1 Thessalonians Chapter 2:1-10

Chapter 2

1 Αὐτοὶ γὰρ οἴδατε, ἀδελφοί, τὴν εἴσοδον ἡμῶν τὴν πρὸς ὑμᾶς ὅτι οὐ κενὴ γέγονεν,

For you know, brothers, that our entry among you was not vain,

 Here, it seems, Paul is being personal, and, perhaps, a little defensive. He is making sure that his readers are aware that things worked out, after all.     
1 Nam ipsi scitis, fratres, introi tum nostrum ad vos, quia non inanis fuit;

2 ἀλλὰ προπαθόντες καὶ ὑβρισθέντες καθὼς οἴδατε ἐν Φιλίπποις ἐπαρρησιασάμεθα ἐν τῷ θεῷ ἡμῶν
λαλῆσαι πρὸς ὑμᾶς τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τοῦ θεοῦ ἐν πολλῷ ἀγῶνι.

but we suffered being slandered as you know among the Phillipians, [but] we were bold in our God to speak before you the good news of God in great conflict

 And this, it seems, is why he needs to reinforce the outcome as he did in V1.  Not only was he ‘slandered’ in Philippi, but there was, apparently, conflict in Thessalonika.  This would most likely be the ‘great conflict’ he mentions. Again, the self-affirmation: despite the conflict, he was ‘bold’.
2 sed ante passi et contumeliis affecti, sicut scitis, in Philippis, fiduciam habuimus in Deo nostro loqui ad vos evangelium Dei in multa sollicitudine.

3 ἡ γὰρ παράκλησις ἡμῶν οὐκ ἐκ πλάνης οὐδὲ ἐξ ἀκαθαρσίας οὐδὲ ἐν δόλῳ,

for our exhortation was not from error, or from impurity or in sorrow,

 Here we get back to the idea in 1:5, that he’s speaking with some sort of divine authority.

3 Exhortatio enim nostra non ex errore neque ex immunditia neque in dolo,

4 ἀλλὰ καθὼς δεδοκιμάσμεθα ὑπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ πιστευθῆναι τὸ εὐαγγέλιον οὕτως λαλοῦμεν, οὐχ ὡς ἀνθρώποις ἀρέσκοντες ἀλλὰ θεῷ τῷ δοκιμάζοντι τὰς καρδίας ἡμῶν.

but (rather) against (us) having been tested by god in believing the good news as preached, not pleasing men but god, (we) being tested in our hearts.

 Again, the idea in 1:5.  He apparently really wants to stress this. He seems to be displaying the all-too-human trait of lacking self-assurance.

As a side note, the Latin is slightly different from the Greek.  The Latin refers to it as “our gospel” (ev-angelizing). It is my opinion that the Latin translator, presumably St Jerome, likely forgot more about Greek that I could ever hope to know. Thus, I will be commenting on the Latin from time to time.  For example, the Greek for ‘testing’ is a participle, but in Latin, it’s a standard verb. Greek is very fond of participles, and has participles in a number of different tenses.  This one is Aorist, which is more or less the ‘standard’ past tense for literary purposes.

4 sed sicut probati sumus a Deo, ut crederetur nobis evangelium, ita loquimur non quasi hominibus placentes, sed Deo, qui probat corda nostra.

5  οὔτε γάρ ποτε ἐν λόγῳ κολακείας ἐγενήθημεν, καθὼς οἴδατε, οὔτε ἐν προφάσει πλεονεξίας, θεὸς μάρτυς,

For it was neither flattery in speech, as you know, nor in a cloak of covetousness, God (is a) witness,

 Feels the need to call God as a witness. Also, under the concept of ‘methinks he doth protest too much’, why the need to disavow any motives of self interest? He, apparently, feels the need to deny specifically that he was motivated by greed.  Had he been accused of this? By whom? Why? There are references to divisions within the Christian community in other places, and in other letters, did this happen here, too?  Is this the ‘conflict’ he referred to in 2:2?

