CONTENTS.—Paul turns from the reports of others to the experience of the readers. They themselves knew that his entrance was not powerless; although maltreated in Philippi, he was emboldened to preach the gospel at Thessalonica. His preaching did not proceed either from delusion on his part or from a desire to delude others. He felt approved by God, and was actuated by no improper motives: he sought neither their praise nor their money; so far from insisting on his apostolic rights, he was gentle among them, and conducted himself with the tenderness of a nursing mother toward her children; and so far from his ministry being a pretext for covetousness, he had labored for his own support; and thus he could confidently appeal to the Thessalonians as witnesses of the blamelessness of his conduct And as his entrance among them was not powerless, so he thanked God that it resulted in their reception of the gospel; they had embraced it as the word of God, and had not shunned persecution for its sake; they had in' this become the imitators of the Churches in Judaea. The apostle then alludes to his earnest desires to see them; twice he had attempted to come to Thessalonica, and twice he had been prevented by the machinations of Satan. They were very dear to him—the objects of his tender affections, and the source of his rejoicing before the Lord Jesus Christ at his coming.
1 Thessalonians 2:1
For yourselves, brethren; in contrast to other persons. Not only do strangers report the power and efficacy of our preaching among you, but you yourselves arc experimentally acquainted with it. Know our entrance in unto you; referring, not merely to the mere preaching of the gospel to the Thessalonians, but to the entrance which the gospel found into their hearts—to its coming, not in word only, but also in power (1 Thessalonians 1:5). That it was not in vain; not empty, useless, to no purpose,—descriptive of the character of the apostolic entrance among them. Our entrance among you was not powerless, unreal; on the contrary, it was mighty, energetic, powerful. The reference is chiefly to the manner or mode in which Paul and his companions preached the gospel, though not entirely excluding the success of the gospel among the Thessalonians (comp. l Corinthians 15:14, "And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain").
1 Thessalonians 2:2
But even after we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated. As the word here rendered "suffered before" does not in itself imply that the sufferings were unjust, the apostle adds, "and were shamefully entreated." As ye know, at Philippi. We are informed, in the Acts of the Apostles, that Paul and Silas were publicly scourged and cast into prison; and scourging with rods was regarded as an ignominious punishment, and therefore was forbidden to be inflicted on Roman citizens, such as Paul and Silas were. "They have beaten us openly uncondemned, being Romans, and have cast us into prison" (Acts 16:37). We were bold in our God to speak unto you. The word here rendered "bold" denotes boldness or freedom of speech; and hence some render the clause, "We were bold of speech in our God, so as to speak unto you" (Ellicott). Perhaps, however, as the verb "to speak" follows, it is better to render the clause," We were confident in our God to speak;" or "emboldened to speak" (R.V., "we waxed bold"). This boldness or confidence was in our God, that is, on account of our fellowship or union with him. The gospel of God. The genitive of origin, denoting, not merely that God was the Object, but that he was the Author of the gospel. With much contention; or, in much conflict (R.V.), alluding to the peril and danger with which Paul preached the gospel in Thessalonica.
1 Thessalonians 2:3
For our exhortation. This word has a twofold signification, denoting both "exhortation" and "consolation;" when it refers to the moral conduct it denotes exhortation, but when it is an address to a sufferer it denotes consolation. In the gospel these two meanings are blended together. Was not of deceit. Not in the sense of guile, which would be tantological, but simply "error," without any direct evil intent; our gospel was not a delusion—we were not ourselves deceived. Nor of uncleanness; a word usually employed to denote sensuality, and in this sense the meaning is—We did not, like the heathen in their worship, give occasion to unclean practices: "We have corrupted no man" (2 Corinthians 7:2). The word, however, may be taken in a more general sense, as denoting impurity of disposition, impure motives: such as the impure desire of applause or of gain, to which the apostle afterwards alludes. Or of guile. As we were not ourselves deceived, so neither did we attempt to deceive others. The apostle did not adapt his religion, an. Mahomet, to suit the prejudices or passions of men; he did not employ any seductive or temporizing arts; but he boldly went in the face of the prevailing religions of the age, both of the Jews and of the Gentiles.
1 Thessalonians 2:4
But; in contrast. As; according as. We were allowed. The old English for "approved." Of God. The word rendered "allowed" signifies tried, tested as gold is tested in the fire, and hence also the result of that trial, "approved." As we were esteemed worthy to be put in trust with the gospel; entrusted with its publication. Even so; in this condition of approval and trust. We speak, not as pleasing men, but God, that trieth. The same verb that is rendered "allowed" in the first part of the verse; hence "proverb," or "approveth." Our hearts. Not a general statement, "God who is the Discerner of the heart;" but "our hearts," namely, of us, the publishers of the gospel—Paul and Silas and Timothy; thus appealing to God, as the infallible Judge of their sincerity.
