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the greatest patience and forbearance towards all persons ; and especially, as becomes Christians, entertain no malice or revenge, and never return evil for evil, but always do good, and this not to Christians only, but to all men.
V. The apostle concludes this excellent epistle with a variety of miscellaneous advices, delivered in a very concise manner, so that they might be easily retained in memory, and make a strong impression upon it.
17. That is, at all proper and stated times. Thus the continued burnt-offering under the law, meant the sacrifice of every morning and evening, * and not that there was no interinission in offering them. In one sense, indeed, we may be said to pray without ceusing, viz. by preserving upon our minds an habitual sense of God, as present with us, which it is our duty, and great happiness, to cultivate. It is the perfection of religious temper and character; but to pray always in any other sense, is impossible, and the attempt would intertere with the most important duties of life.
19. The Holy Spirit having descended upon the first Christians, accompanied with an appearance of flames of fire, gives a propriety to this figure of quenching it,f meaning the doing any thing that unfits a person for cherishing, or keeping up this holy flame, either by an irregular, improper use of spiritual gifts, or by any thing sinful in a man's temper and conduct.
29. Exhortations are called prophecyings as well as fore. telling things to come. The ancient prophets were teachers of righteousness, and whatever was delivered by them in the name of God, whether an admonition, or a prophecy properly so called, was thence usually termed a prophecy; and the Christian preachers not having the eloquence of the Heathen orators, would be in danger of being despised on that account. That the preaching of Paul himself was despised, he himself sufficiently informs us. that, through the foolishness of preaching, God saved those who believed.
22. That is, every kind of evil, or what may lead to evil. The former is probably the better sense. I
23. By peace was meant all happiness, which can only be enjoyed in a time of peace. The customary salutation among the Jews, and among the people of the East in gene
But he says
+ See Lord Barrington in Doddridge. On vers. 19-24, see Lardner, XI. pp. 165–167.
ral, even to this day, is peace be with you. God therefore being called the God of peace, is thereby considered as the author of all good, or happiness.
[Spirit and soul and body.] Here the apostle probably alludes to the doctrine of the threefold division of man by the Greek philosophers,* but does not imply the truth of that system, much less that these three parts of the body, the soul, or the spirit, were each capable of a separate subsistence. By the soul, they meant the sensitive faculties of man, such as are necessary to animal life; and by the spirit, the mental powers, or the higher principles of a rational nature. What the apostle meant was, that whatever man be, or of whatever he consist, all his powers and faculties should be consecrated to God. This language of the apostle will no more authorize us to suppose that the soul, or the spirit, can subsist without the body, than that what is here called soul, can subsist without the spirit, or the spirit without the soul.
26. That is, according to the customary solemn and affectionate salutations in those times.
27. This is a most solemn form of adjuration, as oaths were administered in those times, when the words consti. tuting the oath, as distinguished from a mere affirmation, were not pronounced by the person to whom the oath was administered, but by the person who administered it. To answer to this solemn form of adjuration was to take the oath, as our Saviour did, when the high-priest adjured him, by the living God. Oaths, therefore, or solemn appeals to God, are not improper on solemn occasions, even out of a court of judicature.
PARAPHRASE. Notwithstanding the tribulation which you have been called to endure for the sake of the gospel, avail yourselves of the consolations which it supplies, and rejoice continu. ally in the prospect of the glorious reward which it insures
Neglect not the performance of the duty of prayer at the stated times for it.
From a full persuasion of the goodness of God respecting you in all his appointments, be thankful for every thing and for
every occurrence; for this disposition of mind God, who has favoured you with the gift of the gospel,
requires of you. More particularly, cherish that temper of mind which is
• See Hallett, L. pp. 39, 40; Doddridge.
most favourable to the spiritual gifts with which you have been distinguished. Preserve yourselves as the unpolluted temples of the Holy Spirit of God.
Despise not the preaching of the gospel, and the usual interpretation of the Scriptures in your assemblies, though they be destitute of the rhetorical ornaments of the Greek orators, to which you have been accustomed.
At the same time, receive no manner of doctrine without proper examination; but, after proper inquiry, adhere to every thing that is solid and right, and reject every thing that is evil of every kind, and in every deyree ;* and may God, the author of all good, impart to you all spiritual blessings, and thereby sanctify you, or render you fit for bimself: and may all your powers and faculties be ever employed in the best manner, that you may be preserved blameless, and without spot, till the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Be assured that nothing will ever be wanting on the part of God to this good end; for this is the great object of the gospel which he has vouchsafed to you.
As I and my companions continually pray for you, do you also pray for us, and salute all the brethren in the most affectionate manner for us all.
I strictly charge and adjure you, that you cause this epistle to be read to all the disciples in your city,t and I conclude with sincerely wishing you all the blessings of the gospel of Christ.
