Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
For yourselves, brethren, know our entrance in unto you, that it was not in vain:II. TRUE SERVICE,
AS MANIFESTED IN APOSTOLIC MINISTRY
1. Apostolic conduct and service 1Thessalonians 2:1-12) 2. Thanksgiving for the reception of the message and the opposition 1Thessalonians 2:13-16) 3. Looking forward to His coming 1Thessalonians 2:17-19)
2. Thanksgiving for the reception of the message and the opposition 1Thessalonians 2:13-16)
3. Looking forward to His coming 1Thessalonians 2:17-19)
The apostle now enlarges upon the brief statement in the previous chapter “Ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sakes.” His conduct and character, as well as that of his fellow laborers, corresponded fully with the holy character of the truth they preached. They walked worthy of the gospel and worthy of the Lord. First he makes mention of the sufferings he and Silas endured in Philippi. They had been shamefully treated. They had been stripped and scourged cruelly with the lictor’s rods and cast into prison with their feet secured to the stocks. The physical discomfort resulting from such a punishment must have lasted for many days, but it did not hinder their going to Thessalonica with confidence in God to speak the gospel there, where they also had much conflict. And what a witness he bore of their unselfish conduct while they were among them! This exhortation was not a deceit, that is, out of error; nor was it in uncleanness, emanating from any low motives of self-interest; nor in guile. God had approved them; their ministry was God-given and they were fully conscious of this fact. Being intrusted with the gospel (and what a trust it is!) so they spoke. They had no need to employ different schemes to be successful; they had full confidence in God and in the message He had given to them to proclaim. Therefore their whole aim was to please God who trieth the hearts and not men. Nor had they used flattery to win them; nor did they resort to flattering words as a cloak of covetousness using sweet phrases to get money out of them; not alone were they witnesses of all this, but he could say, “God is witness.” They had sought nothing of men, neither money nor glory. They might have been burdensome to them as the apostles of Christ. They did not use their authority, which they might have used, asserting their dignity and demanding something from them. Their whole conduct was in true humility and in great self denial. (Many a “leading” evangelist of our day stands condemned by this beautiful example of a true servant of God. What God and gospel dishonoring schemes are used! What flatteries as a cloak of covetousness! How much man-pleasing!)
This is the negative side. On the other hand they were full of tenderness and kindness. A boisterous, unkind, impatient spirit was completely absent in their ministry. “But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children. So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us.” What blessed fragrance is, and will ever be, in these precious words! How little of this gracious, loving interest in souls is manifested today among the Lord’s servants! Then he reminds them what he had done so as not to be a burden to any one when he preached the gospel of God unto them. He and his companion had worked day and night with their own hands. Paul was a tent-maker and worked with his own hands in Thessalonica and elsewhere (Acts 18:2; 1Corinthians 4:12). And again he appeals to them as witnesses as well as to God, “how holily and justly and unblamably we behaved ourselves among you that believe; as ye know we exhorted and charged every one of you, as a father his children, that ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto His own kingdom and glory.” Having such a portion in the coming kingdom and being an heir of glory, the walk of every believer should indeed be worthy of God.
He thanked God without ceasing for the reception of the message which they heard from his lips. It was the Word of God, which Paul had preached, and hearing the message, they had received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the Word of God. This Word received in faith saved them and also effectually worked in them that believed. It is still the same. Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. The believer is constantly dependent upon the Word of God; it worketh in him effectually through the power of the Holy Spirit. The believer’s practical sanctification in the daily life is by the Word (John 17:17).
They also knew what suffering meant. They became followers (imitators) of the churches of God in Judea in Christ Jesus. Those churches suffered persecutions from the Jews, but the Thessalonians suffered from their own countrymen. And what a solemn charge is brought here through Paul against his kinsmen, the Jews! They had killed the Lord Jesus and their own prophets; they persecuted the apostles. And not satisfied with this, they tried to keep the gospel they hated from reaching the Gentiles that they might be saved. The measure of sins was now filled up “and wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.” The great apostle of the Gentiles, called to go far hence to the Gentiles, in this his first Epistle is used to pronounce sentence upon his own nation, which has been set aside until the fulness of the Gentiles is come in (Romans 11:25-26).
He had an affectionate desire for them. Separated and bereaved of them (the more correct rendering) for a little season in person, but not in heart, he had great longing to see their face. Once and again he wanted to visit them, but Satan had hindered him. How the enemy hindered him in carrying out his desire, whether by attacks upon his body (2Corinthians 12:7) or by wicked men, we do not know. He then speaks of that blessed time when all hindrances will cease, when God’s people are no longer separated, when those who ministered the Word and the fruits of their labors are gathered in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ at His coming. “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of glorying? Are not even ye before our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? for ye are our glory and joy.” Here again the apostle mentions the coming of the Lord. The gathered saints before the Lord Jesus Christ will be the crown of glorying and the joy for the faithful servant, who then finds in the presence of the Lord, in the day of Christ, the fruit of his labors. To this consummation in glory Paul directed the attention of the Thessalonians and he speaks of them as his glory and joy, “for ye are our glory and our joy.”
“it should be observed here, that the special fruits of our labors are not lost; they are found again at the coming of Christ. Our chief personal joy is to see the Lord Himself and to be like Him. This is the portion of all saints; but there are particular fruits in connection with the work of the Spirit in us and by us. At Thessalonica the spiritual energy of the apostle had brought a number of souls to God and to wait for His Son, and into a close union in the truth with Himself. This energy would be crowned at the coming of Christ by the presence of these believers in the glory as the fruit of his labors. God would thus crown the apostle’s work by bearing a striking testimony to its faithfulness in the presence of all these saints in glory; and the love which had wrought in Paul’s heart would be satisfied by seeing its object in glory and in the presence of the Lord Jesus. They would be his glory and joy. This thought drew yet closer the bonds that united them, and comforted the apostle in the midst of his toils and sufferings” (Synopsis of the Bible).