For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ.
I. ITS WITNESS — God.
1. This appeal should not be made frequently, or on trivial occasions; but should be reserved for seasons of peculiar solemnity, as here. Paul wanted to give them an assurance of his regard such as would be their consolation when he was gone.
2. But though the parade of this witness should be spared, the consciousness of it should pervade all our life. It is easy to deceive our fellow man. It is healthful to be constantly reminded of an onlooker who is not mocked. His company, however, is shunned by many for good reasons. No man chooses the living God as his habitual company who is not reconciled to him through Christ.
3. What a blessed state to be in; to let all our affections towards our brethren flow and reflow in the Divine presence.
II. ITS SOURCE — "the bowels," — the strong compassion of Christ. From that fountain his own pity flowed.
1. He was free to testify, "In me dwelleth no good thing." True; no pity flowed from his cruel heart or dimmed his cruel eye when Stephen died. He was not at that time in Christ. From the memory of his former self he writes Titus 3:3.
2. Now the very love that glowed in the bosom of Jesus was communicated to His disciple. It was not a love of mere nature or an affection of party.
3. His new position gave him a new view and new affections. He had risen with Christ, and from the heavenly places the old divisions between Jew and Greek, etc., had disappeared, and one line only divided the race into two compartments, those who were in Christ Jesus and those who were not. He loved the whole, but rejoiced over the brethren with joy unspeakable.
III. ITS CHARACTER AND STRENGTH — "How greatly," etc.
1. Learn from the fact that he called God to witness it, that in order to get into communion with God it is not necessary to banish your brother out of sight. The law is that "he who loveth God, love his brother also."
2. The extent and distribution of his affection — "all." Probably they were not all alike attractive. The longing was one as it burned in Paul's heart; but it was many coloured as it streamed on a promiscuous congregation. Light is for all the same, but it becomes various as it falls on various surfaces.
(1) Little children. "Longing after" is more appropriate to infants than to others
(2) The young who are of understanding age. You have need of a compassion like Christ's.
(3) The burdened with care.
(4) The aged.
(W. Arnot, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ.