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Daily Reading for February 19: Numbers 14-15; Proverbs 19

Study Verse: 1 Thessalonians 1 and 2


Paul wrote this letter to encourage new believers in their faith, to exhort them to godly living, to give them assurance about the eternal state of believers who had died, and to defend the integrity of his ministry as an apostle. Thessalonica (present-day Thessaloniki, Greece) was the capital of Roman Macedonia. It was on important trade routes. Paul, twice identified as the author (1:1; 2:18), visited Thessalonica on his second missionary journey but was forced to flee because of Jewish opposition. He sent Timothy to work with the largely Gentile church there, and Timothy brought him good news of their faith (3:6). This is one of Paul's first letters, probably written about a.d. 50-51.


Paul, aSilvanus, and Timothy,

To the church of the bThessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:

cGrace to you and peace.

The Thessalonians' Faith and Example

dWe give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly1 ementioning you in our prayers, remembering before four God and Father gyour work of faith and labor of hlove and isteadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, jbrothers2 loved by God, kthat he has chosen you, because lour gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and min the Holy Spirit and with full nconviction. You know owhat kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. And pyou became imitators of us qand of the Lord, for ryou received the word in much affliction, swith the tjoy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For not only has the word of the Lord usounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth veverywhere, so that we need not say anything. For they themselves report concerning us the kind of wreception we had among you, and how xyou turned to God yfrom idols to serve the living and ztrue God, 10 and ato wait for his Son bfrom heaven, cwhom he raised from the dead, Jesus dwho delivers us from ethe wrath to come.

Paul's Ministry to the Thessalonians

For you yourselves know, brothers,1 that our fcoming to you gwas not in vain. But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated hat Philippi, as you know, iwe had boldness in our God jto declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much kconflict. For lour appeal does not spring from merror or nimpurity or oany attempt to deceive, but just as we have been approved by God pto be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not qto please man, but to please God rwho tests our hearts. sFor we never came with words of flattery,2 as you know, nor with a pretext for greed-tGod is witness. uNor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, vthough we could have made wdemands as xapostles of Christ. But we were ygentle3 among you, zlike a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God abut also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.

For you remember, brothers, bour labor and toil: we cworked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. 10 You are witnesses, and dGod also, ehow holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers. 11 For you know how, flike a father with his children, 12 we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and gcharged hyou to walk in a manner worthy of God, iwho calls you into his own kingdom and glory.

13 And jwe also thank God constantly4 for this, that when you received kthe word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it lnot as the word of men5 but as what it really is, the word of God, mwhich is at work in you believers. 14 For you, brothers, nbecame imitators of othe churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea. For pyou suffered the same things from your own countrymen qas they did from the Jews,6 15 rwho killed both the Lord Jesus and sthe prophets, and drove us out, and displease God and toppose all mankind 16 uby hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles that they might be saved-so as always vto fill up the measure of their sins. But wwrath has come upon them at last!7

Paul's Longing to See Them Again

17 But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, xin person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire yto see you face to face, 18 because we wanted to come to you-I, Paul, again and again-but Satan zhindered us. 19 For what is our hope or ajoy or crown of boasting bbefore our Lord Jesus at his ccoming? Is it not you? 20 For you are our glory and joy. [1]




Thessalonica was formerly the metropolis of Macedonia; it is now called Salonichi, and is the best peopled, and one of the best towns for commerce, in the Levant. The apostle Paul, being diverted from his design of going into the provinces of Asia, properly so called, and directed after an extraordinary manner to preach the gospel in Macedonia (Acts 16:9, 10), in obedience to the call of God went from Troas to Samothracia, thence to Neapolis, and thence to Philippi, where he had good success in his ministry, but met with hard usage, being cast into prison with Silas his companion in travel and labour, from which being wonderfully delivered, they comforted the brethren there, and departed. Passing through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where the apostle planted a church that consisted of some believing Jews and many converted Gentiles, Acts 17:1-4. But a tumult being raised in the city by the unbelieving Jews, and the lewd and baser sort of the inhabitants, Paul and Silas, for their safety, were sent away by night unto Berea, and afterwards Paul was conducted to Athens, leaving Silas and Timotheus behind him, but sent directions that they should come to him with all speed. When they came, Timotheus was sent to Thessalonica, to enquire after their welfare and to establish them in the faith (1 Th. 3:2), and, returning to Paul while he tarried at Athens, was sent again, together with Silas, to visit the churches in Macedonia. So that Paul, being left at Athens alone (1 Th. 3:1), departed thence to Corinth, where he continued a year and a half, in which time Silas and Timotheus returned to him from Macedonia (Acts 18:5), and then he wrote this epistle to the church of Christ at Thessalonica, which, though it is placed after the other epistles of this apostle, is supposed to be first in time of all Paul's epistles, and to be written about A.D. 51. The main scope of it is to express the thankfulness of this apostle for the good success his preaching had among them, to establish them in the faith, and persuade them to a holy conversation.

