1 Thessalonians chapter 2


1 Αὐτοὶ γὰρ οἴδατε, ἀδελφοί, τὴν εἴσοδον ἡμῶν τὴν πρὸς ὑμᾶς ὅτι οὐ κενὴ γέγονεν, 2 ἀλλὰ προπαθόντες καὶ ὑβρισθέντες, καθὼς οἴδατε, ἐν Φιλίπποις ἐπαρρησιασάμεθα ἐν τῷ θεῷ ἡμῶν λαλῆσαι πρὸς ὑμᾶς τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τοῦ θεοῦ ἐν πολλῷ ἀγῶνι. 3 ἡ γὰρ παράκλησις ἡμῶν οὐκ ἐκ πλάνης οὐδὲ ἐξ ἀκαθαρσίας οὐδὲ ἐν δόλῳ, 4 ἀλλὰ καθὼς δεδοκιμάσμεθα ὑπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ πιστευθῆναι τὸ εὐαγγέλιον, οὕτως λαλοῦμεν, οὐχ ὡς ἀνθρώποις ἀρέσκοντες ἀλλὰ θεῷ τῷ δοκιμάζοντι τὰς καρδίας ἡμῶν.

Although our English Bibles make a chapter division here, the writers continue the series of explanatory (γάρ) clauses that began in 1:8, 9 and will continue in 2:3, 5, 9. By this device the writers link this part of the discourse with their initial declaration of thanksgiving to God. The writers front the explicit subject, the self-referential αὐτοί, giving prominence to the second plural ending of the verb οἴδατε. They give it further prominence by using the vocative ἀδελφοί. They take advantage of the audience’s personal knowledge, to connect audience’s story with theirs, as they did at the end of 1:5 (καθὼς οἴδατε), in fact repeating this same construction in 2:2.

τὴν εἴσοδον (cf. 1:9) functions as the direct object of οἴδατε and generates literary coherence with the previous section. ἡμῶν is a subjective genitive. They employ a nominalizing article to link the prepositional phrase πρὸς ὑμᾶς adjectivally to εἴσοδον. Compare this with the construction in 1:9. Expressing it this way gives some prominence to πρὸς ὑμᾶς. It is possible to interpret τὴν εἴσοδον as an example of the subject of the ὅτι clause lifted out and pre-posed as the object of the main verb, in order to give it prominence. The noun clause marked by ὅτι probably functions epexegetically to τὴν εἴσοδον, giving more information. κενὴ is a predicate adjective and is feminine in gender because the subject of the perfect verb γέγονεν is εἴσοδον. The perfect tense form may express the state resulting from this εἴσοδον, in other words the effects continue. It may have the sense “that it is not proving to be fruitless/empty/unproductive.”

The ἀλλά clause expresses an implied contrast with the preceding κενή and explains why their “entrance is not proving fruitless/empty/unproductive.” The writers explain how their team acted in Thessalonika to ensure that their arrival was productive. They frame the action of the main verb with two, aorist participles, the first active (προπαθόντες) and the second passive (ὑβρισθέντες), and both qualified by the locative prepositional phrase ἐν Φιλίπποις. Some names of towns are expressed as plurals (e.g., Ἀθῆναι, Ἱεροσόλυμα (Turner, A Grammar of NT Greek, Vol. III. Syntax, 27)). προπάσχω “suffer before” (BDAG, 873) occurs here as a second aorist active participle. Note the plural form, probably picking up the previous ἡμῶν that is inclusive of the three correspondents. ὑβρίζω “to treat in an insolent or spiteful manner” (BDAG, 1022) occurs here as an aorist passive participle. The two participles are adverbial and probably temporal or concessive. The writers again affirm that their audience is fully aware (καθὼς οἴδατε adverbial clause of comparison) of their experience in Philippi, either because the correspondents had shared it or believers from Philippi had visited and told the story (Acts 16).

The main verb in v. 2 is an aorist middle form ἐπαρρησιασάμεθα meaning “to speak fearlessly or act courageously” (BDAG, 782). The middle voice (παρρησιάζομαι) indicates the emotional and intentional action required by the subject to engage in this action. It occurs frequently in the writings of Classical Greek orators such as Isocrates. Is the writer using the aorist ingressively “took courage” or merely using the aorist to describe a perfected action? ἐν + dative reminds us of ἐν θεῷ in 1:1, but here it is arthrous and is modified by a genitive of subordination (ἡμῶν). This phrase may describe instrumentality, or mode, or perhaps even cause (Harris, Prepositions, 123-24). The main verb governs an aorist infinitive of purpose λαλῆσαι whose object is τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τοῦ θεοῦ. The genitive could be subjective, objective, or reflect both ideas (cf. 1:5; 3:2; Mk. 1:1). πρὸς ὑμᾶς is directional and indicates the audience for their communication. ἐν πολλῷ ἀγῶνι is probably locative in sense, i.e., “in the midst of much agitation” (cf. Phil. 1:30; Col. 2:1; 1 Tim 6:12; 2 Tim. 4:7). The agitation can be external and physical or internal, but speaks to the spiritual conflict in which believers engage.

