Vincent's Word Studies, by Marvin R. Vincent, , at sacred-texts.com
1 Thessalonians 5:1
Times - seasons (χρόνων - καιρῶν)
See on Act 1:7. With special reference to the Lord's coming. The plural is used because Paul is thinking of a number of incidents attending the preparation and accomplishment of the second advent, and occurring at different times. The collocation times and seasons only here and Act 1:7. Καιρός is the suitable time, χρόνος the time measured by duration. Hence καιρός a juncture, an occasion, as Mat 16:3. The distinction is so well marked that have the phrases χρόνου καιρός the right moment of the time, and εὔκαιρος χρόνος the opportune moment. See Soph. Elec. 1292.
1 Thessalonians 5:2
See on Luk 1:3.
The day of the Lord (ἡμέρα κυρίου)
The day of Christ's second coming. In Paul's Epistles this is expressed by ἡ ἡμέρα the day, absolutely, Th1 5:4; Co1 3:13; Rom 13:12 : ἡ ἡμέρα ἐκείνη that day, Th2 1:10 : ἡμέρα χριστοῦ the day of Christ, Phi 1:10; Phi 2:16 : ἡμέρα κυρίου or τοῦ κυρίου day of the Lord, Co1 5:5; Th1 5:2; Th2 2:2 : ἡμέρα τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἱησοῦ (Χριστοῦ), Co1 1:8; Co2 1:14. These expressions refer to a definite time when the Lord is expected to appear, and Paul expects this appearance soon. Attempts to evade this by referring such expressions to the day of death, or to the advance toward perfection after death until the final judgment, are forced, and are shaped by dogmatic conceptions of the nature of Biblical inspiration. In the O.T. the phrase day of the Lord denotes a time in which God will conspicuously manifest his power and goodness or his penal justice. See Isa 2:12; Eze 13:5; Joe 1:15; Joe 2:11; and comp. Rom 2:5. The whole class of phrases is rare in N.T. outside of Paul's Epistles.
As a thief (ὡς κλέπτης)
Comp. Mat 24:43; Luk 12:39; Pe2 3:10; Rev 16:15, and see on Rev 3:3.
In the night (ἐν νυκιτί)
The ancient church held that the advent was to be expected at night, on an Easter eve. This gave rise to the custom of vigils. Jerome, on Mat 25:6, says: "It is a tradition of the Jews that Messiah will come at midnight, after the likeness of that season in Egypt when the Passover was celebrated, and the Destroyer came, and the Lord passed over the dwellings. I think that this idea was perpetuated in the apostolic custom, that, on the day of vigils, at the Pascha, it was not allowed to dismiss the people before midnight, since they expected the advent of Christ." It is noteworthy how many of the gospel lessons on watchfulness are associated with the night and a visit by night. See Mat 24:43; Mat 25:1-13; Mar 13:35; Luk 12:35, Luk 12:38; Luk 17:34; Luk 12:20.
1 Thessalonians 5:3
When they shall say
The prediction is thrown into dramatic form.
Cometh upon (ἐπίσταται)
See Luk 21:34, Luk 21:36. Often in N.T. of a person coming suddenly upon another; as Luk 2:9; Luk 24:4; Act 4:1; Act 12:7.
Birth-throe. Only here in its literal sense. Elsewhere as a strong figure of sorrow or pain. See Mat 24:8; Mar 13:8; Act 2:24. For the figure in O.T. see Isa 13:6-8; Isa 37:3; Mic 4:9; Hos 13:3; Jer 13:21.
Shall not escape (οὐ μὴ ἐκφύγωσιν)
A.V. misses the force of the double negative. They shall in no wise escape.
1 Thessalonians 5:4
See on comprehended, Joh 1:5.
A thief (κλέπτης)
Tischendorf, Weiss, and Rev. T. retain this reading. Westcott and Hort read κλέπτας thieves, but with κλέπτης in margin. The weight of textual evidence is in favor of the singular.