5 Neque enim aliquando fuimus in sermone adulationis, sicut scitis, neque sub praetextu avaritiae, Deus testis,

6 οὔτε ζητοῦντες ἐξ ἀνθρώπων δόξαν, οὔτε ἀφ’ ὑμῶν οὔτε ἀπ’ ἄλλων,

nor seeking renown from men, neither from you nor from others

 Again, the distinction of human and divine authority.  He is working only from the latter.  But whom is he trying to convince–the Thessalonians, or himself?

6 nec quaerentes ab hominibus gloriam, neque a vobis neque ab aliis;

7 δυνάμενοι ἐν βάρει εἶναι ὡς Χριστοῦ ἀπόστολοι, ἀλλὰ ἐγενήθημεν νήπιοι ἐν μέσῳ ὑμῶν. ὡς ἐὰν τροφὸς θάλπῃ τὰ ἑαυτῆς τέκνα,

we being able to be a weight as the apostles of Christ, but we were gentle in the midst of you, as if a nurse cherishing her own child,

 Interesting analogy of the nurse and child. But the first part carries the implication that an apostle of  Christ had the right to claim a level of support from the Christian community: hence, the ‘weight,’ as in burden.  Paul did not do this, and he stresses this point. He is very concerned to demonstrate the purity of his motives. Why does he feel this need?

7  cum possemus oneri esse ut Christi apostoli, sed facti sumus parvuli in medio vestrum, tamquam si nutrix foveat filios suos;

8 οὕτως ὁμειρόμενοι ὑμῶν εὐδοκοῦμεν μεταδοῦναι ὑμῖν οὐ μόνον τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τοῦ θεοῦ ἀλλὰ καὶ τὰς ἑαυτῶν ψυχάς, διότι ἀγαπητοὶ ἡμῖν ἐγενήθητε.

thus we were longing for you, we seemed good to give you not only the good news of God, but also our souls, because we came to love you.

 Another expression of his pure motives. Given the continued repetition, it would seem we have to ask if this is a rhetorical device, or if this is something he feels the need to do. If the latter, is the pressure to do so internal? Does he put the pressure on himself? Or does he feel the pressure from others, perhaps from detractors?

8 ita desiderantes vos, cupide volebamus tradere vobis non solum evangelium Dei sed etiam animas nostras, quoniam carissimi nobis facti estis.

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.

For remember, brothers, our hard work and our hardships: night and day we worked not to weigh down something of yours, we preached the good news of God.

 Here he refers back to 2:7, and the idea of being a burden (weight).  We know that Paul was a tent maker; some have seen this expression of hard work–laboring night and day–as literal. That he was making tents to contribute to the financial security of the community, thereby not being a burden.  All this while preaching the good news.  

9 Memores enim estis, fratres, laboris nostri et fatigationis; nocte et die operantes, ne quem vestrum gravaremus, praedicavimus in vobis evangelium Dei.

10 ὑμεῖς μάρτυρες καὶ ὁ θεός, ὡς ὁσίως καὶ δικαίως καὶ ἀμέμπτως ὑμῖν τοῖς πιστεύουσιν ἐγενήθημεν,

You and god are witnesses, how worthy and just and without quarrel we were to you the believers.

 Here he calls on God–again–to be a witness. Is he under some stress on this?

10 Vos testes estis et Deus, quam sancte et iuste et sine querela vobis, qui credidistis, fuimus;

A large part of this chapter seems to be Paul feeling the need to justify himself.  Why?  Who was pressing him? Other members of the Thessalonian community? Or outsiders?   Looking ahead, there may be a hint in 2:14.


About James, brother of Jesus

I have a BA from the University of Toronto in Greek and Roman History. For this, I had to learn classical Greek and Latin. In seminar-style classes, we discussed both the meaning of the text and the language. U of T has a great Classics Dept. One of the professors I took a Senior Seminar with is now at Harvard. I started reading the New Testament as a way to brush up on my Greek, and the process grew into this. I plan to comment on as much of the NT as possible, starting with some of Paul's letters. After that, I'll start in on the Gospels, starting with Mark.

Posted on June 23, 2012, in 1 Thessalonians, Paul's Letters and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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