You yourselves know, brothers, that our visit to you was not in vain.
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
(1) "of deceit." He was not deceived himself - be had not "followed cunningly devised fables" - neither did he design to deceive others, for he preached the truth as it is in Jesus. Therefore there was all the greater force and fervent and directness in his teaching.
(2) "Nor of uncleanness." There were no impure or sinister ends in his teaching, implying love of gain; nor any disposition to tolerate those subtle forms of temptation which sometimes manifest themselves even under the guise of piety.
(3) "Nor in guile," for he was straightforward and sincere in his methods, with "no cunning craftiness," no maneuvers, no strategy; for they had" renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the Word of God deceitfully" (2 Corinthians 4:2).
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."
(1) The gospel is a solemn trust, a rich treasure. There are many human trusts which men would rather shirk, but the apostle is not unwilling to accept this trust for the good of the world.
(2) He claims no independent worthiness for so sacred a trust. God gave him any worthiness or sufficiency he possessed. "Our sufficiency is of God, who also hath made us able ministers of the New Testament" (2 Corinthians 3:5, 6).
(3) He discharged his trust
(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).
(4) He had supreme and final regard to the all-seeing God, "who trieth the hearts," who knows the springs of all actions, discovers all artifices, and brings all hidden things to light, lien look on the outward appearance. God "spares all beings but himself that awful sight - a naked human heart." He "seeth not as man seeth." It is vain, therefore, to appear other than we are. - T.C.
I. ITS SUBLIME COURAGE. "We were bold in our God." True pulpit courage must not be con founded with that audacity, impudence, self-assurance, which, alas! is so prevalent. It is courage in God, and springs from —
For yourselves, brethren, know our entrance in unto you, that it was not in vain
I. THIS BOLDNESS MANIFESTED IN THE EARNEST DECLARATION OF THE TRUTH. "We are bold in our God," etc.
1. Bold in their conception of the Divine origin and vast scope of the gospel, and its adaptation to the wants of man, they were not less hold in its faithful proclamation. Their deep conviction of the supreme authority of the truth gave them unusual courage. We see the same spirit in Paul, when his fearless words roused the ire of Festus, shook the conscience of the thoughtless Felix, or swayed the heart of Agrippa. We see it in Elijah as he rebuked the sins of the wicked Ahab or threw the baffled priests of Baal into maddening hysteria — himself the while unmoved and confident. We see it conspicuously in Him whose burning words assailed every wrong, and who denounced the leaders of a corrupt Church as "serpents!" "generation of vipers!"
2. "With much contention" — amid much conflict and danger. This kind of preaching provoked opposition, and involved them in great inward struggles. The faithful messenger of God fears not the most violent assault from without: but the thought of the fatal issues to those who obstinately reject and fight against the gospel fills him with agonizing concern.
II. THIS BOLDNESS NO SUFFERING COULD DAUNT. "Even after that we had suffered before," etc. They had come fresh from a city where they had been cruelly outraged. But their sufferings only deepened their love for the gospel, and inflamed the passion to make it known. A German professor has lately made experiments with chalcedony, and other quartzose minerals, and he has demonstrated that when such stones are ground on large and rapidly revolving wheels, they exhibit a brilliant phosphorescent glow throughout their entire mass. So is it with the resolute worker. The more he is ground under the strong wheel of suffering and persecution, the more intensely will his character glow.
III. THIS BOLDNESS WAS DIVINELY INSPIRED. "In our God." It was not presumption or bravado; but tire calm, grand heroism of a profound faith in God. The prophet Jeremiah, in a moment of despondency, decided to "speak no more in the name of the Lord;" but when he could say, "The Lord is with me as a mighty terrible One," his courage returned, and he obeyed implicitly the Divine mandate — "Thou shalt go," etc. Similarly commissioned, Paul once exclaimed, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." Endowed with the like spirit Luther uttered his noble protest at the Diet of Worms — "Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise; God help me!" Lessons:
1. Boldness is indispensable in attacking the evils of the age — not in the mass, but in detail.
2. Boldness acquired only by studious and prayerful familiarity with God and His message.
1. Love for God's character. Love is the soul of courage. Strong love absorbs all selfish fears and makes the soul heroic. Paul loved his God so strongly that he lost all selfish feelings in the passion.
2. Confidence in God's gospel. Paul knew that the gospel he had received and that he preached was not of men, but of God. No infidel argument could shake his faith in this. It was to him a subject beyond question and debate, settled amongst the immoveable facts of his own consciousness. Boldness in God is what the pulpit wants now. Some preachers speak as if they were bold in their theology, in their sect, in their own capacities; but Paul was "bold in God." He felt himself to be nothing.
II. ITS TRANSCENDENT THEME. The glad tidings.
1. That God loves all men, although they are sinners. Nature shows that God loves all men as creatures; but the gospel alone reveals His love to sinners (John 3:16).
2. That God's love for sinners is so great that He gave His only begotten Son. This is God's gospel; and what a transcendent theme for the preacher! This Paul preached: not theology, science, philosophy, metaphysical theories.
(D. Thomas, D. D.)
(J. Hutchinson, D. D.)
Boston Review.The daily influence of Christ-like ministers streams into the character of their people as the imponderable sunlight enters into the solid substance of vegetation.
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