* “ Such Christians as discourage inquiry in matters of a religious nature, disparage their religion or their judgment. They give men ground of suspicion, that the Christian religion will not bear examination; or that they do not know it to be so excellent, and so well-founded, as it is: for if they are persuaded that their religion is true and excellent, and supported by sufficient evidence, why are they afraid it should be tried and examined? If it have those properties, it must be the more respected, the more it is examined and considered. I would therefore humbly recommend to those persons for their improvement the observation of the apostle's precepts, (1 Thess. v. 21, 22,) Prove all things: hold fast that which is good : abstain, from all appearance of evil: that is, examine all things that are proposed to you; embrace that which is good, and reject every thing that is evil.” Lardner, III.
Dr. L. had before remarked, (in 1729, on the prosecution of Woolston,) that a “ victory obtained upon the ground of argument and persuasivu alone, by writing and discourse, will be honourable to us and our religion. But a victory secured by mere authority is no less to be dreaded than a defeat.-Will any serious and sensible Christian, in the view of a future judgment, undertake to answer for the damage thereby brought to the doctrine of his Saviour, the meek and patient Jesus; as meek in his principles as in the example he has bequeathed us." Ibid. XI. pp. 5, 6. See also Life, pp. xvii. xviii. cxv. cxxvi.
+ Ver. 27. " It is likely, that, from the beginning, all Christian assemblies had readings of the Scriptures of the Old Testament. Paul, knowing the plenitude of the apostolical commission, now demands the same respect to be paid to his writings with those of the ancient prophets. This is a direction fit to be inserted in the first epistle written by him." Ibid. VI. p. 304.
Chap. I. This Second Epistle to the Thessalonians appears to have been written not many months after the former, viz. A. D. 52,* while the apostle continued at Corinth, still accompanied by Timothy and Silas, or Silvanus.t He appears to have received a favourable account of the reception of his former letter, but withal saw reason to write another, in order to give the members of this new church some farther admonitions and informations concerning some mistakes they were still under, and to enforce such articles in his former advices as they had not given sufficient attention to.
2. It cannot but be observed, that in the usual tenor of Scripture language, God and Christ are carefully distinguished, the appellation of God being given to the Father only, exclusively of Christ, as well as of all other beings.
5. The maxims of God's moral government being wellknown to these Christians, they would take it for granted that the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, which could not with propriety be made in this world, would be made in another.
7. We see here, as in the former epistle, that these persecuted Christians are referred for their reward, to the second coming of Christ, to raise the dead and to judge the world. No hint is given them of any recompence between the time of death and the resurrection, which the apostle could never have overlooked, if he had known of any such state,
9. These terms, literally interpreted, would imply that the wicked are to be finally destroyed, and an end put to their existence. But the term destruction is often used in the Scriptures to denote calamity in general, and such as has its period; and if the wicked be raised from the dead, and continue to exist, it is not possible, unless the constitution of their natures be entirely changed, but that their sufferings will, in length of time, work a favourable change in the state of their minds, so that after an adequate punishment, their sufferings may be remitted, though it is probable they will never acquire that state of glory in which the virtuous will be established. But we are wisely kept in ignorance con
See Lardner, VI. p. 304; Doddridge, V. p. 397. † “ Silas, which was the Jewish name, altered, probably, into Silvanns, the Roman name, in conformity to the other epistle; written to the Gentiles, as tbis was to some Jewish converts.' Grotius in Bowyer.
cerning the purposes of God beyond the resurrection and the day of judgment. Of this we may be confident, that our Maker, and the Judge of all the earth, will do that which is right, and consequently that it will be well with the righteous, but that woe will be to the wicked, since they will both receive according to their works.
PARAPHRASE. I Paul, accompanied by Timothy and Sylvanus, address this second epistle to the members of the Christian church at Thessalonica, who believe in the one true God, the Father, and in his Son, Jesus Christ. May you enjoy all favour, and all the blessings which God bestows upon mankind, by the gospel of his Son.
We esteem it our duty, as it is highly proper in itself, to thank God for your increasing steadfastness in the faith, and that the effects of it appear in the increasing affection which you bear towards each other. On this account you are the subject of our boasting in other churches, as also on account of the patience and fortitude which you have shewn in all the troubles and persecutions with which your faith has been tried. But in this you ought to rejoice, as what will certainly be followed by distinguished honour and happiness in the kingdom of God, after that day of righteous judgment in which he will reward all the faithful disciples of his Son, and confound all his enemies. It is by the prospect of this that you are enabled to bear your present sufferings. It is indeed just that God, according to his promise, should exemplarily punish those who now distress you. But, as to you who are at present in distress on this account, wait with patience, together with us, and all the disciples and followers of Christ, for the glorious time when he shall return from heaven, with power and great glory, accompanied by the angels, his ministers, flaming as it were with vengeance against all those who, notwithstanding the better information they have received, continue in ignorance, and in opposition to the gospel of Christ. In that awful day all such enemies of the gospel, and of you who profess it, shall be for ever driven from the joyful and glorious presence of that Saviour, who, in that great day, will appear truly glorious in the eyes of all his faithful disciples, and will be looked up to with joy and reverence by all his followers, and among the rest by you, who, by our means, were converted to Christianity.
It is therefore the subject of our daily prayers, that God