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carefully impress our minds; and we must thank God that we have a proper soil to cultivate, and the knowledge of those truths which are adapted to improve our dispositions, and fit us for future happiness; and withal we should be thankful that he gives us skill to cultivate the ground, and capacity to discern the truth and act according to it.
PARAPHRASE, This antichristian power will advance itself by the most wicked means, making use of pretended signs and miracles, and other unrighteous artifices, to raise his power. By this means he shall effectually impose upon those whose minds being abandoned to wickedness, and destitute of that love of truth which leads men into the way of salvation, will render them easy dupes to their impositions. On this account God will be justified in suffering them to be so deluded and imposed upon, that they may fall into that condemnation which is the proper consequence of their indisposition to receive the truth, and the pleasure they take in wickedness.
But this, my brethren, beloved of God, is far from being your character.
We thank God that, from the beginning of our preaching the gospel to you, there were evident tokens of God's favourable intention with respect to you, from which I have no doubt of your being destined for future happiness; which can only be secured by that holiness of heart and life which is the effect of true faith, of that faith which has been confirmed by the gift of the Holy Spirit. This is the faith to which you are called by the gospel, the end of which is that glory which you will obtain at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
With this glorious prospect continue firm in the profession of every thing that you have been taught by me, either 'in person or by letter. And now may our Lord Jesus Christ, the same who will return with so much glory, and who now influences your hearts by the gospel; and may God, even our common Father, who hath originally loved us, and has given us ground of the most solid consolation and good hope, through his goodness to us, comfort you in your tribulation, and confirm you in every good principle, and in all right conduct.
III. The apostle concludes this epistle with expressing his good wishes to those to whom he was writing, and with repeating the admonitions he had given them before not to live an idle, disorderly life, depending upon others, from which we may infer that his former admonitions on this subject had not been sufficiently regarded.
2. In this the apostle probably alludes to the unbelieving Jews, who had driven Paul from Thessalonica, and cruelly persecuted the Christians in that place.
3. Here the apostle seems to use the word faith in a different sense from that in which it is used immediately before, viz. for fidelity.
5. Some suppose this means the patience of Christ,* as an example to us, the word coming not being mentioned.
10. This was probably a proverbial expression which the .apostle had made use of.
15. This does not seem to amount to a regular excommunication, for it is probable, as I have observed, that the church at Thessalonica was not then regularly constituted. There were no elders or deacons then appointed, and no regular discipline established.
16. The Vulgate has, in this place,f the reading Tono for τρόπο.
17. It is probable, as I have observed, that some persons had pretended to receive letters from the apostle, or had read one forged in his name to the Thessalonians: therefore, to prevent any imposition of this kind, he observes, that he should always write the salutations at the close of his epistles with his own hand, having made use of an amanuensis for the body of the letter. I
PARAPHRASE. In the last place, my Christian brethren, pray for us, that our labours in preaching the gospel may have the same glorious success in other places that it has had with you ; and also that we may be delivered from the malice of our enraged persecutors. For many are so far from embracing the gospel, that they do every thing in their power to oppose
propagation of it. But God is faithful to his promise, and, if you continue your zeal in his service, will establish you in all good, and keep you from all evil. And I am fully persuaded that, as you have hitherto been obedient to the gospel of Christ preached by me, you will continue to be obedient, and may God preserve you in his fear and love, and in patient waiting for the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
• w In charitate Dei et patientia Christi." Vulg. † In omni loco.
| See Lardner, VI. pp. 667, 668; Doddridge.
As I understand that you have not paid sufficient attention to my former admonition, with respect to labour and industry, I now repeat my injunctions on that subject, in the name of the Lord Jesus, that you give no countenance to those who live in a manner so contrary to every principle of duty, and to my precepts and example. You know your obligation to follow the example we set you, and our behaviour was very different from this. We did not live at the expense of any man, but laboured hard that we might not be burdensome to any of you, not that we might not have held ourselves excused from bodily labour, while we were engaged in your service, by preaching the gospel to you, but we chose to set you an example of industry and independence; and when we were with you we observed, that if any man refused to work, he did not deserve to eat.
For we are informed that some among you live an idle, disorderly life, minding no business of their own, and officiously meddling with that of others. All such persons we command, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that they patiently submit to honest labour, and live by their own industry. Be not weary of this labour, or of any thing that is your duty; and if any continue still disobedient to our admonition, avoid their society, that they may be ashamed, but do not abandon them entirely, but endeavour to reclaim them as brethren, though their conduct be in this respect unworthy of their relation to you.
And now may the Author of all good grant you all kinds of happiness at all times, and may his presence be ever with you!
I shall conclude this epistle with my usual salutation, written with my own hand, so as to prevent any imposition; and I propose to do so in all my future epistles. May all the blessings of the gospel attend you! Amen.