Chapter 1

After the introduction (v. 1) the apostle begins with a thanksgiving to God for the saving benefits bestowed on them (v. 2-5). And then mentions the sure evidences of the good success of the gospel among them, which was notorious and famous in several other places (v. 6-10).

Verse 1

In this introduction we have,

I. The inscription, where we have, 1. The persons from whom this epistle came, or by whom it was written. Paul was the inspired apostle and writer of this epistle, though he makes no mention of his apostleship, which was not doubted of by the Thessalonians, nor opposed by any false apostle among them. He joins Silvanus (or Silas) and Timotheus with himself (who had now come to him with an account of the prosperity of the churches in Macedonia), which shows this great apostle's humility, and how desirous he was to put honour upon the ministers of Christ who were of an inferior rank and standing. A good example this is to such ministers as are of greater abilities and reputation in the church than some others. 2. The persons to whom this epistle is written, namely, the church of the Thessalonians, the converted Jews and Gentiles in Thessalonica; and it is observable that this church is said to be in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ; they had fellowship with the Father, and his Son Jesus Christ, 1 Jn. 1:3. They were a Christian church, because they believed in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ. They believed the principles both of natural and revealed religion. The Gentiles among them were turned to God from idols, and the Jews among them believed Jesus to be the promised Messias. All of them were devoted and dedicated to God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: to God as their chief good and highest end, to Jesus Christ as their Lord and Mediator between God and man. God the Father is the original centre of all natural religion; and Jesus Christ is the author and centre of all revealed religion. You believe in God, says our Saviour, believe also in me. Jn. 14:1.

II. The salutation or apostolical benediction: Grace be with you, and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the same for substance as in the other epistles. Grace and peace are well joined together; for the free grace or favour of God is the spring or fountain of all the peace and prosperity we do or can enjoy; and where there are gracious dispositions in us we may hope for peaceful thoughts in our own breasts; both grace and peace, and all spiritual blessings, come to us from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ; from God the original of all good, and from the Lord Jesus the purchaser of all good for us; from God in Christ, and so our Father in covenant, because he is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Note, As all good comes from God, so no good can be hoped for by sinners but from God in Christ. And the best good may be expected from God as our Father for the sake of Christ.

Verses 2-5

I. The apostle begins with thanksgiving to God. Being about to mention the things that were matter of joy to him, and highly praiseworthy in them, and greatly for their advantage, he chooses to do this by way of thanksgiving to God, who is the author of all that good that comes to us, or is done by us, at any time. God is the object of all religious worship, of prayer and praise. And thanksgiving to God is a great duty, to be performed always or constantly; even when we do not actually give thanks to God by our words, we should have a grateful sense of God's goodness upon our minds. Thanksgiving should be often repeated; and not only should we be thankful for the favours we ourselves receive, but for the benefits bestowed on others also, upon our fellow-creatures and fellow-christians. The apostle gave thanks not only for those who were his most intimate friends, or most eminently favoured of God, but for them all.

II. He joined prayer with his praise or thanksgiving. When we in every thing by prayer and supplication make our requests known to God, we should join thanksgiving therewith, Phil. 4:6. So when we give thanks for any benefit we receive we should join prayer. We should pray always and without ceasing, and should pray not only for ourselves, but for others also, for our friends, and should make mention of them in our prayers. We may sometimes mention their names, and should make mention of their case and condition; at least, we should have their persons and circumstances in our minds, remembering them without ceasing. Note, As there is much that we ought to be thankful for on the behalf of ourselves and our friends, so there is much occasion of constant prayer for further supplies of good.

III. He mentions the particulars for which he was so thankful to God; namely,

1. The saving benefits bestowed on them. These were the grounds and reasons of his thanksgiving. (1.) Their faith and their work of faith. Their faith he tells them (v. 8) was very famous, and spread abroad. This is the radical grace; and their faith was a true and living faith, because a working faith. Note, Wherever there is a true faith, it will work: it will have an influence upon heart and life; it will put us upon working for God and for our own salvation. We have comfort in our own faith and the faith of others when we perceive the work of faith. Show me thy faith by thy works, Jam. 2:18. (2.) Their love and labour of love. Love is one of the cardinal graces; it is of great use to us in this life and will remain and be perfected in the life to come. Faith works by love; it shows itself in the exercise of love to God and love to our neighbour; as love will show itself by labour, it will put us upon taking pains in religion. (3.) Their hope and the patience of hope. We are saved by hope. This grace is compared to the soldier's helmet and sailor's anchor, and is of great use in times of danger. Wherever there is a well-grounded hope of eternal life, it will appear by the exercise of patience; in a patient bearing of the calamities of the present time and a patient waiting for the glory to be revealed. For, if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it, Rom. 8:25.

