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13 For I bear him witness, that he hath 13 His remaining with me so long, must not be imputed to want much affection for you, and them in Laodicea, of affection for you: For I bear him witness, that he hath much and them in Hierapolis.!
warmth of love for you, and for the brethren in Laodicea, and the
brethren in Hierapolis. 14 Luke, the beloved physician,' and De 14 Luke the physician, greatly beloved of me, presents his mas, salute you. (See 2 Tim. iv. 10. note 1.) good wishes to you, as doth Demas likewise.
15 Salute the brethren in Laodicea, and 15 Present my wishes of health to all the brethren in Laodicea, Nymphas, and the church? (x27', 232.) in his and particularly to Nymphas, and to that part of the church at house.
Laodicea which consists of his domestic8. 16 And when this epistle huth been read 16 That the brethren in your neighbourhood may also have the (rag upsv, 271.) to you, cause that it be read benefit of my instructions, when this epistle hath been publicly also in the church of the Laodiceans. And read to you by your elders, cause that it be read also in the that ye also read (Tavex) the one from Laodicea.2 church of the Laodiceans, by sending them a copy of it. And I
desire of you the elders, that ye also read publicly the letter which
I have ordered to be sent you from Laodiceu. 17 And say to Archippus, Take heed to the 17 And say to Archippus in my name, Take heed to the ministry ministry' which thou hast received in the Lord, which thou hast received in the church of Christ, that thou mayest that thou mayest fulfil it.2
fulfil it properly. All the pastors of your church ought to exert
their utmost endeavours in opposing the false teachers. 18 The salutation of Paul, with mine own 18 My salutation I Paul write with my own hand, to assure hand. Remember my bonds. Grace be with you that this epistle is really mine. 2 Thess. iii. 17. Remember you. Amen. (See Eph. vi. 24. note 2.) my bonds. May gracious dispositions, together with the favour
of God and good men, remain with you all. Amen.
saluteth you.)-The apostle did not mention Epaphras's imprison. the same, it was proper that the same spiritual remedies should be ment to the church of the Colossians, lest it might have afflicted applied to both. And therefore the apostle ordered this letter, them too generally. But he informed Philemon of it, ver. 23. that which was designed for the instruction of the Colossians, to be read he might communicate it to the pastors and principal brethren, to
in the church of the Laodiceans also. And no doubt it was read whom it was proper to account for Epaphras's delaying to return. there, agreeably to the apostle's injunction; by which means, in And with respect to the rest, that they might not attribute his that church, as well as in the church at Colosse, the false teachers absence to any thing wrong, the apostle, in this and the following and their idolatrous practices were for a while repressed. verse, gave Epaphras a very large character for fidelity and dili. 2. That ye also read the one from Laodicea.)-Mill in his Proleg. gence in the work of the gospel; and assured the Colossians that No. 75-79. gives it as his opinion, that this is the epistle which in they were the subject of Epaphras's earnest prayers, and that he the Canon is inscribed to the Ephesians; and that its original inentertained the warmest affection for them, and for the brethren scription was, To the Laodiceans. But his opinion is not well in Loadicea, and in Hierapolis. See following note.
founded. See Pref. to Ephesians, sect. 2. Others think the epistle 2. Fervently striving for you by prayers, that ye may stand per. which was to come to the Colossians from Laodicea, was one which fect and completed.)-The word sy wou sousves properly denotes, the apostle wrote to the Laodiceans, but which is now lost. Howcombating in the games : Here it signifies the greatest servency ever, as the ancients mention no such letter, nor, indeed, any of desire and affection in prayer. For the meaning of TinangopiVOS,
letter written by St Paul which is not still remaining, (see Ess. ii. completed, see Col. ii. 10. note i.
