Paul's Ministry at Thessalonica.
SUMMARY.--How the Gospel was Brought to Thessalonica. The Manner of Paul's Preaching. His Manner of Life. His Exhortations. Their Persecutions. His Desire to Return to Comfort Them.
1-4. Our entrance . . . was not in vain. The existence of the flourishing church, where none had before existed, was proof of that fact. 2. Were shamefully treated . . . at Philippi. See Acts 16:19-24 . Even after such cruel treatment at the first place in Europe where they preached the gospel, they were no less bold in . . . God to speak . . . the gospel at Thessalonica, the second place they labored, though with much contention. With fierce opposition. See Acts 17:13 . 3. For our exhortation was not of deceit. The message they preached did not spring from deceit, or unclean lives, or guile. It was in all sincerity, and hence they were bold. 4. So we speak. God had given them the gospel as a trust. They were "stewards of the mysteries of God." They spoke as those faithful to a trust, seeking to please God instead of men.
5-8. Flattering words. He would have used these if he had sought to please men, but he told them plainly of their sins. Nor a cloke of covetousness. Nor did he have a covetous motive and conceal it by fair pretences. 6. Nor . . . sought we glory. Enemies of the cross sought some motive to explain the devotion of the apostles to the work. When all others failed, they named the desire of glory, as though men would make themselves "offscouring" for the sake of glory. When we might, etc. They might have demanded glory, and stood on the dignity of the apostles' office, and required pecuniary support. Instead, they worked at Thessalonica with their own hands for a support (see verse 9 ). 7. Were gentle. Instead of throwing ourselves on our dignity as apostles. 8. But also our own souls. You were so dear to us that we not only were willing to impart the gospel, but would have given our lives to you and for you.
9-12. Ye remember, brethren, our labor and travail. There was hard and exhausting labor, "night and day." The apostle was not willing to be chargeable to them; hence, while preaching "in season, out of season," he labored at his trade for a support. To this day the weaving of black cloths for tents is a great industry at Thessalonica. 10. Ye are witnesses. How holy and blameless were our lives. 11. As a father doth his children. As tenderly and earnestly. 12. Hath called you unto his kingdom. The kingdom of Christ, visible as the church on earth.
13-16. Not as the word of men. They had received the gospel preached by Paul as the word of the Lord, a divine message. Which effectually worketh. The word, received into the heart, is the good seed of the kingdom, and springeth up to eternal life. 14. Became followers. Imitators of the churches in Judea, enduring persecution faithfully. Ye also have suffered. As the Jews persecuted the churches in Judea, so you have been persecuted by your own countrymen. The persecution at Thessalonica was first stirred up by unbelieving Jews, but they induced the heathen to join in it. They "stirred up the people" ( Acts 17:13 ). 15. Who both killed. The Jews in Thessalonica had incited the persecution there. Their hostility to righteousness elsewhere is cited. They not only slew the Savior, but had killed their own prophets ( Matt. 23:31 ). Persecuted us. The apostles and evangelists, and especially Paul. Their hatred pursued them everywhere. 16. Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles. Nothing created such animosity on the part of the Jews as preaching the gospel to the Gentiles. See Acts 22:21-23 . To fill up their sins alway. To fill the measure of their sins so full that God would reject them as a people. Compare Gen. 15:16 Matt. 23:32 . For the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost. They were ripe for destruction. Before twenty years it came.
17-20. We, brethren, being taken from you. Forced away from them, his heart remained with them. 18. We would have come. Once and again, twice, he had purposed to return to them, but Satan hindered. How, is not stated, but some difficulties intervened that Paul attributed to Satan. His agency is often manifest when we do not recognize it; sometimes in wicked opposition, sometimes even "as an angel of light." 19. What is our crown of rejoicing? As the victor in the games could point to his crown as the proof of his powers, so Paul could point to the Gentile churches as the proof of ministry. At his coming. Paul took pride in the thought how great a work the Lord at his coming would behold which he had wrought in the gospel.