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Vincent's Word Studies, by Marvin R. Vincent, [1886], at

1 Thessalonians Chapter 1

1 Thessalonians 1:1

th1 1:1

The address of the first Epistle is shorter than that of any of the Pauline letters. In the other Epistles Paul either indicates the contents of the letter, or adds details concerning the writer or his correspondents, or amplifies the apostolic greeting. The names of Silvanus and Timothy are added to that of Paul as the senders of the letter. They were with him at Corinth when it was written (Act 18:5; Co2 1:19). They had assisted him in the foundation of the Thessalonian Church (Act 16:1-3; Act 17:4, Act 17:10, Act 17:14). Paul's official title; "Apostle" is omitted in the addresses of both Epistles, although in Th1 2:6 he uses ἀπόστολοι apostles, including Silvanus and Timothy under that title. The title appears in all the other Epistles except Philippians and Philemon. The reason for its omission in every case appears to have been the intimate and affectionate character of his relations with the parties addressed, which rendered an appeal to his apostolic authority unnecessary. Paul does not confine the name of apostle to the twelve.


The Silas of the Acts, where alone the form Σίλας occurs. By Paul always Σιλουανός, of which Σίλας is a contraction, as Λουκᾶς from Λουκανός. Similar contractions occur in Class., as Ἁλεξᾶς for Ἁλέξανδρος for Ἁλέξανδρος, and that for Ἁρτεμίδωρος. Silas first appears in Act 15:22, as one of the bearers of the letter to the Gentile Christians at Antioch. He accompanied Paul on his second missionary tour, and was left behind with Timothy when Paul departed from Macedonia after his first visit. He was probably a Jewish Christian (see Act 16:20), and was, like Paul, a Roman citizen (Act 16:37, Act 16:38). Hence his Roman name. He cannot with any certainty be identified with the Silvanus of Pe1 5:12.


Appears in all the Pauline Epistles except Galatians and Ephesians. He was associated with Paul longer than any one of whom we have notice. First mentioned Act 16:1, Act 16:2; comp. Ti2 3:10, Ti2 3:11. He accompanied Paul on his second missionary tour (Act 16:3), and was one of the founders of the churches in Thessalonica and Philippi. He is often styled by Paul "the brother" (Co2 1:1; Col 1:1; Th1 3:2; Plm 1:1); with Paul himself "a bondservant of Jesus Christ" (Phi 1:1); comp. Ti1 1:18; Ti2 1:2. Paul's confidence in him appears in Phi 2:19-22, and is implied in his sending him from Athens to the Thessalonian church to establish and comfort its members (Th1 3:2). Paul sent him again to Macedonia in company with Erastus (Act 19:22), and also to Corinth (Co1 4:17). To the Corinthians he writes of Timothy as "his beloved and faithful child in the Lord" who shall remind them of his ways in Christ (Co1 4:17), and as one who worketh the work of the Lord as he himself (Co1 16:10). He joined Paul at Rome, and his name is associated with Paul's in the addresses of the letters to the Colossians and Philemon. In every case where he is mentioned by name with Silvanus, the name of Silvanus precedes.

To the church of the Thessalonians

This form of address appears in 1st and 2nd Corinthians, Galatians, 2nd Thessalonians. The other letters are addressed to "the saints, " "the brethren, " "the saints and faithful brethren." The use of the genitive of the national name is peculiar. Comp. Co1 1:22; Co2 1:1; Gal 1:2; Phi 1:1; Col 1:2.

The church (ἐκκλησίᾳ)