p. 23.), I agree with those who think the apostle sent the Ephesians Ver. 13. Them in Laodicea, (see Col. ii. 1. note 3.), and them in word by Tychicus, who carried their letter, to send a copy of it Hierapolis. }-Hierapolis was a considerable city in the Greater to the Laodiceans, with an order to them to communicate it to the Phrygia, situated on the Meander, not far from Laodicea and Co. Colossians. losse. It was named Hierapolis, that is, the holy city, from the Ver. 17.-1. And say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry.) multitude of its temples. But it is not known what particular deity This is generally supposed to be the
Archippus mentioned Philem. was its tutelary god. Its coins bear the images of Apollo, of the ver. 2. where he is called 'Paul's fellow-labourer and fellow-sol. Ephesian Diana, of Æsculapius, and of Ilygeia. The two last dier.' What station Archippus held in the church of the Colos. mentioned idols were worshipped in Hierapolis on account of the sians, whether that of Bishop, or Deacon, or Evangelist, is not medicinal springs with which it abounded. - There was likewise a known. But it is commonly supposed, that whatever his station Mephitis, or opening in the earth, here, from which a pestilential was, he had failed in the duties of it, and that the apostle ordered vapour issued, which killed any animal which happened to breathe the Colossiens to rebuke him publicly for his negligence. But in it.
others, with more charity, and I think with more truth, are of Ver. 14. Luke, the beloved physician.)-Luke was deservedly opinion, that the apostle in this direction meant, that the Cologbeloved of the apostle Paul. He was not only an intelligent and sians should encourage Archippus to diligence, because the false sincere disciplc of Christ, but the apostle's affectionate and faith teachers at Colosse were very active in spreading their errors. ful friend, as appears from his attending himn in several of his And it must be acknowledged, that their opinion derives probabijourneys through the Lesser Asia and Greece. He likewise ac lity from the respectful manner in which Archippus is addressed companied him when he carried the collections to the saints in in the epistle to Philemon, which was written about this time, and Judea, where, during the apostle's two years' imprisonment at sent with the apostle to the Colossians. For if one and the same Jerusalem and Cæsarea, he abode, and no doubt was present at person is meant in both epistles, it is hardly to be thought that the his trials before Felix and Festus, and heard the speeches which apostle would have given him the respectsul appellations of selloishe hath recorded in his history of the Acts. And when the apostle labourer and scuou-soldier, if he had been so remarkably negliwas sent a prisoner to Italy, Luke accompanied him in the voyage, gent as to merit a public rebuke from the church of the Colossians. and remained with him in Rome till he was released. Last of all, 2. That thou mayest fulfil it. }'lv UTAV Tampons. Bengelius this excellent person was with the apostle during his second im translates this, "That thou mayest fill it up;' and from this expres. prisonment in the same city; on which occasion, when his other sion he infers, that Archippus being old and infirm, was about to assistants deserted him through fear, Luke abode with leim, and finish his course; and received this encouragement from the ministered to him, 2 Tim. iv. 11. note.
apostle to strengthen him. Ver. 15. And Nymphas, and the church in his house. } It seems Ver. 18. Remember my bonds.}-For the manner of the apostle's Nymphas had a numerous family of slaves and others, who, having confinement at Rome, see Eph. vi. 20. note.-His having suffered embraced the gospel, formed a church, or society for religious now an almost four years' imprisonment for the gospel, and, in worship, among themselves. Sce Rom. xvi. 5. note 1.
the course of that time, innumerable hardships and dangers, it Ver. 16.-1. Cause that it be read also in the church of the Laod. was such a demonstration of his firm persuasion of its truth, as ceans.)-The members of the church at Laodicea having, before could not fail to confirm the Colossians, and all the Gentiles, in their conversion, entertained the same principles and followed the belief of it. This is the reason that, notwithstanding he had the same practices with the Colossians, and the danger to both mentioned his bonds twice before in this letter, he brings it in a churches, from the attempts of the false teachers, being nearly third time here, at the conclusion.
ed numbers of religious proselytes and idolatrous GenSecr. I.-Of the Introduction of the Gospel at Thessa- tiles, and even many of the Bercan Jews. For the latlonica ; and of the date of St. Paul's first Epistle to Thessalonica, “they received the word with all readiness
ter being of a better disposition than their brethren in the Thessalonians.
