Shamefully entreated - at Philippi - There Paul and Silas had been beaten with many stripes, shut up in the inner prison, and their feet made fast in the stocks. See Acts 16:23, etc.; and the notes there.
With much contention - The words εν πολλῳ αγωνι not only signify, with intense labor and earnestness, but may here mean, exposed to the greatest danger; at the peril of our lives. The Greek phrase quoted by Rosenmuller is to the point, αγων προφασιν ουκ αναμενει, in danger we must not delay - activity and despatch are then indispensably necessary.
But even after that we had suffered before - Before we came among you.
And were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi - Acts 16:19 ff. By being beaten and cast into prison. The shame of the treatment consisted in the fact that it was wholly undeserved; that it was contrary to the laws; and that it was accompanied with circumstances designed to make their punishment as ignominious as possible. The Thessalonians knew of this, and Paul was not disposed to palliate the conduct of the Philippians. What was “shameful treatment” he speaks of as such without hesitation. It is not wrong to call things by their right names, and when we have been abused, it is not necessary that we should attempt to smooth the matter over by saying that it was not so.
We were bold in our God - By humble dependence on the support of our God. It was only his powerful aid that could have enabled them to persevere with ardor and zeal in such a work after such treatment The meaning here is, that they were not deterred from preaching the gospel by the treatment which they had received, but at the very next important town, and on the first opportunity, they proclaimed the same truth, though there was no security that they might not meet with the same persecution there. Paul evidently appeals to this in order to show them that they were not impostors, and that they were not influenced by the hope of ease or of selfish gains. People who were not sincere and earnest in their purposes would have been deterred by such treatment as they had received at Philippi.
With much contention - Amidst much opposition, and where great effort was necessary. The Greek word here used is ἀγώνι agōni(agony), a word referring usually to the Grecian games; notes, Colossians 2:1. It means the course, or place of contest; and then the contest itself, the strife, the combat, the effort for victory; and the apostle here means, that owing to the opposition there, there was need of an effort on his part like the desperate struggles of those who contended for the mastery at the Grecian games; compare notes on 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. The triumph of the gospel there was secured only by an effort of the highest kind, and by overcoming the most formidable opposition.
“We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father.” AA 256.1
Many of the believers in Thessalonica had “turned ... from idols to serve the living and true God.” They had “received the word in much affliction;” and their hearts were filled with “joy of the Holy Ghost.” The apostle declared that in their faithfulness in following the Lord they were “ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.” These words of commendation were not unmerited; “for from you,” he wrote, “sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to Godward is spread abroad.” AA 256.2
The Thessalonian believers were true missionaries. Their hearts burned with zeal for their Saviour, who had delivered them from fear of “the wrath to come.” Through the grace of Christ a marvelous transformation had taken place in their lives, and the word of the Lord, as spoken through them, was accompanied with power. Hearts were won by the truths presented, and souls were added to the number of believers. AA 256.3Read in context »