The writers proceed to explain the reason for their bold communication with another γάρ clause (vv. 3-4). They describe their presentations as παράκλησις, i.e., the exhortation or encouragement to accept the good news from God (see the use of the cognate verb in 2 Cor. 5:20; 6:1). ἡμῶν functions as a subjective genitive. We have to supply the verb in this clause, but the adverbial prepositional phrases marked by ἐκ suggest some notion of source or origin. The writers use the rhetorical construction οὐκ…οὐδε…οὐδε… ἀλλά to deny three sources and affirm the true source (see similar constructions in Mt. 6:26; Jn. 1:13; Gal. 1:12; 5:6). They deny that they shared this good news “from error” (πλάνη), “from impure motive” (ἀκαθαρσία), “with (ἐν) deliberate intent to deceive” (δόλος). Perhaps they mention these motives because they tended to characterize sophists in the first century social context. The correspondents present the contrast in v. 4 marking it with ἀλλά. They change syntax here, using a comparative clause, positioned in left-dislocation (cf. Runge, 290-292) in order to announce a topic or to shift the topic. Often in the NT left-dislocated elements serve to promote a topic. In this context, the content expressed in the left-dislocated clause is resumed in the following οὕτως. καθὼς…οὕτως serve as a correlative pair (“just as…thus”; cf. 2:8).

In the καθώς clause, the writers use the perfect passive indicative tense form δεδοκιμάσμεθα from the verb δοκιμάζω “to make a critical examination of someth. to determine genuineness, put to the test, examine” (BDAG, 255). The aspect expressed by the perfect passive tense form, in my view, implies the sense “stand examined” and the agent is ὑπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ. The first person plural form incorporates all three correspondents within the subject. The result of this examination is expressed by the aorist passive infinitive πιστευθῆναι, indicating a perfected or completed act. The deity evaluates people before entrusting them with his εὐαγγέλιον. πιστεύω can take a direct and indirect object, with the sense “to entrust something to someone” (BDAG, 818.3). A similar construction occurs in Gal. 2:7. In the passive voice, the dative indirect object becomes the subject and the accusative form remains as a direct object. The presumption is that if the deity has evaluated them and entrusted them with his message, then they would not be operating with evil motives. The expression δοκιμάζω τὴν καρδίαν occurs frequently in the Greek Psalter (e.g., 16(17):3).

In the main clause (v. 4b) the writers use a present active indicative verb form to describe their current activity (λαλοῦμεν). They modify this verb with two contrasting, comparative clauses marked by ὡς (as). οὐχ…ἀλλά defines the contrasting elements. Both of these adverbial comparative clauses modify the implied, repeated verb λαλοῦμεν, with the sense “we are not speaking as…but we are speaking as….” The implied verb is modified by the adverbial present active participle ἀρέσκοντες that takes a dative object (ἀνθρώποις…θεῷ). The writers repeat their reference to the deity’s action of examining people before allowing them to represent him. In this case, the writers use an attributive, present active participle δοκιμάζοντι that modifies θεῷ and in turn is qualified by the direct object τὰς καρδίας ἡμῶν. Why is θεῷ anarthrous in the NA28 text? Note that the adjectival participle is in the third attributive position (Wallace, Syntax, 307), i.e., noun-article-adjective, where “the substantive is [often] indefinite and general, while the attributive [adjective] makes a particular application” (Robertson, Grammar, 777). It occurs infrequently with adjectives, but often with participles (Wallace, Syntax, 618). The genitive ἡμῶν probably indicates possession.


5 Οὔτε γάρ ποτε ἐν λόγῳ κολακείας ἐγενήθημεν, καθὼς οἴδατε, οὔτε ἐν προφάσει πλεονεξίας, θεὸς μάρτυς, 6 οὔτε ζητοῦντες ἐξ ἀνθρώπων δόξαν οὔτε ἀφ’ ὑμῶν οὔτε ἀπ’ ἄλλων, 7 δυνάμενοι ἐν βάρει εἶναι ὡς Χριστοῦ ἀπόστολοι. ἀλλ’ ἐγενήθημεν νήπιοι ἐν μέσῳ ὑμῶν, ὡς ἐὰν τροφὸς θάλπῃ τὰ ἑαυτῆς τέκνα, 8 οὕτως ὁμειρόμενοι ὑμῶν εὐδοκοῦμεν μεταδοῦναι ὑμῖν οὐ μόνον τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τοῦ θεοῦ ἀλλὰ καὶ τὰς ἑαυτῶν ψυχάς, διότι ἀγαπητοὶ ἡμῖν ἐγενήθητε.

The writers create another elaborate four part contrast using οὔτε…οὔτε…οὔτε…ἀλλά as they continue to defend how they acted among these believers in presenting God’s good news. The writers deny some very specific accusations, based upon what these believers themselves know. They mark this section as further explanation with the initial γάρ. The meaning of ἐγενήθημεν is challenging. However, it may have the sense of “behave, conduct oneself” as in 2:10 (see Louw and Nida, Semantic Domains 41.1). Note the repeated use of this verb in vv. 5, 7, 8. ποτέ is a temporal adverb with a general meaning such as  “at any time.” The 1st person plural verb ending applies this declaration to all three correspondents (as also in v. 7). The adverbial phrase ἐν λόγῳ κολακείας is anarthrous and modifies the verb, indicating manner of conduct, i.e., “with a message of flattery.” The genitive κολακείας is probably functioning attributively. Wanamaker (Commentary, 97) notes that Plutarch contrasts κολακεία with παρρησία (see v. 2). Critics often accused sophists of employing flattering messages for self-aggrandisement. Once again, the writers emphasize this with the comparative subordinate clause καθὼς οἶδατε (see 2:1), drawing in their audience by encouraging their agreement with the correspondents’ claims.

