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My Notes on 1 Thessalonians 2:7b-13

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 14, 2017

2:7b But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother cherishes her own children.

A contrast with the preceding verses (5-7a) is introduced with the word but. Mothers don’t demand payment from the children they nurse

2:8 Even so, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you, not the Good News of God only, but also our own souls, because you had become very dear to us.

The preaching of the Gospel isn’t just a job, it’s an act of love; a family affair, a giving of ones self completely, like a nursing mother. Thus:

2:9 For you remember, brothers, our labor and travail; for working night and day, that we might not burden any of you, we preached to you the Good News of God.

Concerning work and labor see the introductory comments inset above. Labor and travail are maternal images continuing the theme of 2:7. Also continued here is the theme of 2:6-7. With rare exception (Phil 4:15-16), St Paul never accepted financial help for his ministry; rather, he supported himself as a tent maker (see acts 18:1-3 and 20:33-34).

2:10 You are witnesses with God, how holy, righteously, and blamelessly we behaved ourselves toward you who believe.

Again St Paul calls on the two-fold witness of God and the Thessalonians.

2:11-12 As you know, we exhorted, comforted, and implored every one of you, as a father does his own children, cb(to the end that you should walk worthily of God, who calls you into his own Kingdom and glory.

The opening as you know builds upon the previous verse. To the end shows what it is that motivates Paul’s emphasis on his conduct. As mentioned earlier, St Paul’s primary concern is not defending his actions against false accusations; rather, he wants his converts to imitate him, that they should walk worthily of God, who call them into his own Kingdom and glory. The call of the Thessalonians took place through the preaching of the Gospel, and its mention here reminds us of St Paul’s reference to how they were chosen in 1:4, when the Gospel came to them. The father/children image is an obvious compliment to the nursing mother/Paul in labor and travail theme in verse 7 and 9.

2:13. And for this cause we also thank God without ceasing, that, when you received from us the word of God from hearing us, you accepted it no as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also works in you that believe.

And for this cause we also thank God without ceasing, that, when you received the word of God from hearing us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also works in you that believe.

We also thank God without ceasing draws a parallel to 1:2 which reads: “We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers”.

That, when you received the word of God from hearing us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also works in you that believe. parallels 1:5, which reads: “How our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power, and in the Holy spirit, and in much assurance; even as you know what manner of men we showed ourselves towards you for your sake.” The two references to “the word of God” In 2:13 also parallels 1:8-“For from you has sounded forth the word of the Lord…

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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.

THE APOSTLE’S MINISTRY AT THESSALONICA IS DEFENDED

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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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 2:7-13

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 14, 2017

This post opens with Fr. MacEvilly’s brief analysis of 1 Thess chapter 2, followed by his notes on verses 7-13. Text in purple indicates his paraphrasing of the verses he is commenting on.

ANALYSIS OF 1 THESSALONIANS CHAPTER 2
In this chapter, the Apostle adduces a variety of motives for consoling the Thessalonians, and confirming them in the faith—viz., the success of his preaching in the midst of persecutions—the nature of the doctrine preached (1 Th 2:1–3)—the purity and disinterestedness of motive which actuated him (1 Th 2:4–9)—and the sanctity of his life and conduct among them (1 Th 2:10, 11). He praises them for the zeal with which they received the word of God, and the constancy with which they persevere therein (1 Th 2:13). Finally, he expresses his great affection for them.

1Th 2:7  Whereas we might have been burdensome to you, as the apostles of Christ: but we became little ones in the midst of you, as if a nurse should cherish her children:

(And that we had no motives of avarice or ambition, is clear from the fact), that while we might, like the other Apostles of Christ, be a burthen to you for our support, or by exercising authority over you, we became like children amongst you, mild, unassuming, unconscious of our rights, like a mother nursing her own children, accommodating ourselves, to your temper and habits.

“Burdensome to you,” refers to his right to receive maintenance from them; or, according to others, to the right of exercising authority over them. This latter interpretation is followed by the Greeks; the former is, however, the more probable. “Little ones,” in the present Greek version is νήπιοι, mild, gentle—but the meaning is still the same. “As if a nurse should cherish her children”—in the Greek, τὰ ἐαυτῆς her own children. The Apostle opposes humility to the pride of false teachers. He employs a twofold metaphor, to express the feelings displayed by him in preaching the gospel to the Thessalonians. Some Expositors, in order to avoid a confusion of metaphor, connect the latter part of this with the following verse.

1Th 2:8  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.

Thus having feelings of the liveliest affection towards you (as the mother has towards her offspring), we eagerly longed to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our very souls, if necessary, from no other motive except that of the purest love and affection for you.

“So desirous of you;” i.e., as desirous of you, as the nurse is of her children. He opposes charity to cupidity. What a lively picture is given here of the true Pastor of souls—at one time, clothing himself, through a spirit of accommodation to the weakness of his people, with the simplicity, humility, and meekness of children, apparently claiming no authority; at another, displaying the lively affection of a tender mother, dispensing the milk of holy doctrine in such a way, as to be prepared to give his life, and that from no motive of lucre, but purely from love and charity, co-operating with Christ in the salvation of those souls for whom our blessed Lord gave up his life;

1Th 2:9  For you remember, brethren, our labour and toil: working night and day, lest we should be chargeable to any of you, we preached among you the gospel of God.

(And how far we accommodated ourselves, like a nurse, to your weakness, you yourselves know). For you remember how we laboured and toiled, working day and night to gain sustenance, while at the same time we preached the gospel of God to you; and this labour and toil we underwent to gain a livelihood, lest we should in any way be a burthen to you.

The Apostle toiled at manual labour, for the purpose of procuring the necessaries of life, at the very time he was announcing the gospel to them. Just as St Paul and his companions remembered the work of faith and labor of love of the Thessalonians (1 Th 1:3), so too the Thessalonians remember the labor and toil of the missionaries. This is probably not just a reference to the fact that they worked to support themselves financially, but to the the burden this place on them as they attempted not to burden the Thessalonians (2 Th 3:8-9). For other references to St Paul’s manual labor see Acts 18:1-3, 20:33-35; 1 Cor 4:11-12, 9:3-18. It’s possible that St Paul emphasizes his self-employment because some in Thessalonica were becoming lazy or insinuating themselves into other people’s affairs (1 Th 3:11-12; 2 Th 3:6-12).

1Th 2:10  You are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and without blame we have been to you that have believed:

I call both you and God to bear testimony to the sanctity towards God, the justice towards our neighbour, the irreprehensibility towards all, that marked our conduct amongst you.

“Holily,” may also mean, in doctrine and life; “justly,” without injury of exaction; “without blame,” causing no scandal to the weak.

1Th 2:11  As you know in what manner, entreating and comforting you (as a father doth his children),

You also know how we entreated each of you (with the feelings of a father towards his children) to persevere firmly in the faith.

1Th 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.

How we consoled you in your difficulties, and earnestly besought you to lead lives worthy of the God who called you to his kingdom and his glory.

The Vulgate reading of these two verses is rather obscure. “As you know,” i.e., you also know, how we entreated each of you (as a father entreats his children), and comforted each of you, &c. The word “you” is redundant after “comforting,” in the construction adopted in the Paraphrase; a construction which, however, accords best with the Greek. “Who hath called you unto his kingdom;” i.e., his Church, where they received the Holy Ghost as a pledge of glory to come, the hopes of which should encourage them under afflictions and persecution. In the Greek version, “testified” is read in a participial form, testifying.

1Th 2:13  Therefore, we also give thanks to God without ceasing: because, that when you had received of 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, who worketh in you that have believed.

Therefore (owing to our success amongst you), we give God thanks without ceasing, that when you received from us the word of God which we preached to you, you received it not as the doctrine of men, but (what it really is) as the doctrine revealed by God, who, by the power of his grace, wrought in you the conviction of faith.

“Therefore,” all this being premised regarding his advent and success amongst them, and the purity of motive with which he preached, the Apostle now returns thanks to God for his success, and shows that his advent was not “in vain;” as he asserted (verse 1). “When you had received of us the word of the hearing of God,” i.e., the word of God which you heard from our preaching it to you. “You received it not as the word of men;” because, under the circumstances of persecution with which it was attended, they would certainly have rejected it, had they regarded it as emanating from man; but they received it as “the word of God,” who, by his grace, worked in them and made them receive his word with a firm faith. “Who worketh,” may, in the Greek construction, ὅς καὶ ενεργειται, be also rendered which works, or is worked in you, &c. There is, however, but little difference of signification between it and our Vulgate.