2. The apostle not only mentions these three cardinal graces, faith, hope and love, but also takes notice, (1.) Of the object and efficient cause of these graces, namely, our Lord Jesus Christ. (2.) Of the sincerity of them: being in the sight of God even our Father. The great motive to sincerity is the apprehension of God's eye as always upon us; and it is a sign of sincerity when in all we do we endeavour to approve ourselves to God, and that is right which is so in the sight of God. Then is the work of faith, or labour of love, or patience of hope, sincere, when it is done under the eye of God. (3.) He mentions the fountain whence these graces flow, namely, God's electing love: Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God, v. 4. Thus he runs up these streams to the fountain, and that was God's eternal election. Some by their election of God would understand only the temporary separation of the Thessalonians from the unbelieving Jews and Gentiles in their conversion; but this was according to the eternal purpose of him who worketh all things according to the counsel of his own will, Eph. 1:11. Speaking of their election, he calls them, brethren beloved; for the original of the brotherhood that is between Christians and the relation wherein they stand one to another is election. And it is a good reason why we should love one another, because we are all beloved of God, and were beloved of him in his counsels when there was not any thing in us to merit his love. The election of these Thessalonians was known to the apostles, and therefore might be known to themselves, and that by the fruits and effects thereof-their sincere faith, and hope, and love, by the successful preaching of the gospel among them. Observe, [1.] All those who in the fulness of time are effectually called and sanctified were from eternity elected and chosen to salvation. [2.] The election of God is of his own good pleasure and mere grace, not for the sake of any merit in those who are chosen. [3.] The election of God may be known by the fruits thereof. [4.] Whenever we are giving thanks to God for his grace either to ourselves or others, we should run up the streams to the fountain, and give thanks to God for his electing love, by which we are made to differ.

3. Another ground or reason of the apostle's thanksgiving is the success of his ministry among them. He was thankful on his own account as well as theirs, that he had not laboured in vain. He had the seal and evidence of his apostleship hereby, and great encouragement in his labours and sufferings. Their ready acceptance and entertainment of the gospel he preached to them were an evidence of their being elected and beloved of God. It was in this way that he knew their election. It is true he had been in the third heavens; but he had not searched the records of eternity, and found their election there, but knew this by the success of the gospel among them (v. 5), and he takes notice with thankfulness, (1.) That the gospel came to them also not in word only, but in power; they not only heard the sound of it, but submitted to the power of it. It did not merely tickle the ear and please the fancy, not merely fill their heads with notions and amuse their minds for awhile, but it affected their hearts: a divine power went along with it for convincing their consciences and amending their lives. Note, By this we may know our election, if we not only speak of the things of God by rote as parrots, but feel the influence of these things in our hearts, mortifying our lusts, weaning us from the world, and raising us up to heavenly things. (2.) It came in the Holy Ghost, that is, with the powerful energy of the divine Spirit. Note, Wherever the gospel comes in power, it is to be attributed to the operation of the Holy Ghost; and unless the Spirit of God accompany the word of God, to render it effectual by his power, it will be to us but as a dead letter; and the letter killeth, it is the Spirit that giveth life. (3.) The gospel came to them in much assurance. Thus did they entertain it by the power of the Holy Ghost. They were fully convinced of the truth of it, so as not to be easily shaken in mind by objections and doubts; they were willing to leave all for Christ, and to venture their souls and everlasting condition upon the verity of the gospel revelation. The word was not to them, like the sentiments of some philosophers about matters of opinion and doubtful speculation, but the object of their faith and assurance. Their faith was the evidence of things not seen; and the Thessalonians thus knew what manner of men the apostle and his fellow-labourers were among them, and what they did for their sake, and with what good success.

Verses 6-10

In these words we have the evidence of the apostle's success among the Thessalonians, which was notorious and famous in several places. For,

I. They were careful in their holy conversation to imitate the good examples of the apostles and ministers of Christ, v. 6. As the apostle took care to demean himself well, not only for his own credit's sake, but for the benefit of others, by a conversation suitable to his doctrine, that he might not pull down with one hand what he built up with the other, so the Thessalonians, who observed what manner of men they were among them, how their preaching and living were all of a piece, showed a conscientious care to be followers of them, or to imitate their good example. Herein they became also followers of the Lord, who is the perfect example we must strive to imitate; and we should be followers of others no further than they are followers of Christ, 1 Co. 11:1. The Thessalonians acted thus, notwithstanding their affliction, that much affliction which the apostles and themselves also were exposed to. They were willing to share in the sufferings that attended the embracing and professing of Christianity. They entertained the gospel, notwithstanding the troubles and hardships which attended the preachers and professors of it too. Perhaps this made the word more precious, being dear-bought; and the examples of the apostles shone very bright under their afflictions; so that the Thessalonians embraced the word cheerfully, and followed the example of the suffering apostles joyfully, with joy in the Holy Ghost-such solid and spiritual and lasting joy as the Holy Ghost is the author of, who, when our afflictions abound, makes our consolations much more to abound.

II. Their zeal prevailed to such a degree that they were themselves examples to all about them, v. 7, 8. Observe here,

1. Their example was very effectual to make good impressions upon many others. They were typoi-stamps, or instruments to make impression with. They had themselves received good impressions from the preaching and conversation of the apostles, and they made good impressions, and their conversation had an influence upon others. Note, Christians should be so good as by their example to influence others.

