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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

1 Thessalonians 5



Other Authors
Verse 1

But concerning the times and the seasons (περι δε των χρονων και των καιρωνperi de tōn chronōn kai tōn kairōn). See both words used also in Titus 1:2. ΧρονοςChronos is rather an extended period and καιροςkairos a definite space of time.

Verse 2

Know perfectly (ακριβως οιδατεakribōs oidate). Accurately know, not “the times and the seasons,” but their own ignorance.

As a thief in the night (ως κλεπτης εν νυκτιhōs kleptēs en nukti). As a thief at night, suddenly and unexpectedly. Reminiscence of the word of Jesus (Matthew 24:43; Luke 12:39), used also in 2 Peter 3:10; Revelation 3:3; Revelation 16:15.

Cometh (ερχεταιerchetai). Prophetic or futuristic present tense.

Verse 3

When they are saying (οταν λεγωσινhotan legōsin). Present active subjunctive picturing these false prophets of peace and safety like Ezekiel 13:10 (Peace, and there is no peace). ΑσπαλειαAsphaleia only in N.T. in Luke 1:4 (which see); Acts 5:23 and here.

Sudden destruction (αιπνιδιος ολετροςaiphnidios olethros). ΟλετροςOlethros old word from ολλυμιollumi to destroy. See also 2 Thessalonians 1:9. ΑιπνιδιοςAiphnidios old adjective akin to απνωaphnō and in N.T. only here and Luke 21:34 where Westcott and Hort spell it επνιδιοςephnidios

Cometh upon them (αυτοις επισταταιautois epistatai). Unaspirated form instead of the usual επισταταιephistatai (present middle indicative) from επιστημιephistēmi perhaps due to confusion with επισταμαιepistamai

As travail upon a woman with child (ωσπερ η ωδιν τηι εν γαστρι εχουσηιhōsper hē ōdin tēi en gastri echousēi). Earlier form ωδιςōdis for birth-pang used also by Jesus (Mark 13:8; Matthew 24:8). Technical phrase for pregnancy, to the one who has it in belly (cf. Matthew 1:18 of Mary).

They shall in no wise escape (ου μη εκπυγωσινou mē ekphugōsin). Strong negative like that in 1 Thessalonians 4:15 ου μηou mē (double negative) and the second aorist active subjunctive.

Verse 4

As a thief (ως κλεπτηςhōs kleptēs). As in 1 Thessalonians 5:2, but A B Bohairic have κλεπταςkleptas (thieves), turning the metaphor round.

Verse 5

Sons of light (υιοι πωτοςhuioi phōtos), sons of day (υιοι ημεραςhuioi hēmeras). Chiefly a translation Hebraism (Deissmann, Bible Studies, pp. 161ff.). Cf. words of Jesus in Luke 16:8 and Paul in Ephesians 5:9. He repeats the same idea in turning from “ye” to “we” and using νυκτοςnuktos (night) and σκοτουςskotous (darkness), predicate genitives.

Verse 6

So then (αρα ουνara oun). Two inferential particles, accordingly therefore, as in 2 Thessalonians 2:15 and only in Paul in N.T.

Let us not sleep (μη κατευδωμενmē katheudōmen). Present active subjunctive (volitive), let us not go on sleeping.

Let us watch (γρηγορωμενgrēgorōmen). Present active subj. (volitive) again, let us keep awake (late verb γρηγορεωgrēgoreō from perfect εγρηγοραegrēgora).

Be sober (νηπωμενnēphōmen). Present active subjunctive (volitive). Old verb not to be drunk. In N.T. only in figurative sense, to be calm, sober-minded. Also in 1 Thessalonians 5:8 with the metaphor of drunkenness in contrast.

Verse 7

They that be drunken are drunken in the night (οι μετυσκομενοι νυκτος μετυουσινhoi methuskomenoi nuktos methuousin). No need of “be” here, they that are drunken. No real difference in meaning between μετυσκωmethuskō and μετυωmethuō to be drunk, except that μετυσκωmethuskō (inceptive verb in σκω̇skō) means to get drunk.

Night (νυκτοςnuktos genitive by night) is the favourite time for drunken revelries.