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Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on First Thessalonians Chapter 3

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 2, 2014

ANALYSIS OF FIRST THESSALONIANS CHAPTER 3

In this chapter, the Apostle expresses his affectionate solicitude for the Thessalonians, in consequence of which he sent Timothy to ascertain their steadfastness in the faith after having been tested in the severe ordeal of persecution (1 Th 3:1–5). He expresses the intense joy, which the cheering accounts regarding them brought back by Timothy had caused him (1 Th 3:6–8). He returns thanks to God, the source of these blessings. He prays that it may be granted him to visit them once more, in order to complete the system of religious teaching, which he had commenced amongst them (1 Th 3:9–11). He prays, that God may grant them abundant increase of faith and charity, together with the grace of persevering in sanctity, unto the end (1 Th 3:12, 13).

1Th 3:1  For which cause, forbearing no longer, we thought it good to remain at Athens alone.

On this account, being no longer able to bear up against the desire with which we eagerly longed to see you, and being prevented from visiting you in person, we thought fit to employ the services of our dearest friends for that purpose, and remain alone, deprived of their society, at Athens.

“For which cause” has reference to the state of bereavement in which he was, and his anxious desire to pay them a visit, from which he was prevented by the wiles of Satan (1 Th 2:18).

“We thought it good.” He employs the plural, “we,” although he is speaking of himself, as appears from verse 5.

1Th 3:2  And we sent Timothy, our brother and the minister of God in the gospel of Christ, to confirm you and exhort you concerning your faith:

And we sent Timothy, our brother, (although very necessary for us), being the minister of God, and our co-operator in preaching the gospel of Christ, to confirm you in the faith, and by his consoling exhortations, to animate you to perseverance

“The minister of God” to which the Greek adds, (and our fellow-labourer), “in the gospel of Christ.” “For your faith.” In Greek, concerning your faith.

1Th 3:3  That no man should be moved in these tribulations: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto.

Lest any of you should be moved or terrified by those afflictions which have befallen you; for, you know that, by our call to Christianity, we are destined to undergo suffering

“In these tribulations,” are understood by some of the Apostle’s own sufferings. “I will show him how great things he must suffer for my name sake” (Acts 9:16); by others, more probably, of the sufferings of the Macedonians, as these would be more apt to stagger their faith. “By many tribulations we must all enter the kingdom of God.”—(Acts 14:22) “And all who will live piously in Christ Jesus, must suffer persecution.”—(2 Tim. 3:12).

“We are appointed.” In Greek, κείμεθα, we lie, which probably conveys a military allusion to sentinels at their posts.

1Th 3:4  For even when we were with you, we foretold you that we should suffer tribulations: as also it is come to pass, and you know.

For, when amongst you, we predicted that we would endure the sufferings, which you know have since befallen us.

In this verse, reference is made to the Apostle’s own sufferings also. The greater the glory destined for us, the greater must our sufferings be. Hence, Apostolic men suffer more than others. The momentary and light sufferings of the present life will hereafter work in us an eternal weight of glory.

1Th 3:5  For this cause also, I, forbearing no longer, sent to know your faith: lest perhaps he that tempteth should have tempted you: and our labour should be made vain.

Wherefore, no longer able to bear up against our ardent desire of seeing you, and of knowing all regarding you, we sent to know, how your faith held out; for, we feared, lest Satan, taking occasion from the sufferings you had to undergo, would tempt you, and that thus our labour amongst you would be rendered fruitless.

“Wherefore I also,” &c. He now employs the singular number, to express the same thing for which he already had employed the plural; verses 3, 4, being parenthetical, he resumes the subject, of which he had been treating in verses 1, 2.

1Th 3:6  But now when Timothy came to us from you and related to us your faith and charity, and that you have a good remembrance of us always, desiring to see us as we also to see you:

But now, after the return of Timothy, and the cheering account which he has given us of your faith and charity, and of the kind remembrance which you always make of us, and of your ardent desire of seeing us, which we in turn reciprocate:

“Related.” In Greek, evangelized, conveyed good news.

1Th 3:7  Therefore we were comforted, brethren, in you, in all our necessity and tribulation, by your faith.

From these joyous tidings we derived such consolation, in the midst of all the perils and tribulations to which we were subjected, as to forget them all, on account of your steadfastness in the faith.

The effect of the good news conveyed to him by Timothy was, “in all necessity,” i.e., perils and danger, and in “all tribulation,” to forget all his sufferings on account of the abundance of the consolation which their faith afforded him.

1Th 3:8  Because now we live, if you stand in the Lord.

For (although we are dying daily), we still are kept alive, and in joy, if you persevere in the faith.

Although the Apostle was daily in the midst of the perils of death (1 Cor. 15); still, he valued these perils as nought, and he felt the joy of a man perfectly secure, as long as his converts persevered. So closely did he connect his own welfare, nay, his life, with their perseverance, that without it, he would not value existence.

1Th 3:9  For what thanks can we return to God for you, in all the joy wherewith we rejoice for you before our God,

For, what thanks can we return to God, for your firmness and stability in the faith, and for the very great joy, which we feel in God’s presence on your account?

“In all the joy,” i.e., the exceeding great joy. The second effect which the good news brought by Timothy had on him was to make him render God thanks for it.

1Th 3:10  Night and day more abundantly praying that we may see your face and may accomplish those things that are wanting to your faith?

Constantly and most earnestly do we beseech God to enable us to see you, and thus complete the system of Christian faith, by either disclosing new truths, or more fully explaining those you already know; the suddenness of our departure prevented us from doing so.

“And may accomplish those things that are wanting to your faith.” There were a good many points which the Apostle did not, in all probability, propound to them, or, at least, fully explain, in consequence of being obliged to leave suddenly, and or this sudden departure he would make up, by visiting them again. He might refer to the article of the resurrection of the dead, and of the day of judgment, regarding which he afterwards instructs them more fully. The Greek word for “accomplish,” καταρτισα, conveys the idea of filling up the joints, wanting in a human body. Hence, he refers to a body or system of faith.

1Th 3:11  Now God himself and our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you.

May God himself, who is our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our journey to you.

It is uncertain whether he went to them or not. It is more probable, however, that he did, as appears from the 20th chapter of the Acts, in which account is given of his second journey to Macedonia.

1Th 3:12  And may the Lord multiply you and make you abound in charity towards one another and towards all men: as we do also towards you,

May the Lord increase the number of the faithful amongst you, and make you advance in mutual charity towards one another, and towards all men, as I abound in charity towards you and all mankind.

“And may the Lord multiply you,” i.e., increase your number, so that a greater number would embrace the faith. In Greek, may the Lord make you to increase and abound in love.

1Th 3:13  To confirm your hearts without blame, in holiness, before God and our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, with all his saints. Amen.

I also pray, that he may confirm your hearts in exterior edification, so as to be blameless before men, and in true interior sanctity in the sight of God and our Father, and that, on the day on which our Lord Jesus Christ will come, with all his saints, to judge the world. Amen.

“Without blame,” irreprehensible and free from all complaint before men, and “in holiness before God and our Father,” i.e., true and real holiness, “at the coming,” &c., and this with constancy and perseverance, to the end. “Amen” is not in the Greek. It is, however, found in several ancient versions, and in some of the chief manuscripts.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 31, 2013

This post opens with the Bishop’s brief analysis of 1 Thessalonians 5:1-28, followed by his comments on 1 Thess 5:1-11. Text in purple indicates the Bishop’s paraphrasing of the Scripture he is commenting on. Text in red, if any, are my additions.

ANALYSIS OF 1 THESSALONIANS CHAPTER 5

After having pointed out in the foregoing chapter, the order and several other circumstances of the Resurrection, the Apostle tells the Thessalonians in this, that there is one circumstance of the General Resurrection, which it is neither necessary nor possible for them to know at present; that circumstance is, the precise time at which it will occur (1 Th 5:1). They know from faith, that it will come unexpectedly, and will bring sudden destruction on the wicked; but it will not surprise, nor will it come unawares upon, the just, so as to find them unprepared, since, as children of light, they are always on the alert, always employed in the works of light, in hopes of the Lord’s coming (1 Th 5:2–8). He exhorts them to correspond with the designs of God in their regard, putting on the breast-plate of faith and charity, and the helmet of hope—to live in the expectation of salvation from the goodness of God, who gave us his Son for Saviour (1 Th 5:9, 10, 11).

