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Paul wrote this Epistle to the Thessalonians; and it is to be supposed that the subjects of which it treats, were suggested by the account which he received from Timothy. It is now generally believed that thris was written the first of all St. Paul's Epistles, but it is not known by whom it was sent to Thessalonica. The church there consisted chiefly of Gentile converts (a).
II. St. Paul, after saluting the Thessalonian Christians in the name of himself, Silas and Timothy, assures them that he constantly returned thanks to God on their account, and mentioned them in his prayers; he acknowledges the readiness and sincerity with which they embraced the Gospel, and the great reputation which they had 'acquired by turning from idols to serve the living God (b); he reminds them of the bold and disinterested manner in which he had preached among them; comforts them under the persecutions which they, like other Christians, had experienced from their unbelieving countrymen, and informs them of two ineffectual attempts which he had made to visit them again (c); and that, being thus disappointed, he had sent Timothy to confirm their faith, and enquire into their conduct; he tells them that Timothy's account of (a) C. 1. v. 9. (b) C. 1. (c) C. 2. E E 2
them had given him the greatest consolation and joy in the midst of his affliction and distress, and that he continually prayed to God for an opportunity of seeing them again, and for their perfect establishment in the Gospel (d); he exhorts to purity, justice, love, and quietness, and dissuades them against excessive grief for their deceased friends (e); hence he takes occasion to recommend preparation for the last judgment, the time of which is always uncertain, and adds a variety of practical precepts. He concludes with his usual benediction (f).
This Epistle is written in terms of high commendation, earnestness, and affection.
(d) C. 3.
(e) C. 4. It is probable that St. Paul was led to menlion this subject by some account which he had received from Timothy, of the Thessalonian Christians having. lamented the death of some of their friends, after the manner of the Heathen, who sorrowed as having no hope that they should meet again.
(f) C. 5.
CHAPTER THE SEVENTEENTH.
OF THE SECOND EPISTLE TO THE
'1. The Occasion of this Epistle being written, and its
Date.-II. Substance of this Epistle.
1. It is generally believed that the messenger, who carried the former Epistle into Macedonia, upon his return to Corinth, informed St. Paul that the Thessalonians had inferred, from some expressions (a) in it, that the coming of Christ and the final judgment were near at hand, and would happen in the time of many, who were then alive. The principal design of this second Epistle to the Thessalonians was to correct that error, and prevent the mischief which it would naturally occasion. It was written from Corinth, and probably at the end of the year 52.
(a) 1 Thess. C. 4. v. 15 & 17. c. 5. v.6.
II. Sr. Paul begins with the same salutation as in the former Epistle, and then expresses his devout acknowledgments to God for the increasing faith and mutual love of the Thessalonians in the midst of persecutions; he represents to them the rewards which will be bestowed upon the faithful, and the punishment which will be inflicted upon the disobedient at the coming of Christ (b); he earnestly entreats them not to suppose, as upon authority from him, or upon any other ground, that the last day is at hand; he assures them, that before that awful period a great apostasy will take place, and reminds them of some information which he had given them upon that subject when he was at Thessalonica; he exhorts them to stedfastness in their faith, and prays to God to comfort their hearts, and establish them in every good word and work (C); he desires their prayers for the success of his ministry, and expresses his confidence in their sincerity; he cautions them against associating with idle and disorderly persons, and recornmends diligence and quietness. · He adds a salutation in his own hand, and concludes with his usual benediction (d).
(b) C. 1. (c) C. 2. (d) C. 3.
CHAPTER THE EIGHTEENTH.
OF THE FIRST EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY. 1. History of Timothy.II. Date of this Epistle.
III. Design and Substance of it. 1. Timothy was a native of Lystra in Lycaonia; his father was a Gentile; but his mother, whose name was Eunice, was a Jewess (a), and educated her son with great care in her own religion (6). In the beginning of this Epistle, Paul calls Timothy his “ own son in the faith (c);" from which expression it is inferred, that Paul was the person who converted him to the belief of the Gospel; and as, upon Paul's second arrival at Lystra, Timothy is mentioned as being then a disciple, and as having distinguished himself among the Christians of that neighbourhood, his conversion, as well as that of Eunice his mother, and Lois his grandmother, must
have (a) Acts, c. 16. v. I. . . , (6) 2 Tim. c. 1. v. 5. c. 3. v. 15. (c) 1 Tim. c. 1. V. 2.