of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily whether those From the history of the Acts of the Apostles it appears, things were so. But the Thessalonian Jews hearing of that St. Paul first passed into Europe to preach the gospel
, the success of the gospel in Beræa, came and stirred up after he had delivered the decrees of the council of Jeru- the idolatrous multitude, so that Paul was constrained to salem (Acts xvi. 4.) to the churches in the Lesser Asia, depart. Silas, however, and Timothy, not being so obwhereby the Gentiles were declared free from obeying noxious to the Jews, abode there still. In this flight the the law of Moses, as a term of salvation. In the course apostle was accompanied by some of the Beræan brethren, of that journey Paul having come to Troas, as was men who conducted him to Athens, and who, when they detioned in the Preface to the epistle to the Philippians, parted, carried his order to Silas and Timothy to come to sect. I., there appeared to him in the night a vision of him forthwith. In obedience to that order, Timothy a man in the habit of a Macedonian, praying him to come alone came to Athens. But the apostle immediately sent over into Macedonia, and help them. In obedience to him back to Thessalonica, to comfort the brethren, and that call, which they knew to be from Christ, the apostle, to exhort them concerning their faith, 1 Thess. iii. 1, 2.with his assistants Silas and Timothy, went first to Phi- After Timothy left Athens, Paul endeavoured to plant lippi, and laid the foundation of a very flourishing church the gospel in that celebrated mart of learning by the force there. After that they went to Thessalonica, a great of reasoning alone, without the aid of miracles. The sea-port town of Macedonia, which being anciently called Athenian philosophers, however, not being convinced by Therma, gave its name to the bay on which it was situated. his discourses, though he reasoned in the most forcible At that time Thessalonica was the residence of the Pro manner against the polytheism to which they were addictconsul who governed the province of Macedonia, and of ed, he made but few disciples. Leaving Athens, therethe Questor who had the care of the Emperor's revenues. fore, before Timothy returned from Thessalonica, he This city, therefore, being the metropolis of all the coun went to Corinth, the chief city of the province of Achaia, tries comprehended in the province of Macedonia, (see 1 in hopes of being better received. This happened soon Thess. i. 7. note), and the seat of the courts of justice, after the Emperor Claudius banished the Jews from and the place where the affairs of the province were ma Rome. For, on his arrival at Corinth, the apostle found naged, and carrying on an extensive commerce by its Aquila and Priscilla, lately come from Italy, in consemerchants, was full of inhabitants, among whom were quence of the Emperor's edict. many philosophers and men of genius. There was like St. Paul had not long been at Corinth when Timothy wise, to this city, a constant resort of strangers from all came to him from Thessalonica, Acts xviii. 5., and, no quarters; so that Thessalonica was remarkable for the doubt, gave him such an account of affairs in Thessalonumber, the wealth, and the learning of its inhabitants. nica, as made him sensible that his presence was greatly But, like all the other cities of the Greeks, being utterly wanted in that city : But the success with which he was corrupted with ignorance in matters of religion, with ido- preaching the gospel in Achaia rendered it improper for latry, and with all sorts of wickedness, it was a fit scene him to leave Corinth at that time. To supply therefore for the apostle to display the light of the gospel in. He the want of his presence, he immediately wrote to the therefore went thither directly after leaving Philippi. Thessalonian brethren this his first epistle, in which, as And, as there was a Jewish synagogue in Thessalonica, we shall see immediately, he treated of those matters he entered into it soon after his arrival, according to his which he would have made the subjects of his discourses custom, and three sabbath-days reasoned with the Jews had he been present with them. out of the Scriptures. His discourses, however, had not From these facts and circumstances, which are all rethat success with the Jews which might have been ex lated in the history of the Acts, it appears that this first pected, a few of them only believing; whilst of the reli- epistle to the Thessalonians was written, not from Athens, gious proselytes a great multitude embraced the gospel, as the interpolated postscript at the end of the epistle among whom were many women of the first distinction bears, but from Corinth; and that not long after the in the city. Yet the greatest part of the Thessalonian publication of Claudius's edict against the ws, which converts were idolatrous Gentiles; as appears from the happened in the twelfth year of his reign, answering to apostle's first epistle, in which he speaks to that church A. p. 51. I suppose it was written in the end of that in general, as having turned from idols to serve the liv- year. ing God.