From ἐκ out, and καλεῖν to call or summon. Originally with a secular meaning, an assembly of citizens regularly summoned. So Act 19:39. lxx uses it for the congregation of Israel, either as convened for a definite purpose (Kg1 8:65; Deu 4:10; Deu 18:16), or as a community (Ch2 1:3, Ch2 1:5; Ch2 23:3; Neh 8:17). The verbs ἐκκλησιάζειν and ἐξεκκλησιάζειν to summon formally, which do not occur in N.T., are found in lxx with συναγωγὴν gathering, λαόν people, and πρεσβυτέρους elders. Συναγωγὴ is constantly used in lxx of the children of Israel as a body (Exo 12:6, Exo 12:19, Exo 12:47; Lev 4:13, etc.), and is the more common word in N.T. for a Jewish as distinguished from a Christian assembly; sometimes with the addition of the Jews (Act 8:5; Act 14:1; Act 17:1). It is once used of a Christian assembly (Jam 2:2). Ἑπισυναγωγὴ gathering together, occurs Th2 2:1; Heb 10:25. The Ebionites retained συναγωγὴ in preference to ἐκκλησία. The lxx translators found two Hebrew words for "assembly" or "congregation,": עֵדָה and קָהָל, and rendered the former by συναγωγὴ in the great majority of instances. Ἑκκλησία does not appear as the rendering of עֵדָה. They were not as consistent in rendering קָהָל, since they used both συναγωγὴ and ἐκκλησία, though the latter was the more frequent: see Lev 4:13; Deu 5:22, etc. The A.V. renders both words by "congregation" and "assembly" indiscriminately. Ἑκκλησία is only once used in N.T. of a Jewish congregation, Act 7:38; yet there are cases where there is an apparent attempt to guard its distinctively Christian sense against being confounded with the unconverted Jewish communities. Hence the addition; ἐν Χριστῷ in Christ, Gal 1:22; ἐν θεῷ πατρὶ και, κυρίῳ Ἱησοῦ Χριστῷ in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, Th1 1:1; comp. Th2 1:1. In both Hebrew and N.T. usage, ἐκκλησία implies a community based on a special religious idea, and established in a special way. In N.T. it is also used in a narrower sense, of a single church, or of a church confined to a single place. So Rom 16:5, etc.

In God the Father, etc.

Const. with the church, and comp. Th2 1:1. The phrase "the church in God" is peculiar to the Thessalonian Epistles. Elsewhere "of God" (Co1 10:32; Co1 11:16, Co1 11:22; Co1 15:9, etc.); "of the saints" (Co1 14:33). Lightfoot suggests that the word ἐκκλησία can scarcely have been stamped with so definite a Christian meaning in the minds of these recent and early converts as to render the addition "in God the Father," etc., superfluous.

Grace to you and peace (χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη)

In Romans, 1st and 2nd Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, the salutation is, Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Colossians omits the last five words of this: 2 Thessalonians omits our before Father. On the union of the Greek and Jewish forms of salutation, see on Co1 1:3.

1 Thessalonians 1:2

th1 1:2

We give thanks (εὐχαριστοῦμεν)

According to Paul's habit, a thanksgiving follows the salutation, commonly with the verb ἐυχαριστεῖν as here; but in 2nd Corinthians and Ephesians, εὐλογητὸς ὁ θεός blessed be God. The thanksgiving is omitted only in Galatians. The verb εὐχαριστεῖν occurs only in later Greek, and there but rarely. In lxx only in Apocr. See Judith 8:25; 2 Macc. 1:11; 10:7; 3 Macc. 7:16. In the N.T. Epistles, Po. Originally to do a good turn; hence, to return a favor. The meaning to give thanks is late. The kindred noun εὐχαριστία giving of thanks, is found often in Paul. As a designation of the Lord's Supper (Eucharist) it is not found in the N.T. Perhaps the earliest instance of its use in that sense is in Ignatius. See Philad. iv.; Smyrn. iv., viii.; Eph. viii., Comp. Just. Mart. Apol. i., 64, 65.

In we give thanks, it is not easy to decide whether Paul uses we as plural, or in the sense of I. Rom 3:9 seems to be a clear case of the latter usage. In Th1 3:1, Th1 3:2, ηὐδοκήσαμεν we thought it good, and ἐπέμψαμεν we sent, can, apparently, refer only to Paul; and similarly, in Th1 3:6, πρὸς ἡμᾶς unto us, can hardly include Silvanus who came with Timothy (comp. Th1 3:5). But it is significant that, in the Epistles which are written in Paul's name alone (Romans, Galatians, Ephesians), only I is used, unless we except Gal 1:8, which is doubtful. Paul and Timothy appear jointly as correspondents in Philippians, but the first person predominates throughout the letter. The same is true of 1st Corinthians, where Paul and Sosthenes are associated in the address, but the singular pronoun is used almost throughout. (See Co1 4:10-13; Co1 9:4, Co1 9:5, Co1 9:25, Co1 9:26). In Colossians Paul and Timothy appear in the address. The plural prevails to Col 1:23, and alternates with the singular throughout the remainder. The alternations in 2nd Corinthians are very bewildering.