2. It was very extensive, and reached beyond the confines of Thessalonica, even to the believers of all Macedonia, and further, in Achaia; the Philippians, and others who received the gospel before the Thessalonians, were edified by their example. Note, Some who were last hired into the vineyard may sometimes outstrip those who come in before them, and become examples to them.

3. It was very famous. The word of the Lord, or its wonderful effects upon the Thessalonians, sounded, or was famous and well known, in the regions round about that city, and in every place; not strictly every where, but here and there, up and down in the world: so that, from the good success of the gospel among them, many others were encouraged to entertain it, and to be willing, when called, to suffer for it. Their faith was spread abroad. (1.) The readiness of their faith was famed abroad. These Thessalonians embraced the gospel as soon as it was preached to them; so that every body took notice what manner of entering in among them the apostles had, that there were no such delays as at Philippi, where it was a great while before much good was done. (2.) The effects of their faith were famous. [1.] They quitted their idolatry; they turned from their idols, and abandoned all the false worship they had been educated in. [2.] They gave themselves up to God, to the living and true God, and devoted themselves to his service. [3.] They set themselves to wait for the Son of God from heaven, v. 10. And this is one of the peculiarities of our holy religion, to wait for Christ's second coming, as those who believe he will come and hope he will come to our joy. The believers under the Old Testament waited for the coming of the Messiah, and believers now wait for his second coming; he is yet to come. And there is good reason to believe he will come, because God has raised him from the dead, which is full assurance unto all men that he will come to judgment, Acts 17:31. And there is good reason to hope and wait for his coming, because he has delivered us from the wrath to come. He came to purchase salvation, and will, when he comes again, bring salvation with him, full and final deliverance from sin, and death, and hell, from that wrath which is yet to come upon unbelievers, and which, when it has once come, will be yet to come, because it is everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels, Mt. 25:41.

Chapter 2

In this chapter the apostle puts the Thessalonians in mind of the manner of his preaching among them (v. 1-6). Then of the manner of his conversation among them (v. 7-12). Afterwards of the success of his ministry, with the effects both on himself and on them (v. 13-16), and then apologizes for his absence (v. 17-20).

Verses 1-6

Here we have an account of Paul's manner of preaching, and his comfortable reflection upon his entrance in among the Thessalonians. As he had the testimony of his own conscience witnessing to his integrity, so he could appeal to the Thessalonians how faithful he, and Silas, and Timotheus, his helpers in the work of the Lord, had discharged their office: You yourselves, brethren, know our entrance in unto you. Note, It is a great comfort to a minister to have his own conscience and the consciences of others witnessing for him that he set out well, with good designs and from good principles; and that his preaching was not in vain, or, as some read it, was not fain. The apostle here comforts himself either in the success of his ministry, that it was not fruitless or in vain (according to our translation), or as others think, reflecting upon the sincerity of his preaching, that it was not vain and empty, or deceitful and treacherous. The subject-matter of the apostle's preaching was not vain and idle speculations about useless niceties and foolish questions, but sound and solid truth, such as was most likely to profit his hearers. A good example this is, to be imitated by all the ministers of the gospel. Much less was the apostle's preaching vain or deceitful. He could say to these Thessalonians what he told the Corinthians (2 Co. 4:2): We have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully. He had no sinister or worldly design in his preaching, which he puts them in mind to have been,

I. With courage and resolution: We were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God, v. 2. The apostle was inspired with a holy boldness, nor was he discouraged at the afflictions he met with, or the opposition that was made against him. He had met with ill usage at Philippi, as these Thessalonians well knew. There it was that he and Silas were shamefully treated, being put in the stocks; yet no sooner were they set at liberty than they went to Thessalonica, and preached the gospel with as much boldness as ever. Note, Suffering in a good cause should rather sharpen than blunt the edge of holy resolution. The gospel of Christ, at its first setting out in the world, met with much opposition; and those who preached it preached it with contention, with great agony, which denoted either the apostles' striving in their preaching or their striving against the opposition they met with. This was Paul's comfort; he was neither daunted in his work, nor driven from it.

II. With great simplicity and godly sincerity: Our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile, v. 3. This, no doubt, was matter of the greatest comfort to the apostle-the consciousness of his own sincerity; and was one reason of his success. It was the sincere and uncorrupted gospel that he preached and exhorted them to believe and obey. His design was not to set up a faction, to draw men over to a party, but to promote pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father. The gospel he preached was without deceit, it was true and faithful; it was not fallacious, nor a cunningly-devised fable. Nor was it of uncleanness. His gospel was pure and holy, worthy of its holy author, tending to discountenance all manner of impurity. The word of God is pure. There should be no corrupt mixtures therewith; and, as the matter of the apostle's exhortation was thus true and pure, the manner of his speaking was without guile. He did not pretend one thing and intend another. He believed, and therefore he spoke. He had no sinister and secular aims and views, but was in reality what he seemed to be. The apostle not only asserts his sincerity, but subjoins the reasons and evidences thereof. The reasons are contained, v. 4.