He inculcates, with regard to the people, the necessity of discharging certain duties towards their Pastors; while, to the latter, he points out the duties which they in turn owe their people (1 Th 5:12–15).

He enjoins on all the faithful to cultivate and exhibit spiritual joy—to practise assiduous prayer—to employ the gifts of the Holy Ghost with profit and discernment, and to abstain from all appearance of evil (1 Th 5:16–22).

Finally, he beseeches God to grant them the gift of perfect sanctity both of soul and body, and recommends himself to their prayers; he salutes them all, and adjures them to have this Epistle read to all the brethren. He concludes with the usual form of Apostolical benediction (1 Th 5:23-8).

1Th 5:1  But of the times and moments, brethren, you need not, that we should write to you:

But as to the periods of time or precise moments at which this great event shall take place, it is not necessary (nor indeed is it possible) that I should write to you.

The word “times,” denotes longer periods, such as years; “moments,” shorter terms, such as months, days, hours.

“You need not that we should write to you,” as if to say, it was necessary for your consolation, that we should explain to you the order and the other circumstances of the Resurrection referred to already; but the time you need not, nay, you cannot know.

1Th 5:2  For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord shall so come as a thief in the night.

 For you know yourselves full well, from the principles of your faith, that the day of the Lord shall come suddenly and unexpectedly, like a thief in the night.

He shall come unexpectedly. This is true of the death of each one, when the day of judgment for him shall have virtually arrived; and, although Antichrist will precede it, this, however, shall not be a sign so much of the precise time of Christ’s coming, as of the approaching end of the world; and so far as the signs in the sun and in the moon, &c., are concerned, these may occur, probably on the very day of Judgment.

1Th 5:3  For when they shall say: Peace and security; then shall sudden destruction come upon them, as the pains upon her that is with child, and they shall not escape.

For when the impious shall say, peace and security, i.e., all things are quite secure; then, shall sudden and unexpected destruction come upon them, as the throes of child-birth come upon a woman with child, from which they will not be able to escape.

“For when they,” the impious, “shall say peace,” &c., because as it happened in the days of Noe, so shall men be eating and drinking, &c., at the coming of the Lord.—(Matthew, 24:37).

“For,” is omitted in the Greek. The example of the woman with child is frequent in the SS. Scripture. As she knows that she is to bring forth, but knows not the moment in which she may be suddenly seized with the throes of child-birth, so neither will the wicked know when the final destruction shall come upon them.

1Th 5:4  But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day should overtake you as a thief.

But although this day may come unexpectedly, like the approach of the nightly thief, still, it will not surprise you unawares, who are not unprepared for it, having been enlightened by faith, and free from the darkness of infidelity and sin.

“Overtake,” i.e. catch by surprise, so as to be unprepared for it.

1Th 5:5  For all you are the children of light and children of the day: we are not of the night nor of darkness.

For, how could you be in darkness, you, who are the sons of light and the sons of day? For, we Christians, are not the children of night nor of darkness.

“Children of Light,” i.e., called to perform good works, suited to appear in open light, and not followers of the works of darkness. “Light” and “darkness” are frequently used in the SS. Scripture, to signify good and evil. Christians are called “children of light,” in allusion to the light of faith which they received, and because they are called to good works, forsaking the darkness of infidelity and sin.

1Th 5:6  Therefore, let us not sleep, as others do: but let us watch, and be sober.

Let us, therefore correspond with our calling, and not be, like the infidels, engaged in the works of darkness, regardless of the coming of our Lord but, like men who are called to the works of light, let us be on the alert, and let us be sober.

From the metaphors of light and darkness, the Apostle takes occasion to exhort them to good works, to live up to their Christian profession, which will avail them nothing, but rather deepen their damnation, if, like Pagans, they indulge in the works of darkness. “Sleep as others do.” The Vulgate has sicut et ceteri, “even as others do.”

1Th 5:7  For they that sleep, sleep in the night; and they that are drunk, are drunk in the night.

For the time suited for sleep and drunkenness is the night; hence, those who indulge in sleep and those who indulge in drunkenness, do so in the night (we should, therefore, not indulge in sleep or drunkenness, which are unsuited to our vocation, or to the time of our actions, i.e., the day).

We should watch and be sober, in consequence of being children of light, because the opposite characteristics—viz., sleep and drunkenness—are peculiar to the night. On this account it is that men select the night for indulging in sleep and drunkenness. Hence, as these deeds are unsuited to our calling, or to the time of our action, we should wholly abstain from the works signified by them.

1Th 5:8  But let us, who are of the day, be sober, having on the breast plate of faith and charity and, for a helmet, the hope of salvation.

Let us, therefore, who belong to the day (abstaining from these deeds which are signified by sleep and drunkenness), be vigilant and sober, putting on faith enlivened by charity, as a breast-plate, and the hope of salvation, for a helmet.

We should, therefore, as children of the day, perform the works represented, or signified, by vigilance and soberness; but, in order to do so, we should be cased in the Christian panoply; for otherwise, although sober and vigilant, we will not be able to make a stand against the powerful enemies with whom we have to contend. “The breast-plate of faith and charity.” In the panoply of the Christian soldier (Ephes. 6:10-17). The Apostle calls “justice” the “breast-plate,” but it does not differ from this—for, faith animated by charity is “justice.” “And hope of salvation for helmet;” since hope will raise and elevate our thoughts on high. Three things are necessary for us—vigilance, sobriety, and armour. St. Chrysostom excites to vigilance in the narrow way of salvation, which is beset on all sides with dangers and precipices, by the example of rope-dancers, and of those who walk on the brink of precipices, all whose senses are awake and on the alert; so ought it be with us in the way of salvation. We ought to be sober, free from all vicious affections; and for armour we should have faith, hope, but especially active, operative charity towards our neighbour.

1Th 5:9  For God hath not appointed us unto wrath: but unto the purchasing of salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,

I say, we should put on the helmet of hope. For, God has not destined us for damnation, but for eternal salvation, to be acquired through the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ.

“God hath not appointed us unto wrath.”  The word translated here as “appointed” is εθετο, one of several words used by St Paul to speak of our election, a theme which appears several times in this epistle (1Th 1:4, 2:12, 4:7, 5:9, 5:24).

1Th 5:10  Who died for us: that, whether we watch or sleep, we may live together with him.

Who died for us, in order that, whether living or dead, we may live with him here a life of grace, and hereafter a life of eternal glory.

“Watch,” in this verse, means to be in this life, and “sleep,” to be dead; hence, they have a signification different from that which they have in the preceding verses.

1Th 5:11  For which cause comfort one another and edify one another, as you also do.

In consequence, then, of these cheering motives of your hope—viz., the death of Christ to bestow on us eternal life, continue to console one another, to edify one another, by word and deed, as indeed, you are already doing.

“Edify one another;” for the meaning of this word, see 1 Cor. 8:1. “As you also do,” he adds these words of well-timed praise with a view of rendering his exhortation more agreeable.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 31, 2013

This post opens with Fr. MacEvilly’s brief analysis of 1 Thessalonians 4:1-18, followed by his notes on 1 Thess 4:13-18. Text in purple indicates his paraphrasing of the scripture he is commenting on.

ANALYSIS OF 1 THESSALONIANS CHAPTER 4

 

In this chapter, the Apostle encourages the Thessalonians to perseverance (1 Th 4:1); he delivers a precept regarding the practice of purity, and the avoidance of adultery, and he adduces several motives to stimulate them to fidelity in this matter (1 Th 4:3–8). He praises their charity, and encourages the poor to engage in some honest employment, so that by this means they would not abuse the liberality of the rich (1 Th 4:9-12). Finally, he assuages their excessive grief for their departed friends, by propounding the doctrine of the general resurrection, the order and manner of which he describes (1 Th 4:13-18).

 

This and the following chapters are employed in such subjects of morality, as the Thessalonians, according to the information furnished by Timothy, needed instruction in. 

1Th 4:13 (4:12) And we will not have you ignorant brethren, concerning them that are asleep, that you be not sorrowful, even as others who have no hope. Because the verse numbering of some translations of this chapter differ from verse 11 on, I’ve included the alternate references in parentheses (…).