In the second statement of denial they imply the verb ἐγενήθημεν and repeat the construction with ἐν, describe the manner of conduct. πρόφασις means “falsely alleged motive, pretext, ostensible reason, excuse” (BDAG, 889.2). See the usage in Phil. 1:18; Mk. 12:40. It is modified by the genitive noun πλεονεξία “greediness, avarice, covetousness” (BDAG, 824), functioning probably as an attributive genitive (“with greedy motive”). For this statement, since it has to do with matters of the heart, the writers call God as a witness (θεὸς μάρτυς), using a nominative structure (see similar appeals in Rom. 1:9; Phil. 1:8; 1 Thess. 2:10) that has no immediate syntactical connection with the clause. Is it a statement or a petition?

The writers’ third denial comes in the form of an adverbial present participle ζητοῦντες, presumably a predicate element for the implied ἐγενήθημεν and functioning in an instrumental manner or perhaps with a causal sense. ζητέω can mean “seek, look for” or “ask for, request, demand” (BDAG, 428). Commentators are divided as to which meaning the authors’ intended. However, consider the claim they make in v. 7a. The object of the participle δόξαν can mean honor, prestige, reputation, when applied to humans. Consider the usage in 2:20. ἐξ ἀνθρώπων is an adverbial preposition describing the source of δόξαν. The writers add further clarification with two more negative expressions, using the correlatives οὔτε…οὔτε. This piling up of negative correlative terms has an emphatic impression and also slows down the pace of the discourse. The alternation between ἐκ and ἀπό may be stylistic and without semantic significance.

Various scholars argue over whether v. 7a belongs with v. 6 or with v. 7b, or whether we should see the entire complex of clauses in vv. 6-8 as forming one intricate structure of clauses. In my opinion, the ἀλλά in v. 7b completes the contrast initiated with the previous series of οὔτε clauses. If this is the case, then the participial construction built around δυνάμενοι probably should be taken with what precedes, rather than with what follows. The present middle participle probably is concessive in force and interacts with the meaning of the previous ζητοῦντες. As is normally the case, δύναμαι takes a complementary infinitive – εἶναι in this case. βάρος has several glosses, but one is “influence that someone enjoys or claims” and another is “burden” (BDAG, 167). Given the reference to δόξα in the previous clause, probably it carries the sense of “importance, influence,” and with the preposition ἐν perhaps the construction has the sense here of “to be with importance, influence.” The writers indicate that they had the capacity to claim some level of importance, but did not do so. The nature of this authority or prestige is expressed in the comparative expression ὡς Χριστοῦ ἀπόστολοι, “as apostles of the Messiah are able to wield influence.”

The contrast comes in v. 7b, marked by ἀλλά. Having defined how they did not conduct themselves, the writers now affirm what in fact characterized their behavior. They repeat the aorist passive verb ἐγενήθημεν to help their audience track with the contrast that they began in v. 5. Textual witnesses vacillate between νήπιοι “infants, children” and ἤπιοι “kind, gentle.” The ν- ending of the preceding verb contributes to this confusion in the textual history. νήπιοι has better textual support, but it creates a metaphorical conflict with the following  image of a nursing mother. ἥπιοι fits the context better conceptually. ἐν μέσῳ has a locative sense and is modified by ὑμῶν, a genitive of description. I would place a period after ὑμῶν and conclude this extended contrast at that point.

The writers use the correlatives ὡς…οὕτως to offer another analogy to describe their behavior or conduct among this fledgling, Christian community. They create within the adverbial comparative clause marked by ὡς, the protasis of a third class conditional sentence, using ἐἀν + present subjunctive. This expresses a generalizing comparison in which some nursing mother cherishes her own offspring. τρόφος means “nurse” and θάλπω means “to cherish, comfort” (BDAG, 442). τὰ…τέκνα is the direct object of θάλπω and the reflective pronoun ἑαυτῆς is a genitive of relationship. This clause frames the one that follows.

The apodosis is introduced with the correlative οὕτως. The verb ὀμείρομαι “to have a strong yearning, long for,” with a genitive complement (BDAG, 705), only occurs here in the NT (LXX Job 3:21 where it describes those “who have a yearning for death”). The middle voice conveys the emotional investment the subjects have in the verb’s action. The genitive ὑμῶν is the complement of the verb. According to Funk (BDF, 37 §67), imperfect tense forms of εὐδοκέω (“be pleased, delighted; thought it best”) in the NT often lack a temporal augment and so εὐδοκοῦμεν here probably is an imperfect active indicative formation. It often takes a complementary infinitive, as here with the aorist active infinitive μεταδοῦναι “to impart, share” (BDAG, 638). μεταδίδωμι takes an indirect object (ὑμῖν), as well as a direct object. In this case, the object is a compound construction that uses οὐ μόνον…ἀλλὰ καί to emphasize what was shared. The writers use once more the phrase τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τοῦ θεοῦ as one member of the object, and τὰς ἑαυτῶν ψυχάς as the second member. In Koine Greek, the third person plural reflexive pronoun is also used with first person plural antecedents, as here. ἑαυτῶν is a genitive of possession. As a final note in their affirmations of love for these Thessalonian believers, the writers use a subordinate causal clause, marked by διότι to provide the rationale for their caring actions. They use once again the verb aorist passive indicative ἐγενήθητε, but this time they make the audience the subject. ἀγαπητοί is a predicate nominative and it receives prominence by its first position in the clause. ἡμῖν functions as a dative of reference. The writers continue to include all three correspondents in his affirmations.