1. They were stewards, put in trust with the gospel: and it is required of a steward that he be faithful. The gospel which Paul preached was not his own, but the gospel of God. Note, Ministers have a great favour shown them, and honour put upon them, and trust committed to them. They must not dare to corrupt the word of God: they must diligently make use of what is entrusted with them, so as God hath allowed and commanded, knowing they shall be called to an account, when they must be no longer stewards.

2. Their design was to please God and not men. God is a God of truth, and requires truth in the inward parts; and, if sincerity be wanting, all that we do cannot please God. The gospel of Christ is not accommodated to the fain fancies and lusts of men, to gratify their appetites and passions; but, on the contrary, it was designed for the mortifying of their corrupt affections, and delivering them from the power of fancy, that they might be brought under the power of faith. If I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ, Gal. 1:10.

3. They acted under the consideration of God's omniscience, as in the sight of him who tries our hearts. This is indeed the great motive to sincerity, to consider that God not only seeth all that we do, but knoweth our thoughts afar off, and searcheth the heart. He is well acquainted with all our aims and designs, as well as our actions. And it is from this God who trieth our hearts that we must receive our reward. The evidences of the apostle's sincerity follow; and they are these:-(1.) He avoided flattery: Neither at any time used we flattering words, as you know, v. 5. He and his fellow-labourers preached Christ and him crucified, and did not aim to gain an interest in men's affections for themselves, by glorying, and fawning and wheedling them. No, he was far from this; nor did he flatter men in their sins; nor tell them, if they would be of his party, they might live as they listed. He did not flatter them with fain hopes, nor indulge them in any evil work or way, promising them life, and so daubing with untempered mortar. (2.) He avoided covetousness. He did not make the ministry a cloak, or a covering, for covetousness, as God was witness, v. 5. His design was not to enrich himself by preaching the gospel; so far from this, he did not stipulate with them for bread. He was not like the false apostles, who, through covetousness, with feigned words made merchandise of the people, 2 Pt. 2:3. (3.) He avoided ambition and vain-glory: Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you nor yet of others, v. 6. They expected neither people's purses nor their caps, neither to be enriched by them nor caressed, and adored, and called Rabbi by them. This apostle exhorts the Galatians (ch. 5:26) not to be desirous of vain glory; his ambition was to obtain that honour which comes from God, Jn. 5:44. He tells them that they might have used greater authority as apostles, and expected greater esteem, and demanded maintenance, which is meant by the phrase of being burdensome, because perhaps some would have thought this too great a burden for them to bear.

Verses 7-12

In these words the apostle reminds the Thessalonians of the manner of his conversation among them. And,

I. He mentions the gentleness of their behaviour: We were gentle among you, v. 7. He showed great mildness and tenderness who might have acted with the authority of an apostle of Christ. Such behaviour greatly recommends religion, and is most agreeable to God's gracious dealing with sinners, in and by the gospel. This great apostle, though he abhorred and avoided flattery, was most condescending to all men. He accommodated himself to all men's capacities, and became all things to all men. He showed the kindness and care of a nurse that cherishes her children. This is the way to win people, rather than to rule with rigour. The word of God is indeed powerful; and as it comes often with awful authority upon the minds of men, as it always has enough in it to convince every impartial judgment, so it comes with the more pleasing power, when the ministers of the gospel recommend themselves to the affections of the people. And as a nursing mother bears with frowardness in a child, and condescends to mean offices for its good, and draws out her breast, cherishing it in her bosom, so in like manner should the ministers of Christ behave towards their people. The servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle unto all men, and patient, 2 Tim. 2:24. This gentleness and goodness the apostle expressed several ways. 1. By the most affectionate desire of their welfare: Being affectionately desirous of you, v. 8. The apostle had a most affectionate love to their persons, and sought them, not theirs; themselves, not their goods; and to gain them, not to be a gainer by them, or to make a merchandise of them: it was their spiritual and eternal welfare and salvation that he was earnestly desirous of. 2. By great readiness to do them good, willingly imparting to them, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, v. 8. See here the manner of Paul's preaching. He spared no pains therein. He was willing to run hazards, and venture his soul, or life, in preaching the gospel. He was willing to spend and be spent in the service of men's souls; and, as those who give bread to the hungry from a charitable principle are said to impart their souls in what they give (Isa. 58:10), so did the apostles in giving forth the bread of life; so dear were these Thessalonians in particular to this apostle, and so great was his love to them. 3. By bodily labour to prevent their charge, or that his ministry might not be expensive and burdensome to them: You remember our labour and travail; for, labouring night and day, etc., v. 9. He denied himself the liberty he had of taking wages from the churches. To the labour of the ministry he added that of his calling, as a tent-maker, that he might get his own bread. We are not to suppose that the apostle spent the whole night and day in bodily labour, or work, to supply the necessities of his body; for then he would have had no time for the work of the ministry. But he spent part of the night, as well as the day, in this work; and was willing to forego his rest in the night, that he might have an opportunity to do good to the souls of men in the day time. A good example is here set before the ministers of the gospel, to be industrious for the salvation of men's souls, though it will not follow that they are always obliged to preach freely. There is no general rule to be drawn from this instance, either that ministers may at no time work with their hands, for the supply of their outward necessities, or that they ought always to do so. 4. By the holiness of their conversation, concerning which he appeals not only to them, but to God also (v. 10): You are witnesses, and God also. They were observers of their outward conversation in public before men, and God was witness not only of their behaviour in secret, but of the inward principles from which they acted. Their behaviour was holy towards God, just towards all men, and unblamable, without giving cause of scandal or offence; and they were careful to give no offence either to those who were without, or to those who believed, that they might give no ill example; that their preaching and living might be all of a piece. Herein, said this apostle, do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence towards God, and towards men, Acts 24:16.