In reference to the dead, brethren, I will not that you should be ignorant of their condition, in order that you may cease from indulging in the immoderate excessive grief, in which the Pagans, who have no hope of a future resurrection, are wont to indulge.

It appears that the Thessalonians had indulged in immoderate and excessive grief at the death of their near relations, and deplored it as bitterly as they had done when in a state of Paganism, and when they regarded them as lost for ever. The Apostle proposes as a remedy for this abusive practice, the doctrine of the future resurrection of the dead—a doctrine already propounded to them, as appears from his referring to it at the end of the 2nd and 3rd chapters of this Epistle; but they practically forgot it; and hence, he takes occasion here to inculcate it anew and propound it more fully. The Apostle is by no means to be understood as censuring all grief for the dead, as had been done by the Stoic philosophers. Our Redeemer wept for his friend Lazarus, and among the crimes of the Pagans (Romans, 1) the Apostle reckons the want of “affection;” and he himself would have sorrowed for the death of Epaphroditus (Philippians, 2:27). He only censures that excessive grief which would argue ignorance, at least practical ignorance, of the doctrine of the resurrection. “We will not.” In Greek, I will not. The Codex Vaticanus has “we.”

1Th 4:14 (4:13) For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again: even so them who have slept through Jesus, will God bring with him.

For, if we believe (as we really do) that Christ has died and risen from the dead, so (ought we likewise believe) that he will resuscitate with him, and evoke from their graves, those who have died in the faith, and bring them to eternal life.

The connexion between the resurrection of Christ, and the general resurrection of all, is clearly pointed out by the Apostle (chapter 15 of his 1st Epistle to the Corinthians). It is worthy of remark, that in speaking of the death of Christ, he says, “Jesus died,” lest there might be any mistake about the reality of his death, as if it were merely apparent; whereas, speaking of our death, he says, “those who have slept,” to console those in sorrow, whose friends were not lost to them for ever, but were merely in the condition of persons asleep, to be again roused and resuscitated; and in SS. Scripture, death is frequently termed “sleep.”—(Daniel, 12:2; St. John, 11:11). Hence, the usual form among Christians of saying, he slept in the Lord, to express, that a person died, because death is but a mere protracted sleep, as sleep is but a short death. For the same reason, churchyards are termed cemeteries, or sleeping places.

1Th 4:15 (4:14) For this we say unto you in the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who remain unto the coming of the Lord, shall not prevent them who have slept.

For, this I tell you, on the authority of the word of God, or of divine revelation, that such of us as will be left in life, or shall be alive at the coming of the Lord, will not anticipate in the glory of the resurrection, those who died before us.

“We who live.” He speaks in the person of those who are to be alive at the day of judgment. In this verse, the Apostle meets an error existing in the minds of the Thessalonians regarding the manner of the resurrection; they did not imagine that it would occur “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.”—(1 Cor. 15) They thought there would be in it a succession of time, and that those whose bodies were corrupted would be resuscitated more slowly; and hence, that they would see their deceased friends more tardily in glory. He removes this erroneous impression in this verse. He says, “we who are alive,” not but he knew well, that he would not live till the day of judgment; but, he wishes to teach us by his own example, always to keep in view and prepare for this great day, which virtually happens at our death.

1Th 4:16 (4:15) For the Lord himself shall come down from heaven with commandment and with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God: and the dead who are in Christ shall rise first.

For the Lord himself (and not an angel, as on Sinai), after issuing his order to the angels to attend his descent, and after the archangel, in a voice louder than the loudest trumpet, shall have evoked the dead from their tombs, shall descend from heaven; and those who died in the faith shall rise in the first place.

He now describes the glorious coming of the Judge, and mentions some circumstances calculated to give us an exalted idea of the glory and majesty that will attend him. “With commandment.” The Greek word, κελεύσματι, properly signifies the shout of sailors or soldiers rushing in concert to battle, or of labourers encouraging each other to some common exertion. The Greeks retain the idea of command, and say, it refers to the command of God, ordering all the angels to be ready. “The trumpet of God,” by a Hebrew phrase, means the loudest trumpet (v.g.) “The cedars of God,” mean, the tallest cedars. It refers to the same thing with the “voice of the archangel.” Whether the archangel shall use a trumpet or not is disputed. The more probable opinion is, that by the agitation or commotion of the air, he will cause a tremendous sound louder than thunder, like that caused by the loudest trumpet, which shall reach the dead in their graves; this by the power of God, they shall hear. Hence, it is called in the gospel, “the voice of the Son of God.” St. Thomas says it shall have an instrumental efficacy in resuscitating by its very announcement. It is commonly supposed, after St. Jerome, that it shall distinctly sound forth these words: surgite mortui et venite ad judicium (see the final phrase in the note at the end of this paragraph). “And the dead who are in Christ will rise first.” All the dead will rise at the same time, but the Apostle omits all mention of the resurrection of the reprobate, as it would not serve to console those who were in mourning. “First” does not mean that there will be any priority of time in the resurrection of the dead among themselves; it only means, as the Greek word, πρῶτον, shows, in the first place. This event of their resuscitation shall take place before that mentioned in the next verse, that is, before they are drawn into the clouds.

Note: St Jerome wrote~”As often as I consider the day of judgment, I tremble; that trumpet appears always to sound in my ears, Arise, ye dead, and come to judgment (surgite mortui et venite ad judicium).

1Th 4:17 (4:16) Then we who are alive, who are left, shall be taken up together with them in the clouds to meet Christ, into the air: and so shall we be always with the Lord.

And after that, such of us as shall live till then, shall be instantaneously drawn up with them in the clouds to meet Christ, into the air, and thus we shall be always with the Lord (and enjoying his glory).

“Then,” i.e., after the resurrection. The order which shall take place in the resurrection, though instantaneous, is conceived in the following way:—The Lord Jesus, accompanied with all his angels, whom he shall command to be ready, will descend from Heaven. He shall issue his command to the archangel, who, with a loud voice, like that of a trumpet, shall sound the signal of the resurrection. At this sound, all the dead shall arise—those who are then alive shall be changed—all the just shall be caught up into the air to meet the Judge, while the reprobate shall be at his left hand on the earth. The other circumstances are more fully recorded in the 1st Epistle to Cor. 15, and by our Redeemer—Matthew, 24:29 ff; Matthew 25:31 ff. From this verse, some persons infer that the men living at the day of judgment will be changed into a state of immortality, without suffering death. This is the opinion of the Greeks, who understand the words of the Apostles’ creed, to judge the living and the dead, in the same sense. Others say, that their death will take place in raptu, or, while they are being caught up into the clouds. The more common opinion, however, is, that they shall die on the earth, probably, by the agency of the fire of conflagration, and that after death, which shall be only momentary, they shall, in common with those, whose bodies were long before corrupted and for ages mouldering in their graves, and who now have come forth from heaven or purgatory to resume them, be caught up into the air, to meet Christ in the clouds. This he says in order to show that the living will not be glorified in their bodies before the dead, and that this shall occur to all at once, “in the twinkling of an eye.”—(1st Epistle to Cor. 15) They shall all, in the first place, arise; after that, they shall be taken up into the air to meet the Judge: he says, “they shall be taken up;” for, although they can go there of themselves by the quality of agility, with which they shall be clothed; still, they shall go thither, owing to a kind of draw or moral attraction to meet their Lord.

1Th 4:18 (4:17) Wherefore, comfort ye one another with these words.

Wherefore, console each other in your grief for departed friends by this announcement regarding the resurrection.

The paraphrase is the only comment the Bishop offers on this verse.

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Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 4:9-11

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 25, 2013

This post opens with the Bishop’s brief analysis of 1 Thessalonians 4 (which also opened yesterdays post on verses 1-8); his notes on today’s reading (verses 9-11) then follow. Text in purple indicates the Bishop’s paraphrasing of the scripture he is commenting on. Text in red are my additions.

ANALYSIS OF 1 THESSALONIANS CHAPTER 4

In this chapter, the Apostle encourages the Thessalonians to perseverance (1 Th 4:1); he delivers a precept regarding the practice of purity, and the avoidance of adultery, and he adduces several motives to stimulate them to fidelity in this matter (1 Th 4:3–8). He praises their charity, and encourages the poor to engage in some honest employment, so that by this means they would not abuse the liberality of the rich (1 Th 4:9, 10, 11). Finally, he assuages their excessive grief for their departed friends, by propounding the doctrine of the general resurrection, the order and manner of which he describes (1 Th 4:12–17).