1 Thessalonians 2:5
For; confirming the statement that the preachers of the gospel did not seek to please men, but God. Neither at any time used we flattering words; endeavoring to gain you by flattery and praise; we did not pander to your feelings; we did not soften the demands of the gospel. As ye know, nor a cloak—or pretext—of covetousness. We did not use the gospel as a pretext to mask our real motive, which was covetousness, pretending to seek your spiritual good, whereas in reality we sought our own advantage. Paul could with perfect confidence appeal to his converts, and say, "I have coveted no man's silver, or gold, or apparel" (Acts 20:33). He was free from all sinister motives. "He did not use words such as flattery uses, or pretexts such as covetousness" (Jowett). God is witness. Paul appeals to the Thessalonians themselves that he had not used flattering words; so now he appeals to God that the motive of his conduct was not covetousness. Men can judge the external conduct, they can hear the flattering words; but God only can know the motive of action—he only can discern the covetousness.
1 Thessalonians 2:6
Nor of (or, from) men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome. These words admit of two meanings. The apostle may refer to his refusal to seek maintenance from the Thessalonians, and in this sense become a burden to them. But such a meaning does not suit the context; and besides: this refusal of maintenance is afterwards alluded to by the apostle. The reference here is not to maintenance, but to glory: we did not seek glory from you, when we might have been burdensome, when we might have done so. Hence the word is to be taken in the sense of honor, importance; when we might have claimed honor. As—in virtue of our character as—the apostles of Christ. Paul does not speak of himself alone, but he includes Silas and Timothy, and therefore the word "apostles" is to be taken, not in its restricted, but in its wider meaning.
1 Thessalonians 2:7
But. The apostle now describes iris conduct positively. We were gentle; a word used of the amiable conduct of a superior toward an inferior, as of a master toward a servant, a prince toward his subjects, or a father toward his children. "The servant of God must not strive, but be gentle toward all men" (2 Timothy 2:24). Some manuscripts read, "We were babes among you"—the difference being only the addition of another letter. Among you; in our intercourse with you. Even as a nurse; or rather, a nursing mother, for the children arc her own. Cherisheth; the word employed for birds warming and cherishing their young. Her children. A stronger expression of tenderness and love could hardly be made. Even as a nursing mother dedicates her life for her infant; so, says Paul, we are willing to dedicate ourselves for you. Some important manuscripts read the verse thus: "But we were babes among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children;" but this arises from an obvious error of the transcriber.
1 Thessalonians 2:8
So being affectionately desirous of you; a strong expression in the original: "being filled with earnest love for you." We were willing. The word denotes a predetermination of the will: "we esteemed it good." To have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls. An evident climax: not only were we willing to preach the gospel of God to you, but more than this, to sacrifice our own lives for your advantage. The word here rendered "souls" denotes lives; and the meaning is that the apostle was willing to submit to death for the sake of the Thessalonians. The plural "we" still implies Paul and Silas and Timothy. The thought is—As a nursing mother not only nourishes tier children, but is also ready to sacrifice her life for them; so the apostle not only nourished his spiritual children with the pure milk of the gospel, but was ready to sacrifice his own life for their spiritual maintenance; thus expressing in the strongest manner the womanly tenderness of the apostle toward his converts. Because ye were dear unto us.
1 Thessalonians 2:9
For; a proof or confirmation of this dearness of the Thessalonians to the apostle. Ye remember, brethren; recalling to their recollection his conduct when he was with them. Our labor and travail. These two terms frequently occur together (2 Corinthians 11:27; 2 Thessalonians 3:8), and can hardly be distinguished; "labor," or" toil," is active, denoting exertion; "travail" is passive, denoting weariness or fatigue, the effect of the exertion. For laboring; in its strict meaning chiefly used of manual labor. Paul here refers to his working for his own support as a tent-maker. Night and day. Night precedes according to the Jewish mode of reckoning. It does not denote that the apostle made up by labor at night the loss of time during the day which his higher duties, as a preacher of the gospel, occasioned; that he wrought at his trade at night, and preached during the (lay; but the phrase, "night and day," denotes incessantly, continually. Because we would not be chargeable to any of you. Not a proof of the poverty of the Church of Thessalonica; but the reason of this unselfish conduct of the apostle was that no hindrance should arise on his part to the spread of the gospel; that no imputation of selfishness or covetousness should be laid to his charge. As he had done at Thessalonica so the apostle acted in other places. Thus at the time he was writing this Epistle he was working for his support at Corinth (1 Corinthians 4:12; 2 Corinthians 11:9). And such was also his practice at Ephesus; for in his farewell address to the Ephesian elders he could appeal to them: "Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me" (Acts 20:34). We preached unto you the gospel of God. Thus freely, without charge.