9 Μνημονεύετε γάρ, ἀδελφοί, τὸν κόπον ἡμῶν καὶ τὸν μόχθον· νυκτὸς καὶ ἡμέρας ἐργαζόμενοι πρὸς τὸ μὴ ἐπιβαρῆσαί τινα ὑμῶν ἐκηρύξαμεν εἰς ὑμᾶς τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τοῦ θεοῦ. 10 ὑμεῖς μάρτυρες καὶ ὁ θεός, ὡς ὁσίως καὶ δικαίως καὶ ἀμέμπτως ὑμῖν τοῖς πιστεύουσιν ἐγενήθημεν, 11 καθάπερ οἴδατε, ὡς ἕνα ἕκαστον ὑμῶν ὡς πατὴρ τέκνα ἑαυτοῦ 12 παρακαλοῦντες ὑμᾶς καὶ παραμυθούμενοι καὶ μαρτυρόμενοι εἰς τὸ περιπατεῖν ὑμᾶς ἀξίως τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ καλοῦντος ὑμᾶς εἰς τὴν ἑαυτοῦ βασιλείαν καὶ δόξαν.

This is the last explanatory section (marked by γάρ) in this long introduction. The writers address the audience directly with the second person plural present indicative active verb μνημονεύετε (see 1:3), urging them “to remember” certain things. The vocative ἀδελφοί marks the transition to a new topic, but also builds an emotional bridge with the audience, using kinship language. In 1:3 the writers used a genitive complement with the verb, but here they have a compound accusative direct object τὸν κόπον…καὶ τὸν μόχθον (elsewhere in NT at Mt. 16:9; 2 Tim. 2:8). There does not seem to be any semantic distinction. The two nouns occur together in 2 Th. 3:8 and may function as hendiadys, emphasizing their hard work for these new believers. The pronoun ἡμῶν probably qualifies both nouns. The writers began this long introduction by referencing the audience’s work and labor (1:3) on behalf of Christ, and now they mention the work and labor of this ministry team on behalf of the audience. This might function as an inclusion, along with the repetition of the verb μνημονεύω in both contexts.

The next clause gives an example of their hard work. The adverbial circumstantial present middle participle ἐργαζόμενοι (see 4:11) frames the action of the main verb ἐκηρύξαμεν. The genitives of time νυκτὸς καὶ ἡμέρας express time during which an action occurs and also indicate how tirelessly these people worked. The writers use a negative, articulated, aorist active infinitive τὸ μὴ ἐπιβαρῆσαί (“to burden”) together with the preposition πρός to express purpose. See the phrase ἐν βάρει (2:7), which this infinitive probably echoes. The subject of the infinitive is the same as the subject of the main verb and thus remains implicit. The indefinite pronoun τινα is the direct object of the infinitive and ὑμῶν functions as a partitive genitive. The writers use an aorist active indicative tense form ἐκηρύξαμεν as the main verb. It expresses a completed action. Its direct object is τὸ εὐαγγέλιον, modified by the subjective/objective genitive τοῦ θεοῦ. The phrase εἰς ὑμᾶς has a directional sense, indicating the audience addressed by the proclamation.

This declaration continues, without any connecting particle, with perhaps two nominal clauses, namely ὑμεῖς μάρτυρες καὶ ὁ θεός. The subjects are ὑμεῖς… καὶ ὁ θεός, with the predicate nominative μάρτυρες placed between them. The effect is to put some emphasis on ὁ θεός.

BDAG (1105.5) indicates that ὡς functions as a marker of discourse with the sense “that, the fact that,” particularly in conjunction with μάρτυς (see Rom. 1:9; Phil. 1:8). γίνομαι with adverbs here has the sense “comported ourselves,” arising from the meaning “prove to be” (see BDAG, 52 ἀμέμτως). The three adverbs describe behavior that is religiously, legally, and morally appropriate. ὑμῖν can be defined as a dative of reference or advantage. The pronoun is qualified by the adjectival present participle that affirms their decision to trust the good news (as in 1:7-9). The aspectual nuance of the present participle would indicate an incomplete or imperfect action.

The comparative clause καθάπερ οἴδατε, as similar constructions used previously (see 1:4, 5; 2:1, 2, 5; 3:3, 4; 4:2; 5:2), brings the audience into the discourse. καθάπερ is virtually synonymous with καθώς. BDAG (796) describes περ as an enclitic particle “with intensive and extensive force” and it usually appears in the NT as the suffix of compound adverbs (BDF, 57 §107). The ὡς parallels the previous ὡς, but lacks a main verb. The accusative form ἕνα ἕκαστον, the object of the implied verb, does not allow the previous ἐγενήθημεν to serve in that capacity. Wanamaker (NIGTC 1 & 2 Thessalonians, 106) suggests that we supply a verb such as ἀνεθρέψαμεν “we brought up” that would work well with the parent analogies used in this context. However, the following verb παρακαλέω would work equally as well as the implied verb in this context. ἕνα ἕκαστον personalizes this part of the discourse and suggests individual attention (see its use in 2 Th. 1:3). ὑμῶν is a partitive genitive. The second ὡς introduces the analogy and presumes the repetition of the implied verb. The subject in this analogical clause is πατήρ and τέκνα is the object. The writers use the reflexive pronoun ἑαυτοῦ to personalize the relationship between father and offspring, being a genitive of relationship. τέκνα refers generally to offspring, without reference to age or gender. Why do the writers use reflexive pronouns so frequently in this section? Does it raise the emotional intensity of the discourse in some sense?