This and the following chapters are employed in such subjects of morality, as the Thessalonians, according to the information furnished by Timothy, needed instruction in.

1Th 4:9 But as touching the charity of brotherhood, we have no need to write to you: for yourselves have learned of God to love one another.

In reference to the subject of fraternal charity, unlike the preceding one, it is unnecessary to say anything regarding it: for, God himself, by the law of Christ, and the internal inspiration of his grace, has instructed you in this love towards one another.

The opening words of the verse are περι δε (“but regarding,” “now concerning,” etc.). A similar construction is used to introduce teaching about the faithfully departed in 1 Th 4:13, and the subject of the need for vigilance in light of the Lord’s coming in 1 Th 5:1. This has suggested to many scholars that in chapters 4 & 5 St Paul is responding to specific questions put to him by the Thessalonians either in the form of a letter, or orally, through Timothy who had just returned to Paul from Thessalonica (1 Th 3:6). But does it really sound like St Paul is responding to a question concerning love in 1 Th 4:9-13? His very words suggests otherwise: But as touching the charity of brotherhood, we have no need to write to you: for yourselves have learned of God to love one another. For indeed you do it towards all the brethren in all Macedonia. What follows makes clear that St Paul is not responding to a question in the words just quoted but, rather, he is preparing for an exhortation: But we entreat you, brethren, that you abound more. Note too the wording of 1 Th 5:1-2~ But of the times and moments, brethren, you need not, that we should write to you: For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord shall so come as a thief in the night. In both 1 Th 4:9 ff, and in 1 Th 5:1 ff, St Paul is engaging in the practice of paralipsis, not for its own sake but as a sort of captatio benevolentiae to introduce an exhortation. In other words, he appears to render the subject of charity as unnecessary of treatment (paralipsis) because of their great charity. This acts as a benevolent beginning (captatio benevolentiae), opening the addressees to receive encouragement, exhortation, etc. EXAMPLE of a paralipsis acting as a captatio benevolentiae: “I don’t have to tell you to clean your bedroom, since I can see no dust; however, I’d like to see you clean it every other day, rather than just twice a week.”

The words, “have learned of God,” are expressed by one word in the Greek, θεοδίδακτοὶ and signify, that special unction of divine grace, inclining their wills to the practice of this precept.—(See 1 John 2:27) “We have no need.” In Greek, ye have no need. The Codex Vaticanus supports the Vulgate reading.  

1Th 4:10 For indeed you do it towards all the brethren in all Macedonia. But we entreat you, brethren, that you abound more: 
For, you fulfil this precept, by excercising fraternal charity towards all the brethren throughout the entire of Macedonia, but we entreat you to make still greater progress in this brotherly love.

“For indeed you do it towards all the brethren in Macedonia.” No doubt their active charity (1 Th 1:3) was part of the model of faith they provided as mentioned by St Paul in 1 Th 1:7~So that you were made a pattern to all that believe in Macedonia and in Achaia. See the opening of 1 Th 5:11
“we entreat you, brethren, that you abound more.” Recalls this sections opening exhortation: For the rest therefore, brethren, pray and beseech you in the Lord Jesus that, as you have received from us, how you ought to walk and to please God, so also you would walk, that you may abound the more (1 Th 4:1). Note that St Paul has moved from a general exhortation in verse 1, to something specific, beginning in verse 3 (note the sectional headings to chapter 4 provided by the NAB).


1Th 4:11 And that you use your endeavour to be quiet: and that you do your own business and work with your own hands, as we commanded you: 

 And to use your best exertions to be quiet, and not be interfering with the peace of others, also to mind your own business, and engage in manual labour, according to the instructions received from us, when amongst you; also to live in such a way in your intercourse with the Pagans as to be without reproach, and not to covet the property of any one.

The Apostle now cautions them against idleness and curiosity. It would appear that some persons amongst them were going about indulging in idleness and curiosity, searching into the concerns of others, to the total neglect of their own business, and while able to work, contenting themselves with begging, to the great disgust of the Gentiles, and the injury of the faith. Nothing could be so disgusting to the infidels as to see able bodied men going about as mendicants, when they might work, and this they would be apt to attribute to the Christian religion. The Apostle witnessed this irregularity himself, and he was informed by Timothy of its continuance. He treats of the subject more fully in the 3rd chapter of 2nd Epistle. “Use your endeavour,” the Greek word, φιλοτιμεῖσθαι, conveys an allusion to the diligent exertions employed by the ambitious, in pursuit of honours and self-advancement.

“Endeavour to be quiet.” St Paul may here be engaging in a mild form of sarcasm by employing an oxymoron. The Greek word φιλοτιμεισθαι, translated above and “endeavour,” has little to do with the state of ησυχαζειν (“to be quiet”, “refrain from work”). One might translate the opening as work hard to honor yourselves by not refraining from working! In light of the context of the present passage, and of how the Second Epistle to the Thessalonians ends (2 Th 3:6-16), it appears that there was a two-fold problem in Thessalonica; some people had given up working to support themselves in the belief that the Second Coming was imminent, and others had simply become busybodies, neglecting their own business by sticking their noses into the business of other people. In the process they became dependent upon their fellow Christians for support (i.e., food). In our own day devotees of the various rapture theories have quit their jobs, sold their houses and cars because some preacher of these teachings has predicted the date of the “rapture”. These people then find themselves dependent upon their fellow devotees or the general populace they would rather have left behind. Christians are no where called upoon to give up work or engage in idleness in preparation for the return of the Lord: Then two shall be in the field. One shall be taken and one shall be left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill. One shall be taken and one shall be left (Mt 24:40-41).

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St John Chrysostom’s Homily on 1 Thessalonians 1:1-7

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 25, 2013

1 Th 1:1-3 “Paul, and Silvanus, and Timothy, unto the Church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you, and peace. We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; remembering without ceasing your work of faith and labor of love and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, before our God and Father.”

Wherefore then, when writing to the Ephesians, and having Timothy with him, did he not include him with himself (in his salutation), known as he was to them and admired, for he says, “Ye know the proof of him, that as a child serveth the father, so he served with me in the Gospel” (Phil 2:22); and again, “I have no man like-minded who will care truly for your state” (Phil 2:20); but here he does associate him with himself? It seems to me, that he was about to send him immediately, and it was superfluous for him to write, who would overtake the letter. For he says, “Him therefore I hope to send forthwith.” (Phil 2:23) But here it was not so; but he had just returned to him, so that he naturally joined in the letter. For he says, “Now when Timothy came from you unto us.” (1Th 3:6) But why does he place Silvanus before him, though he testifies to his numberless good qualities, and prefers him above all? Perhaps Timothy wished and requested him to do so from his great humility; for when he saw his teacher so humble-minded, as to associate his disciple with himself, he would much the more have desired this, and eagerly sought it. For he says,

“Paul, and Silvanus, and Timothy, unto the Church of the Thessalonians.” Here he gives himself no title—not “an Apostle,” not “a Servant”; I suppose, because the men were newly instructed, and had not yet had any experience of him, he does not apply the title; and it was as yet the beginning of his preaching to them.

“To the Church of the Thessalonians,” he says. And well. For it is probable there were few, and they not yet formed into a body; on this account he consoles them with the name of the Church. For where much time had passed, and the congregation of the Church was large, he does not apply this term. But—because the name of the Church is for the most part a name of multitude, and of a system now compacted, on this account he calls them by that name.

“In God the Father,” he says, “and the Lord Jesus Christ.” “Unto the Church of the Thessalonians,” he says, “which is in God.” Behold again the expression, “in,” applied both to the Father and to the Son. For there were many assemblies, both Jewish and Grecian; but he says, “to the (Church) that is in God.” It is a great dignity, and to which there is nothing equal, that it is “in God.” God grant therefore that this Church may be so addressed! But I fear that it is far from that appellation. For if any one were the servant of sin, he cannot be said to be “in God.” If any one walks not according to God, he cannot be said to be “in God.”