1 Thessalonians 2:10
Ye are witnesses, and God also; ye of the outward conduct, and God of the motives which actuated us. How holily and justly and unblamably; "holily" denoting the apostle's conduct to God, "justly" his conduct to man, and "unblamably" the negative side of both particulars. We behaved ourselves among you that believe. The apostle here refers to his own personal demeanor and to that of Silas and Timothy among them, in order that the Thessalonians might realize the purity of their conduct, and so might continue steadfast in their attachment to the gospel which they taught, He men-lions specially "them that believe," not that He acted otherwise among those that did not believe, but because believers were cognizant of his conduct.
1 Thessalonians 2:11
As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children. The translation of this verse is somewhat faulty; it ought to be, as in the R.V., as ye know how we dealt with each one of you, as a father with his own children, exhorting you, and encouraging you, and testifying. Paul here changes the image from that of a nursing mother to that of a father; because then he was speaking of his tender care for his converts, whereas here he speaks of the instructions and admonitions which he gave them; as a mother he nourished their spiritual life, and as a father he superintended their spiritual education. "Exhorting and comforting and charging;" representing three modes of the apostle's instructions: "exhorting" denotes also encouraging and consoling; "comforting" denotes supporting and sustaining ("Comfort the feeble minded," 1 Thessalonians 5:14); and "charging" denotes testifying or protesting—a solemn pressing home of the exhortation to the hearers.
1 Thessalonians 2:12
That (or, to the end that) ye would walk worthy of God; so as to adorn the gospel of God. So in the Epistle to the Colossians: "That ye would walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing" (Colossians 1:10). Who hath called you; or, as the best attested manuscripts read, who calleth you. To his kingdom and glory. Not to be weakened as if it were a Hebraism for "his glorious kingdom," or "the kingdom of his glory;" but the kingdom and glory are to be viewed as two different objects. "God called you to Ms kingdom," namely, the Messianic kingdom which he has established on earth; and which will be completely realized at the advent. And "God called you to his glory," namely, the glory which is in reserve for all the members of his kingdom.
1 Thessalonians 2:13
For this cause. Not because God has called you to his kingdom and glory, but, referring to what follows, because of your reception of' the gospel. We thank God. Although the reception of the gospel was in one sense the free and voluntary act on the part of the Thessalonians; yet in another sense it was the act of God who ordained them to accept the gospel; their belief was an operation of God in them. Without ceasing, because, when ye received the Word of God which ye heard of us; literally, because when ye receive, d from us the Word of hearing, which is of God. The gospel is called "the Word of hearing," because it came by hearing; hence "the Word heard," or "the Word of the message" (R.V.). It is further designated "of God"—the Word whose Author is God. Ye received it not as the word of men—as if it were of human origin—but as it is in truth, the Word of God—of Divine origin—which effectually worketh. The pronoun may refer to God, "who effectually worketh," or better to the Word of God, as the principal subject of the sentence. Also in you that believe. The gospel was powerful as respects the preachers, and effectual as respects the hearers.
1 Thessalonians 2:14
For ye, brethren, became followers; or rather, imitators, namely, in the endurance of suffering for the sake of the gospel, not in intention only, but in reality. Of the Churches Of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus. These Churches arc mentioned as being at this early period the most prominent. The special mention of persecution by the Jews has its origin in the fact that it was by the unbelieving Jews that Paul was persecuted at Thessalonica. For ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen. One of the proofs that the Church of Thessalonica was Gentile in its origin; as these countrymen were evidently Gentiles, being here distinguished from the Jews. From this it would seem that, after Paul and his companions had left Thessalonica, the persecution which arose against the Christians continued, and the Gentiles combined with the Jews in opposing the gospel. Even as they—the Churches of God in Judaea—have of the Jews. We learn from the Acts of the Apostles that the Jewish Christians in Judaea were exposed to severe persecution from their unbelieving countrymen: Stephen was put to death, and Paul himself, in his unconverted state, was a chief among the persecutors.