1 Thessalonians 5:5
Ye are all
In the text γὰρ for should be inserted after πάντες all. Ye are not in darkness for ye are sons of light.
Children of light (υἱοὶ φωτός)
More correctly, sons of light. See on Mar 3:17, and comp. Luk 16:8; Joh 12:36; Eph 5:8; Col 1:12. The Christian condition is habitually associated in N.T. with light: see Mat 5:14, Mat 5:16; Joh 3:21; Joh 8:12; Act 26:18; Pe1 2:9; Jo1 1:7. The contrary condition with darkness: see Joh 3:19, Joh 3:20; Eph 5:8; Pe1 2:9; Mat 4:16; Mat 6:23, etc.
Of the night - of darkness (νυκτὸς - σκότους)
The genitive marks an advance of thought from ἐν σκότει in darkness, Th1 5:4. Ἑν indicates the element in which one is. The genitive, of darkness, points to nature and origin. To belong to darkness is more than to be in darkness.
1 Thessalonians 5:6
Others (οἱ λοιποί)
The rest, as Th1 4:13.
Let us watch (γρηγορῶμεν)
See on Mar 13:35, and comp. Eph 5:14.
Be sober (νήφωμεν)
Primarily in a physical sense, as opposed to excess in drink, but passing into the ethical sense of calm, collected, circumspect. Alert wakefulness and calm assurance will prevent their being surprised and confused by the Lord's coming, as by a thief in the night.
1 Thessalonians 5:7
Be drunken (μεθυσκόμενοι)
Lit. who are made drunk or get drunk. See on Joh 2:10. In N.T. always of intoxication. In lxx, the Hebrews shekar strong drink is several times rendered by μέθυσμα; Jdg 13:4, Jdg 13:7; Sa1 1:11, Sa1 1:15.
1 Thessalonians 5:8
Putting on (ἐνδυσάμενοι)
The son of day clothes himself for the day's work or battle. The same association of ideas as in Th1 5:6, Th1 5:8, is found in Rom 13:12-14; Rev 16:15; Pe1 1:13. Comp. lxx, Bar. 5:2.
Breastplate - helmet
Comp. Eph 6:14. The figures are not original with Paul. See Isa 59:17; Wisd. 5:18, 19. Notice that only defensive armor is mentioned, in accordance with the darkness and uncertainty of the last time; and that the fundamental elements of Christian character, faith, hope, and love, are brought forward again as in Th1 1:3; Co1 13:13. For the figure of the armed soldier, comp. also Rom 13:12; Co2 10:4.
1 Thessalonians 5:9
Special emphasis is laid on the hope of salvation. The exhortation to put it on is enforced by the fact that God's appointment is to salvation and not to wrath.
To obtain (εἰς περιποίησιν)
More literally, unto the obtaining. See on Eph 1:14. In three out of five instances in N.T. the word clearly means acquiring or obtaining. In Eph 1:14 and Pe1 2:9, it is sometimes rendered possession (so Rev.). But in Ephesians the meaning is redemption or acquisition, or redemption which will give possession; and in 1st Peter a people for acquisition. The meaning here is that we might obtain. Comp. lxx, Mal 3:17.
1 Thessalonians 5:10
Frequently the resurrection is coupled with the death of Christ by Paul, as Th1 4:14; Phi 3:10; Col 2:12; Col 3:1-4. Not so here; but the thought of resurrection is supplied in live together with him.
Wake or sleep
Whether we are alive or dead at Christ's appearing. Comp. Rom 14:9. Καθεύδειν in N.T. always literally of sleep, except here, and possibly Eph 5:14. In Mar 5:39; Luk 8:52, it is contrasted with death. In lxx in the sense of death, Psa 87:5; Dan 12:2; Sa2 7:12.
1 Thessalonians 5:11
Rev. renders exhort; but comfort suits better the general drift of the passage, and corresponds with Th1 4:18. There is some force in Bornemann's suggestion that the two meanings may be combined. Exhort each other to be of good heart.