—The many converts which the apostle made in Thessalonica from among the idolatrous Gentiles, and Sect. II.— Of the Occasion of Writing the First Epistle his receiving money once and again from the Philippians
to the Thessalonians. while he preached in Thessalonica, Philip. iv. 16., shew that he abode in that city a considerable time after he It seems the idolaters in Thessalonica, greatly disleft off preaching in the synagogue. But his success pleased with their fellow-citizens for deserting the temples among the proselytes and idolatrous Gentiles exciting and worship of the Gods, were easily persuaded by the the indignation and envy of the unbelieving Jews, they Jews to make the assault, above described, against the gathered a company, and brake into the house of Jason, Christian teachers. The Jews, however, and the idola. where the apostle and his assistants lodged, intending to trous rabble, were not the only enemies of Christ in bring them forth to the people, that they might be put Thessalonica. The philosophers, of whom there were to death in the tumult. But they happily escaping, the many in all the great cities of the Greeks, finding the brethren by night sent Paul and Silas away to Berca, a gospel very favourably received by the people, would neighbouring city of note ; where likewise they convert- naturally, after their manner, examine it scientifically,
and oppose it by arguments. This I may venture to Thess. ii. 18. Wherefore to supply to the Thessalonian affirm, because, while the magistrates, the priests, and brethren the want of his presence and counsels, he wrote the multitude, were endeavouring to suppress the new them from Corinth this his first epistle, in which he furdoctrine by persecuting its preachers and adherents, it is nished them with a formal proof of the divine original of not to be imagined that the men of learning in Thessa- the gospel, intermixed with answers to the objections, lonica would remain inactive. We may therefore be which we suppose the learned Greeks, who made the lieve, that many of them reasoned both against the doc- gospel a subject of disputation, raised against its evidentrines of the gospel and against its miracles ; reprobat ces; together with a vindication of his own conduct, in ing the former as foolishness, and representing the latter fleeing from Thessalonica when the Jews and the idolaas the effects of magic. And with respect to its preachers, trous multitude assaulted the house of Jason, in which they spake loudly against them as impostors, because they he and his assistants lodged. had not appeared, with Jason and the rest, before the This account of the apostle's design in writing his first magistrates, but had fled by night to Beræa. For, with epistle to the Thessalonians, and of the subjects handled some shew of reason, they might pretend, that this flight in it, I acknowledge is not explicitly declared in the of the new teachers proceeded from a consciousness of epistle itself. But in the Essay on St Paul's manner of the falsehood of their doctrine and miracles. Besides, writing I have shewed, that it is not by any formal dehaving left their disciples in Thessalonica to bear the claration, but by the nature of the things written, that he persecution alone, without giving them any aid, either commonly discovers the purpose for which he wrote. by their counsel or their example, the philosophers might This is the case, particularly, in the first epistle to the urge that circumstance as a proof that these pretended Thessalonians, where the nature of the things written messengers of God were deficient in courage, and had clearly leads us to consider it as a proof of the divine no affection for their disciples,—to the great discredit of original of the gospel, and a refutation of the objections Paul, in particular, who had boasted of his fortitude in raised against the gospel and its preachers: for the whole suffering for the gospel, and had professed the greatest sentiments evidently point toward these objects; and love to the Thessalonians.