“Grace be unto you, and peace.” Do you perceive that the very commencement of his Epistle is with encomiums? “We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers.” For to give thanks to God for them is the act of one testifying to their great advancement, when they are not only praised themselves, but God also is thanked for them, as Himself having done it all. He teaches them also to be moderate, all but saying, that it is all of the power of God. That he gives thanks for them, therefore, is on account of their good conduct, but that he remembers them in his prayers, proceeds from his love towards them. Then as he often does, he says that he not only remembers them in his prayers, but apart from his prayers. “Remembering without ceasing,” he says, “your work of faith and labor of love and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, before our God and Father.” What is remembering without ceasing? Either remembering before God and the Father, or remembering your labor of love that is before God and the Father, or simply, “Remembering you without ceasing.” Then again, that you may not think that this “remembering you without ceasing” is said simply, he has added, “before our God and Father.” And because no one amongst men was praising their actions, no one giving them any reward, he says this, “You labor before God.” What is “the work of faith”? That nothing has turned aside your steadfastness. For this is the work of faith. If thou believest, suffer all things; if thou dost not suffer, thou dost not believe. For are not the things promised such, that he who believes would choose to suffer even ten thousand deaths? The kingdom of heaven is set before him, and immortality, and eternal life. He therefore who believes will suffer all things. Faith then is shown through his works. Justly might one have said, not merely did you believe, but through your works you manifested it, through your steadfastness, through your zeal.

And your labor “of love.” Why? what labor is it to love? Merely to love is no labor at all. But to love genuinely is great labor. For tell me, when a thousand things are stirred up that would draw us from love, and we hold out against them all, is it not labor? For what did not these men suffer, that they might not revolt from their love? Did not they that warred against the Preaching go to Paul’s host, and not having found him, drag Jason before the rulers of the city? (Ac 17:5-6) Tell me, is this a slight labor, when the seed had not yet taken root, to endure so great a storm, so many trials? And they demanded security of him. And having given security, he says, Jason sent away Paul. Is this a small thing, tell me? Did not Jason expose himself to danger for him? and this he calls a labor of love, because they were thus bound to him.

102  And observe: first he mentions their good actions, then his own, that he may not seem to boast, nor yet to love them by anticipation. “And patience,” he says. For that persecution was not confined to one time, but was continual, and they warred not only with Paul, the teacher, but with his disciples also. For if they were thus affected towards those who wrought miracles, those venerable men; what think you were their feelings towards those who dwelt among them, their fellow-citizens, who had all of a sudden revolted from them? Wherefore this also he testifies of them, saying, “For ye became imitators of the Churches of God which are in Judaea.”

“And of hope,” he says, “in our Lord Jesus Christ, before our God and Father.” For all these things proceed from faith and hope, so that what happened to them showed not their fortitude only, but that they believed with full assurance in the rewards laid up for them. For on this account God permitted that persecutions should arise immediately, that no one might say, that the Preaching was established lightly or by flattery, and that their fervor might be shown, and that it was not human persuasion, but the power of God, that persuaded the souls of the believers, so that they were prepared even for ten thousand deaths, which would not have been the case, if the Preaching had not immediately been deeply fixed and remained unshaken).

1Th 1:4-5. “Knowing, brethren beloved of God, your election, how that our Gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; even as ye know what manner of men we showed ourselves among you for your sake.”

Knowing what? How “we showed ourselves among you”? Here he also touches upon his own good actions, but covertly. For he wishes first to enlarge upon their praises, and what he says is something of this sort. I knew that you were men of great and noble sort, that you were of the Elect. For this reason we also endure all things for your sake. For this, “what manner of men we showed ourselves among you,” is the expression of one showing that with much zeal and much vehemence we were ready to give up our lives for your sake; and for this thanks are due not to us, but to you, because ye were elect. On this account also he says elsewhere, “And these things I endure for the Elect’s sake.” (2Tm 2:10) For what would not one endure for the sake of God’s beloved ones? And having spoken of his own part, he all but says, For if you were both beloved and elect, we suffer all things with reason. For not only did his praise of them confirm them, but his reminding them that they too themselves had displayed a fortitude corresponding to their zeal: he says,

1Th 1:6. “And ye became imitators of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost.”

Strange! what an encomium is here! The disciples have suddenly become teachers! They not only heard the word, but they quickly arrived at the same height with Paul. But this is nothing; for see how he exalts them, saying, “Ye became imitators of the Lord.” How? “Having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost.” Not merely with affliction, but with much affliction. And this we may learn from the Ac of the Apostles, how they raised a persecution against them. (Ac 17:5–8) And they troubled all the rulers of the city, and they instigated the city against them. And it is not enough to say, ye were afflicted indeed, and believed, and that grieving, but even rejoicing. Which also the Apostles did: “Rejoicing,” it is said, “that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the Name.” (Ac 5:41) For it is this that is admirable. Although neither is that a slight matter, in any way to bear afflictions. But this now was the part of men surpassing human nature, and having, as it were, a body incapable of suffering.

But how were they imitators of the Lord? Because He also endured many sufferings, but rejoiced. For He came to this willingly. For our sakes He emptied Himself. He was about to be spit upon, to be beaten and crucified, and He so rejoiced in suffering these things, that He said to the Father, “Glorify Me.” (Jn 17:1–5)

103  “With joy of the Holy Ghost,” he says. That no one may say, how speakest thou of “affliction”? how “of joy”? how can both meet in one? he has added, “with joy of the Holy Ghost.” The affliction is in things bodily, and the joy in things spiritual. How? The things which happened to them were grievous, but not so the things which sprang out of them, for the Spirit does not allow it. So that it is possible both for him who suffers, not to rejoice, when one suffers for his sins; and being beaten to take pleasure, when one suffers for Christ’s sake. For such is the joy of the Spirit. In return for the things which appear to be grievous, it brings out delight. They have afflicted you, he says, and persecuted you, but the Spirit did not forsake you, even in those circumstances. As the Three Children in the fire were refreshed with dew, so also were you refreshed in afflictions. But as there it was not of the nature of the fire to sprinkle dew, but of the “whistling wind,” so also here it was not of the nature of affliction to produce joy, but of the suffering for Christ’s sake, and of the Spirit bedewing them, and in the furnace of temptation setting them at ease. Not merely with joy, he says, but “with much joy.” For this is of the Holy Spirit.

1Th 1:7. “So that ye became ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.”

And yet it was later that he went to them. But ye so shone, he says, that ye became teachers of those who received (the word) before you. And this is like the Apostle. For he did not say, so that ye became ensamples in regard to believing, but ye became an ensample to those who already believed; how one ought to believe in God, ye taught, who from the very beginning entered into your conflict.“And in Achaia,” he says; that is, in Greece.Do you see how great a thing is zeal? that it does not require time, nor delay, nor procrastination, but it is sufficient only to venture one’s self, and all is fulfilled. Thus then though coming in later to the Preaching, they became teachers of those who were before them.

Moral. Let no one therefore despair, even though he has lost much time, and has done nothing. It is possible for him even in a little while to do so much, as he never has done in all his former time. For if he who before did not believe, shone so much at the beginning, how much more those who have already believed! Let no one, again, upon this consideration be remiss, because he perceives that it is possible in a short time to recover everything. For the future is uncertain, and the Day of the Lord is a thief, setting upon us suddenly when we are sleeping. But if we do not sleep, it will not set upon us as a thief, nor carry us off unprepared. For if we watch and be sober, it will not set upon us as a thief, but as a royal messenger, summoning us to the good things prepared for us. But if we sleep, it comes upon us as a thief. Let no one therefore sleep, nor be inactive in virtue, for that is sleep. Do you not know how, when we sleep, our goods are not in safety, how easy they are to be plotted against? But when we are awake, there needs not so much guarding. When we sleep, even with much guarding we often perish. There are doors, and bolts, and guards, and outer guards, and the thief has come upon us.

Why then do I say this? Because, if we wake we shall not need the help of others; but if we sleep, the help of others will profit us nothing, but even with this we perish. It is a good thing to enjoy the prayer of the Saints, but it is when we ourselves also are on the alert. And what need, you say, have I of another’s prayer, if I am on the alert myself. And in sooth, do not place yourself in a situation to need it; I do not wish that you should; but we are always in need of it, if we think rightly. Paul did not say, what need have I of prayer? and yet those who prayed were not worthy of him, or rather not equal to him; and you say, what need have I of prayer? Peter did not say, What need have I of prayer, for “prayer,” it says, “was made earnestly of the Church unto God for him.” (Ac 12:5) And thou sayest, What need have I of prayer? On this account thou needest it, because thou thinkest that thou hast no need. Yea, though thou become as Paul, thou hast need of prayer.Do not exalt thyself, lest thou be humbled.