On the whole, I think that occasional instances of the epistolary plural must be granted. It is not, however, Paul's habitual usage. We is often employed as in ordinary correspondence or argument, where the writer or speaker associates himself with his readers or hearers. Abundant illustrations of this may be seen in Romans 6 and 8; but in other cases, when Paul speaks in the plural, he usually associates his fellow-ministers, mentally, with himself.

Making mention (μνείαν ποιούμενοι)

For the phrase see Rom 1:9; Eph 1:16; Plm 1:4. Always in connection with prayer. In the sense of remember it appears in lxx, Job 14:13. In Psa 111:4, to make a memorial. See further, on without ceasing, Th1 1:3.

In my prayers (ἐπὶ)

When engaged in offering my prayers. Επὶ here blends the local with the temporal sense.

Prayers (προσευχῶν)

The more general term, and limited to prayer to God; while δέησις petitionary prayer, supplication, may be addressed to man. Paul alone associates the two words. See Phi 4:6; Eph 6:18. In classical Greek the word does not occur in the sense of prayer. It is found in later Greek, meaning a place for prayer, in which sense it appears in Act 16:13, Act 16:16. It signified either a synagogue, or an open praying-place outside of a city.

1 Thessalonians 1:3

th1 1:3

Without ceasing (ἀδιαλείπτως)

Po. In lxx see 1 Macc. 7:11; 2 Macc. 3:26; 9:4; 8:12; 15:7; 3 Macc. 6:33. Should be construed with making mention, not with remembering, as A.V. and Rev. The salutations of Paul reproduce ordinary conventional forms of greeting. Thus the familiar Greek greeting χαίρειν be joyful, hail, welcome, appears in χάρις grace. This was perceived by Theodore of Mopsuestia (350-428 a.d.), who, in his commentary on Ephesians, says that in the preface to that letter Paul does very much as we do when we say "So and so to So and so, greeting" (ὁ δεῖνα τῷ δεῖνι χαίρειν). Deissmann gives some interesting parallels from ancient papyri. For instance, a letter dated 172 b.c., from an Egyptian lady to her brother or husband: "Isias to her brother Hephaestion, greeting (χαίρειν). If you are well, and other things happen as you would wish, it would be in accordance with my constant prayer to the gods. I myself am well, and the boy; and all at home make constant remembrance of you. Comp. Rom 1:9; Eph 1:16; Plm 1:4. Again: "Ammonios to his sister Tachnumi, abundant greeting (τὰ πλεῖστα χαίρειν). Before all things, I pray that you may be in health; and each day I make the act of worship for you." In these specimens the conventional salutations in correspondence include the general greeting (χαίρειν) and the statement that prayer is made for the correspondent's welfare; and the words constant and daily are attached to the act of prayer. It is further to be noticed that many passages of Paul's Epistles give evidence of having been shaped by expressions in letters received by him from the parties he is addressing. In his answer he gives them back their own words, as is common in correspondence. Thus, making mention of you and remembering your work, etc., together with the statement that Timothy reports that you have a good remembrance of us (Th1 3:6), all together suggest that Paul had before him, when writing to the Thessalonians, a letter which Timothy had brought from them. Other instances will be noted as they occur.

Work - labor - patience (ἔπργου - κόπου - ὑπομονῆς)

Ἔργον work, may mean either the act, the simple transaction, or the process of dealing with anything, or the result of the dealing, - as a book or a picture is called a work. Κόπος labor, from κόπτειν to strike or hew; hence, laborious, painful exertion. Ὑπομονὴ patience, patient endurance and faithful persistence in toil and suffering. See on Pe2 1:6; see on Jam 5:7. The genitives, of faith, love, hope, mark the generating principles of the work and labor and patience, which set their stamp upon each; thus, work which springs from faith, and is characteristic of faith. The phrase patience of hope is found only here; but see Rom 5:4; Rom 8:25; Rom 15:4; Co1 8:7; Heb 7:11, Heb 7:12. ὑπομονὴ in lxx, see Ch1 29:15; Job 14:19; Psa 9:18; Psa 38:7; Jeremiah 1 Jer 4:8. We have here the great triad of Christian graces, corresponding to Co1 8:1-13. Hope is prominent throughout the two Epistles. The triad appears, Th1 5:8; Gal 5:5, Gal 5:6; Co1 8:13; Eph 4:2-5; Col 1:4, Col 1:5; Heb 10:22-24; Pe1 1:21-22. Comp. Th1 2:9; Th1 5:8; Th2 3:5, Th2 3:8; Co1 15:10, Co1 15:58; Co2 11:27; Rev 2:2.

