VINCENT'S WORD STUDIES
1 THESSALONIANS 5
PREVIOUS - NEXT CHAPTER - INDEX
Robertson's Word Pictures in the NT - Greek NT
The day of the Lord (hmera kuriou). The day of Christ's second coming. In Paul's Epistles this is expressed by hJ hJmera the day, absolutely, 1 Thess. v. 4; 1 Cor. iii. 13; Rom. xiii. 12: hJ hJmera ejkeinh that day, 2 Thess. i. 10: hJmera cristou the day of Christ, Philip. i. 10; ii. 16: hJmera kuriou or tou kuriou day of the Lord, 1 Cor. v. 5; 1 Thess. v. 2; 2 Thess. ii. 2: hJmera tou kuriou hJmwn Ihsou (Cristou), 1 Cor. i. 8; 2 Corinthians i. 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. 30 In the O.T. the phrase day of the Lord denotes a time in which God will conspicously manifest his power and goodness or his penal justice. See Isa. ii. 12; Ezek. xiii. 5; Joel i. 15; ii. 11; and comp. Rom. ii. 5. The whole class of phrases is rare in N.T. outside of Paul's Epistles. As a thief (wv klepthv). Comp. Matt. xxiv. 43; Luke xii. 39; 2 Peter iii. 10; Apoc. xvi. 15, and see on Apoc. iii. 3.
In the night (en nukiti). 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 Matt. xxv. 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 alloxved 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 Matt. xxiv. 43; xxv. 1-13; Mark xiii. 35; Luke xii. 35, 38; xvii. 34; xii. 90.
Shall not escape (ou mh ekfugwsin). A.V. misses the force of the double negative. They shall in no wise escape.
A thief (klepthv). Tischendorf, Weiss, and Rev. T. retain this reading. Westcott and Hort read kleptav thieves, but with klepthv in margin. The weight of textual evidence is in favor of the singular.
Children of light (uioi fwtov). More correctly, sons of light. See on Mark iii. 17, and comp. Luke xvi. 8; John xii. 36; Eph. v. 8; Colossians i. 12. The Christian condition is habitually associated in N.T. with light: see Matt. v. 14, 16; John iii. 21; viii. 12; Acts xxvi. 18; 1 Pet. ii. 9; 1 John i. 7. The contrary condition with darkness: see John iii. 19, 20; Ephesians v. 8; 1 Pet. ii. 9; Matt. iv. 16; vi. 23, etc.
Of the night - of darkness (nuktov - skotouv). The genitive marks an advance of thought from ejn skotei in darkness, ver. 4. En 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.
Let us watch (grhgorwmen). See on Mark xiii. 35, and comp. Ephesians v. 14.
Be sober (nhfwmen). 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.
Breastplate - helmet. Comp. Eph. vi. 14. The figures are not original with Paul. See Isa. lix. 17; Wisd. v. 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 ch. i. 3; 1 Cor. xiii. 13. For the figure of the armed soldier, comp. also Rom. xiii. 12; 2 Cor. x. 4.
To obtain (eiv peripoihsin). More literally, unto the obtaining. See on Eph. i. 14. In three out of five instances in N.T. the word clearly means acquiring or obtaining. In Eph. i. 14 and 1 Pet. ii. 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. iii. 17.
Wake or sleep. Whether we are alive or dead at Christ's appearing. Comp. Rom. xiv. 9. Kaqeudein in N.T. always literally of sleep, except here, and possibly Eph. v. 14. In Mark v. 39; Luke viii. 52, it is contrasted with death. In LXX in the sense of death, Psalm lxxxvii. 5; Daniel xii. 2; 2 Sam. vii. 12.
Edify (oikodomeite). Lit. build up. See on Acts xx. 32. The metaphorical sense habitually in Paul. See 1 Cor. viii. 1, 10; x. 23; xiv. 4; Ephesians ii. 20. In O.T. mostly in the literal sense. See however LXX, Ruth iv. 11; Psalm xxvii. 5; lxxxviii. 2; Jer. xxxi. 4.
Are over (proistamenouv). Lit. who are placed before you. See on Rom. xii. 8. Used of superintendents of households, 1 Tim. iii. 4, 5, xii. of the ruling of elders of the church, 1 Tim. v. 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 1 Cor. xvi. 15, 16. The congregation exercised discipline and gave judgment: 1 Corinthians v. 3-5; 2 Cor. ii. 6, 7; vii. 11, 12; Gal. vi. 1.
Admonish (nouqetountav). Only in Acts and Paul. See on Acts xx. 31, and comp. ver. 14; Rom. xv. 14; 1 Cor. iv. 14; Col. i. 28.
Very highly in love. Const. very highly with esteem. In love qualifies both words. 31 For their work's sake (dia to ergon autwn). 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.
Feeble-minded (oligoyucouv). N.T.o . Better fainthearted. Oligov little and yuch soul. Those of little heart. oClass. In LXX see Prov. xiv. 29; Isa. xxv. 5; liv. 6; lvii. 15. Oligoyucia faint-heartedness, o N.T. LXX, Exod. vi. 9; Psalm liv. 8. Comp. Ps. of Sol., xvi. 11.
Support (antecesqe). Comp. Matt. vi. 24; Tit. i. 9. Anti against and ecesqai to hold one's self. The primary sense is, keeping one's self directly opposite to another so as to sustain him.
Hold fast that which is good (to kalon katecet). These words are associated in early Christian writers with an apocryphal saying ascribed to Jesus, and very frequently quoted, ginesqe de dokimoi trapezitai 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 (entolhn) 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, eidov form, ver. 22, might be explained as a figure of exchangers distinguishing between genuine and false coins. 32
Of evil (ponhrou). To be taken as a noun; not as an adjective agreeing with eidouv form (from every evil form). The meaning of ponhrov 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 grudying or niggardly. See Sir. xiv. 4, 5; xxxiv. 23.
Sanctify (agiasai). See on John x. 36; xvii. 17. The primary idea of the word is separation. Hence agiov, the standard word for holy in LXX is, primarily, set apart. Agiazein is
Wholly (oloteleiv). N.T.o . So that nothing shall escape the sanctifying power. %Olov complete, and telov end or consummation.
Spirit, soul, body (pneuma, yuch swma). 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 - pneuma and yuch. See on Rom. vi. 6; vii. 5, 23; viii. 4; xi. 3 and footnote.
Be preserved entire (oloklhron - thrhqeih). This is the rendering of Rev. and is correct. A.V. joins oJloklhron with pneuma, and renders your whole spirit. Oloklhron is predic ative, not attributive. It does not mean whole, but is derived from olov whole and klhrov allotment, and signifies having the entire allotment; complete in all parts. It occurs only here and Jas. i. 4, where it is associated with teleioi perfect. It appears in LXX, as Lev. xxiii. 15; Deut. xvi. 9; xxvii. 6. Joseph. Ant. iii. 12, 2, uses it of an unblemished victim for sacrifice. As distinguished from oJloteleiv wholly, ver. 23, it is qualitative, while oJloteleiv is quantitative. The kindred oJloklhria perfect soundness, only in Acts iii. 16. For preserved see on 1 Pet. i. 4.
That calleth (o kalwn).= the caller. The emphasis is on the person rather than on the act. Comp. Rom. ix. 11; Gal. i. 6, 15; v. 8; 1 Thessalonians ii. 12; 1 Pet. v. 10; Jas. i. 5.