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1 Thessalonians 2:17--3:5

Context
Forced Absence from Thessalonica

2:17 But when we were separated from you, brothers and sisters, 1  for a short time (in presence, not in affection) 2  we became all the more fervent in our great desire 3  to see you in person. 4  2:18 For we wanted to come to you (I, Paul, in fact tried again and again) 5  but Satan thwarted us. 2:19 For who is our hope or joy or crown to boast of 6  before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not of course you? 2:20 For you are our glory and joy!

3:1 So when we could bear it no longer, we decided to stay on in Athens 7  alone. 3:2 We 8  sent Timothy, our brother and fellow worker for God 9  in the gospel of Christ, to strengthen you and encourage you about your faith, 3:3 so that no one would be shaken by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this. 3:4 For in fact when we were with you, we were telling you in advance that we would suffer affliction, and so it has happened, as you well know. 10  3:5 So 11  when I could bear it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith, for fear that the tempter somehow tempted you and our toil had proven useless.

1 tn Grk “brothers.” See note on the phrase “brothers and sisters” in 1:4.

2 tn Grk “in face, not in heart.”

3 tn Grk “with great desire.”

4 tn Grk “to see your face.”

5 tn Or “several times”; Grk, “both once and twice.” The literal expression “once and twice” is frequently used as a Greek idiom referring to an indefinite low number, but more than once (“several times”); see L&N 60.70.

6 sn Crown to boast of (Grk “crown of boasting”). Paul uses boasting or exultation to describe the Christian’s delight in being commended for faithful service by the Lord at his return (1 Cor 9:15-16; 2 Cor 1:12-14; 10:13-18; Phil 2:16; and 1 Cor 3:14; 4:5).

7 map For location see JP1 C2; JP2 C2; JP3 C2; JP4 C2.

8 tn Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style.

9 tc A variety of readings occurs in this verse. Instead of “and fellow worker for God” (καὶ συνεργὸν τοῦ θεοῦ, kai sunergon tou qeou), B has “and fellow worker” (καὶ συνεργόν); א A P Ψ 0278 6 81 629* 1241 1739 1881 2464 lat co read “and servant of God” (καὶ διάκονον τοῦ θεοῦ, kai diakonon tou qeou); D2 Ï and a few versional witnesses read “and a servant of God and our fellow worker” (καὶ διάκονον τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ συνεργὸν ἡμῶν); and F G have “servant and fellow worker for God” (διάκονον καὶ συνεργὸν τοῦ θεοῦ). The reading of the text (καὶ συνεργὸν τοῦ θεοῦ) is found in D* 33 b {d m o} Ambst {Pel}. It may be argued that all readings that do not collocate συνεργόν with θεοῦ are secondary, as this is certainly the harder reading. Indeed, in only one other place in the NT are human beings said to be συνεργοὶ θεοῦ (sunergoi qeou; 1 Cor 3:9), and the simplest (though by no means the only) interpretation is that the genitive should be taken associatively (“a fellow worker in association with God”). It is difficult to account for συνεργὸν τοῦ θεοῦ here unless it is authentic because of the theological difficulty that would be easily seen in this wording. A genealogy of the readings suggests that various scribes may have deleted τοῦ θεοῦ or swapped διάκονον for συνεργόν to remove the offense. The readings of the Byzantine text and two Western mss (F G) appear to be conflations of earlier readings, but the reading of F G nevertheless indirectly supports καὶ συνεργὸν τοῦ θεοῦ since it does not remove the offense. Although the witnesses for καὶ συνεργὸν τοῦ θεοῦ are minimal, the internal evidence is quite strong in favor of this reading. With hesitation, it is adopted as authentic.

tn Although 1 Thess 3:2 is frequently understood to mean that Timothy is “God’s fellow worker,” such a view assumes that the genitive θεοῦ (qeou) is associative for it is related to συνεργόν (sunergon). However, a genitive of association is not required by the syntax (cf. ExSyn 130).

10 tn Grk “just as it also occurred and you know.”

11 tn Or “for this reason.”



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