Verse 8

Putting on the breastplate of faith and love (ενδυσαμενοι τωρακα πιστεως και αγαπηςendusamenoi thōraka pisteōs kai agapēs). First aorist (ingressive) middle participle of ενδυωenduō The same figure of breastplate in Ephesians 6:14, only there “of righteousness.” The idea of watchfulness brings the figure of a sentry on guard and armed to Paul‘s mind as in Romans 13:12 “the weapons of light.” The word τωραχthōrax (breastplate) is common in the lxx.

For a helmet, the hope of salvation (περικεπαλαιαν ελπιδα σωτηριαςperikephalaian elpida sōtērias). Same figure in Ephesians 6:17 and both like Isaiah 59:17. Late word meaning around (περιperi) the head (κεπαληkephalē) and in Polybius, lxx, and in the papyri. ΣωτηριαςSōtērias is objective genitive.

Verse 9

But unto the obtaining of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ (αλλα εις περιποιησιν σωτηριας δια του Κυριου ημων Ιησου Χριστουalla eis peripoiēsin sōtērias dia tou Kuriou hēmōn Iēsou Christou). The difficult word here is περιποιησινperipoiēsin which may be passive, God‘s possession as in 1 Peter 2:9, or active, obtaining, as in 2 Thessalonians 2:14. The latter is probably the idea here. We are to keep awake so as to fulfil God‘s purpose (ετετοetheto appointed, second aorist middle indicative of τιτημιtithēmi) in calling us. That is our hope of final victory (salvation in this sense).

Verse 10

For us (περι ημωνperi hēmōn).

Around us. So Westcott and Hort, but υπερhuper (over, in behalf of) as in many MSS. These prepositions often interchanged in N.T. MSS.

Whether we wake or sleep (ειτε γρηγορωμεν ειτε κατευδωμενeite grēgorōmen eite katheudōmen). Alternative condition of third class with present subjunctive, though εαντεεαντεeantė̇eante more usual conjunction (Robertson, Grammar, P. 1017). Used here of life and death, not as metaphor.

That we should live together with him (ινα αμα συν αυτωι ζησωμενhina hama sun autōi zēsōmen). First aorist active subjunctive constative aorist covering all life (now and hereafter) together with (αμα συνhama sun as in 1 Thessalonians 5:17) Jesus.

Verse 11

Build each other up (οικοδομειτε εις τον εναoikodomeite heis ton hena). Literally, build ye, one the one (ειςheis nominative in partitive apposition with unexpressed υμειςhumeis subject of οικοδομειτεoikodomeite Then τον εναton hena the accusative in partitive apposition with the unexpressed εαυτουςheautous or αλληλουςallēlous See the same idiom in 1 Corinthians 4:6 one in behalf of the one, εις υπερ του ενοςheis huper tou henos Build is a favourite Pauline metaphor.

Verse 12

Them that labour among you (τους κοπιωντας εν υμινtous kopiōntas en humin). Old word for toil even if weary.

And are over you in the Lord (και προισταμενους υμων εν Κυριωιkai proistamenous humōn en Kuriōi). Same article with this participle. Literally, those who stand in front of you, your leaders in the Lord, the presbyters or bishops and deacons. Get acquainted with them and follow them.

And admonish you (και νουτετουντας υμαςkai nouthetountas humas). Old verb from νουτετηςnouthetēs and this from νουςnous (mind) and τιτημιtithēmi to put. Putting sense into the heads of people. A thankless, but a necessary, task. The same article connects all three participles, different functions of the same leaders in the church.

Verse 13

And to esteem them (και ηγεισταιkai hēgeisthai). Get acquainted with them and esteem the leaders. The idlers in Thessalonica had evidently refused to follow their leaders in church activities. We need wise leadership today, but still more wise following. An army of captains and colonels never won a battle.

Verse 14

Admonish the disorderly (νουτετειτε τους ατακτουςnoutheteite tous ataktous). Put sense into the unruly mob who break ranks (αa privative and τακτοςtaktos verbal adjective of τασσωtassō to keep military order). Recall the idlers from the market-place used against Paul (Acts 17:5). This is a challenging task for any leader.

Encourage the fainthearted (παραμυτειστε τους ολιγοπσυχουςparamutheisthe tous oligopsuchous). Old verb to encourage or console as in John 11:31, though not so common in N.T. as παρακαλεωparakaleō the compound adjective (ολιγοςoligos little or small, πσυχηpsuchē soul), small-souled, little-souled, late word in lxx. The verb ολιγοπσυχεωoligopsucheō occurs in the papyri. Local conditions often cause some to lose heart and wish to drop out, be quitters. These must be held in line.