Lit. build up. See on Act 20:32. The metaphorical sense habitually in Paul. See Co1 8:1, Co1 8:10; Co1 10:23; Co1 14:4; Eph 2:20. In O.T. mostly in the literal sense. See however lxx, Rut 4:11; Psalm 27:5; 88:2; Jer 31:4.
1 Thessalonians 5:12
See on Th1 4:4. Recognize them for what they are, and as entitled to respect because of their office. Comp. ἐπιγινώσκετε acknowledge, Co1 16:18; and ἐγνώσθης takest knowledge, lxx, Psalm 143:3. Ignatius, Smyrn. ix.:, has ἐπίσκοπον εἰδέναι to know the bishop, to appreciate and honor him.
Are over (προΐσταμένους)
Lit. who are placed before you. See on Rom 12:8. Used of superintendents of households, Ti1 3:4, Ti1 3:5, Ti1 3:12 : of the ruling of elders of the church, Ti1 5:17. It does not indicate a particular ecclesiastical office, but is used functionally. The ecclesiastical nomenclature of the Pauline Epistles is unsettled, corresponding with the fact that the primitive church was not a homogeneous body throughout christendom. The primitive Pauline church consisted of a number of separate fraternities which were self-governing. The recognition of those who ministered to the congregations depended on the free choice of their members. See for instance Co1 16:15, Co1 16:16. The congregation exercised discipline and gave judgment: Co1 5:3-5; Co2 2:6, Co2 2:7; Co2 7:11, Co2 7:12; Gal 6:1.
Only in Acts and Paul. See on Act 20:31, and comp. Th1 5:14; Rom 15:14; Co1 4:14; Col 1:28.
1 Thessalonians 5:13
Primarily to lead, which is the only sense in the Gospels and Acts, except Act 26:2, in a speech of Paul. To lead the mind through a reasoning process to a conclusion, and so to think, to estimate. Only in this sense by Paul, Peter, and James. See Co2 9:5; Phi 2:3; Jam 1:2; Pe2 3:9. In both senses in Hebrews. See Heb 10:29; Heb 13:7.
Very highly in love
Const. very highly with esteem. In love qualifies both words.
For their work's sake (διὰ τὸ ἔργον αὐτῶν)
Their esteem for their superintendents is not to rest only on personal attachment or respect for their position, but on intelligent and sympathetic appreciation of their work. It is a good and much-needed lesson for the modern congregation no less than for the Thessalonian church.
1 Thessalonians 5:14
Them that are unruly (τοὺς ἀτάκτους)
N.T.o The A.V. is more vigorous and less stilted than Rev. disorderly. From ἀ not and τάσσειν draw up or arrange. Those who are out of line. Comp. the adverb ἀγαθός disorderly, Th2 3:6, Th2 3:11. Probably referring to the idlers and busybodies described there.
N.T.o. Better fainthearted. Ὁλίγος little and ψυχὴ soul. Those of little heart. oClass. In lxx see Pro 14:29; Isa 25:5; Isa 54:6; Isa 57:15. Ὁλιγοψυχία faint-heartedness, oN.T. lxx, Exo 6:9; Psalm 54:8. Comp. Ps. of Sol. 16:11.
Comp. Mat 6:24; Tit 1:9. Ἁντὶ against and ἔχεσθαι to hold one's self. The primary sense is, keeping one's self directly opposite to another so as to sustain him.
1 Thessalonians 5:15
That which is good (τὸ ἀγαθὸν)
Not to be limited to profitable, beneficent (as Lightfoot, Lnemann), although ἀγαθός commonly includes a corresponding beneficent relation of its subject to another subject, which is emphasized here by to all men. See on Rom 5:7. It may also include what is absolutely, morally good, as Rom 2:10. So Heb 13:21; Pe1 3:11; Rom 7:18.
1 Thessalonians 5:17
Without ceasing (ἀδιαλείπτως)
Comp. Romans 9; Rom 12:12; Eph 6:18; Col 4:2.
