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17 The salutation of 17 Ο ασπασμος τη εμη Paul, with mine own hand, χειρι Παυλου, ο εςι σημειον εν which is the token in
παση επιςολη: δυτω γραφω. . every epistle : so I write.
18 The grace of our 18 Η χαρις του Κυριου Lord Jesus Christ or with ημων Ιησου Χριςου μετα πανAmen.
των υμων. Αμην.
peace, in allusion to Isaiah ix. 6. where he is foretold under the character of the prince of peace, because he was to reconcile Jews and Gentiles to God and to one another, making peace between God and them; and making of two one new man, whose members are to live in peace with one another.This prayer the apostle subjoins to the foregoing command, to intimate, that if the rulers of the church are faithful in their exhortations and admonitions, it is to be expected that the Lord will follow their labours with his blessing, aud make them effectual for producing peace and righteousness among the members of his body.
2. The Lord be with you all. This wish is founded on Christ's promise, Matt. xxviii. 20. Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. With this promise Paul may have been made acquainted by revelation.
As the first epistle to the Thessalonians contains a formal proof of the divine original of the gospel, founded on the knowledge and experience of the persons to whom it was addressed, its primary intention was to establish them in the faith of the gospel. Yet, like the other inspired writings, it was calculated for the benefit of all the churches of Christ to the end of the world. Accordingly, it hath been of singular use to them in every age ; for, from it we learn what the facts and circumstances were, on which the apostles built their pretensions to a divine commission, and by which they persuaded mankind to embrace the gospel. And our knowledge of these facts and circumstances leads us to believe, that the rapid progress of the gospel was owing, neither to fraud, nor to enthusiasm, nor to the power of the sword, but to the excellent nature of the gospel; the holy lives of its first preachers and professors; the undeniable miracles which the apostles wrought in proof of their mission from God; the gifts of the Spirit which they bestowed on their converts; the witness which they bare to the
17 The 'salutation of 17 The salutation of me, Paul, Paul with mine own written with mine own hand, which is hand, which is the token' the token in every epistle, by which in every epistle : thus I ye may distinguish my genuine letwrite.
ters. In this manner I write. 18 The grace of our 18 May the graces which shone Lord Jesus Christ Be with in our Lord Jesus Christ, remain with you all. Amen.
Amen. See Eph. vi. 24. note 2.
Ver. 17.-1. The salutation, &c. which is the token in every epistle. Paul commonly employed one to write, or at least to make a fair copy of his letters, especially if they were of any length. Wherefore, as impostors had now begun to forge letters in his name (2 Thess. ii. 2.), to prevent the ill consequences of that fraud, he wrote the salutation in all his letters with his own hand. And that the faithful at Thessalonica might be able to distinguish his genuine letters from such as were forged, he desired them to take particular notice of that mark. It seems the apostle's converts were generally acquainted with his hand-writing-Doddridge insinuates, that Paul may have dictated some of his epistles, while his hands were employed in the labours of his occupation of tent-making, and says, This may account for some small inaccuracies of style at which little minds have been offended, but which good judges easily know how to excuse.
resurrection of their master; and their appealing to that great miracle, in proof that according to his promise, he will return from heaven to reward the righteous, and to punish the wicked. For these being matters of fact, obvious to the senses of mankind, the vulgar, equally with the learned, were able to judge of them; and being strongly impressed by them, great numbers of them became Christ's disciples. Wherefore, although no miracles are now wrought in confirmation of the gospel, and the spiritual gifts have long ago ceased in the church, we have still abundant evidence of the divinity of our religion. The first epistle to the Thessalonians affords a convincing proof, that the gospel was established in the chief city of the province of Macedonia, by its own intrinsic excellence, accompanied with miracles and with the exercise of the spiritual gifts, notwithstanding the philosophers, of whom there were many in Thessalonica, endeavoured to overturn it by reasoning; and the unbelieving Jews, to stop its progress, stirred up the heathens to persecute those who professed it. For, the miracles and spiritual gifts which accompanied the preaching of the gospel, rendered it superior to all opposition.
