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“ This we say unto you by the word of the " Lord, that we which are alive, and remain “ unto the coming of the Lord, Ihall not
prevent them which are asleep; for the “ Lord himself shall descend from heaven, " and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then “ we which are alive and remain, Thall be “caught up together with them in the s6 clouds, and so fhall we be ever with the “ Lord. But
ye, brethren, are not in dark“ ness, that that day should overtake you as a “ thief.” Theff. iv. 15–17, and ch.v. ver. 4. It should seem that the Thessalonians, or some however amongst them, had from this paffage conceived an opinion (and that not very unnaturally) that the coming of Christ was to take place inftantly, οτι ενεστηκεν and that this persuasion had produced, as it well might, much agitation in the church. The apostle therefore now writes, amongst other purposes, to quiet this alarm, and to rectify the misconstruction that had been
OTI EVEOTAXEV, nempe hoc anno, says Grotius, EVEOTTIRER hic dicitur de re præsenti, ut Rom. viii. 38. i Cor. iii. 22, Gal. i. 4. Heb. ix. 9.
put upon his words :
" Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord
Jesus Christ, and by our gathering toge66 ther unto him, that
be not foon shaken “ in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit “ nor by word, nor by letter, as from us, as that " the day of Christ is at hand.” If the allusion which we contend for be admitted, namely, if it be admitted, that the passage in the second epistle relates to the passage in the first, it amounts to a considerable proof of the genuineness of both epistles. I have no conception, because I know no example, of such a device in a forgery, as first to frame an ambiguous passage in a letter, then to represent the persons to whom the letter is addressed as mistaking the meaning of the passage, and lastly, to write a second letter in order to correct this mistake.
I have said that this argument arises out of the text, if the allusion be admitted; for I am not ignorant that many expositors understand the passage in the second epistle, as referring to some forged letters, which had been produced in St. Paul's name, and in which the apostle had been made to say that
the coming of Christ was then at hand. In defence, however, of the explanation which we propose, the reader is desired to observe,
1. The strong fact, that there exists a passage in the first epistle, to which that in the second is capable of being referred, i. e. which accounts for the error the writer is solicitous to remove. Had no other epistle than the second been extant, and had it under these circumstances come to be confidered, whether the text before us related to a forged epistle or to some misconstruction of a true one, many conjectures and many probabilities might have been admitted in the enquiry, which can have little weight when an epistle is produced, containing the very sort of passage we were seeking, that is, a passage liable to the misinterpretation which the apostle protests against.
2. That the clause which introduces the paffage in the second epistle bears a particular affinity to what is found in the passage cited from the first epistle. The clause is this : “We beseech you, brethren, by the “ coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by
our gathering together unto him.” Now in
the first epistle the description of the coming of Christ is accompanied with the mention of this very circumstance of his saints
being collected round him.” 6. T'he Lord « himself shall descend from heaven with a “ shout, with the voice of the archangel, and “ with the
of God, and the dead in “ Christ shall rise first'; then we which are 66 alive and remain shall be caught up toge“ ther with them in the clouds, to meet the 66 Lord in the air.” 1 Theff. chap. iv. ver. 16, 17. This I suppose to be the “
gathering together unto him” intended in the second epistle ; and that the author, when he used these words, retained in his thoughts what he had written on the subject before.
3. The second epistle is written in the joint name of Paul, Silvanus, and Timotheus, and it cautions the Thessalonians against being misled “ by letter as from us“ (wg di npwr). Do not these words o de nuwv,' appropriate the reference to some writing which bore the name of these three teachers? Now this circumstance, which is a very close one, belongs to the epistle at
present in our hands ; for the epistle which we call the first epistle to the Thessalonians contains these names in its fuperfcription.
4. The words in the original, as far as they are material to be stated, are these: 619 το μη ταχεως σαλευθηναι υμας απο το νου, μητε θροεισθαι, μητε δια πνευματος, μητε
dice λογο, pinte
δι' επιστολης, ως δι' ημων, ως οτι ενεστηκεν η ημερα τα Χριστε. Under the weight of the preceding observations may not the words μητε
di? επιστολης, ως δι' ημων, be construed to signify quasi nos quid tale aut dixerimus aut fcripferimus *, intimating that their words had been mistaken, and that they had in truth said or written no such thing.
* Should a contrary interpretation be preferred, I do not think that it implies the conclusion that a false epistle had then been published in the apostle's name. It will completely satisfy the allusion in the text to allow, that fome one or other at Thessalonica had pretended to have been told by St. Paul and his companions, or to have seen a letter from them, in which they had said, that the day of Christ was at hand. In like manner as Acts xv. 1, 24, it is recorded that some had pretended to have received instructions from the church at Jerufalem,