by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 2 Study # 4 August 9, 2015 Dayton, Texas
4 So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure:
1901 ASV Translation:
4 so that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for yourpatience and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions which ye endure;
I. Paul's Response to What God Has Done.
A. Thanksgiving (see earlier notes).
1. As Paul moves into this thought, he makes it emphatic: "we ourselves" (note a similar emphasis in 1 Thessalonians 5:23 when he wanted to make sure everyone understood that it is God Who sanctifies).
a. That Paul and Timothy and Silvanus "themselves" were doing the "glorying" reemphasizes the fact that they consider the work as "of God" and not of themselves (the word translated "glorying" is the precise word used by Paul in the well-known "lest anyone should boast" of Ephesians 2:8-9, so we know "we ourselves" would not be "glorying" if there was any suggestion that "they themselves" were the ones who had accomplished the results).
b. By this "we ourselves" indicates that "we" see the works of God as reason enough to "glory".
2. The root of this "glorying" is identified in the connector between verses three and four: "so that".
a. This connector is widely used in the New Testament.
b. In the two letters to the Thessalonians Paul uses it five times and always with the idea that he is introducing a "natural result" of a previously stated fact [1 Thessalonians 1:7; 1:8; 4:18; and 2 Thessalonians 1:4 and 2:4]. Because God has caused the faith and love of the Thessalonians to "abound" and "grow exceedingly", Paul, Timothy, and Silvanus "automatically" move into their responses of gratitude and glorying.
3. Paul's use of the term translated "glorying".
a. The word is found in thirty-three texts of the New Testament.
b. It is Paul's term of choice in several critical texts where a significant theological concept is being established.
1) He uses the noun form in Romans 3:27 at the point where he is making a major point about what happens when a person moves from "Law" to "Faith".
2) As we have already mentioned, he used this verb in Ephesians 2:9 at the same theological point: man cannot "boast" because salvation is not of works.
3) Again, in 1 Corinthians 4:7 he clearly "hates" the notion that men should revert to "boasting" as if "they" had done something.
4) When we look into Paul's use of the idea, it is clear that he sees "boasting" in two different settings: we can "boast" in the Lord and His doings; and we cannot "boast" in ourselves and our doings.
a) It is clear that Paul considered "boasting" as a potentially devastating destroyer of interpersonal relationships of harmony. Because of this, he would double down on the illegitimacy of any man "boasting" of anything traceable back to his own doings (works). People who brag on themselves never build good relationships with those who have to sit and listen to the boasting. Because Paul lived under the thesis that God's creation is fundamentally a "relational universe" where personal relationships of peace are of the highest import, he detested anything/anyone who attacked that universe at its roots. "Boasting" does this.
b) On the other hand, "boasting" is perfectly legitimate when the foundations are legitimate: when God does something for someone, "boasting in the Lord" is not only legitimate, but biblically mandated (Tell of the good things that God has done for you). It is true that this kind of "boasting" will also drive wedges between people, but the root cause of the wedge is not the "boasting" but the antagonism that many have toward God and who do not want to hear of Him being exalted.