II. He mentions their faithful discharge of the work and office of the ministry, v. 11, 12. Concerning this also he could appeal to them as witnesses. Paul and his fellow-labourers were not only good Christians, but faithful ministers. And we should not only be good as to our general calling as Christians, but in our particular callings and relations. Paul exhorted the Thessalonians, not only informing them in their duty, but exciting and quickening them to the performance of it, by proper motives and arguments. And he comforted them also, endeavouring to cheer and support their spirits under the difficulties and discouragements they might meet with. And this he did not only publicly, but privately also, and from house to house (Acts 20:20), and charged every one of them by personal addresses: this, some think, is intended by the similitude of a father's charging his children. This expression also denotes the affectionate and compassionate counsels and consolations which this apostle used. He was their spiritual father; and, as he cherished them like a nursing mother, so he charged them as a father, with a father's affection rather than a father's authority. As my beloved sons, I warn you, 1 Co. 4:14. The manner of this apostle's exhortation ought to be regarded by ministers in particular for their imitation, and the matter of it is greatly to be regarded by them and all others; namely, that they would walk worthy of God, who hath called them to his kingdom and glory, v. 12. Observe, 1. What is our great gospel privilege-that God has called us to his kingdom and glory. The gospel calls us into the kingdom and state of grace here and unto the kingdom and state of glory hereafter, to heaven and happiness as our end and to holiness as the way to that end. 2. What is our great gospel duty-that we walk worthy of God, that the temper of our minds and tenour of our lives be answerable to this call and suitable to this privilege. We should accommodate ourselves to the intention and design of the gospel, and live suitably to our profession and privileges, our hopes and expectations, as becomes those who are called with such a high and holy calling.

Verses 13-16

Here observe, I. The apostle makes mention of the success of his ministry among these Thessalonians (v. 13), which is expressed,

1. By the manner of their receiving the word of God: When you received the word of God, which you heard of us, you received it, not as the word of men, but (as it is in truth) the word of God. Where note, (1.) The word of the gospel is preached by men like ourselves, men of like passions and infirmities with others: We have this treasure in earthen vessels. The word of God, which these Thessalonians received, they heard from the apostles. (2.) However, it is in truth the word of God. Such was the word the apostles preached by divine inspiration, and such is that which is left upon record, written in the scriptures by divine inspiration; and such is that word which in our days is preached, being either contained, or evidently founded on, or deduced from, these sacred oracles. (3.) Those are greatly to blame who give out their own fancies or injunctions for the word of God. This is the vilest way of imposing upon a people, and to deal unfaithfully. (4.) Those are also to blame who, in hearing the word, look no further than to the ministry of men, who are only, or chiefly, pleased with the elegance of the style, or the beauty of the composition, or the voice and manner in which the word is preached, and expect to receive their advantage herein. (5.) We should receive the word of God as the word of God, with affections suitable to the holiness, wisdom, verity, and goodness, thereof. The words of men are frail and perishing, like themselves, and sometimes false, foolish, and fickle: but God's word is holy, wise, just, and faithful; and, like its author, lives and abides for ever. Let us accordingly receive and regard it.

2. By the wonderful operation of this word they received: It effectually worketh in those that believe, v. 13. Those who by faith receive the word find it profitable. It does good to those that walk uprightly, and by its wonderful effects evidences itself to be the word of God. This converts their souls, and enlightens their minds, and rejoices their hearts (Ps. 19); and such as have this inward testimony of the truth of the scriptures, the word of God, by the effectual operations thereof on their hearts, have the best evidence of their divine original to themselves, though this is not sufficient to convince others who are strangers thereto.

II. He mentions the good effects which his successful preaching had,

1. Upon himself and fellow-labourers. It was a constant cause of thankfulness: For this cause thank we God without ceasing, v. 13. The apostle expressed his thankfulness to God so often upon this account that he seemed to think he never could be sufficiently thankful that God had counted him faithful, and put him into the ministry, and made his ministrations successful.

2. Upon them. The word wrought effectually in them, not only to be examples unto others in faith and good works (which he had mentioned before), but also in constancy and patience under sufferings and trials for the sake of the gospel: You became followers of the churches of God, and have suffered like things as they have done (v. 14), and with like courage and constancy, with like patience and hope. Note, The cross is the Christian's mark: if we are called to suffer we are called only to be followers of the churches of God; so persecuted they the prophets that were before you, Mt. 5:12. It is a good effect of the gospel when we are enabled to suffer for its sake. The apostle mentions the sufferings of the churches of God, which in Judea were in Christ Jesus. Those in Judea first heard the gospel, and they first suffered for it: for the Jews were the most bitter enemies Christianity had, and were especially enraged against their countrymen who embraced Christianity. Note, Bitter zeal and fiery persecution will set countrymen at variance, and break through all the bonds of nature, as well as contradict all the rules of religion. In every city where the apostles went to preach the gospel the Jews stirred up the inhabitants against them. They were the ringleaders of persecution in all places; so in particular it was at Thessalonica: Acts 17:5, The Jews that believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city in an uproar. Upon this occasion, the apostle gives a character of the unbelieving Jews (v. 15), enough to justify their final rejection and the ruin of their place, and church, and nation, which was now approaching. (1.) They killed the Lord Jesus, and impudently and presumptuously wished that his blood might be on them and their children. (2.) They killed their own prophets: so they had done all along; their fathers had done so: they had been a persecuting generation. (3.) They hated the apostles, and did them all the mischief they could. They persecuted them, and drove and chased them from place to place: and no marvel, if they killed the Lord Jesus, that they persecuted his followers. (4.) They pleased not God. They had quite lost all sense of religion, and due care to do their duty to God. It was a most fatal mistake to think that they did God service by killing God's servants. Murder and persecution are most hateful to God and cannot be justified on any pretence; they are so contrary to natural religion that no zeal for any true or only pretended institution of religion can ever excuse them. (5.) They were contrary to all men. Their persecuting spirit was a perverse spirit; contrary to the light of nature, and contrary to humanity, contrary to the welfare of all men, and contrary to the sentiments of all men not under the power of bigotry. (6.) They had an implacable enmity to the Gentiles, and envied them the offers of the gospel: Forbidding the apostles to speak to the Gentiles, that they might be saved. The means of salvation had long been confined to the Jews. Salvation is of the Jews, says our Saviour. And they were envious against the Gentiles, and angry that they should be admitted to share in the means of salvation. Nothing provoked them more than our Saviour's speaking to them at any time concerning this matter; this enraged the Jews at Jerusalem, when, in his defence, Paul told them, he was sent unto the Gentiles, Acts 22:21. They heard him patiently till he uttered these words, but then could endure no longer, but lifted up their voices, and said, Away with such a fellow from the earth, for it is not fit that he should live. Thus did the Jews fill up their sins; and nothing tends more to any person or people's filling up the measure of their sins than opposing the gospel, obstructing the progress of it, and hindering the salvation of precious souls. For the sake of these things wrath has come upon them to the uttermost; that is, wrath was determined against them, and would soon overtake them. It was not many years after this that Jerusalem was destroyed, and the Jewish nation cut off by the Romans. Note, When the measure of any man's iniquity is full, and he has sinned to the uttermost, then comes wrath, and that to the uttermost.

Verses 17-20

In these words the apostle apologizes for his absence. Here observe, 1. He tells them they were involuntarily forced from them: We, brethren, were taken from you, v. 17. Such was the rage of his persecutors. He was unwillingly sent away by night to Berea, Acts 17:10. 2. Though he was absent in body, yet he was present in heart. He had still a remembrance of them, and great care for them. 3. Even his bodily absence was but for a short time, the time of an hour. Time is short, all our time on earth is short and uncertain, whether we are present with our friends or absent from them. This world is not a place where we are always, or long, to be together. It is in heaven that holy souls shall meet, and never part more. 4. He earnestly desired and endeavoured to see them again: We endeavoured more abundantly to see your face with great desire, v. 17. So that the apostle at least intended his absence should be but for a short time. His desire and endeavour were to return again very soon to Thessalonica. But men of business are not masters of their own time. Paul did his endeavour, and he could do no more, v. 18. 5. He tells them that Satan hindered his return (v. 18), that is, either some enemy or enemies, or the great enemy of mankind, who stirred up opposition to Paul, either in his return to Thessalonica, when he intended to return thither, or stirred up such contentions or dissensions in those places whether he went as made his presence necessary. Note, Satan is a constant enemy to the work of God, and does all he can to obstruct it. 6. He assures them of his affection and high esteem for them, though he was not able, as yet, to be present with them according to his desire. They were his hope, and joy, and crown of rejoicing; his glory and joy. These are expressions of great and endeared affection, and high estimation. And it is happy when ministers and people have such mutual affection and esteem of each other, and especially if they shall thus rejoice, if those that sow and those that reap shall rejoice together, in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming.