1 Thessalonians 2:15
Who both killed the Lord Jesus; emphatic, to point out the greatness of their wickedness. And their own prophets; or, as some manuscripts read, and the prophets. This crime was often laid to the charge of the Jews: thus, by our Lord, "Ye are witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets" (Matthew 23:31); and by the protomartyr Stephen, "Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted?" (Acts 7:25.) And have persecuted us; literally, driven us out, as Paul and Silos were expelled from Thessalonica. And they please not God, but are contrary to all men. The hatred and contempt which the Jews bore to other nations is noticed by Tacitus, Juvenal, and other heathen writers. Thus Tacitus writes of them: "They are faithful to obstinacy, and merciful toward themselves, but toward all others are actuated by the most irreconcilable hatred (odium humani generis)." And Juvenal says, "They will not show the road to one who was not of their religion, nor lead the thirsty person if uncircumcised to the common spring." Perhaps, however, the apostle refers here, not to the enmity of the Jews to the human race in general, though perfectly cognizant of their bigotry and intolerance; as this enmity was a perversion of their peculiar distinction as he people of God; but rather to their opposition to his preaching the gospel to the Gentiles—to their extreme reluctance that the Gentiles along with themselves should be admitted into the kingdom of God.
1 Thessalonians 2:16
Forbidding us—by contradicting, blaspheming, slandering, laying snares—to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved. Not that the Jews were averse to the proselytism of the Gentiles, provided they were circumcised -rod kept the Law of Moses; on the contrary, Judaism at this period was a proselytizing religion; but their great objection to the preaching of the gospel was that the preachers did not insist on the Gentiles becoming Jews before they became Christians. And, accordingly, we learn from the Acts of the Apostles that the unbelieving Jews were the most violent and implacable enemies of the gospel. Of the numerous persecutions mentioned in the Acts, there were only two, namely, those at Philippi and Ephesus, which were not occasioned by the Jews. To fill up their sins always; so that the measure of their iniquity became full to overflowing. Their forbidding the apostles to preach to the Gentiles was the last drop which caused the cup of their iniquity to overflow (cutup. Genesis 15:16, "The iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full"). The remark of Professor Jowett is well worthy of notice: "In the beginning of sin and evil it seems as if men were free agents, and had the power of going on or of retreating. But as the crisis of their fate approaches, they are bound under a curse and the form in which their destiny presents itself to our minds is as though it were certain, 'rod only a question of time how soon it is to be fulfilled." For the wrath; that wrath which was predicted and is merited by them. "Wrath" is here used for punishment, which is the effect of wrath. Is come upon them to the uttermost; literally, to the end. The apostle here refers to the judgments of God, which were impending on Jerusalem and the Jewish people; judgments which were fearfully executed in the awful sufferings they endured in the Jewish war, and in the destruction of their city by the Romans.
1 Thessalonians 2:17
Here a new chapter ought to have commenced, passing on to another subject, the apostle's desire to visit the Thessalonians. But we, brethren, being taken from you; literally, being bereaved of you (R.V.). For a short time; literally, for the space of an hour. And yet it was several years before the apostle revisited Thessalonica; but he here speaks of the short period—a space of six months—which had already separated them; not, as some suppose, that his mind was so full of the ideas of eternity that he overlooked all divisions of time. In presence, not in heart. Similar expressions are common in Paul's Epistles, denoting his love for his converts; thus: "Though I be absent in the flesh, yet I am with you in the spirit" (Colossians 2:5). Endeavored the more abundantly to see your face with great desire; because our separation has been so short. As has been well observed, "Universal experience testifies that the pain of separation from friends and the desire to return to them are more vivid, the more freshly the remembrance of the departure is on the mind" (Lunemann).
1 Thessalonians 2:18
Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul. Paul distinguishes himself, because in all probability his companions, Silas and Timothy, had been at Thessalonica after he had left it. Once and again. Not used indefinitely, but referring to two separate attempts which Paul made to revisit the Thessalonians. But Satan hindered us; denoting, not the enemies of Christianity, but the devil, the author of all the hindrances in the kingdom of God. Paul here recognizes the personality of Satan, as the author of all evil, the great opponent of God and Christ. We are not informed by what instrumentality this hindrance of Satan took place. It may refer to the various persecutions against Paul, which prevented him returning to Thessalonica, and especially to that persecution raised against him in Beraea by the Jews of Thessalonica (Acts 17:13). In one sense, indeed, the hindrances arose in the way of God's providence, for under its direction all the journeys of Paul were placed, and Satan could not have hindered him from preaching the gospel in any quarter, unless by the Divine permission (comp. Acts 16:7; Romans 1:13).
