EPISTLE OF S. PAUL, THE APOSTLE,
TO THE THESSALONIANS.
In this epistle S. Paul admonishes the Thessalonians to be constant in the faith of Christ, and not to be terrified by the insinuations of false teachers, telling them that the day of judgment was near at hand, as there must come many signs and wonders before it. He bids them to hold firm the traditions received from him, whether by word or by epistle; and shews them how they may be certain of his letters by the manner he writes. This epistle was written soon after the former, and also from Corinth, about A. 52. Ch. Wi.
--- From the context we learn that the present is a continuation of the former epistle. He not only rectifies wrong impressions caused by his former letter, but finding that those indolent characters whom he had reprimanded were no ways corrected, he determines to reprimand them still more severely in this letter, which he tells us he writes because he has it not in his power to visit, as he could wish, the Thessalonians.
Ver. 5. For an example of the just judgment of God. That is, that the persecutions and troubles you suffer in this world shew the justice of God in punishing men for their sins, even in this life, so that by these temporal pains you may be found worthy of a crown of eternal glory in the kingdom of God. Wi.
--- The afflictions, which are here frequently the portion of the just, are sensible proofs of the rigour with which the Almighty will, at the day of final retribution, pour out his indignation on the wicked. For, if he is unwilling to let the just be free from all temporal punishment, (though he discharges their debt of the eternal) and if he continually exposes them to the derision, calumnies, and persecutions of the wicked, what have not the wicked to apprehend when he shall stretch forth his hand in vengeance? Or, as others explain it, God permits the good to be persecuted here, that one day he may treat the wicked according to the rigour of his justice. He permits them here to fill up the measure of their iniquities, that on the last day he may reward the long suffering of the one, and punish the infidelity of the other. In both the one and the other, the finger of God's justice will clearly manifest itself. If the hopes of the good reached no farther than this life, they would be the most wretched of beings; for here, in general, they are more exposed than any to the injuries of the wicked. Nothing proves more clearly the necessity of a general judgment, than this his conduct to his most chosen servants. For it is impossible that, just as he is, he should permit patience and faith to go unrewarded, or wickedness and injustice unpunished. The Son of God has promised us heaven only on condition that we bear wrongs patiently. Calmet.
--- Here again the apostle teaches the advantages of sufferings which the Thessalonians joyfully underwent, to be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, Kataxiwqhnai umaV; and v. 11, ibid. axiwsh. The apostle teaches here, that nothing defiled shall ever enter into the kingdom of heaven; and gives us to understand at the same time, that he will one day punish with extreme rigour the cruelty and impiety of persecutors. V.
Ver. 6. Seeing† it is a just thing. Lit. If yet it be just. S. Chrys. takes notice, that we must not expound the text as if S. Paul made a doubt whether it was just or not for God to repay retribution to such as troubled, afflicted, and persecuted his faithful servants, and to punish them when he shall be revealed (i.e. at the day of judgment) with flaming fire, or with the flames of hell: nothing certainly is more just; as on the contrary, it is just to reward the pious and those who are found worthy of the glorious kingdom of God. Wi.
[†] V. 6. Si tamem justum est, eiper dikaion. See S. Chrys. (log. b. p. 226) eiper entauqa anti tou epei, &c.
Ver. 9. Being confounded with the face of the Lord, whom they have rejected, and with the glory of his power and greatness, which will appear in irresistible splendour and majesty.
Ver. 10. This shall be at the last day, when Christ shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be made† wonderful (to be admired and praised) in or by all them who have believed in that day: (i.e. the things foretold of that day) because our testimony†† was believed upon you concerning that day, i.e. as to the punishments and rewards that shall be given on that day. Wi.
[†] V. 10. Admirabilis fieri in omnibus, qaumasJhnai en pasi.
[††] Ibid. Quia creditum est testimonium nostrum super vos in illa die, oti episteuqh to marturion hmwn ef umaV, en th hmera ekeinh.
Ver. 11. Wherefore, also we pray, &c. By the Greek, the sense and construction cannot be in, or on which day; and therefore it must be referred to what was said before, that God should be glorified in his saints, and so may be translated, on which† account we pray, &c. that Christ may be glorified in you, being made saints by his grace, &c. Wi.
[†] V. 11. In quo, eiV o, in quod, but it cannot agree with hmera, day.
Ver. 12. That the name of our Lord, &c. The name of God is glorified by the virtuous lives of Christians, but more especially by that constancy and firmness evinced by the faithful under the hands of the executioner. It is an act of the most perfect charity, to lay down our lives in defence of his truths and the glory of his name, and the most disinterested testimony of our allegiance to him. Nothing appeared more admirable than the constancy of the first Christians, and nothing contributed more to the conversion of the Gentiles than the firmness with which they maintained, even in death, the truths that had been taught them. For, said they, this religion is certainly true, since there is nothing they are not willing to suffer in defence of it. Calmet.
--- And you in him, &c. If Christians are any way instrumental in procuring the glory of God, let them not attribute it to themselves, but to God alone, from whom comes every gift. If they procure his glory before men, he at the day of final retribution will clothe them with never-fading robes of immortality, in the presence of men and Angels. If it be glorious for God to be adored by such faithful servants, it is much more glorious for Christians to be rewarded by such a Master: for it is the glory of a servant to be faithful to his master, and the glory of the master to recompense his servant. Est. Grot. Theophylact. &c.