The apostle here puts the Thessalonians in mind that though he could not come to them as yet, and though he should never be able to come to them, yet our Lord Jesus Christ will come, nothing shall hinder this. And further, when he shall come, all must appear in his presence, or before him. Ministers and people must all appear before him, and faithful people will be the glory and joy of faithful ministers in that great and glorious day.[2]

a Acts 15:22; 2 Cor. 1:19; 2 Thess. 1:1; 1 Pet. 5:12

b See Acts 17:1

c Rom. 1:7

d ch. 2:13; See Rom. 1:8; Eph. 5:20

1 Or without ceasing

e Rom. 1:9; 2 Tim. 1:3

f See Gal. 1:4

g 2 Thess. 1:11; [John 6:29; Gal. 5:6; Heb. 6:10; James 2:22]

h 2 Thess. 1:3, 4; [Col. 1:4; 1 Tim. 1:14; Rev. 2:19]

i Rom. 8:25; 15:4

j 2 Thess. 2:13

2 Or brothers and sisters. In New Testament usage, depending on the context, the plural Greek word adelphoi translated "brothers") may refer either to brothers or to brothers and sisters

k 2 Pet. 1:10

l 2 Thess. 2:14

m 2 Cor. 6:6; See 1 Cor. 2:4

n Col. 2:2; [Heb. 2:3]

o [ch. 2:10; Acts 20:18; 2 Thess. 3:7]

p [ch. 2:14; 2 Thess. 3:7, 9]; See 1 Cor. 4:16

q 1 Cor. 11:1

r Acts 17:5-10

s See Matt. 5:12

t Acts 13:52; Gal. 5:22

u [Rom. 10:18; 2 Thess. 3:1]

v [Rom. 1:8; 16:19; 2 Thess. 1:4]

w ch. 2:1

x See Acts 14:15

y 1 Cor. 12:2; [Gal. 4:8]

z See John 17:3

a See 1 Cor. 1:7

b ch. 4:16; [2 Thess. 1:10]; See Acts 1:11

c See Acts 2:24

d Col. 1:13

e ch. 2:16; 5:9; Matt. 3:7; Rom. 5:9

1 Or brothers and sisters; also verses 9, 14, 17

f ch. 1:9

g [2 Thess. 1:10]

h Acts 16:22-24

i See Acts 4:13

j Acts 17:2-9

k Phil. 1:30

l [2 Cor. 2:17]

m 2 Thess. 2:11

n ch. 4:7

o 2 Cor. 4:2

p See Gal. 2:7

q See Gal. 1:10

r Ps. 17:3; See Rom. 8:27

s See Acts 20:33

2 Or with a flattering speech

t ver. 10; See Rom. 1:9

u [2 Cor. 4:5]; See John 5:41

v 1 Cor. 9:4; 2 Thess. 3:9; [Philem. 8, 9]

w [ver. 9; 2 Cor. 11:9]

x See 1 Cor. 9:1

y 2 Tim. 2:24; [1 Cor. 14:20]

3 Some manuscripts infants

z [ver. 11; Isa. 49:23; 60:16]

a See 2 Cor. 12:15

b 2 Thess. 3:8; [Phil. 4:16]

c See Acts 18:3

d ver. 5

e See ch. 1:5

f [ver. 7]; See 1 Cor. 4:14

g Eph. 4:17

h See Eph. 4:1

i ch. 5:24; 2 Thess. 2:14; 1 Pet. 5:10; See Rom. 8:28

j See ch. 1:2, 3

4 Or without ceasing

k [Rom. 10:17]

l [Gal. 4:14]; See Matt. 10:20

5 The Greek word anthropoi can refer to both men and women

m Heb. 4:12

n See ch. 1:6

o See 1 Cor. 7:17

p ch. 3:4; Acts 17:5; 2 Thess. 1:4, 5

q [Heb. 10:33, 34]

6 The Greek word Ioudaioi can refer to Jewish religious leaders, and others under their influence, who opposed the Christian faith in that time

r See Luke 24:20

s Jer. 2:30; Matt. 23:29-34; See Matt. 5:12

t [Esth. 3:8]

u Acts 13:45, 50; 14:2, 19; 17:5, 13; 18:12; 22:21, 22

v See Gen. 15:16

w See ch. 1:10

7 Or completely, or forever

x 1 Cor. 5:3; Col. 2:5

y ch. 3:10

z Rom. 15:22; [Rom. 1:13]

a See Phil. 4:1

b 1 Cor. 15:31; [2 Thess. 1:4]; See 2 Cor. 1:14

c ch. 3:13; 4:15; 5:23; Matt. 24:3; 1 Cor. 15:23; 2 Thess. 2:1, 8; James 5:7, 8; 2 Pet. 1:16; 3:4, 12; 1 John 2:28

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (1 Th). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[2] Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry's commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (pp. 2337-2340). Peabody: Hendrickson.