1 Thessalonians 2:19
For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? or, glorying. The apostle calls the Thessalonians his "hope," not because he anticipates any reward from their conversion, or because their conversion would counterbalance his former persecution of the Christians, but because he hoped to meet them in glory; he calls them his "joy," because he would rejoice with them in their final salvation; and he calls them his "crown of rejoicing," because he regards them as trophies of the victory of the gospel which he preached. Similarly he calls the Philippians "his joy and crown" (Philippians 4:1). Are not even ye; or rather, are not ye also?—ye as well as other Christians? In the presence of—before—our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming; at the restoration of his Messianic kingdom.
1 Thessalonians 2:20
For ye are our glory and joy. Some refer this verse to the present, and the former verse to the future; not merely at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but even now ye are our glory and joy. But there is no reason for this distinction; the words are merely confirmatory, and added from the fullness of the apostle's emotions.
1 Thessalonians 2:5, 1 Thessalonians 2:6 - Motives of action,
Man judges us by our outward conduct; God by our internal disposition. The apostle appeals to God as a witness of the purity of his motives. He asserts that he was free from all desire of personal fame or interest. Can we make the same appeal and the same assertion?
1. Are we influenced by unworthy motives? Is covetousness, the desire of fame, or the love of power, the mainspring of our life?
2. Or are we influenced by worthy motives? Do we seek to please, not man, but God? Is the glory of God in Christ Jesus the chief end of our life and actions?
1 Thessalonians 2:7, 1 Thessalonians 2:11, 1 Thessalonians 2:19 - The true pastorate.
1. Its qualities. Paul compares himself to a nursing mother and a father. A minister should resemble the one in his tenderness and loving sympathy, and the other in his wisdom and firmness.
2. Its mode: exhorting, comforting, and. charging.
3. Its reward:
1 Thessalonians 2:12 - Our high and holy calling.
We ought to walk worthy of God, so as:
1. To obey God's laws.
2. To imitate God's moral perfections.
3. To enjoy God's fellowship.
4. To adorn God's gospel.
5. To promote God's cause.
6. To live to God's glory.
1 Thessalonians 2:13 - The gospel a Divine revelation.
1. Negatively. The gospel is not the word of man; not the result of man's wisdom; does not spring from a development of human thought; its doctrines are not within the sphere of the human intellect.
2. Positively. The gospel is the Word of God. This seen from its origin, its contents, and its efficacy.
1 Thessalonians 2:16 - Beware of opposing the gospel.
The Jews did so. They endeavored to prevent the apostle preaching to the Gentiles, and wrath came upon them to the uttermost; and so will all opposition made to the gospel terminate (Psalms 2:6, Psalms 2:9). If we ourselves will not embrace the gospel, let us beware of throwing obstacles in the way of those who would. Especially let parents beware how they act toward their children when under religious impressions.
1 Thessalonians 2:18 - The opposition of Satan to the gospel.
"Satan hindered us."
I. THE PERSONALITY OF SATAN. Christ and Satan, the heads of two opposite empires—the one the kingdom of light, and the other the kingdom of darkness; the one the source of all that is good, and the other the source of all that is evil.
II. THE AGENCY OF SATAN. He hindereth the spread of the gospel. He worketh in the children of disobedience. Mode of his operation; the instruments which he employs.
III. THE FINAL VICTORY OF CHRIST OVER SATAN. Though Satan hindereth the gospel, yet it is only for a season. "The God of peace shall bruise Satan under our feet shortly" (Romans 16:20).
HOMILIES BY T. CROSKERY
1 Thessalonians 2:1-4 - Effectiveness of the gospel.
Entrance into Thessalonica. It was not necessary, however, to depend upon foreign testimony for the facts of the case, for the Thessalonians themselves were the best witnesses. "For yourselves, brethren, know our entrance in unto you, that it was not in vain," but an effective living reality, a great and gracious success. The proof of the fact is contained in two circumstances.
I. THE BOLDNESS OF THE THREE PREACHERS, "But even after that we bad suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much conflict." The insulting treatment the apostle had received at Philippi had not the effect of scaring him away, or of leading him to withdraw into Asia, leaving Europe to its fate. Such treatment would have deterred men of a different stamp. His boldness was not mere stoical courage, but based on faith, for he was "bold in our God," and was equal to present perils as well as to past persecutions; for he spoke the gospel of God "in much conflict," caused, as we know, by the league of violence which the Jews of Thessaionica formed with "lewd fellows of the baser sort" against the gospel.