viewed in that light, the language in which they are If the reader will, for a moment, suppose himself in clothed exhibits a clear unambiguous meaning, as shall the place of the learned Greeks, at the time the gospel be shewed in the illustrations prefixed to the several was first preached in Thessalonica, he will be sensible chapters. Not to mention, that, on supposition the how natural it was for them to oppose it by disputation ; apostle had these objects in view when he wrote this nay, he will acknowledge that their discourses, after the epistle, many of his expressions acquire a beauty and apostle's flight, might be such as we have represented. energy, which entirely disappear when we lose sight of On this supposition it can hardly be doubted, that these the apostle's design. To these things add, that the long discourses were reported to Timothy in Beræa, by the apology which the apostle makes for his sudden fight brethren who came to him from Thessalonica, after from Thessalonica, together with the many warm exPaul's departure; and that, when Timothy followed the pressions of his affection to the Thessalonians, which apostle to Athens, he informed him particularly of every take up a considerable part of the second, and the whole thing he had heard. What else could have moved the of the third chapters, appear with the greatest propriety, apostle to send Timothy back to Thessalonica, to exhort considered as a vindication of the apostle's conduct as the brethren concerning their faith, and to caution them a missionary from God; whereas, in any other light, not to be moved by his afflictions ? 1 Thess. iii. 2, 3. these particulars appear to be introduced for no purpose. The truth is, the danger the Thessalonians were in, of Since, therefore, the things written in the first epistle to being moved by the specious reasonings of the philoso- the Thessalonians form a regular and connected proof phers addressed to their prejudices, was great, and would of the divine original of the gospel, there can be no doubt have required the presence of the apostle himself to of the apostle's intending that proof, both for the confirfortify them. But as the unbelieving Jews and Gentiles mation of the faith of the Thessalonians, and for enabling were greatly enraged against him, he could not return, them to convince unbelievers. but employed Timothy to perform that office; which he The subjects handled in this epistle, being matters in was well qualified to do, by his extraordinary talents and which all the brethren throughout the province of Maceendowments. Timothy, therefore, returning to Thessa- donia were equally concerned with the Thessalonians, the lonica, gave the brethren the necessary exhortations and apostle ordered it to be read to all the holy brethren,' encouragements, which no doubt proved of great use to chap. v. 27.; that is, it was to be read publicly, not only many.
in the church of the Thessalonians, but to the brethren During this second visit to the Thessalonians, Timothy in Philippi and Beræa, and in all the other cities in the nad an opportunity of hearing from the philosophers them- province of Macedonia where churches were planted. selves, the objections which they urged against Paul's Nay, it was intended to be shewed to the unbelieving incharacter and behaviour, together with the arguments habitants of that province, whose curiosity might lead whereby they endeavoured to disprove the gospel. So them to inquire into the causes of the rapid progress of that when he came to the apostle at Corinth, we may the gospel, or whose malice might incline them to imsuppose he explained the whole to him with greater pro- pugn the Christian faith ; at least, the things written in cision than formerly; and added, that although the so this epistle are evidently answers, which the Thessalonians phists had endeavoured to shake the faith of the Thessa were to give to such as required a reason of the faith lonians, they had stood firm hitherto, and had borne the that was in them. persecution with admirable patience, 1 Thess. iii. 6. Ne Before this section is finished, it may be proper to revertheless, being young converts, they were but ill fitted mark, that the proof of the divine original of the gospel, to maintain their cause against such powerful opponents, contained in the first epistle to the Thessalonians, being either in the way of arguing or of suffering, unless they written by one of the greatest inspired preachers of the were properly assisted. Indeed the apostle himself, when gospel, and being designed for the consideration of perhe fled from Thessalonica, was so sensible of this, that sons celebrated for their genius and learning, it will ever during his abode in Beræa he had endeavoured once and merit the attention of the friends of the Christian revelaagain to return to Thessalonica, that he might strengthen tion, and should not be overlooked by its enemies; behis converts, by defending the gospel against the cavils cause it may be supposed to exhibit the principal arguof the men of learning ; but Satan hindered him,' i ments on which the Christian preachers themselves built
their pretensions as missionaries from God, and by which arises from the fulfilment of the prophecies of the Old they so effectually destroyed the prevailing idolatry, and Testament; and therefore the very same arguments have turned great numbers of the heathens every-where to the often, since the apostle's days, been urged by those who faith and worship of the true God.
have undertaken the defence of the Christian religion.