The adverbial present participles παρακαλοῦντες… παραμυθούμενοι καὶ μαρτυρόμενοι add information about the nature of this exhortation or encouraging. παραμυθέομαι “to console, cheer up” (BDAG, 769) only occurs in 1 Thessalonians in the Pauline corpus (the cognate noun occurs in 1 Cor. 14: 3). It always accompanies παρακαλέω, perhaps to indicate that in those contexts the sense of παρακαλέω is more “to encourage and give comfort” than “to exhort.” BDAG (769) indicates that in Classical Greek writers it often describes comfort given in response to tragic circumstances (see Jn. 11:19, 31). The writers use these terms in 5:14 to characterize the primary responsibilities of church leaders. The present participle indicates a continuing action that is incomplete. The third participle formed from μαρτύρομαι means “to give testimony; to urge something as a matter of great importance, affirm, insist, implore” (BDAG, 619). See the usage in Acts 20:26; 26:22; Gal. 5:3; Eph. 4:17. Note that the last two participles in this sequence are middle forms, perhaps emphasizing the emotional investment of the subjects in these actions. The writers continue to use the plural, indicating that all three correspondents are being characterized in this way. ὑμᾶς functions as the object of the first participle and perhaps by extension the other two. It is possible to read the second and third participles as epexegetical, with the καί…καί meaning “both…and.” The sense would be “encouraging you both by consoling and imploring,…”

The writers define the purpose of these participial actions with an articulated present infinitive (τὸ περιπατεῖν) of purpose (εἰς) whose subject is the accusative ὑμᾶς. The verb περιπάτεῖν in the Gospels and Acts generally refers to literal walking. However, in Mk. 7:5 and Acts 21:21 it has the sense of live or behave (see the use in John’s Gospel to describe “walking in the light” (12:35)). In the Pauline corpus it primarily describes spiritual and ethical behavior, perhaps echoing the Jewish concept of halakha. ἀξίως is an adverb (“worthily”) modifying the infinitive and is modified by the genitive τοῦ θεοῦ, identifying who sets the standard for their behavior and is holding people accountable. The writers define the deity with an adjectival present participle τοῦ καλοῦντος (see 4:7; 5:24; 2 Th. 2:14), explaining why the deity has such an expectation. What nuance do we give to this participle – “invite, summon, or call”? And why is the present tense used rather than the aorist? The object of the participle is ὑμᾶς. The adverbial phrase εἰς τὴν ἑαυτοῦ βασιλείαν καὶ δόξαν explains the deity’s purpose or intent for this summons or invitation. βασιλείαν καὶ δόξαν could be an example of hendiadys, i.e., “glorious kingdom.” What do the writers mean by the term βασιλεία? Do they take this term from Jesus’ teaching? The reflexive pronoun ἑαυτοῦ indicates possession and perhaps has the nuance of “his own.”


13 Καὶ διὰ τοῦτο καὶ ἡμεῖς εὐχαριστοῦμεν τῷ θεῷ ἀδιαλείπτως, ὅτι παραλαβόντες λόγον ἀκοῆς παρ’ ἡμῶν τοῦ θεοῦ ἐδέξασθε οὐ λόγον ἀνθρώπων ἀλλὰ καθώς ἐστιν ἀληθῶς λόγον θεοῦ, ὃς καὶ ἐνεργεῖται ἐν ὑμῖν τοῖς πιστεύουσιν.

In this segment, the writers pick up their introductory statement of thanksgiving (1:2) and reaffirm their thankfulness to God for these believers using the same terminology εὐχαριστοῦμεν τῷ θεῷ ἀδιαλείπτως. The present tense form of the verb indicates incomplete action. The initial καί links this clause with the preceding, as probably does the phrase διὰ τοῦτο that indicates that the prior material outlines the reason for this gratitude. The second καί is ascensive giving emphasis to the explicit subject ἡμεῖς. See 3:5 for a similar construction.

The ὅτι could introduce a content clause that describes the reason for the thanksgiving, picking up and elaborating διὰ τοῦτο. However, if διὰ τοῦτο looks back to the previous statements, then ὅτι could be causal, explaining why they are thankful. The adverbial aorist active participle παραλαβόντες refers to a completed action that frames the action of the main verb ἐδέξασθε. The writers use παραλαμβάνω to describe the transmission of tradition (as in 2 Th. 3:6), as well as spiritual instruction (1 Th. 4:1). See also this usage in 1 Cor. 15:1-3. δέχομαι has the sense of “accepting” what is said (see 1 Th 1:6; 2 Th 2:10. Paul and his friends transmitted the truth of the gospel to the Thessalonians who then accepted it. The construction that forms the object of the participle, namely λόγον ἀκοῆς παρ’ ἡμῶν τοῦ θεοῦ, is difficult. The anarthrous λόγον is the object and it is modified by the genitive ἀκοῆς that seems to be attributive, defining how this message was received, i.e., through hearing, or perhaps defining what was heard. It was an oral communication. The adverbial phrase παρ’ ἡμῶν defines the source of the message and probably qualifies λόγον. Lastly, the genitive τοῦ θεοῦ is probably a subjective genitive that modifies λόγον, indicating that God is responsible for this message.