GALATIANS. The apostle Paul had preached the gospel in Galatia (a part of Asia Minor inhabited by Gauls, who had invaded this country and settled in it, about two hundred and fifty years before Christ) during his second apostolical progress, A.D. 50. Thence he proceeded to Corinth, where he continued two years, and probably before he left that place, or about A.D. 53, he wrote this epistle.
See Lardner, VI. pp. 305-311; Doddridge, V. p. 2. Loeke conjectures 57. See his Synopsis. Michaelis supposes 51. See his Introd. Lect. pp. 229-232.
The occasion of it was, that some Jewish Christians, zealous for the law of Moses, had, in the absence of the apostle, who appears not to have made a long stay in the country, so as fully to confirm them in the knowledge of the gospel, taught them that it was necessary for all Christians to conform to the laws of Moses, and had probably alleged, that the principal apostles, such as Peter, James and John, had insisted upon it, and that only Paul, whose apostleship was questionable, taught any other doctrine.
On this account he begins with insisting largely upon his authority as an apostle, as equal to that of Peter, or any other, since he received his knowledge of the gospel from Christ himself in person, and he reasons largely on the freedom of the Gentile converts from the ceremonial law of Moses, and on the great impropriety and danger of imposing it upon them. But it by no means follows, from any thing that the apostle here observes, that the Jewish Christians were authorized to abandon their law, and discontinue the practice of circumcising, sacrificing, &c. This law was inposed upon the Jews by the most express Divine appointment, and we have no account of their being released from it by the same Divine authority, which alone was sufficient for the purpose.
Chap. I. 1. That is, not deriving my mission from other apostles, or even from God by their appointment, but from Jesus Christ himself, and consequently from God his Father. * Here again you see how Jesus Christ is distinguished from God, to whom he was subordinate, and by whose power, and not his own, he was raised from the dead.t
6. [So soon removed.] It was about three years froin bis planting the churches of Galatia to his writing this letter. I
(Unto another gospel. 8] That is, a gospel with other terms of salvation than that which I preached unto you, besides which there can be no other.
9. That is, let him be no longer considered as a Christian, but be regarded in the same light as if he had abandoned the profession of Christianity.
10. Do I persuade men, or God, not to be displeased with me?|| That is, do I study to please God or man?
“ Il semble que quelques faux apôtres avoient dit que S. Paul n'étoit pas im véritable apôtre; mais qu'il avoit reçû seulement des apôtres le pouvoir de précher l'évangile." Le Clerc. "See Locke. + See an additional remark in Impr. Vers.
I See Loche; Doddridge. $ “ From Christ, who by grace had called you." Bengelius, in Bowyer.“ A embrasser la doctrine de ceux, qui vouloient joindre le Judaisme au Christianisme." Le Clerc. See Impr. Vers.
“Do I now put my confidence in men, or in God?" Pilkington, p. 205, “ľ:
12. It was peculiar to the apostle Paul to have received both his knowledge of the gospel, and his commission to be an apostle, from Christ himself in person, after his ascension.
16. That is, with man.
19. This James, from his residing all his life-time in Jerusalem, is often considered as the bishop of that place. None of the apostles, however, were properly bishops of any particular place, but had a general superintendence over all Christian churches, wherever they went. It is therefore absurd in the popes to pretend to derive their authority from Peter, as if he had been the first bishop of Rome. 21. Probably Tarsus in Cilicia, the place of Paul's nativity.
PARAPHRASE. I Paul, constituted an apostle, neither mediately nor immediately by man, but by Jesus Christ himself, and by God his Father, who confirmed his mission by raising him from the dead, together with all the brethren who are with me, address this epistle to the Christian churches in Galatia.
May you enjoy all favour and blessing from God the Father, and especially those which he has bestowed upon mankind by Jesus Christ, the object of whose mission was to deliver us from sin, and all the vices of the world, according to the gracious designs of God, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
I cannot help expressing my surprise that you should be so soon alienated in your affections from me, who planted the gospel among you, and that you have in fact embraced a quite different gospel, though in truth there can be no other that is genuine, and they who have created this disturbance have perverted the genuine gospel. However, should I myself, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel than that which I first preached unto you, let him be anathema. I say again, if any man preach among you any other gospel, let him be excommunicated, or cut off from the society of Christians. Do you imagine that it is my object to recommend myself to men or to God, or that my conduct is calculated to please men, especially the judaizing teachers, whose influence is so great in the Christian church? If that was my object, I could not be the servant of Jesus Christ.
Be assured, my brethren, that the gospel which I first preached to you was no human invention, which you are at we recommend men, or God?" Theol. Repos. III. p. 382. See Locke ; Le Cene, np. 619, 614; Doddridge; Wakefield.