II. THE SPIRIT AND METHOD OF THEIR MINISTRY. "For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile." The matter is exhibited first negatively, and then positively.
1. Negatively. His persuasive exhibition of the truth was not
2. Positively. The method of his preaching met with the Divine approval. "But as we were approved of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, who trieth our hearts."
(a) with a perfect disregard for men's opinions about him (1 Corinthians 4:3);
(b) and with no desire to catch the favor of men. "Not as pleasing men; "for" as of sincerity, as of God, in the sight of God, speak we in Christ" (2 Corinthians 2:17). Not sacrificing truth [o the fancies or prejudices of men in order to secure their favor. If "he pleased men, he should not be the servant of God" (Galatians 1:10).
1 Thessalonians 2:5-8 - The spirit and method of apostolic labor.
The apostle sets it forth under two aspects.
I. NEGATIVELY. "For neither at any time were we found using words of flattery, as ye know, nor a cloak of covetousness, God is witness; nor seeking glory of men."
1. The apostle and his colleagues did not attempt to win their way by flattery, either by setting forth high views of human nature, or by holding men's persons in admiration for the sake of advantage; for their gospel tended rather to humble man and subdue his pride. Flattery is a gross dishonor both to God and man, for it implies untruthfulness, and may become fatal in its results to easily deluded sinners. The apostle appealed to the Thessalonians in confirmation of his statement.
2. They did not use their position as a cloak of covetousness, as God could testify, who knows the heart. The apostle might say now, as he afterwards said to the elders of Ephesus, "I coveted no man's silver, nor gold, nor apparel." The false teachers were chargeable with covetousness, for "through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you" (2 Peter 2:1, 2 Peter 2:3). How emphatically the apostle insists upon ministers of the gospel being free from this vice! "Not greed, of filthy lucre."
3. They were not fond of vain-glory. "Nor seeking glory of men, neither from you, nor from others, when we might have been burdensome as apostles of Christ," or might have stood on their dignity as apostles of Christ. There is no allusion here to his claim to ministerial support, but rather to the position of magisterial dignity he might have assumed, with all its pomp and peremptoriness and sternness. His spirit at Thessalonica was not that of lordship over God's heritage.
II. POSITIVELY. "But we were gentle in the midst of you, as when a nurse cherisheth her own children."
1. They were gentle in their intercourse with their converts; unassuming and mild, with no haughty or imperious airs, challenging honor and homage. They acted in the very spirit of the good Shepherd. Long afterwards the apostle could remind one of his present colleagues that "the servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle to all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves" (2 Timothy 2:24-26). This gentleness, which is at once a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) and a characteristic of the "wisdom from above" (James 3:17), becomes all the more impressive when it is linked with the highest strength of character.
2. They were most affectionate in their intercourse with their converts. "Even so, being affectionately desirous of you, we were well pleased to impart to you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were become very dear to us."
(a) In their imparting the gospel to them. As their spiritual parents they travailed in birth till Christ was formed in them, and then they fed them thereafter with the sincere milk of the Word.
(b) In their readiness to risk their lives for the sake of their children in the faith. They verily carried their lives in their hands.
1 Thessalonians 2:9 - A retrospect of his disinterested and self-sacrificing labors.
He next recalls the circumstances of his ardent and laborious ministry amongst them. "For ye remember, brethren, our labor and travail: working night and day, that we might not burden any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God."
I. THE MINISTRY OF THE APOSTLE WAS ALWAYS LABORIOUS. He could say to the Corinthians that "he had approved himself as the minister of God in labors;" that "in labors he was more abundant" (2 Corinthians 6:4, 2 Corinthians 6:5; 2 Corinthians 11:23); exhausting his strength daily in his eager anxiety to reach the people with the gospel of God. If ever man went to the edge of his possibility, it was the Apostle Paul. The labor might be exhausting in itself, or on account of the obstacles thrown in his way, but it became the habit of his daily life.
II. IT WAS DOUBLY LABORIOUS AT THESSALONICA ON ACCOUNT OF THE NECESSITY HE IMPOSED UPON HIMSELF OF WORKING FOR HIS LIVING. Occupied in preaching or teaching through the day, he devoted his nights to his craft as a tent-maker.
1. The necessity in question was not imposed by either the Mosaic or the Christian Law. He showed to the Corinthians that alike natural justice, the Mosaic ordinance, and positive law, as announced by our Lord himself, required them to support the ministers of the gospel (1 Corinthians 9:1-27.). "They who preach the gospel shall also live of the gospel."
