Page:An Exposition of the Old and New Testament (1828) vol 6.djvu/614

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I. THESSALONIANS, II.

impressions upon many others. They were τύποιstamps 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 a 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 is once come, will be yet to come, because it is everlasting fire prepared for the Devil and his angels. Matt. 25. 41.


CHAP. II.

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. Afterward of the success of his ministry, with the effects both on himself and themselves; (v. 13..16.) and then apologizes for his absence, v. 17..20.

FOR yourselves, brethren, know our entrance in unto you, that it was not in vain: 2. But even after that wc had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention. 3. For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile: 4. But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, who trieth our hearts. 5. For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloke of covetousness; God is witness: 6. Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burthensome, as the apostles of Christ.

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 faithfully he, and Silas and Timotheus, his helpers in the work of the Lord, had discharged their office; Ye 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 vain. 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 Cor. 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 entreated, 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 they 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 siiicere 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 faitliful; it was not fallacious, nor a cunningly devised fable. Nor was it of uncleanness. His gos-