But it is proper to remark, that in the mouth of Paul Sect. III.—Of the Subjects treated in the First Epistle for, it is not the miracles, the character, and the precepts
and his assistants these arguments have double weight; to the Thessalonians' ; and of the Persons mentioned of other persons, which they have appealed to, but their in the Inscription as the Writers of this Epistle.
And as in this epistle they have affirmed, in the In the opinion of the best critics and chronologers, this most direct terms, that the Thessalonians were eye-witbeing one of the first inspired writings which the apostle nesses of the miracles which they wrought for the conPaul addressed to the Greeks, whose philosophical genius firmation of the gospel, and that they knew the sanctity led them to examine matters of science and opinion with both of their manners and of their precepts, no doubt the greatest accuracy, he very properly chose for the can be entertained of these things. For it is not to be subject of it, the proofs by which the gospel is shewed to supposed, that three men of common understanding be a revelation from God. The reason is, by furnishing would have joined in writing after this manner, to such a clear and concise view of the evidences of the gospel, numerous societies as the Thessalonian church, and the he not only confirmed the Thessalonians themselves in other churches in which they ordered this epistle to be the faith thereof, as a revelation from God, but enabled read, unless the things which they affirm were done in them to persuade others also of its divine original ; or, at their presence, had really been true. And if they are least, he taught them how to confute their adversaries, true, there can be no doubt, that Paul and his assistants who, by misrepresentations and false reasonings, endea were commissioned of God; and that the gospel which voured to overthrow the gospel.
they preached is of divine original, and of universal obThe arguments proposed in this epistle, for proving ligation. the divine original of the Christian revelation, are the The proofs of the divine original of the gospel abovefour following :-1. That many and great miracles were mentioned, being all founded on matters of fact, it is wrought by the preachers of the gospel, professedly for evident that their credibility does not depend on the authe purpose of demonstrating, that they were commission- thority, or office, or station, of the persons who have as. ed by God to preach it to the world.-2. That the serted them; but on their capacity and integrity, and apostles and their assistants, by preaching the gospel, on the number, the capacity, and the integrity of the brought upon themselves, every-where, all manner of pre- witnesses in whose presence they are said to have hapsent evils, without obtaining the least worldly advantage, pened, and who are appealed to for the truth of them; either in possession or in prospect: That in preaching together with the conviction which these facts wrought this new doctrine, they did not in any respect, accommo in the minds of the witnesses, and the alteration which date it to the prevailing inclinations of their hearers, nor the belief of them produced in their after-conduct. I encourage them in their vicious practices: That they call the reader's attention to this observation; because it used none of the base arts peculiar to impostors for gain- shews the reason why Paul and his assistants, who have ing belief; but that their manner of preaching and act asserted these facts, and who have appealed to the Thesing was, in all respects, suitable to the character of mis- salonians as knowing the truth of them, have not, in the sionaries from God; so that, on account of their per- inscription of their letter, assumed to themselves the titles sonal character, they were entitled to the highest credit either of Apostles or Evangelists, but have designed as teachers.--3. That the first preachers of the gospel themselves simply by their names -Paul, and Silvanus, delivered to their disciples, from the very beginning, pre- and Timothy, cepts of the greatest strictness and holiness ; so that by Farther, though it was proper that Paul, who was the the sanctity of its precepts, the gospel is shewed to be a chief preacher and worker of miracles, should be the scheme of religion every way worthy of the true God, writer of this letter to the Thessalonians, yet, as Silvaand highly beneficial to mankind.-4. That Jesus, the nus and Timothy had assisted him in preaching, and author of our religion, was declared to be the Son of had themselves wrought miracles among the ThessaloniGod, and the Judge of the world, hy his resurrection ans, and were teachers of the same virtuous disinterested from the dead; and that by the same miracle, his own character with himself, and were equally faithful in promise, and the predictions of his apostles concerning preaching the gospel, they joined him in it, to give the his return from heaven, to reward the righteous and pu- greater weight to the appeals he was about to make to nish the wicked, especially them who obey not his gos
the Thessalonians. For every thing said in this letter is pel, are rendered absolutely certain.
