Verse 28. "The grace of our Lord Jesus" - As the epistle began so it ends; for the grace of Christ must be at the beginning and end of every work, in order to complete it, and bring it to good effect.
Amen.] This is wanting in BD*FG and some others. It was probably not written by St. Paul.
The subscriptions are, as in other cases, various and contradictory. The chief MSS. conclude as follows: The first to the Thessalonians is completed; the second to the Thessalonians begins.
- DFG. The first to the Thessalonians written from Athens.- AB, and others. From Laodicea.
- Cod. Claromont. The first to the Thessalonians, written from Athens.
- Common Greek text.
The VERSIONS conclude thus:-The First Epistle to the Thessalonians was written at Athens, and sent by the hands of Timotheus.
- SYRIAC. To the Thessalonians.
- AETHIOPIC. Nothing in the VULGATE. The end of the epistle: it was written from a city of the Athenians, and sent by the hand of Timotheus. And to the Lord be praise for ever and ever. Amen. - ARABIC. Written from Athens, and sent by Silvanus and Timotheus.
That it was not sent by either Silvanus or Timothy is evident enough from the inscription, for St. Paul associates these two with himself, in directing it to the Thessalonian Church. Others say that it was sent by Tychicus and Onesimus, but this also is absurd; for Onesimus was not converted till a considerable time after the writing of this epistle. That it was written by St. Paul, there is no doubt; and that it was written at Corinth, and not at Athens, has been shown in the preface.
1. THE two preceding chapters are certainly among the most important and the most sublime in the New Testament. The general judgment, the resurrection of the body, and the states of the quick and dead, the unrighteous and the just, are described, concisely indeed, but they are exhibited in the most striking and affecting points of view. I have attempted little else than verbal illustrations; the subject is too vast for my comprehension; I cannot order my speech by reason of darkness. Though there are some topics handled here which do not appear in other parts of the sacred writings, yet the main of what we learn is this. "Our God will come, and will not keep silence; a fire shall burn before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him; he shall call to the heavens above, and to the earth beneath, that he may judge his people. "The day of judgment! what an awful word is this! what a truly terrific time! when the heavens shall be shrivelled as a scroll, and the elements melt with fervent heat; when the earth and its appendages shall be burnt up, and the fury of that conflagration be such that there shall be no more sea! A time when the noble and ignoble dead, the small and the great, shall stand before God, and all be judged according to the deeds done in the body; yea, a time when the thoughts of the heart and every secret thing shall be brought to light; when the innumerable millions of transgressions, and embryo and abortive sins, shall be exhibited in all their purposes and intents; a time when Justice, eternal Justice, shall sit alone upon the throne, and pronounce a sentence as impartial as irrevocable, and as awful as eternal! There is a term of human life; and every human being is rapidly gliding to it as fast as the wings of time, in their onward motion, incomprehensibly swift, can carry him! And shall not the living lay this to heart? Should we not live in order to die? Should we not die in order to be judged? And should we not live and die so as to live again to all eternity, not with Satan and his angels, but with God and his saints? O thou man of God! thou Christian! thou immortal spirit! think of these things.
2. The subject in verse 27 of the last chapter I have but slightly noticed: I charge you, by the Lord, that this epistle be read unto all the holy brethren. This is exceedingly strange; the Epistles to the Romans, the Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians, were directed to the whole Church in each of those places; why, then, after directing this, as he did all the rest, to the whole Church, should he at the conclusion adjure them, by the Lord, that it should be read to all the holy brethren; that is, to the very persons to whom it was addressed? Is there not some mystery here? Has it not been the endeavour of Satan, from the beginning, to keep men from consulting the oracles of God; and has he not used even the authority of the Church to accomplish this his purpose! Was not the prohibiting the use of the Scriptures to the people at large the mystery of iniquity which then began to work, and against which the adjuration of the apostle is directed? see second epistle, chap. 2; this mystery, which was the grand agent in the hands of Mystery, Babylon the Great, to keep the people in darkness, that the unauthorized and wicked pretensions of this mother of the abominations of the earth might not be brought to the test; but that she might continue to wear her crown, sit on her scarlet beast, and subject the Christian world to her empire. Was it not the Christian world's total ignorance of God's book which the Romish Church took care to keep from the people at large, that induced them patiently, yet with terror, to bow down to all her usurpations, and to swallow down monstrous doctrines which she imposed upon them as Christian verities? Was it not this deplorable ignorance which induced kings and emperors to put their necks, literally, under the feet of this usurped and antichristian power? This mystery of iniquity continues still to work; and with all the pretensions of the Romish Church, the Scriptures are in general withheld from the people, or suffered to be read under such restrictions and with such notes as totally subvert the sense of those passages on which this Church endeavours to build her unscriptural pretensions. It is generally allowed that the Vulgate version is the most favourable to these pretensions, and yet even that version the rulers of the Church dare not trust in the hands of any of their people, even under their general ecclesiastical restrictions, without their counteracting notes and comments. How strange is this! and yet in this Church there have been, and still are, many enlightened and eminent men; surely truth has nothing to fear from the Bible. When the Romish Church permits the free use of this book, she may be stripped, indeed, of some of her appendages, but she will lose nothing but her dross and tin, and become what the original Church at Rome was, beloved of God, called to be saints; and have her faith, once more, spoken of throughout all the world, Rom. i. 7, 8. She has, in her own hands the means of her own regeneration; and a genuine Protestant will wish, not her destruction, but her reformation; and if she consent not to be reformed, her total destruction is inevitable.
Finished correcting for a new edition, on the shortest day of 1831.- A.C.