But, as I said, if we be active also ourselves, the prayers for us avail too. Hear Paul saying, “For I know that this shall turn to my salvation, through your supplication, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.” (Phil 1:19) And again, “That for the gift bestowed upon us by means of many, thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf.” (2Co 1:11) Andthou sayest, what need have I of prayer? But if we be idle, no one will be able to profit us. What did Jeremiah profit the Jews? Did he not thrice draw nigh to God, and the third time hear, “Pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer, for I will not hear thee”? (Jr 7:16) What did Samuel profit Saul? Did he not mourn for him even to his last day, and not merely pray for him only? What did he profit the Israelites? Did he not say, “God forbid that I should sin in ceasing to pray for you”? (1S 12:23) Did they not all perish? Do prayers then, you say, profit nothing? They profit even greatly: but it is when we also do something. For prayers indeed coöperate and assist, but a man coöperates with one that is operating, and assists one that is himself also working. But if thou remainest idle, thou wilt receive no great benefit.

104  For if prayers had power to bring us to the kingdom while we do nothing, why do not all the Greeks become Christians? Do we not pray for all the world? Did not Paul also do this? Do we not intreat that all may be converted? Why do not the wicked become good without contributing anything of themselves? Prayers, then, profit greatly, when we also contribute our own parts.

Would you learn how much prayers have profited? consider, I pray, Cornelius, Tabitha. (Ac 10:3 Ac 9:36) Hear also Jacob saying to Laban, “Except the Fear of my father had been with me, surely thou hadst now sent me away empty.” (Gn 31:45) Hear also God again, saying, “I will defend this city for Mine own sake, and for My servant David’s sake.” (2 Kings 9:34) But when? In the time of Hezekiah, who was righteous. Since if prayers availed even for the extremely wicked, why did not God say this also when Nebuchadnezzar came, and why did He give up the city? Because wickedness availed more. Again, Samuel himself also prayed for the Israelites, and prevailed. But when? When they also pleased God, then they put their enemies to flight. And what need, you say, of prayer from another, when I myself please God? Never, O man, say this. There is need, aye, and need of much prayer. For hear God saying concerning the friends of Job; “And he shall pray for you, and your sin shall be forgiven you.” (Jb 42:8) Because they had sinned indeed, but not a great sin. But this just man, who then saved his friends by prayer, in the season of the Jews was not able to save the Jews who were perishing. And that you may learn this, hear God saying through the prophet; “If Noah, Daniel, and Job stood, they shall not deliver their sons and their daughters.” (Ezek 14:14 Ezek 14:16) Because wickedness prevailed. And again, “Though Moses and Samuel stood.” (Jr 15:1)

And see how this is said to the two Prophets, because both prayed for them, and did not prevail. For Ezekiel says, “Ah Lord, dost thou blot out the residue of Israel?” (Ezek 9:8) Then showing that He does this justly, He shows him their sins; and showing that not through despising him does He refuse to accept his supplication for them, he says, Even these things are enough even to persuade thee, that not despising thee, but on account of their many sins, I do not accept thy supplication. Nevertheless He adds, “Though. Noah, Job, and Daniel stood.” (From Ezek 14) And with good reason does He the rather say this to him, because it is he who suffered so many things. Thou badest me, he says, eat upon dung, and I ate upon it. Thou badest me, and I shaved my head. Thou badest me, and I lay upon one side. Thou badest me go out through a hole in the wall, bearing a burden, and I went out. Thou tookest away my wife, and badest me not mourn, and I did not mourn, but bore it with fortitude. (Ezek 24:18) Ten thousand other things have I wrought for their sake: I entreat for them, and dost Thou not comply? Not from despising thee, says he, do I do this, but though Noah, Job, and Daniel were there, and were entreating for sons and daughters, I would not comply.

And again to Jeremiah, who suffered less from the commandments of God, but more from their wickedness, what does He say? “Seest thou not what these do?” (Jr 7:17) “Yea,” he says, “they do so—but do Thou do it for my sake.” On this account He says to him, “Though Moses and Samuel stood.” Their first lawgiver, who often delivered them from dangers, who had said, “If now thou forgivest their sins, forgive it; but if not, blot me out also.” (Ex 32:32), Sept) If therefore he were now alive, and spoke thus, he would not have prevailed,—nor would Samuel, again, who himself also delivered them, and who from his earliest youth was admired. For to the former indeed I said, that I conversed with him as a friend with a friend, and not by dark sayings. And of the latter I said, that in his first youth I was revealed to him, and that on his account, being prevailed upon, I opened the prophecy that had been shut up. For “the word of the Lord,” it is said, “was precious in those days; there was no open vision.” (1Sam 3:1) If these men, therefore, stood before Me, they would profit nothing. And of Noah He says, “Noah was a righteous man, and perfect in his generations.” (Gen 6:9) And concerning Job, He was “blameless, just, true, fearing God.” (Job 1:1), Sept) And concerning Daniel, whom they even thought a God.; and they will not deliver, says he, their sons and daughters. Knowing these things, therefore, let us neither despise the prayers of the Saints, nor throw everything upon them: that we may not, on the one hand, be indolent and live carelessly; nor on the other deprive ourselves of a great advantage. But let us both beseech them to pray and lift up the hand for us, and let us adhere to virtue; that we may be able to obtain the blessings promised to those who love Him by the grace and loving-kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom, &c.

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St John Chrysostom’s Homily on 1 Thessalonians 1:8-10

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 25, 2013

The following is excerpted from St John Chrysostom’s Second Homily on First Thessalonians. The homily in full (covering 1 Th 1:8-2:9) can be read here.

1 The 1:8-10 “For from you hath sounded forth the word of the Lord, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is gone forth; so that we need not to speak anything. For they themselves report concerning us what manner of entering in we had unto you; and how ye turned unto God from idols, to serve a living and true God, and to wait for His Son from Heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivereth us from the wrath to come.”

As a sweet-smelling ointment keeps not its fragrance shut up in itself, but diffuses it afar, and scenting the air with its perfume, so conveys it also to the senses of the neighbors; so too illustrious and admirable men do not Shut up their virtue within themselves, but by their good report benefit many, and render them better. Which also then happened. Where fore he said, “So that ye became ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.” “For from you,” he says, “hath sounded forth the word of the Lord, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is gone forth.” Ye have filled, therefore, all your neighbors with instruction, and the world with wonder. For this is meant by the expression, “in every place.” And he has not said, your faith is noised abroad, but “has sounded out”; as every place near is filled with the sound of a loud trumpet, so the report of your manfulness is loud, and sounding even like that, is sufficient to fill the world, and to fall with equal sound upon all that are round about. For great actions are more loudly celebrated there, where they have taken place; afar off indeed they are celebrated, but not so much.

But in your case it was not so, but the sound of good report was spread abroad in every part of the earth. And whence know we, says one, that the words were not hyperbolical? For this nation of the Macedonians, before the coming of Christ, was renowned, and celebrated everywhere more than the Romans. And the Romans were admired on this account, that they took them captive. For the actions of the Macedonian king exceeded all report, who, setting out from a little city indeed, yet subdued the world. Wherefore also the Prophet saw him, a winged leopard, showing his swiftness, his vehemence, his fiery nature, his suddenly in a manner flying over the whole world with the trophies of his victory. And they say, that hearing from a certain philosopher, that there were infinite worlds, he groaned bitterly, that when they were numberless, he had not conquered even one. So high-minded was he, and high-souled, and celebrated everywhere. And with the fame of the king the glory of the nation also kept pace. For he was called “Alexander, the Macedonian.” So that what took place there was also naturally much talked of. For nothing can beconcealed that relates to the illustrious. The Macedonians then were not inferior to the Romans.

And this has also arisen from their vehemence. For as if he were speaking of something living, he introduces the word “gone forth”; so vehement and energetic was their faith. “So that we need not to speak anything,” says he, “for they themselves report concerning us what entering in we had unto you.” They do not wait to hear from us, but those who were not present, and have not seen, anticipate those who were present, and have seen your good deeds. So manifest were they everywhere made by report. We shall not therefore need, by relating your actions, to bring them to equal zeal. For the things which they ought to have heard from, us, these they themselves talk of, anticipating: us. And yet in the case of such there is frequently envy, but the exceeding greatness of thething conquered even this, and they are the heralds of your conflicts. And though left behind, not even so are they silenced, but they are beforehand with us. And being such, it is not possible for them to disbelieve our report.