said of them all, and is equally true of them all; as the In setting forth the proofs of the divine original of Thessalonians well knew. However, the arguments tathe gospel, the apostle with great propriety insisted, in a ken from their miracles, character, and precepts, will not particular manner, on the character, behaviour, and views have their full weight, unless we recollect, that the things of the Christian preachers; because an argument of that affirmed of Paul and Silvanus and Timothy, are true of kind could not fail to have great weight with the Greeks, all the apostles and inspired preachers of the gospel withas it inade them sensible that the ministers of the gospel out exception.- In the next place, although the first were the very reverse of their philosophers, the only epistle to the Thessalonians was written by Paul alone, teachers to whom that intelligent and inquisitive people Silvanus and Timothy are fitly mentioned in the inscriphad hitherto listened. Wherefore we will not be mis- tion, for this other reason, that being ministers of the taken if we suppose, that, in describing the character, word, who possessed the gift of discerning spirits, when manners, and views of the Christian teachers, the writers they read the first copy of this letter, they were qualified, of this epistle tacitly contrasted themselves, not only with by that gift, to know whether every thing contained in it impostors in general, but with the Greek philosophers was dictated to Paul by the Spirit of God; and therein particular, who, though in high estimation with the fore, by allowing their names to be inserted in the inpeople, were many of them unprincipled impostors, and scription when it was transcribed, they declared it to be excessively debauched in their morals.
so, and added their testimony to all the doctrines and To the arguments offered in this epistle, in proof of facts contained in it. By the way, this shews the prothe gospel revelation, little can be added, except what priety of the apostle's joining Sosthenes with himself
the inscription of his first epistle to the Corinthians ; and tion, chap. iv. 9. But concerning brotherly love, ye have Timothy, in the inscription of his second epistle to the no need that I write to you;' for this implied, that they same church, and in the inscriptions of his epistles to needed to be written to concerning chastity, as he had the Philippians and Colossians. For Paul, though an done in what immediately goes before.-Farther, because apostle, willingly submitted his writings to be tried by the apostle had been informed by Timothy, or some those who possessed the gift of discerning spirits; as is other person, that they did not pay a proper respect to plain from 1 Cor. xiv. 37. “If any one be really a prophet, their teachers when they admonished them concerning or a spiritual person, let him acknowledge the things I the irregularities of their behaviour, he besought them to write to you, that they are the commandments of the obey those who laboured among them in the Lord, Lord.' Sosthenes, therefore, being a spiritual person, very and to esteem them very highly with love, for their work's properly joined Paul in his letter to the Corinthians, be- sake, ch. v. 12, 13. It seems the Thessalonian brethren cause by his gift of discerning spirits, he was equally had not acquired a just idea of that subordination to their qualified with Silvanus and Timothy to attest that all teachers, which was necessary to the very existence of the the things contained in the letter to which his name is Christian societies, while they had no protection from the prefixed, proceeded from the inspiration of the Spirit of civil powers, but rather were oppressed by them. The God.