The writers express the object of ἐδέξασθε as a contrast, using οὐ…ἀλλά to mark the contrast. The negative indicates the option rejected and ἀλλά indicates what is accepted in its place. The contrast picks up the object of the initial participle and affirms that it is indeed λόγον θεοῦ, not a message concocted by humans. The καθώς clause of comparison emphasizes the reality of the alternative. The subject of ἐστιν is probably “it” whose referent would be λόγον and the adverb ἀληθῶς functions as the predicate of the equative clause.

The writers conclude their statement with a relative clause marked by ὅς, whose referent is the preceding θεοῦ. They give prominence to the verb by using the ascensive καί. The main verb ἐνεργεῖται is a present middle indicative form that describes the subject, God, as continuously and intentionally active in these believers. This verb has great importance in Paul’s letters as he describes how the deity is personally active in each individual believer (Phil. 2:12-13; Col. 1:28-29). I think for Paul particularly this idea expresses his essential Christian worldview and distinguishes Christianity from pagan conceptions of the divine-human relationship. ἐν ὑμῖν has a locative sense, i.e., “in you, among you.” The preposition ἐν may echo the prefix attached to the compound verb. The writers further define ὑμῖν with an adjectival present participle τοῖς πιστεύουσιν. This is the same construction he used in 2:10 and may serve to bind these two segments of the discourse together.


14 Ὑμεῖς γὰρ μιμηταὶ ἐγενήθητε, ἀδελφοί, τῶν ἐκκλησιῶν τοῦ θεοῦ τῶν οὐσῶν ἐν τῇ Ἰουδαίᾳ ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ, ὅτι τὰ αὐτὰ ἐπάθετε καὶ ὑμεῖς ὑπὸ τῶν ἰδίων συμφυλετῶν καθὼς καὶ αὐτοὶ ὑπὸ τῶν Ἰουδαίων, 15 τῶν καὶ τὸν κύριον ἀποκτεινάντων Ἰησοῦν καὶ τοὺς προφήτας καὶ ἡμᾶς ἐκδιωξάντων καὶ θεῷ μὴ ἀρεσκόντων καὶ πᾶσιν ἀνθρώποις ἐναντίων, 16 κωλυόντων ἡμᾶς τοῖς ἔθνεσιν λαλῆσαι ἵνα σωθῶσιν, εἰς τὸ ἀναπληρῶσαι αὐτῶν τὰς ἁμαρτίας πάντοτε. ἔφθασεν δὲ ἐπ’ αὐτοὺς ἡ ὀργὴ εἰς τέλος.

The writers add further explanation for the gratitude to God generated by the response of the Thessalonians to the gospel. This is marked by γάρ. Wanamaker (NIGTC 1 & 2 Thess, 108-09) argues that vv. 13-16 form a digression in the “narration” as a way to bridge into the discussion about visits in 2:17-3:13. In my view, the use of διὰ τούτο in 2:13 and now this extended γάρ clause suggest that this is not a digression, but rather a logical development in the discourse. The explicit subject ὑμεῖς has prominence by first position, but the predicate nominative μιμηταί, positioned prior to the verb, also receives prominence. The use of the vocative ἀδελφοί gives prominence to the reference to the audience. For μιμηταί see the comments at 1:6. τῶν ἐκκλησιῶν is probably an objective genitive. It in turn is qualified by τοῦ θεοῦ, that might function as a subjective genitive or as a genitive that expresses the authority that has constituted these assemblies. The adjectival present participle τῶν οὐσων functions to define these assemblies geographically with the prepositional phrase ἐν τῇ Ἰουδαίᾳ, a locative construction. The juxtaposition of ἐν τῇ Ἰουδαίᾳ ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ provides a twofold definition of location, one geographical, and the other spiritual and relational. Both are true and existent at the same time. People may be located in different geographical areas, but simultaneously present together “in Christ.” The writer also links the actions of God and the Messiah Jesus in the formation and sustaining of these assemblies (see 1:1). Do the writers use the order Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ because they are referencing the reality of Jewish Christians in Judea?

The ὅτι conjunction marks a causal clause, explaining the nature of their imitation – it has to do with suffering for the gospel. Although the writers place the object τὰ αὐτά first, they nonetheless emphasize the subject by making it explicit and modifying it with an ascensive καί. The aorist active indicative verb ἐπάθετε, although active in form, has a passive sense (“you suffered”) and so it often is modified by ὑπό + genitive to indicate the person(s) who is the agent that causes this suffering (BDAG, 1036, A.b). συμφυλέτης describes “one who is a member of the same tribe or people group” (BDAG, 960) and its only occurrence in the NT seems designed to elicit a sense of horror at such a monstrous turn of events. ἰδίων may emphasize this emotive element, indicating that this is “your very own people group,” i.e., your fellow-citizens in Thessalonica. The writers drive this point home with another comparative clause marked by καθώς. Again, they use the ascensive καί with an explicit subject (αὐτοί). The implied verb is a form of πάσχω and the ὑπό phrase indicates agency. Believers in Judea suffer at the hands of Judeans, just as Christians in Thessalonica suffer at the hands of Thessalonians.