What means, “What manner of entering in we had unto you”? That it was full of dangers, and numberless deaths, but that none of these things troubled you. But as if nothing had happened, so you adhered to us; as if ye had suffered no evil, but had enjoyed infinite good, so you received us after these things. For this was the second entering. They went to Beroea, they were persecuted, and when they came after this they so received them, as though they had been honored by these also, so that they even laid down their lives for them. The expression, “What manner of entering in we had,” is complicated, and contains an encomium both of them and of themselves. But he himself has turned this to their advantage. “And how,” he says, “ye turned to God from idols, to serve a living and true God”; that is, that ye did it readily, that ye did it with much eagerness, that it did not require much labor to make you. “In order to serve,” says he, “a living and true God.”

Here also he introduced an exhortation, which is the part of one who would make his discourse less offensive. “And to wait,” he says, “for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivereth us from the wrath to come.” “And to wait,” he says, “for His Son from heaven”; Him that was crucified, Him that was buried; to wait for Him from heaven. And how “from heaven”? “Whom He raised from the dead.” You see all things at the same time; both the Resurrection, and the Ascension, and the second Coming, the Judgment, the retribution of the just, the punishment of the wicked. “Jesus,” he says, “which delivereth us from the wrath to come.” This is at once comfort, and exhortation, and encouragement. For if He raised Him from the dead, and He is in heaven, and thence will come, (and ye believed in Him; for if ye had not believed in Him, ye would not have suffered so much), this of itself is sufficient comfort. These shall suffer punishment, which he says in his second epistle, and you will have no small consolation.

And to “wait,” he says, “for His Son from heaven.” The terrible things are in hand, but the good things are in the future, when Christ shall come from heaven. See how much hope is required, in that He who was crucified has been raised, that He has been taken up into heaven, that He will come to judge the quick and the dead.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 24, 2013

This post opens with Fr. MacEvilly’s brief analysis of 1 Thessalonians 4, followed by his notes on verses 1-8. Text in purple indicates his paraphrasing of the scripture he is commenting on.

ANALYSIS OF 1 THESSALONIANS CHAPTER 4

In this chapter, the Apostle encourages the Thessalonians to perseverance (1); he delivers a precept regarding the practice of purity, and the avoidance of adultery, and he adduces several motives to stimulate them to fidelity in this matter (3–8). He praises their charity, and encourages the poor to engage in some honest employment, so that by this means they would not abuse the liberality of the rich (9, 10, 11). Finally, he assuages their excessive grief for their departed friends, by propounding the doctrine of the general resurrection, the order and manner of which he describes (12–17).

This and the following chapters are employed in such subjects of morality, as the Thessalonians, according to the information furnished by Timothy, needed instruction in.

1Th 4:1  For the rest therefore, brethren, pray and beseech you in the Lord Jesus that, as you have received from us, how you ought to walk and to please God, so also you would walk, that you may abound the more.
For the rest, therefore, brethren, we implore and exhort you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that as you have received precepts from us, by word of mouth when amongst you, regarding the manner of living and of pleasing God, you would so live, as to observe these precepts, and by advancing in perfection, please him more and more.

For the rest”—a form of transition usual with the Apostle, particularly at the close of his Epistles. The Greek copies want the words “so also you would walk;” according to the Greek, the words, “that you may abound the more,” will signify, that, not contenting themselves with mere precepts, they ought to practise matters of counsel.

1Th 4:2  For you know what precepts I have given to you by the Lord Jesus.
I have said, as you have received from us. For, you know what precepts of a holy life we delivered to you, in the name, and by the authority of the Lord Jesus.

The Greek word παραγγελιας can be translated as mandates, charges, instructions, etc. It is used elsewhere is St Paul only in 1 Tim 1:5, 18.  Related words can be found in 1 Cor 7:10, 1 Cor 11:17; 1 Thess 4:11; 2 Thess 3:4, 6, 10, 12; 1 Tim 1:3, 1 Tim 4:11, 1 Tim 5:7, 1 Tim 6:13, 17.

“You know.” Knowledge is a common theme in this letter. It refers to both the knowledge of the missionaries regarding how the Thessalonians were chosen (1 Th 1:4), and to how the missionaries acted among them (1 Th 2:1, 5, 11). The knowledge the Thessalonians posses concerning how to conduct themselves was received from St Paul and his companions both by verbal instruction and example.

1Th 4:3  For this is the will of God, your sanctification: That you should abstain from fornication:
Now, this is a summary of God’s precepts, or the expression of his will, that you should lead a life of sanctity, a life free from all sins, but particularly from sins of impurity, or unlawful sensual pleasures.
1Th 4:4  That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour,
So that every one of you should be able to master and keep under subjection his own body, in sanctification and honour.

“This is the will of God, your sanctification.” See Leviticus 11:44-45; 1 Pet 1:15-16. A major aspect of St Paul’s ministry (which he had by the will of God (1 Cor 1:1)  was to exhort and encourage people to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord who called them to the kingdom and its glory (see 1 Th 2:12).

“Sanctification.” Christians have been called to be holy (Rom 1:7), that is, set apart from all that is profane. They are holy (sanctified, set apart) by that very call, but they must live it out in their daily lives.

By “vessel” some persons understand, the wife of the married husband. However, as St. Paul refers to the sins of luxury, as well in the unmarried as in the married state, it is better to refer it to the body of each person; of course, not excluding those engaged in marriage; and this meaning of “vessel” is common in SS. Scripture (1 Kings, 16:5), and also with profane writers; because, the body is the receptacle of the soul, or the instrument through which the soul acts. “Possess” is frequently used to signify, holding the mastery over, and is here opposed to the dominion which lust, or his lustful body, exercises over the voluptuous man. “Honour” is opposed to those pollutions and defilements by which the Gentile philosophers (Romans, 1) are said to dishonour their bodies.

1Th 4:5  Not in the passion of lust, like the Gentiles that know not God:
And not be the slave of the strong, impulsive motions of concupiscence, like the Gentiles that know not God.

He shows, by the contrary, what “honour” is. The body belongs to the Lord and should be used accordingly (see 1 Cor 6:18-20). The various passions (such as that relating to sex) are good in themselves, but prone to abuse and self-indulgence.

1Th 4:6  And that no man overreach nor circumvent his brother in business: because the Lord is the avenger of all these things, as we have told you before and have testified.
And let no one exceed the limits of justice or circumvent his brother in this matter, by indulging in unlawful pleasures in violation of the rights of the father or husband; for, the Lord is the avenger of all these crimes, as we foretold, and solemnly assured you, when present amongst you.

Some Commentators understand this of real property, and of injustice committed in business transactions. The article prefixed to the word “business” shows, however, that he is referring to the matter of chastity, or the exercise of marriage. Besides, “business” has this meaning frequently with profane writers. He assigns a reason why they should exercise justice in such matters, because God will avenge such crimes, “as we have told and testified.” This solemn assurance was required, because the Pagans made light of crimes against chastity.

1Th 4:7  For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto sanctification.
For in calling us to Christianity, the Lord has called us not to a state, or to the practice of impurity, but to a state, and to the practice of purity and sanctity.

The second motive by which he deters them from the commission of impurities, is the reason upon which the menace on the part of God is grounded, viz., that by calling them to Christianity, he called them to a state of purity and sanctity which they desert, and not to the state of impurity, which they indulge in against his will and ordinances.

1Th 4:8  Therefore, he that despiseth these things, despiseth not man, but God, who also hath given his holy Spirit in us.
Wherefore, whosoever despises these precepts, despises not man who propounds them, but God himself, from whom they emanated, who has given us, Apostles, his holy spirit, authorizing us to announce such precepts.

The third motive is, because such sins of impurity are committed as acts of contempt against God himself. These words, “who also hath given his holy spirit in us,” may also mean, that these impurities committed against God’s precepts, besides the contempt against God, from whom these precepts emanated, also involve a special contempt of the Holy Ghost, who dwells in the bodies of the baptized, as in his temple.

 

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