truth is, the Christian churches could not subsist in those In this epistle, besides proving the divine original of early times, amidst the storms of persecution which came the gospel, the apostle, by wholesome reproofs, corrected upon them from every quarter, except by maintaining a certain vices and irregularities which the Thessalonians cordial union among themselves, and by following carehad not yet amended.—Now on this subject let it be ob- fully the directions of their spiritual guides. served, once for all, that notwithstanding a great change On the other hand, the rulers and pastors of the church was wrought in the manners of the first Christians by of the Thessalonians being discouraged, and perhaps intheir believing the gospel, they did not become all at once timidated, by the refractory disposition which many of perfect, either in knowledge or virtue. The operation of their people shewed when rebuked for their vices, had, it the gospel, in rooting out their old prejudices, and in cor- seems, forborne to admonish them. The apostle thererecting their predominant vices, was gradual, and often- fore addressed them likewise, requiring them to be faithtimes slow. Hence, though the first Christians were all ful, and plain, and earnest in admonishing every one who of them much more knowing and virtuous than the gene- sinned ; and particularly those who went about meddling rality of their heathen neighbours, there were particulars in other people's affairs, and neglecting their own, chap. in the behaviour of many of them which needed correc v. 14. For notwithstanding St. Paul, while in Thessa. tion. Not to mention, that through the imperfection of lonica, had expressly forbidden these practices, there their knowledge of a religion altogether new to them, were some who still followed them, to the great scandal they were in danger of deceiving themselves with respect of the Christian name. to their favourite vices, and of being deceived by the spe This plain dealing of the apostle towards all his discious reasonings of the false teachers, who, from interested ciples, seconded by the fidelity of their own pastors, had motives, flattered them in their evil practices. Where no doubt, in time, the desired effect upon the first Chris fore we ought not to be surprised, if, in most of the epis- tians. For, considering the honesty of disposition which tles which St. Paul wrote to his converts, some irregu- they had shewed, in so readily forsaking the idolatrous larities are reproved. These faults were the natural, and practices in which they had been educated, and in emalmost unavoidable consequences of their former cha- bracing the gospel at the hazard of their fortunes and racter, their imperfect views, and their national preju- lives, it cannot be doubted, that most of them paid a prodices.
per regard to the earnest remonstrances of their spiritual With respect to the Thessalonians in particular, the father, delivered to them by the direction of the Holy apostle, well knowing that it was difficult for them, all Ghost, and to the admonitions which, from time to time, at once, to divest themselves of their former habits, their several pastors gave them, agreeably to the mind of thought proper, when treating of the holy nature of the Christ; correcting at length those irregularities, in which, precepts of the gospel, to renew in the most solemn after their conversion, they had continued through mismanner those precepts against fornication, in all its forms, take, or inattention, or prejudice, or habit; and attaining which he had delivered to them from the very first. And to such a holy manner of living as was suitable to the his earnestness on this topic was an intimation to them, gospel : in so much that even the heathens, in process of that he thought them still defective in purity. The same time, regarded them with admiration, on account of their suspicion he insinuated at the conclusion of his exhorta- virtues.
CHAPTER I. View and Nlustration of the Subjects treated in the first Chapter of this Epistle. The apostle's design in this epistle, as was shewed in preaching only, but in preaching accompanied with great the Preface, sect. 3. being to furnish the Thessalonian and evident miracles, performed in their presence; and brethren with a proof of the divine original of the gospel, with the gifts of the Holy Ghost, communicated to them both for establishing themselves, and for convincing un- after they believed. And these miracles and supernatural believers, he elegantly introduced his subject by declaring, gifts, he affirms, had wrought in them much assurance,' that he gave thanks to God at all times, or daily, for their that is, the strongest persuasion of the truth of the gospel ; faith and love, and perseverance of hope; which he told in which persuasion they were confirmed by the holy disthem was an evidence of their election by God to be his interested behaviour of the preachers of the gospel, ver. people, although they did not obey the law of Moses, ver. 5.—But this being a branch of his second argument, the 2, 3, 4.-Then, to make the Thessalonians sensible that apostle only mentions it here, referring the more full contheir faith in the gospel was well founded, he put them sideration of it to chap. ii.--He adds, that the Thessalo in mind of the arguments by which they had been in- nians had shewed the strength of their faith, by imitating duced to receive the gospel as the word of God.
the apostles, and the Lord Jesus, in suffering much afflicThe first argument which he mentions is, That the gos- tion for the gospel with joy, ver. 6.—so that they were pel had been offered to the Thessalonians, not in word, or patterns of faith and fortitude to all the brethren in the