Having introduced τῶν Ἰουδαίων, the writers (all three correspondents are Jewish Christians) characterize this group with a series of aorist and present participles (vv. 15-16). The first three participles and adjective are linked together through the use of one article (τῶν) and the repeated conjunction καί. In the construction, part or all of the object precedes the participle/adjective. In the first segment, the writers place the participle ἀποκτεινάντων in between two elements that form the object τὸν κύριον…Ἰησοῦν, creating hyperbaton. They use the repeated καί…καί to emphasize the extreme mistreatment of both τὸν κύριον and τοὺς προφήτας by the Jews, namely through executing them. Jesus levelled the same criticism in Matthew 24. Are the writers aware of Jesus’ criticism? The second participle ἐκδιωξάντων is an intensive form of διώκω, describing severe oppression/persecution (BDAG, 301.2). This same term occurs in tandem with ἀποκτείνω in Lk. 11:49 where Jesus foretells how Jewish people will kill and persecute the prophets and apostles. The writers claim to have experienced this also at the hands of Jewish people. The aorist tense form of the first two participles suggests a completed action is being described. With the third participle, the writers shift to a present active participle ἀρεσκόντων, modified by the negative μή. The direct object of this verb is marked by a dative form (θεῷ). The fourth item in this list is an adjective ἐναντίων. It is modified by a dative noun phrase (probably dative of reference or disadvantage) that indicates the party being opposed or shown hostility.

The last element in this series, the present participle κωλυόντων, could be read as one of the adjectival participles, particularly if πᾶσιν ἀνθρώποις ἐναντίων is viewed as a parenthetical expression providing the frame of reference for the action of the participle. Alternatively, if πᾶσιν ἀνθρώποις ἐναντίων is read as the fourth item in this series, then κωλυόντων could be considered appositional or perhaps adverbial (it is anarthrous) indicating the means used to express hostility. κωλύω is generally completed by a complementary infinitive that defines the action being prevented. In this case, it is λαλῆσαι, an aorist active infinitive whose subject is the accusative pronoun ἡμᾶς. The indirect object of λαλῆσαι is the dative noun τοῖς ἔθνεσιν. The ἵνα clause probably explains the purpose of the communication and it determines the modality of the aorist passive subjunctive verb σωθῶσιν. εἰς τό can indicate either purpose or result and it is difficult to know what the writer intended. ἀναπληρῶσαι is an aorist active infinitive indicating a completed action. τὰς ἁμαρτίας functions as the object of the infinitive and the genitive αὐτῶν perhaps is a subjective genitive, indicating sins they commit. The adverb πάντοτε “always, at all times” (BDAG, 755) might indicate that the aorist infinitive encompasses a series of actions now viewed as a whole. These actions may not be confined merely to the mission to the nations, but might include rebellious actions that have characterized Jewish history. Perhaps there is a sense that the recent opposition to the Messiah and his followers is the culmination of a history of rebellious activity.

The writers offer a final comment marked by the postpositive particle δέ. It could be adversative, contrasting the Jewish actions with God’s response. Alternatively, it might suggest that this clause is parenthetic, with the sense “now then.” The aorist active verb ἔφθασεν means “has drawn near, has arrived” (BDAG, 1053.2). See the use of this verb in relation to the kingdom in Mt. 12:28 and Lk. 11:20. The subject is ἡ ὀργή, presumably a reference to God’s wrath (see 1:10). The adverbial phrase ἐπ’αὐτούς indicates motion, in the sense that wrath has come upon them. The referent for αὐτούς would be τῶν Ἰουδαίων. The aorist tense form would suggest a completed action. The second adverbial phrase εἰς τέλος modifies the entire clause and has the sense “finally, in the end” (BDAG, 998, b.γ). BDAG also notes other possible meanings, namely “decisively, extremely, fully, altogether.” It seems to suggest some culminating point. This language occurs in apocalyptic documents. However, given some of Jesus’ statements in the Gospels (e.g., in Matthew 23-25; Mark 11-13), the writer may be reflecting his pronouncements. If we date this letter to c. 50 CE, then it predates the Roman-Jewish war by fifteen years.


17 Ἡμεῖς δέ, ἀδελφοί, ἀπορφανισθέντες ἀφ’ ὑμῶν πρὸς καιρὸν ὥρας, προσώπῳ οὐ καρδίᾳ, περισσοτέρως ἐσπουδάσαμεν τὸ πρόσωπον ὑμῶν ἰδεῖν ἐν πολλῇ ἐπιθυμίᾳ. 18 διότι ἠθελήσαμεν ἐλθεῖν πρὸς ὑμᾶς, ἐγὼ μὲν Παῦλος καὶ ἅπαξ καὶ δίς, καὶ ἐνέκοψεν ἡμᾶς ὁ σατανᾶς. 19 τίς γὰρ ἡμῶν ἐλπὶς ἢ χαρὰ ἢ στέφανος καυχήσεως– ἢ οὐχὶ καὶ ὑμεῖς– ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ ἐν τῇ αὐτοῦ παρουσίᾳ; 20 ὑμεῖς γάρ ἐστε ἡ δόξα ἡμῶν καὶ ἡ χαρά.