2. It was a necessity based upon a high Christian expediency. At Corinth he thought good "not to use his power in the gospel," and therefore preached the gospel there "without charge." The malignity of Jewish enemies led him to avoid even the appearance of covetousness, or of attempting to "make a gain" of the Corinthians. We do not know under what circumstances he was led to pursue a similar course at Thessalonica. It may have been from similar accusations, or from a tendency he had observed among certain saints in the city to forswear work and go about as "busybodies." But his policy was exceptional, and affords no rule in modern times unless the circumstances should again become exceptional.
3. It was a necessity cheerfully accepted for the good of the Thessalonians. He had but two means of support in the city.
1 Thessalonians 2:10-12 - Appeal alike to man and to God respecting his personal and his official work at Thessalonica.
This double appeal attests his profound sincerity.
I. CONSIDER HIS PERSONAL DEPORTMENT. "Ye are witnesses, and God, how holily, and justly, and unblamably we behaved ourselves among you that believe." He touches on the twofold relationship of the Christian life toward God and toward man, for he had always exercised himself" to have a conscience void of offence toward man and God," and strove "to give no offence in anything, that the ministry be not blamed" (Acts 26:16; 2 Corinthians 6:3). He had striven to walk circumspectly in a world prone to suspect sinister ends even in the best of men. The apostle's walk was on high, even as his calling was high.
II. CONSIDER HIS OFFICIAL DEPORTMENT. It was manifest in his method of dealing with his converts, and in the end which he kept steadily in view in all his ministry.
1. His method of dealing with his converts. "As ye know how we exhorted and comforted, and testified to each one of you as a father doth his children."
(a) He exhorted them, for their position of persecution and temptation demanded that he "should give them much exhortation (Acts 20:2).
(b) He comforted them, m the presence of many disquieting circumstances in their condition.
(c) He testified to them, exhibiting gospel truth with all urgency.
2. The aim of all his affectionate and individualizing interest in their welfare. "That you would walk worthy of God, who calleth you into his kingdom and glory." The duty here enjoined, "Walk worthy of God." This implies
(a) the nature of the call, which is not external, but spiritual;
(b) by the consideration of him who calls us;
(c) by the holy ends of the call;
(d) by the consideration of their high destiny:
for they are called to "his own kingdom and glory." This kingdom is that which is established in the mediation of Christ, into which we enter by the gate of regeneration, and which reaches its full and final development in the second coming of Christ. The glory is that which he impresses upon his people here, and which receives its full manifestation hereafter.—T.C.
1 Thessalonians 2:13 - The Thessalonian reception of the truth.
The apostle had spoken of his own part in the work of grace; he now speaks of the manner in which his converts accepted the truth. "Ye are my witnesses; now I am yours." His immediate ground of thankfulness was that they had received, not man's word, but God's, and that the Word was so thoroughly efficacious. "For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because when ye received the Word of God which ye heard of us, ye received not the word of men, but as it is in truth, the Word of God."
I. THEY APPRECIATED THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE WORD OF MEN AND THE WORD OF GOD.
1. They first heard it no doubt with interest and docility of spirit. "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God." The Word was not read but heard in the preaching of the apostles; it was no discovery of their own mind.
2. They received it as an external fact made known to them by man.
3. They welcomed it with the inner acceptance of faith. It was "mixed with faith in them that heard it" (Hebrews 4:2). It was "the joy and the rejoicing of their heart" (Jeremiah 15:16).
4. Their glad acceptance of it was conditioned upon its Divine origin. It was not man's word, representing a new speculation in philosophy or ethics; it was "the Word of God" (Romans 10:14). It was therefore
II. THEY MANIFESTED THE POWER OF THE TRUTH IN THEIR LIVES. "Which effectually worketh also in you that believe."
1. This effectual operation is conditioned upon their faith. "The Word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it" (Hebrews 4:2). The gospel is only to the believer "the power of God to salvation" (Romans 1:16).
2. Its power was manifest in quickening, enlightening, sanctifying, and comforting under all afflictions and persecutions.—T.C.
1 Thessalonians 2:14-16 - The evidence of the effectual working of the Divine Word.
They were able to imitate the patience and constancy of the Judaean Churches under great persecutions. These Churches were referred to probably because they were the oldest Churches, and the most severely persecuted.
I. IT IS A HIGH HONOR AS WELL AS PRIVILEGE FOR CHURCHES TO BE SELECTED AS PATTERNS OF PATIENCE TO OTHER CHURCHES. "For ye, brethren, became followers of the Churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus." We are first to be imitators of Christ, then of all who follow in his steps, who keep on "looking to Jesus" (Hebrews 12:2). There were many Churches in Judaea, for Christianity was founded by Jews; its first converts were Jews; its first martyrs were Jews; and the Churches among them rejoiced in the fellowship of Christ, as the Source of their life and comfort.