Support the weak (αντεχεστε των αστενωνantechesthe tōn asthenōn). Middle voice with genitive of αντεχωantechō old verb, in N.T. only in middle, to cling to, to hold on to (with genitive). The weak are those tempted to sin (immorality, for instance).

Be long-suffering toward all (μακροτυμειτε προς πανταςmakrothumeite pros pantas). These disorderly elements try the patience of the leaders. Hold out with them. What a wonderful ideal Paul here holds up for church leaders!

Verse 15

See to it that no one render unto any one evil for evil (ορατε μη τις κακον αντι κακου αποδωιhorate mē tis kakon anti kakou apodōi). Note μηmē with the aorist subjunctive (negative purpose) αποδωιapodōi from αποδιδωμιapodidōmi to give back. Retaliation, condemned by Jesus (Matthew 5:38-42) and by Paul in Romans 12:17, usually takes the form of “evil for evil,” rather than “good for good” (καλον αντι καλουkalon anti kalou). Note idea of exchange in αντιanti

Follow after (διωκετεdiōkete). Keep up the chase (διωκωdiōkō) after the good.

Verse 18

In everything give thanks (εν παντι ευχαριστειτεen panti eucharisteite). There is a silver lining to every cloud. God is with us whatever befalls us. It is God‘s will that we find joy in prayer in Christ Jesus in every condition of life.

Verse 19

Quench not the spirit (το πνευμα μη σβεννυτεto pneuma mē sbennute). ΜηMē with the present imperative means to stop doing it or not to have the habit of doing it. It is a bold figure. Some of them were trying to put out the fire of the Holy Spirit, probably the special gifts of the Holy Spirit as 1 Thessalonians 5:20 means. But even so the exercise of these special gifts (1 Corinthians 12-14; 2 Corinthians 12:2-4; Romans 12:6-9) was to be decently (ευσχημονωςeuschēmonōs 1 Thessalonians 4:12) and in order (κατα ταχινkata taxin 1 Corinthians 14:40) and for edification (προς οικοδομηνpros oikodomēn 1 Corinthians 14:26). Today, as then, there are two extremes about spiritual gifts (cold indifference or wild excess). It is not hard to put out the fire of spiritual fervor and power.

Verse 20

Despise not prophesyings (προπητειας μη εχουτενειτεprophēteias mē exoutheneite). Same construction, stop counting as nothing (εχουτενεωexoutheneō ουτενουδενouthen̂ouden), late form in lxx. Plutarch has εχουδενιζωexoudenizō Plural form προπητειαςprophēteias (accusative). Word means forth-telling (προπημιprȯphēmi) rather than fore-telling and is the chief of the spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 14) and evidently depreciated in Thessalonica as in Corinth later.

Verse 21

Prove all things (παντα δε δοκιμαζετεpanta ̣dě dokimazete). Probably δεde (but) is genuine. Even the gift of prophecy has to be tested (1 Corinthians 12:10; 1 Corinthians 14:29) to avoid error. Paul shows fine balance here.

Hold fast that which is good (το καλον κατεχετεto kalon katechete). Keep on holding down the beautiful (noble, morally beautiful). Present imperative κατεχωkaṫechō (perfective use of καταkatȧ here).

Verse 22

Abstain from every form of evil (απο παντος ειδους πονηρου απεχεστεapo pantos eidous ponērou apechesthe). Present middle (direct) imperative of απεχωaṗechō (contrast with κατεχωkaṫechō) and preposition αποapo repeated with ablative as in 1 Thessalonians 4:3. Note use of πονηρουponērou here for evil without the article, common enough idiom. ΕιδοςEidos (from ειδονeidon) naturally means look or appearance as in Luke 3:23; Luke 9:29; John 5:37; 2 Corinthians 5:7. But, if so taken, it is not semblance as opposed to reality (Milligan). The papyri give several examples of ειδοςeidos in the sense of class or kind and that idea suits best here. Evil had a way of showing itself even in the spiritual gifts including prophecy.

Verse 23

The God of peace (ο τεος της ειρηνηςho theos tēs eirēnēs). The God characterized by peace in his nature, who gladly bestows it also. Common phrase (Milligan) at close of Paul‘s Epistles (2 Corinthians 13:11; Romans 15:33; Romans 16:20; Philemon 4:9) and the Lord of peace in 2 Thessalonians 3:6.

