preaching on the part of the converts at Thessalonica. They received the Gospel through the Apostles, but they recognized it as the “word of God” Himself, and this word or divine message produced the fruits of faith in their lives.

The word of the hearing of God, i.e., the Gospel message.

In the Vulgate qui operatur should be quod operatur, to agree with the Greek, where the relative refers to “word” and not to “God.”


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