1 Thessalonians 2:17
But we, brothers, being taken from you for a short time in presence, not in heart…
For this he apologizeth.
I. HE WAS RUDELY FORCED AWAY FROM THEM, such was the rage of his persecutors, who, by certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, stirred all the city of Thessalonica into an uproar, and would have taken summary vengeance upon him and Silas; but their brethren interposed, and ere long they sent them away by night to Berea. The body of Paul was at Berea, but the heart of Paul was at Thessalonica. He could not forget the Thessalonians. Sooner might the stars forget their courses at night time, or the sun forget to shine at noon day.
II. EVEN HIS BODILY ABSENCE WAS BUT FOR A BRIEF SPACE — the time of an hour, as it were. All time on earth is brief and uncertain, whether we are present with our friends or absent from them. This world is not a place where we are long together. It is in heaven holy souls shall meet and never part more.
III. HE EARNESTLY ENDEAVOURED TO SEE THEM AGAIN. How strong and beautiful his words, "We endeavoured the more abundantly to see your face with great desire!" Who could doubt his affection for his converts after this? He knew they esteemed him very highly in love for his works' sake, and was therefore attracted to them by the force of the same holy passion. Love alway begets love, and hearts thereby influenced would never be separated. But even apostles are not masters of their own time. Paul did his best, and angels could do no more.
IV. BUT SATAN HINDERED HIS RETURN TO THEM. The great enemy of mankind is especially opposed to those who would destroy his kingdom of lies by declaring the truth of another kingdom. The child of God can no sooner enterprise that which is really good, but he meets with some impediment; so, whoever be the means or instruments for impeding us in the way of duty, the devil himself, through God's permission, is the prime author of that woeful work, and all others do but fight under his banner; for, though other means were doubtless accessory to Paul's stay at Berea, yet Satan hindered him from returning at once to Thessalonica.
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.