II. THE PATH OF THE THESSALONIANS WAS ONE OF SEVERE TRIAL AND CONTINUOUS PERSECUTION. "For ye also have suffered like things from your own countrymen, even as they from the Jews."
1. They had received the Word "in much affliction." (1 Thessalonians 1:6.) The first outbreak of violence against them occurred after their conversion (Acts 17:5). They belonged to one of those Churches of Macedonia of which the apostle long afterwards wrote to the Corinthians as "enduring a great trial of affliction." It came from their heathen countrymen.
2. Their trials attested the genuineness of their conversion. The heathen would have had no quarrel with a dead faith. The Thessalonians did not "sleep as did others." They discovered by sharp experience that "all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution" (2 Timothy 3:12).
3. Their trials involved the precious experience of a "fellowship in Christ's sufferings." (Philippians 3:10.)
4. Their trials manifested at once the strength of their faith and their Christian constancy.
III. IT WAS SOME COMFORT TO THE THESSALONIANS TO KNOW THAT THEY WERE NOT THE ONLY SUFFERERS FROM THE FURY OF PERSECUTORS. "Even as they have of the Jews: who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and drave us out." This terrible invective against the Jews illustrates the saying that the apostle often "goes off at a word." It recalls the language of Stephen before his murderers (Acts 7:52). The malignity of the Jews against their believing countrymen was extreme.
1. The Jews were murderers of Jesus and the prophets. Though the Savior was executed by the Romans, the responsibility of the terrible deed rests on the Jews, who "fur envy" delivered him up, and "killed the Prince of life." They likewise killed their own prophets, whose very sepulchers they afterwards built and garnished. What wonder, then, that the Thessalonian converts should escape!
2. The Jews, though zealous for God, did not please him. "They pleased not God," but rather provoked him to anger by their unbelief and their wickedness.
3. They were at cross-purposes with all mankind. They were "contrary to all men." They were anti-social, exclusive, and bitter, so that the heathen Tacitus could describe them as "holding an attitude of hostility and hatred to the human race." But it was specially manifest in their resistance to the calling of the Gentiles—"forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved. The Acts of the Apostles supply abundant evidence of this fact.
4. The end to which all this wickedness toward God and man was tending. "To fill up their sins at all times."
1 Thessalonians 2:17, 1 Thessalonians 2:18 - The apostle's anxiety to visit the Thessalonians.
His departure had been very sudden, but he had never ceased to regret his separation from them.
I. HIS GRIEF AT THE SEVERANCE OF PERSONAL INTERCOURSE WITH THEM. "But we, brethren, being bereaved of you for a short season in presence, not in heart." The term is expressive of the orphan-feeling felt by children deprived of their parents, or of parents bereaved of their children. He seems to say like Jacob, "If I am bereaved of my children, I am bereaved."
1. His grief was a proof of his deep affection for them. Grace intensifies all right human affections.
2. Absence, instead of weakening, rather strengthened his desire to see them again face to face. Neither time nor distance could diminish his interest in them.
II. THE SEPARATION WAS IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWED BY SEVERAL ATTEMPTS TO REVISIT THEM. "We endeavored the more exceedingly to see your face with great desire." The difficulties were great, but he tried once and again to get back to Thessalonica, probably in the period when Silas and Timothy were temporarily gone from him.
III. THE OBSTACLES TO HIS RETURN. "But Satan hindered us."
1. The apostle believed in the existence of a personal evil spirit as well as in his steadfast resistance to the kingdom of God in all its interests. He was "not ignorant of Satan's devices."
2. The obstacles may have arisen through Satan inciting evil men to raise conflicts and tribulations round the apostle, so as to allow of no leisure for the projected visit.
IV. THE GROUND OF HIS ANXIETY TO REVISIT THEM. "For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye before our Lord Jesus at his coming?" He did not desire to have his labor in vain.
1. They were closely identified with his own future honor and happiness, by the hope that they would not be "ashamed at Christ's coming," but would be "his joy and crown of rejoicing." He would then "rejoice in the day of Christ that he had not run in vain, neither labored in vain" (Philippians 2:15, Philippians 2:16). Therefore he longed to be near to them that "he might impart to them some spiritual gift," and watch over the walk of his spiritual children.
2. It's wish implies
HOMILIES BY B.C. CAFFIN