In our Lord, etc. (τοῦ κυρίου)

Lit. of our Lord. For a similar use of the genitive, see Joh 5:42; Jo1 2:5, Jo1 2:15; Act 9:31; Rom 1:5;Rom 3:18, Rom 3:22, Rom 3:26, etc. Connect with hope only.

Before our God and Father

Const. with remembering, and comp. Th1 2:19; Th1 3:9.

1 Thessalonians 1:4

th1 1:4

Election of God

Incorrect. Const. of or by (ὑπὸ) God with beloved. Ἑκλογὴ election, in N.T., mostly by Paul. Elsewhere only Act 9:15, and Pe2 1:10. This, and the kindred words, ἐκλέγειν to choose, and ἐκλεκτὸς chosen or elect, are used of God's selection of men or agencies for special missions or attainments; but neither here nor elsewhere in the N.T. is there any warrant for the revolting doctrine that God has predestined a definite number of mankind to eternal life, and the rest to eternal destruction. The sense in this passage appears to be defined by the succeeding context. The Thessalonians had been chosen to be members of the Christian church, and their conduct had justified the choice. See Th1 1:5-10.

1 Thessalonians 1:5

th1 1:5

For (ὅτι)

Incorrect. Rend. how that. It is explanatory of your election. For similar usage see Co1 1:26.

Our gospel

The gospel as preached by Paul and his colleagues. Comp. Rom 2:16; Rom 16:25; Gal 1:11; Gal 2:2; Th1 2:4. My gospel is sometimes used in connection with an emphasis upon some particular feature of the gospel, as in Rom 2:16, where Paul is speaking of the judgment of the world by Christ; or in Rom 16:25, where he is referring to the extension of the messianic kingdom to the Gentiles.

In word (ἐν λόγῳ)

The gospel did not appeal to them as mere eloquent and learned discourse.

In power (ἐν δύναμει)

Power of spiritual persuasion and conviction: not power as displayed in miracles, at least not principally, although miraculous demonstrations may be included. Paul rarely alluded to his power of working miracles.

Assurance (πληροφορίᾳ)

Assured persuasion of the preacher that the message was divine. The word not in pre-Christian Greek writers, nor in lxx. Only in one other passage in Paul, Col 2:2. See Heb 6:11; Heb 10:22.

We were (ἐγενήθημεν)

More correctly, we shewed or proved ourselves.

1 Thessalonians 1:6

th1 1:6

Followers (μιμηταὶ)

More literally and better, imitators. Only once outside of Paul's writings, Heb 6:12. Comp. Th1 3:9; Th2 3:7; Co1 4:16; Co1 11:1; Gal 4:12; Phi 3:17; Phi 4:9.

And of the Lord

Guarding against any possible imputation of self-assertion or conceit. Comp. Co1 11:1.

Tribulation (θλίψει)

See on Mat 13:21. Referring especially to persecutions at the hands of the Jews (Act 17:5 ff.), which probably continued after Paul's departure from Thessalonica.

1 Thessalonians 1:7

th1 1:7

An ensample (τύπον)

See on Pe1 5:3.

Macedonia and Achaia

Shortly after 146 b.c., all Greece south of Macedonia and Epirus was formed into a Roman province under the name of Achaia, and Macedonia with Epirus into another province called Macedonia.

1 Thessalonians 1:8

th1 1:8

Hath sounded forth (ἐξήχηται)

N.T.o. lxx Joe 3:14; Sir. 40:13, of thunder; 3 Macc. 3:2, of a report. It means a loud, unmistakable proclamation.

The word of the Lord (ὁ λόγος τοῦ κυρίου)

The phrase in Paul only in these Epistles. Comp. Th2 3:1; Th1 4:15. Comparatively frequent in Acts. Paul has λόγος Θεοῦ or τοῦ Θεοῦ word of God, eight times, and λόγος τοῦ χριστοῦ word of the Christ, once, Col 3:16. The meaning here is the gospel, regarded either as the message proceeding from the Lord, or concerning him. It is the εὐαγγέλιον θεοῦ the gospel of God: see Th1 2:2, Th1 2:8, Th1 2:9; Rom 1:1; Rom 15:16; Co2 11:7. As Professor Sanday remarks on Rom 1:1, "it is probably a mistake in these cases to restrict the force of the genitive to one particular aspect: all aspects are included in which the gospel is in any way related to God and Christ."