Having reviewed their previous relationship with these Thessalonian Christians, the writers now begin to address the current issues that motivated the letter. Note the similar order in 2:14. δέ marks this new topic in the discourse. The explicit subject positioned first in the clause, along with the vocative ἀδελφοί, all signal this new focus and give prominence to the subject. Once again, the writers frame the action of the main verb ἐσπουδάσαμεν with an adverbial, aorist passive participle, perhaps temporal or causal. This is the only occurrence of ἀπορφανίζω in the NT. It is a causative form (“make an orphan” (BDAG, 119-20)) and the prefix ἀπό may intensify the meaning, i.e., “made complete orphans.” The aorist tense form indicates a completed action. ἀφ’ ὑμῶν indicates separation and the preposition reflects the prefix used with the compound verb. The adverbial phrase πρὸς καιρὸν ὥρας is a temporal indicator and BDAG (497.a) indicates that it compresses two phrases, namely πρὸς καιρόν and πρὸς ὥραν, to give the sense “a short period of time.” The writer adds one further qualification using a dative of manner, indicating that this period of separation is προσώπῳ οὐ καρδίᾳ, i.e., “by face not by heart.” So it is a physical separation, but not a separation of commitment or relationship.

The writers continue to use first person plural forms that include all of the letter’s correspondents in the assertions. The aorist active indicative verb form ἐσπουδάσαμεν (σπουδάζω) indicates that they “made every effort” (BDAG, 939.3). In the NT, it occurs primarily in the Pauline letters. The comparative adverb περισσοτέρως “especially, all the more” (BDAG, 806.2) emphasizes the degree of eagerness motivating their attempts. The aorist infinitive ἰδεῖν defines the purpose for this eager effort and τὸ πρόσωπον is its object. ὑμῶν is a genitive of possession. The writers add a final adverbial prepositional phrase ἐν πολλῇ ἐπιθυμίᾳ to give further emphasis to their attempts to return and visit with the Thessalonians. It is equivalent to an adverb, describing the manner of the main verb’s action, i.e., “with great desire.”

In v. 18 διότι functions as a causal conjunction marking a subordinate clause (“why someth. just stated can reasonably be considered valid” (= ὅτι) BDAG, 251. 3). NA28 places a period at the end of v. 17 and thus regards v. 18 as an independent sentence. In my opinion, διότι indicates that v. 18 is dependent upon v. 17. The writers reaffirm their desire to visit, but indicate that Satan has prevented it. Although the writers give prominence to Paul’s desire, the first verb is first personal plural and the object of the second is ἡμᾶς. The aorist tense form ἠθελήσαμεν references a completed action. θέλλω takes a complementary infinitive that defines the content of the wish. In this case, it is ἐλθεῖν πρὸς ὑμᾶς. The preposition πρός here describes literal motion. ἐγὼ μὲν Παῦλος gives prominence to Paul in this action. BDAG (629) indicates that μέν is an “affirmative particle.” The καὶ…καί construction means “both…and” and used with the adverbs ἅπαξ…δίς indicate repeated efforts. ἐνέκοψεν (ἐγκόπτω) means “to hinder, thwart” (see Gal. 5:7). Louw and Nida (165 §13.146, 147) indicate that κωλύω means “to cause something not to happen, to prevent, hinder” and ἐγκόπτω means “to use strong measures in causing someone not to do something” (see Rom. 15:22). Note that both terms occur in this context (2:16, 18). ὁ σατανᾶς is the subject and ἡμᾶς is the direct object. Paul uses this designation σατανᾶς several times in his letters.

Two γάρ clauses conclude this declaration in vv. 17-18. The first γάρ is structured as an interrogative, with a second rhetorical question embdded. τίς is the interrogative pronoun that marks the main interrogative clause and its referent is ἐλπὶς ἢ χαρὰ ἢ στέφανος. The writers use the correlative conjunction ἢ (“or”) to connect the items in the list. The question is a nominal clause with τίς, the pronoun, functioning as subject and the anarthrous ἐλπὶς ἢ χαρὰ ἢ στέφανος forming the predicate nominative. The subjective genitive ἡμῶν applies to each item in this list. The genitive καυχήσεως probably is a genitive of product and may qualify only στέφανος or might be intended to qualify each of the items because each one contributes to this product. The writers use two prepositional phrases to define where this will occur (ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ; see a similar phrase at 1:3), and when it will occur (ἐν τῇ αὐτοῦ παρουσίᾳ). ἡμῶν 2˚ is a genitive of subordination. The writers anticipate some accounting will occur at the Second Coming of Jesus who will be the evaluator. αὐτοῦ probably is a subjective genitive. Having asked the question, the writers insert a second rhetorical question, marked by the particle ἢ, presumably for dramatic effect. They shape the anticipated response to the first question by inserting a rhetorical question that expects a positive answer by using οὐχί. The writers emphasize the subject in the rhetorical question (ὑμεῖς) by qualifying it with the ascensive καί.

In v. 20 the writers provide the answer using a second γάρ clause. They employ an equative clause with ὑμεῖς as the subject and ἡ δόξα…καὶ ἡ χαρά as the predicate nominative. The repeated article gives these nouns a bit of distinction from each other. I think that ἡμῶν probably is an objective genitive, i.e., that which gives us glory and joy. It presumably qualifies both nouns (see a similar construction in 2:9).