1 Thessalonians 5:18
In the sense of requirement. Comp. Th1 4:3.
1 Thessalonians 5:19
Quench not the Spirit
Since he is the inspirer of prayer, and the bestower of all gifts of grace on the Church. Comp. Eph 4:30. The operation of the Spirit is set forth under the image of fire in Mat 3:11; Luk 12:49; Act 2:3, Act 2:4. The reference here is to the work of the Spirit generally, and not specially to his inspiration of prayer or prophecy.
1 Thessalonians 5:20
The emphasis on prophesyings corresponds with that in Co1 14:1-5, Co1 14:22 ff. Prophecy in the apostolic church was directly inspired instruction, exhortation, or warning. The prophet received the truth into his own spirit which was withdrawn from earthly things and concentrated upon the spiritual world. His higher, spiritual part (πνεῦμα), and his moral intelligence (νοῦς), and his speech (λόγος) worked in harmony. His spirit received a spiritual truth in symbol: his understanding interpreted it in its application to actual events, and his speech uttered the interpretation. He was not ecstatically rapt out of the sphere of human intelligence, although his understanding was intensified and clarified by the phenomenal action of the Spirit upon it. This double action imparted a peculiarly elevated character to his speech. The prophetic influence was thus distinguished from the mystical ecstasy, the ecstasy of Paul when rapt into the third heaven, which affected the subject alone and was incommunicable (Co2 12:1-4). The gift of tongues carried the subject out of the prophetic condition in which spirit, understanding, and speech operated in concert, and into a condition in which the understanding was overpowered by the communication to the spirit, so that the spirit could not find its natural expression in rational speech, or speech begotten of the understanding, and found supernatural expression in a tongue created by the Spirit. Paul attached great value to prophecy. He places prophets next after apostles in the list of those whom God has set in the Church (Co1 12:28). He associates apostles and prophets as the foundation of the Church (Eph 2:20). He assigns to prophecy the precedence among spiritual gifts (Co1 14:1-5), and urges his readers to desire the gift (Co1 14:1, Co1 14:39). Hence his exhortation here.
1 Thessalonians 5:21
Prove all things (πάντα δοκιμάζετε)
A general exhortation, not confined to prophesyings; but Paul elsewhere insists that a test be applied to phenomena which claim to be supernatural. See on discerning of spirits, Co1 12:10; see on Co1 14:29, and comp. Th2 2:2, and Jo1 4:1-3. For δοκιμάζετε prove, see on Pe1 1:7. In lxx, Pro 27:21; Psa 11:6, δοκίμιον is a crucible or furnace.
Hold fast that which is good (τὸ καλὸν κατέχετ)
These words are associated in early Christian writers with an apocryphal saying ascribed to Jesus, and very frequently quoted, γίνεσθε δὲ δόκιμοι τραπεζῖται show yourselves approved money-changers. By some ancient writers the two are cited together as Paul's; by others they are distinguished, as by Origen, who cites the saying as an injunction (ἐντολὴν) of Jesus, and adds, "and also (observing) the teaching of Paul, who says, 'prove all things, hold fast the good, abstain from every form of evil.'" The saying about the money-changers is probably a genuine logion of the Lord. Some have thought that the words added by Clement of Alexandria, "rejecting some things but holding fast the good," formed part of the Lord's saying, and that, accordingly, Paul's words here depend on an original utterance of Jesus. If this could be proved, εἶδος form, Th1 5:22, might be explained as a figure of exchangers distinguishing between genuine and false coins.
1 Thessalonians 5:22
As commonly explained, abstain from everything that even looks like evil. But the word signifies form or kind. Comp. Luk 3:22; Joh 5:37, and see nearly the same phrase in Joseph. Ant. 10:3, 1. It never has the sense of semblance. Moreover, it is impossible to abstain from everything that looks like evil.
Of evil (πονηροῦ)
To be taken as a noun; not as an adjective agreeing with εἴδους form (from every evil form). The meaning of πονηρός in N.T. cannot be limited to active evil, mischief, though it often has that sense. The same is true in lxx, where it sometimes means grudging or niggardly. See Sir. 14:4, 5; 34:23.