In every place

A rhetorical exaggeration, signifying the whole known world. It is explained by the extensive commercial relations of Thessalonica. Comp. Rom 1:8; Col 1:6, Col 1:23, Co2 2:14.

Is spread abroad (ἐξελήλυθεν)

Lit. and better, has gone forth.

1 Thessalonians 1:9

th1 1:9

They themselves shew (αὐτοὶ ἀπαγγέλλουσιν)

They themselves in contrast with we, Th1 1:8. We need not speak of anything: they themselves volunteer testimony to your faith. Shew, more correctly announce or report.

Entering in (εἴσοδον)

Comp. Th1 2:1. The thought of Th1 1:5 is resumed. The repetition of the word in Th1 2:1, and of in vain in Th1 3:5, may point to expressions in a letter of the Thessalonians.

Unto you (πρὸς)

The preposition combines with the sense of direction that of relation and intercourse. Comp. Mat 13:56; Mar 9:16; Joh 1:1; Act 3:25; Col 4:5; Heb 9:20.

Ye turned unto God (ἐπεστρέψατε πρὸς τὸν Θεὸν)

Comp. Act 14:15. The exact phrase only here. The verb is common in lxx, with both κύριον Lord and θεὸν God.


See on Co1 8:3. The word would indicate that the majority of the converts were heathen and not Jews.

Living and true (ζῶντι καὶ ἀληθινῷ)

The only instance in N.T. of this collocation. It does not occur in O.T. For ἀληθινὸς genuine, see on Joh 1:9; see on Joh 4:37; see on Joh 7:28. Mostly in the Johannine writings.

1 Thessalonians 1:10

th1 1:10

To wait for (ἀναμένειν)

N.T.o. Several times in lxx, as Job 2:9; Job 7:2; Isa 59:11. Paul's usual word is ἀπεκδέχομαι: see Rom 8:19, Rom 8:28, Rom 8:25; Co1 1:7; Phi 3:20.

From heaven (ἐκ τῶν οὐρανῶν)

Lit. from the heavens. Comp. Co1 15:47; Th1 4:16; Th2 1:7. Paul uses the unclassical plural much oftener than the singular. Although the Hebrew equivalent has no singular, the singular is almost universal in lxx, the plural occurring mostly in the Psalm. Οὐρανός is from a Sanscrit word meaning to cover or encompass. The Hebrew shamayim signifies height, high district, the upper regions. Similarly we have in N.T. ἐν ὑψίστοις in the highest (places), Mat 21:9; Luk 2:14 : ἐν ὑψηλοῖς in the high (places), Heb 1:3. Paul's usage is evidently colored by the Rabbinical conception of a series of heavens: see Co2 12:2; Eph 4:10. Some Jewish teachers held that there were seven heavens, others three. The idea of a series of heavens appears in patristic writings, in Thomas Aquinas's doctrine of the celestial hierarchies, and in Dionysius the Areopagite, Through the scholastic theologians it passed into Dante's Paradiso with its nine heavens. The words to await his Son from heaven strike the keynote of this Epistle.

Jesus which delivered (Ἱησοῦν τὸν ῥυόμενον)

More correctly, delivereth. See on Mat 1:21. Ῥύεσθαι to deliver, mostly in Paul. Lit. to draw to one's self. Almost invariably with the specification of some evil or danger or enemy. Σώζειν to save is often used in a similar sense, of deliverance from disease, from sin, or from divine wrath: see Mat 1:21; Mar 6:56; Luk 8:36; Act 2:40; Rom 5:9 : but σώζειν is a larger and more comprehensive term, including not only deliverance from sin and death, but investment with all the privileges and rewards of the new life in Christ.

The wrath to come (τῆς ὀργῆς τῆς ἐρχομένης)

Lit. the wrath which is coming. The wrath, absolutely, of the wrath of God, as Rom 5:9 Rom 7:19; Th1 2:16. Sometimes for the punishment which wrath inflicts, as Rom 12:4; Eph 5:6; Col 3:6. See on Joh 3:36. The phrase wrath to come is found in Mat 3:7; Luk 3:7. Coming does not necessarily imply the thought of speedy or imminent approach, but the general tone of the Epistle points in that direction.

Next: 1 Thessalonians Chapter 2