WRITTEN FROM CORINTH, A. D. 52.
5. As ye know what sort of men we were among you for your sake, ye indeed became imitators of us, and of the Lord, having embraced the word in much afliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit. So that ye are become patterns to all who believe in Macedonia and Achaia. Besides, from you the word of the Lord hath resounded, not only in Macedonia and Achaia; but also in every place, your faith in God is spread abroad, so that we have no need to speak any thing. For they themselves publish concerning us, what sort of entrance we had to you, and how ye turned to God from idols, to serve the living and true God; and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath which is to come.
II. For yourselves know, brethren, our entrance among you, that it was not in vain. For although we had before suffered, and were shamefully handled, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold enough through our God to speak to you the gospel of God, amidst a great combat. Besides, our exhortation was not from error, nor from impunity, nor with guile. But as we were approved of God, to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who trieth our hearts. For neither at any time came we with flattering speech, as ye know, neither with a cloak over covetousness, God is witness. Neither sought we from men honour, neither from you, nor from others, though we could have used authority as Christ's messengers. But we were gentle among you. Even as a nurse cherishes her own children, so, taking affectionate care of y ou, we were well pleased to impart to you, not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, becasue ye were become dear to us. Besides, ye remember, brethren, our labour and toil; for night and day we wrought, in order not to overload any of you, when we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. Ye are witnesses, and God also, how piously, and righteously, and unblamably, we lived with you who believe. As also, ye know, how we addressed every oen of you, as a father his own children, exhorting and comforting you. And testifying that ye should walk worthy of God, who hath called you into his own kingdom and glory. On this account also we give thanks to God without ceasing, that when ye received from us the message of God, ye embraced not the word of men, but, as it is in truth, the word of God, which also worketh effectually in you who believe. For ye, brethren, became imitators of the congregations of God, which are in Judea in Christ Jesus, because ye also have suffered like things from your own countrymen, even as they have from the Jews; who both killed the Lord Jesus and their own prophets,*[The prophets.--Griesbach.] and have greatly persecuted us, and do not please God, and are contrary to all men; hindering us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved; so that they fill up their iniquities always. But the wrath of God is coming upon them at length. Now we, brethren, being separated from you for a short time, in presence, not in heart, the more abundantly endeavoured, with great desire, to see your face. Therefore we would have come unto you (even I Paul,) once and again, but Satan hindered us. For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of glorifying? Are not ye also in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?--Ye, indeed, are our glory and our joy.
III. Wherefore, no longer bearing our anxiety, we were well pleased to be left at Athens alone. And sent Timothy, our brother, and a minister of God, and our fellow-labourer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to exhort you concerning your faith: that no one should be moved by these afflictions; for yourselves know that we are appointed thereto. For even when we were with you, we foretold you that we were to be afflicted, as also happened, as ye know. For this reason also, no longer bearing my anxiety, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter may have tempted you, and our labour have become in vain. But now when Timothy came to us from you, and gave us the good news of your faith and love, and that ye have good remembrance of us at all times, ardently desiring to see us, even as we also to see you. By this, brethren, we were comforted concerning you in all our affliction and necessity, even by your faith. For now we live, when ye stand firm in the Lord. But what thanksgiving can we return to God concerning you, for all the joy with which we rejoice through you in the presence of our God? Night and day we most exceedingly request to see your face, and to supply the deficiencies of your faith. Now may God himself, even our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, make straight our way unto you. And may the Lord fill you, and make you overflow with love to one another, and to all, even as we also to you; that he may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, with all his holy messengers.
IV. What remains then, brethren, is, we beseech and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, seeing ye have received from us, how ye ought to walk, and please God, that ye would abound more therein. For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus: for this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from whoredom.--That every one of you should know to possess his own body in sanctification and honour;--not in the passion of lust, even as the Gentiles who know not God.--That no man should go beyond bounds, or defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger for all such; as we also formerly told, and fully testified to you.--Besides, God hath not called us for impurity, but to holiness. Wherefore, then, he who despisth us, despiseth not man, but God, who certainly hath given his Spirit, the Holy Spirit, to us. But, concerning brotherly love, ye have no need that I write to you, for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another. And indeed ye do it towards all the brethren who are through all Macedonia: but we exhort you, brethren, to abound more therein, and earnestly to study to be quiet; and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you. That ye may walk decently towards them who are without, and may have need of nothing. Now I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them who sleep, that ye may not be grieved, even as the others, who have no hope.--For, if we believe that Jesus died, and rose again; so also, them who sleep in Jesus, will God bring with him.
--Besides this, we affirm to you, by the command of the Lord, that we the living, who remain at the coming of the Lord, shall not anticipate them who are asleep; for the Lord himself will descend from heaven, with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God.--And the dead in Christ shall rise first; afterwards, we the living who remain, shall at the same time with them be caught up in clouds, to join the Lord in the air: and so we shall be for ever with the Lord. Wherefore, comfort one another with these words.
V. However, concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write to you.--For yourselves know perfectly, that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.--For when they shall say, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as the pains of child-bearing on her who is with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, so as that day should like a thief come upon you. All ye are sons of light, and sons of day: we are not sons of night, neither of darkness. Therefore, let us not sleep, even as the others; but let us watch, and be sober. For they who sleep, sleep in the night, and they who get drunk, are drunken in the night. But we being sons of day, let us be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to the acquisition of salvation: through our Lord Jesus Christ; who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we may live together with him. Wherefore, comfort one another, and edify each the other, even as also ye do.
12. Now we beseech you, brethren, to know them who labour among you, and who preside over you in the Lord, and instruct you; and to esteem them very highly with lkove for their work's sake. Be at peace among yourselves. On the other hand, we exhort you, brethren, admonish the disorderly, comfort the faint-hearted, support the weak, be of a
long-suffering disposition towards all.--Take care that no one return evil for evil to any one, but always pursue ye what is good, both towards one another, and towards all. Always rejoice.--Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks, for this is the will of God, by Christ Jesus, concerning you. Quench not the Spirit.--Despise not prophesying.--Prove all things.--Hold fast that which is good.--Abstain from all appearance of evil.
And may the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your whole person, the spirit, and the soul, and the body, be preserved unblamable, until the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he who hath called you; who also will do it. Brethren, pray for us.--Salute all the brethren with a holy kiss. I adjure you by the Lord, that this epistle be read to all the holy brethren. The favour of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.