1 Thessalonians 5:23
The very God of peace (αὐτὸς ὁ Θεὸς τῆς εἰρήνης)
Better, the God of peace himself. God's work is contrasted with human efforts to carry out the preceding injunctions. The phrase God of peace only in Paul and Hebrews. See Rom 15:33; Rom 16:20; Phi 4:9; Heb 13:20. The meaning is, God who is the source and giver of peace. Peace, in the Pauline sense, is not mere calm or tranquillity. It is always conceived as based upon reconciliation with God. God is the God of peace only to those who have ceased to be at war with him, and are at one with him. God's peace is not sentimental but moral. Hence the God of peace is the sanctifier. "Peace" is habitually used, both in the Old and New Testaments, in connection with the messianic salvation. The Messiah himself will be Peace (Mic 5:5). Peace is associated with righteousness as a messianic blessing (Psa 72:7; Psa 85:10). Peace, founded in reconciliation with God, is the theme of the gospel (Act 10:36). The gospel is the gospel of peace (Eph 2:17; Eph 6:15; Rom 10:15). Christ is the giver of peace (Joh 14:27; Joh 16:33).
See on Joh 10:36; see on Joh 17:17. The primary idea of the word is separation. Hence ἅγιος, the standard word for holy in lxx is, primarily, set apart. Ἁγιάζειν is 1. to separate from things profane and to consecrate to God; 2. to cleanse or purify as one set apart to holy uses.
N.T.o. So that nothing shall escape the sanctifying power. Ὅλος complete, and τέλος end or consummation.
Spirit, soul, body (πνεῦμα, ψυχὴ σῶμα)
It is useless to attempt to draw from these words a technical, psychological statement of a threefold division of the human personality. If Paul recognized any such technical division, it was more probably twofold; the body or material part, and the immaterial part with its higher and lower sides - πνεῦμα and ψυχὴ. See on Rom 6:6; see on Rom 7:5, Rom 7:23; see on Rom 8:4; see on Rom 11:3 and footnote.
Be preserved entire (ὁλόκληρον - τηρηθείη)
This is the rendering of Rev. and is correct. A.V. joins ὁλόκληρον with πνεῦμα, and renders your whole spirit. Ὁλόκληρον is predicative, not attributive. It does not mean whole, but is derived from ὅλος whole and κλῆρος allotment, and signifies having the entire allotment; complete in all parts. It occurs only here and Jam 1:4, where it is associated with τέλειοι perfect. It appears in lxx, as Lev 23:15; Deu 16:9; Deu 27:6. Joseph. Ant. 3:12, 2, uses it of an unblemished victim for sacrifice. As distinguished from ὁλοτελεῖς wholly, Th1 5:23, it is qualitative, while ὁλοτελεῖς is quantitative. The kindred ὁλοκληρία perfect soundness, only in Act 3:16. For preserved see on Pe1 1:4.
1 Thessalonians 5:24
Comp. Ti2 2:13, and see on Jo1 1:9; see on Rev 1:5; see on Rev 3:14.
That calleth (ὁ καλῶν)
= the caller. The emphasis is on the person rather than on the act. Comp. Rom 9:11; Gal 1:6, Gal 1:15; Gal 5:8; Th1 2:12; Pe1 5:10; Jam 1:5.
1 Thessalonians 5:26
See on Co2 13:12. Comp. Rom 16:16; Co1 16:20; Pe1 5:14.
1 Thessalonians 5:27
I charge (ἐνορκίζω)
N.T.o. Rev. stronger and more literal, I adjure. oClass. This strong appeal may perhaps be explained by a suspicion on Paul's part that a wrong use might be made of his name and authority (see Th2 2:2), so that it was important that his views should be made known to all. Lightfoot refers to Th2 3:17, as showing a similar feeling in his anxiety to authenticate his letter.