1 Thessalonians 2:17, 18
But we, brothers, being taken from you for a short time in presence, not in heart…
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, 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
(1) that there will be degrees of glory in heaven according to the measures of a minister's usefulness;
(2) that he will be able to identify his converts in heaven. - T.C.
Parallel VersesKJV: But we, brethren, being taken from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavoured the more abundantly to see your face with great desire.