The second epistle to the Thessalonians, although it was written to correct a particular error, being an illustrious monument of the inspiration of its 'author, affords to us, who live in these later times, an additional, and I may say an increasing evidence of the truth of our religion. Certain false teachers, by misinterpreting an expression or two in the apostle's first epistle, had made the Thessalonians believe, that the coming of Christ to raise the dead, and carry the righteous into heaven, was at hand, and thereby had occasioned them to neglect their worldly affairs. To undeceive them, the apostle, in his second epistle, assured them, that, before the coming of Christ, a great apostasy or defection from the true faith and practice of the gospel would take place in the church: that that defection would not happen all at once, but would proceed by slow degrees to the height and extent determined ; and that to carry it to that height, a long series of ages was requisite. And, to shew, that the apostasy would be of a long continuance, the apostle foretold the particulars of which it was to consist, described the persons by whom it wa
to be introduced, and discovered the vile arts, by which they were to establish it. Withal, that the Thessalonians might not be too much afflicted with the foresight of the evils which the apostasy would occasion, and that the faithful who beheld these evils, might not be tempted to think God had cast off all care of his church, the apostle foretold, that the apostasy would be destroyed; but in as gradual a manner as it had been introduced. And even described the means by which it would be destroyed; namely, by the scriptures put into the hands of the people, and by the preaching of the true doctrine of the gospel out of the scriptures; so that the eyes of the people, long blinded by the arts of the deceivers, being opened, they would at length discern and acknowledge the truth.—No events similar to these having ever taken place in any prior age af the world, the prediction of them by the apostle, and their happening exactly as they were foretold, to us, who have seen the rise and progress, and begun destruction of the apostasy, are such a demonstration of the inspiration of St. Paul, and of the truth of our religion, as cannot be gainsaid.
The matters contained in the two epistles to the Thessalonians being of such importance, we may believe, that the Presidents of the Thessalonian church, in obedience to the apostle's adjuration in his first epistle, took care to have both of them frequently read to the people in their public assemblies; who considering them as expressions of their spiritual father's love to them, and of his earnest concern for their salvation, would hear them read with pleasure, and be greatly strengthened and comforted by them.-May the reading of these excellent writings have the same happy effects on the disciples of Christ, to the end of time.
OF ST. PAUL'S
FIRST EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY.
The History of Timothy's Conversion to Christianity. Paul and Barnabas, in the course of their first apostolical journey among the Gentiles, having come to Lystra, a city of Lycaonia, in the Lesser Asia, Acts xiv. 6. preached there some time, and converted a pious Jewish woman, named Lois, with her daughter Eunice, whose husband, it is thought, was then dead, 2 Tim. i. 5.-Soon after this, Timothy, Eunice's son, who had been brought up by his mother and grandmother, in the Jewish religion, and in the knowledge of the scriptures, 2 Tim. iii. 15. being greatly affected by the apostle's discourses, believed. From the time of his conversion, Timothy made such proficienсу in the knowledge of the gospel, and was so remarkable for the sanctity of his manners, as well as for his zeal in the cause of Christ, that he attracted the esteem of all the brethren in those parts. Accordingly, when the apostle came from Antioch in Syria to Lystra, the second time, they so praised Timothy, that him would Paul have, to go forth with him, Acts xvi. 2, 3. The testimony of the brethren, however, was not the only reason of this choice. Timothy was pointed out as a fit person to be ordained an evangelist, by a revelation made either to Paul himself, or to some of the Christian prophets in Lystra, 1 Tim. i. 18. In the mean time, Timothy, though a Jew, not having been circumcised, by reason that his father was a Greek or Gentile, it was proper he should bear that mark of his descent; because, without it, the Jews would have looked on him as a