Sanctify you (αγιασαι υμαςhagiasai humās). First aorist active optative in a wish for the future. New verb in lxx and N.T. for the old αγιζωhagizō to render or to declare holy (αγιοςhagios), to consecrate, to separate from things profane.

Wholly (ολοτελειςholoteleis). Predicate adjective in plural (ολοςholos whole, τελοςtelos end), not adverb ολοτελωςholotelōs Late word in Plutarch, Hexapla, and in inscription a.d. 67 (Moulton and Milligan, Vocabulary). Here alone in N.T. Here it means the whole of each of you, every part of each of you, “through and through” (Luther), qualitatively rather than quantitatively.

Your spirit and soul and body (υμων το πνευμα και η πσυχη και το σωμαhumōn to pneuma kai hē psuchē kai to sōma). Not necessarily trichotomy as opposed to dichotomy as elsewhere in Paul‘s Epistles. Both believers and unbelievers have an inner man (soul πσυχηpsuchē mind νουςnous heart καρδιαkardia the inward man ο εσω αντρωποςho esō anthrōpos) and the outer man (σωμα ο εχω αντρωποςsōmaολοκληρον τηρητειηho exō anthrōpos). But the believer has the Holy Spirit of God, the renewed spirit of man (1 Corinthians 2:11; Romans 8:9-11).

Be preserved entire (ολοκληρονholoklēron tērētheiē). First aorist passive optative in wish for the future. Note singular verb and singular adjective (neuter) showing that Paul conceives of the man as “an undivided whole” (Frame), prayer for the consecration of both body and soul (cf. 1 Corinthians 6). The adjective ολοςholoklēron is in predicate and is an old form and means complete in all its parts (κληροςholos whole, Τελειοςklēros lot or part). There is to be no deficiency in any part. τελοςTeleios (from αμεμπτωςtelos end) means final perfection.

Without blame (αamemptōs). Old adverb (μεμπτοςa privative, μεμπομαιmemptos verbal of εν τηι παρουσιαιmemphomai to blame) only in I Thess. in N.T. (1 Thessalonians 2:10; 1 Thessalonians 3:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:23). Milligan notes it in certain sepulchral inscriptions discovered in Thessalonica.

At the coming (en tēi parousiāi). The Second Coming which was a sustaining hope to Paul as it should be to us and mentioned often in this Epistle (see note on 1 Thessalonians 2:19).

Verse 24

Faithful (πιστοςpistos). God, he means, who calls and will carry through (Philemon 1:6).

Verse 25

Pray for us (προσευχεστε και περι ημωνproseuchesthe ̣kaǐ peri hēmōn). He has made his prayer for them. He adds this “human touch” (Frame) and pleads for the prayers of his converts (2 Thessalonians 3:1; Colossians 4:2.). Probably καιkai also is genuine (B D).

Verse 26

With a holy kiss (εν πιληματι αγιωιen philēmati hagiōi). With a kiss that is holy (Milligan) a token of friendship and brotherly love (1 Corinthians 16:20; 2 Corinthians 13:12; Romans 16:16). In 1 Peter 5:14 it is “with a kiss of love.” This was the customary salutation for rabbis.

Verse 27

I adjure you by the Lord (ενορκιζω υμας τον Κυριονenorkizō humas ton Kurion). Late compound for old ορκιζωhorkizō (Mark 5:7), to put one on oath, with two accusatives (Robertson, Grammar, pp. 483f.). Occurs in inscriptions.

That this epistle be read unto all the brethren (αναγνωστηναι την επιστολην πασιν τοις αδελποιςanagnōsthēnai tēn epistolēn pasin tois adelphois). First aorist passive infinitive of αναγινωσκωanaginōskō with accusative of general reference in an indirect command. Clearly Paul wrote for the church as a whole and wished the epistles read aloud at a public meeting. In this first epistle we see the importance that he attaches to his epistles.

Verse 28

The grace (η χαριςhē charis). Paul prefers this noble word to the customary ερρωστεerrōsthe (Farewell, Be strong). See 2 Thessalonians 3:18 for identical close save added παντωνpantōn (all). A bit shorter form in 1 Corinthians 16:23; Romans 16:20 and still shorter in Colossians 4:18; 1 Timothy 6:21; Titus 3:15; 2 Timothy 4:22. The full Trinitarian benediction we find in 2 Corinthians 13:13.



Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)

Bibliography Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 5:4". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

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